A small excerpt from my discontinued Brothers in Arms Full Metal Panic fanfic. The scene's taken up residence in my head and refuses to go away. I figure it at least deserves to exist outside my rotted brain.
[spoiler]December 17, 0643 hours, local time (1243 hours, Greenwich Mean Time)
Island Republic of MolMol
MolMolian Army Weapons Test Range C-74, Western Desert
A thick blanket of white snow covered the sands of the test range as Garon drew the sandy-colored M12 light reconnaissance vehicle to a stop with a crunch of the snow beneath the tires and a moment's skid as the vehicle's momentum conspired with the snow to steal traction from the four-wheel drive vehicle. In the bucket seat beside him, Teletha looked about with a wide-eyed wonder at the pristine snow fields that had appeared practically overnight. Though the C-74 test range was one commonly used for Arm Slave weapons and functions tests, no missions had taken place since the snow had fallen, and thus no tracks of any sort spoiled the landscape.
Hauling himself out of the driver's seat, Garon dropped unceremoniously down into the snow, his armored boots disappearing into the stuff up to his ankles. He observed his breath fogging in the chill air for a moment, then quickly decided the cold was not to his liking and pulled his helmet off the dashboard, slipping it on and sealing it against the collar. Air recyclers hissed for a moment before the environmental controls activated, warming his face and shutting out the chill of the weather. His light grey armor, useful in urban warfare environments, stood out like a beacon against the white snow. By the time that he had walked around the front of the vehicle to the passenger side, Teletha had likewise disembarked, and stood a moment giving him an envious glare at his full, temperature-sealed armor.
For his part, he ignored the glare and allowed himself to look over his commander-turned-sweetheart. Eight months of on-and-off intensive training after she had finally made the decision to make the leap and join the ranks of the self-styled Mandalorians had changed her. She was still as petite as she had ever been, but now one could see the lean muscle on her if they looked hard enough, and she no longer held the air of a timid girl when not in a command position. Now she always exuded confidence and awareness of and pride in her own abilities, abilities that she had worked hard to create and hone. She had cut her formerly mid-back length silvery-blonde hair to just above her shoulders, making it easier to secure in a loose tail that she could tuck into a helmet. She had also tanned nicely from those months spent outdoors, preparing herself physically and mentally for this day. The difference between the way she was now and this time last year, before he'd joined the crew of the Tuatha de Danaan, was night and day.
Today was the day that she would receive her armor, and properly join the 132 self-made Mandalorians, fans who took their passion to such a degree that they literally lived the lifestyle, down to functional combat armor that, while not exactly matching the properties of the fictional beskar'gam, stood head and shoulders above any other infantry protection system in use by any military. She currently wore only the bodysuit that the armor rested upon, a heat-resistant and puncture-proof garment that could stop most small-caliber bullets and knife attacks, matching gloves, and armored boots. Despite not being climate-controlled, the bodysuit retained her body heat in this cold well enough.
Across a large patch of snow, a hundred meters distant, her armor waited for her. Garon had brought the armor out and placed it there before collecting her, insistent on taking advantage of the weather to ensure that she get her proper virgin field of snow, the march that would blank everything she had done in her life up to that point and mark the start of her life as a Mandalorian. As she looked out toward her armor, she noted that no tracks of any sort were anywhere near it, leaving her puzzled as to how he'd placed it out there without disturbing the snow. She considered asking, but decided against it; it didn't matter, and it definitely added to the gravity of the event.
Watching her closely, he noted the nervousness that she wasn't quite so adept at concealing. "You okay?"
Turning her eyes back to him, she nodded firmly, clasping her hands together before her. "Yes, I'm fine," she told him, then smiled. "I'm nervous, excited, anxious... You know."
And he did. He could feel her emotional state easily, due to the resonance bond they shared from her Whispered abilities. The bond had grown deep over the eleven months they'd shared it, enough now that they were practically telepathic within a certain distance. Her mood, anxious to fit in with her new fellows, excited to finally be at this point, and nervous about potentially messing up a ceremony--which really had no guidelines to follow anyway--was like a cool, crisp breeze against the back of his mind.
He nodded, then turned and strode several paces away from the vehicle, in the direction of her armor. Snow crunched under his boots. Ten feet away from her, he stopped, planting his gloved hands on his hips and looking out across the field to her armor for several moments. His helmeted head turned from one side to the other, as though scanning the perimeter for any potential hostiles. Then he turned halfway back toward her. "Ready, cyar'ika?" And he extended his right hand out toward her.
Steeling herself, she took a deep breath and nodded her head once, firmly. "Yes. I'm ready." She moved forward to stand beside him, her left hand reaching out to grip his right, the contact alone spreading warmth through her body.
The air around them stilled, as though holding bated breath to observe the ceremony without interruption.
She took the first step, as she somehow knew without knowing that she must. The crunch of the snow gave her the feeling of a mooring line being cast off, releasing her to sail freely into the future. Garon effortlessly fell into step beside her, their steps coordinating with such precision that only a single set of footsteps could be heard. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, walking exactly parallel to her, but his T-shaped visor was fixed ahead, on the future.
Lifting her eyes and setting them firmly on her swiftly-approaching armor, each step seemed to lighten her spirit, washing away the years of self-doubt and insecurity, leaving a hardened resolve in their place. The weight of her brother's belittling fled, and though she and Garon were alone on this test range, she almost felt as if all of the other 131 Mandalorians surrounded the field, watching with pride, waiting to welcome her among their number.
The distance rapidly melted away, and soon the field of snow was behind them, and they stood over her stacked armor. Reluctantly, she released his hand, knowing that he intended to personally place her armor upon her. He started with the shin plates, and as he locked them into place on her bodysuit, she looked back over the path they had walked. The pair of footprints side-by-side in the snow reminded her suddenly of the story of the footprints in the sand, and smiled faintly, knowing that in her times of greatest need, Garon had been there to carry her.
Her knee pads and thigh plates had already been put into place as she pondered this, and she colored nicely while he very cautiously and gentlemanly snapped the cod piece onto her. She leaned her head forward to let the torso/shoulder/neck assembly slip over her head, and then held out her arms for the upper arm plates and gauntlets. He then picked up her helmet and, instead of putting it on her head himself, held the headgear toward her, yet another bit of symbolism on his part.
Smiling, she took the helmet from his hands, turned it to the proper position, and lowered it onto her head, sealing it against the collar. For a few moments, her breathing echoed harshly in the silent interior of the helmet, and then the electronics flickered to life, activating the heads-up display and initializing the systems. She would take the time later to customize them to her liking, but for now she left them in factory default mode.
She felt him clip something to the back of her armor; her three-sixty degree camera vision caught the edge of a red cape fluttering in the breeze behind her. Smiling within her helmet, she remarked, "The cape is a bit much, Gar'ika."
He shrugged. "Leadership symbol."
It would also make her a spectacular target in battle, she knew, resolving to only wear it for show in non-combat situations. She took a moment to look down at her armor, the dark blue plates pristine and untarnished. Her shoulder and knee pads, gauntlets, and the trim around her helmet's visor were colored gold. She knew that blue normally denoted reliability, and gold a quest for revenge, but she also knew that the colors didn't have to mean anything, and that Garon had picked the blue to represent the ocean with which she was so familiar, and the gold was another mark of rank as far as he was concerned. She quite liked it, actually.
As she was looking over herself, he was also walking in a circle around her, checking the fit of her armor and ensuring it didn't pinch on her anywhere. After a few passes, satisfied, he returned to stand in front of her, hands on his hips, and she could feel the pride swelling in him. She smiled to herself, grabbed his shoulder, and pulled him forward to press her helmet against his; the only way to kiss when wearing a full-face helmet. "Ni kar'tayl gar darasuum," she whispered, knowing he could hear.
She felt him grasp her right arm with his, that hand-to-forearm/wrist grip that she'd become so familiar with, and matched his grip, clinging to his battered forearm plate. When she heard him speak, her heart caught in her throat: "Mhi solus tome, mhi solus dar'tome, mhi me'dinui an, mhi ba'juri verde." She knew full well what that phrase was, its significance. Her heart hammered against her chest, hard enough to reverberate against her armor plates, or so she thought, and despite herself, she couldn't stop the tears, nor could she choke back the sobs.
His grip loosened on her arm as he started to pull away, fearful that he'd jumped too far ahead on her, but she tightened her grip on his arm, proving her own strength as she prevented him from pulling away. "Don't even think about it, mister," she ordered, though her tears robbed her voice of its command authority. "You don't just ask a girl to marry you and run away while she's crying in happiness."
Leaning back, but not relinquishing her grip on his arm, she pulled off her helmet with her left hand and let it drop into the snow. Without needing to be prompted, he did the same, allowing her to see the nervousness written all over his face. That rare break in his almost-permanent air of being totally in control prompted her to smile, and she managed to pull herself back together. Taking a deep breath, she strongly repeated the phrase back to him, and then smiled, squeezing his forearm in her hand.
He matched her smile, though his was more of a grin, and he laid his free hand on her shoulder, gently pulling her toward him for a proper kiss, the cold of the morning banished by the warmth radiating from his sweetheart, his wife. After a few moments, he pulled back, with great reluctance, and then cracked a rueful grin. "I'm such a terrible husband. I don't even have a ring for you."
She giggled as she leaned down to retrieve their helmets, handing his to him. "Trivial issue," she said matter-of-factly, tucking her helmet under her left arm and twining the fingers of her right hand with his left. She looked again back toward the vehicle, across the path they had walked. She had taken her cin vhetin, her walk across the virgin field of snow. She was a Mandalorian now, the 133rd, and she felt more content and at peace than she had ever felt before.
"Right now, Mister Crayson," she said, turning her gaze back to him again, "all I am concerned with is returning to the palace. We happen to find ourselves on an island paradise, and that is the perfect location for a honeymoon."
The grey-armored mercenary grinned, and started walking across the snow back toward the lightly-armored vehicle. "As you command, Captain."[/spoiler]