Title: Conversational Mando’a for Beginners Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: Humor, fluff, AU Timeline: Ca. 28 ABY, in the Marzra-verse continuity Characters: Kazuda Xiono, Wren Ordo (OC), Sabine Wren, Maximus Ordo (OC) Synopsis: Kaz is learning Mando’a to impress Wren; five times he gets it wrong and one time he gets it right. Notes: Written for the OTP 5+1 Challenge; I’m also double-dipping on @Findswoman’s Joys of Yiddish challenge, where my prompt was “ shlemiel: A person who always has bad luck, born loser, hard-luck type, doofus” Thanks to @Findswoman for beta reading. --------- Intro: Conversational Mando’a for Beginners “Soo COO-ee gar? Soo coo-EE gar? Soo coo-ee GAR?” Kazuda Xiono murmured to himself as he waited on the shuttle platform at the Candera Inter-System Spaceport, using the last few moments before Wren and her father arrived to brush up on his Mando’a. Languages had never really been his strong suit; verb tenses and adjective placement, participles and pronouns all got jumbled up his head until what came out was a hodgepodge of words that might or might not actually make any sort of sense. He’d barely scraped a passing grade in his required courses in Old Coruscanti at the Hosniana Young Leaders’ Academy, and he was thankful that his coursework at the New Republic’s Flight Academy on Lothal did not include any more language classes. But Mando’a was important to Wren. Even though she spoke Basic, she’d frequently toss in a word or phrase in Mando’a, seemingly without even thinking about it. She’d explained to Kaz once that knowing and speaking Mando’a was one of the Six Actions, the code of what made a Mandalorian a Mandalorian. And since Mando’a was important to Wren, and since she was important to him, Kaz had made an effort to learn a few words and phrases. He’d applied himself to the task with a dedication that his Old Coruscanti teacher would not have believed possible. He felt that his first attempts at speaking the language had been an unqualified success (judging by the fact that they’d led to his and Wren’s first kiss), and now that he’d been invited to spend the weekend at Clan Ordo’s Stronghold, Kaz was hoping he could build on that success. “Kaz!” Kaz looked up from his last minute language lessons to see Wren, her golden-brown beskar’gam gleaming in the sunlight, sprinting across the platform towards him. He hastily stuffed his Conversational Mando’a for Beginners holobook back in his duffel, grinned and waved. “Wren! Soo COO-EE GAR!” Part 1: That Does NOT Mean What You Think It Does Kaz exchanged greetings with Wren’s father, Maximus, as he climbed into the cavernous passenger area of the Ordos’ massive Ori’tsad speeder--“Soo coo-EE gar! Meh-VAR tee-GAR?”--and was pleased that he’d gotten his pronunciation right (or at least close enough that Maximus hadn’t either laughed or asked him to repeat himself). “How’s the rest of your family?” Kaz asked as he settled onto the bench seat next to Wren--close but not too close since her dad was sitting right in front of them. “Your mom, Bellona, your shabuir--” There was a noise somewhere between a stifled snort and a choked-off chuckle from Maximus in the driver’s cockpit. Wren’s jaw dropped and she stared at Kaz as if he’d just said something unspeakably foul. “My WHAT?!?” “Shabuir?” Kaz repeated tentatively. What had just happened there? Had he inadvertently trespassed on some obscure Mandalorian custom? Was he being too familiar by using that term? Were outsiders not supposed to speak of honored elders? What? ”Your grandmother, right?” Wren blinked, the insulted I-should-punch-you-for-saying-that tension relaxing from her shoulders and clenched hands. “BA-buir,” she said, heaving a huge sigh as she slid back against the seat. “‘Grandmother’ in Mando’a is babuir, not…” She shook her head, wrinkling her nose as if the mere thought of the word had a stench to it. “That...is an insult…” “It means someone who does indecent things with their own parent,” Maximus supplied helpfully from up front, and Kaz thought there might have been a bit of a chuckle in his voice. “Daaaad!” Wren wailed, covering her face with one hand and slumping down further in her seat. “Oh…” Kaz had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, as if the engines in his racer had given out at the top of the last leg of the atmospheric dash. Wren’s grandmother, Demetria Ordo, was a petite woman. She kept her sleek silver-white hair neatly pulled back with a black velvoid headband, and had a pleasant, matronly expression. She always seemed to have a smile and a piece of warm uj’alayi for Kaz. In short, she looked very much a grandmother, even though she wore armor. But despite her mild disposition and charming smile, she had, in her youth, defeated twelve men to hold the regency of Clan Ordo for her son. And since turning clan leadership over to Maximus, Demetria had become proficient in both uses of the bes’bev--a peculiarly Mandalorian wind instrument that doubled as a weapon. She could probably handily skewer an opponent in the middle of a solo and never stop playing. And Kaz had just called her a... “Oh. You’re not….you’re not going to tell her I said that…?” “I’m fairly sure she’s been called that in earnest somewhere along the line.” This time Maximus’s chuckle was obvious. “DAD!” Spots of red had blossomed high on Wren’s cheeks and she looked like she would rather be eaten by a ravenous terentatek than be there in that speeder at that moment having that particular conversation. (Not that Kaz could blame her.) “No,” she told Kaz firmly. “We are definitely not telling Grandma Demetria.” And, having settled that, she asked, in the tone of one who was changing the subject, “So which team do you like for the Galactic Cup?” Part 2: Art Is Subjective Once they reached Clan Ordo’s Stronghold, Wren showed Kaz to one of the guest rooms. He stowed his duffel bag and then headed back downstairs for a snack, stopping by her mom’s art studio on the way to say hello. Sabine Wren Ordo’s studio was not neat; it wasn’t exactly messy either--more like well-organized chaos. The canvas covered floor was splattered with a veritable rainbow of paint. There were racks of canvases in the corners, both finished and blank, tables with small sculptures and other colorful knick-knacks, and holos of landscapes, figures and creatures large and small. Several easels were in the center of the room; Sabine was working at one of them; she put down her brush and smiled when Wren and Kaz entered. “Hello, Kaz. How was your trip?” “Good, thanks. I mean, JOT-ay, vor-eh.” That, at least, Kaz knew he’d said correctly (more or less). “What are you working on? Is that one of your new paintings?” Sabine stepped back so he could see what was on her canvas: abstract human forms surrounded by swirls of gold and blue with tiny, glittering flecks in the thick daubs of paint. “It’s a design for a mural for the headquarters of the Order of the Ka’ra,” she explained. “A representation of our honored ancestors as guiding stars.” Art was almost like another foriegn language as far Kaz was concerned. It wasn’t that he didn’t like it, it was just that he didn’t always understand it. Like why drippy splatters of paint or arrangements of squares were supposed to be great art when they didn’t really look like much of anything. He wasn’t exactly sure he understood Sabine’s painting, either, but it was pretty with all the colors and sparkles and everything. And she was a Famous Artist--and his girlfriend’s mom, on top of that--so he felt like he needed to say something intelligent and thoughtful, something that didn’t make him look like a totally uncultured moof-milker. “It’s very...I mean...ori--” That was “very” in Mando’a, also “much”, “many”, “a lot”--the language was confusingly non-specific as times--”ori... jot-nee-ness!” Jate was “good”, and -ne was an intensifier...or was it -nese? He couldn’t remember, so he added both, just for good measure. “Very, um, ori--” Kaz wracked his brain, trying to remember all the vocabulary words from Conversational Mando’a for Beginners. He thought that tranyc had something to do with stars, so that seemed good, and shal was “color” and you added -yc to make it an adjective, so--”Ori tran-EESH and um... shal...shal-eesh,” he managed. Sabine gave him an odd look. Not, fortunately, the kind of what-the-kriff-did-you-just-say look that Wren had given him when he’d called her grandmother….well, that, but the kind of look his Old Coruscanti instructor had given him during his oral exams when he’d told her that one of Hosnian Prime’s main exports was spatula wart engines instead of starship drives. “Well...thank you,” she said at last, still looking a bit bemused. “But I’m not quite sure what you meant by ‘tran’yc and shal’yc’?” “Sparkly? Starry?” It was something like that, right? “And colorful? Why? What...what did I say?” He almost hated to ask, but he needed to know how long he was going to have to hide in the guest room in shame. “You said it was very sunny, and...er, at-like. Sal is the word for color; shal means ‘at’.” “Oh.” It could have been worse, Kaz supposed. He could have said it looked like spatula warts. Or people who did indecent things with their parents. This was not as easy as last time, when he’d memorized a few important words and phrases. “I guess I need to reread my Mando’a for beginners holobook, huh?” “It’s all right. It was a good try, and you’re still learning.” She patted his shoulder with a smile that made Kaz wonder if Maximus had filled her in on the whole unfortunate “shabuir” incident. He felt a slow flush creeping up the back of his neck. Wren sighed and tugged at his hand. “Come on, Kaz. Let’s get downstairs before our shig gets cold.” Part 3: Hey, Pip-squeaks! Fortunately, the shig—a tea with a sort of citrusy flavor—was still warm when Kaz and Wren got to the kitchen, and so was the pan of uj’alayi that went with it. After pouring themselves mugs of shig and cutting liberal slices of the syrup-covered cake, they decided to take their refreshments out to the veranda that overlooked the Stronghold’s vast lawn. It was a beautiful day, sunny--tranyc, Kaz thought--with a light breeze that carried the scent of sun-warmed frond grass with it, and he was determined to put all his stupid language slip-ups behind him. And for her part, Wren didn’t seem inclined to dwell on them either. They talked about school and family, particularly the trials of having perfect older sisters. They caught up on the latest news about their vode from their mission on Korriban. Humoo, the Squib scavenger, had sent them holo-postcards from all over the Outer Rim with details of his latest finds. Ronen and Noemi were back at the Temple on Lothal after a short reconnaissance mission to the edge of the Unknown Regions; he and Wren speculated on when the two Jedi would finally be getting married and what a Jedi marriage ceremony might entail. They were on seconds of shig and uj’alayi (well, Wren was on seconds of the cake; Kaz was on fourths…) when a dozen or so kids wearing tesh-tunics emblazoned with a stylized hawk logo burst around the corner of the Stronghold like a herd of wild bantha. A tall, curly-haired boy about twelve years old was kicking a limmie ball across the lawn while the others jockeyed to catch up with him. He waved when he spotted Wren and Kaz. “Wren! We made it to the playoffs against the Ruus’oriya Strills!” He stopped in front of the veranda and kicked the ball towards her. “Can you teach us some new moves?” “Eep!” Kaz threw up his arms as the ball came hurtling at them, but Wren caught it handily. Some of the children, who had gathered around the tall boy, gave Kaz sidelong looks and smirks, some snickeried a little, but Wren seemed not to notice as she stood, passing the ball from foot to foot. “Oya, Quintus! That’s great!” She grinned and kicked the ball back to him; he, of course caught it as neatly as she had. “And I’d love to...but I’ve got company right now.” She gestured to Kaz. “Guys, this is Kazuda Xiono, my ori’vod. He was on Korriban with me. Kaz, these are my cousins on the Candera Jai’galaare mesh’geroya team.” The children’s expressions changed from smirks and grins to various shades of interest as Wren introduced him. A girl in the back poked another girl at the word ori’vod and whispered something to her that made them both giggle; several of the kids perked up noticeably when she mentioned Korriban. Kaz shifted a bit uneasily under the gaze of so many inquisitive eyes. He knew they weren’t all Wren’s cousins in the strict sense of the word, but Mandalorians considered anyone in their clan family whether they were directly related or not, and he wanted to make a good impression. His Conversational Mando’a for Beginners holobook had an entire section on useful phrases related to limmie--mesh’geroya in Mando’a--but he’d largely skipped that part. Limmie wasn’t nearly as popular in the Core as it was here on the Outer Rim; Kaz’s preferred sport was the Sabers-class racing circuit. However, one thing Mandos valued even more than their “beautiful game” was military discipline, and that, as a cadet at one of the New Republic’s military academies, Kaz understood. He stood and snapped a jaunty salute at the team. “Hey, vaar’ike! Lookin’ good!” Curious and friendly expressions turned stony in the blink of an eye. “Hey, yourself, besom,” Quintus, the curly-haired boy, retorted and launched the limmie ball straight at Kaz. It beaned him before he even had time to duck; Quintus caught the ball as it bounced off Kaz’s head. “Ke ba’slana, vode!” he called and began kicking the ball across the lawn again. The others followed, shooting a few last, contemptuous glances at Kaz as they went. “Ow.” Kaz rubbed the top of his head. It wasn’t the hardest he’d ever hit it (he was depressingly used to banging his head on things), but he was going to have a lump. “That wasn’t very nice.” Wren gave him an odd look, her lips pursed. Not quite I-should-punch-you-for-saying-that, but close. “Well, what did you expect when you called them a bunch of runts?” “Runts?!?! No!” he protested.”I called them little soldiers! It’s a compliment!” “Verd’ike. With a 'dorn'. Vaar’ika is ‘runt’ or ‘pip-squeak’. Verd’ika is ‘little soldier’,” Wren sighed gustily, something Kaz noticed she’d been doing a lot that day. “I’ll explain it to them later; right now we should probably get you some ice for that head.” ___ Notes: Ke ba’slana, vode: Let’s go, guys!