Author: Findswoman Title: Dinner with the Orrelioses Era: Saga—PT Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios (age about 20 or 21, as an Honor Guard cadet), Shulma Trilasha (OC), Herleva Orrelios (Zeb’s mother, OC borrowed from @Raissa Baiard), Shai Orrelios (Zeb’s little brother, OC borrowed from @Raissa Baiard), and Orrelios family members (OCs borrowed from @Raissa Baiard) Genre: One-shot, family humor, a little mush Summary: A young Zeb brings his girlfriend to dine with his family... Notes: Written for tier one (three prompts, 24 hours) of the Mods’ Time Trials challenge. The prompts I received were the following: Spoiler: prompts 1. Your TV trope is: Amazingly Embarrassing Parents 2. Your recycled quote is: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” (Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan) – from the Victorian Quote Roulette 3. Your image is: https://pixabay.com/photos/champagne-champagne-bottles-ice-3515140/ Also part of the Lasan Series, of course. Once again I thank Raissa Baiard for lending me her wonderful characters and for giving this a quick beta before posting. A Lasan High Honor Guard cadet, his sideburns carefully trimmed and his armor impeccably polished, stood at the door of his massive, purple-gray stucc-stone family home, arm-in-arm with a Lasat girl in a long red cloak who wore the traditional shamanic ring-medallion in her long, dark hair. No sooner had he opened the door when— “THERE YOU ARE, GARAZEB! AND THIS MUST BE SHULMA! SO GOOD TO MEET YOU!” The heavy wooden door had flown open to reveal a towering, strong-jawed Lasat woman of middle age. She engulfed the cadet in a hefty hug, then thumped the long-haired girl mightily on the back, causing her to gasp and jump slightly. “V-very pleased to meet you, too, C-captain Orr—” “Just Herleva, just Herleva!” Another thump. “This is fantastic!” And another. “Garazeb’s been telling us all about you! Hasn’t talked about anything else all week!” Shulma purpled slightly, while Zeb sighed and rolled his eyes. “Ma—” “Come on in! Everything’s ready!” She led them down the main hallway to the dining room, shouting ahead of her as she went. “THEY’RE HE-ERE! Nerezeb, start carving up that spear-boar! Priska, you taken the nutbread out yet?!” “Yeah, Ma!” came a younger but equally raucous female voice from down the hallway. “Good! And Shai, you get over here and take the young lady’s cloak!” A Lasat youth with unruly dark hair appeared seemingly out of nowhere, scooped up Shulma’s cloak, pulled a face at Zeb, and skittered away back down the hall before Zeb could react. “Now come on, you two! Right this way!” Zeb and Shulma followed, Shulma gripping his arm closer as she looked up at him with nervous emerald eyes. “’Salright, ’salright,” he reassured her as best he could—but he couldn’t stifle a bit of a nervous feeling himself… * * * End-of-week dinner at the Orrelios household was always quite the feast. Tonight’s centerpiece was a scrumptious whole spit-roasted spear-boar, thickly coated with Nerezeb Orrelios’s own secret-recipe spice rub and served with a lush, chunky autumn berry sauce, mixed steamed pot-liquor greens, and fragrant fresh-baked nutbread. In addition to kegs of dark ale, a large, ice-filled chiller bucket held several bottles of the finest seerflower wine-cordial—wine-cordial being a traditional beverage for the end-of-the-week dinner, and seerflower because, as Herleva remarked, “Garazeb picked it out for his own seerflower, heh heh.” (“Aw, Ma…” came the exasperated response.) But, most of all, there were Orrelioses. Orrelioses talking loudly, laughing loudly, eating loudly, drinking loudly. Parents, siblings, in-laws, an aunt and uncle or two, some cousins. Shoving, nagging, bickering, belching, but always making it back to talking and laughing. Zeb joined in, of course, as he always did—though he occasionally cast glances at Shulma, who sat quietly beside him at one corner of the table, timidly nibbling at her food and clearly a bit overwhelmed with it all. The young male couldn’t help but smile to himself. Aw, sweet darlin’, she’ll get used to us soon enough—not like this’ll be the last time... That, however, was before Captain Herleva Orrelios, Retired, began regaling that evening’s guest of honor with stories from her eldest son’s childhood. “Garazeb always knew he wanted to be a Guardsman,” she said, taking a swig of ale. “Even when he was a tiny kit he was quite the little soldier. When he was just three dust seasons old he used to march around in his training skivvies trying to sing the Honor Guard hymn.” Zeb sighed gustily. Karabast, she’s not gonna start in with this stuff now, is she? “Ma…” But Herleva merely continued in a high-pitched childish singsong: “‘Keewah Lasonky WAH! You’re on a shell to FENDY! Toward DEE a rosy RAY! Toward DEE a boar I OBEY!’” She paused a moment for another sip of ale, and to let her family’s laughter and her own die down. “I think his father even got a holovid of him once.” “OOH, OOH, OOH! I wanna see! Can you show us, Dad, please?” the tousle-headed Shai burst out as his older brother hid his face in a large hand. “After dinner,” his father gently advised him through a mouthful of nutbread. “Not until after dinner.” “But the time I really knew Garazeb was cut out for the Guard,” Herleva continued as she gobbled a chunk of roast boar, “was when he was five and climbed up on my desk and took my bo-rifle down from its rack.” Karabast, karabast, karabast. The Honor Guard hymn story was enough; did she really have to tell this one, too? Zeb looked down at his plate, then over at Shulma; she was trying to maintain an attitude of polite attention, but the way her hands fidgeted with the napkin in her lap hinted that she felt some embarrassment, too. “Ma, is this really necessary?” “Oh, it’s just a little story from your kit years! So he pulled down the bo-rifle—that’s back when I had the AB-72,” she added, glancing over at Priska, who nodded in acknowledgment—“and he managed to unfold it almost all the way into staff mode before the barrel-end handle bar got stuck!” “Ma!—” “And he just cried and cried his little eyes out! So for Life Day his father and I picked him up one of those MattleCo Blastin’ Action Bo-Rifles. He’s still got it.” Just then Shai spoke up. “Oh, is that that smushed brown plastoid stick thing in his closet? The one he accidentally ran over that time with the—” “SHUT IT, SHAI!” roared Zeb, pounding the table hard enough to make nearby dishware bounce. Everyone in the room went silent and all eyes turned toward him. Shulma placed a consolatory hand on his arm. “Er, sorry, sorry,” Zeb managed sheepishly after a moment. “I think I’m gonna have… some more wine-cordial now...” * * * Later on, after the meal was over, while Zeb’s mother, sisters, and older cousins hobnobbed on the back porch with their tea and caf, and Nerezeb, Shai, and some younger cousins were cracking up over old family holovids down in the rec room, Zeb and Shulma sat together on the front porch. The chiller bucket with the last bottle of seerflower wine-cordial stood on a small table before them, along with two glasses. It was a pleasant evening in the cliff-country outside Lira Zel, Lasan’s capital; a gentle breeze blew, nocturnal insects sang, and silvery mists were beginning to descend. “May I?” Zeb took the bottle and began to tip it over one of the glasses. “Yes, please.” He poured one glass for Shulma and one for himself. They raised them, touched them together at the rims, and took a sip. After a few moments Zeb spoke again. “So, er, Shulma…” “Yes?” “Just wanna say, I’m really, er... sorry about all that.” “Sorry about what?” Her deep green eyes glinted questioningly as she cocked her head. “Oh, my Ma an’ Shai an’ all that. Bein’ all loud an’ forward an’ all, an’ tellin’ all those stories—” Zeb broke off and sighed deeply into his glass. “Aw, karabast, you probably think we’re all some kinda gutterspawn now.” “Oh Zeblove, of course not! Don’t talk like that!” Shulma put down her glass and reached over to place her hand on his. “And anyway, as the ancient poet wrote, ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ That means,” she continued, seeing his bewildered expression, “that we all start out small and low-down, but what matters is that we set our sights high.” “Heh, yeah, well, I definitely try.” Zeb gave a chuckle as he interlaced his fingers with hers. “All you can do, really,” “You do, Zeb, you certainly do. And that’s why that kit marching around singing at the top of his lungs is now one of the Royal Military Academy’s best cadets. That being said…” “Er, yeah?” Shulma leaned closer and whispered in his ear. “I’d be very curious to see that holovid sometime.” Zeb gasped, then burst into laughter and shoved her playfully in the upper arm. She shoved back, then he shoved back, and so on till he gathered her close and gave her a peck on her cheek. She nestled her head on his broad shoulder, and they sat looking out at the evening sky together till the stars began to peek through the mist. ¶ Spoiler: Notes “Keewah Lasonky WAH…”: A heavily mondegreened version of the Lasan Honor Guard Hymn that I introduced in chapter 3 of Stand Together on the High Places: “Keeraw, Lasan, keeraw! / Our honor shall defend thee, / For thee our roars we raise, / For thee our bo-rifles blaze. / Thy foes shall cringe in awe; / Keeraw, Lasan, keeraw!” (Herleva, and presumably also little!Zeb, only goes through the fourth line here.) “barrel-end handle bar”: Yes, according to the Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide, the two foldable levers (!) on Zeb’s bo-rifle are labeled “handle bars,” with the space and everything. Not my responsibility. I thank Raissa again for sending me some reference scans from the book.