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Saga - OT Meet the Aliit |OTP Country/City Mouse Challenge | Kaz/Wren

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: Meet the Aliit
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Characters: Wren Ordo (OC). Kazuda Xiono, Bellona Ordo (OC), Maximus Ordo (OC), Sabine Wren Ordo, Hamato Xiono, Suzume Xiono (OC), Hana Xiono (OC)
    Genre: Humor, light romance
    Canonicity: AU in the Marzra-verse continuity
    Timeframe: OT, 28 ABY
    Synopsis: Kazuda Xiono is the son of a wealthy senator from Hosnian Prime; Mandalorian Wren Ordo is the daughter of a clan leader living on the Outer Rim. The two clicked while they were on a mission with her Jedi cousin, Ronen, but will their differences keep them from becoming more than friends?

    Thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-


    Kaz

    The Auspicious, a SoroSuub Petite Opu-Yacht belonging to Senator Hamato Xiono of Hosnian Prime, looked decidedly out of place among the Aka’jor class shuttles and Kom’rk transports docked at the Candera Spaceport on the Mandalorian world of Ordo. While all MandalMotors’s ships were impeccably engineered, they had a certain martial practicality of design that contrasted with the sleekly rounded contours and ostentatious gold finish of the Opu-Yacht.

    Inside, in the smallest of the ship’s three staterooms, Kazuda Xiono frowned at himself in the mirror. He folded the collar of his green nerf-hide racer’s jacket down, then flipped it back up, trying to decide which way said “dashing pilot” better. Up, he decided, was slightly more dashing. He wished his father had let him get a holster for the second-hand Blurrg holdout blaster that the Squib scavenger Humookanookoopwaha Flhaskhalhoosa found for him on Korriban—not just because he thought it would go a long way towards making him look dashing, but also because he wanted to show his friend Wren Ordo that he’d been keeping up with the marksmanship skills she taught him on Korriban.

    But Father disapproved of weapons. He hadn’t even wanted Kaz to keep the blaster until Mother pointed out that it would be a point in Kaz’s favor if he already had some weapons training before he began at the New Republic Military Academy. Whereupon Father had reluctantly agreed, but sighed and harrumphed, insisting that Kaz had to keep it secured whenever it was in the house. Kaz supposed he understood that; he knew there was no point in protesting that when he’d been on Korriban, he’d kept the Blurrg hidden in his boot or his tunic (and that really had made him feel like a dangerous secret agent) and managed not to shoot himself or anyone else in the apartment.

    Kaz was checking out his hair, resisting the temptation to run his fingers through it again, when the door to his cabin slid open and his sister, Hana, came in without waiting for an invitation.

    “Aww, look at my little brother, getting himself all dressed up for his girlfriend,” she crooned in a sing-song voice. “Don’t worry, Kazuda. You look adorable as usual.” She smirked and patted him on the head, flattening his carefully styled sweep.

    Kaz stifled a sigh. He didn’t want to be adorable. “Adorable” was for small, fuzzy baby animals, and that was definitely not the look he was going for here. Being cute and harmless seemed unlikely to impress a Mandalorian girl. He wanted to look daring, dashing… maybe even a little dangerous.

    “She’s not… she’s not my girlfriend,” he informed Hana, as he fluffed his hair back into shape. Not officially or anything. Not yet. Kaz mentally crossed his fingers. He was pretty sure he hadn’t just imagined the sparks between him and Wren during their marksmanship lessons, and he thought something might have come of them except that their mission had ended before it could.

    Before they’d gone back to their homeworlds, though, Wren had given him her comm frequency with firm instructions to “call me, ad’ika”. Kaz hadn’t been able to comm her nearly as much as he would have liked, and their calls always seemed a little awkward and way too short to say everything he wanted to.

    But at least he was going to be able to see her again before he started basic training. Her family had invited his to visit them on Ordo, and somehow, even though the Mandalorian Sector wasn’t really on the way to Lothal, his father had agreed to stop there before taking Kaz to the Academy. Kaz thought Father’s acquiescence had a lot to do with the fact that Wren’s mother was a famous artist, so famous that even Hana—whose taste in art ran to cartoon pittins and mookas with enormous eyes—had a print of one of her paintings.

    Hana ignored Kaz’s protests as usual. She tossed the holo-books that he’d been reading—The Total Nerf-herder’s Guide to Small Blasters and Conversational Mando’a for Beginners—onto the floor, made herself comfortable on his grav lounger, and gave him a once-over, eyes narrowed speculatively. “You know, you’ve been full of surprises lately, Kazuda. Running off to Korriban because you thought you could help on a Jedi mission, coming back with a Mandalorian girlfriend, switching your Academy application from Hosnian Prime to Lothal…”

    She said “full of surprises” like it was a contagious disease, and Kaz couldn’t decide whether Hana was truly aghast at his unorthodox behavior or secretly delighted at the scandal of it all. He wondered if it made the gossip more or less interesting that he actually had helped Ronen on his mission, and had even gotten a couple letters of recommendation from Ronen, the Jedi Council, and General Hera Syndulla herself to add to his file at the Academy. “I told you, she’s not my…”

    “Girlfriend. Right.” Hana leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest, and smiled cattily. “Why else would you want to go to the Academy on some backrocket Outer Rim world instead of staying in the Core? A world where this what’s-her-name—Bird?—conveniently has family? She’ll probably be happy to have an excuse to visit them. Have you seen this place? Ugh, this planet is a dirtball! And this is the capital? It’s not even worth calling a city!”

    “Her name is Wren. And I changed my application because Jedi Syndulla-Jarrus… wait—we’re docked? Already?!”

    “Fifteen minutes ago. You must have had your head up in the clouds with your little Birdie if you didn’t...Kazuda! Where are you going?!” she called as he bolted out of the cabin.

    Kaz didn’t bother to answer as he tore down the main corridor. The Ordo family would be here any minute and he had to catch GeeVee before they arrived. GV-5 was Father’s footman droid; he served as Hamato’s protocol droid, personal assistant, and bodyguard. And GeeVee would be greeting their visitors, performing his usual security protocols, which meant he’d be asking them…

    “Will you please remove your weapons before entering?” came the impeccably modulated tones of the footman droid from the foyer.

    That.

    ———

    Wren

    “You’re cooking dinner? Since when do you cook?” Bellona Ordo asked, peering over her younger sister’s shoulder at the simmering pot of tiingilar on the cooktop.

    “I cook,” Wren informed her. And she could cook a lot better if Bellona would get out of the kitchen and mind her own business. It was a delicate operation to get the balance of spices in tiingilar right, so that none of them overpowered the others. Wren tasted the sauce. It needed more catabar and a hint more kessinnamon to act as counterpoints to the spicy pepper oil. She dashed a bit of each spice into the bubbling stew and sampled it again. Better, but it still needed something. Maybe a little durmic? Perfect! “I cooked all the time when we were on Korriban.” Maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but since the five of them had taken turns, she’d cooked at least once a week. She knew what she was doing, thanks, and she didn’t need any help from Bellona, even if her sister was the talented, creative one.

    “Okay, but tiingilar? Don’t you think that’s a bit much for aruetiise?” Bellona crinkled her nose doubtfully, which of course made her look even more adorable. Bellona was also the pretty one, which hardly seemed fair to Wren. Shouldn’t there have been something left for her to claim besides just being the younger sister?

    “No, I don’t,” Wren retorted. “This is just Mom’s Life Day recipe, and anyway, Kaz likes my tiingilar.” She couldn’t keep a hint of pride out of her voice, not just because he liked her cooking, but because she’d never seen anyone who wasn’t a Mandalorian pack away tiingilar like Kaz had, not even Uncle Zeb.

    “Oh, he does, does he?” Bellona’s perfectly painted lips curved into a knowing smile.

    Wren scowled into the stew pot and gave its contents a fierce stir. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “Cooking dinner, freshly polished armor…” She tapped Wren’s left pauldron, which had indeed been polished—twice—that morning and buffed down until it was glossy. It would never be as shiny as Bellona’s electric blue beskar’gam, but that was because it had gotten some hard wear on Korriban. Bellona’s smile grew even more annoyingly mischievous. “I see where this is going!”

    So what if it was? Bellona had had her share of friends, boyfriends and admirers. Why couldn’t Wren have one, too? (Even if she wasn’t exactly which category Kaz fell into right now. She knew which one she wanted it to be, though.) Wren clutched her spoon like a weapon, and was ready to snap off another retort when the kitchen door slid open.

    “Bellona, stop teasing your sister.”

    Sometimes it surprised Wren when Mom took her side. Everything about Sabine Wren Ordo, from her multi-colored hair (currently pink-violet with a few purple and teal streaks) to her custom painted beskar’gam (still sporting the phoenix-starbird logo she’d created for the Spectres), said “artist”, and everything about Bellona said “I’m just like Mom”. Meanwhile, everything about Wren said…blah, but at least she’d inherited her mother’s ability to make tiingilar. Mom wafted the scent to her nose and inhaled deeply, then took a spoonful from the pot and savored it, all with the same considering expression that she wore when assessing her latest painting. “Mmmm.” She nodded approvingly. “Turn the heat down and let it simmer. It should be just right by the time we get back.”

    “We’re leaving? Right now?” Wren’s stomach lurched. She wasn’t ready yet! She had to check her beskar’gam and make sure Bellona hadn’t smudged it up. To check her hair—not that it did anything other than what it felt like doing, but she ought to make sure it looked sort of good, at least. She needed to make sure the uj’alayi had enough syrup. That the parwan flatcakes weren’t getting too hard in the warmer. She needed to…

    “Come on; your dad’s pulling the speeder around.” Mom smiled and laid a hand on her shoulder and steered her toward the door. She kissed the top of Wren’s head, and whispered, “Don’t worry. You and Kaz fought together on Korriban; you’re ori’vode now. You can do this.”

    Wren nodded and drew herself up. She was a Mandalorian, an Ordo, and she would not shame her clan by acting like some timid little pittin because she was nervous over a guy. She’d done her best with the dinner preparations; fussing over them now wouldn’t accomplish anything. But she still glanced at herself in the mirror by the door and tried to smooth it into some sort of order before she climbed into the speeder.

    The trip to Candera seemed both longer and shorter than usual. On the one hand, staring out the window at the rolling fields of meal grain and bas nera gave Wren time to think about what her mother had said. Mom was right; after everything that had happened on Korriban she and Kaz were definitely ori’vode—true comrades, the best of friends—and nothing could change that. So why was she getting so worked up about seeing him again? And she realized that it wasn’t the thought of seeing Kaz that was making her nervous—or at least not just the thought of seeing him. It was the fact that his stuffy senator dad and her famous artist mom and her too-perfect older sister and everyone were going to be there watching them, and the last thing she needed was an audience while she was trying to figure out how to move from ori’vode to ori’shya vode—more than friends—with Kaz.

    But it seemed like no sooner had she decided this than they pulled up to the spaceport. Wren tried to avoid meeting Bellona’s twinkling eyes and gleeful smirk as they headed to Docking Bay Number Two (Bay One was permanently reserved for the Ordos’ shuttle, the Phoenix). Her dad let out a low whistle at the sight of the ship there, though Wren thought it looked like nothing so much as a big, gold bar of soap. “A SoroSuub Opu-yacht—there’s some serious credits here,” he remarked, tapping the flashy hull as he made his way up the gangway.

    Behind him, Mom frowned a bit. “Max, it’s not polite to comment on how much things cost.“ Wren thought that was kind of silly, because no one had a ship like that unless they wanted people to notice how much it cost, and from way Dad crooked an eyebrow at Mom, it seemed he agreed.

    Before things could turn into a debate on etiquette and protocol, the ship’s hatch opened with a quiet whoosh. A sleek droid whose burnished bronzium skin rivaled the ship’s exterior for metallic ostentation stepped forward with a punctilious little half bow.

    “Greetings, honored guests,” he intoned with a cultured Core accent. “I am GeeVee-Five, personal assistant to Senator Hamato Xiono, and I welcome you on his behalf. Please come in.”

    As the droid gestured for them to enter, Wren noticed two things. First, all of his joints were fully articulated—elbows, wrists, even fingers—and a droid with that level of sophistication probably cost more than their family’s speeder. The second was that although he looked like an ordinary protocol droid, there were some sort of blasters built into its forearms—tastefully camouflaged, of course, but there if you knew what you were looking for, and that was definitely not standard for a protocol droid.

    When she stepped into the foyer on the other side of the hatch, Wren felt like she’d walked into the lobby of some swanky hotel on Coruscant. The walls of the semicircular chamber were paneled in some rich, dark wood with bronzium trim that matched GeeVee-Five’s coloring. No doubt Mom and Bellona were admiring the artistic-ness of it all, but all Wren could think was how could Kaz—her Kaz, who’d lived in a junk-filled apartment on the bad side of Dreshdae and worn whatever pieces of second-hand clothing he could find in the pitiful marketplace for weeks without a word of complaint—how could he come from someplace like this?

    She was so lost in thought that she nearly missed it when the unctuous protocol/bodyguard droid said something really unthinkable: “Will you please remove your weapons before entering?”
    --------
    Notes:
    MandalMotors; the names Aka’jor and Kom’rk translate as “mission carrier” and “gauntlet”

    Kaz’s family, other than his father, are my creation, though he does mention his mother and “the rest of the family”. And though we never get to see his home, Agent Tierney tells Tam Ryvora that Kaz comes from “one of the wealthiest families on Hosnian Prime”.

    While there is a Mandalorian world called Ordo, there’s very little information about it, so I named its capital city after its most famous son, Mand’alor the Preserver, Canderous Ordo.

    Kessinnamon, catabar and durmic are all cooking spices in the GFFA.
     
  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Ooh, this is going to be fun! Indeed, it already is! I really enjoyed the dynamic between Kaz and Wren in your current Ronen journal and in Your Best Shot, and it's so sweet and exciting to see it come to full-on "meet the family" official in this story. The immense differences between Kaz's and Wren's worlds are already in this opening chapter: the shiny, decadent luxury of the Hosnian (Hosnianian?) senatorial yacht contrasts greatly with the more rugged Mandalorian stronghold (and I see the hints of the Art Deco vs. Prairie Style aesthetics). And of course, as we are probably soon going to see, there are cultural differences that go deeper than the aesthetics—Mandalorians aren't going to like being told to remove their weapons! :p

    As always you've got a keen understanding of the adolescent psyche that shows in both of the main characters, and it's interesting to compare their very different reactions to their siblings' teasing. Kaz is going the more diplomatic, "river in Egypt" route when he counters to Hana that "she isn't my girlfriend" (yeah, right, we really believe you :p ), but Wren is ready to step right up and defend her right to have Love and Nice Things—her Fabulous Beautiful Artistic Big Sis doesn't have a monopoly there! And that's why it's so nice to see her Fabulous Beautiful Artistic Mom taking Wren's side here. Sabine may be temperamentally more similar to Bellona (though I'd say not just!) but she's perceptive and conscientious, and no doubt she has a certain sympathy for how Wren feels at this moment because she's been there. It's also wonderful to read both teens' ruminations and thoughts fears at the prospect of seeing each other again after so long. As Wren astutely realizes, it's not just seeing each other again that's bringing on the gastric lepidoptera: it's the fact that everyone else is going to be watching and comparing and judging. I would be very surprised if Kaz isn't feeling the same way, too, especially given what we have seen of his catty-chibi sister and his prim-and-proper, soial-climbing dad.

    And that tiingilar does sound tasty—I can pretty much smell all the spices! :D I am sure Wren did an excellent job blending all of them just right, though that may be something we learn more about in the next chapter! ;)

    So much fun to see Kaz and Wren and their "opposites attract" dynamic again—they really are a spot-on fit for the Country/City Mouse Challenge, and I can't wait to see the sparks that will fly at the meeting of these two very different clans! Thanks so much as always for writing and sharing. =D=
     
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Loved the contrasting family interactions but reciprocal anticipation+nervousness because nopers, Wren is not his girlfriend [face_laugh] -- not for lack of wishing. :D Happy to see this post-Korriban situation - gives me a strong sense of relief that they came out unscathed although I know the mission will unfold with lots of [face_nail_biting]
     
    Raissa Baiard and Findswoman like this.
  4. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Aww, well, thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the story so far, and glad that you like Wren and Kaz together. They’ve kind of taken over; Wren feels that every challenge prompt needs to involve her, and she’s bringing Kaz with her wherever she goes! :D Part of what makes them fun are those differences between them—their families, their lifestyles. The Xiono’s yacht is indeed done in Art Deco style (or more specifically, a subset of it called Streamline Moderne. So if you imagine it looking like something out of a 1930’s film, with lots of chrome and chunky curves, that’s pretty much spot on. And yes, aesthetics are probably the least of the differences; Senator Xiono takes his security a little seriously—which makes a lot more sense on Hosnian Prime or Coruscant than it does on a casual visit to the Outer Rim :p

    Older sisters can be so much fun! The sisters themselves are a little bit different in their teasing; there’s a certain warmth to Bellona’s knowing smiles that’s absent from Hana’s “OMF, you’re interested in a Mando?!” comments. Wren doesn’t see it, because at least in her mind, everyone, including her family, compares her to Bellona and finds her wanting. She doesn’t realize how much she’s like Sabine, who had a definite dramatic streak at Wren’s age, and who, as you point out, also had her uncertainties figuring out how to deal with matters of the heart. The prospect of having the whole family present for their reunion has to be a little daunting for both teens.

    I found a recipe for tiingilar in the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge cookbook, and it is delicious, sort of a curry, though I admit, I cut down on the spices. Mine is probably even milder than Sabine’s aruetii version (but hey, my kid eats it, so I’ll that that over Mando purity)

    And thank you so much for your encouragement on this story and your enthusiasm for Wren and Kaz [:D]
    Yep, though their families and environments are different, their feelings are the same. Nope, not his girlfriend—and not for lack of wishing on either of their parts! You knew I wouldn’t let anything too horrible happen to Ro and his team ;)—though there’s still plenty of action to come!
     
  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to @Findswoman for encouragement and beta-reading @};-
    ———
    Part 2

    Wren

    Remove their weapons?

    While it wasn’t quite sacrilegious to ask a Mando to give up their weapons, it was pretty karking rude—something that no one who knew the first thing about Mandalorian culture would do. Resol’nare, the central tenets of Mandalorian life, dictated that they defend themselves, their clan, and the Mand’alor at all times. And though it wasn’t like Wren thought they would need to defend themselves from Kaz’s family (she doubted that even the droid with his hidden weaponry was a match for a Mando), it just felt wrong to hand over her WESTARs to the Senator’s glossily smarmy mechanical assistant.

    The door on the opposite side of the foyer swished open, and Kaz skidded into the room and crashed into GeeVee-Five. The droid’s optical sensors momentarily flickered from blue-white to a petulant shade of yellow, and he made a tsking sound somewhere in the depths of his vocabulator. but Kaz seemed not to notice—or maybe just didn’t mind. He patted the droid on the shoulder, even though he’d been the one who’d nearly been knocked off his feet, and grinned as he stepped around him. “Hey, Wren! Um, wait… I mean...soo COO-ee gar!”

    “Su’cuy gar!” Wren felt her own lips tug up into an answering grin. She’d forgotten how infectious his smile was, the way his eyes crinkled in the corners when he smiled, how good that green leather racer’s jacket looked on him (it fit him so much better than the cast-offs he’d worn on Korriban). She struggled to keep her expression within acceptably friendly parameters instead of letting it go full-on gallaze-eyed moony idiot the way it wanted to. Wren was not about to give Bellona the satisfaction of seeing her act like a total moof-milker, not when her sister was already wearing an “aww-isn ’t-that-sweet” smirk. And, secretly, Wren thought that even though his accent was a little off—okay, pretty bad—it really was kind of sweet that Kaz had learned a little Mando’a for them. (For her? A girl could hope, right?)

    “So, um, I’ll take it from here,” Kaz told the protocol droid, holding one hand out to Wren and gesturing back towards the door with the other. “Come on in; I’ll show you around.

    GeeVee’s eyes flashed again, this time a warning orange. “I’m sorry, Master Kazuda,” he said, and though his words were polite, there was a ring of durasteel to them. “But they have not removed their weapons yet.” GeeVee stepped back in front of Kaz and spread his hands, a move which, probably not coincidentally, revealed the blasters built into his forearms. “I must insist…”

    Kaz maneuvered his way around GeeVee. “Aw, c’mon, GeeVee… That’s not really necessary. They’re our friends; they’re not going to…”

    “Senator Xiono’s orders regarding the security of this vessel are quite specific,” the droid’s tone and the flat red light in its eyes were distinctly cold now. “And they may not be altered by a junior member of the household.”


    Kaz flushed slightly and Wren’s fingers twitched towards her basters. She itched to pull them, but shooting a senator’s bodyguard droid, no matter how insolent it was, was likely to lead to a Diplomatic Incident and she wouldn’t do that to Kaz. So—emotions but peace, or whatever that Jedi mantra that Ronen always quoted was. Wren took a deep breath that was not quite as calming as would have liked and reached for her WESTARs, not to shoot the droid but to surrender them to him.

    The foyer door swished open again, and Suzume Xiono glided in. Kaz’s mother was a tall, willowy woman. Her lustrous dark hair was done up in an intricate coiffure with strings of golden beads looped in among her tresses, and she wore a soft, fluttery gray dress with pale flowers on it. “Don’t be pedantic, GeeVee,” she told the droid, tapping his chest plate with one finger, her perfectly lacquered fingernail clicking against it. “Kazuda’s right—the Ordos are our guests, not some random visitors, and we owe them our hospitality.” Her lips curved up into what might almost have been a playful smile.”I hope I have enough seniority to override Hamato’s protocol.”

    “Of course, Mistress Suzume.” GeeVee gave her a somewhat perfunctory half-bow, and Wren thought he sounded rather sulky that Mistress Xiono had spoiled the fun of relieving them of their blasters.

    Suzume dismissed him with a small wave of her hand, and turned her attention to her guests with a brilliant smile. “Sabine, Maximus—so good to see you again!” she said, clasping each of their hands in turn. “And it’s wonderful to see you, too, Wren; we’ve heard so much about you!.”

    Wren felt a slow flush of heat warm her cheeks. They’d heard a lot about her—which meant Kaz had told them a lot about her. Which was good, right? Because they were ori’vode and he would have told them—what? That she’d taught him how to shoot? That they were friends? That he liked her? That she was—okay, not pretty, but brave, maybe? Brave would be good. She’d take brave. Or fierce. Or cool. Or even just nice, bland aruetii word that it was. She ventured a glance at Kaz from the corner of her eye, to find that he was sneaking a look at her, too. He started, his cheeks turning a shade brighter crimson when he realized she’d caught him looking, and he hastily glanced away. From the faint sororal snicker behind her, Wren was afraid her face was just as red.

    Busy pondering all the possible things, from the innocuous to the mortifying, that Kaz might have told his family, Wren only half-listened as Mom told Suzume how happy they were to see her again, and introduced Bellona. The round of nice-to-meet-yous were followed by the inevitable oohs and aahs over Bellona’s jewelry and her flashy electric blue beskar’gam. And finally Suzume invited them for some “light refreshments”—whatever that meant—before dinner.

    The feeling of being in a luxury hotel continued in the yacht’s main corridor. The walls were paneled in the same rich wood and bronzium trim. The passage was lit by frosted transparisteel scones and there was real, honest-to-goodness carpeting on the floor, plush enough that the heels of Wren’s boots sank into it. She was glad she’d spent the extra time polishing her beskar’gam (and wished she’d spent more time on her boots, because the Force knew what kind of dirt she was tracking on this expensive carpet). She lagged behind the rest of her family. Even with her armor double-polished and as shiny as she could possibly get it, Wren felt small, grubby and plain amid all this grandeur—and this was just the hallway.

    Kaz looked back to see her lingering, and slowed his pace to fall in step beside her. His shoulder brushed against hers even though the corridor wasn’t particularly narrow. “Hey, I’m...um, I’m sorry about that whole ‘remove your weapons’ thing.” He gave her an apologetic smile. “Father’s kind of...strict about security sometimes.”

    “No problem,” Wren answered, shrugging a little. She supposed “strict” was one word for it. “Paranoid” and “overbearing” would work, too. She didn’t know what Hamato Xiono thought he had to worry about; her parents were both decorated heroes of the Rebellion and it wasn’t like anyone else on Ordo knew, much less cared, that the senator from Hosnian Prime was here. But Xiono struck her as a bit of an ori’jagyc, the kind of person who wasn’t just convinced of his own importance, but had to convince you as well. Kaz must have taken after his mother, who seemed pretty much like a normal mom, despite the fanciful hairdo and fluttery dress.

    “And here we are,” Suzume said as the ornate wood-and-bronzium latticed door at the end of the hall slid open. “Please come in and make yourself comfortable; GeeVee will be along with the refreshments shortly.” She waved them inside.

    Whoever had designed the Auspicious’s common area had gone to great lengths to keep it from looking like a ship’s common room. There were no communication arrays or instrument panels; those were apparently not something any of the Xionos needed to concern themselves with. Instead of the usual dejarik table and jump couch, there was a low, circular caf table of bronzium and transparisteel and an overstuffed sofa upholstered in rich, dark red velvoid. A thickset, middle-aged man wearing a dark blue tunic with burgundy over tunic edged in gold sat at one end of it. “You remember Hamato,” Suzume said, taking a seat next to him. “And this is our daughter, Hana.”

    The young woman seated at the other end of the sofa rose. Her pouty lips were bismuth pink and three, tiny, glittery pink ovals were stenciled beneath each eye. Her glossy black hair fell past her shoulders, and her bangs had, bizarrely enough, been cut on a sharp diagonal from mid-forehead on the right side to ear-length on the left. And her dress—wayii, her dress! The high-waisted top was the same nauseating pink as her lipstick, the short skirt was sky-blue with embroidered, heart-shaped pockets, and smack in the middle of her chest, as if it was her personal sigil, was the image of a holo-toon pittin with impossibly large eyes. Wren wondered for a moment if Hana had mistakenly bought a dress intended for a much younger girl, but except for the ridiculously short skirt, it wasn’t actually too small. Was this sort of impractical...floof really what girls wore in the Core worlds?

    Her eyes lit up as they fell on Bellona. “Oooh!” she squealed. “I love your…” she waved her hands in a vague fluttering gesture that encompassed her beskar’gam from pauldrons to ankle guards. “You’re Bird, right? I have to say, you’re not at all what I expected when I heard Kazuda’s girlfr—”

    “Ah, ha ha... Actually…” Kaz broke in with a desperate little chuckle. “Actually, Hana, this... this is Wren.” He laid a hand on her left pauldron and drew her forward.

    “Oh. Well.” Hana’s eyes flicked over Wren, and from the look that she gave her, Wren figured that a.) she was exactly what Hana had expected, and b.) that wasn’t really a compliment.

    Bellona stepped into the strained silence.” I’m Wren’s sister, Bellona,” she said, offering her hand to the other girl. “Nice to meet you.”

    Hana glanced between them, then looked back at Wren quizzically. “So how come your...armor isn’t pretty like hers?”

    For a second Wren wished that GeeVee had taken her blasters, because then she wouldn’t be itching to pull them and shove them up Hana’s nose. Did every single person she met have to compare her to her older sister? She got it; she really did. Bellona was pretty and fabulous and glamorous and all the things that Wren wasn’t and would never be. She didn’t need the reminder, thanks, especially not today and not in front of Kaz.

    “Every Mandalorian’s beskar’gam is different,” she explained before Bellona could take it upon herself to launch into a discourse on the art of beskar’gam, complete with the meaning of sigils and color symbolism. “It’s a reflection of who we are. I like mine like this. You don’t need to be pretty in combat.” Hana looked faintly nauseated at the word “combat”, but what exactly did she think armor was for? No matter if it was sparkly and electric blue like Bellona’s or plain brown like hers, beskar’gam was there to protect you. And in that respect, Wren’s functioned very well. It had saved her more than once on Korriban.

    “I like it, too; It, um, it suits you,” Kaz offered before his sister could comment.

    There was a small, diffident noise—the electronic simulation of someone politely clearing their throat—as GeeVee approached bearing a large tray of appetizers and a stack of delicate plates. The droid, now apparently a model domestic servant since he was no longer trying to separate perfectly respectable Mandos from their blasters, set his tray down on the caf table with a bow.

    “Ooh, hey—thanks, GeeVee!” Kaz, predictably, was the first to dig in. He started loading up a plate, then paused, put several pieces on another plate and handed it to Wren with a smile.

    She took it with a little thrill of pleasure (So thoughtful! So gentlemanly!) that was short-lived when she saw what was on it.

    Sulyet.

    Wren had only had the little bits of raw fish rolled up with tikit grain and seaweed once before, when Senator Xiono had dragged her and Ronen to lunch before they’d left Garel for Korriban aboard his freighter. She hadn’t been impressed with it. In her opinion, the only reason you should ever eat raw fish and seaweed was if you were stuck on a primitive planet with no survival gear and the only alternative was starvation. And then only until you could make a decent fire starter. Each tiny morsel of sulyet was barely a mouthful, and it didn’t even look like food, really. Food wasn’t meant to be geometrically precise and artistically designed. It was supposed to taste good and be filling.

    “May I get you any beverages, sir, misses?”

    Kaz stopped stacking sulyet on his own plate. “I’ll have a blurrgfire, GeeVee. Wait, make it two—right, Wren?”

    “Oh no!” Hana wailed. “Don’t tell me Kazuda’s got you drinking those disgusting things, too! Get her a cliff dweller instead.” She patted Wren’s hand as if she was a small child. “Trust me, you’ll thank me for this!”

    Part of Wren wanted to inform Mistress Pink Pittin that she was capable of ordering her own drink and she rather liked blurrgfires, thanks, while part of her warned that maybe she shouldn’t offend Kaz’s sister over something as insignificant as a drink. Which was probably the part of her that had actually listened to Ronen the Responsible Jedi (and she had, no matter what he thought). In this case, she decided it was probably right. No sense in making enemies if she didn’t have to. Emotion yet whatever… Now if she could only find a way to get rid of the sulyet—

    GeeVee interrupted her thoughts with another oh-so-polite simulated cough.”Your drink, miss.” He handed her a glass.

    The liquid was pink, and garnished with something that looked like a small tree, except that it was also, inexplicably, pink. Wren frowned, wondering if she was supposed to take the mini-sapling out of her drink or just drink around it. Finally, she nudged it aside and took a tentative sip.

    It was sweet. And creamy and fruity. And really sweet. And fizzy, and did she mention sweet? Why wasn’t she surprised that this was the kind of thing that Hana, with her too-cute, violently pink, big-eyed cartoon pittin dress, liked? She noticed Hana watching and faked a smile. Her “mmm!” lacked any real conviction, but Hana gave her a self-satisfied Loth-cat smile and went back to discussing jewelry with Bellona.

    Wren sank down onto the overstuffed sofa and set her plate and drink on the caf table, pushing the pink concoction as far away from her as she could. She was not going to risk spilling the stuff on the red crushed-velvoid upholstery. And she was definitely not going to drink it. She’d be buzzing like a humming peeper if she drank something with that much sugar in it...if she didn’t lose her lunch first.

    She stuffed down a very un-Mandalorian sigh. What was she doing here? She didn’t belong in this swanky penthouse of a spaceship, nibbling raw fish and sipping cloying drinks. Bellona and Hana were chatting easily. Her mother, Suzume and Senator Xiono were having a discussion, probably about art. Dad wasn’t saying much, but he looked relaxed. So what was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she be more like Mom and Bellona—beautiful, poised and perfect? Why was she such a besom at stuff like this? She was going to mess up and shame her clan somehow, she just knew it. And even worse, Kaz would be there to see it, and he’d know what a clod she really was.

    The sofa’s plush velvoid cushion shifted as Kaz sat down next to her, a plate laden with sulyet in one hand and a dark crimson blurrgfire in the other. “Hey, are you okay?” he asked, frowning. “You haven’t touched your sulyet.”

    “I… I’m saving room for dinner.” There, that was one of those “acceptable in polite society” kind of lies, wasn’t it? Maybe she’d learned something about diplomacy from her Jedi cousins after all. She forced a smile onto her face, and nudged Kaz with her shoulder. “And don’t you fill up on this stuff, either. I made tiingilar, and I’m counting on you eating at least three servings like last time.”

    “Tiingilar? Awesome!” he exclaimed around a mouthful of sulyet. “I kind of missed your tiingilar. You know, it’s crazy but...I miss our apartment on Korriban sometimes. Being part of our team—Ro, Noemi, Humoo…” Kaz leaned a little closer to her, tipping his head towards hers. “But I… I missed you most of all, Wren.”

    Her heart thudded hard. This, it seemed to say. This is why you’re here. Because whatever fancy trappings were around him, Kaz was still Kaz. Her ori’vod, the one she’d lived with and worked with, fought with and fought for on Korriban. He hadn’t changed in the time they’d been apart.

    She let her hand stray towards his. “I missed you, too.”
    —————

    Notes:
    Kaz and Wren’s drinks are among those served at Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge (“Star Wars Land”). A blurrgfire is lemonade, pomegranate juice, and habanero-lime juice, while the cliff dweller contains citrus juices, coconut cream, hibiscus-grenadine, and Ginger Ale.
     
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wren's opinions of the family yacht and Kaz's sister had me chuckling. Hanna, Wren believes, is just like everyone else an unabashed Bellona fan. :p

    Kaz is such a darling making sure she's not feeling discombobulated by the whole atmosphere. She is relieved he hasn't changed, has never become full of himself. [face_thinking]
     
    Findswoman and Raissa Baiard like this.
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Whew! [face_relieved] Mando-diplomatic kerfuffle narrowly avoided thanks to the appearance of Suzume. It's a real treat to meet Kaz's mom; she seems like a sincerely nice person (like Kaz himself) who probably is a much-needed foil to Hamato's ori'jagyc tendencies. Which I would say Hana even has, in her way; we can see it in her exaggerated space!chibi outfit (love all the clothing and decor details in this chapter, really!), in how she talks to the Ordo girls, and how she immediately makes a point of latching on to the glamorous Bellona. But I loved Wren's matter-of-fact response to her on the subject of beskar'gam; she put the truth out there in a sincere, earnest manner, and everyone present no doubt could see that was to her credit. She's more poised than she gives herself credit for! (And it's to Kaz's credit that he stepped into the conversation at that point, too; I think he picked up on the difficulty of the situation.)

    It's sweet that Wren and Kaz got a little moment of their own, even if it was over those little too-perfectly-geometrical bits of raw fish and tikit grain! (I loved Wren's reaction and ruminations, though as a sushi lover myself I see it a little differently! :p ) Kaz's presence and reassurances came at just the right time, just as Wren was feeling like an extra-unglamorous, highly besomistic fifth wheel amid all the plush coreworld splendor and the poised dignity of her family members. Here, too, I really do think that Kaz picked up on that and wanted to reach out to help, because that's just what a good heart he has—and that really does make the whole thing worthwhile, as Wren realizes. A really sweet way to wrap up the chapter—and I know that once they all get to their tiingilar dinner at the Ordo stronghold (and I can see the more stark, hardwood Prairie Style-esque aesthetic being a startling new thing for the Xionos, not to mention the heaty, spicy stew), Wren will be there just as much for Kaz! <3 The City-Country Mouse spirit is strong with this one indeed; keep it coming, ma'am! =D=
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020