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.