Title:The Beginning of Honor Author:Raissa Baiard Genre: Family drama Timeframe: Saga OT, at the beginning of Rebels Season One, and Saga PT, approx. 25 BBY Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, Ezra Bridger; OCs: Garashai Orrelios, Herleva Orrelios, various other Lasat, borrowed OC: Shulma Trilasha belongs to Findswoman Notes: Part of the Lasan Series by Raissa Baiard and Findswoman Many, many thanks to my good friend Findswoman, for beta-reading, collaborating on the Lasat fanon that forms the backbone of this story, and for letting me borrow her OC, Shulma Trilasha, for this story --------------------------------------------- Part One “No, no, no!” Zeb crossed his arms over his chest and scowled at Hera. “I don’t want a cabin mate, especially not him!” She sighed. “I can’t very well put him in with Sabine, so that just leaves you.” “Stick him in with the Jedi!” Zeb pushed himself up off the acceleration couch and paced across the common room. “He's the one who’s gonna be dealing with the Loth-rat anyway.” “Zeb.” Hera’s mouth flattened into a reproving line. “He’s not a Loth-rat. His name is Ezra. And you know how touchy Kanan is about his privacy.” “What about my privacy?” If the little thief got into his stuff, started messing with his bo-rifle or spilled his bag of Lasan dust...Zeb was not going to responsible for what happened next. “Just give him a chance. He needs some guidance, someone to show him the ropes until he’s comfortable with all of us, until he’s comfortable with himself.” Hera sighed again and spread her hands. “As much as I love Kanan...sometimes he can be a little too serious. I really think you could be a good influence on Ezra, almost like an older brother for him.” Zeb spun back around, his upper lip curling back into the snarl that sent stormtroopers running for cover. “I can tell you already, it’s not gonna work!” He thumped a fist against the dejarik table. “It’s never gonna work!” She was too used to him by now to even twitch a lekku at this outburst. “Please, Zeb…” “Oh, fine. I’ll give it a try. But I’m tellin’ you, it’s not gonna work.” He’s never gonna be like a kid brother to me. Never. ---------------------- The boy, Ezra, was already asleep when Zeb returned to his--their--cabin. He lay curled in a tight ball in the top bunk, and his sleep-softened features made him look younger and more vulnerable. His wild thatch of blue-black hair had fallen forward into his face, just the way Garashai’s used to and Zeb caught himself reaching out to smooth it back. This kid ain’t Shai, he reminded himself sternly, pulling his hand back. Shai was never this much trouble. Oh, really? a tart voice in the back of his mind demanded. How many times did he put scurry-lizards in the girls’ beds? How many times did you help him put those lizards there? Shai wasn’t a sneaking thief like this one. What about the time he “borrowed” Ma’s bo-rifle? This kid's not Shai. He’s not my brother. He’s never going to be family. As if that’s any excuse, Garazeb Avishai Orrelios. Another familiar, insistent voice intruded into Zeb’s thoughts; he could almost see his mother, arms crossed over her chest, scowling at him. If you can’t take care of one child, how can you still call yourself an Honor Guard? You should have learned by now that protecting those who can’t protect themselves is the beginning of honor. You should know by now what happens when you forget that… ----------- It was Storms’ End, the Lasat holiday marking the end of the dust season and the beginning of a new year. Zeb’s entire family had gathered for the festival and the traditional giant Orrelios family feast. His mother, Gran, and his sister Signi had been in the kitchen since sunrise, working in a frenzy of stirring, chopping, and kneading. Dad and Uncle Nereshai were preparing to roast the prongbok and debating the best technique, whether bristlecone or geniper wood chips would give it the best flavor, and whether the boontaspice rub would complement Gran’s famous fire-pepper sauce. Their discussion was facilitated by large tankards of dark Lasan ale. For Zeb’s part, Storms’ End meant going to the festival, but this year he wasn’t just going for carnival games and fair food. This was his first year as an Honor Guard cadet, and he was eager to show off his new uniform. His sideburns were starting to fill in nicely, even if his beard was still a bit sparse, and he'd polished his armor until it was glossy. All in all, Zeb thought he cut quite a dashing figure. He was looking forward to competing in some of the sporting events this year, maybe spear throwing, rock climbing or marksmanship. There was a certain young female with a very fetching pattern of stripes-- a Shaman initiate named Shulma-- whom he hoped would be watching. Perhaps if he managed to place in one--or more!--of the competitions she’d be impressed enough to let him buy her a mug of cider at one of the booths. And then his mother said the words he’d been dreading: “Take Garashai with you.” Garashai--Shai for short--the youngest of the five Orrelios siblings, had just turned fourteen dust seasons old, almost six years younger than Zeb, and was possibly the peskiest kit on the face of Lasan. When he was born, Zeb went from being the annoying tag-along little brother to having an annoying tag-along little brother. He’d gained a partner in crime--and occasional scapegoat--in tormenting their three older sisters, as well as a fervent admirer who believed he could do no wrong--flattering, really, and so true. Lately, though, all that ever present enthusiasm was starting to get on Zeb’s nerves. “Aw, karabast, Ma…” He was never going to be able to make some time with Shulma with his stripeless kid brother in tow. “I’m a soldier now, not a babysitter! Why can’t one of the girls watch the kit?” His mother smacked him just hard enough on the back of the head. “You watch your language, Garazeb!” Herleva Orrelios had been a captain in the High Honor Guard in her youth, a gifted commander, and now she applied those skills--including the scowl that had subdued countless cadets--to managing her family. “Your sisters have their own responsibilities. Zefora’s got her hands full with her own kits this year. Signi’s helping Gran and me cook, and Priska’s working at the Honor Guard’s ale tent.” Her green eyes narrowed to dangerous slits. “And if you think being a cadet makes you too big to watch your brother, you just remember that I…” “Alright, alright,” Zeb muttered, before she could work her way up to full captain pitch. When Ma got on a tear, discretion was definitely the better part of valor. He stomped out of the kitchen, through the conversation circle, and out the door. Waiting, like his shadow, next to the beat-up old X-31 landspeeder was Shai, his green eyes peeking impishly from underneath an unruly thatch of dark purple hair. “I heard!” he exclaimed, with a grin that was too big for his face. He vaulted into the passenger seat. “C’mon, Zebby, let’s go! I saved up my credits all dust season! I’m gonna play ring toss and darts and buy a new belt knife, ooh, and get some mazna berry tarts and spiced nuts and…” “Yeah, sounds great.” If you were an immature kit with nothing better to do. “But first we’re gonna head over to the north end of the Parade Grounds. I wanna sign up for some of the games.” He expected Shai to protest the delay, but his brother lit up like a Solstice flare. “Aw, yeah! I almost forgot about them! Dad says they're just full of fool kits showing off these days. He and Uncle Nereshai spend the whole time yakking about how much better cadets were in their day. And last year, Uncle Nere bought me a dozen mazna berry tarts not to tell Gran how much he’d lost betting. Hey, bet I could win a few credits on the games! I’d bet on you, of course, ’cause you’re gonna win.” “Kid, no one’s going to let a stripeless kit like you bet on anything.” Zeb harrumphed. Was the kid gonna blabber on all the way to Lira Zel? It sure looked that way. “I'm not a kit!” Shai exclaimed, straightening up in his seat to look extra tall. “This was my fourteenth dust season! And my stripes are too coming in! Look, right there!” He pointed to a spot on his left cheek that might have been ever so slightly darker purple than the rest. “See!” “Yeah, you’re really something, Shai.” Zeb rolled his eyes. “Be growin’ a beard before you know it.” Shai beamed as they pulled into the speeder lot. “Then I’m gonna be in the Honor Guard just like you! And when you’re captain, I’ll be your lieutenant. Orrelios brothers together! Aw, yeah!” He leapt out of the speeder and pumped his fist with a kit-like enthusiasm. “Sure, kid, whatever.” Zeb hunched over, wishing he could hide from the curious eyes and knowing smiles of the other Lasat who were on their way to the festival. The southern part of the parade grounds were given over to the carnival games and booths, but the northern end hosted some of the festival’s sporting events, like wrestling and weight-lifting. Others, like the rock climbing, bo-rifle marksmanship, and javelin competitions were held in the canyons on the outskirts of Lira Zel, though the registration for all of them was held in the northwest corner. The Guard’s quartermaster, a scar-faced Lasat, was signing up competitors by event and age group. Cadets and guards, both male and female, gathered in clusters, discussing the games and their chances, subtly showing off for one another. “Orrelioooooos!” A strident voice called out from the crowd. Zeb looked over to see a tall, rangy young Lasat waving madly as he jogged towards him, followed by two others, one short and burly, built like a bantha, and the other just average, but already with an impressively full beard. Barogroz, Gunvar, and Velibor were all cadets in his class; Zeb wasn’t surprised to see them here. Groz was a natural at the javelin, and Gunvar almost certainly had a lock on weight-lifting and wrestling for the cadet category. “There you are,” Groz said. “Wonderin’ when you were gonna get here.” He grinned slyly. “We’re headed out to the Warrior this year, Zeb! You’ve got to come, too.” Zeb groaned. Like every other male Lasat his age, he’d been looking forward to the day he was old enough to try his luck at scaling the Warrior, the great rock spire that loomed over Lira Zel. It was considered an act of great prowess to climb the structure from its base to the needle of stone that towered forty meters high. Every year, young--and not so young--males competed to see who could climb the highest, in hopes of impressing the crowd of young--and not so young--females watching. It was finally his turn, and… “I can’t go. Ma stuck me babysitting.” His friends gave answering groans of sympathy. “C’mon, Zeb, the girls are going to be there!” Velibor, with his nattily trimmed facial hair, fancied himself quite the ladies’ man. He’d already hit on half the female cadets in their class (though Zeb had it on good authority that more than half of them had hit him--literally--for his advances). He raised one eyebrow at Zeb. “I bet she’ll be there.” “I don’t know who you’re talking about.” “Yeah, you do...the one with the strrrrrrripes.” Velibor rolled the resh suggestively and waggled his eyebrows. “Bet they go all the way down, too!” “Ooh, look, he’s blushing like a little girl!” Gunvar slapped a boulder-sized hand against his knee with a deep, bellowing laugh. “Aw, don’t tell me you never thought of that!” Zeb glowered at them. Some friends. Even if he might have thought of Shulma that way--but there was no way he’d admit that to them--he definitely didn’t want them talking about her like that, especially not in front of his little brother! “Look, I can’t go. Ma would skin me alive if I took Shai all the way out to the Warrior. You know my mom; would you wanna get on her bad side?” “So leave him here to play all the kit games while we go.” Groz shook his head. “Seriously, Zeb, how much trouble can he get in at a Storms’ End carnival? There’re guards everywhere…” “And Ma would beat me and then skin me if I left him alone!" Gunvar threw up his meaty hands. “Zeb! The girls! The Warrior! Ditch the kit and let’s go!” Shai, who had been listening silently to their conversation, his face steadily darkening like a miniature purple thunderstorm, sprang in between Zeb and Gunvar. “I’m not a kit! I’m fourteen!” Next to Gunvar, Shai looked like a konculor cub facing down a bull bantha. He darted a fierce look back at his brother. “And Zebby wouldn’t do that to me!” “See, Zebby?” Velibor asked with a snickering smirk. “He’s not a kit. He’ll be fine.” “It’s Garazeb to you.” Zeb jabbed a finger into the other cadet’s chest. Just because he had that stupid beard and the bantha chops, Velibor thought he was so superior. Turning to his little brother, he dug into his belt pouch, and got out half the credits he’d brought for cider and pastries or whatever else Shulma might like. “Here, Shai, take these and have fun at the carnival. I’ll be back to pick you up in a couple hours, okay?” Shai looked down at the credits for a long moment. His face fell. For an instant Zeb thought the kit was about to burst into tears, but his downturned mouth stretched into a snarl. He slapped away Zeb’s hand and his credits. “Sure, whatever, Garazeb.” He stomped off into the crowd without a backwards glance. “Shai…!” Groz laid a hand on his shoulder before Zeb could go after him. “Aw, let him go, Zeb. He’s just a moody kit. We’ve got to get going if we want a turn before the sun gets high. You do want to impress Mistress Stripes, don’t you?” Zeb hesitated as Shai’s form disappeared into the throng of milling festival-goers. He knew he ought to go after the kit. Ma was going to kill him when she found out. But...the Warrior and Shulma…. It was the Storms’ End fair. Shai would play some games, have some fun, win some prizes. He’d get over it; he’d understand. And Shulma was probably already out at the Warrior with the other girls. Zeb thought about her masses of long, dark hair, her wavy stripes…. “Yeah,” he sighed. “Yeah, let’s go.” Spoiler: ”Notes” Notes: Lasat and Lasan fanon created by @Raissa Baiard and @Findswoman Juvenile Lasats are known as kits. A Lasat’s stripes begin to darken around puberty. Children have no stripes or very faint ones. Prominent stripes are considered attractive. Male siblings often have names beginning with the same prefix (e.g., Garazeb, Garashai). Male name suffixes (-zeb, -shai, -gron, -bor, etc.) are often passed down from one generation to the next; for example, three successive generations might be named Avishai, Nereshai, and Garashai. Climbing the rock spires is a rite of passage for Lasat youth; young males endeavor to climb the tallest spires possible, particularly the one known as the Warrior. During the Storms’ End Festival (see below) young males will often try to climb the Warrior in order to impress watching females. Storms’ End Festival Storms’ End festival marks the end of the Dust Season. In contrast to the Storm Solstice Festival, Storms’ End is joyful and celebratory. Thanks are given to the Ashla for seeing them through another Dust Season, and it is marked by family gatherings and feasts. Roasting an entire prongbok or sheep is a common part of these feasts. Many towns also host a Storms’ End carnival, with children's games and sporting contests, as well as booths selling food and wares from local vendors. Since the Lasat measure time in Dust Seasons, this is also the beginning of a new year on the Lasat calendar. Prongbok: an antelope-like creature well adapted to Lasan’s rocky terrain and arid climate. These quadrupeds are a bluish gray in color, with white fur on their rumps, sides, breasts, bellies, and across their throats. They have a dark blue blaze down their nose, and a dark patch under their chins. Both males and females have short, but sharp, pronged antlers above their eyes. Prongbok stand a little more than a meter tall and weigh 50-75 kg Bristlecone: a large, extremely long-lived conifer. These trees have twisting trunks and are often found clinging to rocky, inhospitable slopes. A symbol of longevity and perseverance. Geniper: a tree with small, waxy leaves and blue gray, cone-shaped fruit. The fruit is often distilled into liquor, and is also used in curing meat and flavoring food, particularly salads. The unprocessed fruit is said to taste like a cross between mint chewing gum and industrial glue. Mazna berries: a spreading, green leaved shrub with clusters of showy pink, urn shaped flowers. The flowers are followed by green berries which turn rusty red when ripe. Konculor: a large feline predator. Lavender-gray in color, a konculor can stand nearly a meter high at the shoulder, and can be over 2 meters long from nose to tail. They prey on prongbok, sheep, and rock goats, but are rarely seen near populated areas.