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Kettle of Shig

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The training grounds of the Vizsla compound are always busy. Utrelsor Vizsla knows this well, since she’s lived here all her life, but she also knows quite well how to find the people she’s looking for.

After all, the best way to find her darling ori’vode is to look for where the most people are watching.

She loves them, she does, even Jaster who Kori’b uir only brought into the family a year and a half ago.

But they’re both way too popular.

She elbows her way through the mass of beskar’gam, shoving someone who tries to whap her buy’ce and causing a bit of an avalanche. She gets plenty of room after that and is able to pop out of the crush of people to watch her two favourite di’kute.

Tor has his beskar painted completely black, because he is the most literal person she knows, while Jaster has added bits of red and shades of grey to his. Both men wield beskade and they’re making a show of it instead of training properly. It makes her roll her eyes, but she can’t deny the small curl of envy in her gut. She’s only just turning twenty, while both of her vode are nearing twenty- three , and the differences are clear. At least Jaster, with his clear t ogruta heritage, has a reason to be absurdly tall. Tor however has not a single one, being the tallest one in their family.

Where, she wonders, did he get the height? Not from Kori’buir, who is barely taller than her, and not from her and Tor’s other buir, who was actually even shorter . Sure, they might all be average in height, but that means nothing with these two around.

She’s forever going to be the vod’ika in their shadows.

Tor makes a showy twirl and pays for it when Jaster gets the dull side of his beskad hooked up against the hilt and pulls, sending Tor’s flying to lodge itself into the packed soil of the training field.

Utrelsor grimaces, she knows that’s always a bitch to get out.

Tor laughs, though, and holds his hands up in surrender. He knows when he’s been bested, even if she suspects he doesn’t quite know how often Jaster bests him. Jaster holds his beskad aloft and the crowd cheers.

Jaster, she’s heard from everyone who comes through the compound, is going to be an amazing successor for Kori, and Tor will make a great lieutenant. She hopes they haven’t told Tor that. It may be true, but her biological brother considers his pride far more than his namesake justice, even if he lies to himself otherwise.

He’s a good older brother, she’d tell anyone. He is. He’s always been there to be helpful, always been a shoulder to cry on and someone to threaten her boyfriends, always been there to help with her modules and tease her and help her cut her hair.

But Jaster was adopted for a reason. He’s a good brother two, and she likes him enough to call him a friend, but he’s not really here to be part of their family.

He’s here because Kori’buir wanted to make the succession clear.

Many years from now, when Kori’buir dies, it’s going to be Jaster with the responsibility of leading their people.

Jaster notices her first, pulling his buy’ce off and grinning as he fishes her out of the crowd. Tor slaps her back, still laughing at himself and at Jaster.

It feels good.

She’d be happy if it could be like this forever.



Utrelsor leans back in her chair, her upper lip curled to keep her stylus in place there while she thinks. She gets why Jaster asks her to proof his papers—Tor may love that he found such a smart vod but he also has no idea how to edit and Kori’buir is always busy—but some of this stuff goes over her head if she’s too tired.

“You should keep all four feet on the ground,” the offending ori’vod says pleasantly from across the table from her.

She flips him off.

“What are you having trouble with?” he asks.

“I’m not having trouble,” she protests, taking the stylus back in her fingers and glaring at him. She does sit the chair fully back against the library’s wooden floors, though. “I just have to think about it. You give me some real high level osik you know?”

“It’s not osik,” he protests.

She gives him a flat look. “When are you going back to Keldabe City?” she asks.

He purses his lips. “We have meetings from the eighteenth to the twentieth, but classes start on the twenty-first and they’re having me do classes at the polytechnic in the capital here.”

“Do you need it done by then?”

“Nayc,” he drawls, shrugging. “It’s for end of term, technically.”

“Overachiever,” she mutters.

He beams at her. “If you found something you liked, you’d be like this too.”

Doubt. Still, she tells him, “I’ll have it done by the time you get back for classes. I am going to bum it in your apartment for a week though.”

His smile turns into a smirk. “You want to learn more Concordian swear words, don’t you.”

“Duh.” Concordia may speak a variation of Concordian dialect, too, but Concord Dawn’s is more varied, and she and Tor have had court talk drilled into them. The Vizslas having a title keeps them in check, allegedly, along with the Wrens and a few other families.

Utrelsor hates it.

So Jaster teaches her Concordian dialect and she teaches him Sundari dialect and they both scrabble as much of the Keldabe City dialect from Jaster’s colleagues and professors as possible.

“Do you know when Tor gets back from the mine check?” Jaster asks. He looks out the window.

Sometimes Utrelsor wonders why Kori’buir didn’t let them court, why he adopted Jaster instead, but she knows more about politics than she should to let herself wonder too much. “You can do better than him,” she says instead of changing the subject or just telling him.

Jaster scowls and firmly doesn’t look at her. The tips of his ears go a little red. “I just—.”

“One day you’re going to find someone awesome,” she says with a sniff. “And I’m going to tell you ‘I told you so’ and make you get a dumb tattoo with whoever the guy’s name is, and he’ll be just as smart as you and a hell of a lot less prideful.”

“It’s not like that,” Jaster protests weakly. “We just have plans to spar tonight.”

“Ah hah.”

Her accent on that particular phrase breaks the tension, sending Jaster into frantic giggling that a man his size shouldn’t be able to produce. “Sometimes I do wonder if you like your ori’vod,” he admits after a moment.

“Of course I do.” She trusts Tor more than anyone with her worries, but right now she’s between boyfriends and doesn’t have any.

“So do you not like me?” he asks.

Utrelsor stares at him. She throws the stylus at him.

It bounces off his forehead and results in a look like a surprised gi.

“Of course I like you, di’kut. It feels like you always should have been here, most of the time. You’re my ori’vod too, so don’t forget it.”

Jaster smiles, but it’s really sad in comparison to earlier. She wonders, sometimes, about what he left behind on Concord Dawn.

She’d like to give his old boss a piece of her mind. And a few broken teeth.

Hmm, maybe she can convince her project for this season to be hunting down the aliit of the bastard Jaster got exiled for killing. They may be rich but they’re not as powerful as the Vizslas.

Her thoughts are interrupted by the door to the library swinging open. They both look over to find Tor, his intact beskar’gam still coated in mine dust, with a manic edge to his eyes but a big grin.

“Don’t breathe in too much dust, di’kut,” Utrelsor drawls.

“Yeah,” Jaster adds in a matching drawl.

The manic edge ebbs away and is replaced with a pout. “Stop ganging up on me.”

The two of them share a look, then look back at their vod. As one, they say, “Nayc.”

“You’re both horrible, you know that? Absolutely terrible, the worst siblings a man could ask for. I ought to tie you both by your feet from the announcement poll!”

“Tor,” Utrelsor says, smiling.

He shuts his mouth and gulps.

What did you need that made you step into our calm, peaceful, quiet library while still covered in mine dust?”

“Oh.” Tor flushes. “Kori’buir wants to see us.”

Ah.

“Go change and have someone hose your beskar off,” Jaster says, taking charge. “We’ll make shig.”



Making shig doesn’t really take too long, but their household is full of particular people. This means that instead of a generally agreed upon set of mixes of herbs for the infusion, there are jars with each ingredient that at least one person who lives at the compound likes.

Jaster heats the water in the kettle while Utrelsor picks out the different herbs.

More behot for Kori’buir and Jaster, less for her and Tor. The former will be up half the night while the latter will be sleeping like normal people. Veshok needles for Jaster and Tor. Purple stars for her and Kori’buir. Some weird herb from Concord Dawn goes in Jaster’s cup, but she adds a little less for herself. She actually likes the taste pretty well, just not as strong as Jaster. Maybe the veshok needles balance it out or something. Then some bluebell buds for Kori’buir and some black mint for Tor and they’re ready for water.

Well, when they get to the office. She puts the cups on the tray and gets the heat protector ready so Jaster can deposit the steaming kettle directly on.

She makes him carry it.

Sure, she can haul the thing herself, but ori’vode are supposed to be useful.

Tor meets them at the door and takes the tray from Jaster and Utrelsor graciously ignores the grin Tor shoots him and the way his ears go red again.

Utrelsor pushes the door open. “Buir, we’re here. We brought shig.”

Kori Vizsla looks up from his datapad, filled with enough documentation that if it were all on flimsi it would probably break the desk, and smiles at them, his lined face showing a dimple. “You were faster than I thought.”

She and Jaster look over at tor, who averts his eyes and whistles.

“Come on, sit.”

They all shuffle to their favourite seats, Tor setting the tray on the desk. Kori’buir pours the water himself, then passes the cups to exactly the right person. It’s one of the few things Utrelsor wishes she could do, but even Jaster can’t, yet, so she doesn’t pout too badly.

Utrelsor sits back and savours the taste of her shig and from the gentle quiet, everyone else is doing so too.

It’s like normal family time, almost, except for the distinction that Kori’buir called them into his office. This isn’t one of the common rooms in the core family part of the compound. This isn’t after dinner. So there’s a notable tension in the air.

After a deep sigh, Kori’buir says, “A’den Fett passed away two days ago.”

Jaster startles, sucking in a quick breath and then coughing hard. Tor and Utrelsor both smack his shoulders for him as he coughs up a bit of shig. “He’s dead,” he says, and it’s the most gutted Utrelsor has ever heard him sound.

“A’den Fett was the aliit’alor of the Fetts, wasn’t he?” Tor asks their buir.

Kori’buir nods seriously. “His ad, Parjaya, has now taken his place.”

Jaster looks a bit pale. “Osik,” he mutters, setting his shig down and putting his face in his hands. “And I can’t even…”

Utrelsor pats his shoulder. “You know them?”

Jaster nods, but doesn’t look up. “He was an apprentice protector who I helped train, right before. Everything.”

“It seems they knew it was coming,” Kori’buir says gently. “He’s Utrelsor’s age, isn’t he? Why don’t you two arrange to meet him at one of the space stations when he has time.”

Jaster looks up, but his eyes are a bit blank. Utrelsor hadn’t noticed how much light he put into them before now, and it’s kind of scary.

Where did her ori’vod go?

She looks over at Tor, who at least is similarly worried.

“Why?” Jaster asks, the question coming out in more of a croak.

Kori’buir’s gaze, she thinks, goes a little hard. “Because your friend is now the head of clan Fett. I was on well with A’den, but you three are the next generation, and Tor has work. And I think young Parjaya could use a break.”

It’s the last sentence that has Jaster bowing his head again. He nods once, then picks himself up and takes himself to the door. “I’ll message him.”

Tor hops up, already going after him and leaving Utrelsor alone with their buir.

“That’s not it, is it?” she asks him.

Kori’buir shrugs and leans back, sighing. “I knew he wouldn’t take it well.”

“Buir,” Utrelsor says, “why am I going too?”

He looks over at her, like he’s measuring her. It’s times like these she knows that if she and Tor were born Force s ensitive like him, she’d be the one in Jaster’s place right now. Most of the time, he’s a good buir.

But right now, he’s being a good Mand’alor.

He sighs again and sits back up, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Jaster is going to be the next Mand’alor.”

She knows this.

“Tor won’t react well.”

She also knows this.

“I think there will be a civil war.”

That...that she didn’t know. She stares baldly at him, then frantically looks back at the shut door to the office. “What do you mean? Tor loves Jaster! Even if he gets pissed, he wouldn’t…”

Kori’buir shakes his head. “I know you don’t want to think he could do it...but I don’t have that luxury. He thinks it’s his place, and when it comes down to what he thinks, well, you said it yourself. He loves Jaster. He doesn’t think of his as his aliit. If I weren’t Mand’alor, if that title wasn't in the cards, he’d probably cancel Jaster’s adoption just to marry him. And that means…”

“He’s willing to forget he’s family if he decides he's an enemy too.” Utrelsor squeezes her hands together.

“Right. But, Ut’ika, Jaster won’t have children. Not if he’s fighting a war, especially.”

Jaster wouldn’t dare put a child at risk until they were ready, not unless he had no other choice. And if he had the choice not to have any that he could put in the line of fire.

Not have any to be at risk of their ba’vodu.

“So, what? Are you relying on me for the next Vizsla ‘alor?”

Kori’buir cracks a tired smile at her. “No. If I thought it was better, I’d make it so you were Vizsla’alor yourself. But I think it is better if you find out if this young journeyman protector is the kind of person you like.”

“He’s on Concord Dawn. Away from where the war would be.”

“Mostly. But more than that, he’s a Fett. Force sensitivity runs strong in that family, and they are well known for being strategists for Mand’alore. Not just Cassus Fett. A’den was one of the people I trusted most among the aliit’alor. We weren’t truly friends, but I knew he’d always be honest and he wanted the best for our people.”

She stares at him. “You want me to, what. Make sure that Fett is on Jaster’s side.”

He shrugs again. “Which side you take is up to you,” he says, even if he sounds exhausted. “You don’t have to choose either, if you don’t want to. No...the best bet for the end of the war, if Jaster can’t do it...is going to be if you have Fett children. Children with Vizsla and Fett heritage...A Mand’alor like that would be able to change the galaxy.”

She looks at her hands, where she’s digging her fingertips into the thin flesh around her knuckles. “Buir—.”

It’s up to you. I just wanted you to know my ulterior motives for you meeting him. I do want you to be happy, too, so you’re the one who decides what happens there.

Right.” Shab, she doesn’t want to deal with this. She just wanted to hunt down those that hurt Jaster, hurt her family, and like. She doesn’t know, sleep around a bit? Be the lady of the house and protect her di’kut’la ori’vode from social politics?

She doesn’t want them to fall apart.

“I can’t stop it, can I?” she asks.

“You know your brother,” Kori’buir whispers. When she looks up, he’s turned around to stare out his office window.

He can’t stop it either.

He’s tried, she knows. He taught Tor all about what a Mand’alor actually needs. He raised him so Tor would be able to support the next Mand’alor.

“I’ll meet him,” she says finally. “But I can’t promise anything.”

He doesn’t turn around and smile at her. She wishes he did.

She’s glad he didn’t.

Chapter Text

Utrelsor is nervous, despite herself. She was determined to be calm, cool, and collected, in the face of her buir’s dire predictions.

But then Jaster happened.

This happens somewhat frequently, Utrelsor has preconceived notions, Jaster doesn’t notice them and starts talking, and it all changes.

It’s one of her favourite things about him.

But right now, she’s resenting him for it.

“Parjaya’s a smart kid,” he says as they fly toward the Kar’gal space station. “A lot of JP on Concord Dawn are legacies, their buire were JP and they were trained earlier than most, and he’s not really different in that. But his family has connections to Chalacta, and he spent a few years there with relatives to become a Chalactan Adept, so he’s one of the most level heads on, well. On Concord Dawn.”

Utrelsor considers that and considers her aliit. She wouldn’t call her buir or either of her ori’vode wild, but they aren’t people she would consider level headed. Smart, yes, and clever. But not level-headed. Calm takes work, and none of them seem to have time for that.

It might be nice to be around someone practised in it.

“What else?” she prods.

“Hm. He tends to read a lot about either farming practises and histories when he’s on duty. When I visited when we were off duty, he spent a lot of time outside. Farming or just being outside. There’s a huge tree near the Fett vhetta, and I once had to find him to sign some paperwork, and I had to drag him down.”

“Buir said there’s a lot of Force sensitive in his family.”

Mm. He’s not quite as sensitive as Kori and I, but he’s quite a bit more than you and Tor. Typically, the main line of his family produces the Force sensitives. They’re kind of...seen as too different, by the branch lines. Maybe some of it is some resentment from ancestors not being in line with the head of the family position. Maybe it’s from a sense they’re more dangerous, even as children. Maybe it’s a view that those are the ones that go to Chalacta, so they’re innately different… When I met him when we were children, he was more insecure because of it. It was different when he joined the JP.”

“Huh.”

Jaster shoots her a smile. “He’s genuine, too. I think that’s what Kori liked about A’den, from how I remember him.”

Kori’buir had called A’den honest, but it feels different how Jaster says it. Genuine.

She’s excited to meet him.



Jaster’s skin is dark, a warm brown, but he has light brown markings that echo complicated antlers, inherited from his togruta ba’buir.

Parjaya Fett has the same warm brown skin, without the markings. Under the harsh light of the space station, Utrelsor can even see freckles on his face, which is handsome. His lips smile easily, even when she factors in Jaster being around, and he wears two dots of gold on his forehead.

Jaster had said he was a Chalactan Adept but she hadn’t expected him to wear the evidence in Mandalore space.

Parjaya smiles gently at her, reaching out to clasp wrists with her. “Jat’urc.”

“Jate’urcir,” she greets him, unable to help but smile back. “I am Utrelsor Vizsla.” After a beat, she adds, “Jaster’s adopted younger sister.” She’s sure Jaster told him, but it’s only appropriate. “Ni suvarir gar echoy.”

“Vor entye.” He ducks his head.

Something Jaster hadn’t told her, the bastard, was that Parjaya is shorter than her. It’s only by a few centimeters, but it’s noticeable.

She loves that, a little bit.

“We should eat,” Jaster says, drawing both of their attention to him and the poorly hidden smirk on his face.



They eat and Jaster and Parjaya catch up about what’s been happening on Concord Dawn, which gives Utrelsor the benefit of learning about what the social life there is like. It’s not unlike home, but things are far more centered on agriculture than mines or forestry.

At the end, she and Parjaya exchange comm codes and for a few hours on the way home she worries that might be the end of that.

All those nerves, all that worry about what her buir told her he wanted from her, and she’s worrying that might be the end. But the truth of the matter is she can tell she’d like to be friends with him. Maybe, even, she’d like to be more. She doesn’t want it to be over.

But she gets a ping as they’re nearing home.

[I arrived home safely. I hope you and Jaster are doing the same.]

She smiles at her comm. [Almost home. I’ll let you know when we get there.]

[:-)]

Her cheeks feel warm and her belly feels like laughing.

“You like him?” Jaster asks, a note of teasing in his voice.

“Yeah,” she admits without a shred of self-consciousness. “I like him.”



She messages him when they arrive safely, but that’s not all. A few days later, when she arrives at Jaster’s apartment, she snaps the typical holo of the family’s academic dead-eyed after meetings and, instead of just sending it to Kori’buir and Tor, she whims to send it to Parjaya too.

[He hasn’t changed.] is what she gets in return.

And that starts it.

He sends her a buy’ce snap of a brawl with one of his colleagues looking on with clear disdain and annoyance in the foreground.

She sends him a snap of the younger kids she’s helping train for their verd’goten acting similarly.

Meat skewers from a market day.

Jaster’s horrible pantry.

A pan of tiingilar in progress.

A view of the forest.

A view of the vhettin.

Each snap is followed by hours of messages exchanged in bursts during their bits of free time, talking to each other and learning about each other, making jokes between the two of them, comforting each other about loneliness and frustration.

Her family notices how often she smiles at her comm. Kori’buir says nothing, just looks smug, so he’s easy enough to ignore. Jaster always asks about Parjaya with genuine friendship.

Tor is the one who takes issue with it.

“What’s so great about this guy?” he asks, leaning over her shoulder while she shoves his chin up so he can’t look. “I swear you smile more at your comm than people.”

She sticks her tongue out at him from where she’s curled up in one of the library chairs, typing out a response to a recipe Parjaya has sent her. She may not cook but she likes to eat, and she knows when something won’t work.

“When are we going to meet him?” Tor asks after it’s clear she won’t humour him about details.

“I don’t want you scaring off my new friend,” she drawls, sniggering when he pouts dramatically. “Come on Tor, let me keep him to myself a bit longer.”

“Are you going to date him?”

She shrugs. She’d like to. He’s cute and funny and smart and, like Jaster had said, he’s calm. It’s made her look at her life seriously to try and see what is different. He’s attractive to her not just physically and mentally, she’s realized. The kind of life he lives, the kind of pace that Concord Dawn seems to have… She likes it.

She wouldn’t be disappointed with her life, to go there.

Her comm beeps and she opens up the message. It’s another snap, this time of a large tree. It’s looking up and the perspective makes it look like it’s going on forever, with thick bark that rounds into swirls, almost as if the shapes are carved in to make them stand out more as they grow. She can’t tell how wide it is either, except that she probably couldn’t get her arms to even tap on the other side.

Another beep, this time a snap with a very different view. It’s looking down through foliage, out at the vhetin she’s seen before. It’s cosy, she thinks, and private.

It’s the tree that Jaster said that Parjaya always hung out in.

Oh.

She hops up and shoves Tor to the side.

“What the…”

She ignores him, instead slinking through the shelves back to the area she goes when she wants to be alone, the place that’s hers and has been hers since she could remember. It’s just a little corner, by a window, with a look out to the dark green and mist of the forest that surrounds the compound.

She takes the snap, checks the composition, and sends it.

It’s a return gift. He showed her something personal, something just his. So she does the same.

She looks up from the comm out at the shivering fog and trees.

She needs to see him again.



Parjaya had sent Utrelsor a snap of his beskar’gam because he was repainting it. She’d gotten one snap of him with paint on his nose and a brush in his hand and one with the finished product laid out.

So she knows who she’s looking for, when she lands on Concord Dawn.

She blasts through landing check and grabs her bag, tossing it over her shoulder before removing herself from the little ship. The Concord Dawn spaceport is rural and informal, relying on the ship owners to lock up their own belongings and toe the line or risk the JP, so she handles that on her own and enjoys the lack of documentation. Most residents and visitors apparently just land right at their own homes, but she’s trying to be polite. Not everyone wants to hand out their coordinates for a space attack.

She spots Parjaya’s blue and green beskar’gam and her feet move faster on their own, breaking into a run until she tackles him with a hug.

He laughs and swings her around, but then drops her like she’s heated beskar.

She flails. “Sorry, sorry, is that okay? Can I just...hug you? Is that—.”

“I’m so sorry for swinging you around,” he’s babbling at the same time. “I was just so excited but I get if you don’t—.”

They both stop and stare at each other, then burst out laughing. Utrelsor leans into his touch.

“I’m perfectly fine with that greeting,” he says as his laughter calms. He even wraps his arms around her and squeezes her.

“And I’m perfectly fine with being swung around,” she replies, gripping his kute.

“Well, then that’s that,” he says. “Come on, I brought the speeder and I need to start cooking once we get to the house or we’ll eat way too late.”



They spend three days together, in separate bedrooms, and Parjaya works the last day so he can’t see her off, but it’s good. The companionable atmosphere from their comm conversations carried over.

“Next time, you need to come visit me,” she tells him, grinning as she sees him off.

“I will, as soon as I get enough leave lined up.” He goes up on his toes and kisses the corner of her mouth. She flushes. “Ret’urcye mhi.”

“Ret’urcye mhi,” she echoes, watching him go. She touches where he kissed and slowly a smile creeps over her face. As she turns back into the house she can’t conceal her emotions anymore. She punches the air and lets out a shrill shriek of delight. “Yes! Shab, yes!”

She grins the whole way back to Concordia.



It’s about a month until Parjaya gets together enough time to come visit—Utrelsor’s month is mostly filled with floating around and taking revenge and or beating on her ori’vode every time they tease her about it.

The moment Parjaya gets the dates he’ll be visiting to her, it all changes. She switches gears to cleaning the guest room nearest the family rooms, where he’ll be staying. It gets opened up and aired out, it gets scrubbed, the sheets are washed, then changed, then changed again. She gets stopped before she can actually renovate anything, though Kori’buir has a look of deep amusement on his face when he tells her this.

And then, because her buir apparently wants her dead, he says, “You know he can stay in your room, right?”

All the blood rushes to her face and she very carefully takes the pillow she’s been fluffing and throws it square in his face. “Shut up, buir!”

The old man laughs uproariously all the way down the wall.

She huffs and goes to pick up the pillow. She needs to change the case now. She’s still blushing furiously as she sits down heavily on the bed, hugging the pillow to her chest. It’s probably fair for them to all tease her, she’s not been like this with any of her past boyfriends. Maybe it is Kori’buir’s fault, for planting the idea of marriage in her head before she ever even met him, but she wants her family to like Parjaya, she wants him to like them, and really, really she wants him to be comfortable here.

She buries her face in the pillow and screams.

She likes him, she does. She really, really likes him, even more than she ever liked any of her exes. He likes her for herself, not her aliit. He makes her feel safe and comfortable, he doesn’t make her want to mess around with swoop bikes or racing or to start screaming half the time.

Maybe she’s just had really bad boyfriends up until now.

She grimaces. That’s probably it. That’s kind of what she’s come to expect: anyone interested in the Vizsla name is going to be, like her ori’vode, interested in war, whether that’s one of the odd Crusader-wanna-bes that come around sometimes or someone like Tor who is very traditional or someone like Jaster who wants change.

Parjaya’s no pacifist, he’d probably be insulted by the term. But the way he moves through life it feels like he thinks war, strife, violence is an inevitability to work through, to help others through, and to come out the other side again.

Utrelsor likes that. She gets that. It fits more with Jaster than Tor, unsurprisingly, but it’s also comforting to her, who has been surrounded by waging war her entire life.

She is ad’be’Mand’alor.

She picks herself up off the bed and goes and changes the pillow case, but slower now, without the manic edge her preparations were taking. She fluffs it, sets it down, and considers the bed.

She’ll ask him, she decides, if he’d rather stay with her.



Finally, finally, finally Parjaya is arriving.

Utrelsor stands on the edge of the tarmac, bouncing on her toes. Kori’buir and Tor are behind her and she’s sure they’re both smirking, but she doesn’t care.

Parjaya is here.

He comes off his ship and immediately drops his bag, which is good because she rushes towards him with another tackling hug and he once again swings her around with her feet up off the ground. Once again, they laugh.

If only every greeting after they’ve been apart could be like this, in the future.

“Su cuy gar,” she greets, pulling back to beam at him.

He grins right back. “Su cuy gar.”

She drops back to the ground, boots hitting the tarmac with a satisfying slap, and she turns back to her buir and ori’vod while Parjaya picks his bag back up. “Jaster is finishing up a class and then he’s coming home for the holiday.”

Parjaya snickers. “Jaster isn’t who I came to see, so that’s fine with me.”

She turns back and sticks her tongue out at his cheeky smile, then gestures back to the other members of her aliit. “You’ve talked with my buir, Kori Vizsla, before.”

“Su cuy gar, Mand’alor,” Parjaya says, dipping his head.

“And this is my ori’vod, Tor Vizsla,” she adds, gesturing to the man in question.

The two clasp each others’ wrists and nod seriously.

“It’s good to see you in the flesh,” Kori’buir tells Parjaya. “I’m glad I didn’t have to wait for the next aliit’alore council.”

Parjaya grimaces; he’ll actually have to attend the first one as the new Fett’alor in person.

“Come along, we’ll show you around the compound.”



Utrelsor rolls over and buries her face in Parjaya’s neck, eyelashes fluttering against his skin.

He giggles.

“Are you awake?” she asks.

“Nayc,” he says, still giggling. “Are you?”

“Hmm, na’su.”

He rolls a bit so they’re both on their sides and kisses her, morning sour but so good.

“Jaster and Tor want to spar today,” she reminds him. Jaster’s been home two days which is just enough for him to get claustrophobic. “Are you up for it?”

“While getting into a match or two with your or’tate is not on my personal wishlist, I don’t mind,” he says plainly. “I’m a clever fighter, but that doesn’t mean anything when you consider Jaster Mereel.”

“Tor’s no slouch with that either,” she says, “though he fights more dirty than clever. He’s the kind of man who doesn’t really care that ambushes aren’t honourable.”

Parjaya raises his eyebrows and she’s struck that it’s very weird seeing him without the marks of illumination he wears during the day. The bare spot is very noticeable, to her, and she leans over to kiss the spot between his brows. The temptation is too great. “Hey,” he protests, but he’s smiling again.

“You’ll be fine,” she says. “If they beat you too badly I’ll beat them up.”

“Ner gra’tua,” he drawls.

She smiles back brightly.

He kisses her again, and again, and again, and they’re late for breakfast.



As Utrelsor watches Parjaya and Tor grapple, she realizes something very important.

They forgot to tell Tor that Parjaya is Force sensitive.

She glances at Jaster, whose face has gone suddenly amused and anticipatory. She’s not the only one who realized, then.

She turns back to the grappling; it’ll be fine, Tor’s sturdy.

Tor goes for one of his more typical underhanded moves, grabbing some of the dusty, loose dirt that’s been scuffed up by their movements and tossing it in Parjaya’s eyes, and in response he’s flung about two meters. This would have been better if there hadn’t been a training dummy there, but alas, poor dummy.

“What the shab was that?” Tor bellows from where his limbs are tangled with the training dummy’s.

Jaster snickers.

Tor pops his head up, glaring angrily at Jaster. “You knew?!”

“We forgot to tell you,” Utrelsor says, shrugging.

Tor’s face curls further and she realizes, dimly, that he feels humiliated.

Great.

“If you hadn’t tried to blind him, he’d never have used it,” Jaster points out.

Speaking of, Utrelsor grabs some water and heads over to her boyfriend to help him wash the dirt out of his eyes.

Behind them, Tor and Jaster are arguing.

“Why in the Ka’rab sur’haaise is Ut’ika dating one of those,” Tor snarls particularly loudly, and Utrelsor’s blood goes cold.

“Hm.” Parjaya makes that little noise, but doesn’t say anything.

“Tor’s got a complex,” Utrelsor mutters, face hot with embarrassment about her ori’vod’s words. She’s grateful to hear the distinct sound of Jaster smacking him.

“It must be hard to be ad’be’Mand’alor with no sensitivity,” he replies thoughtfully, generously.

She smiles at him. “It’s not as bad as he makes it seem sometimes.”

He squeezes her hands. “You’re stronger than him, then.”



Tor and Parjaya mostly avoid each other for the rest of the visit, though shared meals become less and less tense, especially when Jaster goes back to his apartment to start classes up again. By the time Parjaya is ready to leave, they’re even chatting.

“Any further distance is because he’s stubborn,” Kori’buir tells both of them as he and Utrelsor see Parjaya off.

“I’m coming with Buir to the meeting,” she tells him once Kori’buir leaves them alone. “Just me.”

“Jaster’s not coming?”

“He said I should come, and Buir only ever brings one of us. The excuse for Tor is we need him to deal with the mines.”

Parjaya makes a thoughtful noise. “He said you should come because of me, didn’t he?”

She gives him the flat look she gave Jaster when he begged off. “Elek.”

He snickers. “I’ll have to get him a nice souvenir from Keldabe City, then.”

“We’ll get him a shirt from his university.”

That pulls out true laughter. “I’ll miss you.” It will only be a few weeks until they see each other again, but she understands. She’ll miss him too.

“Ret’urcye mhi, cyare,” she says, smiling softly. “Message me when you get home.”

“Elek. Ret’urcye mhi.” His dark eyes dance just before they disappear behind his buy’ce. “I’ll see you soon.”



“I hate these people,” Parjaya says, face shoved in his pillow.

Utrelsor pats his back soothingly. “I’m sure at least some of them hate you too.”

He snorts.

“Imagine what their faces would look like if we got married,” she jokes, because a number of the people who were giving him nasty looks are old friends of her buir’s. She’s not sure why they dislike him so much, except that there’s a considerable prejudice against Concord Dawn. She’s heard more than one muttering in her life about how the Fetts are wasted there.

Parjaya sputters, though, rolling over to stare at her with wide, wide eyes.

“What?” she asks.

“Do you want to?”

She blinks, considers what she said. “Oh.” It’s been less than a year since they met. They’re both very young, and she’s not sure how much of the rate of growth of the place in her heart for him is related to politics and her own worries about them. She’d like to think that plays no part, her buir is healthy, but… “Do you want to?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” He sits up, crossing his legs.

She chews on her lip. “Kori’buir says there’s going to be a war, when he dies.”

Parjaya goes very, very quiet. “People will buck tradition and, likely, a legitimate election to support Tor over Jaster.”

“That’s what he thinks, yeah.”

“So what…” He stops his question, squinting at her for a long moment. “Why me?”

“There haven’t been Vhett children with Vizsla blood since the Mandalorian Wars were in living memory.”

Parjaya’s teeth click together. “There has never been a Vhett elected Mand’alor.”

“I know.” The only Mand’alore the Fetts have in their history married in. To the point the clan is almost a hidden pedigree. If Mando’ade back then cared about it, it would have been enough to have many Fetts elected after. But instead, they’re only known to the general population as descendents of Cassus Vhett. Now days, there’s more care, but unless you’re interested in other clans’ genealogy or you’re related to Jaster Mereel, history nut that he is, you wouldn’t know.

They sit in silence.

“What do you think?” he finally asks. “About the position of Mand’alor.”

The only Mand’alor she knew before her buir was her baba’buir, a squat old woman name Parja who passed away when she was about four. The bare memories of the woman were of warm hugs, cold glares, and of crying when she died. “It’s a family role, for me, but that isn’t…the only reason that will continue after is because Kori’buir adopted Jaster, to make his view of who should succeed him clear. It doesn’t have to be like that. I don’t...I don’t think I want that, but we can’t control everything.”

He nods solemnly. “Right.” Despite everything, he still surprises her and leans over, taking her hands and squeezing them. “I still want to say the riduurok with you, though.”

“You’ll risk getting pulled into this mess?” she asks.

He shrugs. “I know what I’m signing on for.”

She squeezes his hands back. “Then I want to, too.”



The riduurok is said, for the most part, privately. It is a vow existing only between the two people, a connection only tying them together.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a celebration or two—or even more—for the relationship. Aliit and bur’cye, allies and colleagues, gather together to give the riduure gifts, to dance, to sing, to eat, to drink.

Utrelsor and Parjaya Fett have three. One at the Vizsla compound, one among the extended Fett aliit on Concord Dawn, and one with the Concord Dawn Journeyman Protectors.

The Concordia party is expensive and loud and has a frankly absurd amount of men crying about her getting married—none of whom are actually related to her—but overall is...the least important, in her opinion. It’s people she knows, it’s people she’s grown up around and who live on Concordia. The other parties introduce her to the world she’ll be living on. It lets her get used to the Fett aliit, and being the riduur of the head of the clan. It lets her get used to being the young riduur of a young JP.

By the time they’re settled and alone at the vhetta, they’re both exhausted.

But they’re happy, they fall into bed giggling to each other, they wake up and do the same. Parjaya cooks and Utrelsor cleans and soon they’re working on a good way for her to learn how to work the farm and the garden. It’s not even been a full year since A’den Fett marched ahead, but her life has completely changed.

And she can’t help but be excited for what’s ahead of them.

Chapter Text

If there is one thing that the Fetts have been both dreading and yearning for, it’s children.

Ba’jurir verde, they had sworn to each other, but those might have been the only two words of their riduurok that their voices shook on.

It’s not even a commandment that every set of riduure follow, but they’d talked, before, about wanting children. It had been in distant, fanciful terms during their courtship. Before they ever decided to say the words.

Before they ever really thought about saying the words.

But it’s only been a month and a half since they said the words that bind them together, and now Utrelsor is staring at the blood test results, feeling sick to her stomach.

It could just be morning sickness.

But it’s just as likely it’s anxiety. What will it mean, to have a Fett child? To have a child when her buir is Mand’alor and her riduur is also Force sensitive? Will her blood be kar’tigaanur?

When they know the likelihood of what the future holds and what her buir was trying to plan for by having them meet?

At least Kori’buir has never forced her to go along with his schemes.

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to curse him out right now. She’ll have to tell him, eventually, but that can wait a while. Months, maybe. The only person who needs to know now, who needed to know now, is her. Parjaya won’t be back from his Journeyman Protector shift until tomorrow morning, and telling him this information over the comm is a recipe for disaster. Her udesla riduur may not react with any bombasticism, but she’s met his colleagues.

She has no such assurances about them.

Rau will want to throw a new baby prep party, she already suspects.

She grimaces and looks up at the kitchen window. Outside, the wind is sweeping through the shoots of sorghum she helped plant, making the vhetin shiver. Why is it that she may have escaped the rough mountains of Concordia but she has not escaped the gedin’la Mando’ade?

Ha. She knows why.

She really wouldn’t trade anything for it, but damn, sometimes she wishes more of her riduur’s colleagues would learn something from him.

Her comm pings and she glances down.

She also wishes her ori’vode, her or’tate, would learn something from him. Those two, though, are so stubborn that she might as well be wishing for time to run backwards.

She picks up the comm and sends another reassurance to Tor that yes, she is fine, yes, she is settling in well, yes, she is eating, Parjaya is an excellent cook. She may have grown up in a compound of over fifty people at any one time, but she’s not useless on her own. She’s gone on campaigns with them, she’s gone camping.

Ugh, she needs to vent to Jaster about coddling soon, or she might go insane. Parjaya, love him as she does, is an only child. She rubs her belly; only children is a baffling concept, but she’s not sure she can quite deal with ones as close in age as she and Tor. That’s asking for trouble.

But right now she needs to focus on setting up with the local baar’ur, on figuring out how they’ll do a nursery, on clothes. That might be the worst part of marrying a man who has already lost both buire. She at least as Kori’buir, though who knows how useful he’ll be, though he’ll make an attempt as soon as she tells him why. He’s not only the very busy Mand’alor, she’s also pretty sure he hasn’t seen their childhood clothes since. Well. Since their other buir died.

Ka’ra, don’t let her ade grow up without buire.



Parjaya’s eyes dance with clear delight in the mirror while Utrelsor judges her bump in the same surface. “You look good.”

She turns and grins at him, walking over to loop her arms around his neck. “Glad you think so.”

He sputters, his hands landing on her waist. “How could I not?” He squeezes her gently. “How are you feeling?”

She sticks her tongue out in mock disgust. “I’m way too tired.”

“I’d like to say that will get better, but my ba’tate would disagree, so.” He shrugs. “I’ll help more.”

She scoffs. “You work and you cook, it’s fine.”

But he scowls. “You’re growing a person. I can take ik’aad leave after this month.”

“So you can cook me more food.” She kisses next to his eye. “And help with the room work. I refuse to put together furniture on my own.”

He blinks. “You want to do the room decoration on our own?” he asks, baffled.

“We’re the only people in the house, though,” she points out. “It’s typically a household event on Concordia, but we do usually live in extended compounds, I guess.” It’s not uncommon, northern Mandalore lives similarly. She finds Concord Dawn so quiet because of how distant the vhetta are from each other.

Parjaya shakes his head. “I’ll contact my ba’tate, you and I will make the plan and they will help us get most of the work done in a day. That’s how we do things here. We don’t live so close together, but that doesn’t mean we don’t help each other.”

That…that admittedly takes some of the weight off her shoulders, less frantic planning for how they’re going to get everything done.

“Alright,” she says, smiling, “that sounds good.”



Among Utrelsor’s aliit, pregnancies were typically eight to ten months long, depending on who the other partner was. The Fett aliit, though, she’s finding is different.

Seven months?” she asks Parjaya’s baar’ur baba’tat with wide eyes.

“Development seems right,” the old woman says, eyeing the readings she’s showed her. “It’s actually one of the longer gestations I’ve seen in a while. Most people on Concord Dawn have a large amount of togruta heritage, and they have shorter pregnancies. The thing I’m most worried about, and I’ll bother your baar’ur about it, is how hard on your body it might be. You’ve got more human heritage, more recently, and that’s going to be a bit…” She swings her head back and forth. “Humans can procreate with many other species, but when there are so many different heritages in one genome, it can confuse the body. We have to keep an eye on it.”

She nods. “Yes, baba.”

The old woman grins at her and pats her head, then looks up at the mess of activity around them. The Fetts really have pulled together for this. They’re leaving decorating beyond the basics to Utrelsor and Parjaya, but everything else is their work.

Utrelsor is not allowed to help right now, which she kind of understands. There’s a vast mix of Concordian Mando’a, Chalactan, and Togruta clicks, though no words from that language, in how they’re communicating and it’s no underestimation to say she feels lost, to an almost comedic effect. She can learn the Chalactan, and she has a grounding in the Concord Dawn Concordian, but she’s not sure she’ll ever personally understand the Togruta sounds. She doesn’t have the ear for it.

“The ik’aade will also most likely have to have the hearing surgery,” the baba’tat continues after supervising the bustling with an air of wisdom and superiority.

“Eh?” Why?

“Non-togruta ears with togruta nerve connections,” the old woman says with a shrug. “It’s corrective. It’s not even that they’re born deaf, it’s more…it’s more confusing for their minds than that.”

“Could they be born with montrals?” she asks.

“Oh, it’s possible. One of the Mereels have an ad with montrals, but one of the ones of my generation is from Shili.” Fully togruta, then. Jaster had never mentioned that. “It’s more likely then.”

“Seems like it can be really confusing,” she says.

The old woman nods seriously. “This is why baar’ur bajur is most extensive in Mandalore space. Even Coruscant falls behind.” There is, surprisingly, no pride in what she’s saying. It’s just fact.

Funny, even though her buir is Mand’alor, she hadn’t known that before.



Even with the baba’s assurances, Utrelsor worried her entire pregnancy that her ik’aad wouldn’t come out properly developed.

The lungs prove she had nothing to worry about.

“Wow,” she says dully, staring down at the squalling, pale infant who is properly swaddled, held, has been fed and burped and changed. She’s cute, with Parjaya’s dark skin and pale hair that will eventually darken to Utrelsor’s own shade, which Parjaya says is because there’s a few blondes on his aru’buir’s side. “I could use them as a weapon.”

Parjaya laughs, soothing a finger over the wrinkles of the baby’s forehead, distorted in rage at the injustice of being born. It works, because the yowling gets softer. Incrementally, anyways. “I know who you’re thinking of,” he says. “When did your aliit say they were coming?”

Utrelsor bounces the baby a little and manages to startle them, resulting in them actually shutting their mouth for a blissful moment. “Defensive measure,” she coos to the child. She cocks her head. “Arla.”

“Arla,” Parjaya tries out, rolling it on his tongue. “Aranov’la. Arla.”

“Yeah? No?”

He nods. “I like it. It will be good for them.”

“Do you like that, Arla?” she asks the baby, cooing.

For the first time ever, considering they’re barely two hours old, Arla’s face relaxes.

“You’re shitting me,” she mutters. “You can’t even hear properly yet, your nerves are all screwy.”

Parjaya laughs. “Speaking of the little one, do we want to make a decision about Basic pronouns yet?”

She grimaces. She started out with she/her pronouns, but she was involved with Kalevala from an early age. She doesn’t really want to risk that, with her children, but at the same time… She is a Vizsla, in terms of the clan she married out of. To many off of Concord Dawn, she is still a Vizsla, as Jaster is a Vizsla even if he’s kept his first clan’s name and some, albeit more distant, connection to them.

There are expectations. Even without a plan for any of her children to be free of Vizsla social obligations, she can’t have them be unprepared.

And playing Kalevala and the Republic’s games means starting early.

“She/they,” she says with a sigh. “I want…I want them to be allowed more connection with our culture than I was able to have as a child. They’re on Concord Dawn. They’re away from the wider politics. But…”

“But we can’t control everything,” Parjaya agrees, looking out the window. “We can only give them the tools they might need to succeed.”

She/her/they/them it is.



Kori’buir and Tor arrive three days later. The household has already gotten a sweeping group of Fetts coming by, dropping off food, playing with Arla while Utrelsor and Parjaya sleep or take a break to do other things. They’ve held off the other JP for now, at least.

“That is an entire baby,” Tor says, taking Arla into his arms when Utrelsor hands her to him. His eyes are huge and when he pokes her nose she lets out an impressive squall.

“Copikla,” Kori’buir says, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Sorry we couldn’t bring Jaster. We offered to bribe the JP for him, but he said that he can always meet her later on, when you can take her to one of the space stations.”

“It would have been safe enough to do that, now,” Parjaya says, frowning. “But I guess you two haven’t seen the vhetta. Jaster’s been here plenty of times.”

Kori’buir nods thoughtfully. “Let’s let these two have a minute,” he says then.

Utrelsor frowns, but she sticks by Tor’s side, helping him readjust Arla when she gets properly fussy. “How are you doing?” she asks her ori’vod.

“Good,” he assures her. “More office work, since you’ve been gone, and more politics, but we all knew that would happen eventually even if you’d stayed.” He doesn’t look at her, though, and he frowns down at Arla. “Buir’s starting to talk about me getting married too, since the youngest has already given him a ba’ad.”

“You have time,” she assures him. “You’ll find someone you like.”

Tor scowls. “I have someone.”

She shrugs and takes Arla back, rubbing her fingers along the ik’aad’s downy hair. “You know that’s only going to happen over Buir’s dead body. So either block him out or find someone in the meantime. Have an ik’aad of your own, involve that person if you can. But don’t pine nonsensically.”

The scowl deepens, but he doesn’t say anything, and his hands just fall limply to his sides.

“Don’t get resentful just because life isn’t turning out how you imagined it would,” she says shortly, bouncing Arla a little. “Pissing Buir off isn’t going to get you anything you want.”

Finally, his face smooths and he nods. “You’re right. I wonder if he left us alone for you to talk sense into me.”

Utrelsor presses her lips together. “I don’t think that’s the only reason.”



She doesn’t ask Parjaya what he and Kori’buir talked about until he and Tor have left, two days later, and then Parjaya just shakes his head and kisses her cheek and says, with a determined expression, that it’s nothing she should worry about.

Knowing her riduur’s habits in what he keeps from her, it’s something she’d be very, very angry with her buir about.

So she leaves it be and, in return, is only a little angry. It’s gone soon, lost with the arrival, entertaining, and seeing off of Parjaya’s friends and superiors among the JP and their piles and piles of baby gifts, spoiling, and noise.

She doesn’t think about how rarely her buir touched her ad while he was visiting.



“Is it working?” Parjaya asks, holding both Arla and her pacifier in place while Utrelsor adjusts the holocam. This is the first time they’ve used it since they got married.

“I think so. We just have to wait for Jaster to call, now. It should be any—ah!”

The holo projector flickers to life and the cam begins to buzz and she’s terribly happy Arla’s fully recovered from the surgery because that noise would likely set off a screaming fit, pacifier or not.

“Jas!” she exclaims, breaking into a grin the moment the holo solidifies into her other ori’vod’s figure.

“Good to see you,” Jaster says, smiling softly.

Parjaya steps forward, letting Arla bat her arms out at the holo. “Su cuy gar, Jaster,” he says warmly.

“Su cuy gar,” Jaster greets in turn, just as warmly. “And jat’urce, Arli’ka.”

Arla squeels, already familiar with her family nickname.

Jaster seems to be smiling especially at the ik’aad. “She looks like the two of you, perfectly.”

Utrelsor smooths her fingers through Arla’s hair. “Yeah. And you look tired.”

Jaster’s smile vanishes, briefly flashing to a scowl before even that disappears and he sighs. “Kori’s got me taking on more duties. The university wants me to take a job fully in Keldabe City now and he’s for it, but...I haven’t told Tor, yet.”

“Tor can deal; you’ve been wanting this,” she points out. “They wanted you to handle your department at the Concordia campus, but it’s clear they think you’re good enough they’re wasting you there. You know they value the other campuses, so that means you’re even more valuable. Your papers have been paying off.”

The next smile Jaster gives her is tiny and a little broken and it hurts. “I know.”

“He won’t fault you,” she promises. “And it’s just as far from here to Keldabe City as it is to the compound. Same set of distances from Kar’gal.”

“You’re right.”

“I’m always right.”

He sticks his tongue out at her.

“You’ve been over him for a while now and you know it. It’s nostalgia that’s holding you back. You might actually manage to find someone new in Keldabe. And you’ll make your face more seen. It’s a good idea.”

Parjaya nods. “Would you move to the Sarad permanently?” he asks, referring to the Vizsla owned hotel that Jaster typically stays while in the City for business.

Jaster winces. “Yes Kori’buir’s talked about putting it fully in my name.”

Utrelsor pretends her blood doesn’t go cold, at that. It’s a sign that he’s preparing for what happens after he’s gone, even now.

“Then we’ll actually come to the council meetings,” Parjaya bargains, eyes narrowed.

Jaster manages to hold himself apart for a good three seconds before he breaks. “Fine, fine. I’ll take the job and Tor can deal.”

Utrelsor smiles. Maybe if there’s more distance between them, the future won’t hit Tor so hard.

“You’ll have to bring ner copikla tat’ad once I get settled in,” Jaster manages to bargain, cooing at Arla. “They’re too cute. I need snaps for my office, clearly.”

The couple laugh.

“Clearly,” she agrees.

Chapter Text

It’s only Utrelsor and Parjaya and Arla on the vhetta for six more years. After Arla’s four, they start trying for another one, but they don’t worry about the lack of results. They have Arla to worry about and the baar’ure they asked had said there might have to be a longer time in between. So when Utrelsor’s cycle finally misses, she takes the blood test, and it’s a pleasant surprise to be expecting another.

“You’re going to be an or’tat,” Parjaya tells their ad’ika cheerfully, swooping her up and tossing her into the air. “Does that sound fun?”

“Yeah!” Arla cheers. “I’m gonna be the best or’tat!”

“For sure, for sure,” Parjaya replies, catching her with a gentle smile.

Utrelsor smiles at them. It’d be good if, despite the age distance, these two would be close.



There’s an aliit’alore meeting about halfway through her pregnancy, so they go and stay with Jaster. For the most part, this means she gets to see her riduur and family running about like nunas with their heads cut off about something besides the impending baby and that she gets a nice week of being pampered and eating whatever she wants. After all, it’s hard to get some of the foods you can find at hand in Keldabe City anywhere on Concord Dawn.

Arla loves it. She loves being the center of attention for many, be they staff, family, or visitors. She loves wandering around with Bu and Bu’ka and Ba’tat Jas and Ba’tat Tor and Babu. She loves the crush of people and the experiences. She always has, since the first time they brought her to Keldabe City.

But this time there’s a thread of anxiety running through her tiny body. It takes Utrelsor an uncomfortably long time to realize that Arla is worried for her, for her and the tat’ka sleeping and growing.

It’s cute, but she won’t tell her ad that. The child is already gaining the typical distaste for the word copikla being aimed at her.

“Arla, Bu and Jan’ka are fine,” Parjaya has to step in eventually, when Utrelsor fails to convince the yearly seven-year-old. “They’re safe and Bu can protect herself and Jan’ka just fine on her own.”

They’d started calling the new baby “Janad” thanks to an unwelcome increase in spice tolerance, and an accompanying craving for spicy food, that Utrelsor gained in the first month and has yet to lose. Arla, darling that she is, has assumed that is what they’re naming the ik’aad. They’ve convinced her it’s a nickname, at least, but they’re actually considering it right now. Concordia, as one of the few places to find natural beskar besides under the Duchy’s nose, has a nickname for the metal, noting the high melting temperature.

Jango.

When Utrelsor tossed it out, she’d expected Parjaya to laugh it off, but he’d gotten a thoughtful look in his eye instead.

“The other family,” he said, referring to the branch of the Fetts under a different name on Chalacta, “they call notables ‘Akshitan.’ Imperishable, everlasting. And so our part of the family has said we are forged from beskar, in the hearts of stars.”

So, their second child is Jango.

“Is it special, to have named the child before their birth?” Utrelsor asks her buir while they sit together in the Hotel Sarad.

Kori’buir gives her a thoughtful look, then glances to where the three younger men are playing with Arla. “It means nothing if you think it will mean nothing. We named Tor ahead of his birth, but his hair colour matched fortuitously. You we didn’t name until your birth. Your eyes weren’t blurry, after birth, and you managed to focus. I thought…” He cuts himself off.

A pit in her stomach suggests she never let Kori’buir meet Jango. She’s not sure she could handle it.

The difference in the disappointment he always did his best to hide from she and Tor, the disappointment that leads to his distance from Arla, and the relief that leads to the pressure on Jaster compounded by his own blood.

She’s not sure she can handle if they’re wrong, either.

“Hm,” she says instead, and continues to ignore her buir’s biggest failure as a parent.



Kori’buir and Parjaya spend long hours with the aliit’alore, and Jaster is either with them or working, so Utrelsor and Arla spend most of their time in Keldabe City with Tor.

Which is how she meets Gatana.

Tor was meant to be helping Utrelsor teach Arla how to move like a Vizsla—something the two of them learned even younger than Arla and will be needed when, inevitably, Arla’s Vizsla blood requires she debut—specifically by handling the bribe: throwing knife lessons. Normally, he’s been pretty good at helping, but today he has been fidgety and listless.

He perks up first and then, right after, a wave of sickly sweet perfume hits Utrelsor’s nose and makes her stomach roil.

When she turns to look, she sees a tall, thin woman with pale blonde hair. She might be able to be called a beauty, but Utrelsor can’t see anything particularly beautiful with the way she holds her features. Tight, expectant, superior.

She comes to the Sarad with a superior look on her face? Ha.

Utrelsor watches carefully as Tor leaves her side to go to the woman. The smile on her brother’s face is calculated and she can vividly remember the first time she saw such a look. He was trying to figure out how to best convince their other buir to part with some cookies.

If she hadn’t been watching carefully, she might have thought Tor fell in love with someone new.

“Arla, cyar’ika,” she murmurs while Arla stares at her ba’vodu with big, betrayed eyes. “Shall we go up for a nap?”

Arla swivels around, pout primed.

“Something nasty smelling is making Buir’s tummy hurt,” Utrelsor adds, and maybe she pitches her voice up too much on purpose. Still, she pretends to not notice the look of offence and rage on the woman’s face.

“Ah,” Tor says lamely, faltering. “Do you need help back up, vod’ika?”

“No, no,” Utrelsor says, and smiles. “Stay with your lady friend. Maybe whenever you introduce her to the family she can wear something that the ik’aad doesn’t hate, mm?”

She leaves, savouring the clear look of outrage on the woman’s face.



She finds out later that the woman is named Gatana, and she’s the daughter of a clan of middling power that lords that small bit of extra power over clans with lesser power. They have no title from Kalevala, because they were deemed to not be a threat when the Duchy was created.

She brings it up to Kori’buir when he visits Concord Dawn to celebrate Arla’s birthday and speak with Parjaya about a matter a week and change after they return from Keldabe City.

“He wants their backing,” is the old man’s answer. “He’ll try and use them to bully the smaller clans, since they’re so adept at it, but he still has power over them if they step out of line. It’s as good a strategy as he can get.”

“It’s a smart play, but I don’t think that woman realizes he has power over them,” she points out. “That we have power over them. I almost feel bad for her; does she think he’ll protect her if she steps out of line too much? Even with his goals, he has the family pride. If she tries to be rude to me or my riduur or my ade, or to Jaster…” She trails off with a grimace.

“If she tries to be rude about Jaster, that boy will probably cut her head off,” Kori’buir replies with a sigh. “Speaking of, have you told him?”

“No. I’ll leave that to Tor. He’ll tell him, he’ll bring him in on whatever his plan is. He’s not a coward.”

Kori’buir raises an eyebrow. “This is Tor with Jaster that we’re talking about,” he reminds her.

Utrelsor frowns. Exactly, so of course Tor will be upfront.

Because he loves Jaster.



Utrelsor rubs her stomach and wat ches over Arla’s shoulder as she works through her modules. It’s good that she’ll have something to distract her, when Jango is born, and she mostly likes learning. She’s more like Utrelsor or Tor than Jaster or Parjaya, in that, but that’s just as natural.

R outine is going to be important, as they learned very quickly with Arla herself.

“Do you think we should go to Keldabe City after Jango is born?” Parjaya asks from where he’s prone on the floor, upper body stuck under the sink while he replaces an old pipe. “Or should we do Kar’gal?”

Utrelsor frowns down at him; he may not be able to see her, but he’s the only Force sensitive in the house. He’ll get it. Probably. “I’m not taking an evaar’ik’aad all the way to Mandalore.”

“I was just checking,” Parjaya says, amusement clear in his voice.

“Arla, cyar’ika, can you do Buir a favour?” she asks her daughter sweetly, smiling when she looks up at her with big eyes. “Take a break from your modules and go bother Bui’ka, elek?”

“Okay!” Arla cheers, hopping up to harass Parjaya.

Utrelsor watches smugly as her riduur is distracted from his task in favour of mock battle with their oldest. This is good. She rubs her stomach again and tries to impart a feeling to Jango that it will be even better when they have arrived.



From the start, it’s clear Jango takes after Parjaya. Even as a small infant, they have the same lips and nose, the same skin tone and the same hair colour. They have, much as their or’tat, ten pretty fingers, ten pretty toes. Human-like.

Unlike Arla, he’s a calm baby. So calm that Utrelsor worries when they are laid into her arms and don’t cry.

“Is there something wrong?” she asks the baar’ure—hers and the Baba’tat who has come along.

“We don’t know,” her baar’ur says, shrugging helplessly. “They haven’t opened their eyes, either.”

“I suspect,” Baba says, “that the little one is fine.”

Why do you suspect that?” her baar’ur asks, considering.

“Because Parjaya has not become anxious.”

Sure enough, her riduur is leaning over, far more interested in the ik’aad than anyone’s words. He’s cooing to the child, smiling as Jango wraps little fingers around his index finger. “They’re fine,” he agrees after he realizes where the attention is. “They are more sensitive to noises than Arla, I think, and have figured out they can make noises that hurt just as much.”

The baar’ure take that for what it is and break, letting them have some time alone with their baby.

“You’re finally here,” Utrelsor whispers, kissing Jango’s cheek.

The baby squirms and settles in to nap against her chest.

“We need to get Arla in here soon, to see them,” she says.

“Mhm,” Parajaya agrees, his eyes not leaving Jango’s peaceful face. He was just like this with Arla, too.

“Is new life really that interesting?” he teases.

“Hm?” He looks up at her and smiles softly. “Yes. Everything is new to them. Every experience for a while will be new to them. It’s fascinating to feel how fast their little minds are working, cataloguing everything.”

She leans down a bit and kisses the dark, downy hair on Jango’s head. “He/they,” she says with a sigh.

Maybe if they have a third, that one can have their choice.

“Mm.”



Arla gets to meet her tat’ka an hour later, after both children have napped their temporary fill.

Her eyes get very big, looking over the edge of the bed at Jango. “Copikla,” she says under her breath, like it’s something sacred.

“He is, isn’t he?” Utrelsor asks, leaning over so Jango can catch a better glimpse of his or’tat as he struggles the typical infant struggle of focusing his eyes. “You were just as pretty a baby when you were born.”

Jango is smaller, though. Not by much, just a smidge. Another thing that she suspects is him taking after Parjaya.

“Can I touch him?” Arla asks, looking up at Utrelsor.

“Of course. If you sit nicely, we’ll even let you hold him.”

Arla can barely contain her excitement, but she manages to tamp it down and scramble up onto the bed, sitting and buzzing with nervous energy even to Utrelsor’s eyes. Judging by Parjaya needing to hide a smile behind his hand, it’s much more variable in the Force.

“Okay, your Bui’ka will help you hold him,” Utrelsor says, smirking at Parjaya, who rolls his eyes but hops to it, helping Arla adjust her hands as she cradles him against her tiny chest. “There.”

Jango, quiet baby that he is, barely makes a sound, but eventually he coos and shuts his eyes, content.

I’m going to be the best or’tat,” she hears Arla say to herself.

For sure.



The trip to Kar’gal happens later than Kori’buir and Tor’s trip to Concord Dawn, just to make sure everything is perfectly healed and adjusted to before they take Jango out of atmosphere. Since the adjustment surgery, he’s been more vocal, but he’s still not much of a squaller like Arla still sometimes is.

They end up booking a suite at the space station, three days where they can spend time with Jaster, Tor, and Kori’buir as a family.

Kori’buir and Jaster are already there when they arrive, greeting them at the hanger. Jaster immediately swoops Arla up into a hug, drawing laugher out of her, before he greets the rest of them.

Kori’buir squints down at Jango, only for him to notice Parjaya’s smile go stiff, which makes him look away.

“He is a Fett if I’ve ever seen one,” Jaster says, and Utrelsor has never been more grateful.

“Where’s Tor?” Parjaya asks for her.

Kori’buir and Jaster exchange a look, Jaster’s far more anxious of the two.

He’ll be here tonight, I hope. At latest, he’ll be here for breakfast,” Kori’buir assures them. “He was very excited, but he had something he needed to finish up first.”

He must be with Ganata’s clan, Utrelsor surmises.

They go throughout their day, catching up and settling into the suite. Jaster knocks out with Arla and Jango for their nap, to Utrelsor’s blackmail folder’s glee. She has plenty of snaps of Parjaya with both children, and snaps of everyone holding the children, but this is the first one of someone besides she and her riduur sleeping with them.

Dinner in one of the station’s restaurants goes well, though the sounds overwhelm Jango more than once and all four adults take time to take him out somewhere quieter for a few minutes before coming back.

The comm from Tor that he’s landing happens about two hours after the children have been put to bed and Utrelsor goes with Kori’buir and Jaster to get him and show him the way. He hugs Utrelsor and Jaster both tightly, like he’s afraid they’re going to disappear, before he lets them go and pretends nothing is wrong once again.

He’ll figure it out, soon, she hopes, whatever is wrong.

In the morning, they have breakfast and Tor marvels over Jango, over Arla’s growth.

“They’re going to be strong, just like you, vod’ika,” he tells Utrelsor, eyes shining.

Chapter Text

Utrelsor shifts seven-month-old Jango into one arm so she can use the other to finagle her comm. “Arla, cyar’ka, put down the knives; Buir needs to talk to someone and can’t watch you.”

“Okaaaay,” Arla drawls, putting her throwing knives into their sheaths properly and setting them on the table they’ve brought outside before she stampedes over to Utrelsor’s side, clinging tightly to her kute. “Who’sit?”

“It’s Ba’vodu Jaster,” Utrelsor replies, smiling. She clicks the accept call button and Jaster’s voice comes through clear and strong.

“Su cuy’gar, tat’ka,” Jaster says warmly.

“Su cuy’gar, ori’vod,” she says in return, teasing him for the way they both cling to the tongues they were taught from birth. “You don’t usually comm at this time.”

There’s a distinct, sickly silence.

“Jas?”

“Did you know Tor was courting someone?”

Utrelsor scowls and switches Jango and the comm so she can hold him more comfortably. “Did he finally tell you? I would have thought he’d have done it sooner.”

“He came by today.”

That stops Utrelsor’s movements and she stares into the middle distance. Jaster sounds hurt and, while she knew this news would hurt him, she didn’t think it would be this bad.

“He told me he wants to hold the riduurok celebration at the end of next month.”

Oh.

Oh no.

“What did you say?” she asks, nauseas.

When did her first ori’vod become hut’uun?

“I...what could I say, Utre’ka?” he asks. It’s the first time she’s ever heard him sound helpless. “I thought he’d been acting weird, I’d figured out a bit he might be seeing someone but...he was so clinical about it. It was like he was talking about the mines finding a good ore vein.”

Is Tor being a coward, she wonders, or is he simply that disinterested in the woman he’s going to marry?

“I feel sorry for her,” Jaster says.

“Don’t,” she replies shortly. “It’s a pity she doesn’t realize the place she’s setting herself up in, but while she thinks she’s secure she’s abusing that place.”

Jaster’s quiet.

Utrelsor sets the comm on the table and pats Arla’s head. “Arli’ka, why don’t you start taking everything inside?”

Arla stares at her a long moment, but she’s a clever child and she obeys with a nod. “Ret, Ba’tat Jas!” she does say before she bolts inside the yaim.

“I don’t like her, Jas, but I don’t have to. You don’t either. Don’t let your pity for her having to deal with the worst of Tor affect how you let her treat you. You’re a Mereel, yes, but you’re also a Vizsla.”

“Right, right,” Jaster breathes. The words are shaky.

They may not have been vode in the same house for long, but Utrelsor knows him well.

“What did Tor do?” she asks plainly, turning her head to kiss Jango’s forehead, making the ik’aad squirm. “You can tell me, Jas.”

There’s a beat of silence, then, “He kissed me.”

Her eyes go wide and she has to get both arms on Jango’s squirmy little body to keep hold of him. “What.”

“He hasn’t kissed me in a decade, Utre’ka. But he came to the Sarad and he told me he was getting married and he kissed me.”

She knew how pitiful Tor’s new riduur was going to be, regarding Tor’s heart.

She just didn’t think he’d drag Jaster into that.

“I’m going to kill him,” Utrelsor says, bouncing Jango when the ik’aad squirms and pats her chest. “One second, Jan’ka, I’ll feed you in a minute.”

“It’s fine, Utre’ka,” Jaster assures her. “I pushed him off. Told him to kark off. I’ll...I’ll go to the party, be a good vod. But he needs to get it together before he can come back here. It’s been nearly ten years, hasn’t he figured out by now it’s not going to happen?”

“He thinks he can get everything he wants. He doesn’t give up on things.” It’s something they both know well, but… “And he decided you were something he wanted years ago. Reality plays no part. He probably figures he’s doing all of this for you.”

“He’s—.”

“He could figure out how to make allies out of that family without marrying her. What does he get from marrying her, Jaster?”

She’s being mean, doing this to him. But he needs to have an idea for what’s going on.

There’s the distinct sound of Jaster stumbling and she feels bad, knowing exactly what’s happening. She pockets the comm to bring it inside; Parjaya can get the table later. For now she heads back in and waits for Jaster to come back to his comm.

“Sorry,” she says, when she hears him sit down heavily.

“What’s it going to take to make me hate him?” Jaster asks, voice rough.

“I don’t know, Jas,” she says.

She wonders what would make her hate him, too.



“You’re sure you’re fine with both of them?” Parjaya asks his cousin while Utrelsor finishes changing Jango.

“You’ll not even be gone a week,” his cousin says, scoffing. He leans over to smile at Jango. “We’ll be fine, won’t we?” He’s a nursery teacher and volunteers with the local creche. Of the younger relatives, he’s the best choice. “Why?”

Parjaya frowns. “If you have any trouble, comm one of the Baba’tate. They always know what to do.”

“I know, I know.”

“Arla,” Utrelsor says, turning to peek around to wherever her older ad might be. “We’re leaving. Are you going to say ret’urcye mhi?”

The little one comes thundering like she’s an entire herd of nerf rather than one nearly-eight-year-old Mandalorian. “Ret’urcye mhi, Ut’bu, Par’bu!”

Ah, there go the days of Buir and Bui’ka. It makes sense, since they’ve started getting her in with some of the surrounding families with children her age for non-module classes. They’re good for her, and they give Parjaya and Utrelsor more time to devote to Jango, but she’s talking so grown up now.

“Ret’urcye mhi, ner galaar’ika,” Utrelsor says, leaning down to press her forehead to the top of her head. “Take care of your tat’ka and your baba’tat’ad, elek?”

“Elek!”

Parjaya gives she and Jango quick moments as well, then they’re off for Concordia.



The Vizsla compound on Concordia hasn’t changed, except at the moment it is now littered with Gatana’s aliit.

One of the smaller clans that has sworn loyalty to the Vizslas for generations has put someone in charge of arranging rooms, and the poor verd nearly gets into a fight with one of those strangers when the bastard takes offense to Parjaya walking by with only a friendly “su cuy’gar” to the verd, Utrelsor trailing behind her riduur after stopping to greet a cousin, wearing her beskar’gam and holding the bag with Parjaya’s.

“That,” the verd says coldly, “is Mand’alor Vizsla’s first rid’ad. He has a room here already.”

Gatana’s relative goes very, very red in his pale face. “My daughter is the wife of the next head of House Vizsla! I should have preference over that—.” Ah. Her buir.

“Over my riduur?” Utrelsor asks cheerfully, placing her hand on the man’s bare shoulder. “Over Tor Vizsla’s cherished rid’vod?”

The man’s face drains of blood. He would have to be very, very stupid to continue to challenge Parjaya’s place with a Vizsla in full beskar’gam next to him.

“Fenn,” Utrelsor says, turning back to the verd in charge of rooms. “See to it that my ori’vod knows I am looking for him, elek?”

“Of course, my lady.”

Utrelsor stalks past the upstart to where her riduur is waiting patiently for her, a placid look that belies mischief serene upon his face.

She will only warn Tor to keep his new koor’aliit in line. Her riduur can defend himself.



As things somehow do, the night wraps up with Kori’buir, Jaster, and Tor drinking a nightcap in the Fett couple’s rooms.

“Have they at least been polite to you, Kori’buir?” Utrelsor asks, leaning against Parjaya.

Tor gets a funny look on his face, like he hadn’t realized what those people he has connected to their family have been up to.

“Of course they have,” Kori’buir drawls, but there’s a tone to it. “I’m Mand’alor.”

Jaster is, notably, silent and avoiding all of their gazes.

“What nonsense did they pull on you, Jas?” Parjaya asks, reaching out to his old senior. “One of them called me a ‘that’ because, I presume, I do not look Kalevalan and I was not wearing my beskar and I did not have my riduur at my side.”

Tor scowls thunderously.

“I found out where his room will be from Fenn,” Parjaya continues, “who has conveniently made it so he will not be able to exchange his room once he realizes.”

Kori’buir laughs and even Tor and Jaster break out smiles.

“Good,” Tor says venomously. “They don’t know there place, but if I am not there to watch them they forget any lessons I’ve taught them.”

Utrelsor scoffs. “That’s why you married them, Tor,” she points out.

“I’ll bring them to heel,” he replies shortly. Then he looks at Jaster with true concern. “What did those idiots do, Jas? I won’t let them slander my vod.”

Jaster looks sick, a bit, when he turns back towards Tor. But his voice is strong and furious when he says, “There are whispers, only among the guests, that I only was brought into Aliit Vizsla because I mindtricked Kori.”

The room goes very quiet and very cold.

“An insult to you, an insult to me, and an insult to Aliit Vizsla,” Kori’buir lists off. “Tor.”

“Yes, buir.”

“Find who started the rumour. I want to...speak with them.”

“You know,” Utrelsor considers, “In slandering you and Jaster this way, everyone is also hearing them say that Jaster is more powerful. We can use this, can’t we?”

Tor at least looks thoughtful, a sly smile on his face. “What do you think, Buir?”

Kori’buir looks at their collected faces, Jall mischievous and furious, and sighs. “Make do with it as you wish while you track down the source, ner ade. Jaster, you’re by my side for the rest of the celebration.”

It is, Utrelsor thinks, the first time that Kori’buir is treating Jaster like a child. From Jaster’s wide eyes, he thinks so too.

“I will not hear them slander my will nor my ad’s morals. And if anyone dares imply anything in front of me, well.” He shrugs. “I am Vizsla.”

Poor Ganata. Such a bloody celebration to her riduurok.



“How are you feeling?” Utrelsor asks, leaning all the way over the rail over the practice arena while Parjaya holds her from falling.

Jaster raises an annoyed eyebrow. “Fine.”

Kori’buir is talking with a look like a predator playing with his prey on the other side of the practice arena. Tor discovered that it was his riduur’buire who had started the rumour and was showing remarkable restraint by handing the information over to Kori’buir.

Restraint and much needed loyalty.

Jaster sighs. “Tor doesn’t realize it’s his fault.”

Utrelsor tilts her head in confusion, but she catches on quickly. “Ah. Yes.”

Tor wants these people to put work into making sure he’s elected Mand’alor. So they spread rumours about the one who is most likely to be elected.

They just mistook that Tor would not want to protect Jaster.

“His love for you is at least useful in cutting this off,” Utrelsor points out.

Jaster scowls. He looks sick again.

Utrelsor leans a bit further, until her boots are off the ground and Parjaya has to lean back to counter balance her, to kiss his hair. “It’ll be fine.”

“Sure.” He doesn’t sound like he believes it.

That’s probably for the best.



“Does Jaster know about what you told me before we got married?” Parjaya asks, wrapping his arms around her waist once she’s climbed into bed.

She hums, shuts her eyes, and leans into him. “I don’t think Kori’buir told him. Kori’buir doesn’t talk about Mand’alor stuff with Jaster, just sets him up to learn. So, if he doesn’t know...it’s because he won’t let himself know, yet.”

Parjaya squeezes her. “He doesn’t want to admit it.”

“Right.” She sighs. “He still loves Tor. Despite the warning signs. But he’s getting there, he’s getting to the point he’ll know.”

Parjaya’s silent for a moment. “It doesn’t matter if he loves him or hates him, Tor will tear the galaxy apart to get him back. I don’t think it’s even the position, though anyone could tell Tor expects to be Mand’alor.” He shakes his head. “It’s about not being able to own Jaster any more.”

“That’s worse,” Utrelsor acknowledges. “That’s a lot worse.”



Gatana’s smile looks painful on the other end of the breakfast table. It’s her first morning sitting with the core family, and last night was the official riduurok night from how Tor had been talking, even if normally that’s kept between the riduure.

She should have everything she wants, and she knows it.

But she doesn’t.

Part of it is how easily they all get along, Tor and Jaster and Utrelsor all teasing Kori’buir, Parjaya’s wry commentary, endless laughter.

Part of it is Kori’buir taking her buire down a peg yesterday, for what they were spreading. For what she was spreading, too, in all likelihood. At least it finally made Jaster stop looking at her with only pity.

And part of it, of course, is Tor’s attention. He’s not really paying attention to her. He’s paying attention to Utrelsor and to Jaster and Parjaya, who were treated poorly by her aliit.

Utrelsor grins back at her and is amused her expression changes to that of someone who’s just swallowed a whole handful of nunaberries. She gives her a decently genuine look of pity and understanding, but the only one of the many reasons for it she speaks allowed is, “We’ve all been together a long time.”

If Tor were serious about having a real relationship with her, and not just using her, she might eventually have been folded in.

It’s funny, because if Gatana had been a match for Jaster—improbably as that might be—she’d have had a much better chance at clawing affection and attention away from the previous object of affection. In the end, though, Tor is stubborn and contrary and far less empathetic than Jaster.

It’s a reason they worked so well together, and a reason Tor will never want to let go.

And it means that if Gatana proves to be just as stubborn, just as tenacious, that Tor will probably go from not carrying about her to hating her.



“It won’t last past my death,” are the first words that Kori’buir says when Utrelsor and Parjaya and Jaster have taken their seats in his office.

Jaster shifts uncomfortably; Utrelsor just sighs.

“The family might manage to suck up to him, but it doesn’t look like she knows how to endear herself to someone like Tor,” she agrees.

“Or,” Jaster says, sounding disgusted and tired, “make herself indispensable.”

Those would be the two things that would save her life.

Parjaya sighs, leaning against his fist. “May I?” he asks seriously.

Kori’buir nods; it may be acknowledged that Utrelsor took the name Fett with her marriage but that Parjaya was brought into the inner circle of Aliit Vizsla, but it’s different behind closed doors. He’s respected, yes, and part of the decision making processes, but he is still looking in at them.

“There’s no way to successfully make them divorce,” Parjaya says. “Tor needs the alliance. Gatana won’t back down. She’ll dig in the more we try to distance her from him, even if it’s for both of their own good. The only way anyone can get out of this unscathed is to distance ourselves from both of them.”

“Tor won’t react well to that,” Jaster says.

“I don’t just want to stop trying with him,” Utrelsor adds, curling up against Parjaya’s side. “If that damn title wasn’t in play, he’d still be someone we could help. It hurts.”

Jaster reaches over and squeezes her shoulder. “So what do we do?”

They all look to Kori’buir. Part of it is that he’s the oldest, he’s the one buir still alive for all three of them. And another part is because he is aliit’alor.

Parjaya can veto it on those levels.

And he is Mand’alor.

To which they all bow their heads.

His orders are the ones they follow.

Kori’buir sighs. “We make it clear we expect them to be together. We make it clear we expect a couple. We’re disappointed when she doesn’t come. As you all get older, there will be less and less reasons for you to meet. So pursue the excuses. Focus on your careers and your homes.”

It’s not the best choice for them, not for Utrelsor and Jaster. But it’s the kindest.

“Elek, Mand’alor,” they all say.

Chapter Text

Utrelsor and Parjaya get back to their area of Concord Dawn late into the night. They sweep through the cousin’s house, collecting sleeping children and luggage. Parjaya’s suggestion, one he makes with pursed lips and tired eyes and that she doesn’t argue with, too happy to have her ad’ika and her ik’aad back in her arms.

Parjaya’s happy with it too, clearly relieved once he’s cuddling Jango close again as Utrelsor buckles Arla into her child’s seat in the back of the speeder.

Utrelsor comes over and drops a kiss on Jango’s smooth forehead. “Let’s get you in, hmm?” she coos, gently taking him from Parjaya to get him strapped into his own infant seat while Parjaya comes around to get the speeder going. The entire ride back, she keeps turning around in her seat to look at her cyare’la ade, reaching back and touching their legs and arms while Parjaya makes the way home.

“I think we should co-sleep tonight,” she murmurs as they pull back into the Fett vhetine.

“That’d be good,” he agrees, nodding even as he focuses on the winding roads between the vhetine to get to the yaim. “I missed them.”

“Me too.” She smiles back and gently squeezes Arla’s foot before she turns back to the front for the last time. Soon, they’re at the yaim and Parjaya handles getting the ade into their bedroom and getting Jango’s extended crib into the room and set down so it’ll sit flush against the bed, like it did when he was a newborn. Utrelsor handles getting all of the luggage into the yaim, only bringing what they’ll need tonight and for the morning.

Arla wakes up a little when both of her buire get into bed with her, but she just snuggles in and tucks herself up under Utrelsor’s chin while Parjaya stays on his back so he can reach over and keep his hand near Jango’s little body.

It’s good, and it’s the best sleep that Utrelsor has gotten since they left.



Utrelsor rolls up some pasta with her fork and levels it at Jango’s open mouth. “So, why did we need to pick them up last night?”

It was a good thing, for both of them, to do so. But now in the light of day she can remember the look on her riduur’s face, when he said they should. He was glad to see their ade again, but he wasn’t happy about the situation.

Jango leans forward and captures the pasta in his mouth, chewing with the few baby teeth that have already emerged and his gums.

“...My cousin asked us to,” Parjaya admits after a moment.

Utrelsor looks over and tracks his gaze out the doorway, where they can see Arla doing some modules. “Why? Did something happen with the kids?”

Parjaya frowns, eyebrows plunging. “He wouldn’t say. He’ll be coming later, I think, to talk to us about it. For dinner, probably.”

It doesn’t bode well, but they can’t do much about it, can they?



“He’s not asleep yet?” the cousin asks of Jango when he arrives, staring at the ik’aad in Utrelsor’s arms with no little amount of fear.

Jango, for his part, doesn’t want anything to do with the cousin, instead clutching to Utrelsor and reaching over her shoulder for Parjaya. Utrelsor hands him off easily—Parjaya is the better one at calming the children when they’re upset.

Arla, for her part, baldly ignores the guest, which does seem to upset him. “Buir, can I go play?” she asks.

“Why don’t you take your tat’ka to the nursery?” Parjaya asks unexpectedly.

Arla frowns, but allows Parjaya to help her hold Jango so she can walk him to his room. “Okaaaay.”

Utrelsor watches the children until they disappear into the bowels of the house, only then turning back to their guest. “The hell has gotten into you?” She’d never have left her ade with him if she didn’t know he was polite, well mannered, and good with children. She’d never have left her ade with him if she’d known he’d act like this. “What’s got you scared of a nine-month-old?”

His face contorts. “I’m not going to risk having a kar’tigaan’la ulik in my house!”

The air in the room chills, but Utrelsor is far more aware of the knife she keeps on her belt and making sure it’s steady in her hand. “What did you just call my ad’ka?” she asks, crossing the room in a flash and pressing the blade to his throat.

He snarls, eyeing the knife. “Everyone knows that the kar’tigaan’ade aren’t ade until they grow up and are trained! They’re creatures of instinct and emotion and their control is non-existent, so they aren’t—.” He stops, staring over Utrelsor’s shoulder. His heart beat is quick under her blade, visible, but he’s only grinding his heels in. “It’s dangerous to keep them in a house with normal people! You shouldn’t have put him in my house at all! You shouldn’t even keep him with your ad and riduur, Parja!”

Her riduur’s steps are slow, steady, and heavy as they creak towards them. His hand comes up and covers his cousin’s eyes. “Your buire should have taught you better than to speak this nonsense, as should your bajire,” he says, cold as ice, cold enough that even Utrelsor shivers.

Utrelsor lets her knife down and steps back, watching as this paltry man trembles under her riduur’s hand before dropping to his knees.

“To treat a child like this…” Parjaya tilts his head, slow and uncanny. “Demagolka’la.”

“I—.”

“Get out of my house, get off my land,” Parjaya continues.

“Parja!”

“You,” Parjaya says, stepping forward to stare down at him, “are no longer a part of this family.”

The words have weight, even to someone like Utrelsor who isn’t Force sensitive at all. It’s one thing for it to be a cultural thing, it’s another for someone touched by the stars to say it.

The cousin goes pale, but he doesn’t protest further.

He picks himself up and runs from the house.

“I’ll recommend an investigation into him,” Parjaya says coldly, watching him run. “That’s not...it speaks to a lot more wrong in his world view.”

It’s one thing, she knows, to be prejudiced against Force sensitives. She’s seen it much of her life, though Kori’buir and Jaster and Parjaya are old enough to take care of themselves. It doesn’t change that, even among Mando’ade, Force sensitives are seen as Other.

But it’s a completely different thing to consider Force sensitive children are considered animals.

It dawns on her, though, that Parjaya has said nothing about one of their ade being star-touched.

“Parjaya,” she says, just as coldly as he has been. “Do you need to tell me something?”

For the first time since that man stepped foot in their house, her riduur has returned to himself. He turns back, sheepish and anxious.

She’s not in the mood for it.

“Jango’s Force sensitive,” Parjaya says.

It’s nothing to be surprised about, she thinks. She has Kori’buir, she has Jaster, she married Parjaya.

Did you think I’d be like that?” she asks, nodding out the open door. “Me?

“Of course not,” he assures her, tries to assure her. “I just—.”

“I have Kori’buir and Jaster. I’ve grown up with Force sensitives. I married you.” Her voice cracks. “And you kept this from me.”

He shuts his mouth and takes a deep breath. “None of it was a big deal, yet. I wanted to have a better idea of the situation before I told you, and…” He sits down heavily, putting his hands in his face. “I don’t want Kori to know, yet.”

“Why…” She stops herself, feeling sick to her stomach. She knows why. Because even if her buir would never hurt Jango, wouldn’t dream of it, he would use him.

Jango is what his goal was, when he pushed Utrelsor to meet Parjaya Fett.

“I don’t care if Jango is elected Mand’alor, one day.” He doesn’t look up at her as he talks. “But I will not let your buir have anything to do with the raising of my child.”

Her stomach churns. Right. Jango’s their child, but this is one of those times where the fact she married into the Fett aliit is clear. Her riduur might love her, might trust her… But she’s a Vizsla. She is Mando’ad and she is loyal to her family and she was born and raised a Vizsla. And right now, he does not trust Aliit Vizsla. She chews on her bottom lip. “What about Jaster?” she asks.

Before Jaster joined their family, Utrelsor had assumed that Kori’buir couldn’t teach that self-sacrificing nature of his. He hadn’t let them be selfish, of course. They did not get to have things just because they were ade’b’Mand’alor, they did not get to have things just because they were Vizsla—a lesson Tor had to be taught many times when they were children, a lesson he had still, apparently, not learned—but they weren’t told they had to give up everything for the Manda.

Jaster, though, was not so lucky. He’d internalized a lot of Kori’buir’s lessons, but the one thing she could say that was the difference was that he wouldn’t give up was that he was somewhat preferential to the people he loved.

For a child of his own, he might not feel he could hide their talents, to not train them to an exacting degree.

But for selfish-Utrelsor, he would. For shaken-Parjaya, he would.

He’d keep the secret. He’d keep Jango safe.

Parjaya shudders. “Maybe. Maybe, soon.”

They’ll be selfish and keep their ik’aad’s secret for a bit longer. When the time comes, they will be selfish and swear Jaster to not tell, when the time comes.

They’ll be selfish and protect their ade from the galaxy, if it’s the last thing they do.



When Utrelsor goes into the nursery, Arla is curled up on the floor, Jango curled against her, both ade napping. She smiles softly and leans down, stroking Jango’s down hair and Arla’s smooth cheek.

“I know why my cousin figured it out,” Parjaya had said a few minutes ago. “Jango has been reacting to something lately. It’s not been common and I thought it was something in the house, but if he was reacting to it there, it’s not rare and it’s not tied to our house.”

Folktales about dar’mando’ade haunting their beskar’gam or clinging to their descendants in hopes of being reunited with the Manda dance in her head.

It’s probably not that, Parjaya had explained, but a more Chalactan phenomenon where the spirits of those yet to be born found those that they would be tied closely to. But she is still afraid for her children.

She will not raise her children on the stories of the kemi’kyr’ade or the taylir’kyrayc. No, these gentle, loving children will be too tempted to try and help those who would use and abuse them. So she will have Parjaya teach them the stories that are already happy and hopeful, so they will not have to make their own goodness in them.

It’s not tied to the house. It’s not rare.

One day, it may be someone’s baby. Even hers, or one day Jango’s, or someone else’s even.

All they know is that spirit will one day be tied to Jango and, for now, their appearance puts a smile on the ik’aad’s face.

“It’s time for dinner,” she murmurs, prodding the two awake. “Jan’ka, I made cheese noodles. Arla’ka, food is ready.” The prodding and the promises of food manage to wake the children up and wipe away most of the grumpiness about being ripped from sweet slumber.



“So.” Utrelsor sips a shot of rose coloured tihaar they got for their latest anniversary, leaning against the kitchen counter. “What does this mean. For us. For Fett. For Vizsla.”

Parjaya frowns and glances down the hall to the children’s rooms, where they’re safely and happily sleeping off dinner now. “It means that we have a very powerful child. It means that Kori might get what he wants. It means…” He pales a shade. “It means he’s a target. For people in general, but also…”

Also for Tor.

All the blood drains from Utrelsor’s face. “He...he wouldn’t.” Would he? No, he wouldn’t kill Jango. He’s more affectionate to Arla, but he’s expressed clear adoration towards Jango as well. He talks often about how it looks like he’s inheriting the Vizsla eyebrows, often mimicking Utrelsor’s scowl while holding Jango up like the ik’aad is doing the same.

But he would take him, hold him, use him against Jaster, when Jaster doesn’t fall right into place.

Utrelsor leans down, forearms pressed against the counter as she stares out the dark window. “Shab.”

“Mm.”

She breathes for a long moment, then stands and stalks down the hall, stopping in the open door to Jango’s room. There’s a little nightlight that allows her to see the sleeping body of her ik’aad. She goes to the edge of the crib, looking down at his peaceful face, the way his little chest goes up and down and how his little fingers push those soft cheeks around in his sleep. He and Arla have been everything she’s wanted in ik’aade, always bringing her joy even when they frustrate her.

There’s the slight creak of Parjaya leaning against the door frame behind her.

“What if I just killed him?” she asks around the lump in her throat. “What if I just killed Tor?”

Tor, newly married Tor, Tor who Jaster still can’t help but love, Tor who her buir refuses to act against before it’s too late.

What if she killed him?

She loves her brother, but knowing...knowing what he will likely do to their family and their culture and their sector, knowing what he might do to her ade…

What if she killed him?

Jango stirs, bringing her out of her head as he twists his tiny body around, rolling over and smacking his lips. He doesn’t look at her, instead looking at something in his crib and cooing, reaching out as if to grab a stuffie and cuddling into thin air before drifting back off.

“Vor entye,” she whispers to the little spirit keeping her ad company, and she strokes Jango’s hair once more before turning around to face her riduur. “Let’s go to bed.”

Parjaya stares at her for a long moment then nods, standing straight again and turning to head to their room.

She follows him, stripping out of her evening clothes as they enter and kicking them to the side, digging one of Parjaya’s work out shirts from the place where she’s started hiding them and throwing it on before faceplanting on the bed.

He laughs softly at her.

Eventually, she gets herself back up to a sitting position, watching as Parjaya gets his sleep pants on and catching the comb when he tosses it to her. He sits in front of her, typical before bed habits well in place by this time.

She unties the braided bun at his neck and begins to unravel it, combing out any snarls as she finds them. Once it’s all out, wavy and wonderful, she combs through it. It’s calming for her and she knows it’s calming for him, because he always takes the time she combs it for him to meditate. Quite honestly, it’s fascinating to watch him like this. His entire body slows down, all the lines that his face is developing ease, and the entire room takes on a peaceful quality.

It’s a Chalactan thing, apparently, to be able to spread that out. Some Jedi can do it, but they have hang ups about affecting the emotions around them. Not that anyone with a decent moral compass would be okay influencing someone else’s emotions directly, but it’s different to just fill the room with this sensation.

She braids his hair back into a sleep plait. In the morning, he’ll comb it out himself and rebraid it, doing a morning meditation with Jango if he’s not on shift with the JP.

It’s important for him, to be connected to Chalacta and his learning there.

And it helps her, to be around him like this.

She kisses his neck and leans against him, soaking it all in. “Ni kar’taylir darasuum,” she murmurs, eyes fluttering closed as they breathe together.

He reaches back and squeezes her shoulder. “Ni kar’taylir darasuum, cyare.”

Chapter Text

Utrelsor snickers while her two-year-old and nine-year-old climb all over Jaster like he’s a piece of playground equipment. Next to her, Parjaya and Kori’buir are having a not-quite-conversation, which has mostly been their standard since Parjaya shot down the idea of any further cross-family birthday parties for Jango and Arla last year.

It’s to protect their children, but Kori’buir doesn’t know that and he wouldn’t get it. Utrelsor came down firmly on her riduur’s side, agreeing with the decision that Arla and Jango would never know the Vizsla compound while Kori’buir is alive.

Jaster, as usual, acknowledges their decisions with little looks on his face that say he thinks they’re up to something, but he doesn’t question and he doesn’t press. They’ve continued to keep Jango’s Force sensitivity from him, but soon they’ll have to tell him, officially. She’s pretty sure he’s caught onto it by now, but Jango is good and polite, and his spirit friend doesn’t like to come around the extended family anymore.

I’m glad we all got here early,” she says after Jaster fishes Arla out of his bag.

No gifts for Arla, this time—well, none that are easily found. All of the gifts at hand right now are for Tor’s newborn son.

Yeah, it’s nice to get to pay attention to these little ones for a while,” Jaster agrees, holding Arla above his head while she squirms and laughs. “Not particularly excited to see Gatana again, but, you know.” He shrugs and Arla’s laughter gets louder.

None of us are,” Parjaya drawls, glancing over at Kori’buir, who has his lips pursed together.

Gatana and Tor live at the compound, still, though in their own section. He’s the only one who has met little Prudii so far. Kori’buir said he’d been helping, but he’s been pretty quiet about the goings on.

How’s it been?” Utrelsor asks.

It’s hard to call him Prudii,” Kori’buir says after a long silence. “He’s fair. They decided on the name about halfway through the pregnancy, though.” He shrugs. “I’ve been calling him Prii, and Tor’s taken it up, along with some others. It’s not a bad noise. Gatana doesn’t like it, but does she like anything?”

Jaster coughs up a laugh.

Kori’buir grins thinly. “She’s still trying very hard. She’s stubborn. I’ll say that is her best feature.”

Right. She came in and expected to be the Lady Vizsla, but the last trip Utrelsor made to Concordia saw her still with that title, no matter her marriage, and Gatana is simply Lady Gatana. She came in and expected to hold Tor’s heart, but Tor is still pining after Jaster to an extreme degree. She came in and expected respect, but has done nothing to gain it.

She seems very Kalevalan,” Parjaya says.

Jaster holds Arla up with one hand, using the other to snap, while Utrelsor rears back, surprised at how accurate that is.

Even Kori’buir’s eyes go wide. “She does.”

Jaster deposits Arla back on the floor, ducking down to kiss the crown of her head before he leans back to snag Jango for some cuddling. “Odd,” he says. “That family never struck me as particularly caring for the Kalevalan titles.”

Of course they didn’t,” Kori’buir drawls, “because they didn’t have one.”

Ugh.

They’re all distracted by the long-awaited ping from Tor saying he’s arrived and they bundle the ade up to take them to the hangar.

Utrelsor is expecting Gatana and the baby to come out first, but she’s not terribly surprised to see her ori’vod first. She tackles him with a hug, laughing as he grins like they’re children again, but that dies down as no one else comes out of his ship.

Tor glances back at it apologetically. “I need to lock it up.”

Utrelsor steps back and looks back at Jaster and Kori’buir and Parjaya and the kids.

Jaster’s eyes are wide and Parjaya purses his lips and hefts Jango higher up on is hip. Kori’buir, however, is glaring.

Arla comes over and tugs on Tor’s kute until he drops down to be more on her level. 

Me’bana, vod’ad?” he asks gently, reaching out and stroking her hair.

Ik’aad n’olaror?” she asks pitifully.

Tor’s expression shutters. “Nayc. Pr’ika isn’t coming. His other buir decided he was too little to come.”

Arla pouts but doesn’t throw a fit, which is good. She’s been very excited to meet her first cousin. But the adults all exchange looks. They’d traveled with Jango at this age, and Kori’buir would have mentioned if Prii was more fragile. So what it says is that Gatana didn’t want him to meet the rest of the family.

Maybe it’s a power play, making sure someone in line for House Vizsla’s head will still be on the compound. Maybe she’s caught on to the plan Tor desperately wants to play out but would never, where Prii won’t be her son anymore but will be Jaster’s. Maybe she just doesn’t want to compete for Tor’s attention. Maybe she just wants to make it clear that she hates the rest of them.

But from the sour look on Tor’s face, it’s not going to end well.

But!” he says, breaking himself out of his funk and standing up, scooping Arla along with him to make her squeal. “That just means I can pay more attention to my cyare’la vod’ade, yeah?”

Yeah!” Arla cheers.

Ah, Utrelsor realizes, and a chill runs down her spine.

Gatana told him not to come either.

She told him: stand by us, we’re your family, ignore them, we’re more important.

And he said no.

Even if he agreed with the sentiment, he’s not stupid. He’s not going to alienate Kori’buir, even if he hated him. And he doesn’t.

Gatana made a move, made a play, and she is going to pay dearly for it when Tor returns.

No sense in wasting a family holiday,” she says.

Tor beams at her.



Before Tor and Kori’buir are even back home, Utrelsor’s contacts are telling her all about what’s happened at the compound.

Gatana’s family is furious with her for alienating the rest of the Vizslas from her side. 

They warned her that Tor wouldn’t react well. They all, she thinks, remember his reaction to the rumours they spread about Jaster. But she apparently has stayed stubborn and is acting like she is the one who has been wronged.

After Tor and Kori’buir have arrived back, it’s all silent. When she checks with Jaster, he’s not heard anything either.

Do you think he killed her?” Parjaya asks, an eyebrow raised when she comes in to check how well Jango’s falling asleep and finds him sitting by the little bed, watching over their snoozing child.

She’s been spending the evenings trying to check in with her contacts and with Jaster. Even their comms to Tor and Kori’buir are going unanswered.

She may be neglecting her bedtime rituals with the ade for this…but she’s worried.

Maybe,” she admits, though she hates it. She’d like to just be able to relax with Jango and Arla, not spending her time worrying that Tor’s snapped early.

It’s a week later when finally the silence is broken. Just a little snap of a baby that must be Prii to the family group message, a round, red-faced baby with a tuft of pale hair. She sends a [copikla!] and waits, and a few days later her contacts finally, slowly, start to reach out again.

Tor didn’t kill Gatana, but there was a row large enough to wreck some buildings, and even now talks about divorce are lingering in the air, with rumours her family might offer her younger sister.

The wording doesn’t say that girl would be a replacement, no.

Instead, it almost makes Utrelsor want to puke, because the wording all says that she’d be compensation . What, she wonders as she stares at the messages, kind of family has Tor gained with this alliance?

Jaster’s much the same when he comms, late in the evening when just Utrelsor and Parjaya up with the last of a bottle of tihaar between them.

It’s hard to say how much of it is that baffling revisionism about the Crusaders,” Jaster rants to tem, “and how much is Kalevala’s perversion of our culture to make themselves seem more advanced. It’s like a bad Mando romance novel you can get for a few credits in the Republic—.”

Familiar with those, Jas?” Parjaya teases.

Jaster scowls at him over holo and doesn’t deign to comment on what Utrelsor knows is is guilty pleasure. Though it’s less about reading them and more about ripping them apart. “—but the worst part is that Tor is playing along.”

Utrelsor twists her face up; Tor is just as familiar with those books as Jaster, as he used to join in the reading and ripping apart of them. It was one of their things, up until…until Utrelsor met Parjaya, and they all started to grow up. He knows what kind of roll he’s setting himself up as, playing along like this. She sighs, sickened still. “It gives him more power than current Mandalorian culture,” she realizes aloud.

Jaster looks stricken by the thought. “Tor loves being Mando’ad.”

But all three of them know he loves power more.

Let’s talk to him,” she decides. “Express our outrage at what we’ve been hearing. Maybe it will help.”



It does, temporarily. It saves Gatana’s marriage. But the next time Utrelsor visits the compound, she sees how drawn up and quiet and ill the woman looks.

She knows now that she’s replaceable, to Tor and to her family’s ambitions.

But she doesn’t reach out to anyone, from what Utrelsor sees. Even when she reaches out to the pitiful woman herself, she’s denied coldly.

Still stubborn, still superior feeling, even if she’s been broken and is wasting away.

Fine, then.

Utrelsor has her own people to worry about.

Her visits to the compound are ostensibly to see and play with Prii, who Tor has mostly taken over the care of, but she’s also checking in with her old friends, her contacts, and the people most likely to be on the fence if Tor rebels.

It won’t completely strip him of powerful allies when the day comes—the Wrens and Saxons have already started to drift his way—but it will help. And it should keep them safer.

She knows Prii will be caught up in it, she knows Tor will be at the heart of it, that Gatana will either be dead or clinging to it for survival. And she knows she will be trying to keep her ade as far from it as possible. If Jaster needs them, she’s sure Parjaya will heed his call. And she knows she will too.



Chapter Text

The comm comes in the middle of the night, while Utrelsor and Parjaya are trying to pretend they don’t know Arla has been up most of the night scrambling to finish a module essay so she can spend the day with friends. Utrelsor remembers those days, being thirteen and newly verd and thinking the whole galaxy was opened up to her so why should she have to do these boring modules, buir.

Kori’buir probably had it worse than she and Parjaya. He was the only parent to two rangey teenagers who didn’t give a shab what the elders besides him said.

They weren’t she and Tor’s parents, they didn’t have a say.

It was a year that the horrible hole in their hearts where their other buir had been ripped open again, just like it had with Tor’s verd’goten year.

Utrelsor isn’t expecting good news, from a comm in the middle of the night. It’s early morning in Keldabe City, it’s not yet dawn at the Vizsla compound. But she’s not expecting that horrible hole to open up again, decades after she thought it was patched for good.

Tor and Jaster are both on the holo when she answers and her stomach sinks.

She doesn’t remember the last time they commed her together.

“What’s going on?” she asks them, taking in their shocked and grieving faces.

“Baar’ur says he’s got about a week left,” Jaster chokes out.

Kori’buir’s been sick. They’ve all known it; it’s hard not to when it’s been two years of decline. But this…this is rapid.

The metastasized tumours had started in his lungs—most everyone knew about his buy’ce-less run in with an exploded jetpack fuel tank when he was a teenager, so it was the most likely culprit—but they’d withstood treatment and gone further.

If he only has a week, it’s hit one of the important areas, finally, inevitably.

Utrelsor nods, choking on words she can’t figure out how to say. “I’ll…we’ll…I’ll be there. To say goodbye. Soon.”

They don’t have anyone to leave Jango with, still.

She doesn’t want her ade to be in that compound when Kori’buir dies.

She feels like she’s been backed up to a chasm without a jetpack. It’s yawning, great and dark, and ready to eat her.

“I’ll be there soon,” she says again.

“See you soon, then,” her ori’vode both say.

 

She and Parjaya sit down with Arla and Jango in the morning. Arla’s clearly anxious to get going, wants to go see her friends, thinks this meeting isn’t anything to be concerned about.

Jango is far more circumspect, clearly reading the emotions coming off of his buire.

He’s the same age that Utrelsor was when Baba’buir Parja died and Kori’buir became Mand’alor in name as well as deed.

“Ba’buir is dying,” Utrelsor says.

All of the fight and excitement for the day drains out of Arla, her face paling.

He’s been dying a long time, but the last time they talked to the ade about this, the estimate was another two to three years. Kori’buir is a strong person. He’s still managed to work, through much of this.

Utrelsor wonders how much of that has contributed.

“Are we going to Concordia?” Arla asks, looking frantically between her buire.

Utrelsor looks back down at the ground. “I am. The rest of you are staying on Concord Dawn. When I come back, Par’buir will go to Keldabe City to meet with the other aliit’alore for the election.”

It’s one of the few things that requires a damn good excuse to miss, electing the Mand’alor.

She wonders if that will change, after this election.

“Why can’t we go?” Arla says, jumping up. “Why can’t we see him and Ba’tat Jaster and Ba’vodu Tor?”

“Because it’s not safe,” Utrelsor says, words coming out breathy and hoarse. “Because Concordia won’t be safe and Keldabe City will be full of politics. In all likelihood, you won’t see Ba’tat Jaster and Ba’vodu Tor again for a long, long time.”

“Why not?” Arla yells.

Utrelsor shakes her head and looks at Parjaya, who can do nothing but sigh. They agreed on this, but how do you tell a thirteen year old that there will be war?

Them all being in Keldabe City when Tor gets the news, having to talk to him about it in person, will only be an accelerant to this building fire that threatens to envelop Mandalore space. They want to keep it as slow growing as possible, and maybe even put it out.

“Arla,” Parjaya says, finally speaking up and dragging her attention to him. “We are not marching.”

Arla slumps back. “I hate you! Both of you!”

Jango is still sitting, a little ball of anxiety and fear and grief.

“Jan’i,” Utrelsor prods.

He stares at her with those big brown eyes. “How many people are dying?” he asks, voice small.

Arla flinches. “Just Ba’buir, they just said—.”

“We don’t know yet,” Parjaya says, interrupting. “But it will be a lot of people. Don’t worry, one of us will always be with you.”

Arla looks shaken by those words and Utrelsor wonders what it means to have only one Mand’alor for so long in your life. Even the relatively peaceful transition between Baba’buir Parja and Kori’buir was fraught. This is shaping up to be a full civil war, if things go how they think they will.

“I’m packed,” Utrelsor says softly. “I’ll be back in a couple of weeks at latest.”

She wants to comfort her children. Desperately.

But her ori’vode and her buir are waiting for her.

 

Utrelsor is exhausted by the time she gets to Concordia. Jaster and Tor are already waiting on the edge of the landing pad, Tor holding four-year-old Prii in his arms.

“Say hello to Ba’vodu Utre and then go to Kata’bu, elek?” Tor tells the little boy

“Su cuy’gar,” Prii says, tiny voice squeaking on the words, but he can finally say them all without listing.

“Su cuy’gar, Prii’ka,” Utrelsor coos, patting the boy’s cheeks.

He seems strangely unaffected, considering his Ba’buir is dying, and she meets Tor’s eyes.

Her brother grimaces and shrugs.

“I’ll see you later, Prii. We’ll eat dinner together, ‘lek?”

“Yeah!” The little boy hops down, hugs her leg, then jets off.

“Lot of energy, that one,” she drawls, watching him dive into the compound.

“He hasn’t quite caught on to the grieving. And this will be the first death we’ve had since he was born.”

None of Gatana’s family have passed, then. Then again, no one from the Vizsla clan has either. But the difference grates on Utrelsor, unfairly she knows. Gatana still has both her parents.

Utrelsor and Tor are about to lose their last.

“How’s she taking it?” she asks.

Tor again looks shameful and angry. No wonder Prii hasn’t noticed yet.

“We need to worry more about Kori right now,” Jaster interjects softly.

They both nod.

Utrelsor heaves a sigh. “We knew it would happen, eventually.”

“I’m not ready for it,” Tor admits heavily. “I don’t want to lose him. Especially not like this. He should die a warrior’s death—.”

“But it is,” Utrelsor says, choking up a bit. “He’s been fighting for two years. It’s been a siege and he’s finally been overwhelmed. Saying it must be a literal battle denies the countless ru’kyraliit who perished in battles against illness and injury.”

Tor throws his arms up, grief clear on his face. “It’s hard, because we knew him for so long as a warrior on the battlefield. And in the political arena.”

It’s clear and amusing that the politics are an afterthought to him, but when she meets Jaster’s eyes it’s obvious that they both have a slight concern about it. When did Tor, who enjoyed talking and debating with Jaster so much, decide that might making right would be his personal philosophy.

It’s not Gatana’s family, either. Even they bow to political pressure.

This change in viewpoint, or revelation of it, is all Tor.

 

“Hey, Bubu,” Utrelsor murmurs as she takes a seat by her buir’s bedside. Up until the last time she saw him, he was still making the effort to at least be sitting up in his chair instead of lying down, but now he looks frail and breakable in his bed. At least it’s his bed, not a medical cot, but that doesn’t change the IV bag above their heads or the antiseptic smell of his room.

He opens his eyes with great effort and her heart pangs but brings back the memory of peaking over this bed as a child, dark enveloping them, and him doing the same from a deep sleep before picking her up and rolling over to tuck her in between he and her other buir.

Ah, how things have changed.

She reaches out and squeezes his hand gently, mindful of how fragile the hands of his bones feel. “How are you feeling?”

He laughs, hollow and hoarse. “As good as I can,” he wheezes. “How are you? How is Parjaya? How are my ba’ade?”

“Good, good. Arla is very, very thirteen. I sent you that holo from her verdgoten, did you watch it? I thought she did very well.”

“She did, she did. Takes after you.”

“She wanted to come.”

There’s still that canny gleam in his eyes. “You were smart not to let her. I’m sad I can’t see my all my ba’ade before I die, but I know why you didn’t bring them.”

Utrelsor nods, free hand clutching the bedspread. “Tor’s gotten a bit scary.”

Kori’buir sighs. “I’m sorry. I know that there was a lot that I could have done to prevent this, but… I am more hut’uun’la than I let myself realize.” And she knows what he’s talking about. For all he’s tried to be painfully fair, in the end he could not take the final steps that he would with any other Mando’ade. To Tor’s detriment and everyone’s danger.

“I thought about killing him. About being an aliit’kyramud.” She swallows hard around the lump in her throat. “Maybe if you had taught me like you taught Jaster.”

Kori’buir flushes and looks away from her. “I made mistakes with all three of you.”

“I know.”

“Ni ceta,” he whispers. It’s the first time she’s ever heard those words from him.

She’s not sure she’d ever hear them when he wasn’t dying.

“Watch over us all, when you join the Ka’ra,” she murmurs, and pats his hand before standing up. “I’ll come in with the others later.”

“Of course. I’ll endeavor to be here for you,” he says.

She pauses in the doorway of his room, clinging to it and clinging to composure for a moment more before leaving.

 

Utrelsor sprawls out in her chair in Kori’buir’s office, looking to each side where Jaster and Tor are in their own chairs. Behind them, where they’ve circled their chairs up, the empty desk looms. “So how are we going to do this?”

“We need to write the notice up to go out as soon as possible. Aliit’alore, the new Duke, Kalevala,” Jaster lists out. “Then the typical seven days before the hettyc. Anyone who is out farther should be told to go ahead and make their way back here now if they want to attend.”

“Aliit and Concordian sworn aliite only?” she asks.

“No,” Tor says, shaking his head. “We should make it available for any sworn aliite.”

It’s said so honestly that Utrelsor isn’t sure it’s about politics, but she’s suspicious nonetheless. “Alright, but you realize you’re on your own hosting them after? I’ll leave after the embers are cool. Jaster?”

“I’ve taken too much time off; I can’t stay much longer than maybe a day after, but probably I’ll leave with Utrelsor.”

“That’s fine,” Tor says and smiles at them, and they know then that it’s politics.

She sighs. “Okay. You’re in charge of invitations, then. I’ll start pulling rooms together, but you need to keep me appraised of who is coming.”

“Of course.”

And she’ll keep Jaster appraised.

Ka’ra, help them.

“I’ll handle the notice,” Jaster says, and with everything divvied up, Tor peels himself out of the chair and heads back into the rest of the compound, leaving the two of them to sit in silence.

“Maybe I should just kill him,” Utrelsor says, burying her face in her hands.

“No,” Jaster says, sounding sick to his stomach as he shakes his head. “At this point, that’ll just start something with his riduur’s aliit. We aren’t avoiding war, at this point. All we can do is prepare.”

You aren’t going to make a move to consolidate a base until the moment the election is decided,” she accuses, scowling and looking up so she can wave her finger at him..

“Either I’m elected Mand’alor and have the right, or I am not and I am simply a member of House Vizsla.” He shrugs, looking at his feet. “I won’t be like him, Utre’ka.”

She sighs.”Don’t be like Kori’buir either.”

Jaster laughs, light and tight. “Yeah, I can promise that too.”

 

In the end, they’re all gathered around Kori’buir’s bedside.

Utrelsor clings to his hand, kneeling by the bed with her tearstained face pressed into the sheet like she’s ten again.

Tor paces, looking paler and more withdrawn with every beat that is drawn out between Kori’buir’s breathes.

Jaster sits by the bedside, whispering old prayers for healing, for the lessening of pain.

“Ner ade,” Kori’buir says, his voice shaking and raw. “Ni kar’taylir darasuum.”

And he dies.

They cry and they wail, they tear the fragile shirts they put on for the occasion, they say the remembrance just for him in this moment, and they are, again, a family. There’s only a fraction of a moment that Jaster steps away to send out the death notice.

They huddle together after the baar’ur shoos them out for their own health, mourning.

It’s the signal for the entire compound to sweep into quiet.

The worst, Utrelsor decides, is when Gatana brings little Prii in to pay their respects and Prii tries to get his ba’buir to wake up, becoming more and more frustrated as Gatana stands coldly to the side. Eventually, Jaster kneels down under her impressive glower and quietly explains to Prii that Ba’buir can’t wake up, anymore.

The child’s cries renew all of their own, and the mournful wailing shakes the compound from them all.

It’s the death of a Mand’alor.

It’s the end of an era.

And as Jaster and Utrelsor know, looking at each other over Tor’s shoulders, it is the end of this thing like peace among the Mando’ade.

 

The embers from the pyre smart Utrelsor’s eyes and she leans into Jaster. Everyone around them with beskar’gam has it on, but it’s only appropriate to not wear your buy’ce in such a moment.

Tor is standing just aside from them, Gatana ramrod straight and Prii passed out in his arms, exhausted from sobbing after he realized what they were doing to his ba’buir’s body.

It’s been going on for hours, and they remain at vigil.

“You’re not going to at least sleep before leaving?” Tor asked them earlier.

“We can sleep on our ships,” Jaster had said, clasping his shoulder. “You’re Vizsla’alor now, Tor. We should let you exercise your power.”

Utrelsor hadn’t winced, but it was a near thing. Not the best way to put it, but she gets why he did say it like that. It’s playing on Tor’s pride and on Jaster’s own desperation to keep their family whole and hale. To give him this and hope it will be enough for him.

“Later…” Tor had started, but both of them shook their heads.

“Wait for everything to settle, Tor,” Jaster had said. “We’ll talk about family politics after.”

Eventually, the last of the embers flash to black. She and Jaster go and touch Tor’s shoulder, nod to him, then vanish into the night, back to their ships and then back to their homes.

She wonders if Jaster also thinks that there’s nothing left on Concordia for them, now.

Chapter Text

Utrelsor holds a giggling Jango by his legs as the child squirms, trying to get himself free. She smiles and walks, the giggling increasing in decibel as she continues to move with firm hold of him.

From the living room, she hears Arla scoff.

“Kar’yai!” Jango directs imperiously.

“Elek, Alor’ika,” she replies in mock-subordination, marching with over exaggerated movements to where Arla is playing with her new comm on the couch.

The thirteen year old looks up at them first with confusion and then dawning dread.

“K’tra’cyar!” Jango yells.

Utrelsor hauls him up and throws him in one fluid movement, sending him into a shrieking Arla while he laughs uproariously. She laughs too, then fishes her children apart before the scratching and biting can start. “Alright, that’s enough.”

Jango pouts openly, Arla hiding her own pout quickly in favour of a teenage sulk that tries to be dinterest.

Utrelsor smiles. “Go wash up for lunch, ‘lek? We’re going to go out and start working on the fields after.” Winter soil treatments to make sure it’s healthy for the spring planting. Perfect work for a thirteen year old and a six year old.

Buir,” Arla protests, only to shut her mouth quickly. This time she doesn’t hide her pout.

Utrelsor ignores it, though. “K’olar, oyaoya.”

The two get up and trot off to wash up for lunch and Utrelsor is ready to do the same when her own comm goes off.

She flicks it on, there’s only a few people who it could be and it all means one thing: the new Mand’alor has been elected.

“Su cuy’gar, vod’ika,” Tor says. Fury is clear in his voice.

Utrelsor shuts her eyes. “Give me a moment.” She steps into the other room, where Arla is already waiting for her brother. “Arle’ka, help your tat’ka with lunch. I have a comm call.”

“Elek, Buir.”

Utrelsor takes the comm to the office and seals the door. “What’s wrong, Tor?” she asks, not hiding her exasperation.

“Did you know?” he spits.

“Did I know what?” The muscles in her jaw are tensing. She can suspect what he’s upset about.

Jaster was elected Mand’alor!”

She rolls her eyes. She can’t help it. “Shouldn’t we be happy for him, then?” she asks. Maybe her reaction can help make him actually think about this. “One of Aliit Vizsla is Mand’alor again.”

“He was not born to us!” Tor explodes. “He is not prepared for this. I was the one who was supposed to be Mand’alor! Gatana’s family was supposed to secure it for me! How else am I going to protect you all?”

Utrelsor’s eyes are wide. She figured this would happen, but she wasn’t ready for his argument on why he was supposed to be Mand’alor. Protect them. She almost wants to laugh. “We don’t need protection, Tor. We’re all grown, we’re all capable.”

“I’m the oldest, I am the head of Aliit Vizsla,” Tor argues. “It is my responsibility to take care of all of you, it’s…” He trails off with a growl. “I was going to fix everything Buir broke.”

Utrelsor swallows and shuts her eyes. Of course he’d see it that way. “All that aside,” she says, trying to calm her own tone and lead him to the same peace, “you know that being Mand’alor is a fundamentally religious position. What did you expect? Even if Jaster hadn’t been the one to be elected, it would have been another Force sensitive.”

Tor is quiet. He takes an audible breath, but despite her, and likely his, best efforts, his next words are venomous. “Then I suppose Jaster is preferable. But he’s too soft. You know him, Ut’ika. He is an idealist. What will they call him? Te Vercopaanur?”

“Buir was te Atin’resol,” she points out. “The sixth to endure the Duchy. Maybe we need someone like Jaster.”

“I would not have endured them,” Tor snarls. “They are the biggest threat to our people. The new Duke seems fine now, but how long will that last before he starts doing as his ancestors have done and passing laws to deny our heritage? In baba’buir’s time, they closed the university.”

Protecting them, protecting Jaster. That’s what he says he wants.

“You should trust Jaster,” she tells him. “Buir saw him well trained, he’s smart. And he’s kar’tigaanur. That is what we expect of our Mand’alore.”

“Then maybe we need to change,” Tor says, quiet as a knife into a lung.

Utrelsor’s stomach drops. “Ne’johaa,” she finally snaps. “Gar nari di’kut. The only reason you want to buck tradition right now is because you didn’t get your way, but newsflash you never were going to!”

Utrelsor,” he snarls.

“Nayc. Actually look at yourself. Do you actually think Jaster will do a bad job as Mand’alor?”

“Utrelsor, you know that’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean, Tor?” she asks.

“Jaster’s not going to go against the status quo that buir set up in our family. Not without me smoothing the way...”

She should have killed him. Even if he doesn’t go on to start a war, this makes her want to kill him. Or puke. Or both, frankly. These are her ori’vode, all of them grown or not, and the idea that he would go against what Jaster had clearly settled into for himself is disgusting. “You and Jaster stopped being in a relationship like a decade and a half ago. You have a riduur and an ad’ika.”

“Prii likes Jaster more than Gatana.”

“A slug would like Jaster more than Gatana, vod. And,” she adds loudly, “Jaster now has two jobs to be married to instead of just the university one.”

Tor chokes on a laugh. Good. Good.

“We’re all grown, Tor.”

Tor breathes out messily. “I can’t just give up, Ut’ika.”

You can, she wants to tell him. You really can. She sighs. “I’ve got to get the kids ready to go out and work on the fields.”

“Isn’t it winter where you are?” he asks, confused.

“Gobral’ran,” she mocks.

She can almost hear the eye roll. “Vhett.”

“I’ll talk to you later, Tor. Just…think about it. Don’t make any sudden decisions. You’re smart; don’t act like you’re not.”

He huffs. “I know, vod’ika. I’ll talk to you later.”



Parjaya arrives in time for dinner, frazzled and tired.

“How did Jaster take it,” Utrelsor asks while they’re doing dishes, the kids running around outside.

“Fine, he was expecting it. None of the other candidates that were actually, you know, viable to the majority of the aliit’alore. None had the kind of training he had, and a number of the aliit’alore read a bunch of his papers in the last couple years, since it was clear that te Atin’resol was going to die soon.”

It’s been natural, she realizes, for she and Tor to drop their buir’s name from their vocabulary. Jaster too, she thinks.

The only time the deads’ names are said by those whose voices they would recognize is during remembrances, at risk of disturbing them.

But it still feels odd for Parjaya, who was so close to him compared to most of the aliit’alore, even those who were sworn to Aliit Vizsla, to now refer to him by his title as Mand’alor.

For most dead aliit’alore, they’re simply ruus’aliit’alor. But her buir was Mand’alor.

The title that took away her buir as also taken away her ori’vode, she tries not to think. One by the throat and one by the hooks of envy and desperation for things he can’t have.

She blinks her tearing eyes. “Tor called. Right after the vote, I think.”

“He disappeared as soon as it was called,” Parjaya says. “Jaster hadn’t seen him by the time I left. But Jaster’s also been inundated with people who want to support him. Or use him. I’m his rid’vod so I got a special pass to be there glaring at people. But I also left within an hour.”

“I’m not sure if I hope they talk or hope Tor avoids him,” she admits with a sigh, then tells her riduur about the conversation.

Parjaya becomes more and more drawn as her explanation continues. When she gets to what Tor said in reaction to her reminding him it was a Force sensitive preferential placement, he raises his hand to stop her. “This is why you still haven’t told any of your aliit about Jango, isn’t it?”

She purses her lips. “I don’t know,” she says honestly, after a moment. “It didn’t feel safe.”

He nods. “Is it now?”

“Maybe Jaster,” she shakes her head, “but he’s busy, now. In a few months.”

He nods again, smiling. “Your buir was a bastard.”

She raises her eyebrows. “What brought that on?”

“Just how he treated you and Tor. Sometimes it’s very clear why he played favourites so much.”

She grimaces, he’s not wrong. “Why?” she still asks.

He tilts his head. “On Chalacta, they’re considered talents. People who can become adepts without any Force sensitivity. They’re star-touched, just not as heavily, not in the same way. Maybe it’s better to say they have more jate’kara than most people. You can, well. You can see things clearly. Even if it’s just a judgment like continuing to keep Jango’s Force sensitivity a secret. Once emotion was out of the equation, anyways.”

She scowls. “Sometimes you sound like a Jetii from a holofilm.”

He snickers. “The other branches of the family have resulted in three Jetiise. Two of them are just slightly older than Jango, though the decision came because they were orphaned and the Jetiise found them in the custody of pirates who were going to sell them. One of them is a bit younger than me.”

“Huh.” She frowns. “How did you hear about the younger ones.”

“The Raaja updated me.”

She makes a faux disgusted face. “I was supposed to be the weirdly connected one in our relationship.”

He laughs and blows soap bubbles at her.



Utrelsor tucks herself into Parjaya’s arms on the couch and fires up the holocomm. “Su cuy’gar, mir’sheb.”

Jaster looks like he hasn’t slept since he got elected. Or maybe since the election started.

She gives him an unimpressed look. “I will come to Keldabe City and lay on you.”

“Shab gi balyc.”

She sticks her tongue out. “Kar’taylir balyc.”

He cracks a smile and she counts it as a win.

“How are you doing?” Parjaya asks.

“My other siblings came down. Which is nice. But everyone else is not. Kill me. Let someone else do this job.”

“Nayc.”

He sighs dramatically. “Have either of you heard from Tor?”

Utrelsor considers. Parjaya’s silence is similar. Eventually she says, “Yeah. He’s…not in a great place. I talked him down a bit, but… I wouldn’t want to be on Concordia right now.”

She wonders, a bit, what they might hear from there soon.

She wonders if she’ll feel anything about it.

“Jas…” she says, worried.

“He’ll figure out some way so I can’t get involved,” Jaster says, rubbing his temples. “He won’t want anyone involved. Especially not the Duchy. And she’s his riduur, he wouldn’t…”

None of them can be sure.

“I don’t remember him being violent off the battlefield,” Jaster says quietly.

Behind her ear, Parjaya sighs. “I can guess how it will happen.”

He says it, and like a prophecy it comes to their ears as news weeks later.

Tor divorced Gatana. She didn’t react well, attacked him. He killed her in the moment. Her aliit heard. The most intelligent of them left. The most loyal and the most stupid tried to attack the Vizsla compound.

It ended about as well as you’d think.

Jaster speaks with the Duke, who has a young daughter. Despite his own morals, and time, and a lack of inclination to be with Tor any further, Jaster loves him. So he points out Prii, the same age as the Duke’s baby, and he points out the unhappiness of the marriage, and he points out that not all of the clan was part of the attack, and that they had a history of bullying others.

The Duke does not press. Those that are left from that clan integrate into others. Concordia is quiet.

Utrelsor next talks to Tor with stilted words, and he’s much the same.

They all know he didn’t have to kill them, that they were weak and he was strong and skilled and smart. They all know he wanted to kill them.

Ka’ra, her brother is vengeful.

He would not be a good Mand’alor, not now. Maybe not even in the days of the Crusaders.

That night, she holds Jango and Arla close and pretends that their ba’vodu is not going down a path he can’t return from and hopes that she can continue to pretend for just a little longer, a little longer, a little longer still.

Chapter Text

Jaster tends to comm when the children are asleep.

It’s a pattern that starts because they had pretty early bedtimes when they were younger, and there’s such a difference in what time it is for them and what time it is for him, but as time goes on since he was elected Mand’alor, it growingly becomes “because Jaster needs to curse some people out” and they don’t have the heart to tell him that Arla’s already picked up most of the words from her friends.

He also rants about policy, which is surprisingly little different from when they were younger and he ranted about his papers.

Today, at least, is interesting, instead of being more railing against Sundari’s latest tax policy that Keldabe City is looking at like a rotting animal corpse deposited on their doorstep.

“I think there’s too much confusion about who is Mando’ad,” Jaster starts the conversation with.

Parjaya and Utrelsor exchange a look and Parjaya gets up to pop some bangcorn. “Oh?” Utrelsor says, prodding him for more elaboration.

“So many Kalevalan immigrants continue to make their way to the south, but none are interested in our traditions.” He snorts, because Kalevala has never been interested in Manda’yaim, really. “And they are saying they are Mandalorian but that no one off of Mandalore is. It’s becoming more of a problem as the years go on, and it shapes policy.”

“Mmhm,” Utrelsor agrees, accepting the bowl of bangcorn that Parjaya hands her.

“We have Mando’ade on Coruscant!” Jaster says sourly. “And they are not counted.”

“Because the Duchy has no power over them,” Parjaya points out.

Jaster huffs, clearly agreeing. “It’s not just that either,” he says mournfully. “I tried talking about this, but Tor and others who have been given titles under Kalevala’s attempts to control them are content to play with Kalevala’s puppet in return for the benefits. The titles, on Kalevala and in the Republic. The tax benefits, the import and export benefits, the privileges. They don’t care how others are suffering because of those very policies. They don’t care how it ties them to the Republic.”

Parjaya hums. “So what are you proposing?”

“A distinction. Mando’ade and Mando’iise. Mandalorians, culturally, and those from Manda’yaim.”

“You’d think most of the ones who call themselves traditionalists would jump all over that,” Utrelsor points out. She’s not sure what Jaster’s been hearing, but her people who are still around Concordia have said that Tor is championing the darker side of traditionalism. “But they’re not, are they?”

He shrugs in the holo. “I’m going to suggest it to the Tsad. It lets us lessen confusion among the wider population, it lets us put a distinction between us and the Duchy, and if we can fix it with the Duchy as well, we can stop confusion that they’re having as well. I think I can convince the Duke of it, but with everyone who won’t be interested in the distinction because right now the confusion allows them privileges…”

“It’ll be hard,” Utrelsor agrees.

If Tor just hadn’t have been a shit, he’d have been all over it.

“Have you talked to Tor about it?” she asks, knowing he hasn’t. The easiest way to get Tor on board would be to give him the barest amount of attention and hope.

“No.”

“Good,” she says, clipped. Because he would run with it. “Do not sacrifice your own safety and health for our people, Jaster. Do not be like our buir.”

“I know, I know,” Jaster says quietly, shaking his head. “I hate this, Utre’ka. Why…why did it have to change? Why did it all have to change? We were happy, once.” It hurts her, for him to say it like that, because she knows he’s not happy now. “Sometimes I wish buir had never seen anything in me.”

“You are the best Mando’ad for the job, Jas,” Utrelsor murmurs. “Even before buir saw you, you were.”



Arla turns fifteen without much fanfare. They invite her friends to a party and the raucous bunch of teenagers tear up a mostly resting vhetin and they’ll be cleaning up illicit beer bottles for the next year. They’ll have to make her do that.

The family event is a bit more settled, everyone eating on the couch while watching a holofilm she likes, even if it means Jango’s got his face buried in Parjaya’s shirt half the movie.

Presents come after.

“We went ahead and got you a new comm unit. It’ll fit with your current code, so don’t think you need to ‘worry’ about showing off a new code to your friends,” Utrelsor tells her as she unwraps the package, llike she was never guilty of that at her age.

Arla rolls her eyes. “Elek, buir. Vor’e.”

Parjaya smiles. “Your modules are done, elek?” he asks, leaning back and crossing his legs.

She gives him a suspicious look and Utrelsor bites her tongue. “Elek.”

He nods. “Okay. What do you think about three months before you have to start them again. For credit, even?”

The suspicion grows stronger. “Doing what?”

If they were a normal family, or even a branch family of the Fetts, it would be helping on the farm.

“Our cousin was wondering if you’d like to help out at the family temple,” Parjaya says lightly, lips twitching. “In Dilhu.”

Arla’s eyes go wide. “Really?” she asks, hoping up. “I’d really get to go to Chalacta for three whole months?” They’ve only ever gone on family trips that cap out at about a month, including travel. Just like those, travel is included in the estimated time away. But it’s still two months more. “By myself?”

Parjaya moves his head back and forth, considering. “We’ll have our family trip either at the beginning or the end. Your choice. But otherwise, yes. You will, of course, have to obey whoever the Raani assigns to be your minder, and you will have to obey the Raani himself. But at least one of our Jetiise cousins will be there gaining her marks of illumination. You two are about the same age.”

Part of the reason for the yearly trips have been to get Jango training, thank Ka’ra, so when he turns fifteen and goes he will only have the tests. It’s also helped him a lot, even with Parjaya’s training on the regular.

It will be interesting to see how it’s going for the little Billaba.

“Well, I already know Raani, more than her,” Arla says, nose in the air, then jumps when Parjaya reaches out and pinches her. “I’ll be nice, Bu’ka!”

Parjaya snickers. “You will. If not, I will take off from work and come get you and if you’ve chosen for us to visit at the end you will have to stay with—.” He stops himself short, frowning, then looks over at Utrelsor.

There’s no good option right now, she realizes with him.

“I promise I’ll be nice,” Arla says, softer and more cowed. They’ve not talked much to her about her ba’vode, and she’s asked less and less as the years have gone on. They don’t want to ruin her fond memories of either of them, not right now, not like this.

“Good,” Utrelsor says seriously. “I might just tell Raani to make you scrub the family temple from top to bottom until you repent.”

That brings the characteristic teenage scowl to her face and the mood clears again.

“My turn!” Jango says cheerfully, hopping up to give his or’tat a brightly coloured box. He clings to her pant leg as she unwraps it, anxiety and excitement clear on his face.

He’s growing so much. Both of them are.

The box contains a necklace, on a beskar chain that cost most of Jango’s pocket money for the month, and on it is a little clay sculpture with a heart made of a shiny black stone that was one of Jango’s favourites in his little collection he’s picked up on trips out of the vhetta. He made the sculpture himself, under Parjaya’s supervision, both with his hands and with the Force. Allegedly, it’s a shriekhawk, because Arla got into researching them after a brief stint where she was very, very interested in Utrelsor’s family history.

Now it’s far more likely she’s getting into ornithology in general.

The pendant itself is pretty crude, handmade, but Arla still latches it around her neck immediately and squats down to hug her tat’ka and smack a wet kiss on his cheek, making him squeal. “I love it.”

“Your ba’vode sent you things too,” Utrelsor says after letting them have a little moment. She gestures that Arla sit again and passes her the box from Jaster.

The packages had arrived by mailship a few days ago and it had been on her to wrap them.

Jaster’s is revealed to be a book about shriekhawk ecology, signed by the author who Utrelsor remembers is a work colleague from when he was teaching on Concordia, a gift that’s at once more useful and less precious as Jango’s.

“Oh, this is cool,” Arla says, leafing through it. “I’ll send him the thank you comm tomorrow?”

“That’ll be perfect,” Utrelsor agrees. With a heavy heart, she passes Arla Tor’s gift. It’s heavy and it made she and Parjaya incredibly angry, but…what can they do about it? It’s up to Arla, and it’s her birthright from the one ba’buir she ever knew, but it’s an insult for Tor to send it.

The package contains the two hal’cabure from their buir’s beskar’gam.

It would have been worse if it had just been a chunk of beskar, as that would really imply that the Fetts couldn’t afford to buy more beskar. As it is, they aren’t the pieces of their buir’s beskar’gam that Utrelsor would have chosen. Those from their first buir who died, maybe.

But not from this set of beskar’gam.

“Oh, wow,” Arla breathes.

“They were your ba’buir’s,” Utrelsor says, trying to keep it from coming out stiff. “I figure we can replace the durasteel growing-gam with it.”

“Awesome!” She beams at them. “I’ll definitely sent Ba’vodu Tor a thank you.”

It’s probably her favourite thing she’s gotten tonight, even eclipsing the necklace, because it’s been years, now, but she’s still angry that Utrelsor wouldn’t let her go see him before he died.

She’s still angry even though he was distant to her.

It smarts, but Utrelsor ignores it all in favour of hugging her oldest ad. “Briikase gote’tuur, Arla.”