Family Pt 6
Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
Location: Mordin / Samedi quarters
"Hm? Did you call for me?" Hel called out from the bedroom. She'd worked late this day and had just come out of the shower, was changing when she thought she'd heard Valeria call her name. She hadn't quite had a chance to give Valeria a proper hug or get something to eat yet.
"Only by name." Valeria called back. "I'm on the comm with home at the moment. I was just pulling a few data files from the home moons and..." a pause, "Hel, would you like to meet my parents?"
"Your p - Yes! Yes - just - uhm - one moment, let me - oof - " Her excited voice sounded muffled for a bit as Hel quickly pulled her simple and comfortable black dress over her head, followed by smoothing out her hair so she looked at least somewhat presentable before making her way into the living room, approaching the terminal. A thousand thoughts ran through her head - would they approve of her? Would they notice that she hadn't had the time to properly ready herself and do her hair and some subtle make-up? Would they mind that she looked like she'd just gotten out of the shower, because she had?
Valeria offered a soft smile as Hel arrived. On the screen on their wall was a collection of Ts'usugi. Two slightly more elder than the other eight in the background. It wasn't just her parents, seems her entire family came in for the call.
"Network, can you provide a translator?" Valeria asked the wall, and a voice that didn't match any of the family gave an affirmative. In the corner of the window soon appeared a drab, grey furred son of Ts'usu. Easily overlooked, almost forgotten. He introduced himself as Kassim, part of the Ts'usugi Language and Communication Corps.
"Mother. Father. Everyone... this is Hel." she introduced, and the assembled family offered waves, nods, and the ever-present Ts'usugi smile. Mom spoke, and the friendly translation service offered a seamless transition to Federation standard. "It's very nice to meet you. Our daughter was just making a few inquiries to the network and decided to use the last of her month's time calling us."
"I like your hair." the youngest sister spoke up, and was quickly shooshed by their older siblings. This was the time for grown ups to talk.
A thousand new thoughts raced through Hel's mind. What should she say? Were there any protocols she didn't know about? Probably. Would they forgive her for not knowing them? Hopefully. Would they approve of her? What had happened to her that this mattered so much to her? She never used to worry about people approving of her ...
"Thank you." She smiled warmly, bowing her head slightly in acknowledgement of the compliment. "I like your ears." she returned the compliment. "They remind me of Valeera." as she took her place next to her love, resting a hand on Valeria's shoulder for a moment. So many things to see, things to notice. It seemed Valeria took after her mother in looks, though she had her fathers eyes. The most striking she found the subtle differences in fur coloration between the family members.
"It's truly a pleasure and an honor to meet you all. For many months I have been looking forward to doing so." Too much? Not enough? Were her nerves showing through?
The youngest sister gave a beaming smile, such a rare show of outward emotion from a Daughter of Ts'usu. Her ears waggled a little bit, though the look on her face showed it was conscious effort. A simple exchange of compliments, but it certainly made someone's day.
"It's our honor to meet you as well." her father spoke up. Mother was a farmer, her hands showed the tell-tale signs of hard work, while her father as memory served worked for the local government. Though no stranger to hard work, his hands and his tone were softer. "We've all heard so much about you, your side of the galaxy, your fleet."
"Well, what she insists she's allowed to tell us." Mother jumped in with a smirk, and her Father gave a chuckle, "Well, that's a truth no matter where in the galaxy you are. Though, it's comforting to be able to put a true face on the name we've heard so much. Let's introduce you to the family."
The room beyond the collected Mordin family was simple enough. It seemed that this comm window was the center point of whatever room it was in. The home was well decorated, a lovely soft yet dark blue. Each of Valeria's brothers and sisters were introduced in time. Oldest, and youngest. She really was the middle mouth, as it were. As one would expect, the elder siblings were quite well behaved and displayed the full decorum of Ts'usugi protocol. The younger ones, perhaps not so much, but they were still well behaved.
And here was where always paying attention to Valeria's stories paid off. For each of the children Hel had something nice to say. A compliment, or just a general nicety. Congratulations on finishing that difficult course. I really like that dress. Valeera tells me you've been learning Federation Standard and doing really well. I've seen your drawings, they are wonderful. Things like that.
At the end a warm smile that spread to her eyes. "Your family is wonderful." Hel mused. "I'm afraid my own is a lot less impressive. My father, Yama, has a small farm on my birth colony of Asphodel. My younger sister Nirrti is an officer onboard this ship. And - ... since my mother Izanami passed away, I am the family Matriarch." She was sure Valeria had told her family about Hel's, but after all that introduction she felt it appropriate to do so herself as well.
Ts'usugi protocol. Hel didn't know that much about it, but a few basic things she did. Never impose. Always offer a way out. Always be polite. "My apologies, though. I did not mean to intrude upon quality time with your errant daughter and sister." as she took a small but symbolic step back, almost as if to allow Valeria center stage again.
"We feel for your loss, and please, stay." Valeria's mother chimed in, "While we don't see as much of our daughter as we would like..."
Valeria really should call home more.
"... we get to see even less of you, whom she's spoken of so highly. Love is a word with such a weight to it." she finished, and the others nodded. Well, except the younger siblings who didn't exactly know what was being said just over their heads.
"Thank you." Hel spoke, sincerely, smiling warmly. She took Valeria's hand in hers and squeezed softly, looking over at her love. "And thank you for the words of sympathy. At least we were very fortunate that Izanami got to meet Valeera, and Valeera met with her approval."
Hel hesitated a moment before turning to Valeria and speaking softly. "Love, is it ok if I asked for a moment with just your parents? Won't be long, I promise."
Valeria gave a nod and a smile, "Take your time. I imagine there's dozens of questions you have. I've got a quick errand to run, I'll be back before too long." the rabbitess gently pressed her forehead to Hel's, before she made her way out.
Valeera's mother gave a smirk, "You know, her birthday isn't for another few months, our time. I can't imagine there's that much of a difference between our calendars."
At the forehead-touch Hel smiled, closed her eyes and placed a soft human kiss on the tip of Valeria's nose. She turned her full attention back to the screen though when she heard Valeera's mother's words, and the translation from Kassim. She hesitated a moment, taking a deep breath before speaking, once she'd heard the door close behind Valeria.
"Valeera's words and stories painted a beautiful and wonderful family, and meeting you all face to face served only to confirm. I know the Ts'usugi are a proud people who value tradition and protocol, and while I'm still learning about Ts'usugi protocol, I would at least like a chance to indulge in an old human tradition, that unfortunately is no longer in widespread use but that I find appropriate nonetheless." Hel started.
"Valeera has shown me things and truths I had never dared dream real, and taught me to love in ways I had never believed I could. And meeting her family, all of you, caused me to make up my mind. Mister Mordin, Missus Mordin ... It would be an honor and this humble woman's dream come true, if you would grant me your permission and blessing to ask your daughter Valeera Mordin for her hand in marriage."
Some members of the Mordin family seemed shocked. Others amused. Mother and Father, though, seemed calm. Like they expected something like this, though just weren't certain on when. One of the elder siblings up and left the room, seemingly to the amusement of the gathered masses.
"An interesting tradition. We... we don't have anything like it, though. Our daughter's hand is hers to give to who she wants. Though, the meaning behind your tradition isn't lost to us." Mrs Mordin began. The elder sister returned, while her elder brother gave a chuckle, "Relax. Your knight is coming." the translation came over. Maybe it was accurate. Maybe it wasn't. One thing was clear, it seemed that someone just lost a bet.
A look from mom and dad settled down the party behind them, then the conversation proceeded. "You have our permission to wed our daughter, and join the family." Valeera's father replied. "Though, I think we'd all feel much better if this were something that were done more... in person. Whenever the time and your schedule allows, let us know if you're going to be near any Dalacari outposts or holdings."
"We'll arrange the transport to meet you there. As long as that wouldn't be a problem. We all understand that your travel arrangements aren't exactly under your personal control."
"Of course, of course. Wouldn't dream of holding the ceremony without the family." Hel beamed, bouncing on her feet a bit, smiling broadly, eyes lighting up. She was excited, to say the least. "And, thank you. It really means a lot to me to have your blessing." Beat. "Oof. Gotta arrange rings, find a good moment, and - oh I'm nervous already."
Mrs. Mordin stopped, and put her hand up against the screen, leaving an odd pressure imprint on it. "Hel." she said. Calm, but clear. She said a few more words, but this time it wasn't just the provided interpreter that spoke up, it was the youngest little sibling. The one learning to speak Federation standard.
"I believe in you." "This is something you can handle." the youngest struggled a bit with a few of the words, but even the interpreter's image in the corner seemed to smile a bit at her accomplishment.
Hel paused, then smiled and gave a nod. "Domo arigatou." she ventured, though her accent making clear she wasn't a native speaker, nowhere near. "I'm fine. Honest. Just - a bit nervous. This is all such a big thing, for both our families." She took a moment to compose herself, taking a deep breath.
"So, now that we are all here, I am sure some of you have questions you wish to ask. Please, feel free to do so."
"Dear. There's a hundred questions we'd want to ask you, and there must be as many questions you have for us as there are stars in the sky." Mom started, "How did you meet, how did you first know, how did you know the next morning. Love is the question that the poets have been asking for a thousand thousand years. We'd have no right to ask you how."
"We'd have no right to ask you to keep her safe. Life isn't safe." her father chimed in. "The only thing we do have the right to ask, would be..." he started, but her eldest brother took the moment to chime in.
"Does she still separate her flak from her tuber before she eats?"
Janis' parents' eyes went wide. "Janis Mordin!" mothers around the cosmos had a way with names. He knew he was in trouble, but the question was in the air. With a smirk, his father turned to him, "You'll get yours later young man, but... the question is in the air." he turned to Hel with a smirk. "Does she?"
Hel chuckled, and one might even imagine there was a faint hint of color to her cheeks. "We met when we found ourselves stationed on the same ship. I thought she looked interesting so on a whim I asked her out. But it was her mind that drew me in, that intelligence and that insatiable curiosity and a lust to learn all that she could, and even what she couldn't."
"And, yes. Yes she does. And eats them alternatingly." the pale engineeress smiled.