Chapter 14

“What shall we do with him, Obi-Wan?  Kill him?”  For once, Siri seemed happy not to be in charge.

Garen added, “For the good of the Galaxy, that does seem to be the only solution.”

Obi-Wan looked away from Vindi, who was cowering against the far wall of the cargo hold.  Standing over the Faust was Nasriel, her amber eyes devoid of expression, her green lightsaber bright in the gloom.

“Nasriel?”

She answered without breaking her concentration for a moment.  “Yes, Master?”

“Kill him.”

The jade-green lightsaber sliced at once through the air, beheading Dr. Nuvo Vindi, and then Nasriel deactivated the saber, flinging it from her as if it were a snake, and running from the room.  Obi-Wan scooped up the weapon and raced after her.

When he caught up to Nasriel, she was sitting curled in a miserable huddle on the boarding ramp of the ship.  Obi-Wan saw, disgustedly, that her blue face was streaked with tears, but the dark, intense concentration of minutes before was not gone in the least.

“What is wrong with you?” he shouted in exasperation.  “Don’t you realize Vindi could have destroyed life as we know it –would have enjoyed doing that?  You’ve rid the Galaxy of a huge danger – and all you can do is cry like a silly youngling.  Dealing with threats is what the Jedi do, and if you don’t like that, you can go back to your family’s palace at Saalis.  You make me sick.”

He was so full of rage it was a moment or two before Nasriel’s frightened whisper registered.  “Sorry, Master.  Never… killed before.”

At once, all his fury evaporated like a drop of water in the Tatooini desert.  The poor kid had enough to deal with, this being her first kill, and all the emotional strain that went with that, without him being angry with her for doing as much as she could.

“I’m sorry, Nasriel.  I should have thought of that.  And whether you’d killed before or not, it wasn’t fair of me to make you do it in cold blood.”  He held out her lightsaber like a peace offering.  “You dropped this.”

Nasriel took the saber gingerly from his outstretched hand, and clipped it to her belt without looking at him.  “Not at all, Master.  I had to learn to kill eventually.”

***

The journey back to Coruscant was long, and a high fever didn’t make it seem any shorter to Obi-Wan, ordered by Siri to stay put in the cabin.  He let his mind drift, and found it floating gently, almost imperceptibly, into full-blown hallucination.  They were fighting pirates, the two lightsabers whirling expertly, deflecting blaster bolts, edging toward the shuttle so they could get out of there.  The tall Vasilisk Master snapped an order, and her Padawan dived for a control panel set into the wall.  One of the pirates intercepted, shoving the child against the panel, depressing a lever.  The Padawan let out a shriek of fear and surprise as a jet of white flame shot from a vent in the wall, vaping a few pirates, scorching the younger Jedi’s hair and clothes, but badly burning the Master.  They made for their ship as the few remaining pirates beat a hasty retreat.

The vision changed suddenly, to the Council Chamber of the Temple.  Standing in the center of the large round room, her burned arm and side bandaged, Vasilisk Master Gueca Sala said angrily, “That young fool is a liability, and in general a danger only to the Jedi.  I offered to train a Padawan, Master Yoda, not a clumsy youngling.  I withdraw my charge, and if the only way I can be rid of that… useless dead weight is to leave the Order, so be it.  I would rather be alive than a Jedi.  Personally, I recommend the immediate expulsion of this Padawan from the Order.”

Obi-Wan drifted gradually back to consciousness.  What was that?  He had been alive for over thirty-five years, and a Jedi for most of them – which certainly led to some bizarre experiences – but to date he had never remembered any events that had not actually happened.  Pirates.  Wait a minute.  Nasriel had been dismissed by Master Sala for an ‘accident’.  Falling against a control panel qualified as an ‘accident’.  The main question now was, why in the broad blue Galaxy was he remembering her past?  The Jedi Master sat up slowly, and instantly regretted it.  A headache on top of everything else: today was not fair.  After hunting in the medicine cabinet for a painkiller, Obi-Wan went to find his Padawan.

She was coiled in a corner of the companionway, arms wrapped around her drawn-up knees, still pale, staring into space.  Crouching on the deck beside her, Obi-Wan tapped the girl gently on the shoulder.  “Hey.”

Nasriel replied without shifting from her contemplation of the wall.  “Are you all right, Master?”

“I’m fine.  Mostly fine,” he felt compelled to admit after a moment.  “I was really wondering if you were.  A few minutes ago I had… quite an unusual dream.”

She moved at last, fixing him with a troubled gaze.  “Oh, no!  I’m so sorry.  I forgot to put a mind block in place.  I’ll see my memories don’t trouble you again.”  He felt her carefully select her most traumatic memories, mentally kick them to a part of her mind where the midi-chlorians now in his bloodstream could not betray her, and close her mind off completely.  “It’s a bit annoying, I agree.  The midi-chlorians store the worst memories for you, so when some of them go to somebody else, in your blood, the memories are opened too.  I had to have a blood transfusion from Elimyo Zahani a few years back.  He’s been through some terrible things.”

“I know this is really far too much to ask, but would you consider granting me access to your memories of Masters Sala and Vareng?”

Nasriel flicked her gaze back to the wall.  “With all due respect, Master, given your current physical state, the added mental stress would be unwise.  I’m sure Master Tachi would agree with me.”  And that was that.  The Padawan closed off her mind, all her thoughts and emotions.  The headache returned with a vengeance and Obi-Wan had to return to his cabin to be miserable alone.

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About coruscantbookshelf

"A writer is an introvert: someone who wants to tell you a story but doesn't want to have to make eye contact while doing it." - Adapted from John Green
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