Cheerfully triumphant, Obi-Wan breezed into the Kenobi quarters. Ben had been waiting for him and bounced out of his room in excited anticipation. “Did you get it?”
“I got it. It’s only one week – with recall – effective from tonight, so it’s not great, but…”
“Better than nothing. Hey, Nas?”
Nasriel’s eyes emerged dreamily over the top of an adventure novel. “Hmm?”
“Are you not listening? We got the week leave.”
“Oh.” Seeming to find the statement uninteresting, she bent her head back to the book. “Leave for what?”
“You haven’t been listening! We’ve talked of nothing else for days. Master Obi-Wan got a week’s leave so we can take a trip home to Steujan.”
“Good for him. Don’t forget about the chemistry test week after next. The final review lesson is tomorrow. Shall I take notes for us both?”
Ben stopped in amazement. “Girl, have you completely lost your blue head? You will not be here to take notes.”
“Skeg.” The novel fell to the floor. “Don’t tell me I’ve got to go on some mission alone?”
Deciding it was about time to intervene, Obi-Wan said hurriedly, “Ben, don’t be rude. You’re coming with us, Nasriel. Only if you want to, of course.”
Nasriel seemed to be trying to decide whether to be embarrassed or pleased. Pleased won. “Do I want to? You must be mad. I’d love to go with you!” Her face fell. “Your family is not going to be happy about your giving me the name. I guess I’d better stay here.”
Obi-Wan shook his head at her. “Nasriel, they’d be delighted to meet you! Especially my sister. She would wholeheartedly love you. Anyone who annoys me, she likes at once. And I don’t think they would be upset about my changing your name. I think they would understand, and if they didn’t they’ve had to accept the fact that I’m a law unto myself years ago.” A sparkle of mischief lit his eyes. Nasriel frowned, annoyed.
“You’re the black sheep of the family,” she said. “I find that pretty hard to swallow.”
Obi-Wan laughed. “I’ve always been the odd one out; remember I’m the blue-eyed Kenobi.” he said. “And a Jedi as well. There was a three-hundred year gap when there were no Jedi from the bloodline I belong to before I was born.” A shadow crossed his face and there was a faraway look in his eyes. “Some of the relatives didn’t approve of my being sent to the Temple. In fact, they made a scene on the day I left.” Obi-Wan’s hand drifted to his cheek, tracing what could very well be a now-invisible scar. “I was the oldest, the first son, the heir on the mother’s line. My older brother was still alive, remember; he was Father’s heir then. The family told my parents, my mother especially, why should you have to sacrifice your son to the Jedi? He’s your firstborn. He’s your legacy. I must have blocked it all out, because I don’t remember what happened next. When I could think clearly again, Master Gallia was there to take me to the Temple. There was a full-fledged falling-out between that particular branch of the family and mine after that.
“I think I know who you’re talking about, Master,” Ben piped up. “When Cousin Karlissa came that one day when I was little, she looked at me and said, ‘Oh no, not another one!’“ He began to laugh. Obi-Wan eyed him sternly, at which he subsided.
“You should be getting ready for the trip, you two,” Obi-Wan said.
“Yes, Master.” Obi-Wan kept up his stern expression, but its effect was spoiled because Ben exaggerated it.
At the Steujan spaceport the next day, Obi-Wan was beginning to think he might possibly go crazy. Explaining to the immigration officials that no, there was nothing to declare, and no, he was not there on business – who would bring children on a business trip anyway? – and then having to explain the Padawan system to the official, who obviously had never left the planet and probably never even left his desk, was a very trying task. It did not help matters that he could feel Ben toying with the idea of simply using a mind-trick and getting through now.
Nasriel was ignoring the conversation completely, having discovered that she could not understand Shendi – and didn’t really want to. She had gone over to the window, a massive, floor-to-ceiling affair overlooking the center of the small city they were in. Five minutes later, when it was obvious that getting into the planet would take a while, Ben sauntered over to join her. He found her, face practically touching the glass, spellbound by something outside.
“Nas? What’re you looking at?”
Her head spun quickly to face him, and she answered carefully, “I was…” a pause to decide on the next words. “Watching the sea.”
Ben crowed with laughter. “The sea? That’s a river, Witch, and not a major one either. Have you really never seen a river before? We’ll have to show you the sea before we go back, but I can assure you that isn’t it.”
After eventually clearing the spaceport, it turned out that at that time of the day at that time of the year, there was absolutely no way of getting out of the city bar walking. “And it’s ten kilometers,” sighed Ben.
“It’s a lovely afternoon. A walk won’t hurt you.” Obi-Wan sounded disappointed; perhaps that nobody had met them at the spaceport. “We should get home before dark.”
Home, Nasriel thought wistfully. It had been years since she had applied the term to anywhere but the Padawan Halls. Saalis certainly wasn’t home anymore.