“Nasrie-el! O Threebling-Killer-Of-Masters, where are you, anyway?”
A surly blue face, framed by sleek black hair, appeared around the corner from the practice floor, its diamond-shaped green and purple markings vivid with exertion. The face was followed by a slender blue female body, slightly dishabille in cropped leggings and a brief sleeveless bodice, revealing a three-pointed violet scar on the right shoulder.
“Skeg, Shaniel, what is it now?”
“The reassignment Council wants to see you – o bringer of death – to discuss your next victim. Now. Master Yoreh Deah insists. What she wants with a halfster is beyond me, but still. There you have it.”
Nasriel Threeb’s dark amber eyes glowed with a sudden despair. “Shani, they aren’t going to change it now?”
Shaniel Daylee glanced witheringly from her own jewel-bright knee boots to Nasriel’s shortened leggings and low, laced canvas shoes. “Witch, because I am not your Master, I have no right to order you to do anything. However, as your fellow Padawan, I strongly suggest that you don some more garments and change out of those half-cobbled Saalisan clodhoppers at some point in the very near future.”
Nasriel grinned, displaying sharp, even, triangular white teeth, and very pointedly clipped her lightsaber onto her belt. “Shani, as you told me before, Master Deah said ‘now’. Because she is not in the habit of demanding haste, I think it would be wise for me to go – now. If it is that urgent, Master Deah will not mind that my clothing is less than ceremonial.” She turned back on her way out of the Padawan Hall. “Oh, and Shani? I haven’t killed any of my Masters. The term you used is inaccurate. Too much caf or too little sleep?”
Master Kenobi opened the door to the Council chamber, at Nasriel’s barely-respectful knock. “Did Padawan Daylee interrupt you in something?”
“You ought to know. Fifty practice repetitions of a double flip don’t exactly take moments, Master.”
Master Deah decided that this would be a good time to come back to business. “Padawan Threeb. Master Kenobi thinks he can somehow train both you and his current Padawan. I think he’s wrong. However, I am giving the pair of you permission to try the experiment for six weeks, to report on your progress – or lack thereof – at the end of that time. That is all.”
In the corridor outside council room, Obi-Wan asked calmly, as if both their destinies had not just been changed forever, “How many of the fifty repetitions did you actually complete, Nasriel Threeb?”
“Twenty-seven so far, Master. What shall I do after I complete the remaining twenty-three?”
“You shall… do fifty repetitions of something you consider yourself to be below standard at. And then you shall write down whatever you think your new Master ought to know about you.”
Nasriel went purposefully back to the Padawan Halls, turning double flips and counting them along the way. By the time she had reached her own chamber, she was murmuring “Fifty-eight” and trying to decide whether to practice the Thirteenth or Seventh Saber Drill. Ahsoka Tano stepped from the next doorway and reached out her hand to stop Nasriel after the fifty-ninth flip.
“Threeb, you stink. Take a sanisteam. Oh, wait. I forgot. Nothing will stop you being a hybrid.” She leaned back into her room. “Skyguy – ah, Master Skywalker, you ought to talk to Master Kenobi about the stupid choice he’s made. He listens to you.”
“Ahsoka Tano,” began Nasriel very deliberately, “Bestalk hrabe kaliu artsu nu w’sagen.”
“Halfster, am I supposed to understand that?”
“No. As a matter of fact it’s probably better you don’t. If you will excuse me now, Padawan Tano, I have work to do. Fifty repetitions of each Thirteenth and Seventh Drills.” She added as an afterthought, “I don’t mind what you say about me, Togrut, but be careful how you speak about my Master. It is, after all, in the nature of Saalisans to ignore an insult to themselves, but to take an insult to a loved one very seriously.” Nasriel considered slamming her door, but decided that it was not a terribly Jedi thing to do.
Finally alone, she raced through the drills, and then sat down cross-legged on her bunk with a sheet of flimsi and an ink-pencil. Neatly, she titled the page: To Master Kenobi, in re Padawan Threeb, and scribbled a numeral 1 in the margin. After nearly ten minutes of chewing the end of her pencil, she added, opposite the numeral, the words “I have had three previous Masters: Gueca Sala, N’Cai Vareng, and Jiron Jados. Master Sala sent me back after a year on account of an accident. Master Vareng sent me back after a week on account of a bad omen. Master Jados was killed after I had spent three years under his tutelage.” She thought for ten more minutes about whether to tell him the truth about her family, or a half-truth, or the lie that she had told for the last thirteen years. Finally settling on the half-truth, Nasriel wrote neatly, “My family at Saalis was very large and close, but I lost them in an unforeseen event.” She tried to work out whether Master Kenobi could divine that the words “unforeseen accident” were not actually words that a being of her personality would naturally use, and assumed that he could probably not. One and a half facts was not much at all for a lifetime, but that was all the truth she felt ready to tell, so, in desperation, Nasriel embarked on full lies:
“I miss my family, but I realize that I was chosen by the Temple for a reason.”
“I get on well with the other Padawans, and I think many of them like me.”
“I enjoy the fact that as a hybrid Saalisan-Human I am unique.”
Nasriel’s creative powers gave out at this point; she folded the flimsi neatly and tucked it into her belt pocket, and picked up a textbook on the History of the Order, to study for the next academic test. An hour of memorizing long names and long-past dates later, the young Padawan sighed and slipped out to find Master Kenobi.
“Master? Master Kenobi?” Nasriel knocked at his door again, and slid the folded sheet of flimsi under the door.