Chapter 30

Ben grinned up at his Master from his seat on a pile of rubble, spirits apparently not in the least dampened by being nearly killed.  “We kriffing well messed it all up,” he confided jauntily.

“Language,” commented Nasriel automatically.  “What’s the damage, Ben?”

“These clones are telling me slight tibanna poisoning, but not as bad as they’d expected, sprained wrist – my saber hand, just to make things worse – and interesting bruises that’ll look pretty spectacular in a day or two.  I feel fine, just tired out and want-to-go-home.”

“So long as it’s nothing serious – or obvious,” said Obi-Wan.

Nasriel grinned impishly.  “You’re already worrying about what Erirea will say, aren’t you?”

“Yes, very much.  So would you in my place.”

Sergeant Storm borrowed a landspeeder from somewhere and took the three Jedi back to the farm.  When they were less than a kilometer from home, Obi-Wan asked him to stop.  “We’ll walk from here.  Thank you, Sergeant.  Come on, you two.”

As he helped her down from the speeder, Storm asked Nasriel diffidently, “Might I write to you at the Temple, miss?”

“If you like.  You don’t need to ask my permission, you know.  Just address letters to me at the Jedi Temple, and I should get them sooner or later.”

“Are you coming?” said Ben impatiently.  “I want to get to bed.”

“Oh, for skeg sake, you’ve been sleeping – well, sort of – all day!”

He laughed mirthlessly.  “Ha, ha.  Funny, Witch.  Not.”

Abiya met them at the gate, and said without preamble, “You are in deep trouble, Uncle Obi-Wan.  Yivan told Mother everything, and she said she wanted to talk to you as soon as you got home.”

“Perfect.  Ben, why don’t you quietly slip off to your father’s house so Erirea doesn’t see you?”  He looked critically at Nasriel.  “You could probably stand to be a little cleaner.  And a little less bloody.  Abi, would you mind teaching Nasriel how to sneak indoors without being noticed?  It’s not hard.”

Nodding solemnly like an experienced campaigner, Abiya agreed.  “Sure.  What Mother doesn’t see, she can’t yell about.  I’ve done this before a few times.”  She beckoned to Nasriel, and the two girls slipped away silently around the back of the house.

Comfortably ensconced in Abiya’s bedroom ten minutes later, “a little cleaner” and dressed in a clean tunic, Nasriel asked in wonder, “Why was Master Obi-Wan so worried?”

Abiya grinned maliciously.  “Come over here.”  She carefully shifted a painting from a hook on the wall, and indicated a small round hole in the paneling behind it.  “I drilled this last year, straight through into the kitchen.  It’s been really useful.  Go on, they won’t know you’re there.”

In the kitchen, Obi-Wan was sitting on the bench beside the table, shoulders slumped dejectedly, while Erirea paced up and down the room, gesticulating angrily to emphasize her words.  Not, thought Nasriel after a moment, that much emphasis was needed.

“I don’t know what you thought you were doing.  I heard this morning, ‘oh, we’re going into town, be back before dark.’  That’s what you said.”  She twitched the window curtains abruptly open.  “You’ve been back for ten minutes and it’s nearly dawn already.  Abiya and Yivan came back an hour ago telling me stories about bombs and terrorists and Ben being dead.  I have been worried sick.  Owen has been worried sick.  We were afraid we would have to tell Mersy and Olay that their brother was dead because their uncle is an arrogant cavalier Jedi who couldn’t care less how many people died so long as the Galaxy was saved.  Do you honestly think I care about the Galaxy at large?  Just because you’re some wonderful immortal Jedi doesn’t mean Ben is!  You have no idea how stressful this day has been.”  She stopped pacing and stared at him narrowly.  “And what’s more I don’t think you care.”

“I care, Erirea.  I care deeply.  I’ve just been a little busy today.”

“Busy.  Busy?”

A second later, in the next room, Nasriel ducked away from the spyhole and whispered in a shocked tone, “She slapped his face!  Your mother slapped my Master.”

Abiya nodded.  “Probably.”  She sounded bored.  “So what’s new?”

Abi!  Listen, back home even The Rules was pushing the boundaries by a couple light-years.  He’s on the High Council for skeg sake!”

“Fine.  To my mother, he’s just her annoying twin who nearly got her nephew killed today.  What Rules?”

Nasriel smiled crookedly.  “A couple Padawans wrote up a joke.  Rule number one: Master Kenobi is always right.  Rule number two: when in doubt, refer to rule number one.”  She returned to the topic in hand.  “I don’t believe that just happened.  I don’t believe it.”

“Believe it.  She’s really mad about what happened today.”

Erirea called from the kitchen, “Nasriel!”

“That’s it, you’re dead,” said Abiya matter-of-factly.  “Better get it over with.”

Slowly opening the door, Nasriel said nervously, “Yes, Mrs. Kastrilley?”

“Would you mind telling me exactly what happened at the spaceport?”

Nasriel didn’t reply to Erirea, but said to Obi-Wan, “Listen, Master, you know I would gladly die if I thought it would help you in any way.  But I am not getting involved here.”  Suddenly her comlink buzzed, and she checked the screen to see who the call was from.  “It’s for you, Master.  You must have left your comm turned off or killed it or something.  Master Windu’s calling me now.”

“Here, give me that.”  He said to Erirea, “I have to take this.  If Mace is calling Nasriel to get to me it’s important.”

“Oh, whatever.  This conversation is not over, Obi-Wan, remember that.”

“Thanks.”  He clicked a button on the comm.  “Kenobi…  Sorry, Mace, there must be bad reception here; I thought you just said…  You did?  Well, how immediate do you mean?…  Okay.  Thanks, I’ll do that now.”

“Well, Master?”

“We have to go back to the Temple.  Pack your things and tell Ben.”  In response to his sister’s exasperated expression, he added, “Write it all down in a letter or something, Eri.  From Mace Windu, ‘now’ means ‘right now’.”

Ben was less than delighted to have to leave again, but, as Nasriel pointed out, “We knew this could happen.  That’s what ‘one week with recall’ means.  You know what we’ll be doing when we get back, Ben?  Waiting around for hours while the Council talks, and then if we’re really lucky finding out what’s going on.”

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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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