This is what happens when I am handed an idea and a week’s holiday. Part 1 belongs to my good friend Erin, of the Upstairs Archives, and the other parts I wrote, with significant input from various members of my family.
Obi-Wan slammed his datapad down on the desk and swore under his breath. How had he wound up with this particular assignment on the mission listings? He had assumed that the rest of the Council would understand that he wouldn’t want to be assigned this particular mission. Glancing at his chrono, he sighed. He was going to be late. Again.
“Sorry. I have to go. Remind Ben to leave his test scores on the table when he gets back, would you, Nasriel?”
“Sure,” Nasriel shouted after him, earning a frown from Jocasta Nu, who happened to be walking by. As she passed, Madame Nu was heard to mutter under her breath something about “what the Galaxy was coming to, with all these crazy young Masters.” Nasriel grinned when she heard that and went back into the quarters. Absently, walking past Obi-Wan’s room, she absently noted that he had left the door open. Nasriel glided silently inside, curious at the slightly messy appearance of the normally neat room. The datapad, with its open file, blinked on the desk. Nasriel glanced down at it, face darkening in anger as she saw the contents.
Obi-Wan came to a stop before the doors of the Council chamber. It would be one of the most foolish things he could think of to run inside. Trying to mend his somewhat haphazard appearance, he palmed open the door and entered. Windu frowned at him as he entered. “Master Kenobi, you’re late.” Obi-Wan glanced at Yoda’s empty seat and frowned slightly. He bowed, then took his seat, too experienced to remark on the fact that he had made it there before Yoda did.
Tap, tap, tap.
“Sorry I am, Masters of the Council,” Yoda said as he entered. “Ambushed by Younglings, I was. Aided and abetted by Skywalker they were.”
Yoda took his seat, looking at Obi-Wan as he did so. “A problem have you, Master Kenobi?”
Obi-Wan sighed. Blast. He should have known that Yoda would detect his frustration.
“Yes, Master,” he said. “It’s about the mission I’ve been assigned.”
Yoda’s ears rose. “Worried are you?”
“I don’t think it would be wise for Nasriel to come along,” Obi-Wan said, biting his lip in agitation. “It might be…”
“You vorry too much, Obi-Van,” Even Piell grunted. Obi-Wan sighed.
“But normally your worries are well-founded,” Stass Allie acknowledged.
“I fear that this mission may be… difficult for Nasriel to deal with. And Ben as well. He doesn’t have Nasriel’s… turbulent history, but he is highly perceptive and attuned to the Living Force.” Obi-Wan looked around the room, hoping for support. “If it had been my decision, I would have sent a Knight or Master without a Padawan on this mission.”
Mace Windu frowned. “Perhaps you’re right, Obi-Wan,” he said gravely.
“But confront her past, Padawan Threeb must.” Yoda said, bringing his stick down for emphasis.
Obi-Wan bowed, partly to hide his agitation. “Yes, Master. If you’ll excuse me, I should inform Nasriel, and… try to soften the blow.” With that, he rose and left the room.
He knew to expect trouble when he found Nasriel waiting for him at the entrance to their quarters. Blunt as always, Nasriel addressed the point at once. “I saw the mission listings on your datapad,” she said.
Obi-Wan frowned. “I should have powered it down, Nasriel. I didn’t mean you to see that…”
“I shouldn’t have been snooping,” Nasriel said apologetically.
Obi-Wan sighed. “The fault was on my side in this case, Nasriel. I was just hoping that whoever it was who decided that we should be the ones to go on the K’tarr mission would change their minds before you found out.” He moved past her and sat down in one of the chairs at the paper-littered table. Ben’s test scores were notable by their absence. “You know about the mission?”
Nasriel smiled crookedly. “Master, everyone knew about K’tarr. And how you gave him a reprimand last time he was in the Temple.”
“And now apparently he’s fallen to the Dark Side,” Obi-Wan said. “Just like Krell. I sometimes wish I wasn’t so ‘gifted’ with premonitions. I was afraid this might happen – but of course we can’t arrest someone on a suspicion, for something they haven’t done yet.” Obi-Wan rose. “I’m going to request the Council that I be sent alone, or in company with another Knight…”
“I’d stow away on your craft, Master. No way am I letting you get killed on your own.”
Obi-Wan smiled. “Oh ye of little faith. Last time I dueled K’tarr, I carried off the laurels. And I was using the Ataru style, not Soresu.”
Nasriel slumped suddenly to the floor. “Did you hear what happened to little Wirem, his last Padawan, Master Obi-Wan?” she whispered.
Obi-Wan’s expression darkened a little. “I’d rather not think about it, alir’yana. But will you do something, for me?” Nasriel nodded slowly. “Please, don’t make this personal to you. I know it strikes close to home after Gueca Sala’s treatment of you, but still – don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Not every Master who is a bad teacher turns to the Dark Side, and not all bad teachers physically harm their Padawans.”
“Collateral damage,” Nasriel said softly. “That’s what Healer Adesse called it.”
Obi-Wan snorted. “Healer Adesse has no tact whatsoever. I have no idea how she became a psychologist.”
“Oh, it’s not what you think,” Nasriel hastened to assure him. “She didn’t know that I was listening. And it is a descriptive term… normally the harm to the Padawan is a symptom of a larger problem within the Master.”
“But some Masters just refuse to be helped…” Obi-Wan said, glancing somewhat distantly around the room. “In that case, the only choice is to remove them from teaching duties. Still, Nasriel, ‘generally’ isn’t the same as ‘always’. Some Masters just aren’t good with young people. Others have trouble establishing a good rapport – one that goes both ways. Still others are just scared to commit, much of the time.” Obi-Wan sighed. “You’re looking at one of the latter party.”
Nasriel’s mouth twisted slightly. “You’re teasing me, Master.”
“No, I’m not. Master Qui-Gon was always telling me not to center on my anxieties – and I still do it. I am also…” he counted off the points on his fingers. “Awkward with children, somewhat unable to rid myself of my Master’s reputation, and insufferably difficult to understand.”
“According to Anakin,” Nasriel said, wrinkling her nose. “Master Jinn’s reputation… does that mean you’ve finally given in and started rebelling against the Council’s dictates?”
“Some of them,” Obi-Wan murmured.
“And you have your own collection of ‘pathetic life forms’? I’ve heard the stories…”
“Believe it or not, that term describes me as a Padawan very well,” Obi-Wan smiled. “I never did really dislike them… I would fight for them… I just protested to let Qui-Gon know that I did notice what he was up to. He saw right through me. It’s been a long time since…” He looked down to hide the glimmer of tears in his eyes. “I miss him. Desperately. He was always there when I didn’t know where to turn. And if I am a good Jedi now, it’s only because he made me into one.”
“I wish all Padawans could be so lucky,” said Nasriel bitterly. “But that’s what this is about, isn’t it? Finding K’Tarr before he hurts anybody else.”
“Are you sure you’ll be all right? We get little enough time as it is, I don’t want to lose any to Adesse after we get back.”
“I’ll be more fine if you let me come than if you make me stay, Master. Go alone and I’ll worry about you every second you’re gone. I think… I think I ought to. Because of Gueca, because I had a horrible Master, not despite it. I know what’s at stake.”