“Where do we go first?” enquired Ben breathlessly, once Obi-Wan and Nasriel had collected him from his hated geography class, and all three were heading for the hangars.
“Umbara,” replied Obi-Wan shortly. “Last known location. It’s three months old, but still a starting place.”
“Xathomir,” grinned Nasriel at the same moment. “If anybody can find K’tarr, Reseda Che can.”
Stopping dead in his tracks, Ben groaned, “Oh, no, not another of your friends! Last time…”
“My sister was no friend of mine!” Nasriel snapped.
“Well, this Res character is. Or is she Jiron’s? Look, Witch, even I’ve heard of maverick Sentinel Jiron Jados and his collection of so-called ‘contacts.’ I don’t trust this as far as I can spit.”
“Well, Qui-Gon Jinn was a maverick and away so much he was practically a Sentinel and even Master Yoda listens to his contacts so what’s wrong with getting Res to help?” argued Nasriel, her logic far outstripping her grammar. “How far can you spit?” she asked curiously a moment later.
Forgetting the point of the conversation, Ben boasted, “I bet I can spit all the way to – to Tatooine!”
“Tatooine’s farther’n Xathomir, so I guess you do trust it after all,” said Nasriel slyly.
Crestfallen at being so easily caught out, Ben muttered under his breath, “I didn’t mean it like that, Witch…’
“But you said it,” she pointed out gently, and then sighed. “Who listens to Padawans anyway? We’re going to Umbara and that’s flat.”
“‘Cause Master Obi-Wan said so,” Ben agreed, looking along the corridor and only then realizing that Obi-Wan was waiting for them at the hangar door – and had been for some time.
“We’re dead,” said Nasriel with conviction. “Want to be deader? I’ll race you.”
“Dead is dead,” Ben replied. “We can’t get in any more trouble; I’ll give you a head start.”
Ten seconds later, Ben discovered that it was in fact possible to be in more trouble than that generated by wasting one’s Master’s valuable time on account of a squabble with one’s fellow Padawan. The first he knew of it was when five long strides had brought him level with Nasriel and he was about to slap her on the shoulder as he ran past. This plan was no achieved, mainly because he found himself involuntarily reversed in direction and slammed into the cool, greenish stone of the wall.
Tap, tap, tap. “Oh, kriff,” breathed Ben. Master Yoda. Nasriel skidded to a halt and trudged back to face retribution.
“I think we’re deader now,” she confided in a whisper.
Yoda tapped his stick irritably. “Where the conflagration is, Padawans? In a great hurry seem you.”
“Umm…” Ben faltered. Courteously, Nasriel motioned for him to continue. “Thanks a lot, Witch. As a matter of fact, Master Yoda, we were… trying to catch up with Master Kenobi.”
“Hmmm,” mused Yoda. “Why fallen behind had you? So long as that Obi-Wan’s stride is not.”
Nasriel gulped, but replied bravely, “We were arguing, sir. It was my fault; I started it.”
“No,” objected Ben, “I said – I expressed distrust of another Jedi, Master Yoda, and Padawan Threeb corrected me.”
“Quarrel over the cause of a quarrel will you?” the venerable Master chastised. “Add it to the Code I must: Boredom leads to quarrelling. Bored on a long journey it is easy to become,” he added meditatively.
“Perhaps, sir,” Nasriel dared to say, “that is so – if one is of weak mind.”
Thump went Yoda’s stick on the floor. “Of weak mind – yes – that you both must be, to argue,” thump for emphasis, “and run,” thump “while Master Yoda is watching. Allay your boredom I shall. Send ten pages of sums to each of your datapads Master Chopra will.”
The Padawans looked at each other in horror, but managed to mutter, “Thank you, Master,” and bow before continuing at a restrained walking pace to the hangar door. Obi-Wan, they were both chagrined to notice, now had difficulty in not laughing.
“You mustn’t let Master Yoda get to you,” he advised solemnly. “He’s doing it for your own good, you know.”
Permitting a faint tinge of disgust to linger in the Force, Ben silently informed his Master that the particular joke of quoting him to himself was, in this case, not funny.
“It’s not funny when you say it to me, either,” Obi-Wan replied aloud. His status as the most-rebuked Master in the Order was legendary in the Padawan Halls, and had led to several noteworthy incidents where a dramatized rendition of the latest duologue was discovered in the middle of the action. On such occasions, the youngling who was playing Yoda to Ben’s Obi-Wan, when confronted with the real thing, usually contrived to be frightened enough to escape with a mitigated sentence. Ben usually did not.
“Xathomir, by way of Umbara.” Obi-Wan filed their flight plan in one sentence – the droids were enough used to him by now to fill out the paperwork and the details of route without being prompted. “Which of you,” he enquired a few minutes later, settling into the pilot’s seat of a fast T-6 shuttle, “would like to copilot first and which would like to do math?”
Hastily, Nasriel snatched her datapad fro her rucksack, and stared wide-eyed at the screen. “Good grief. Has Master Yoda no sense of humor at all?”
“I’ll math,” Ben claimed quickly. “You can beg help with that extra-credit history you signed up for.”
However, barely a lightyear into the journey, it was Ben who was begging for help, interrupting a rather one-sided discussion of the Teth dynasties. A textbook diagram flickered across one of the viewscreens. “How do I find the angle?” the boy pleaded.
“Thesh over three-sixty times pi resh squared, solve for thesh,” replied Nasriel easily. “It looks like about sixty degrees. Master, when we get to Umbara, what’s the plan?”
“Get that stuff off my screen, Ben. We’re looking for K’tarr. Because he is a Sentinel and a Trandoshan, I suspect asking at cantinas will prove the surest way of getting information. Nasriel, can you work alone? Three Jedi are sure to be noticed, but one or two are not.”
“So – make discreet enquiries?” Ben checked. “Hey, I forget the formula for volume of a sphere. Four-thirds resh cubed?”
“No, ‘thirds pi resh cubed,” corrected Nasriel automatically. “Where will we stay: in town, or come back to the ship? ‘Cause I probably know somebody here who knows of a good place to crash for the night.”
“You know somebody in every port,” Ben grumbled good-naturedly. “C’mon, it’s gotta be my turn now. Uncle Obi-Wan, please can we stay at a cantina? I never have.”
At the spaceport, three hours later, Ben was no longer good-natured. Master Chopra had a rather high ideal of his level of math ability, and when it came his turn to copilot, Nasriel, as discreetly as possible which was not very, did not need help with her math. Furthermore, Ben had expressed grave doubts as to why three ‘real’ Jedi were being diverted from the war effort to find one Sentinel who had (allegedly) abused his Padawan, and whether Sentinels as a group were not a mere waste of perfectly good oxygen. Naturally, these sentiments led to a nearly savage disagreement as to the relative value of various branches of the Jedi Order. At last, Obi-Wan declared that he would rather pilot alone than listen to a pair of quibbling… younglings, and summarily banished them both to separate holds.