This really is the end. Promise. And… wow, we’re done! Thanks for coming along on the ride.
“I say she is innocent of all wrongdoing and free from this moment forth,” Palpatine said solemnly. The best possible answer on the face of the matter. But over the next week, everything unraveled completely.
Major Zuqof resigned his command that afternoon, and Captain Yrue, stricken, followed his example. That night they were both found dead in a cantina backroom. Suicide, ruled the coroner.
Surimaresh Whitewall was executed the morning after Palpatine’s ruling, and Mi Amarok returned immediately to Malastare. Two days later, a package arrived at the Temple for Obi-Wan, with a curt covering letter from Carys.
Mi is dead. Tamro wanted to see a podrace, so she took him, and walked out onto the track during the second lap. She was killed instantly. I think you should know none of us at Sunrise House blame you for what has happened. Mi said Suri wanted you to have this, and he hopes you can forgive him for what he did.
“This” was a round tin box of bacci and a dark wooden smoking-pipe with an amber mouthpiece, of a curious curving shape. Obi-Wan put the things away. Two more deaths to add to the silent tally he would one day have to answer. Qui-Gon had called him morbid, but… he could not forget the dead. Could not forget the faces of those who had died by his hand or for his sake. The drawback with a lightsaber was that one saw one’s victims, saw the last flicker of light die from their eyes.
Ben stayed closer to him nowadays, following him around from dojo to Archives to Council and home again, quiet and matter-of-fact, but still vaguely afraid of something neither of them could quite name.
Nasriel had disappeared altogether, though Obi-Wan knew he could have dropped a hint to Kijé Yenseh in the Archives, and she would have turned up within the hour, but he didn’t want to. He had learned patience with Anakin, learned that sometimes healing in the aftermath of horrors took time and solitude. And the approach Qui-Gon had used so many times still worked. Sort of: certainly Nasriel reappeared for a few minutes at a time, but unspeaking and unsmiling. For two days Obi-Wan endured this state of affairs, and then he began to worry. Yes, Nasriel had been through a great deal, but…
He left a note on her desk while she was in the laboratory, and found it returned to his room that night after a late Council meeting. His question, Ae’en Te’ruis, why aren’t you talking? was answered in Nasriel’s hyper-neat, upright hand. Just don’t feel like it right now.
I won’t bother you unless you ask me to. When you do feel like talking, Obi-Wan wrote back, Come find me. Later that day, Nasriel, who couldn’t swim anyway, tried to drown herself in the waterfall pool in the Room of a Thousand Fountains. Although Sima Orezna swam out and fetched her back, the girls agreed not to tell Obi-Wan about the incident. In fact, he heard it from Bant Eerin, who noticed Sima’s wet hair and worked the secret out of her. Bant’s demand to know what he proposed to do threw Obi-Wan into a conundrum. Nasriel was not safe. But he had promised to leave her alone. Which was more important: that she not be harmed, or that she work through her problems and still trust him at the end of it? Finally Obi-Wan did have a quiet word with Kijé.
“Keep an eye on Nasriel. I can’t; I promised. But she trusts you.”
“And you as well, remember that,” the Archive assistant assured him softly, watching out the corner of his green eyes for a reaction. “Nasriel won’t ever get hurt while I can prevent it, sir. I promise.”
From then on, one or other of the Boehme Gang would send Obi-Wan a text transmission, every daylight hour on the hour, to say where Nasriel was and who she was with. Never the dojo. She had given back Kijé’s lightsaber on returning to the Temple, and had no taste for fighting now. After Halm… but Nasriel had always loved dueling. This was something else the mission had broken, then.
Telc and Nebs, the lab… Elimyo, Archives… Sleeping over at Zait’s… Kijé, CoCoTown – do you want us to come back?… Sleeping over at Sima’s… Ulex, Fountains… Cifonabh, perimeter track – mebbe get her to slow down???… sleeping in Kijé’s room – don’t worry, he’s bunking down in the Archives proper! By the third day it was no longer a joke, and Obi-Wan was genuinely beginning to panic. But Kijé, who never lied, had promised. Nas is safe. Chill out, Master Kenobi. This is our problem now.
So Obi-Wan went to the dojo instead, to work off the nervous energy in swordplay. He was glad to find Anakin already there and eager for their usual game of dueling for forfeits. Two wins later, Obi-Wan’s comlink chimed with a text transmission. The distraction made that bout a definite loss, but he didn’t mind, because the message was a scan of the note he had left Nasriel, with one line added at the end.
I do. Where are you?
Dojo, he sent back, and said, “Take a break, Anakin?”
“Yeah, all right. Getting slow, old man.”
Nasriel crept into the dojo and waited by the door to be noticed. For the first time in a week, she was smiling. Faint and lopsided, but a smile nonetheless. The Water lightsaber hung in its old place at her side, pursuant to Master Yoda’s order: In Padawan Threeb’s keeping, the safest place for N’Kata Del Gormo’s lightsaber is. Take care of it, she will, for connected to it she is.
When Obi-Wan turned to look at her, Nasriel’s whole face lit up in a broad grin.
“Can I play?” she asked.
The End. Really.