Ladies and gentlemen, one from the author’s private archives. See if you can spot the facets that have endured the years.
This ‘early Nasriel’ snippet is entirely unedited from its notebook version – I wrote it when I had only just turned fifteen. A couple things you should know about Nasriel back then: she was Pantoran, she was Obi-Wan’s Padawan alongside Anakin, not Ben, and her background was somewhat different to the current version.
Something you should know about me back then: I didn’t know there were more than two ways of starting a sentence, and I was in love with long sentences, melodrama, and adverbs. I had never heard of the Sentinels, Ataru, Makashi, or CoCoTown, didn’t know Dooku even had a first name, and hadn’t yet found Kijé. Most of this piece now makes me cringe. I like to think I’ve come a long way in four years.
“Reaaally… yours?” The sophisticated blend of skepticism and arrogance in the other Jedi’s voice made Obi-Wan wince, but he maintained his position, with the defiance that only comes with certainty one is in the right.
“Emphatically mine. So if you’ll return me my property, and let me go on my way, we’ll say no more about it.”
“You already have one.” There was no debating the point, mostly because it was true, but also because the warning tone in which it was delivered warned that any discussion would likely end in pain. Obi-Wan ignored the tone.
“Pardon me, I have two. One of which you seem to have appropriated.” The room was too dark to allow him to gauge his adversary’s expression, and the older man was too experienced as a Jedi to allow himself to be read. Dooku had mysteriously left the Temple eight years before, in the dead of a rainy night, and never been heard of since. Until today, when he had called unexpectedly to demand that Obi-Wan come at once to a specific address in a rough area of downtown Coruscant.
The younger of Obi-Wan’s two Padawans, Nasriel Threeb, had gone out joyriding, without permission or notice, and until approximately ten minutes before, Obi-Wan had been planning what to say to her when she resurfaced. Ten minutes before, he had found Dooku, had the topic knocked entirely out of his mind, and then found a warped variation of it returned, as the renegade Jedi produced her as if by magic from a dark corner. Nasriel now stood between them, glancing uncertainly from one to the other, and anxiously tugged at the black stone charm she wore around her neck.
“Master Obi-Wan? What’s happening?” The girl’s softly accented voice was sunk to barely a whisper, and she paused to await his answer.
“I’m not sure, Nasriel. I was rather hoping you might know.” She had presumably been with Dooku since shortly after she disappeared, since it was her comlink that the older Jedi had called from. Obi-Wan was slightly worried now, when Nasriel’s uncertain silence continued for more than a minute: while not exactly a chatterbox, the girl was never entirely lost for words.
It was Dooku who answered, though, in two flickering, near-invisible motions of his hands, as he spun Nasriel around to stand in front of him, and, sweeping the dagger from its sheath on her belt, flung it clattering to the floor at Obi-Wan’s feet. “She knows who she is. Who she belongs to.”
The girl bowed her head submissively, avoiding his eyes. She fidgeted, but did not reply. Studying her pale-blue face more closely than casual scrutiny had allowed in the past, Obi-Wan noticed something he had never seen before, something that made his heart race. At this angle, this close to Dooku… no. Not possible.
Something about the expression in her golden eyes, something about the crisp high line of her cheekbones and the determined set of her mouth. Could it be? Dooku’s sonorous voice broke in on his astonishment.
“She is mine, down to her very bones. Mine more completely than she will ever be yours. You see, Nasriel is my daughter.”
“No.” Could he not believe it, or did he just not want to believe it? “She’s listed in the Temple database as an orphan.”
“Databases are easily changed. Do you want the truth? Her mother was a whore. I told her to deal with the problem, but she was stubborn. Had no idea what she was dealing with when the child started manifesting powers.”
“Nasriel?” The girl was refusing even to look at him, turning her intense gaze instead to the dusty boards of the floor. “Nasriel, I don’t care. You’re my Padawan. That’s all that matters.”
“Charming,” the renegade Jedi commented. “But mistaken. I have left the Temple because I could not stand its corruption, so I shall expect my daughter to follow… if she does not want to harm others.”
Obi-Wan took a step forward, though he could barely breathe for apprehension. “You will have to fight me to keep her against her will,” he said bravely.
“As you wish.” Dooku removed Nasriel to a corner of the room, as if she were an inanimate statue, and admonished her to remain out of the way, and then the duel began. Obi-Wan soon realized he was out of his depth, fighting the far more experienced swordsman in unfamiliar territory. In her corner, the Padawan watched them spar, the fierce bright intensity of her eyes undimmed, but her body motionless.
Obi-Wan lost that duel, and came close to losing his very life, as Dooku pushed a fierce attack, forcing him backwards until he stumbled over the top of a narrow flight of stairs, and almost fell headlong. In that instant, Nasriel sprang from the shadows at the edge of the room, and with a well-aimed high kick, sent Dooku’s red lightsaber spinning away down the stairs. In that instant, while the older man was distracted, Obi-Wan scrambled to his feet and darted across to stand with the blade of his weapon across Dooku’s throat.
“I keep her,” he breathed. Then he caught Nasriel’s hand, and pulled her out of the room, down the stairs, and into his waiting aircar.
Triumph was short-lived. “You knew all along,” he accused her.
“I never -”
“Don’t lie to me. I said you knew. You knew you were the bastard brat of a whore and a traitor, and you said nothing.”
“What… would you have said… if I had told you?”
The impossible pain in her voice as she asked the unanswerable question was unbearable. So he answered it. “The matter would not have been referred to again.”
“And because I didn’t tell you, it will be referred to? You’ll brand me a traitor’s bastard all over the Temple? And you’ll lose – because then I would seek my father out and join him. Of my own free will.”
“You are who you choose to be, not who the past decrees you must be. The past is wrong, Padawan. And the matter will not be referred to again.”