A homeschooler’s response to being suddenly thrust into the midst of a bunch of ‘normal’ people her own age. Let’s just say I wander around all day in a fog of total social bemusement.
My figure for the total number of Padawans in the Order is based on a (canonical) total Jedi count of ten thousand as at the year before Operation Knightfall, and American census statistics from 2013 to estimate what proportion of that number would be between the ages of ten and twenty-four. Feel free to tell me the canonical number if you know it.
Happy Star Wars Day, everybody!
In the war days, when the carnage throughout the Galaxy had dragged on for two years and showed no signs of abating, everybody worried. Half the Temple was empty; Council sessions ran long into the night; Padawans of busy Masters were all but ignored; and through it all, the Senate kept up a near-constant stream of minor annoyances.
It was one of these that brought Obi-Wan home rather earlier than usual one night.
Despite the relative earliness of the hour, the quarters were already in darkness, Ben and Nasriel having learned the importance of sleep in a society where anybody could be sent off anywhere at any time. Obi-Wan tried to sneak in quietly so as not to wake the children, but abruptly learned the drawback of keeping a large txakurra as a house pet. As usual, the animal was alert to any stealthy entry, and thumped his tail sleepily on the wooden floor. Waking at once, Nasriel sat up in bed and stared bemusedly at her Master.
“You’re home early.”
“Masters with Padawans are deemed to have a conflict of interest,” Obi-Wan answered the unspoken query in the observation. “Senator Sevsinrani are on the line, so they’ll be talking until dawn. I hate to think what that will do to Master Yoda’s temper.”
“Senator Sevsinrani are a two-headed Troig from Pollillus,” Nasriel objected. “That’s not on any of the threatened trade routes.”
“No. But Sevsinrani also chair one of the Senate’s many departments – this one is responsible for education or children or some such.”
“Indeed. It has come to the Senator’s attentions that the children connected to the Jedi Order have never been reviewed by the department. And now, with the fate of the Republic resting largely on the Order, etcetera – as if we needed to be reminded – they think now is a good time to alter the situation.” He paused. “That’s the excuse, anyway.”
In the Council spire, Master Yoda was firmly of the opinion that an excuse was all it was. He cited the Jedi Order’s four millennia of undisturbed and thoroughly un-reviewed existence in the Temple at Coruscant as a status quo that did not deserve to be upset. Senator Sevsinrani insisted that the Senate Education Department be allowed to examine all Initiates and Padawans. Master Yoda insisted that no Jedi of any age or rank would be subjected to Senate scrutiny.
Eventually Master Windu brokered a truce: the SED would be granted permission to interview, and to access the files of, no more than one percent of all Padawans, which was to say, twenty-three out of some two thousand three hundred. Of course this led to a further wrangle over who would select which one percent. Master Billaba sent to the Archives for a list of the names – only the names – of all the Padawans in the Order. The lack of any extraneous data, she explained sweetly, ensured randomness in the Senator’s selection.
It did take until dawn. It did fray Master Yoda’s already thin temper. And it did not ensure a random selection, for Senator Sevsinrani reportedly took the list and cross-referenced it against a database of all Jedi mentioned by name on the HoloNet. And chose only names that appeared on both lists. When the SED list was submitted to the Council, it took nobody more than a minute to realize exactly which Padawans the Senate was collecting data on.
Obi-Wan was furious.
“In every one of those Padawans’ files, there is information that their own Masters are not privy to,” he growled, at home that night. “You two more than some. And we have to give these Senate investigators copies of all the complete files. Not to mention that the busiest teams in the Temple are tied up on Coruscant until this is over. What were they thinking?”
Ben nodded. “We went and asked Madame Nu about that this afternoon, and she agreed with you. There’s stuff in our files that we’re not allowed to see either, but we all figured… if the SED’s involved, our secrets aren’t secret anymore. They shouldn’t have been, anyway, not from you. So – do you have yours, Witch?” Ben took the data crystal that Nasriel handed him, and pulled an identical one out of his pocket. “These are for you. It’s everything. Madame Nu programmed them to open only for your personal database-access code. I’d better tell you: It’s not just us. Every Padawan in the entire Order has given their Master a copy of their complete file tonight.”
Accepting the crystals, Obi-Wan held them lightly, hand open. “Are you sure, Ben? There will be family history on your file – things Owen would not want me to know.”
“He’s my father,” Ben replied steadily. “You’re my Master. I’m sure.”
“Nasriel? You told me once that your time with Gueca Sala was entirely your own affair.”
Nasriel shrugged. “I changed my mind.”
“Then, thank you. Both of you. I consider this a great honor.”
Over the next two days, faint eddies of resentment worked their way throughout the Temple, and by the time the SED investigation was due to begin, nobody harbored especially friendly feelings toward the Senate in general. The Sentinel children in the Temple had been making themselves obnoxious to their Templar counterparts by repeatedly pointing out that none of them was affected in the least, and any of them could leave Coruscant at any time.
Senator Sevsinrani had arranged for the Padawans to be fetched to the SED office attached to the Senate; most of them had to be retrieved from their respective personal duties around the Temple. Kijé and Nasriel politely expressed that they rather preferred to drive over by themselves, and when they gain permission to do so, Ben went along with them.
As a result, Kijé and the two Kenobi Padawans were home long before anyone else. Madame Nu was away demanding information from somebody on the far side of the city, so Nasriel suggested that Kijé might stay awhile.
“Call it a mission debrief session.”
Obi-Wan appeared from his room just as Nasriel was hunting some mugs out of the cupboard.
“I’ll have some caf too, if you’re making it. Well? How did it go?”
Kijé’s face broke into one of the rare shy smiles that were his substitute for laughter. “It was most peculiar, Master Kenobi.”
“Oh, that’s not the word for it,” Ben disagreed, catching the mug of caf that Nasriel slid to him across the table. “Thanks, Witch. Listen, Master, they had these cute little questionnaires they wanted us to fill out – half the kids were writing unknown for everything, because it was all parents and grandparents and siblings stuff – I think the Witch was the only one who could answer all the questions. And then they wanted us to talk to their tame shrinks. Hey, Droid, you got the same one as me, right?”
“The Sullustan with the painted fingernails? Oh, yes, she was terrible. What she asked me… Master Kenobi, I do not think these people can have been taught manners.”
Nasriel sipped her drink thoughtfully, and perched on the edge of the table, all the chairs being occupied. “Master, can you believe: they kept telling us over and over that this is confidential, nobody at the Temple will ever see it, so we could feel free to be completely honest. As if I’d tell total strangers something I wouldn’t tell you! Force, I was tempted to spin them a total yarn just for that. I didn’t, of course,” she added hastily.
Obi-Wan frowned. “I assume they were working on the basis that one adolescent will be much like another. Which implies a great deal about the average mentality of children your age.”
Ben slammed his mug down on the table. “Av’raya, we’re defending the right of the Republic worlds to stay as they are, correct? That means the Jedi are fighting to let the SED keep interfering in people’s lives. We’re out there dying so kids can keep lying to the people who look after them.”
Obi-Wan nodded. “Apparently so. That’s why the exact purpose of this war is not a topic of general conversation in the Temple.”
“We can’t justify fighting to keep things as they are,” Kijé said softly. “We have to be fighting to make them better.” He colored. “I’m sorry – I know I’m not out on the front lines like you guys are, I’m not exactly doing my share -”
“Of course you are,” the Master interjected. “How far would we get without accurate information?”
After that, conversation turned away from the investigation, and the subject remained closed for nearly a week.
Then there were more papers: two thin envelopes that Obi-Wan brought home still sealed. Officially, the Padawans were not supposed to read the brief SED reports, but most of the Masters concerned had elected to ignore that rule. Nasriel and Ben silently scanned the documents, then handed them over, with identical wry grins.
“What? Why is this funny?” Obi-Wan studied the pages. “I see. Apparently, children, you are both highly abnormal.”
“Master Obi-Wan,” Nasriel spoke for them both. “We’re beyond abnormal. We’re Jedi.”