Star Wars: Episode I – Chapter II

by E.V. Jacob on July 12, 2012

The Queen had yet again insisted that Cordelia accompany them into town.

Qui-Gon had protested this time, but even a Jedi Master did not seem capable of winning an argument with a woman.

“Majesty, I really don’t feel that this is in the best interest of the mission or your handmaiden – if something were to go wrong…”

“Cordelia is more than capable of looking after herself, and it is still one of my conditions that she accompany you.”

“I do understand your interest in the planet, Highness, but –”

“The matter is not up for discussion, Master Qui-Gon. She will be going with you,” the Queen answered with a patient smile.

Qui-Gon looked troubled, but gave a bow and said, “Very well.”

“And already, there are problems,” Obi-Wan muttered as they made their way out of the ship.

“What problems? I find Cordelia to be lovely company,” Qui-Gon said with a grin.

Obi-Wan shook his head. “You are entirely too at ease with this whole thing, Master. I wish you’d worry at least a little.”

“But there’s nothing to worry about, my dear Padawan. We just have to traverse a potentially dangerous planet with questionable morals and unreliable law enforcement, conceal our identities as Jedi, and retrieve the most important person born in recorded history without getting caught by the Sith or running into any trouble with his owner. Nothing to fret about.”

Obi-Wan sighed.

With Cordelia in tow, they made their way back to the market place. They were joined today by the small blue droid called R2-D2, which had sustained some damage in their escape from Naboo, and no one on board was qualified to do the necessary repairs.

The little droid complained loudly through a series of beeps and whistles about moving through the thick sand and hot sun of Tatooine, but the promise of repairs had ultimately proved too good to pass up. Qui-Gon hoped the droid would lure the boy in and open up an opportunity to talk with him.

“We’re going to ‘lure him in’? Why not just tell him we have treats? Or that we’ve lost our voorpak, and won’t he please help us find it?” Obi-Wan had said in protest to the plan.

“I doubt a child of his intellect would be interested in treats. Perhaps a voorpak, though I’d prefer to lie as little as possible,” Qui-Gon had responded, completely missing Obi-Wan’s point.

The walk to the marketplace didn’t seem as tedious as it was the first day, though it was still a long journey, made longer by R2’s struggles. When they arrived at the town, Qui-Gon questioned several locals, all of whom assured him that the sand storms were a nightly occurrence that started just at sundown, and that staying out during one was suicide.

When they arrived at the shop, the four of them stood outside, hesitating. Though they had discussed their plan in great detail, Obi-Wan was suddenly nervous.

“What will we say when we get inside?” he asked, turning to his master. “We can’t just walk up to the owner and say, ‘Excuse me, we want to talk to your slave boy, we think he’s the Chosen One’? I doubt that’ll go over very well…”

Qui-Gon patted him on the shoulder, “It will go fine, Obi-Wan. I don’t sense trouble from this plan.”

Obi-Wan nodded, but he still felt uneasy. Something about this whole thing just didn’t sit right with him.

They stepped into the shop and saw the boy, Anakin, sitting on the floor with tools scattered all around. He didn’t look up as they entered – he was engrossed in his restoration of the old engine before him.

The Toydarian owner, Watto, flapped over and studied Qui-Gon with a critical eye.

“Hey,” he rasped, “What you want buy?”

Qui-Gon explained their falsified troubles, “I require a new hyperdrive generator for my starcruiser. It’s a J-Type 327 Nubian,” he explained casually.

“Ah, hyperdrive generator, I have some of those,” Watto said. “If you can pay,” he added.

Qui-Gon pulled back his cloak to reveal a small leather pouch tied to his belt, which he jingled lightly.

“Good, good.” Watto turned to the boy and spoke in Huttese, instructing him to watch the shop. He then indicated for Qui-Gon to follow him to the back.

“Is he a good slave?” Qui-Gon asked. He had to keep his tone even, disinterested.

“He doesn’t complain about work. Good with machines but not all there,” Watto said, motioning to his head. “But hey, I like him better that way. Never talks back like the other slaves do – just does what he’s told.”

Back in the main room, the boy continued his work, completely ignoring Obi-Wan and Cordelia.

With Watto gone, Obi-Wan was supposed to approach the boy, but he wasn’t certain how to go about it. His anxiety was increasing without him understanding why.

Cordelia saw Obi-Wan’s apprehension and went over to the boy, kneeling down beside him and studying the engine he was repairing.

“What are you working on?” she asked warmly.

Anakin looked up, studying the woman before him. He studied her for a long moment before he answered.

“An old rotary engine,” he said.

Cordelia waited for further explanation, but received nothing more from the boy, who seemed intent to finish his work.

“I thought rotary engines were out dated,” she said.


Cordelia glanced back at Obi-Wan. He shrugged helplessly. She raised her eyebrows at him, nodding at the child, but Obi-Wan just stood there looking like he had no idea what to do. Which was exactly how he felt.

“Uh…what’s your name?” Cordelia asked, keeping her tone light and friendly.

“Anakin,” he answered flatly.

“Well hello, Anakin, I’m Cordelia.”

Obi-Wan was watching this exchange closely. The boy had gone from a little odd to downright weird, and Obi-Wan wasn’t quite sure what to do with that.

Anakin caught Obi-Wan staring at him and their eyes locked for an instant. Obi-Wan held his gaze for a moment before looking away – there was something about those dark, intense eyes that made him nervous.

“How long have you lived here, Anakin?” Cordelia asked. Obi-Wan was grateful for the effort she was making to help with this. He certainly wasn’t proving to be very useful.

“Always.” Anakin set down the tool he had in his hand and reached around the engine to flip the switch. It hummed to life and he smiled, not like he was happy, but like he had conquered something.

“That’s very impressive,” Cordelia complimented him, trying to get him to converse with her a bit more. “Where did you learn to repair machines?”

“I just know how,” Anakin said simply. He looked up and spotted R2. “An astromech droid,” he said, a hint of interest finally registering in his voice. He got up and crossed the room to where the droid stood. “I’ve never seen one in person – at least not one that was working,” he said as he studied the droid. R2 beeped and whistled appreciatively.

“He’s a talented droid – he saved our ship. Without him we would have never made it here,” Obi-Wan explained. He was relieved – just as Qui-Gon had predicted, R2 had proven to be useful at getting the boy’s attention.

“Is that when you damaged your hyperdrive generator?” Anakin asked. He didn’t sound like he cared at all about their adventures, but Obi-Wan noted that he had been listening.

“We ran into some trouble on the way here, yes,” Obi-Wan admitted.

Anakin asked no more questions. Instead, he took out some tools and set to work, patching the dents in R2’s plating and repairing the frayed wires on one side that had been exposed in the battle. He worked quickly and had the damage repaired and neatly covered in mere minutes.

Qui-Gon returned, holding the T-14 hyperdrive generator he had purchased. Watto arrived with him, shouting at Anakin in Huttese again, regarding end-of-the-day cleanup to be done out back. The boy retreated to the junkyard without another word.

“Well, I think we’re all set,” Qui-Gon said as he approached the others. That was the cue.

“It’s getting dark out, Qui-Gon,” Cordelia said, just as she was supposed to. “Do you think another sand storm will hit tonight?”

“It’s possible…” Qui-Gon said, turning to Watto, he explained “We landed yesterday and were trying to repair our ship – it came on so suddenly we barely made it back inside.”

“There will be a storm. How far your ship? You might not make it back, eh?”

“We’re landed on the outskirts,” Qui-Gon said.

“It’s not as if we have another choice,” Obi-Wan said, looking towards the horizon.

Obi-Wan waited – if Qui-Gon had assessed Watto correctly, then they knew what would come next.

“You don’t go out into the sand storm – I have inn down the road. You stay there tonight.”

“It isn’t full? I was afraid we’d be too late to find lodgings, since the podraces are only a few days away.”

“I have at least one room, better than going out in the sand storm,” Watto persuaded.

“That might be the safest option,” Obi-Wan said, “I can’t imagine getting caught in that storm in the middle of the desert.” It was part of the script, but it was easy to be sincere; the sand storm the night before had almost overwhelmed them.

Qui-Gon paid the greedy Toydarian, who asked twice the normal fee because of late notice and high demand because of the upcoming races, and they stepped outside to await Anakin, whom Watto promised would lead them to the inn.

“Well, at least that went according to plan,” Obi-Wan said as they waited outside for the boy to finish his work.

“I sense your apprehension, Obi-Wan, but don’t let the fear impede your judgment. Things are unclear now – focus on what is at hand.”

“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan said.

R2-D2 rolled over to the old droid who sat outside the shop and the two clicked, chirped, and beeped for a while, passing the time as they waited for Anakin.

After a bit, the boy walked out of the shop with a bag slung over his shoulder. He stopped short when he spotted the four of them waiting for him. His expression was unreadable, but in any case he didn’t appear pleased.

“Hello, Anakin, I’m Qui-Gon Jinn. We’ll be staying at the inn tonight – Watto said you could lead us.”

Anakin nodded, “Follow me,” he said.

R2 beeped a farewell to the old shop droid and rolled off after them.

The walk to the inn was quiet, and Anakin kept his eyes on the road ahead, never once looking up at his visitors.

“Ah, you’re home Ani,” a woman called as he opened the front door of the inn. She was seated behind the front counter, tallying up the recent income and expenses.

“Hello, Mother,” he said. “Watto sent customers.”

His mother stood up, “Oh, how nice – it’s good to meet you,” she said, bowing to the customers, “I am Lakshmi Skywalker, and this is my son, Anakin. We’ll be your hosts.”

Qui-Gon returned the bow, “Thank you, we are much obliged.”

“Here, I’ll show you to your rooms,” Lakshmi said, leading them up the steps.

Watto had promised only one room, but it was no surprise to find that he had been lying about the availability. The inn had more than one room free, and Lakshmi refused to allow a lady to share a room with men, so she provided two.

“Please don’t tell Watto, but it’s late in the day and we have few other guests, so I think I can allow two rooms,” Lakshmi explained meekly.

“That’s very kind, thank you,” answered Cordelia. “We won’t say anything, I assure you.”

“I’ll be cooking dinner downstairs – I’ll send Anakin up to get you when it’s ready,” Lakshmi said with a little bow.

After that, Cordelia retreated to her room, and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon went into the room that they would share.

“He’s an unusual child,” Obi-Wan said once Qui-Gon had closed the door. He paced around the room, restless.

“He has grown up under unusual circumstances, and it’s not unheard of for prodigies to be socially awkward,” Qui-Gon said patiently, sitting on one of the beds.

“Do you really think the child is a prodigy?”

“You don’t? I felt it was apparent from the moment I began watching him. He has more than just his strength in the Force – he has a remarkable mind.”

Obi-Wan sat heavily on the other bed and sighed. “I don’t know, Master, something is troubling me.”

“I sense it too, but the best we can do is keep our guard up. Besides, we have found the child – this Anakin, I’m sure, is the Chosen One. All we must do now is bring him back to the Jedi Temple with us. Whatever else happens, that’s still our mission.”

“Do you think he’ll come back with us? He doesn’t seem to like us all that much.”

Qui-Gon chuckled. “He’ll warm up in time – I remember you being a little wary of me when we first met.”

“What about his mother? And Watto? And what if the Trade Federation catches up to us with him on board, Master, I don’t think –”

Qui-Gon raised his hand and cut off his apprentice mid-rant.

“Obi-Wan, you are getting ahead of yourself. One problem at a time, remember?”

Obi-Wan sighed. “Yes, you’re right, of course, Master.” He flopped back on the bed. “Still, I feel as though there’s something we’re missing…”

“When the challenge comes, we will meet it with strength and wisdom, will we not?”

“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan said, wishing he could be as comfortable with difficult and troubling feelings as Qui-Gon was.

Qui-Gon contacted Yoda and explained their current situation. He then did the same with Queen Adriane, though he asked that she keep the exact details of these events a secret from the crew.

There was a knock at the door and Qui-Gon quickly terminated the call.

“It’s time for dinner,” Anakin’s voice called through the door. He sounded tense.

“Thank you, Anakin. We’ll be right down,” Qui-Gon said, then, turning to Obi-Wan he said in a near whisper, “It’s time to officially meet the Chosen One.”

* * *
They sat around the table, Lakshmi, Anakin, Cordelia, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan, with R2 standing off to the side. The other guests of the inn seemed to like to keep to themselves, and had come to get their shares only to return to their rooms with the food.

They were eating a fine, if sparse, meal that Lakshmi had prepared. Food was not found in abundance in the homes of slaves, even if guests of an inn were involved.

“So, do you have business on Tatooine?” Lakshmi said. She was much more sociable than her son, who still seemed suspicious of these newcomers.

“We made an emergency landing for some repairs, though I think we’ll be staying an extra day, seeing as the Boonta Classic is here,” Qui-Gon supplied.

At this, Anakin looked up, curiosity overtaking his expression for an instant.

“Oh, I see – are you fans?” Lakshmi asked lightly.

Obi-Wan answered, “To a degree – we had business on a nearby planet, but had to land for the repairs.”

He was not accustomed to lying, but felt that Qui-Gon was right; the mother wouldn’t have allowed them to simply approach her and her child and begin asking a bunch of questions. It was best to take the careful approach and earn their trust before delving into what they were really here for.

“Is your ship badly damaged?” she asked.

“No, we bought the part from Watto today – we’ll have it fixed in no time,” Qui-Gon assured her.

“That’s good. Anakin loves the podraces, you know,” she said.

“You enjoy watching them?” Cordelia asked the boy.

Anakin knew his mother expected him to be friendly to guests, and he was beginning to understand that, while they weren’t being entirely honest, they meant no harm.

He decided he would take part in this conversation.

“Actually, I prefer to participate in the race,” he answered.

“You race?” Obi-Wan asked, looking up from his plate. He was unable to keep the surprise out of his voice.

Lakshmi brightened, smiling with the look of a proud mother with a talented son, “He’s the only human who can – I worry every time he does, but my Ani is one of the best.”

A quick glance passed between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.

“Do you do your own repairs? I noticed that you were quite gifted with machinery,” Qui-Gon said absently.

“Oh, he is,” Lakshmi bragged. She rarely got the luxury of telling anyone about her pride and joy. “He began building his first pod at three. At only a year old he could repair simple devices. I say simple, but I would have never known how to repair them myself. He’s…a natural, I suppose you would say.”

Anakin glanced over at Obi-Wan as his mother spoke. Obi-Wan had been watching him, but didn’t turn away quickly, as he had before. Both wondered what the other was hiding, and whether or not the other was trustworthy.

They held one another’s gaze until Lakshmi asked Anakin a question.

“What?” Anakin asked, turning to his mother.

She was mildly surprised, but smiled at him.

“I asked if Watto had entered you into this race…” she said.

“Oh, no, he hasn’t. He won’t sponsor me this time.”

Qui-Gon perked up, sensing his opportunity.

“I could enter you into the race,” Qui-Gon offered. He cast a glance towards Lakshmi, “That is, if your mother would allow it.”

Lakshmi looked torn. It was clear that she wanted her son to be happy, but safe, and it seemed like she couldn’t make those two ideas coincide.

“I don’t like you racing, Anakin, you know that…” she said.

“I won’t get hurt. I like the races, Mom.” His voice was soft, but eager. It was the closest he’d looked to being a child since they first saw him.

Qui-Gon was thinking quickly, planning his next moves. A clearer picture of how to approach this problem was forming, and he was becoming more and more certain that he would be able to take the Skywalkers with him.

Obi-Wan, meanwhile, was watching Anakin, trying to understand. He was sure he couldn’t truly understand the Chosen One, but he was trying nonetheless.

And his eyes…Obi-Wan saw much intelligence, much maturity, and…something else that he couldn’t describe.

Lakshmi sighed as if what she was about to say pained her greatly, “If you truly want to enter, Anakin, I won’t stop you. Just promise me you’ll be careful. No dare-devil tricks.”

“I promise,” Anakin said.

After dinner they assisted in the clean-up, which shocked and embarrassed Lakshmi. She seemed to believe that she should do all the work.

“Please, allow us to help,” Cordelia said, defending the stack of plates she was holding. “It’s the least we can do.”

“No, please, I cannot allow guests to do my work,” Lakshmi said, looking very distraught at the prospect of someone else cleaning up after her.

“Then allow us to do you a favor,” Cordelia said with a little laugh.

When Lakshmi went back to the dining room to gather the last of the plates, Qui-Gon approached her. “I hope I wasn’t too forward, offering to sponsor Anakin…” he said apologetically.

She shook her head, “It is one of the few pleasures he has. Our lives are filled with troubles, but Anakin is such an angel. He doesn’t complain of how we live – he does his chores, he does his work, he helps me as much as he can, and I never have to remind him of anything. He’s a wonderful child – it wouldn’t be fair for me to ask him to live without joy,” she said as she watched her son affectionately. He and Obi-Wan were at the sink, washing dishes the last of the dishes.

Qui-Gon nodded, “It’s no secret that he is a remarkable child.”

“He truly is a gift,” Lakshmi said.

Anakin approached his mother, “Mom, we’re finished with the dishes. I’ll be in my room working on C-3PO.”

“What’s C-3PO?” Qui-Gon inquired.

“He’s my android,” Anakin answered. He looked up at the tall man. It was the first time they’d made eye-contact.

“Ani, why don’t you show Qui-Gon? I’m sure he’d love to see it,” Lakshmi suggested.

“If you want to…” Anakin said, unsure.

Qui-Gon smiled, “Of course. That is, if you wouldn’t mind.”

Anakin led Qui-Gon to the small room that housed his bed and his workbench. An unfinished android lay on the table.

“I built him to help my Mom,” he explained.

Qui-Gon stood in the doorway and examined the android, “I think he’ll be a fine helper once you’ve completed him.”

Anakin nodded. He began working on the android while Qui-Gon watched.

“You know, Anakin, you’re a very special boy. You have a talent – a gift – with machinery. It’s rare to see such natural adaptation to the art of invention.”

“I’ve just always known how,” Anakin said simply, not modest or shy, just stating the facts.

Qui-Gon smiled again. He was silent as Anakin finished working on a few more additions to the android.

“There are schools, you know, that you could attend. Great schools for children who share your…natural aptitude. Have you ever thought of attending such a place?”

Anakin considered this question.

“I…have thought of leaving. Well, no. More like I’ve always felt like I would leave, but I never really thought of how.”

“I think it’s something you should consider. You could accomplish great things, Anakin. You are unique – you can achieve what few can even dream of, and more.”

Anakin looked at Qui-Gon, studying him. This man, whoever he was and whatever he wanted, was not being dishonest – Qui-Gon truly believed what he was saying. Anakin appreciated this honesty far more than the compliment.

Whatever it was that Qui-Gon was hiding, Anakin felt that he could trust him.

Qui-Gon turned to leave, “Well, it’s late. I think I will retire. Good night, Anakin,” he said with a smile.

“Good night,” Anakin said, almost returning the gesture.

* * *
“I have deciphered the coordinates, my Lord, the child is on Tatooine. What’s more, I believe the starship in which the Jedi and Naboo’s Queen escaped is landed nearby.” Darth Maul reported.

Darth Sidious grinned at the hologram. His apprentice was doing quite well.

“Excellent. You will take your droids and go there immediately – be sure to get the Queen as well as the boy. She will be useful in securing the treaty, but remember – the child is our main objective. If you must choose, then remember that the Queen is secondary.”

“Yes, my lord. I will report to you when I have them.”

“Then I expect to be hearing back from you very soon,” Darth Sidious said.

Darth Maul nodded. “You can count on that, Master.”

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***DISCLAIMER: Obviously, these characters aren’t ours, because none of us are named George Lucas, and none of us are crazy-rich off the Star Wars franchise. We have omitted some characters, added some people, and altered a few basic plot points, but the Star Wars stories still don’t belong to us. Everything belongs to George Lucas – we’re doing this purely for the fun of it.***

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