The Rising Force, Part III: The Young Negotiator Chronicles

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Jedi Apprentice #1: The Rising Force (Legends) by Dave Wolverton
Chapters 11 through 15

Another day, another nonstop ticket on the Heartbreak Express for Obi-Wan Kenobi. We’re back again with The Rising Force, the first book in the “Legends”/non-canon Jedi Apprentice series. At the conclusion of our last chapter, 12-year-old Jedi Order Reject Obi-Wan was en route to Bandomeer to go become a farmer, despite the fact that he isn’t quite at the Age 13 Cutoff yet, and despite the fact that Bandomeer is allegedly terrifying and no place for a farmer, let alone one who is twelve and has no real world skills unless you count being able to levitate rocks.

With him on board this shitty cruise ship is one Qui-Gon Jinn, who is here on Other, Unspecified Republic Business That Definitely Does Not Involve His Fallen Former Apprentice — as well as a plethora of characters both good and evil who are associated with some Space Mining Drama that’s going on. Obi-Wan, intent to prove himself as something more than just a farmer (the horror!) has found a friend in Arconan miner Si Treemba — who has just been taken prisoner by a bunch of evildoers affiliated with a competing mining consortium (yes, this is our actual story.) Naturally, Obi-Wan blames himself for what’s happened to his friend, AND is hell-bent on rescuing him. Some things truly never change.

Recurring Theme: Qui-Gon Jinn, Reluctant Dad

Chapter 11 kicks things off with yet another reminder of both A) how unwanted Obi-Wan is, and B) what a jackass Qui-Gon is as regards many things related to Obi-Wan. All due respect to our fallen Space Dad here, but let me also remind you guys that he will eventually end up throwing Obi-Wan over for Anakin unexpectedly, in front of everyone in the Council room, while not-so-effusively praising Obi-Wan as being “capable”.  Yeesh. Poor Obes.

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That was way harsh, Qui.

I digress. So Qui-Gon’s laying on a space sofa and he’s like SOMEONE’S IN TROUBLE! But who?! Oh, it’s that KID again, I bet. He acts super annoyed that the Force is making him pick up on Obi-Wan’s waves of distress, and then lays back down, huffing that he’s not going to help Obi-Wan out of whatever’s he’s gotten himself into. I am going to say this a lot (and I already have said this many times while recapping this book) but OBI-WAN. IS. TWELVE. Oh my God. COME ON.

Recurring Theme: Hello There

While an adult wizard shirks any responsibility to use his supernatural gifts to help a small, lonely boy because he considers his own tragic backstory to be Just Too Much To Deal With (ugh), Obi-Wan is off crawling around in the ventilation system of the ship in search of his missing friend. He finds Si Treemba in a makeshift prison cell, slowly dying because his captors (which include the Hutt that punched Obi-Wan’s lights out when he first boarded the ship), have injected him with saline and depleted his body’s reserves of dactyl, that yellow substance I mentioned back in the last recap, which he needs to live. They are trying to force him to tell them who he was sneaking around the ship with, but Si Treemba refuses to give up Obi-Wan’s name, passing out instead.

Obi-Wan is incensed, and does a somersault out of the vent, landing on the floor and busting out his lightsaber. This guy has been making heroic, ridiculous entrances FROM THE CEILING since he was twelve. Good grief.

So there’s a brief battle sequence where Baby-Wan kicks some Hutt ass and frees his friend (who then shoves a bunch of dactyl in his mouth, regaining his strength,) and the two of them go running out of the room to freedom on the other side of the ship.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Saved You But Feels Like He Almost Got You Killed So He Hates Himself

Si is delighted and in awe of his rescuer, whom he thanks profusely, only to be met with Obi-Wan’s usual “but every bad thing was ALL MY FAULT so whatever” routine:

Si Treemba stopped. He turned to Obi-Wan, his luminous eyes glittering once again with the same warm light. “We thank you, Obi-Wan. We owe our lives to you.”

“You owe your capture to me, too,” Obi-Wan answered ruefully. “I’m sorry Si Treemba.”

The two of them make their way back to the Non-Evil Mining Company’s side of the ship, and Obi-Wan is like “welp, Qui-Gon’s gonna be pissed at me for doing the thing he told me not to do,” and I mean, I guess he’s right? But also I kind of don’t care what that guy thinks right now, so, whatever.

As this happens, Grelb the Hutt reports back to Jemba the Hutt about what happened and there’s a whooooole bunch of back and forth about how The Boy Knows Our Schemes Now and that the stupid Jedi are the worst and this ends with Grelb vowing that next time he sees that Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’ll kill that kid. Poor Obi-Wan: not even in his teens yet and already at least one person wants him dead. (Better get used to it, Obes.)

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Can Only Be Pushed So Far

Obi-Wan and Si decide to face the music sooner rather than later, so together they go meet Clat’Ha and Qui-Gon, whom they find in the ship’s lounge area.

Qui-Gon. QUI-GON. Oh my LORD. OK, so he is basically sitting at a bar drinking, first of all, which I am not even going to begin to unpack except to say that I presume this method of coping with your rebellious young charge is popular in this line of Jedi.

He’s getting no sympathy from me, though, because he’s like WELL LOOK WHO IT IS: at least you’re all in one piece this time! I…don’t even know what this means? Obi-Wan wasn’t NOT in one piece last time. Did Qui-Gon skip ahead a few too many installments and get him confused with, say, ANAKIN? LOL. (Sorry.)

Si Treemba is like “Obi-Wan is amazing and the best and does the best rescuing though, sir!” and again: I like you, Si. You can join my Kenobi fanclub.

Qui-Gon, assholishly, says that people who make foolish decisions deserve to be left to get out of trouble themselves. Uh, OK, so if that’s true then WHAT THE FUCK IS A JEDI EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE DOING ALL DAY? Aren’t they like the Galaxy’s #1 Day-Savers? If they’re not supposed to help people in danger, what do they do? Show up at the site of a burning building, wave their robes around a little and then just shrug and be like “…will of the Force! See ya!” If so, no wonder so much of the universe was apparently on board with Sheev’s The Jedi Are Evil campaign slogan. FFS.

Qui-Gon continues that Obi-Wan directly disobeyed his order. And Obi-Wan? Has HAD IT WITH THIS BULLSHIT FINALLY THANK THE LORD:

“With respect, I am not under your charge, Qui-Gon Jinn,” Obi-Wan said quietly. “As you keep reminding me.”

BAM. Suck it, Jinn. How’s about you go meditate until you get yourself an attitude adjustment?

Ah, but Qui-Gon is not about to let a little salt being thrown his way turn his heart: he explains that all Obi-Wan has done is make things worse now! When Obi-Wan tries to protest that it was worth it to try and find the thermocoms, Clat’Ha interjects that they already found them an hour ago hidden in a barrel of lubricant. Qui-Gon goes on and on about how a JEDI has to see a bigger picture and THAT’S why he told Obi-Wan not to go sneaking around because NOW he’s caused all kinds of friction between the two MINING COMPANIES (sorry, this makes me laugh every time I have to type it,) and OK: FINE, QUI-GON, but YOU ARE TALKING TO A TWELVE YEAR OLD. If this was your rationale, why the FUCK didn’t you just TELL HIM ALL THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE? He’s not even your student, so it’s not like you can hide behind some bullshit about how you wanted him to learn by doing or whatever. AGGGGH THESE PEOPLE ARE SO FRUSTRATING.

Before much more can happen in this conversation, though, there’s a big THUMP and Qui-Gon is like “…shit, it’s pirates” BECAUSE OF COURSE IT IS IT’S ALWAYS PIRATES OR BOUNTY HUNTERS OR THE FUCKING DEATH WATCH IN THIS GALAXY.

Recurring Theme: My Tragic Backstory, Cont’d

So Qui-Gon assesses the situation: the ship’s come to a halt, these pirates are going to try to board this ship and strip it for anything it’s worth, blahblahblah typical Space Pirate Stuff (oh, if ONLY Hondo Ohnaka had been a thing and involved here. The idea of him being a thorn in Obi-Wan’s side since he was a preteen is killing me.)

Anyways, Qui-Gon takes this opportunity to wallow in his Tragic Backstory again for a bit:

Qui-Gon stood, watching helplessly as the cruiser approached. There were times when he wished that he was not alone, times when he wished he had not lost his last Padawan, Xanatos.

I like that this book repeated Xanatos’ name as though it specifically WANTED me to remember how ridiculous this is. I read you loud and clear, Star Wars!

Realizing he has to do something to stop the pirates, he takes Obi-Wan aside and tells him to go to the bridge and see if the crew is still alive. If not, he needs him to fly the ship — anywhere, it doesn’t matter, while Qui-Gon deals with the pirates. Obi-Wan is like BUT I CAN FIGHT STUFF LEMME FIGHT STUFF!! OK, Obi-Wan and Anakin would have been TERRIFYING together if they’d been the same age. I’m not sure if the universe would have been saved ahead of schedule or if they would have ended up accidentally killing everyone, but either way it’d have been one HELL of a dramatic ride.

Qui-Gon tells him he needs him to get the ship moving again, while knowing full well that Obi-Wan’s piloting experience at this point in his life has been pretty much limited to Jedi Temple Driver’s Ed Simulation and maybe driving some galactic go-karts. Sure, Qui-Gon — I like how we’re assuming that in spite of these facts, there can’t be A SINGLE OTHER PERSON ON THE SHIP with more flight experience than this 12-year-old, who has essentially NO experience. OK then.

Recurring Theme: I Can Do This…

Qui-Gon and Clat’Ha tear off after the pirates, slashing and blasting and so on and so forth. Obi-Wan and Si Treemba head to the cockpit, only to find the door secured — and BURNING hot, which means that there was a fire on the other side. Obi-Wan hesitates: he can use the Force to help him open the door, but there’s a chance that the hull’s been breached, and if so, he might be about to get sucked out into space. Or walk into a fire, or poison gas. And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet in these recaps? BUT HE IS TWELVE. STAR WARS: IT IS NOT NORMAL TO MAKE A CHILD DO THESE THINGS.

Obi-Wan steels himself and reflects on how he Just Can’t Fail That Jerk Who Doesn’t Like Him:

It would be dangerous to try to open the door. There might only be a fire, but it could be worse. All the air could have escaped from the room.

He remembered the look on Qui-Gon’s face as the Jedi Master asked for his help.

He couldn’t let him down this time.

OBI-WAN: WHAT IS YOUR DEAL. I mean, I guess if you don’t save the day you’re all maybe going to die so that’s a pretty good motivator, but honestly: you don’t have to do it for the guy who has spent this most of this entire book being like “GET AWAY FROM ME.” If anything, I’d be like “I will make it my business to let that dude down,” but hey, I’m petty like that.

So he and Si Treemba bust open the door, and sure enough: the hull’s breached. Si heroically crawls his way over to an object that can be used to plug the hole, and the two of them rush into the cockpit, where the crew is alive but unconscious from loss of oxygen. And that’s when Obi-Wan realizes, like many, many Jedi novices including several others in this Jedi Family Tree, that he is now in charge of flying something he has no fucking clue how to fly:

Obi-Wan unbuckled the captain and moved him onto the floor. Then he looked at the control panel. There were so many lights and buttons. For a moment he was stunned, unsure what to do.

Obi-Wan ends up blasting the pirate ships with torpedos (because that’s also a super age-appropriate skill to hone), and pulling the vessel forward. The latter action causes the pirate ships that had already attached to the Monument’s docking bays to be ripped away from the ship, causing a vacuum to open up in the exact spot where Clat’Ha and Qui-Gon are fighting the Pirate Captain, who is described as being TWICE AS TALL AS A MAN. May I remind you all that Liam Neeson, our real-world Qui-Gon Jinn, is SIX FEET FOUR INCHES TALL. So, this pirate captain is large. As they tussle, things start looking mighty uncertain for Qui-Gon, who ends up taking an axe to the back and the wound goes down to his ribs, only to have his ass saved by Clat’Ha at the last moment. The two of them making their way back to safety as the pirate captain is sucked out into the void of space.

Ultimately the pirates are beaten back thanks to Qui-Gon’s heroics and Obi-Wan’s haphazard piloting and torpedo-launching, but the Hutts — who have been fighting pirates on their own side of the ship — now take notice of the fact that the Arconans didn’t even fight — they just hid in their rooms and let their stupid JEDI take care of it for them! And now that Jedi of theirs is wounded! Seems like the perfect time to launch the next phase of their evil plan into action. While the baddies go off to Do Evil Deeds, Obi-Wan and Si Treemba opt to land the Monument, now damaged and losing pressurization, on a World Of Unknown Specifics.

Recurring Theme: Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just Dying

Qui-Gon, with a big gaping AXE WOUND IN HIS BACK, gets treated by a medical droid. Obi-Wan arrives to check in with him now that the ship has been landed and some of the crew is outside working on repairs.

Not to be distracted by the fact that he is maybe partially bleeding to death (honestly what is WITH the Jedi,) Qui-Gon starts in on quizzing Obi-Wan about all of his Thoughts and Feelings and what was in his heart when he was landing the ship.

He was too exhausted to care too much about giving the wrong answer. Better just to speak the blunt truth. Qui-Gon would approve of his actions or not. He was tired of trying to please him.

Right on, Little Kenobes: eff this guy! I love that Obi-Wan just saved all their asses and Qui-Gon is like BUT WERE YOU ANGRY WHEN YOU WERE FLYING THE SHIP JUST NOW? Sigh. I know, I know, the whole Jedi thing but sometimes I’m just like JESUS CHRIST PEOPLE WHO CARES. I’d make the worst Jedi (I’d also make a terrible Sith, for what it’s worth. For starters, I could never wear that much black.) Obi-Wan explains that he felt both angry and scared, but he put those thoughts aside and just let the Force guide him to do what he needed to do. Sure, he may have killed like hundreds of pirates just now, but he didn’t do it out of anger: he did it to save lives.

Qui-Gon feels ALL kinds of ways about this, because for the first time ever Obi-Wan has given him the “right” answer. And he’s not sure that he actually WANTS Obi-Wan to have given him the right answer because OMG ONE TIME HE LOVED A JEDI AND THAT JEDI BETRAYED HIM AND HE’LL NEVER OPEN HIS HEART AGAIN.

(I would like to point out right damn now, even though we haven’t gotten there yet, that what Xanatos did to Qui-Gon is like not even in the same UNIVERSE of badness as what Anakin ends up doing to Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon’s reaction is to close his heart forever and be a total pill to a small child who desperately wants his approval, while Obi-Wan’s reaction is to devote his life to protecting and eventually training Luke even though Luke doesn’t especially want anything to do with becoming a Jedi intially. I know the situations are not identical BUT STILL. SUCK IT UP, QUI-GON. Damn.)

Obi-Wan is totally fucking confused by all of this because Qui-Gon is just sort of awkwardly staring at him and he’s about to ask him WTF is going on in that crazy Jedi brain of his, when Si Treemba appears at the door: it’s the Hutts — they’ve stolen all the dactyl on the ship! Gasp! 

Mind Tricks Don’t Work On Me

Chapter 15 opens with the Gang of Good Guys calling the Hutts out on their treachery. Qui-Gon icily informs the Hutts that they won’t get away with this, and Obi-Wan is pretty much just like…standing next to him, vibrating with angst and ready to kill someone. WHY IS EVERY SINGLE JEDI PAIR LIKE THIS. Writing these recaps is like existing in a permanent state of deja vu.

Qui-Gon tries lamely to sway Jemba the Hutt’s mind, but he’s significantly weakened because HAVE I MENTIONED HE HAS A GIANT GAPING AXE WOUND? The Hutt sasses him, waving his hand in the air: what’s this I feel? Your precious Force? LOL! Nice try, Jedi: you think THAT can stop me?!

Obi-Wan throws himself in front of this guy, lightsaber activated, and is like I’LL TAKE YOU ON YOU GROSS GIGANTIC SLUG LET’S FUCKING DO THIS, only to be more or less laughed off the stage as Qui-Gon talks him down: they don’t need to jump to violence. The Arconans can live for a while without dactyl. We have time to think. Obi-Wan backs off.

Jemba announces: why, he’s even got work for the Arconans! They can come work for Offworld, and he’ll pay them! Clat’Ha spits back Offworld doesn’t pay its workers for shit! Jemba, evilly, explains that they’ll pay them in “life” — work for them, and they’ll get back their precious dactyl.

Obi-Wan? IS NOT INTO THIS:

“You offer to pay these people with dactyl that you stole from them?” Obi-Wan asked. He could not believe what he heard. It was all he could do to restrain from launching himself across the room to hack Jemba to pieces.

I just want to reiterate that Obi-Wan is tempted to launch himself across the room and hack someone to pieces. Remember a million years ago when I said I felt like there was a lot more going on with Ol’ Kenobes than we’d been shown?tcw515_20Yeah. It’s all coming together now.

Slowly, the Arconans start to assemble on the Offworld side of the ship: they hate these guys, but they like being alive more. And so even though these creeps stole from them and are now using that to enslave them, they’re going to accept it. Obi-Wan is horrified as he sees Si Treemba going along with the pack. But this time, fortunately, instead of trying to kill anyone, Obi-Wan (possibly hearing the Force Theme in his head) simply puts on his Junior Negotiator Hat and asks Si to “wait”. Qui-Gon gives him a look of respect but Obi-Wan is too busy helping to care. He knows:

 Sometimes, the force of friendship could work where the Force could not.

…sure, Star Wars: and sometimes it can’t. ALL I’M SAYING.
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(I’m sorry. Really.)

Ah, but shockingly, the power of Friendship comes through for Baby-Wan this time! Si Treemba slowly backs away from the Hutts and the rest of the Offworld crew, and little bit little, the rest of the Arconans join him. Awww. Good job, Little Kenobes!

Will Qui-Gon finally get over himself and let Baby-Wan into his heart? Will the Universe’s Teeniest Negotiator help resolve the rift between these two mining factions (hahaha)? Will I lose my everloving mind recapping all this nonsense? I’m going to have to leave you on the edge of your seats for now, my friends! See you next time!