The Rising Force, Part IV: Here Be Draigons

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Jedi Apprentice #1: The Rising Force (Legends) by Dave Wolverton
Chapters 16 through 20

Well, well: we haven’t revisited this particular flavor of Crazy in a while! Who’s up for a little more of Obi-Wan’s non-canonical Tragic Backstory, hmm?

Previously, on Baby-Wan Saves The Space Miners Or Whatever The Hell Is Going On Here, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had gotten into a serious altercation with some space pirates, which all things considered was probably a good thing given that learning how to deal with pirates is going to be an essential skill for Obi-Wan throughout the entire rest of his life. Qui-Gon had taken an AXE TO THE BACK but wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop him from bossing Obi-Wan around and judging him while also being like “I REFUSE TO TRAIN YOU” every 35 seconds.

Ultimately, the last installment had ended with the Hutts — representing the Evil Space Mining Consortium Called Offworld — had taken all the dactyl on the ship and hoarded it for themselves. Dactyl, you’ll all recall, is a substance the Arconans on board this voyage of the damned need to live. The Hutts had proposed to the Arconans that they’d give the dactyl back — if they agreed to come work for Offworld. Obi-Wan, at the last moment, had managed to use his friendship with one of the Arconans, Si Treemba, to convince the Arconans not to take the deal. Of course, they’ve still got a mess on their hands, since if they don’t get ahold of that dactyl soon the Arconans are, y’know, gonna die. Oh and also Qui-Gon still has a horrible axe wound in his back. AND Obi-Wan had just landed the ship, which was badly damaged during the pirate attack, on a mysteeeeerious planet. So: all this to say, there’s a lot going on.

This time around, Obi-Wan’s in for yet another round of devastating disappointment (OMG), the Hutts are just as much of a bunch of humanitarians as always, and Qui-Gon has possibly the most dramatic Jedi moment of all time ever (really).

Recurring Theme: Just Gonna Go Ahead And Ignore My Grave Injuries

Their meeting with the Hutts having ended in a stalemate, Obi-Wan now sets his focus on Qui-Gon, who’s basically doing everything he possibly can to stay upright given that, again, THE MAN HAS A HUGE GAPING AXE WOUND IN HIS BACK. He offers to walk Qui-Gon back to his room, and Qui-Gon relents and accepts the offer.

He very nearly keels over on the walk, and Obi-Wan is like “uh, are you OK or…?”

“I will be,” Qui-Gon said weakly. “I . . . just need . . . to focus.”

Well, at least this book is clearing up any question we had about who Obi-Wan learned THIS nonsense from.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Just Wants To Fight Something

As Qui-Gon settles into his room, Obi-Wan is like HEY I’VE GOT AN IDEA!!! AN INSANE PLAN THAT INVOLVES ME, A 12-YEAR-OLD, COMMITTING MURDER! He rambles about how since Qui-Gon is too injured to fight, Obi-Wan’ll just climb through the vents and take care of this Hutt Problem they’ve got and everything will be FINE!

Qui-Gon, of course, is instantly dismayed because Oh No He Thought Obi-Wan Was Jedi Material But Now He’s Not So Sure Again. He pushes back on this and Obi-Wan is like NO REALLY I CAN DO IT AND I PROMISE NOT TO ENJOY IT TOO MUCH:

“Look, you’re wounded,” Obi-Wan said. “I know you can’t fight now. But I could do it for you! I can hold back my anger and do what must be done. If Jemba were dead –”

Again, let me note that it is probably a really good thing that Anakin and Obi-Wan were not the same age because the universe would have ended up a smoking heap of rubble even faster if they’d BOTH been out there at the same time all LEMME AT ‘EM.

Recurring Theme: OH WHY STAR WARS
BONUS Recurring Theme: The Unbearable Sadness of Obi-Wan

The end of this chapter is BRUTAL, my friends. Brutal. So Qui-Gon imparts some actually sort of helpful wisdom to Obi-Wan here about how killing someone is a small victory compared to the victory that comes from changing hearts and minds and turning an enemy into a friend. Obi-Wan is frustrated: Jemba’s evil! He’s a slaver! He’s the WORST THING IN THE UNIVERSE QUI-GON HOW CAN WE JUST SIT BACK AND LET THIS HAPPEN.

Qui-Gon explains his position a bit more, then throws out there that Obi-Wan needs to know that his desire to kill out of anger is borne of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan listens, and then suddenly his heart is filled with hope: Qui-Gon’s telling him all this Jedi Wisdom Stuff because he’s changed his mind! He’s testing Obi-Wan! Oh Happy Day!

“You’re testing me, aren’t you,” Obi-Wan guessed. “You’ve changed your mind. You are considering me for your Padawan.” He tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice.

Ah, but we all know that Obi-Wan is never allowed to have his hopes up for more than a single millisecond at a time, so instantly Qui-Gon rips into him: NO, I haven’t changed my mind! This is not some Jedi test, this is about LIFE! Just because you eventually get that violence doesn’t solve every problem doesn’t make you a JEDI! You are not now and will never be my student!

And Obi-Wan. Oh, my poor ginger space peanut. You know what? I’m going to let The Simpsons sum it up for us here:

bartandlisa

Bart is Star Wars, and I am Lisa. I SWEAR.

Yes, he’s pretty much completely crushed.

Obi-Wan stepped back, as if Qui-Gon had slapped him. With a rush of emotion, he saw into his own heart. He had been fooling himself. He had told himself that he had accepted Qui-Gon’s decision, that all he wanted was his respect. But somewhere deep inside, he had hoped that if he acted bravely and well on this mission, Qui-Gon would change his mind.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO OBI-WAN AND THEREFORE ME BY EXTENSION, STAR WARS. WHY WHY WHY.

Recurring Theme: Lemme Make Your Pain All About Me

Qui-Gon watches Obi-Wan’s expression and realizes that apparently Qui-Gon’s not the only person in this room who’s suffered a deep wound. At one point, Obi-Wan swipes a sleeve across his face, and Qui-Gon wonders if he’s actually MADE HIM CRY. Well, Qui-Gon, you’ve definitely at least made ME cry.

Obi-Wan turns back to him, though, without a tear to be seen. At it’s at this point that Qui-Gon FINALLY starts to realize that maybe beating up on this twelve year old WHO JUST WANTS SOMEONE TO LOVE HIM was not such a great idea:

It stung him. After all his noble talk of winning the hearts of enemies, he realized that he had just crushed the heart of a boy who only hoped to become his ally.

Oh, gee Qui-Gon, I’m so SORRY you feel stung by this. Well, I guess it’s a step in the right direction at least.

Teach The Galaxy To Fish

Obi-Wan, having left Qui-Gon’s room, walks around the ship in a daze, staring out the windows at this planet they’ve arrived at, Feeling Ways About Stuff. Si Treemba finds him eventually, and tells Obi-Wan he was worried about him.

Obi-Wan, his little fists clenched in Baby Rage, tells Si that he’s just so disgusted by what the Hutts are trying to do here (I am dying that Hutt-Related rage is involved here. OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN WERE ALWAYS MEANT TO BE TOGETHER.) And he thinks, further, about how he’s always wanted nothing more than to be a Jedi:

“Because, all my life, I’ve wanted to be a Jedi. I craved it so much. I was willing to fight for the honor, and I became angry when others stood in my way.”

He goes on a bit about how he never realized there was so much wickedness in the galaxy, and that it fills him with anger. And he tells Si that he knows for certain now that Qui-Gon is not going to hire him to be his apprentice. Si asks him if THAT doesn’t make him feel angry:

“No,” Obi-Wan said. “I feel strange, Si Treemba. It’s as if a burden has been lifted from me. Perhaps I could be a good farmer. And to be good…to be a good person is more important than being a Jedi.”

Oh, Baby-Wan! He’s so good and sweet and SOMEONE HUG HIM.

And now, given that now he knows that he’ll never be a Jedi, he’s reminded of something Yoda had told him once: that, since there are a bajillion beings in the Galaxy O’ Craziness and only a few thousand Jedi Knights, on occasion the Jedi have to focus less on just swooping in with their stupidly gigantic robes and A+ Hair Game to save the day, and more on helping the galaxy to help itself. And…that’s not a bad thing, he sees now. Today, he’s not gonna fight. He’s gonna help his friends the Arconans out of this jam, and he’s gonna focus on being the best person he can be. OMG.

Recurring Theme: Bad To Worse To Absolutely Insane

The next chapter is really where this book starts to take us off into some Truly Delightfully Wild territory. Back in his room, Qui-Gon — his GIANT AXE WOUND healing pretty well now thanks to the Force or whatever — is marinating in his Regrets and Sadness and Wistful Feelings about Obi-Wan and all but singing a pensive solo about it all. He sleeps restlessly, and eventually wakes up looking out at this weird and crazy planet they’ve landed on. He notices, as he does this, a strange yellow haze out on the horizon, which he thinks must be his eyes playing tricks on him as a result of his injuries.

Finally rising for the day, he heads out into the hallway only to discover that there’s been an order to evacuate the ship: the tide is coming in and the vessel might be swamped before they have a chance to fix the engines!

Well that’s just GREAT, Qui-Gon sighs to himself. And, in the grand tradition of all Star Wars characters, he takes a moment to catalog just how crappy everything is right now:

From bad to worse, Qui-Gon realized. Shot down by pirates, wrecked on an alien world with Jemba holding a gun on them all. And now they would have to abandon ship, hide in caves with limited supplies. He could feel a rising danger.

Perhaps the pirates would come to finish them off, or maybe they’d all starve, or die fighting one another. Perhaps the tides would rise so high that they’d flood the whole island.

All right! Good times. Way to keep that positive outlook!

So anyways he moseys over to Clat-Ha’s cabin and she throws out there that Jemba the Hutt was super pissed that they had to abandon ship. Qui-Gon is like “huh, weird” about this, and then he starts to Force-ily put the pieces together:

But no animals lived on the island, only draigons. The crew had investigated for predators shortly after they’d landed. And the haze hadn’t been in front of his eyes. A cave in the cliff itself had been glowing with a faint yellow light.

Realization sparked within him. “Tell the Arconans not to be afraid,” he told Clat’Ha crisply. “I think I know where the dactyl is. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I not mention that there are legit fucking DRAGONS — spelled, of course, as “draigons” so as to be Extra Pompous and Fantasy-Series-ish — on this Mystery Planet? Because yes: there are dragons. SPACE DRAGONS.

Recurring Theme: Solo Mission

Qui-Gon tells Clat’Ha to let him go on ahead alone, because he thinks he’ll have the best chance of getting to the dactyl unnoticed if he goes alone. So off he goes — sneaking away from the crowd that’s being evacuated off the ship — and of course, not 14 seconds after starting this journey, he’s spotted climbing up the side of a mountain by Grelb the Hutt who is supervising this death march. He informs Jemba of this, and Jemba orders him to track Qui-Gon down, and “see that he doesn’t return.”

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi Would Prefer It If You Didn’t Die

Obi-Wan, hunkered down with the Arconans in one of the caves they’ve been evacuated to, is lamenting their awful situation. The Arconans are all starting to fall ill and are weakening with each passing moment. He’s starting to fear the worst:

“Promise me,” Obi-Wan said quietly to Si Treemba, “that you won’t let yourself die here.”

Si sadly promises this, and to be honest the first time I read this chapter I was mildly shocked that Si Treemba didn’t just die in Obi-Wan’s arms right then and there. I mean, you know, because why not?

Recurring Theme: Stupid Villain Grandstanding

Qui-Gon, meanwhile, is continuing to make his way up the side of this mountain as he makes his way towards the cave he believes has the dactyl in it. There’s a whole bunch of “hey look at this actual superhero” stuff about how no man should have been able to scale the side of the cliff but he’s doing it anyways because he’s a Jedi and blahblahblah oh and also he’s very concerned about the DRAGONS LURKING AROUND and the fact that, oh, by the way, there’s ALSO a thunderstorm going on right now. LOL. Jesus.

Suddenly, he senses something bright and sharp nearly striking him.

For half a moment, he thought that a lightning bolt had nearly pierced him. But he realized that it was too small.

A blaster. Someone had shot at him!

Yes, Grelb and some of his Whiphid cohorts have tracked him down and they’re shooting him. Now, here again we get YET ANOTHER example of a bad guy in Star Wars utterly wasting his chance to just KILL THE DAMN JEDI ALREADY by instead frittering away his time showboating. (See also: why just kill these guys outright when we can make them fight in front of spectators in an arena for hours, why kill this guy when I could lecture him for an hour about how he should/must join me, why kill this guy when I could ramble on ceaselessly about how I’m only still alive because I hated him so much, I COULD SERIOUSLY GO ON FOREVER.)

Qui-Gon’s vulnerable, clinging to the side of the mountain, and so Grelb’s all HA HA HA LOOK AT HIM SQUIRM LET’S SAVOR THIS, encouraging his cronies to do stupid shit like try to shoot off his boots. Naturally this means they don’t notice when a DRAGON lands next to them:

It was the first he‘d seen up close. The draigon had tiny silver scales over all of its body, and huge yellow eyes like those on a fish. It had no front legs, only a single huge claw on each wing. And its mouth had the strangest teeth – like enormous needles that arced down from its gums. The monster vaguely reminded him of an Ithorian razor shark.

The huge reptile had half of the Whiphid marksman in its mouth.

So now they’re all distracted by the fact that A DRAGON IS HERE AND EATING THEM, and Qui-Gon is able to get up into the cave he was aiming for. Grelb takes shelter by squeezing himself in between some rocks.

Recurring Theme: And Now A Word From The Force

Qui-Gon does indeed find the dactyl in this cave he’s in now, and he fills a bag with some of it. Now, however, he’s got to figure out a way to get OUT of the cave when, oh, a dragon is outside and some of its friends are on their way. But before he can even think his way through this next phase of his Adventure, he’s interrupted by an urgent message from the Force:

Suddenly, in the middle of his desperation, Qui-Gon felt something odd – a faint ripple in the Force. As he concentrated, it grew stronger. Someone was calling him, a Jedi.

Obi-Wan needs me! He realized.

Qui-Gon is all confused because — just in case we’d forgotten — OBI-WAN IS NOT HIS PADAWAN! They shouldn’t have Super Special Force Bond Stuff! But they do! What does it all mean????

He realizes he doesn’t have time to sort out the meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything right now — he just needs to listen to what the Force is telling him. And it’s telling him to get his ass over to Obi-Wan right this minute! But…how? How will he get there? He’d need transportation to get back down this cliff safely and quickly!

Recurring Theme: God Help Me I Love Star Wars

The Force tells him to JUMP. So here, in this book which is a for-real piece of Star Wars content and not just something I wrote with my friends at midnight after a couple glasses of wine, we have a scene where Qui-Gon Jinn leaps out of a cave on the side of a mountain, into the air, and lands on the back of a space dragon. The dragon is all WUT about this, given that it had been on its way to the cave to EAT Qui-Gon, but then Qui-Gon uses that Force thing where the Jedi get animals to do their bidding, and the dragon becomes Qui-Gon’s ride back to the cave Obi-Wan is in.

YOU GUYS: QUI-GON JINN, SPACE WIZARD, IS RIDING ON A SPACE DRAGON RIGHT NOW. HIS HAIR IS SURELY FLYING AROUND IN THE WIND. HIS ROBES, DRAMATICALLY TRAILING BEHIND HIM. This is the MOST Jedi Moment in the History of Jedi Moments, especially given that it is occurring as a result of a Daring Solo Mission in Extreme Circumstances AND happens WHILE other things are trying to kill him. Oh my God. Star Wars is the best thing that has ever existed.

Grelb, down below, watches this happen and is like OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE HE’S LITERALLY RIDING A GODDAMN DRAGON.

Grelb’s jaw dropped, and he dove for cover beneath a rock. There, he sat trembling. The Jedi was alive and heading back down the mountain.

He knows he has to get to Qui-Gon now, otherwise his boss Jemba is totally going to kill him. He sets off in pursuit of Qui-Gon Jinn, Dragonmaster.

Recurring Theme: Well This Advice Will Come In Handy Again Once or Twice

Obi-Wan and Clat’Ha are still in their cave with the dying Arconans. Si Treemba hasn’t moved in hours and Obi-Wan suspects he no longer has the strength to do so. He is filled with sadness as he takes in the scene around him.

Obi-Wan rested his forehead on his knees in despair. He stared at the cave floor. What was the use of all his Jedi training? He had never felt so helpless. Nothing he had learned, nothing even Yoda had told him, could have prepared him for this moment. He had come to the end of everything – faith, hope, belief in himself. He had failed. All his life, he would remember this, his darkest moment.

MY POOR BABY. WHY IS YOUR LIFE LIKE THIS.

It’s then, though, that he remembers something Yoda told him once when they’d had a twilight chat session (aww! They had those? I love it):

That was when Yoda had told him that in moments of extreme danger, when he had done everything he could, he could use the Force to call another Jedi.

Obi-Wan decides to try and summon Qui-Gon for help. He focuses, and focuses, and…Jemba the Hutt appears in the cave. Obi-Wan is dismayed: oh, great, he tried to call Qui-Gon and ended up getting a Hutt instead. He figures his skills must suck.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi Is Sick Of This Shit

Jemba is basically just there to gloat to the Arconans about how they’re dying and to try and persuade them to take his offer of being his slave in exchange for the dactyl that will save their lives. And Obi-Wan? HAS FUCKING HAD IT. He leaps heroically over the dying Arconans and gets right in Jemba’s face, flinging his lightsaber around dramatically while doing so. He tells Jemba to GTFO, and Jemba just smirks evilly:

“Isn’t this amusing!” Jemba rumbled to his cohorts. “He is not a Force user, this one. It’s in the ship’s records. He is nothing more than a farmer, a reject from the Jedi Temple.”

A) WHY, and B) LOL AGAIN WITH THE DIGS ON FARMERS, STAR WARS. So, now we can add the Hutts to the long list of people who apparently think farming is for losers, I guess.

Obi-Wan is furious, but recalls Qui-Gon’s words of sort-of wisdom that came served with a side of emotionally devastating information from before: Jemba’s not the enemy. Anger is. Um, OK. I’m pretty sure Jemba is ALSO the enemy but OK, Star Wars, I get what you’re doing here.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Showman

This triggers a Major Force Breakthrough for Obi-Wan — he senses Qui-Gon! Calling out to HIM for help!!

He tells Jemba to get out of the way: Qui-Gon’s in trouble! Jemba laughs: uh, YEAH, that is because I SENT SOME DUDES TO KILL HIM OBVS. Obi-Wan persists: no no, it’s not that — he’s in danger, but we ALL ARE!

Jemba is unimpressed: what the hell are you expecting ME to do? Get distracted so you can kill me? No thanks.

Obi-Wan, incensed, uses this as a chance to show off some of his Glorious Space Wizard Skills:

He was wasting time. Obi-Wan somersaulted once in the air, and landed in front of Jemba. Then, using the momentum of his landing, he sprang over the Hutt’s head. Obi-Wan landed on Jemba’s back, and the Hutt howled.

This is at least the second or third time Obi-Wan has done an in-air somersault in this book, I think. I love it.

Obi-Wan tells Jemba that he’s been warned, and takes off running towards the front of the cave as Jemba’s guys fire at his retreating figure. The Whiphids yell after him, but Jemba shouts the loudest: the boy is his to kill! It’s ON now! DUN DUN DUUUUUN!

And this, my friends, brings us to the end of this installment! Will a Hutt get what’s coming him? Will Qui-Gon ride any more mythical creatures before this thing is finally over? More importantly, will he finally stop crushing Obi-Wan’s heart into a fine paste of depression and pain? I guess we’re gonna have to wait and see. Join me next time — thanks for reading!