I do not own Star Wars whether it's written by Terry Brooks or George Lucas.
I'm sorry that it took me so long to get back to this, but the military is a busy place, and I enjoy making excuses...wait that came out wrong. Whatever here's another chapter, but don't expect this to mean that I'm back. I've got too much to do and too little time.
It was getting close to 1400 planet side as the medley of jedi, handmaiden, droid, and gungan approached the spaceport of Mos Espa. Qui-Gon was constantly vigilant, ensuring that they did not run into trouble, which was easier said than done given the appearance of the crowd they were walking into, full of species that were well known for getting in with the worst of organizations.
Ben began lecturing the young handmaiden, that he was sure was actually the queen in disguise, about the new world around them. "Tatooine is home to Jabba the Hutt, who controls the bulk of the trafficking in illegal goods, piracy, and slavery that generates most of the planet's wealth. Jabba controls the spaceports, and small outlying settlements, most of which are moisture warms, pretty much anywhere with a population recognized by an outlying body. Most of the desert belongs to either the scavenging Jawas, who pick up whatever mechanical parts they find out there and sells it back to the farmers and settlers, or the tribal Tusken Raiders, sand people they're called, who tend to attack anyone who comes too close to their camps. Both are nomadic peoples, the jawas out of necessity to get the best goods and eventually be able to sell them, and the Tuskens out of devotion to their own religion. That's probably the main reason why they are so aggressive, they believe it as blasphemy to live in one place too long and so feel it necessary to destroy the heretics."
Ben kept his voice low as to keep from being overheard, and Padme seemed greatly enthused by the depths of his knowledge. She kept close to both Jedi, taking in her new surroundings very enthusiastically.
"Overall Tatooine is one of the galaxy's safe havens for individuals looking to get lost. Ironic how the hutts seem to gravitate towards such worlds." The older master informed Padme in conclusion of his lecture.
"Individuals such as ourselves." She pointed out, Ben simply smiled at her observation.
They traveled down the space port's main street, Jar Jar's antics keeping a persistent smile on the elder master's face while the younger remained constantly vigilant waiting for attack, Artoo rolled along cheerfully and Padme continued to take in her new surroundings. It was not long before the motley crew was found themselves outside of a moderate sized junk shop on a side street that branched off the end of Main street. The shop seemed to suit Qui-Gon's search well enough.
The walked through the shops entry and were greeted by an excited, pudgy Toydarian. "Hi chubba da nago?" It snapped in a frizzy, guttural voice, demanding their intentions.
"I need parts for a J-type 327 Nubian," He advised the other.
The toydarian beamed with delight,"Ah yes! Nubian! We have lots of that." As the toydarian examined each face he glanced at Jar Jar curiously. "What's this?"
"Never mind that." Qui-Gon brushed the question aside, as Ben just watched on in disinterest, "Can you help us or not?"
"Can you pay me or not, that's the question!" The toydarian crossed his arms over his torso as he regarded Qui-Gon with disdain. "What kinda junk you after farmer?"
"My droid has a readout of what I need," the Jedi Master informed with a glance at Artoo.
The toydarian glanced over a shoulder, "Peedunkel! Naba dee unko!"
Ben watched as Anakin raced in from the salvage yard, coming to an uncertain stop in front of them. His clothes were ragged and thick with grime, and he looked like he was a worried about receiving some form of punishment. He flinched as the Toydarian wheeled back and lifted a hand in admonishment.
"What took you so long?"
"Mel tass cho-pas kee." Anakin responded quickly, his sky blue eyes taking in the newcomers quickly, "I was cleaning out the bin like you-"
"Chut-chut!" The toydarian threw up his hands angrily, "Never mind the bin! Watch the store! I've got some selling to do!"
He flitted back around to face his customers, "So, let me take you out back. You'll soon find what you need." He darted toward the salvage yard, beckoning Qui-Gon eagerly.
Before Qui-Gon could follow, Ben grabbed him and whispered just loud enough for him to hear, "A word of caution. Toydarians have a resistance to mind techniques. I would avoid trying to sway him with one."
"Hopefully, we won't have too." Qui-Gon responded before following the shop owner, Artoo following on his heels. Jar Jar moved to a shelf and picked up some odd-looking bit of metal, intrigued by its shape, wondering what it was. "Don't touch anything." Qui-Gon called back, without turning or looking back. Jar Jar just made a face at him as he put the item back.
Ben took shelter in the shadows of the shop and leaned against the wall as he watched Anakin openly stare at Padme. He hoisted himself up onto an empty spot the counter and began pretending to clean a transmitter cell as he stared at her. Padme gave Anakin an amused smile, and the boy took a deep breath, "Are you an angel?" he asked quietly.
Ben had to place a fist in front of his mouth to disguise a small chuckle, 'smooth move' he thought to himself regarding the boy's compliment. Padme just stared at him "What?"
"An angel." Anakin straightened a bit. "They live on the moons of Iego, I think. They are the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They are good and kind, and so pretty they make even the most hardened spice pirates cry like small children."
She gave him a confused look. "I've never heard of angels," she said.
"You must be one of them, " Anakin insisted. "Maybe you just don't konw it."
"you're a funny little boy." The amused smile returned, "How do you know so much?"
Anakin smiled back and shrugged, "I listen to all the traders and pilots who come through here. " He glanced toward the salvage yard. "I'm a pilot you know. Someday, I'm going to fly away from this place."
Ben found himself nodding in agreement with Anakin's statement though none of the other occupants in the shop could see it. Padme wandered to one end of the counter, looked away, then back again, "Have you been here long?"
"Since I was very little-three, I think. My mom and I were sold to Gardulla the Hutt, but she lost us to Watto, betting on the pod races. Watto's a lot better master, I think."
She stared at him in shock. "You're a slave?"
He glared at her defiantly, and responded as if insulted, "I'm a person, and my name is Anakin!"
"I'm sorry," she said quickly, looking almost as upset as and embarrassed as Anakin was. "I don't fully understand I guess. This is a strange world to me."
Anakin studied Padme intently for a moment, looking as if he had a million things to talk about, but not enough time to say everything. "You're a strange girl to me." He finally said, as he swung his legs out from the counter, "I guess I already said this, but I'm Anakin Skywalker."
She brushed at her hair, "Padme Naberrie."
Ben watched Jar Jar wander over to a small pit droid, and reach up to push the bulbous nose in curiousity. He knew he should probably stop the gungan, but he also knew that it would amuse the children in front of him. Immediately the droid came to life with its metal limbs swinging into place. The droid began moving forward as Jar Jar went after it with a moan of dismay, trying to grab it in an effort to slow it down, but the droid continued to march through the shope knocking over everything in its path. Ben smiled at Anakin and Padme's laughter, but knew the fun had to be stopped before Anakin got into trouble, so he gripped the small droid with the force, before telekinetically tapping the activator to shut it down and then putting it back where Jar Jar found it. Anakin gasped stunned at the Jedi's feat, while Padme's laughter just became more intense asa she examined the looks on Anakin, and Jar Jar's faces. Ben just winked conspiratorily, at Anakin causing the small boy to break out into a new grin.
Anakin looked back at Padme, and she at him as her laughter died away. The girl reached up to touch her hair self-consciously, but she did not divert her gaze. "I'm going to marry you," the boy said suddenly.
There was a moment of silence, and she began laughing again this time Ben could not contain himself either, the audacity and certainty and bluntness was just too amusing. It seemed all the more amusing to Ben because he knew the boy was right, while Padme probably did not take him seriously, a slave and a queen was hardly a match made in heaven. Jar Jar just rolled his eyes.
"I meant it," he insisted.
"You are an odd one," Padme said, her laughter dying away. "Why do you say that?"
He hesitated. "I guess because it's what I believe..."
Her smile seemed to dazzle him, "Well I'm afraid I can't marry you..." She paused searching for her memory of his name.
"Anakin," Ben supplied far more amused than the queen desired.
"Anakin." She cocked her head. "You're just a little boy."
His gaze was intense as he faced her. "I won't always be," he said quietly.
The two younger beings conversed for a while, Ben watching from the shadows with an amused smile on his face. He did, however, notice Jar Jar wondering to a pile of parts, and quickly moved to remove the Gungan from the site of the potential mess. He got there in the nick of time, to prevent Jar Jar's clumsiness from acting up again.
Not ten seconds later Qui-Gon stormed back through the shop. "You tried to persuade him with the force didn't you." Ben quipped.
Qui-Gon did not seem in the mood, "We're leaving." He announced as he continued straight to the entryway of the shop without a pause in his steps, Artoo trundling along behind him. Jar quickly followed as well, while Padme gave Anakin a warm smile, "I'm glad I met you Anakin." she said turning to follow. Ben just gave Anakin a nod as he made his way after the departing party at his own leisurely pace.
"I'm glad to have met you too." Anakin called after Padme reluctance obvious in his voice.
Qui-Gon led his companions back through the little plaza, toward the main avenue. At a place where two buildings divided to form a shadowed alleyway, the younger Jedi Master moved everyone from view and brought out his comlink from beneath his poncho. Padme and Artoo waited patiently while Ben settled into a light meditation while he leaned against one of the walls of the alley keeping one ear open to Qui-Gon's conversation, but Jar Jar paced the alley like a caged beast keeping an eye on the street beyond.
When Obi-Wan responded to the comlink's pulse, Qui-Gon quickly filled him in on the situation, "Are you sure there isn't anything of value left on board?" he concluded.
There was a pause at the other end. "A few containers of supplies, the Queen's wardrobe, some Jewelry maybe. Not enough to barter with. Not in the amounts your talking about."
"All right," Qui-Gon responded with a frown, "Another solution will present itself. I'll check back."
"Perhaps one already has." Ben said with a smile. Qui-Gon simply ignored him as he tucked the comlink back into his poncho and signaled to the others. He was moving toward the streets when Jar Jar grabbed his arm.
"Noah gain, sire," the Gungan pleaded. "Da beings hereabouts crazy nuts. We sa be robbed and crunched!"
"Not likely," Qui-Gon replied with a sigh, freeing himself. "We have nothing of value. That's our problem."
They made their way back up the streets, wandering the bazaar in front of them Qui-Gon trying to figure out a way to get the hyperdrive from the toydarian, Padme continued observing her surroundings, Artoo keeping close in case he was needed, Ben waiting patiently for Anakin to get involved, and Jar Jar slowly falling behind as his stomach began getting the best of him. It did not take, but a few minutes before the party realized that they had lost the Gungan, and began doubling back in search of him. Judging by the gathering crowd it was clear they were a bit too late.
By the time they arrived back at the scene they found the crowd dispersing as Anakin was helping Jar Jar up off the ground. "Hi!" Anakin greeted cheerfully, happy to see Padme again so soon. "Your buddy here was about to be turned into orange goo. He picked a fight with a Dug. An especially dangerous Dug named Sebulba."
"Nossir, nossir!" The chagrined Gungan insisted, brushing off dust and sand. "Mesa hate crunchen. Tis da last thing mesa wants!"
Qui-Gon gave Jar Jar a careful once-over, glanced around at the crowd, and took the Gungan by the arm. "Nevertheless, the boy saved you from a beating. You have a penchant for finding trouble, Jar Jar." He gave Anakin a short nod. "Thank you, my young friend."
Padme gave Anakin a warm smile as well, and the boy felt himself blushing with pride.
"Me doen nutten!" Jar Jar insisted still trying to defend himself, hands gesturing for emphasis.
"You were afraid," the boy told him, looking up at the longbilled face solemnly. "Fear attracts the fearful. Sebulba was trying to overcome his fear by squashing you." He cocked his head at the Gungan. "You can help yourself by being less afraid."
"And that works for you?" Padme asked skeptically, giving him a wry look.
Anakin smiled and shrugged. "Well...up to a point."
"I hope you remember that grain of wisdom," Ben said a small chuckle in his voice. "I have a strong feeling that it will be a very important proverb for you in this life."
Anakin smiled at the older master as he began trying to persuade Qui-Gon to follow him a short distance down the street to a fruit stand. A weathered old lady, gray-haired and stooped, her simple clothing patched and worn, rose from a stool to greet them on their approach.
"How are you feeling today, Jira?" Anakin asked her, giving her a quick hug.
The old lady smiled. "The heat's never been kind to me, you know, Annie."
"Guess what?" the boy replied quickly, beaming. "I've found that cooling unit I've been searching for. It's pretty beat up, but I'll have it fixed up for you in no time, I promise. That should help."
Jira reached out to brush his pink cheek with her wrinkled hand, her smile broadening. "You're a fine boy, Annie."
Anakin shrugged off the compliment and began scanning the fruit display. "I'll take five pallies, Jira." He glanced at Padme eagerly. "You'll like these."
He reached into his pocket for his truguts, but when he brought them out to pay Jira, he dropped one. Qui-Gon bent to retrieve it. As he did, his poncho opened just far enough for the boy to catch sight of something that made his eyes light up.
As he took the coin from Qui-Gon he noticed that he only had three, and his face became disappointed, not only did he not have enough for himself but he would not be able to get one of his new friends one. "Aw, I thought I had more." He mumbled to himself in disappointment.
"Nonsense," Ben told the boy as he fumbled around in his pouch for a moment, "Will this make up the difference for the other two trugats miss?" He asked pulling out a small crystal.
"I think that will work fine." Jira responded, while Qui-Gon and Padme each gave the older master a look. The old woman took the crystal and truguts and gave each of them a pallie.
"What was that?" Qui-Gon inquired sharply to his colleague.
"Just a crystal I picked up from one of the crystal formations in the outskirts the last time I was on Tatooine, they grow all over out there and offer a good power source, but between the Tuskens and the desert's natural defences few people are keen to find them. I assure you I do not have enough of those crystals on my person to purchase a hyperdrive unit." Ben said silencing Qui-Gon's questions.
Jira began rubbing her arms with her gnarled hands. "Gracious, my bones are aching. There's a storm coming, Annie. You'd better get home quick."
Anakin glanced at the sky as the winds began to pick up, then he looked back at Qui-Gon, "Do you have shelter?" he asked.
The younger master nodded, "We'll head back to our ship. Thank you again my young friend-"
Before he could finish Ben interrupted him, "I'm afraid Master Jinn that we would not be able to make it back to the ship in time. The outskirts are much too far for the ferocity of a sand storm."
"The outskirts?! There's no way you could make it there in time. Come with me. You can wait it out at my home. It's not far. My mom won't mind. Hurry!"
Anakin shouted goodbye to Jira and led his newly adopted charges down the street in a rush.