The Floppy-Eared Companion
“Your apprentice, Skywalker will be.”
There was silence as newly ordained Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi bowed his head to Master Yoda. The decision to train a nine year-old boy in the ways of the Jedi should not have been so monumental, but this Skywalker boy….
Yoda gestured for Obi-Wan to rise from his kneeling position. “Come, walk with me. Talk, we will.”
The Jedi Master was a green, wizened creature that barely stood a meter tall, needing a cane to help him walk the corridors of the Naboo Royal Palace, home to young Queen Amidala. Just a few days earlier, the Naboo monarch led her people in a battle to free their capital-city, Theed, from the grip of Trade Federation forces.
The cost was high.
An army of natives known as Gungans drew out the majority of the Federation’s droid-army while Amidala and a band of Naboo freedom fighters stormed the palace and captured the Trade Federation leadership. The Skywalker child displayed impressive piloting skills, leading a team of Naboo starfighters against the Trade Federation’s droid-control ship, destroying the monstrosity before the droids could wipe-out the outnumbered gungans.
Obi-Wan’s master, Qui-Gon Jinn, died at the hands of a mysterious Sith warrior, ancient foes of the Jedi, during the siege of the palace.
Master Yoda finally spoke several minutes into their silent walk. “Interesting companions, acquire you did.”
The younger Jedi nodded. “It was certainly an eclectic group, Master,” Obi-Wan said.
“A queen, a soldier, a droid, a boy,” Yoda paused to point with his cane, “and that floppy-eared creature.”
Obi-Wan looked to where Yoda was pointing. They were standing at the top of a wide flight of stairs that led down into a courtyard where the gungan Jar-Jar Binks was entertaining Anakin Skywalker. The boy was laughing as Jar-Jar, gesturing wildly, told him a story. Jar-Jar flopped onto the grass and covered his ears, prompting Anakin to double-over in more laughter.
“Qui-Gon’s initial insights into Jar-Jar’s usefulness were very accurate,” Obi-Wan said.
Yoda looked up at him. “And yours?”
“Very inaccurate, Master,” he admitted. “He led us to the gungans when we arrived, helping us get to Theed far faster than we could have without. If he hadn’t mentioned the gungan army to Queen Amidala while on Coruscant, Naboo might still be under Trade Federation control. The fact that he survived the battle against the droid-army, well,” Obi-Wan paused to think. “The Force does move in mysterious ways,” he grinned.
Yoda chuckled, turning his sights back on the scene below.
One of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens entered the courtyard below. She spoke to Anakin and Jar-Jar before leading the boy away into another part of the palace. Jar-Jar waved to Anakin as he left, then spotted the two Jedi at the top of the stairs. The gungan waved his arms and shouted Obi-Wan’s name, dashing up the stairs in an awkward lope.
“It’s so good seeing you unhurt,” the gungan said as he grabbed Obi-Wan’s hand and shook it vigorously.
“Jar-Jar, this is Master Yoda,” Obi-Wan said by way of introduction.
Jar-Jar took a cautious step back. “Yousa de Jedi biggin? It is an honor, sir.” He bowed low, his long, floppy ears sweeping the marble floor.
“Entertaining the boy, were you?” Yoda said, gesturing with his cane in the direction of the courtyard.
Jar-Jar nodded. “Ani was sad about Qui-Gon dying. Me no like it when people sad, so me told him about de grand battle the gungan had with de mechaniks. Mesa thinkin’ he laughed too, much,” he said, scratching his chin, a surprisingly thoughtful look coming to his face.
“Difficult to overcome, grief can be,” Yoda said.
“Qui-Gon was a good friend to me.” Jar-Jar put his hand over his heart solemnly. “I will remember him and think of him always.”
“That’s very touching, Jar-Jar, thank you,” Obi-Wan said with a melancholy smile. He would miss his friend and mentor, yet felt better to learn that someone who barely knew him would miss him too.
“Now, food,” Yoda interrupted. “Good food, I smell. Memorial feast, Naboo tradition,” he continued, moving surprisingly quickly down the stairs. “Good food, come, good food.”