Obtaining a Speeder Licence - Part 1
"I have a bad feeling about this," Obi-Wan groaned in dread as he sat in the passenger seat of the speeder.
Anakin jumped into the seat beside him. "Relax, Master. I've been piloting nearly my whole life," he assured his anxious mentor. "I'm sure I can handle a speeder. These things basically pilot themselves."
Obi-Wan took a deep breath to calm his nerves. Anakin's complete confidence in his own abilities only made him more anxious. He despised flying in unpredictable circumstances and, although he considered Coruscant traffic to be fairly predictable, nothing involving Anakin was ever truly predictable. "I don't doubt your abilities, young padawan," he explained. "But people don't often fail their speeder licence examinations because of their incompetence; they fail because of their recklessness."
"I will be careful, Master. I promise," Anakin said in a serious tone. "I will listen to all your commands."
That would be a first, Obi-Wan thought to himself, before making a conscious effort to push all negative thoughts out of his mind. Everything will be fine. Anakin is an excellent pilot, he assured himself. "Now, Anakin, I want you to carefully reverse the speeder out of the speeder dock, and remember to look behind you. It's important to be aware of your surroundings, because you never know when..."
Before he could finish his sentence, Obi-Wan found himself forcefully thrown back against his seat, then lurched forward as the vehicle came to a brief stop, before they began speeding off down the skylane. "I thought you were going to listen to all my commands," he said, reminding his padawan of the promise he made only seconds ago.
"I'm sorry, Master," Anakin apologised sincerely, before cracking a cheeky grin. "In my defence, I only promised to listen to your commands, not to follow them."
"I suppose that shouldn't surprise me," Obi-Wan sighed. He looked ahead at the vehicles swarming like insects in the air. The traffic flowed like a choreographed dance, with everyone moving in turn. Although most people found Coruscant most visually impressive at night, with the vibrant lights from the buildings illuminating the darkened world, it appeared almost equally impressive during the day, with the towering buildings against a beautiful background of light blue sky.
Without warning, the speeder hurled forward at an alarmingly fast rate and then halted abruptly, pulling Obi-Wan's attention back to the task at hand. The front of their speeder almost touched the vehicle in front of them. "Anakin, be careful!" he shouted.
"Sorry, Master," Anakin apologised, yet again. "I just wanted to get moving a little faster."
"Well, this isn't a podrace," Obi-Wan said sternly. "This speeder shouldn't even be capable of going that fast with its speed capabilities."
"I might have done a bit of tinkering before we left," Anakin confessed, keeping his eyes focussed forward to avoid his master's disappointed glare.
Obi-Wan shook his head and decided not to continue the conversation further, for the sake of his dwindling sanity and patience. "Perhaps we should start with the lesson," Obi-Wan suggested. "Let's start with overtaking. You must make sure you have enough space to overtake safely and watch for traffic in the skylane beside you, especially if the vehicles are travelling in the opposite direction. If your speeder is equipped with indicators, it is wise to use them, even though people tend not to. I think it's that switch there." He gestured to a cylindrical switch positioned beside the control joysticks. Now, when I tell you, I want you to very carefully... ANAKIN!" Obi-Wan felt the speeder shoot up straight into the air, then descend rapidly to slot in front of the speeder he had instructed Anakin to overtake. The driver of the speeder now behind them cursed wildly.
"Sorry about that, Master," Anakin apologised instantly, before his master had the opportunity to chastise him. "I thought that method of overtaking might be more effective. It suits the name better, when you think about it. You go over the vehicle in front, instead of going around them. Don't worry, I'll try it your way now." He flicked on the speeder's indicator and skilfully manoeuvred his way around the vehicle in front of them. "Was that okay, Master?" Anakin asked innocently, turning his head momentarily to face Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan stared in shock, his mouth agape. He was still recovering from Anakin's wild first attempt at overtaking, and now his padawan had performed the manoeuvre perfectly. "Yes, uh, that was perfect," Obi-Wan stuttered, deciding it was better to remain positive and compliment his padawan's successful attempt. We can discuss all his mistakes in one big lecture... I mean, reflection, at the end of the lesson, he told himself.
"Master, I've been thinking," Anakin began. "Is it really necessary that I get a speeder licence? If I needed to fly a speeder, couldn't I just borrow one without anyone knowing and fly it anyway?"
"By borrowing, you mean stealing," Obi-Wan responded. "And if you were caught doing that, you would be charged with both theft and flying without a licence. This way, you'd only receive one fine, not two."
Anakin nodded. "Fair point, Master," he said agreeably. "So, what are you going to teach me next?"
"We're going to try changing into a skylane below us," Obi-Wan informed him. He clutched the side of the speeder in early preparation for Anakin's next absurd move. "What you need to do is look for a gap in the traffic, but be sure to maintain your speed, which shouldn't be a challenge for you. When it's safe, descend carefully into the... ANAKIN! What did I just say?!" It felt as if his stomach rose up into his throat, as they plunged down into the traffic below, the speeder in a completely vertical position. Obi-Wan tightened his grip on the side of the speeder and closed his eyes. Please don't let me die like this, he silently pleaded. I think I deserve to go out with a bit of dignity. I can see it on my tombstone now: 'Here lies Obi-Wan Kenobi, who plunged to his death after being flung from a speeder and splattering all over the ground in the Coruscant Underworld. May he rest in peace.
At last, the speeder slowed, regained its horizontal position, and began travelling with the normal flow of traffic. Obi-Wan's heart pounded in his chest. "You passed the theory examination with flying colours... so I know you're not stupid," he stammered breathlessly. "So do you enjoy blatantly ignoring the rules, or do you genuinely want me to die?"
Anakin looked at Obi-Wan, a grave expression on his face. "Don't say things like that, Master. I care about you. I promise, I would never fly dangerously enough for you to end up thrown from the speeder."
"Yes, but your frightening recklessness is enough to induce a heart attack," Obi-Wan responded, running his hands through his hair.
"My timing is always perfect though, you must admit," Anakin bragged, a smile returning to his face.
"What you call perfect timing, I call a very near miss, or a brush with death," Obi-Wan replied. He glanced down at his wrist chrono. "We better finish the lesson there. Looks like I'm going to be a bit late for my meeting with Master Yoda."
"No you won't!" Anakin exclaimed cheerfully. "Don't worry, Master. I'll get you there on time. I know a short cut." He slammed his foot down on the accelerator and zoomed off. He began to skilfully weave his way through the traffic. Within five minutes, they were parked outside of the Jedi temple. Anakin turned to look at Obi-wan. The man's hair stood up almost straight. He clung to the side of the speeder so tight that his knuckles glowed white. He seems to struggle to catch his breath. "Are you okay, Master?" Anakin asked, concerned.
"I'm alive," Obi-Wan mumbled at last, still in shock from the sudden high speed journey. "I was going to suggest we you try reverse parallel parking, but why do that we you can just come to a skidding halt outside your destination?" he commented sarcastically. He tried to stand up to get out of the speeder, but his legs shook too vigorously for him to remain upright.
"Are you coming, Master?" Anakin called, jumping out of the cockpit.
"No, I think I'll just sit here for a while," he replied, closing his eyes in an attempt to relax.
"Well, thank you for the lesson. I can't wait for the next one! I'm sure I'll be ready for that licence examination in no time," Anakin said excitedly.
Obi-Wan rested his head in his hands. His moment of peace was suddenly disturbed by the sound of a vehicle pulling up behind him, followed by someone tapping on the side of the speeder.
"Excuse me, sir," the person, dressed in a Coruscant Security Officer uniform greeted him. "Your vehicle was seen travelling significantly over the speed limit. I'm afraid I'm going to have to issue you with a speeding fine."
Obi-Wan let out a long sigh and gracefully accepted the ticket. Anakin is going to pay for this.