'Right. Park over there, Obi.'
Qui-Gon points to a space that's barely big enough to fit a scout ship in, jammed between a Corellian cruiser and the wall of the dock.
'What, in there? But there's no room to swing a – '
'Just do it. And don't overhang the bay, either, I still haven't paid off the last parking ticket.'
'Ooh, meeser so excited to be coming to Tatooine again, is been moy moy long time!' Jar Jar gibbers, jumping up and down, causing the pilot's seat to jerk about. Obi-Wan glares at him.
'Jar Jar, would you mind keeping still for two seconds while I dock this rust-bucket?'
'Oi! Don't you call my ship a rust-bucket!' Qui-Gon retorts indignantly, flicking the landing lights on. One of them promptly explodes. 'Granted, it's not top of the line, but it's not that bad! It still flies... just because it doesn't have those fancy chrome fenders and the extra wide drag shelf... at least I've added go-faster stripes – '
'Go-at-all stripes is more like it. OK, engaging landing thrusters now...'
'Mind the wall – '
'Blast. Sorry Master, I didn't realise we were so close,' Obi-Wan mutters sheepishly. Qui-Gon pinches the bridge of his nose.
'I did say mind the wall, didn't I? Now we're going to have to see Watto again and pretend to bargain for spare parts. Good going, Obi. We've only been here five minutes and we're already neck-deep in trouble.'
'Is weeser there yet? Meeser wanna get outta this tin can!'
'Patience, Jar Jar, we'll get out soon enough. Oh, Master, there's a message coming through from Coruscant. It's from the Council.'
'Probably to tell me I left the lights on at home or some damn thing. Alright, put it on.'
A miniature holograph of Mace Windu appears in the message panel, looking very grumpy.
'Greetings, Master Jinn and Padawan Kenobi. The Jedi Council wishes to know precisely what the hell you're doing on Tatooine when we sent you to Brentaal,' he says testily.
'Sorry, Mace. I fell asleep at the helm and flew right past it. We only really planned to stop here for fuel, but Obi seems to have destroyed my ship while trying to land it – '
'Only because you told me to park in such a tiny space!' Obi-Wan interjects hotly.
'Never mind that,' Mace snaps. 'I assume you're going to be delayed while you repair your sorry excuse for a ship, Qui-Gon?'
'Um. Yes. Depending on whether I can Force-suggest old Watto into giving me a discount on spare parts again. One of the lights blew out and I think we've lost a landing thruster. Could probably use a new paint job while we're at it, actually...'
'That is not an appropriate use of your Jedi powers, Master Jinn!'
'You wouldn't be saying that if you met him, hairy blue pirate that he is,' Qui-Gon mutters darkly. 'Anyway. We'll be a few days late, I'm afraid. I'll try and get it done quickly. Is there anything else?'
'As a matter of fact, there is. I hope you know about the happy occasion next week.'
'Happy occasion? You mean Wookie New Year?'
'No, that's in June.'
'Oh. Right. I knew that. Er... is it Palpatine's Christmas party?'
'No! And don't talk about that, I still haven't got over the last one!'
'Council's annual holiday?'
'Sadly no. It's Master Yoda's 856th birthday.'
'God, is it? I suppose I'll have to get him a present... we'll try and pick up something here or on Brentaal. Thanks for reminding me.'
'No problem. Jedi Council out.'
The message flickers off. Qui-Gon turns to Obi-Wan, scowling.
'Why didn't you remind me? You know how bad my memory is!'
'Sorry Master, I... didn't remember either. Besides, I didn't think Master Yoda would want much in the way of birthday presents.'
'For someone who places no value on personal possessions, he sure kicks up a stink when we don't get him anything. Alright, let's get out of here.'
They clamber down to the access hatch, where Jar Jar is waiting anxiously.
'Meeser trying the door five time, but it no wanna opening! Weeser stuck in here!'
Obi-Wan sighs and punches the emergency door release switch. It makes a horrible noise, but does not release the door as it is supposed to do, according to the helpful little diagram nearby (on which somebody, probably Jar Jar, has drawn moustaches on all the crew members).
'For once I think he's right, Master. Should we cut our way through?'
'What, and ruin a perfectly good door? No. I'll try and short out the locking mechanism. I advise you to stand back if you value your eyebrows.'
Shmi is waiting anxiously by the gates of the dock, eyeing Qui-Gon's rusty little ship. What on earth is taking them so long? They landed about twenty minutes ago! As she watches, the access hatch flies open with a bang and a cloud of sparks, and two men and a Gungan sprawl out, tumbling down the ramp in a swearing heap of bodies. Shmi suppresses a laugh and hurries over to them. Jar Jar bounds upright and practically knocks her over in rather an over-enthusiastic hug.
'Oh, Shmi, meeser so happy to be seeing you again!' he babbles. She untangles his arms from around her neck because he is in danger of strangling her.
'Nice to see you too, Jar Jar. You boys never did learn to do anything quietly, did you?'
She casts her eye over Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon's hair is frazzled and Obi is rather dirty.
'Sorry about that, Shmi,' Qui-Gon says with a wry grin. 'Obi crashed the ship and the door got jammed. How are you doing?'
'Wait a second, how did you know we were coming?' Obi-Wan asks suspiciously. Shmi and Qui-Gon give each other a slightly panicky look.
'Uh... I had a feeling,' Shmi stammers. 'My trouble radar started flashing, and I knew that was either Ani or you three coming to pay me a surprise visit. Yeah. My trouble radar, that's it.'
Obi-Wan looks politely bemused, and Qui-Gon raises an eyebrow at her. Good save, his eyes tell her. Oh God, she thinks, the idiot hasn't even told him. This is going to be awkward.
'Well,' she says brightly. 'You must be tired after your journey. Come on back to my place and I'll cook some dinner.'