At first glance it just looked like a small dome set in the sand, hardly big enough for one let alone three. Lisa then realized that most of the homestead was located underground to protect the inhabitants from the scorching heat of the day and chilly temperatures at night. A lone figure stood beside the dome, holding a lamp up against the encroaching darkness and glancing around.
“Uh oh…” Luke muttered. “I’m in for it, now.”
Lisa was going to ask, but then she was hit with a wall of intense emotions: concern, anger, annoyance, dread. It seemed to be coming from the person waiting for Luke’s return.
He decelerated on their approach to the homestead so their tow wouldn’t crash into them and Lisa could now see that the person standing there was the man from the memories Luke had projected to her while they had been talking earlier.
He was older than Luke with short, brown hair that was graying with age, blue eyes, a plain tunic, and wearing a severe frown on his face.
“What did you think you were doing?” the man demanded of her companion. “It’s dangerous out there at night and – ” That was when he noticed Lisa and his frown grew deeper. “Who’s this?”
“Uncle Owen, remember I told you I thought I saw something crash?” Luke asked. “It was her ship that went down. This is Lisa.”
“Hello,” she said meekly. There were a lot of hostile thoughts coming from Owen’s mind, but she couldn’t yet be sure if it was because he was distrustful of her or if it was something more.
“I couldn’t leave her out in the desert,” his nephew explained. “You said so yourself it’s dangerous out there at night. I’m towing her ship so I can take it to Anchorhead tomorrow to be fixed. I thought she could stay in the extra room tonight.”
“Oh, you did, did you?” said Owen. He eyed Lisa again, from her wings to her face, seemingly scrutinizing her. Thankfully, now that she was there and Luke already had the ship attached to the landspeeder, he couldn’t just throw her out into the desert alone. “Fine, but I don’t want you slacking off on your chores because of some girl.”
Although Lisa didn’t take offense at being referred to as such, she sensed Luke was a bit annoyed at his uncle’s words, but he decided not to argue anymore. “I won’t,” he said in a resigned kind of voice.
“Thank you, sir, for letting me stay.” She felt it was in her best interest to be as polite as possible.
Owen just grunted. “Get that thing in the garage.”
Luke breathed easier the moment his uncle went back inside. He slowly brought the landspeeder over a circular indent in the sand and pressed a button on the transport’s control panel. There was a whoosh as fans activated to blow away the sand collected on top, and then a slight bump as the ground started to lower the elevator down.
“So that was your uncle, huh?”
He sighed and rubbed the back of his head. “I’m sorry about him. He doesn’t trust off-worlders.”
“I got that impression, yeah.”
A cover extended over the hole in the ceiling to keep out the night. When the landspeeder finished its decent, Lisa discovered that garages were universally messy and filled with junk. There was a work bench with parts and tools strewn about and an empty tub in the back. It also held an odd-looking ship in one corner and a larger landspeeder-like ship in another.
Once their transport was parked, Luke and Lisa hoisted Treads off the landspeeder and onto the ground. They left the junked ship attached for easy towing in the morning. While Luke went to set up the oil bath for the droid, Lisa sat down on the small seating area. She removed her satchel from her neck and placed it next to her.
He returned a few moments later carrying some tools in his hand, explaining that he was going to clean Treads before letting him soak in the oil bath. He didn’t have the resources to get all the rust off, but he promised to do his best.
While he was doing that, Lisa took it upon herself to try to clean the cots in the sleeping quarters of her new ship. Since water was a limited resource on this planet, she took the mattresses outside and beat the dust off of them with a large hammer. She finished them off with a bottle of fabric sanitizer Luke told her his aunt used on their own bedding. He was just settling Treads into his bath when she hauled the mattresses back in and he came over to help her prop them up in a corner of the garage to air dry.
They had to wait for Treads to finish soaking before Luke could finish cleaning him, so Lisa made her way to the seating area while Luke put away the tools he didn’t need. Upon sitting down, she accidentally knocked over her satchel, tossing the gadget within to the floor.
“Oops…” She reached for it but Luke picked it up first.
“Where’d you get this?” he asked.
“Treads made me take it out of the junkyard.”
In the bath, the droid beeped an affirmative.
“Any idea what it is?” she wanted to know.
Luke turned the device over in his hands. “It’s an old translator module.” An idea pinged in his mind. “Oh, he probably wanted it since you can’t understand Droidspeak.”
Another positive beep from the bath.
His face fell a bit. “Unfortunately, though, these were recalled not long after release because the makers used the wrong alphabet.”
Treads beeped dejectedly, but Lisa asked, “What do you mean?”
Luke held the module out to her so she could see what was left of the letters underneath the dirt. “See?” he asked. “They didn’t use Aurebesh.”
She figured that was the name for the unfamiliar letters she’d seen written on the signs in Anchorhead. Upon closer inspection, she could see what looked like an “M”, a “DE” and a “Y” underneath the grime.
Frowning, she turned towards the bath. “Treads, did you know that this thing used the wrong alphabet for the area?”
The droid shook his head, beeping sadly.
“It’s useless if no one can read it,” said Luke as he started to toss the device away, but Lisa grabbed his hand.
“No, it’s not,” she said. “I can read it!”
She nodded. “Can you get it working?”
“Sure. I can try.”
Luke took the module over to the workbench while Treads beeped excitedly, rocking back and forth just enough to slosh oil onto the floor. Lisa laughed at his antics, then grabbed a rag to mop up the spilled oil so no one would slip and get hurt.
“So you understand this language?” Luke asked as he worked.
“Where I come from, it’s the written form of English – er, Basic.”
He stopped working on the module and looked at her, leaning against the workbench. “You’re really from somewhere far away, aren’t you?”
Her wings twitched. “Yes.” She paused. “Is that okay?”
Luke didn’t answer for a moment, thinking. She could hear his mind throwing out different scenarios, thoughts, and ideas. Having spent his entire life on one planet he seemed fascinated by her and whatever stories she could possibly tell him. He could obviously see her wings, and she’d mentioned her ability to teleport, but he was curious if she could do anything else. To her, it seemed like he wanted her to stick around for a while even after her ship and droid were repaired.
“Yeah,” he finally answered with a smile.
She smiled back and he continued working on the translator module. Treads’ oil bath was finished before the repair was, so Luke instructed Lisa on how to drain the tub and wipe up the excess oil. The droid was already looking slightly better than he had now that he’d been cleaned and had a good soak; most of his components were still broken, of course, but at least some of the rust was gone.
“You look good,” she told the droid as she toweled him off. “Nice job, Luke.”
Her new friend smiled at the praise, then realized he needed a tool from the other side of the room. He stood up and crossed the floor to take whatever it was he needed from the other side, but on his way back his boot caught on an oil slick. Although he managed to brace himself on the side of the tub before he fell, the tool in his hand went flying. Acting on instinct alone, Lisa held out her hands and caught the tool with telekinesis.
Luke stared at her and, wings pink and blushing, Lisa slowly levitated the tool back to him. “Well…you wanted to know what else I could do…”
Plucking the tool out of the air, he looked at her. “Including reading minds?”
She made a so-so gesture. “Only the surface thoughts that are projected. It’s…kind of like shouting. Anything more takes a lot of concentration and I wouldn’t do that without permission anyway.”
There was a brief, scary moment where she thought she’d jeopardized her new friendship by having such abilities, but after a few minutes he seemed to take it in stride. He continued repairing the translator module while Lisa cleaned up the oil to prevent further accidents.
“Can you do anything else?” he asked as he worked.
“Um…” For some reason she couldn’t bring herself to lie and say no, thus she proceeded to tell him all about her abilities from being able to shape shift to understanding the language of animals, from better-than-a-human hearing to an extended lifespan. Although he was working on the translator module, she could tell he was listening to every word she was saying. She just hoped that the knowledge wouldn’t scare him off because, deep down, she also wouldn’t mind hanging around once her ship and droid were repaired.
End chapter four.
Back *~*~* Chapter Three *~*~* Chapter Five