Before they left Anchorhead, Luke asked Lisa if she needed to pick up anything while they were there. After thinking a moment, she agreed that she could use a few more changes of clothes and a hairbrush. Upon her request, Luke took her back to the first stall she’d visited upon arriving on this planet: Rasse Cymas’ clothing stand.
The old woman was folding clothes when they arrived and she seemed delighted to see Lisa when they walked in, shuffling over to her and taking her hands. “Oh, you came back! What can I do for you?”
“I’ll be staying for a while so I’ll need some more clothes.”
“Of course, dear. Help yourself.”
Luke waited patiently while Lisa searched the racks and clothing piles for a couple more outfits. As she picked out suitable tunic tops for purchase, Rasse snatched them up and immediately began sewing in wing slits for her, which Lisa thought was a very kind gesture. After a bit she had procured three new outfits (still in the same shade of tan) to go with the one she was already wearing and this time was allowed to pay the old woman for her service. She even put in a little extra for the alterations and what she’d gotten on her previous visit.
After stuffing the new clothes into her satchel and bidding Rasse goodbye, Lisa and Luke left and he took her to another stall selling various hair care items including brushes, one of which she bought and also stored in her satchel. Although she could sense Luke was getting nervous at how long they’d spent in town rather than working, he still took the time to get her a few other essentials necessary to living in the desert.
Once the shopping was finished, they headed back to the homestead. She hadn’t purchased anything that could spoil in the heat, so she stowed everything in the landspeeder while they set to work.
Moisture farming, she found out, consisted of the regular maintenance of the sixty-three vaporators stationed around the area. Luke explained to her that the cylindrical vaporators used a low power ion field and cooling bars to cool the air near the two so that when water condensed out of the chilled air it would collect on the bars and be filtered and funneled into an interior collection unit. The collected water was then purified and sent to an underground storage unit where it was either used by the family or sold for profit. The droids – WED Treadwells like Lisa’s droid but without the “malfunction” of a personality from being left on too long, and a bipedal droid Luke called an EG-6 Power Droid – were supposed to function like mobile toolboxes and a power supply, however her friend quipped that they needed just as much if not more maintenance as the vaporators did. They worked on a few of them in their travels around the homestead.
Luke explained to her that, according to his uncle, this farm had been in his family for three generations. Owen’s grandparents had left it to his father who in turn left it to Owen and Beru. When Lisa inquired about Luke’s own parents, he got quiet for a moment, mind churning.
“I’ve lived with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru all my life,” he said. “I never knew my mother…and my father was a navigator on a spice freighter during the Clone Wars and was lost.”
He managed a smile at her. “It’s okay. Hand me the spanner, will you?”
A “spanner” was a “wrench” where Lisa came from and she searched the toolkit for something resembling one. It wasn’t until she saw a picture of the thing in Luke’s mind that she realized she was looking for some kind of multitool instead of a single wrench. She found it after a moment and passed it to him.
Being out in the desert repairing the vaporators gave Luke and Lisa a chance to talk privately. He told her about growing up here on Tatooine, working the moisture farm, flying the odd ship she’d seen in the garage he called a “Skyhopper”. He told her about Fixer and Camie and about his friend Biggs who had gone off to the Academy not long ago.
“What is this ‘Academy’ anyway? Like a school?”
“It’s a training program run by the Galactic Empire. No, I’m not joining the Empire!” He seemed adamant that he make that very clear. “Nothing like that. There are defectors that join the Rebellion and I’m sure with Biggs already there he can get me in.”
“Exactly!” It was a little scary how his eyes lit up at the prospect. “Life on this planet is so…boring! I want adventure! I want to make a difference!” He then visibly deflated. “But my uncle keeps saying he needs my help here. I want to see the places I’ve only seen in pictures or heard in stories and he won’t let me. He barely even lets me spend time with my friends.”
“From what I can sense, he has his reasons. I just can’t tell what those reasons are. He has his feelings buried so deep down I can’t get a read on them. Even when he projects, it’s mostly concern about your safety. He worries about you.”
Luke murmured to himself. “At least I know he cares,” he said quietly.
Hearts breaking a little, she reached over and put her hand on his shoulder. He met her gaze and she smiled at him. Chuckling, he smiled back and finished the repair on the vaporator they were working on.
Once the repair was complete, Lisa stood up and stretched, extending her wings to their full span. Luke gazed up at her, mind whirling.
Naturally she heard him. Reaching the summit of a small junk heap was one thing, but actually gaining any kind of usable altitude in this atmosphere was another altogether. She was going to have to make an extra effort to grant his unspoken request.
“It’d be easier if there was a breeze,” she responded, “but sure.”
She took off running, beating her wings against the still air. Her shoulders ached as she finally felt her feet leave the ground and ascended upward. Higher and higher she climbed until she was in a position to do a loop-de-loop and use the dive to gain some momentum. She zoomed through the air for a few minutes, circled around Luke – whom she heard laughing as she buzzed by – then flared her wings to kill her speed so she could come to a landing.
Luke was still grinning as he approached her. “That was amazing!” he gushed, causing her to blush.
“Not really,” she said modestly, wings pink, “but thanks.”
“Seriously,” Luke said as he gathered the tools, putting them in the landspeeder so they could move onto the next unit. “That was some great flying.”
Lisa waved off his praise and helped pack up the landspeeder, jumping inside once everything had been stored. Luke then joined her and piloted to their next destination. They spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon doing repairs on the farm’s vaporators, stopping only when Luke said that it was time to break for lunch. The container of food Beru had given them was full of what looked like vegetable wraps, dried fruits, and a very small container of water. They sat together on the sand in the shadow of the landspeeder to eat.
“So,” Luke asked as he handed a wrap to her, “you told me you could shape shift…into what, exactly?”
“Animals,” she answered, taking the wrap and biting into it, finding it just as good as the other foods Beru had prepared. “But only ones I’m familiar with. Ones I’ve seen in person and been able to touch…and speak to, sometimes.”
“Yes, you did tell me you could understand their language. How does that work?”
She shrugged. “I guess it’s the same as any other second language others don’t understand. You hear barks and roars and whatever, I hear words.”
Luke frowned and he looked like he wanted to say something when there was a high-pitched squeaking coming from behind the landspeeder. They turned to look underneath the hovering vehicle to see several small, bipedal rodents with elongated snouts, horn-like appendages, and pointed tails. Some of the creatures’ horns were thick and curved while others were thin and straight.
“Ugh,” he said, “scurriers. They’re pests.”
Lisa, however, had a different opinion. “Aww, they’re kind of cute.” One of them squeaked. “You’re welcome.”
“But they’re not sentient…?” The rest of his question hung, but she heard his thought process. How can you hold a conversation with a rodent?
“Most animals are smarter than they let on, but since the vast majority can’t communicate with them, they act the way people expect them to: scavengers, pests, whatever. They instinctively know who can understand them and who can’t.” She took some of the dried fruit out of the lunch container and tossed it to the scurriers, who gobbled them up greedily.
“Don’t do that,” warned Luke. “Now they won’t leave us alone.”
“Like I said, smarter than they let on.” Lisa eyed the creatures. “Aren’t you?” The scurriers nodded and squeaked. “So, what can we do for you?”
“Be careful,” Luke tried again. “Their bite can carry disease.”
“Shh, don’t interrupt.”
Luke closed his mouth and watched in amazement at the conversation happening before him, only understanding what Lisa was saying, which was nothing more than “uh huh” and “okay” and “sure”. He actually had to laugh at just how ludicrous the scene was. She then proceeded to pluck a few feathers out of her wings and hand them to the scurriers.
“They want them for their nest.” Lisa explained. “They’re softer than the other materials they usually get.” She then addressed the scurriers. “So, I helped you, now I need you to help me. I need to borrow you for a minute.”
The scurriers squeaked to themselves for a moment, then all of the ones with the thin, straight horns climbed up into her lap in groups of two and three. Luke looked worried as she briefly held the little animals in her hands one by one and then gently set them back down on the ground.
“Thank you.” She fed them more of the fruit and they squeaked and scampered off. She smiled at the dumbfounded look her friend was giving her.
“So, wait…” he said, “so you saw them and touched them and now you can shape shift into a scurrier?”
Lisa nodded. “Got it in one. I don’t know if I’ll never need the form, but I like to have a few indigenous creatures available just in case.”
Luke’s very next thought was to ask her to show him a shifting. Sensing he wouldn’t let it go until she did, she stood up and covered her body with her wings. Her form morphed behind them and as she shrunk down to scurrier size, her wings retracted and disappeared, revealing her completed shift. He gazed down at her in wonder.
“That’s amazing…but you don’t look like any of the ones that were here.”
Now unable to communicate with him, Lisa only shook her head. She then spun around on her hind legs, her wings emerging first and covering her body so that she could shift behind them, returning to her normal form.
“The form I take is a combination of multiples of the same species I’ve come into contact with – in this case, scurriers. The only problem with shifting like that is that I can only communicate with animals, telepaths, or whomever I’m linked to.”
Luke got quiet at her bringing up the link. She’d mentioned it the night before in her listing of her abilities but hadn’t gone into much detail – only saying that it was something that happened between her and another person when they shared mutual feelings for one another.
His thoughts spun unintelligibly around his mind for a moment before he shook his head and stood up. “We’d better get back to work.”
End chapter seven.
Back *~*~* Chapter Six *~*~* Chapter Eight