The Part He’s Looking For
“C’mon, Windy. Get it in gear, will ya?”
“I don’t know, Luke,” Windy said as he climbed out of the passenger side of his friend’s landspeeder. “These swoop-bikers look like a tough bunch. See what I mean?” he finished as a muscle-bound biker with a spiky-helmet buzzed by, nearly knocking him to the floor of the arena.
Luke eyed the swoop jockeys and their highly-modified bikes as they kicked up dust and rattled his eardrums. “We won’t be here long,” he yelled over the noise, grabbing Windy’s, pulling him out of the way of another biker. “Biggs said that this would be a good place to find the part we need for the skyhopper.”
“Yeah,” Windy shouted at his friend as he followed him toward the arena’s garage. “But he said that he’d rather lose to Fixer than come here looking for parts. Even Biggs was scared of these swoopers.”
Luke made a doubtful face. “Biggs wasn’t scared of Tuskens, do you really think he’d be scared of a bunch of laser-brained nerf-herders like--- Oof!” The farm-boy fell on his backside after walking into what he thought was a perma-crete wall.
“You lookin’ fur somtin’?” A Gotal the size of a sandcrawler asked, his silhouette blocking out Tatooine’s twin suns.
Windy’s feet suddenly turned to stone, “Luke?”
Luke raised a hand to ward off any more questions while he recovered his breath. “I’m, I’m looking for some parts for a T-16 skyhopper,” he said, still sitting in the sand.
“Huh. I was hopin’ youse was lookin’ fur trouble,” the Gotal said in an eerie, emotionless tone.
“No, no, no.” Luke shook his head adamantly. “Just ‘hopper parts. I heard I might find some here, cheap.”
“Back in the garage, ask for old man Banai. If he’s not there, check the bar. He might be tryin’ to get at old lady Spice.” The Gotal walked away without another word.
Luke never felt so grateful to feel the suns on his face.
While the garage beneath the arena was considerably cooler and shadier than outside, it was considerably louder due to the engine-noise echoing off the walls. “You going to ask around for this Banai person, or are we just passing through?” Windy yelled into Luke’s ear as they passed several riders and mechanics working on their machines.
“I don’t think we have to.” Luke pointed to the garage’s far end where pieces of swoops, speeders, ‘hoppers and podracers sat stacked up against the wall. A dark-haired man stood in the middle of the collection, vigorously cleaning what appeared to be the exact part Luke was looking for. “This is going to be easier than I thought.”
Luke took a moment to look over the parts on display, trying not to look too eager, weaving his way between the handful of other customers before addressing the man. “Are you Banai?”
The man put the part down and tucked the rag he was using into his back pocket after wiping his hands with it. “Call me Kitster,” he said, presenting his hand.
“Luke,” the farm-boy replied, taking the proffered hand and shaking it.
The man seemed to have an eternal weariness in his eyes, but a sparkle appeared when he smiled. “What can I do for you?”
“Is that an R-type recycling valve?” Luke said, pointing to the part Kitster had just put down.
“Good eye.” Kitster retrieved the part and handed it to Luke. “I’ve had that for months. Don’t get much interest in skyhopper parts around here. Rough neighborhood.”
“So we’ve noticed,” Windy interjected before returning to his own inspection of the collection of parts.
Luke moved his fingers carefully over the freshly polished part, his fingertips searching for cracks. A clean, undamaged valve would help get him more air to the fuel-system there by getting him more power to his ‘hopper. “How much are you asking?”
Kitster shrugged. “It’s been cluttering up my inventory, so I’ll take 25 for it.”
Luke clenched his teeth. “15?”
“20 it is,” Kitster smiled, offering his hand again.
Kitster laughed. “As an old Toydarian said to me, ‘Tricks don’t work on me, boy, only money.’”
Luke reached into a pocket on his belt and grudgingly handed the man his money. “Come on, Windy. I’m going to watch Fixer eat canyon-wall in my rear-viewscreen with this in my ‘hopper,” he said, lifting the valve triumphantly.
Windy shook his head. “You’re crazy, Skywalker. Crazy with a capital ‘C’.”
Kitster’s head snapped up. “Skywalker?”
He reached out to call the boy back, but a firm hand grabbed his wrist.
“Hello there. Can you help me? I’m looking for a part for my interior cooling system. Would this part work?”
Kitster’s eyes clouded as he turned to help the old man in the brown cloak, his previous customer already forgotten.