As they came closer to their ship they noticed that the main doors were open and the lights were on inside. Thinking that Watto had double-crossed them Esoom started running towards the ship. Suddenly he tripped and fell into a shallow trench that was not there when they left that morning. Moving as fast as he could Patches whistled in shock thinking his master may have been shot. Esoom quickly stood half way up and waved a hand at Patches to be quiet. Esoom pulled himself out of the trench and looked around. The trench was not a trench at all but four tank like tread marks made by some huge machine.
“Patches, use your life form scanner to see if anyone is still on the ship.” Esoom whispered.
One of the multi colored astromech’s top dome panels opened up and a small device came shooting up and started scanning the area. “Just one small life form, it seems to be in one of my traps that pinned it on the ceiling.” The droid softly chirped.
“Let’s go then, but be careful, they might be armed.” Esoom said.
As they approached the main ramp they noticed a small brown robed creature hanging upside down from the ceiling with one of its legs caught in a metal cable that Patches had set up. It was holding a battle droid arm in its hands whacking furiously at the cable yelling in some high pitched voice neither of them could understand. Suddenly the creature noticed them and looked at them with shinny sparkling eyes.
“Ny shootogawa! Ny shootogawa!” The little robed creature said. “Eyeta, Eyeta!”
“ Who are you? What are you doing on our ship!” Esoom said with much distain.
“Ikee eyeta” the creature said as Esoom noticed its eyes were really yellow gems in a black faced mask.
“I have no clue what you are saying! Can you speak basic?”
“Nyeta” the little creature said shaking its head in a no direction the best it could for being upside down.
“Well can you understand what I am saying?” Esoom asked.
“Ibana, Ibana!” It said shaking its head yes.
“If I let you down will you not try to run away?”
“Ibana, Ibana!” It said shaking its head yes again.
“Patches. Let our guest down......slowly.” Esoom said. The astromech then went to a panel and pushed a few buttons. The creature was lowered a little to fast to the floor and hit with a small thud.
“Nekkel juuvar obwegadada!” It said loudly as it got up shaking the droid hand at Patches.
“Now what are you doing on our ship?” Esoom asked more sternly this time.
“M'tuske Opakwa. Ashuna Jar k’osa Upezzo.” It said.
“ I still don’t understand?” Esoom said.
“Yukusu kenza keena?” It said tilting its head.
“ It is getting late and cold. How about we figure this out in the morning little fella.”
“Ibana! Oko! Shanay pibboz Taa baa.” It said shaking its head yes.
“Good, that cable stays on your leg for now just incase. Patches close the door and keep an eye on our guest tonight. I am going to go make sure all the parts are still here and go to the bridge and check in on the pilots. Then I'm going to get some sleep.” Esoom said as he walked to the rear of the ship and went up the lift.
Patches then closed the main doors and dimmed the lights.
“A beton nya mombay m'bwa!” The yellow-eyed thing said as it pulled a restraining bolt out of it’s robes and inched closer to the astromech.
Patches saw the device in it’s gloved hand and quickly pulled a large pruning sheer out of one of his panels with the blades opened pointing it directly at it’s neck. The robed creature dropped the device and backed away slowly. It then proceeded to a notch in the wall pulling the cable behind it and sat down with its head propped up with its hands.
After a while Patches could not tell if it was awake or sleeping with the mask on but either way he was going to keep his sensors on him at all times.
When morning finally came Esoom came back down the lift. The creature looked towards the movement of the lift and stood up. As Esoom reached the bottom there was a faint knocking sound at the main doors. Patches cracked the doors open a hair to see whom it was and heard Watto’s voice. He opened the doors a little more to let the Toydarian in and shut the door behind him. By that time Esoom was near the doors and greeted Watto with a handshake.
“Why have you not gotten the parts ready for the Hutts?” Watto asked.
“We found a trespasser last night and don’t know what to do with him. His friends seemed to have left him here.” Esoom replied pointing to the creature behind him.
“A Jawa! They are nothing but trouble! Did they take any of the droid parts?” Watto said as he glared at what he called a Jawa.
“Everything seems to be here, Patches caught this one by surprise.”
“That is a pretty smart droid you got there. Most Jawas would have any other droid stripped for parts by now.” Watto said laughing as he flew over to the Jawa. “Stinkin Jawas! Always trying to take my profit!”
“Hkeek nkulla.” The Jawa said.
“Watch your mouth or I will ship you to the nearest Tuskin camp!” Watto scorned.
“You know what he is saying?” Esoom said to Watto.
“Yes I do, sometimes they come into my shop to sell stuff they found out in the desert.”
“Could you talk to this one for me and find out why it is here and where his friends are?” Esoom asked.
Watto looked at Esoom then at the Jawa and then back at Esoom with a scowl. He then proceeded to talk with the Jawa for a few moments. “He says his clan found your ship and broke in. They were going to steal everything on your ship to sell at a great swap meet in the desert today so they could fix their sandcrawler and stock up on food. If it were not for your astromech they would have cleaned you out. His clan ran away thinking people were still on your ship and left him here by himself.” Watto said “If I were you I would feed him to the local Raiders me thinks. This one is named Lihp.” “Ask Lihp if his clan took anything.” Esoom said with a little anger behind his voice. Watto then talked to the Jawa some more.
“ He says they did not get anything inside but they did take some parts off your landing gear before the traps went off.” Watto said with a laugh, “These Jawas could strip a Corellian freighter apart in no time if you let them. You have to keep your eyes on them at all times or you will be buying your own stuff back from them.”
“Well in that case tell him that when we are done here he will take me to his clan and help me get my parts back or I will tie him to the bottom of the landing gear to cushion my landing on the next planet I go to.” Esoom said to Watto but looked directly at Lihp when he said it.
Watto told the Jawa and Lihp then screamed at the Ithorian, “Kenza keena. Ibana mambay!”
“It looks like you have a deal but I would not trust him too much. The Hutts will be here soon so we better get the droid parts together.” Watto said.
Right as they got the last of the parts together there was a loud banging outside as if someone was throwing rocks at the hull. Watto yelled, “They are here! We should have been outside to greet them! Hurry and tie Lihp to the ceiling again, I got an idea. Lihp! I want you to play dead as if your life depends on it because it does!” Watto snapped. They quickly tightened the cable and lifted Lihp to the ceiling and opened the doors.
Watto ever the salesman smiled and flew down the ramp to greet their new guests. “Greetings my friends! I am sorry were not outside to greet you but we had some pest control to take care of.” Watto said as he pointed to the motionless Jawa hanging from the ceiling. “Let me introduce you to Esoom Mendo, the Ithorian who is trading the droid parts.”
A Chevin stepped forward from the group and pushed Watto out of the way. “I am Ephant Mon. Jabba is unable to come personally so he sent me in his place. Lucky for you I am a little more patient. I see you had some Jawa trouble, has any of the merchandise gone missing?” “No sir.” Esoom quickly said, “We dealt with them swiftly before they even had a chance to do anything.”
“Good to hear, Jabba would be most displeased if anything has gone missing. My men will start loading the droid parts; your hyper drive is on our skiff. It has been modified to work on your tiny engines and will easily propel it at point one past light speed as long as you don’t weigh it down to much.” Ephant Mon said looking at Esoom with much curiosity.
As Ephant’s henchmen switched the goods around he kept staring at Esoom out of the corner of his eyes. “Is there something wrong? Why do you keep looking at me like that?” Esoom asked as he stiffened up.
“Have you ever met a Jedi before?” Ephant blatantly asked.
“No I have not. Why do you ask?”
“Nothing, just that I sense the presence of untapped power within you.” The Chevin said quietly as to not let Watto or his men hear, “You could become a very wealthy smuggler if you tapped into it.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about?” Esoom said questionably.
“Oh but I’m sure you will find out soon enough!” The Chevin said laughing to himself. “If I did not know of this I would take you as a weak fool who I would not think twice to take advantage of.” The Chevin said as he turned around and yelled at his men installing the hyper drive inside the ship, “Make sure that thing works properly boys or I will turn you into a chew toy for Jabba‘s pets! This Ithorian is no fool, do it right!” Turning back to Esoom he continued to talk. "Your underlying anger could prove to be your downfall my friend. Make sure you do not let it control you. You may want to make Coruscant your next stop after leaving this dust bowl and seek out the Jedi.”
“Are you saying you can see the Force in me?” Esoom whispered quietly as to make sure no one heard him.
“I am saying that if you tell anyone that I was the one that told you I will kill you. Understand!” The Chevin said as he puffed himself up.
“Ok! Ok! I got it! No need for hostilities.” Esoom said as he took a step back.
Soon Ephant Mon’s men were done loading the skiff and installing the hyper drive. The Chevin went back to his skiff as Esoom, Patches and Watto stood on the loading ramp of the Tree Hugger.
“Pleasure to do business with you, let us know if you come across any more battle droids.” The Chevin said as the skiff started to turn around and move away. “By the way, your dead Jawa is not fooling anyone! Next time you lie to me I will not take it so lightly!” The skiff then darted off back towards town.
“That was a close one me thinks” Watto said trying to hold back a grin, “Mon is not one that likes to be lied to.”
“Thank you Watto for your help, you’re not as bad as you try to make yourself seem.” Esoom said as he held out his hand.
“Keep it to yourself Ithorian! I have enough troubles already!” Watto yelled as he swatted Esoom’s hand away. “But seeing as you helped me with the shop and helped me get a few debts paid I will stay for a bit and teach you some basic Jawaese.”
All of the sudden Patches dropped the Jawa to the floor with a big thud. “Sabioto! Nekkel juuvar obwegadada! Hkeek nkulla!” Lihp yelled as he jumped up and down shaking his fists at the droid.
“Well I am not going to repeat what he just said! That is for sure!” Watto said and they all started to laugh at the Jawa.
Some time later Watto left without saying goodbye and Esoom, Patched, and Lihp took off to the desert for parts unknown following the hyperactive Jawa’s directions to where he said the Swap meet would be. The ships landing gear flapping in the wind as they went.
Next land of a thousand Jawas!