The Tree Hugger glided smoothly over the hot desert sands of the planet casting a huge looming shadow as it went. Soon Lihp had them within sights of the huge swap meet in the distance. The sun was gleaming off the rusty hulls of the many Sandcrawlers that came together in a half semi circle; the other half of the circle contained small craft and speeders from many worlds. On the inside of the circle were many tents and canopies selling and trading the many items the Jawas had scrounged together.
“Lihp, use the outside speaker system to tell your friends we are just here to trade and we mean them no harm” Esoom said in Jawaese. Lihp then jumped up on a console and spoke into the loud speaker system.
“Jawa clans- be no afraid- Lihp bring friends to trade and buy things- Jawas no need to run.” Lihp said over the speaker. Even with the announcement most of the Jawas and other aliens ran for cover as the mammoth ship approached.
The droid pilots found a small space in between some ships and landed. The C-9979’s wings cast a huge but cooling shadow across the center of the circle. The landing gear made a loud clunk as it set down in the sand from the missing and loose parts the Jawas had stripped from it earlier.
“Lihp’s clan not in trouble- just give ship parts back- no trouble- owner then buys or trade droid things.” Lihp said as the ship started to power down.
The main doors of the Tree Hugger opened wide for all to see. Lihp stood at the front of the group with Esoom and Patches right behind him. Lihp then shouted out loud towards the sandcrawler on the right side. “Utinni!”
Faintly you could hear the sound of many Jawas shouting “Utinni!” In the distance. Eight Jawas emerged from under one of the sandcrawlers caring the stripped parts from Esoom’s landing gear above their heads.
“Lihp promise no Jawa will strip giant man’s ship- Lihp go help put parts back on- thank you for no shooting Lihp.” Lihp said as he walked down the ramp to join his clan in returning the stolen parts back to the ship. “Come along Patches; let’s go look around. We might even find some of the other parts we need to finish you up.” Esoom said. Patches whistled happily in return, the two of them then went walking around looking at all the odds and ends that were being offered. The two of them could not believe the range of parts and junk the clans of Jawas had put together.
One particular dealer was a light blue colored Squib who happened to have a few astromech parts Patches needed. Esoom haggled for a while and ended up trading a handful of the droid repair tools that were aboard the ship for a brand new front holo projector, a radar lens that is not all cracked up, and a crate full of restraining bolts that would work on their pilot droids as a back up just incase the new programming did not work. Patches and Esoom then went back to the ship to check on Lihp and the other Jawas and to install the restraining bolts.
When they got to the ship the Jawas had just got done putting the landing gear back the way it was.
“Thank you for returning my ship back the way it was. Why would steel in the first place Lihp? Your people seem to be passive by nature?” Esoom said.
“Jawas steal to eat- hubba gord not plentiful anymore- Jawas starving.”
“Esoom we could maybe clone their food source to help them out.” Patches said to Esoom.
“That is a good idea Patches!” Esoom remarked, ”Liph, can I have one of your Hubba gourds to see if I can make more of them?”
Liph replied, “Hubba getting low- clan can not spare- not food you would like.”
“I do not want it to eat myself. I want to see if I can make more.”
“Lihp trust giant- give you hubba-trust friend give back.” The Jawa said as he ran threw the sand to his clan’s sandcrawler.
“Come on Patches; let’s get these bolts put on the Pilots.” They went inside the ship and up to the bridge where the pilot droids were still welded to the floor. “Ok you pilot droids; you have been stuck to the floor for a while now. Is one of you considered to be the leader of your group?”
“Roger, Roger!” Came the voice from the pilot at the main flight controls. “ Once our former commander was destroyed I have been reluctantly in charge only because I am the oldest unit here.” “Good. Does your group have any plans of highjacking this ship if I let you roam freely?” Esoom asked the leader droid.
“If we were we would have already done it. You forgot to power down the bridge controls this last time you left.”
Patches let out a loud whistle when he realized he did not shut down the controls.
The blue pilot droid continued talking, “Other than the fact that we are welded to the floor you have treated us better than our former masters and do not wish to return even if we could.”
“Thank you for the compliment, I am going to install these restraining bolts on all of you and unstick you from the floor. Except for you I want all of you to stay on the bridge until I say so. Understand?” Esoom said as he tried to look every droid in the eye at least once.
“Rodger, Rodger!” They all said in unison and saluted their Ithorian master.
“Patches, will you do the honor of freeing them from the floor after I pop on all the bolts.” Esoom said. After Esoom got done putting all the bolts on, Patches proceeded to cut the pilots free with a cutting wheel disk located in one of his body panels. He started with the leader first so Esoom could talk with him away from the other pilots.
Esoom and the leader pilot left the bridge to go talk away from rest of the other OOM pilots.
“ I want to color your group with something so you will not be mistaken for Trade Federation Droids. I also want to put an extra marking on you so you stand out from the group.” Esoom said to the droid.
“What did you have in mind?” The OOM series droid asked.
“When I find the same brown that Patches needs I will use the extra to paint the center part of all your chest plates. I was also wondering what other part on you you would like painted brown so you stand out from the others.”
The droid thought to itself for a moment and then spoke up. “The top and back of my head will work.”
“Good, then it is decided. Just remember that Patches is still second in command unless he or I say otherwise. Understand?”
“So what is your designation Pilot?” Esoom asked.
“I am pilot number 4791” the droid said.
“Well that won’t do at all. I can not go around calling you all by your number designations all the time. It would get very confusing.” Esoom explained. “We will have to come up with a name for you sometime soon.”
“Yes sir.” The droid said.
“I am also going to need you to.......”Esoom started to say as Liph came running up.
“Lihp have hubba! Give to giant friend-hope makes more!” Lihp said as he came running up all excited holding a round and yellowish orb. Lihp then handed it to Esoom.
“Number 4791 please go retrieve my potted plant from the bridge and carefully bring it to the left front wing.” Esoom said
“Roger, Roger.” the droid said and walked away.
Esoom took the gourd to one of the many workbenches in the left front wing; Liph followed with much curiosity. Esoom then proceeded to tap the gourd on the edge of the table and the orb split in two. He pulled the two halves apart; the stringy inner fibers tried to hold together with no evale, looking inside the bottom halve he could see it was filled with a watery liquid. After taking samples of the fluid and the stringy pulp he handed the two halves back to Liph. The Jawa then ran off to the far corner of the wing and sat down facing away from Esoom. The Ithorian could not really see what he was doing but did see the Jawa set his black inner mask inside the one halve of the hubba that had the fluid in it so the fibers would soak up the juices. Just then the head pilot droid came in holding the plant from Naboo.
Esoom took the plant and gently put it on the table, he proceeded to take some of the topsoil from the container and put it into a small tray that had many small compartments that used to be used for holding small droid parts. Liph came back with his head recovered and climbed onto the table and sat down again to watch Esoom work. Esoom carefully worked like a skilled surgeon while gently chanting to himself. Soon Patches came down from the bridge and lent Esoom a hand without having to be asked. The two of them worked together as if they were one. The soothing chanting coming from the Ithorian soon made the Jawa fall asleep, the battle droid just looked on with no clue of what they were doing. Later that afternoon all the work was done, Esoom woke Liph up startling him in the process. “Easy my friend, I have good news. Your Hubba has been succefully reproduced, The new orbs quickly rooted into the soil that I used. Your gourds have adapted well in the hot dry Tattooine climate. As soon as I planted the specimens new roots started to grow in the soil sucking up all the moisture. We can plant them tomorrow in a spot were they will continue to grow.”
“Lihp’s clan will be happy! Lihp go tell others- I come back in morning- show were we find hubbas.” The Jawa said happily. “Giants never helped Jawas before unless they have mystic powers. Thanks.” Without waiting for a reply Liph ran back to the lift.
“Did you want to go back out to the swap meet Esoom?” Patches asked.
“No my friend I think I will take a nap. You can go out if you like.”
“What if the other Jawas try to steal me?” Patches beeped out.
“Let me think.” Esoom said as he glanced around the wing of the ship. Soon he spotted a Battle droid blaster under another workbench and went to pick it up. “4791 will act as your bodyguards while you are out there.” He said throwing the blaster to the pilot.
“I am a pilot not a security unit.” The droid said as it fumbled with the weapon.
“All you have to do is act like you know what you’re doing with the blaster. Besides do you think I would give you a blaster that works?” The Ithorian said with a grin.
The battle droid pilot looked at the gun closely and finally noticed that the weight of the gun was very light. Most of the insides were used to fix other guns back on Naboo.
“You two have fun but stay out of trouble. 4791, listen to Patches and do what he says.” Esoom added. “Check in with me in a few hours.”
Patches whirled around excitedly and bolted for the lift. The Pilot leader being a little confused stood there for a moment then rushed to catch up to the astro droid almost dropping the gun in the process.
Esoom smiled to himself as if he where the proud parent of Patches instead of his owner for a few moments and then went to find a spot to get some rest.
Next; the stow away!