New Beginnings – pt.IV

Mos Eisley, Tattooine

Three hours sounded like a long time when Noxx had shook hands on this deal. She didn't have a lot to do either; collect her duffel and get to the South Gate. But her stomach started to grumble at the smells of food wafting out of several establishments and the countless street vendors serving whatever vermin they caught the night before. Relenting to the now loud grumbling of her gut she purchases three sticks of mystery meet, slowing her pace a little so she can eat as she walks. Surprisingly it's Womp Rat, one of her favourates. Delighted with her luck she wolfs them down and keeps moving.
She collects her duffel without any issues other than the leering Twilek she returned the key too. He made her trigger finger itch in his presence. But instead she practices her breathing and walks away. A quick check of her map and she makes for the South Gate. Out of hardwired habit she scans her surroundings, mentally taking note of potential dangers as well as just people watching. It was her favorite pastime when stuck planet-side, especially at spaceports. It is also what she does when deep in thought and letting her body work on auto-pilot.
Another block later she spots a modest building facing a small square with icons for preserved rations and fresh foods hanging over the entrance. Noxx, having just realized she has no clue what Weequay actually like to eat and not willing to take a chance on it, changes course and enters the store like it was always her intended destination. Still unsure of the duration of this trip she forgoes the luxury of the fresh meats available and instead dithers over the survival food section. High density food cubes, a spacers primary emergency ration, came in a mind boggling variety. After several minutes she figured out the sorting scheme the store was using and found her favorite brand. Getting enough to last her a several months, in a surprisingly small package, she feels a at least confident she won't starve.

South Gate turns out not to be an actual gate, but a large open square on the south edge of Mos Eisley. Several streets lead into the square which is filled with the temporary stalls of an ever changing bazaar that has occupied South Gate for as long as anyone knows. The desert edges the square and it is along here that livestock are kept on picket lines with speeders and other vehicles parked along the wall outside of the square.
Noxx skirts the edge of the bazaar down one side, wolfing down some more Womp Rat scewers, making for the edge of the square where the ground turns to looser sand before spotting Kaen-Wee on the other side. Standing beside an enclosed heavy speeder truck and almost a dozen other Weequay squatting in front of eight older model swoops. Kaen-Wee is leaning against the truck's side plating watching the bazaar while his companions seem to be deeply engrossed in a game of some form. Taking turns tossing a set of chance cubes and shuffling coins between them on each roll. They are a hard looking bunch and much like Kaen-Wee they all seem to be carrying more ordinance than is customary even for Tattooine. Unlike Kaen-Wee, many of them have piecemeal armour showing under their loose robes. Most of them have those infamous, insanely long barreled, blasters that Weequay seem to love resting near at hand.
She is halfway across the square before Kaen-Wee notices her. He stands up straight and waves one hand. Without a word being spoken the others immediately stop playing, the coins and cubes pocketed, and are all looking straight at Noxx. The combined predatory stares of the group is like a slap of ice water. She falters for a second under that gaze but doesn't stop, hoping the loose sand would hide her hesitation. Almost immediately they ignore her and begin getting the swoops ready and double checking the speeder truck. As soon as they are close enough to talk without shouting she calls out. “I know I'm still early, how long have you been waiting ?”
“Bah! We are enjoying the beautiful weather away from that stink.” He flicks the fingers of one hand towards the city. “We have a long ride ahead of us to go and still we wait for one other little task to be cleared up.” Now standing beside each other beside the speeder truck which, Noxx now sees is armoured underneath it's paneling.
After a closer look Noxx raises her right brow in a silent querry returning her gaze to Kaen-Wee who smiles and winks before shrugging off the query and changing the subject. “We understand you are a good with speeders as ships.” At her nod he continues. “Excellent, we would like you to pilot this tug.” Slapping the speeder truck. “We will guide you and give tell you the wondrous story of how we found our prize. We guarantee the six hours will fly past faster than the sands beneath our repulsors.” Kaen-Wee grandly announces while clapping Noxx's shoulder in his enthusiasm, unaware of the turmoil it stirs in her. Extremely uncomfortable with personal contact Noxx reflexively backs up, her right hand dropping towards her blaster and her features harden into a feral expression. And there she freezes.
Every single Weequay is suddenly focused on her and most already have blasters to hand. Shocked, Kaen-Wee still reacts quickly, holding up both hands and motioning for everyone to calm down. “No offense taken, peace. No offense intended.” He says softly to Noxx as his people stand down but continue to watch her carefully.
Slowly, so as not to escalate things she relaxes her features and moves her hands well away from her weapons. Her face darkening in embarrassment and she can feel the quiver in her voice as she responds. “The apology is mine to give Kaen-Wee. I... dislike being touched and should have made that clear earlier. Please, forgive my reaction.”
Much to her relief the surrounding Weequay turn and go back to getting everything ready as if nothing had happened. Kaen-Wee crouches down to scoop up a handful of sand, standing before tossing it over his shoulder. “Sand on the wind my friend. We will respect that.”
Apologies made and accepted Kaen-Wee's attention turns to something behind Noxx. “Now! We see our stragglers have arrived. Go. Get this tug ready to leave.” He leaves her, walking towards the stalls on the edge of the bazaar.
Noxx takes a quick look back but doesn't see anything immediately of note happily turns her attention to the speeder truck. The cab is a comfortable size, able to hold four passengers plus the pilot and is as old and battered as the outside. Tape being the primary decoration and apparently structure in some spots. Tucking her duffel in a relatively empty cargo panel near the door she settles into the pilot's seat and starts looking over the controls and displays surrounding her. It doesn't take her long at all to familiarize herself with their layout and with a few deft flicks of her hands the all displays light up and the truck hums faintly. The guts of the speeder are obviously in much better condition than it's appearance would indicate, she whistles softly as she scans the power readouts. The whistle becomes a smile as she runs through a more complete check which comes back green across the board.
The cab door clanks and hisses open, startling Noxx out of her admiration. She turns to see Kaen-Wee, another Weequay and two figures bundled up in loose robes. Kaen let's them climb into the back bench before joining Noxx up front, swiveling his chair to address everyone as the door closes. “Introductions.” He announces. “Our pilot, the wonderfully fierce Noxx. Be pleased to meet Oden Bol, our brilliant engineer and mechanic.” The larger robed figure pulls his hood down to reveal an gaunt, older human male with small eyes a tight, mean mouth with hair cropped short. He sits straight and stiff, moving only his head to nod at Noxx, saying nothing.”
“And of course there is Nika Su, our multi-talented computer/technical specialist, astrogator and so much more.” The smaller figure pulls her hood down to reveal a very young, emerald skinned Mirialan woman with strikingly complex tattoos covering the left side of her face. She offers a warmer smile than the human and offers a soft greeting but promptly hides herself with her hooded robe again. The other Weequay ignores them all and goes to sleep the moment he sits down in the back corner.
Not generally comfortable with idle conversations Noxx takes this in good stride and returns her attention to the controls and Kaen-Wee. “All systems are green boss man, all I need is a location and we can dust off.”

< Prev : Episode I.vii (Drones) Next > : New Beginnings – pt.V