A Missing Piece of Kit
By M. Currey ("Speed Freak" MacCurrich)
Far back in the corner of Vigilant's port side hanger bay where a few of the pilots' personal craft were stored, sounds of maintenance echoed quietly. A black haired pilot wearing a green and tan mechanics jumpsuit laid on a dolly face up underneath a matte black X-wing. An R6 droid whistled nearby in observation.
"You're right, Fixer, I did spend a lot of time and credits getting it in fighting shape," Freak replied to the droid.
Fixer chirped a reply.
Freak chuckled. "Yeah, and now I am undoing all that work." Freak strained a bit at a particularly stubborn bolt, but it just wouldn't budge.
Fixer considered what Freak said, then emitted a long concerned whine..
"I know buddy, but my A-wing serves that purpose now. If I'm gonna start racing again, I gotta swap some parts and re-install that SLAM engine. I've got to shave some weight as well, so the guns are coming off, and a bunch of other parts too."
After a brief pause, Fixer retorted with a bunch of sharp sounding bleeps.
Giving up on the stubborn bolt for a moment, Freak slid himself out from underneath the starfighter and glared at the droid. "Wow Fix, That's not a very nice thing to say. I know I've gotten used to the A-wing, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten how to fly this thing," he snapped back at the sassy droid.
A quiet whine issued from the droid, then Freak's glare softened. "Apology accepted. But I wasn't mad," he smiled a bit. ''It was a good dig," he admitted. Reassured, Fixer beeped in relief as Freak slid himself back under the craft.
Finally the last bolt holding the actuator housing in place conceded to Freak's efforts, and the part clattered to the floor with a metallic ring. Now he could install the more powerful one he acquired on his last shoreleave. This aftermarket part was nearly mandatory in racing-converted X-wings; it had faster response time and more power so it could open and close the S-Foils in a split second. This allowed the X-wing to quickly switch modes between turns and shave a few seconds off of lap times with higher speeds and more maneuverability. It was heavier though, so sacrifices elsewhere had to be made. He grabbed the slim diode torch clipped to his belt and shined it into the cavity.
"Let's see what's going on in here, hopefully it's not too gunked up," Freak thought about that for a moment. "You'ld think they wouldn't get so filthy this deep inside the ship, but they always do." A few moments passed as he poked around. "It doesn't seem too bad in here, this might go quicker than I thought." He continued inspecting. Fixer's cognition module whirred, seeming to know what was coming.
"Ah, Blast it!" Freak exclaimed with a metallic echo from underneath the black craft's chassis. "The mounting bracket is cracked! When the hell did that happen?" He let out a deep sigh. "My next shore leave isn't for another two months... I won't be able to get another to replace it before the race." He paused and considered his options for a moment. "I guess I have no choice. I'm gonna have to repair it. Fixer, would you pass me the ion welder?" Freak asked.
Fixer rolled over to the tool caddy and tilted over on his legs to peer inside. He extended his manipulator and shuffled the tools around, his head pivoting back and forth as he searched for it. He whistled a descending note that ended in a sad sounding buzz. Freak rolled the dolly out from under the fighter and sat up. "It's not here?" Freak asked, and paused for a bit. "Well where the heck is it?" Fixer trilled back.
"Yes, I realize you have no idea, it was a rhetorical question," he replied to his metal friend. Freak's brow scrunched and his gaze drifted around aimlessly as he scoured his memory as to where it might be. His expression faded as its whereabouts surfaced. "That's right." He reflected, "I lent it to Frosty when his malfunctioned and burst its power cell. I don't think he was done with it yet. It's probably still over there."
He looked towards where Frosty's A-wing was docked. It was all the way on the opposite end of the hangar by the bay door, nearly half a kilometer away. "Ugh!" Freak groaned, "Guess I'm going for a walk." Freak stood up and stretched, and started wiping the oil and grease off of his hands and face. He figured that while he was up, he might tidy up a bit. Freak always tried to keep a clean workspace, though he didn't always succeed. "Put it away, not down," his father always told him.
Freak became lost in thought as he put each tool in its place, every time he cleaned up his workspace his mind would drift to his father. When Freak was young, not even yet a teenager he would help his father tune up and maintain their freighter. He only got to spend a few years learning life skills from his father before both of his parents died. His mother taught him compassion and empathy (also some slicing) and his father taught him confidence, honor, and mechanics. He didn't realize quite how long he was standing there until he was snapped out of it by the tapping sound of tiny metal feet. A small gray droid on two legs sprinted towards him from across the room.
Parrot was a fast little BD unit, oddly robust for such a small droid. She was dragging the ion welder behind her as she ran over. Once she approached, she leapt up into the air and landed on the tool kart, welder in tow. She clumsily pulled the tool around from behind her with her tiny manipulator and dropped it on the top of the cart in front of her. The tiny droid looked up at Freak and hopped up and down a few times. She chirped and beeped and a small hologram flickered in front of her, an imperial officer yelling at a subordinate. "I heard what you said!" the officer shouted into the face of the crewman. Parrot cut the holo and continued chirping.
"From all the way over there?" Freak asked, glancing at the distant A-wing.
An image of Syntax flickered out of her holo projector. "That is correct." Syntax said in his buzzing metallic voice. She continued her melodic chattering then hopped again.
Freak looked back down to Parrot. Her white rimmed ocular sensors rotated to better focus. "Thanks for fetching it for me."
An annoyed looking Bone with his arms crossed flickered into existence in front of the tiny droid. "Anytime n..." Bone snapped impatiently, though Parrot cut the projection off mid sentence, she chirped again and hopped off the cart. The tiny droid ran around in a tight circle while her head pivoted to remain looking at Freak, then she turned and sprinted off back towards the opposite end of the hanger. Off to do who knows what.
Fixer rolled over to the cart, reached out and took the tool from where it rested, then turned to Freak while he whistled and beeped as he brought it over.
Freak looked down at his metal companion and laughed, then took the offered tool. "No buddy, I see that you found it, but I don't think it counts. She gets the points this time." Fixer's whistle sounded a little sullen. Freak thought it was just a running gag between them and didn't realize that to Fixer, the points were very real, and his tally had grown quite large over the years.
Freak put his goggles back on from around his neck and settled back onto the dolly with a smile. Droid antics always lightened his mood. He slid back under the X-wing, ion welder in hand."Hey Fixer, tell me that story again, you know the one." The droid buzzed in delight, this was Fixer's favorite tale of their adventures and he started chirping away excitedly as Freak got back to work.