Nestled amongst a vast junkyard, packed with droids, Stormtroopers and Galactic Empire personnel was a communal area. It had row of lockers, a bench or two and the odd tool or screw sprawled across the floor. It was the hub for the employees that worked there and was currently occupied by two that were in conversation before their shift was about to start.
“Altheeda, how was line 3-Q looking yesterday?” Prauf asked, peering over his cup.
“It’s got the all-clear.”
A young woman approaching her mid-teens sat on the ground with her legs outstretched and her back leaning against the metal of a bench. A worn, yet well-loved tool box with the name ‘Reeve’ etched onto it, sat beside her. Her dark, auburn hair fell in waves past her shoulders as she tinkered with a spanner, twisting it around with her fingertips as her grey eyes fixated on it. Facing her was a male of the Abednedo species, significantly taller and stockier than the human girl, yet radiated a friendly aura from him that would welcome almost anyone.
“Have you seen much of your family, lately? He asked, changing the subject after taking a gulp from his cup.
“You know how it is, Prauf.” She mumbled, the spanner catching the light at times as it flipped around her fingers.
“I just wanted to know if anything had changed.”
“No.” Her face remained emotionless for a while until she decided to reflect the question back onto him. “Are you going to visit Abednedo any time soon?”
“The last time I went was a few months ago.”
“When that woman made a move on you?” She smirked, looking over her spanner.
“She didn’t make a move on me!” Prauf protested, nearly spluttering on his drink.
“She was interested in you, Prauf!”
“She was!” Altheeda cooed.
Prauf became quite flustered which entertained her and she pointed the spanner at him as she laughed.
“You’re quite the ladies’ man.”
“I’m nothing like that.” He blushed.
“You should have gone for it, mate.”
“Nah.” He shook his head, taking one final swig to finish his drink, then setting his cup aside. “If you’re done with your giggling, I have some news to tell you.”
“We have a new kid starting today. He’s a similar age to you, so you have a new person to tease.”
“You’ll still get some of banter aimed at you, Prauf; don’t you worry about that.” She flashed him a cheeky grin as she wiped the dust off her from where she sat and tossed her spanner into her box, causing a loud clang.
“Lucky me.” He chuckled.
“So, when’s this new guy arriving?” She asked, tossing her thick coat in her locker and slamming it shut.
“Any time now; he had to sort out some lodging first. We’re the ones looking after him, helping him settle in.”
Altheeda crouched to make sure her laces were properly tied as Prauf clipped on his belt. She then leant against her locker, waiting for Prauf to finish getting ready until she watched a human boy follow a foreman droid down the steps towards them. The Abednedo man approached them with a welcoming smile.
“This is our newbie! I’m Prauf.” He spoke warmly, offering his hand.
“I’m Cal; Cal Kestis.” He replied in a reserved manner, shaking Prauf’s hand firmly.
“Come on over here and introduce yourself.” Prauf prompted, tilting his head slightly at Altheeda.
She approached Cal with a spring in her step and a pleasant smile, instantly giving out her hand for the boy to shake.
“Cal Kestis.” He nodded. “Nice name.”
“It’s not, I was named after the city, Theed. Not very original.” She shrugged.
He let out a small chuckle under his breath and the foreman droid intervened, its robotic drone filling the air.
“Please familiarise the new member of the Scrapper’s Guild with the layout of the vicinity. Your duties for today are to report to line 10-C, line 7-R and line 4-W to carry out an inspection and disassembling.”
“No problem at all.” Prauf nodded.
The droid went about its business, leaving the three of them to their devices.
“I swear 7-R was given the all-clear last week?” Altheeda paced around as she put her hands on her hips.
“It may have been but I need the pay so we’re still going to check it.” Prauf replied. “I need to go to storage to get the new kid’s uniform and tools. Look after him, will you?”
“I’m sure I’ll be-“ Cal began.
“You gotta look out for that one.” Prauf gestured to Altheeda jokingly. “She’s mischievous.”
“Only because nobody stops me.” She grinned as they boy looked at her curiously.
“Get out the site map from my locker, help him find his bearings. Look over it whilst I’m gone.”
“Yes, sir.” Altheeda replied mockingly.
Prauf gave a hearty laugh and exited through the doors. Altheeda continued to pace as an unsure Cal watched her, rooted to his spot. Eventually, she wondered over to Prauf’s locker and turned the knob to open it, filing through his belongings until Cal mustered the courage to speak.
“You’re from Naboo I take it? Because of your name?”
“Yup. Good deduction skills.” She muttered, pulling out a disc and kicking the locker shut. “Where are you from?”
He fell silent, his lips pursed and his eyes darted around the place.
“Oh, are you one of those people?” She asked, placing the disk on a nearby bench.
“What do you mean?” He questioned.
“Those people that like to keep their private life separate from work?”
“I guess so.” He stammered.
Altheeda nodded and got to the level of the disc, pushing on various buttons to get it working.
“That’s a bit of a travel you have to get here.” Cal stated, trying to make conversation.
“Why don’t you stay here like most people do?”
“I already have a place in Naboo.”
“Then why haven’t you looked for work there?”
“Do you like asking questions?” She retorted and he pursed his lips together, avoiding eye contact. “It’s not the type I’m looking for. Even if there was work in Naboo I wouldn’t take it.”
His eyes quickly widened and she gave him another look, followed by a small smile.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“But it’s beautiful there.”
“I’d love to visit someday.”
“You’ve never been?”
“Only once or twice when I was younger - I don’t really remember.”
Altheeda blinked at him as a projection of a map unfolded in the air and she gestured for him to come closer. He took a couple of small steps and frowned at all the dots and sections on the map.
“The yard is huge.” She lectured. “I’ve been here over a year and I still haven’t been to every single line, so don’t worry if you get lost, just try stick with us and you should be okay.”
“I don’t really know how to explain the layout, there isn’t really one, but each ship is tagged so there is some sort of system.”
“Interesting.” He replied with a nervous smile.
“You’ll be fine. Prauf and I will teach you everything.”
On cue, Prauf strode back into the room with a uniform draped over his arm and a scanner in his hand. Both of the teens turned their heads to his direction as he smiled at them.
“I couldn’t find a complete tool set anywhere, they were all missing a tool or two. I brought a scanner though.”
“Cal can use the one that was issued to me.”
“You still have it, Altheeda?”
“Yeah, it’s in my locker.”
“Don’t you need it?” Cal piped in.
“I have my own.” She explained, pointing at the tool box on the floor outside her locker.
She swiftly opened it and took out the standard tool box to give to him. He looked perplexed at the vast number of tools, but gave them both an enthusiastic smile.
“Come on kid, you’re in safe hands.” Prauf gestured for him to follow.
The young boy nodded and strode next to him. Altheeda walked on the other side of Prauf with a firm grip on her toolbox.