Almost an hour later Kari and the newly named, Reggie, left the cargo bay.
The room had developed a rash of scorch burns; black pockmarks could be found on the walls, floor, ceiling, and many of the storage boxes. Kari was confident that most would “Buff right out”, all except one –which sat behind the (now severed) cables formerly charged with carrying power to the down ramp. When those had been damaged, Kari had merely shrugged and added it to her list of repairs which were necessary before next planet fall.
Walking through the ship, Kari and the droid headed for the engine room. En route, they passed the mess hall; a room which, though originally had been designed purely for eating, was now a communal space with more comfortable seating than the cabins offered, as well as a few games and the like. Turning her head as they passed the door, Kari found Kaz sitting alone at the long table in the centre of the room, a set of tools next to him and a large schematic laid out to his right. Passing on, she took a few steps further down the hall before her mind processed the image. She stopped before retracing her steps exactly until she was standing in the middle of the door way again.
He hadn’t noticed her, so caught up in whatever he was building.
She looked longingly at the blueprints but could make out nothing from where she was. Staring harder gleaned no new information, as Kaz picked up a small screw and tried to insert it delicately, before dropping it, his large hands ill-suited to the task.
Kari glanced down at Reggie, “You head on back, ok?” she managed before her curiosity dragged her gaze back to the man sitting at the table, “I’m just going to uh…grab some coffee….”
“….Gonk…” If it was possible for a droid to simulate the rolling of eyes without anything even vague resembling eyes, Reggie managed it, before he headed down the corridor slowly, his heavy steps giving a pleasing ring on the metal flooring.
Kari didn’t watch him go, instead sliding into the mess hall subtly. She stood with her back against the wall next to the entrance, staring at Kaz, who was still too wrapped up in his task to have noticed her arrival. Her brow furrowed slightly and she clasped her hands together in front of her chest as her mind threw forwards the predicament: More than anything she wanted…no, needed, she needed to know what he was building; to see the plans, and the parts, and witness something being made from nothing. The very thought excited her, and she squeezed her hands together tighter with anticipation, biting her bottom lip gently as she stared at the seated man, who awkwardly reaching for the downed screw and pinching it between two huge fingertips.
She fought herself not to call out, “I’ll do it!”
To relieve him of the task, like a parent and an inept child.
Much as she wanted to see and know and do, a growing panic was rising in her that she was going to have to actually speak to the man. That hadn’t gone well last time…
She tried to focus herself – it would be easy, she’d just walk over and say “Hello, Kaz. What are you up to?” People did it all the time, she’d seen them, and she was willing to bet they didn’t have to plan before doing in… She took a deep breath, let it out and took a step forwards, but even before the air had all escaped her lungs, her foot moved back again and she found herself where she had started.
She looked longingly at the schematics again, then at Kaz. A slight whimper escaped her lips; she hated this! Why couldn’t she just go over and ask?! She had rebuilt half this ship, for crying out loud, she should be able to manage a conversation.
But she knew why it was: People were difficult. They asked questions that she didn’t know how to respond to, what they wanted her to say. With computers, or droids, it was easy – everything had a defined answer. A right answer. People weren’t like that. They didn’t think in straight lines, they were random, entirely unpredictable, and she found that unsettling…she liked to be able to predict outcomes, to know where conversation was going, and what was expected of her. It had got worse as she had got older, for now she was unpractised as well as unwilling, and the surge of anxiety clouded her mind further, making it hard for her to concentrate or draw on overheard conversations as a guide.
Looking again at the blue prints, so tantalisingly close, she parted her hands, and clenched her fists, dropping them to her sides and took a big step forwards. She didn’t need to talk, she decided. If he said something to her, she would respond, but she had nothing to say to him, she just wanted to watch, to see what he was doing.
She walked slowly across the mess hall, until she finally reached the table, sliding into a seat directly opposite Kaz.
He regarded her for a moment; she could feel his gaze on her as she looked at the plans, her eyes wide with interest.
He looked back down.
Within an hour she had identified the item on the paper and committed most of the plans to memory. He was building a UCT: a Universal Cutting Tool, a lightsaber, they used to be called. She had regarded Kaz very carefully when she had deciphered the plans. There were, obviously, practical applications for such a device on a mining world, but she was relatively sure that was not his aim. Even if it was, she knew an Imperial boarding party would not believe him were they to find it on the Ghost. Half of her wanted to say something, to reprimand him for putting them all in such danger, but the other half (the half that had won well over an hour ago) could not pass up the opportunity to see such a tool being constructed: this once in a life-time chance to see a relic being brought to life.
Now, three hours after she had sat down, she could have built a UCT without any trouble at all. Kaz, however, was no engineer. It was taking all of the woman’s will power not to get involved, to give a commentary of advice. She had vowed to say nothing, and so was simply watching the miner work. Watching as each part sank into place; each component found its home, many seemingly by accident. Try as she might, she could not stop herself from giving the odd shake of the head, or tut as he fumbled his way around the construction process.
Another hour past.
Quan entered the mess hall, heading straight for Kaz. Kari did not hear what they talked about, she was looking at the lifeless carcass of the UCT, lying helpless on the long table, less than a quarter complete. She related it back to the plans that Tame was so carefully following, taking a long look, confirming she had memorised them correctly.
Suddenly Quan was talking to her, she sat back in her chair.
“There is a warning light flashing in the cockpit. Why don’t you go check on it?”
She looked at him for a long second; blinking herself out of the tech-induced daze that had come over her these last few hours. As his words sunk in, she realised that she was going to have to move – to leave the UCT unfinished, a slight panic came over her before she managed to get a handle on it…it would be ok. Kaz obviously wanted to see the device brought to life, it would be fine.
She glanced remorsefully at the tool; sad their time together was done, for now. Then nodded and departed, leaving the men to continue their discussion.
In the cockpit, nothing flashed.
Quan had been mistaken, but it was always worth checking! The thought that he had lied to get her out of the room never crossed her mind. Instead she sat down in the co-pilots seat, and stared at the blue and white streams of light passing them outside, a dreamy smile positioned on her lips as she thought of the UCT, the “lightsaber”, and nonchalantly went about redesigned the ancient weapon in her mind.