Lea discovered that by going north, it took them right to a paved, black-top road, similar but different to the one she’d been on the day before. Today the sun was shining a bit among the clouds and raised the temperature even more. Lea was dripped with sweat under the hot sun.
The sloth slept for most of the day and with every step Lea took, the sloth thumped against her back in a rhythmic, soothing motion.
Crunch, thump, swish.
It was almost noon when Lea saw movement on the road in the distance. It wasn’t a car, so Lea decided to keep going. When she arrived at the spot, Lea saw that it was a girl.
The girl’s Asian heritage was obvious through her thin, black eyes. Her stick-straight black hair was pulled into a ponytail. She wore a black vest over her white shirt and on her feet were brown boots. The girl didn’t seem to notice Lea. She was working on her speeder, with a scowl in her face, clearly frustrated.
“Ugh!” She burst out, throwing her screwdriver onto the pavement with all her might. She frowned, stood up, and kicked the speeder, which stubbornly refused to budge. The girl sighed. Then she noticed Lea watching her silently and her eyes lit up.
“Hi!” The girl exclaimed. She was smiling now. “I’m Taylor. But you can call me Tay. Taylor sounds too girly, don’t you think?” She stuck her oil-covered hand out to Lea.
Lea hesitated, then returned the gesture. “Um, yeah, I guess. I’m Lea. Nice to meet you,” She told Tay as they shook hands.
“Nice cloak by the way,” Tay said with an accent, studying Lea from head to toe.
“Thanks,” Lea said, unsure of what to think of the spunky, energetic Asian. “Do you, um, need help with anything?”
“Nah, my speeder is just acting up again.” Tay said, kicking the speeder again for effect. “It does this a lot. One of the thrust turbines is broken. No matter how many times I fix it, it breaks down. They just don’t make them like they used to.”
“What’s a thrust turbine?” Lea asked, clueless.
Tay leaned over the side of the speeder and held up a tiny black box. “This-“ Tay grunted as she stood back up, “- is a thrust turbine. It makes the speeder hover. And if it’s broken, it’s like the tire popped, so I can’t go anywhere. Not that I needed to go anywhere anyway.” She shrugged and tossed the turbine back into the speeder.
“Um, don’t you have to go home at some point?” Lea asked.
Tay laughed. “I don’t have a home.” She responded, as if it was most normal thing in the world.
“Oh.” Lea mumbled. Maybe this girl is kind of like me… I didn’t have a home at one point. I bet we’re really similar. Lost in thought, Lea didn’t feel the sloth stir in her hood.
The sloth had awaken from his nap and was trying to climb up Lea’s shoulders. Lea was trying to push him back down into the hood when Tay cried, “Oh! You found Chewie!”
“His name is Chewie?” Lea asked in disbelief, “How do you know him?”
“He lives in the forest! I see him there a lot,” Tay said, and added proudly, “I named him.”
“Chewie…” Lea said. She immediately remembered the nickname of the Wookie hero, Chewbacca, who helped the galaxy from the First Order before she was born. She can’t possibly know who Chewbacca is, Lea thought, but said out loud, “Why that name?”
“Have you ever heard of Chewbacca?” Tay asked subtly.
Lea gaped at her in disbelief. “Yes! I’m a Jedi!” Why in the world am I telling this girl my secrets? I don’t even know her! But something in Lea’s gut told her that she could trust her.
Now it was Tay’s turn to gape at Lea. “You’re kidding.”
Shaking her head, Lea pulled her lightsaber out of her belt.
Tay put her hands up and stepped back, “Okay, don’t point that at me.”
Lea laughed at Tay’s strange reaction. She put the hilt back on her belt. “Are you a Jedi too?”
Tay shook her head. “I wish, but no, I’m not. Some of my cousins are involved with that stuff though. Some of my ancestors were with the Resistance a long time ago.”
“And now, you’re not?” Lea questioned.
“Well, sort of, but not really.” Tay assured her, “I just don’t have a home. I like living on the road anyway. So what are you doing? Why are you a Jedi?”
“I grew up with the Resistance. I think I was born there, but I’m not sure,” Lea said, “But anyway, I was trained to be a Jedi until I was 8. Then they drove me out.” Lea eyes were downcast, but she looked up and continued. “I went to live with 6 other girls but then…”
Tay leaned closer, genuinely interested. “Then what?”
Lea sighed, as if reliving the whole experience. “I started getting threats letters and phone calls. Someone wants my lightsaber, and they threatened to hurt the others too if they didn’t get it. So I ran away to keep them safe.”
Tay was silent for a moment, pondering what Lea had just said. “I know who wants your lightsaber.”
Lea stared at her. “Who?”
“It’s Darth Rokoi.” Tay said solemnly.
Part 16 coming on Saturday!
Meet the newest member, and tomboy of the family, Taylor, my wonderful readers. The doll I won from the World By Girls contest.
P.S. Bella, you were right.