STRANGER “Do you mind me troubling you for some water?” Jed Lough looked up from the water tank he was filling on the back of his beat up old red repulsortruck. He saw a tall man a few years younger than himself with a scruffy beard and a wide brimmed dark hat, a long drab green jacket, rough brown pants, and heavy boots. The man had a pack with a cooking pot and a couple tools hanging off it, with a bedroll strapped to the bottom. Jed rarely saw travelers in these parts of Dantooine, and they were never on foot. He wasn’t sure whether to be suspicious or not. “Go right on ahead, just close the gate after you pass through. Don’t want any of the nerf getting out.” Jed turned off the tap and closed his water tank before moving the speeder a few meters forward. The man had several canteens to fill. After he filled the last one, Jed decided to ask him just what he was doing around here. He definitely wasn’t a local ranch hand or one of Rollag’s thugs. “What brings you out to the Frentor River area, stranger?” “Was headed to Tharthane when my speeder broke down, about ten klicks back.” He strapped the last canteen onto his pack. “The spaceport? That’s another five-hundred kilometers, closest settlement is Dowrown, about twenty kilos down the river. But there’s not much there than the cantina and mercantile.” “Thanks.” The stranger started to turn. “You lookin’ for work, or to get off this rock?” Jed asked. “Don’t know, you got anything for me to do?” The stranger had a rough, deep voice. “My last hand ran off with a floozy from the spaceport, I can’t do all this by myself and my boy ain’t old enough to work yet.” The stranger looked around. “I grew up on a nerf ranch, it’s been a while but I think I’d do you good.” “Alright, I’ll take you up to the house, Renda should have dinner about ready.” The stranger didn’t say anything, until Jed asked him for his name. “Ya got a name, stranger?” “Yeah. Call me Greene.” “Jed Lough.” He shook Greene’s hand. They arrived at the house, a simple single story prefabricated module with plain permacrete panel walls and a sloped red corrugated metal roof. Greene took of his hat when he entered the home, hanging it on an open peg on the wall. He had long dark brown hair and Jed finally got a good look at the man’s face. It was weathered and sun browned, and he had a thick scar over the bridge of his nose. The stranger kept his jacket on, and closed. Jed led Greene to the kitchen, which was also the dining area, and introduced him to his wife Renda and his young son Luke. “Darlin’, Luke, this is Greene, he’ll be taking over for Roko for the time being.” Jed introduced the stranger to his family. “Nice to meet you.” Renda smiled. She had auburn hair tied up in a bun and a gently lined face. “What kinda’ name is Greene? That’s not a name that’s a color.” The messy black haired kid looked up at the strange man his father had brought in. “Colors can be names too, now go wash up.” Renda shooed the kid out of the room. Jed thought he saw the stranger crack a smile for a moment. He sat at the head of the table and waited for the others to sit down before he dished out some stew for himself and poured a tall glass of brown ale from the jug at the center of the small table. Nerf and tupello, again. He didn’t mind though, his wife may not have known how to cook a variety of things but the few things she knew always turned out good. “Do you want anything to drink, Greene?” Renda asked. “Water, blue milk, ale?” “I’ll take a glass of blue milk, ma’am.” He grabbed the cold opaque glass as Renda handed it to him. “Thank you.” Whoever this man was, Jed was glad he was at least polite. He didn’t know what ranches on wherever the man was from were like, but the local roughnecks were something else. “So, where are you from, Greene?” Renda asked as she dished out Luke’s portion. “I grew up on Myrobac, but I’ve been wandering the last few years.” He took a bite of the stew. “This is pretty good, Mrs. Lough.” “She does make the best nerf stew this side of the Hydian.” Jed smiled at his wife. She smiled back. “Did you fight in the war?” Luke blurted out with a mouthful of stew. “Luke, remember to chew and swallow before you talk.” Renda glared at her son. “That’s not a very polite question either.” Jed glared as well. “No it’s fine. Bound to come up sooner or later these days. Yeah I fought.” Greene took a long sip of the blue milk. “Were you a Storm-trooper or a Rebel?” The kid asked, again with a mouthful of food. “Luke Lough, one more time and I’ll send you to your room.” Renda glared again. “Listen to your mother. That’s enough questions about the war, too.” Jed turned to Greene, “Sorry, ever since he found out we named him after the Rebellion hero Luke Skywalker he got real interested in the war.” “When I was his age I wouldn’t stop asking my old man about the Clone Wars. It’s fine.” After they had finished dinner, Jed led Greene out to the room in one of the sheds where he’d be staying. The room was sparsely furnished, it just had a cooking unit, a cot, a small table, a storage chest, and an old holoprojector. Off to the side was a small refresher. The walls were blank gray plastoid. “It ain’t much but I don’t charge rent. We get going at 0700 hours, I’ll meet you at the main barn.” Jed left the small room. “I won’t be a minute late.” After Jed left, Greene pressed the button to slide the door closed, and pulled down the shade on the small window. He took off his hat and hung it on the post of the cot. He removed his jacket, underneath it he was wearing a rough tan tunic and a gun belt with a holstered heavy, long barreled, scoped Westar blaster on his left hip and a slightly lighter scope less DL-44 in a drop holster on his right thigh. He removed his gun belt and tucked it at the bottom of the chest.