Hi! I got the idea for this story based on the
late Johnny Cash's song "One Piece At A Time." This fic just had to be written.
Well, here's the first bit, and hope y'all like it!
"MOM! Mom, I'm home! Guess what!" Six-year-old Anakin Skywalker ran into his hovel, cheeks flushed and hair tousled.
"Oh, Annie! I'm so glad you got home safely!" Shmi Skywalker exclaimed as she knelt and scooped her son into a big hug. "Now, what's gotten you so excited?"
"Mom, I made it to the second lap before my pod crashed, and Watto was so glad, because he'd made a bet with some of his friends that I'd make it to the second lap at least, and so he won, and he gave us the day off tomorrow-" Anakin paused for breath, then finished his speech with a flourish. "And I decided to build my own Pod!"
"Whoa, Annie! Don't forget to breathe," Shmi said, laughing gently. "I'm so pleased that you did so well, and I'm very glad we have a day off tomorrow. But what's this about building a Pod?"
"Well, most of the other racers have their own," Anakin said. "And if I did build one, it'd be mine. My very own Pod, Mom. Imagine that!"
Shmi winced a little, imagining it. "But Annie, you know I don't like it when you race," she said. "It's so dangerous-"
"I can't help it, Watto makes me do it," Anakin said. "So? Can I?"
"Can you what?" Shmi asked.
"Build a Pod," Anakin said.
Shmi sighed. "Annie, do you know how much money parts would cost? Much more than we have, I'm afraid."
"I don't care," Anakin said determinedly. "I'll get it one piece at a time if I have to. Someday, somehow, I'm gonna build my own Pod. Maybe I can even drive it in the Boonta race!" Anakin's eyes shone at the prospect.
As worried as she was about encouraging her son's need for speed, Shmi smiled and gave in.
"Alright, Annie," she said. "If you can get the parts, you can build your Pod."
"Yippee!" Anakin exclaimed joyfully. He threw his arms around her waist. "Thanks, Mom! You're the best!"
Shmi watched her son fondly as he ran to his room, singing "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" at the top of his lungs. A little anxiety was worth it to see her Annie so happy.
The next morning, Anakin woke up late and sat in
bed thinking about his Pod and what he wanted to do with his day off.
He went out to get breakfast. Shmi was sitting at the table, reading the Mos Espa Post. She looked relaxed and happy. Anakin figured it was a good time to bring up his plan.
"Morning, Mom," he said. He got himself a bowl of mush.
"Morning, Annie," Shmi said.
"Mom," Anakin said, sitting down across from her. "Do we really need a frying pan and a toaster?"
"Yes, we do," Shmi said.
"But the toaster's old," Anakin said. "Shouldn't we get a new one?"
"Anakin, the toaster is perfectly fine," Shmi said firmly. "Why are you so concerned about the appliances, anyway?"
"No particular reason," Anakin said. He looked craftily at his mother. "Do you have any old scrap metal?"
"No," Shmi said. She turned a page in her paper...and smiled.
"What's so funny?" Anakin asked, trying to decide if Shmi would miss a few pieces of cutlery.
"This week only," Shmi read from the paper. "Jawa Jamboree, where one man's junk is a Twi'lek's treasure. Bring your old appliances, metal, and electronics...buy, sell, or trade..."
"Can we go?" Anakin asked eagerly.
Shmi sighed. "Oh, I suppose there's no harm in looking. But, Anakin, if you want anything, you have to pay for it."
"I will," Anakin said. "Podracer, here I come!"
The marketplace was filled with people buying, selling, and trading their appliances, metal, and electronics. Anakin clutched his few precious pieces of money in his fist and looked around thoughtfully.
"Stay close," Shmi said as they meandered through the crowd.
Anakin spotted a table full of speed gauges.
"How much?" he asked the Jawa manning the table.
"Oonteenee!" the Jawa said.
"I'll take one," Anakin said.
"Oonteenee!" the Jawa said. It handed him the guage. He handed it the money.
"Annie! Over here!" Shmi called.
"Coming, Mom!" Anakin said. He ran over to her. They strolled among the booths until Anakin noticed an auction going on across the street.
"Can I watch for a few minutes?" he asked.
"You can," Shmi said. She pointed a few booths down. "I'll be over there."
Anakin wriggled his way to the front of the crowd. Nobody was bidding, and the people looked restless and bored.
"Anybody? Is there anyone at all who wants to bid?" the auctioneer was asking. He looked desperate.
"One credit," Anakin said mischievously.
"I have one, one, one, going once, going twice, sold!" the auctioneer said. "Come back here and pick up your merchandise!"
Anakin went up to the platform, clutching his money and his speed guage tightly.
"I just have one question, sir," he said boldly. "What did I buy?"
Fifteen minutes later, he found his mother.
"Mom," he said sheepishly. "Can I have some help?"
"Of course, Annie, what do you need?" Shmi asked.
"Um...I need to get two Radon-Ulzer Pod engines home," Anakin replied.
"Oh my," Shmi said weakly. She put her hand to her throat. "Oh my, Annie, what have you done now?"
"I paid for them, myself, Mom," he said defensively. "They only cost me one credit."
"One-Anakin," Shmi said sternly. "You don't get Pod engines for one credit. Especially not here."
"But I did," Anakin said proudly. "No one wanted them! They're not perfect, but they'll run. I think."
Shmi tried to look angry, but a smile was tugging at her mouth. Anakin saw it and smiled at her with a pleading little grin that she could never resist.
"Alright, alright," she said, breaking into laughter. "I'll help you get your engines home."
The hot midday suns found Shmi slowly pulling a Pod engine down the street while Anakin pushed it from behind. They were sweaty, tired, and still had one engine to get. But Anakin, at least, barely noticed his discomfort. He was envisioning himself winning a race in his Pod and forcing his archenemy Sebulba to admit at last that he, Anakin Skywalker, was the best Pod driver in the galaxy. He could almost hear the roar of the crowds, cheering him on. He could almost hear...a clunk like metal hitting metal.
"Anakin," Shmi said, huffing and puffing, "you lost something."
Anakin ran to the front to inspect his engine. One of the fan blades had come loose and fallen, striking another blade and chipping a piece from it.
"D'oh!" Anakin said.
Half an hour later, after more sweating and straining, both engines stood proudly in the Skywalkers' backyard. Anakin was admiring them while his mother prepared lunch.
While they were eating, someone knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" Shmi called wearily, going to the door.
"It's-a me, a-Watto," the Toydarian called back.
"Watto!" Shmi opened the door. "What are you doing here?"
"The boy, I-a entered-a him in-a the race tomorrow," Watto said. "Where is-a he?"
"Right here, sir," Anakin said, popping out from behind Shmi.
"Good, a-good," Watto said. "You heard-a me, boy? You're-a racin' tomorrow."
"Fine, sir," Anakin said.
"No-a funny business," Watto warned. "You win-a tomorrow, boy."
"Sure," Anakin said. "Whatever you say, sir."
Watto looked at him suspiciously before he flapped away. Shmi sat down at the table and heaved a big sigh, her face filled with worry.
The next day dawned sunny and hot as usual. Shmi
was pacing back and forth when Anakin got up, yawning and stretching.
"Morning, Mom," he said.
"Good morning," Shmi said softly. Suddenly, she knelt and gave him a big hug. "I love you, Annie," she added, her voice muffled by his hair.
"Uh, I love you too, Mom," Anakin said, trying desperately to breathe.
"Stay safe," Shmi said.
"I will," Anakin promised.
The race was a relatively small one at the Mos Espa track. Eight Pods were entered. When Anakin and Watto arrived, the other drivers were getting ready.
"Remember-a boy," Watto said. "You-a win."
"I remember, I remember," Anakin grumbled.
"Good," Watto said. "Get-a ready, then."
Soon, the Pods were out on the track. Anakin tuned out the noise from the crowds and the other drivers' taunts and obnoxious comments, and concentrated on the race ahead. He'd raced all of these drivers before, and he knew there were only two he had to watch out for. Their names were Mann Im-g'ood and Tegri Nwi'lla'ky, and they'd been racing for years. Still, he felt confident.
The announcers were busily announcing. Anakin was busily slouching in his seat wishing they would start. He was getting bored.
"...and we'd also like to thank the Mos Espa Knitting Club for donating this lovely blanket that will be given to the winner of today's race..." the announcers droned.
Anakin tuned them out and pulled out a book. It was a story about a beautiful princess whose planet was captured by a band of evil aliens. He'd just gotten to the part where two Jedi showed up when the roar of sixteen Pod engines brought him back to the race at hand. He straightened up and grasped the steering console.
The lights over the track turned green and the Pods shot forward. Anakin gunned the engines and headed for the front of the pack.
As the Pods swung around a bend, Mann Im-g'ood, who was sitting in second place next to Anakin, moved his Pod to block another racer. But he misjudged the distance and smashed into the rock wall, opening up a clear path for the other racer. The other Pod roared by Anakin, who pushed his Pod to a higher speed. He was in hot pursuit mode now.
Two more racers crashed in the first lap. Anakin maintained his position, staying just behind the leaders, Tegri Nwi'lla'ky and Bo'zo MontGumeri, as the Pods sped through the arena, starting their second and final lap.
"And we have Tegri Nwi'lla'ky and Bo'zo MontGumeri battling it out for the lead," the announcers called. "The little human, Anakin Skywalker, is right behind them, in third place. He could come in for a win here today."
"This one's for you, Mom!" Anakin said. He opened up the throttle and sent his Pod flying into top speed. The leaders were just ahead. He was so close. So close...
There was a small hole. Just small enough to squeeze through. Anakin aimed. It was smaller than he thought. It was...closed.
"D'oh!" Anakin said. He frantically powered down so he wouldn't crash. There was still time to go around them, though.
He turned the power back up. But instead of shooting forward, the Pod's engines backfired and died.
The arena, and the finish line, were just ahead. Anakin flipped switches, but the Pod didn't respond. It was dead.
"Watto's not gonna like this," Anakin said to himself.