No matter how hard Vaaro tried, the coupling wouldn't fit.
Biting back a scathing curse, he took his heat-lance to the ring collar of the connector again, widening it even more. This one part had been giving him problems all afternoon. It wasn't enough that the entire hyperdrive assembly had fallen off during the night but now the sublight engines weren't syncing back up. At this rate, his beloved A-wing would sell before he could earn it!
Ah well, he sighed. A bargain is a bargain, fairly struck. Unlike most of his kind, Vaaro didn't go in for "creative negotiations", a Rodian euphemism for stretching the terms of a contract or outright breaking them. He had a bit of an honorable streak, something that made him none-too-popular with most of his race. Here on Tattooine, there were too kinds of Rodians - the ones that worked for Jabba and the ones that slimeball Hutt hadn't caught yet.
He was in the latter group and liked life that way. Co-owning the Tranverse Tavern was a sweet arrangement and as long as he stayed off Jabba's radar, he could keep running the cantina without having to pay more than the usual protection fees. That was the perfect way to do business in his book; pay who you have to, keep what you can.
Right now, keeping what he could meant fixing up this old starfighter. Curiously, there wasn't actually much old about the ship. Sure, it looked like it had been in one too many ion storms and the desert winds had done a number on its chassis, but internally it was in great shape. The ARC-170 had seals and parts that looked like they'd been manufactured yesterday. Whoever this stranger was, he knew how to take good care of classic vehicles.
Of course, internal good repair didn't make Vaaro's job any easier. The hyperdrive had been all but burned out and its engines had sucked up so much sand during the crash that they had to be completely re-bored. Both wing cannons had snapped off and fried on impact, leaving empty mounts and exposed wiring.
Now those he had a plan for. He just needed his broker contact to get back in touch with him. If he could score the parts he wanted, this fighter would be getting a major upgrade. He could hardly wait to see the look on Maya's face when he told her about...
And right on cue, his comm beeped. Vaaro punched its call button with one puckered fingertip. "Go ahead."
The face on its tiny screen was the one he'd expected - blue, old, and annoyed. The parts dealer's small trunk flexed in irritation as he spoke past yellowing tusks. "You sure you want to buy these, Vaaro? They work but they aren't rated for anything smaller than a transport-class vessel. You won't have enough power to..."
"You let me worry about the power. They for sale?"
The old Toydarian chuckled. "Of course! Everything's for sale!" Then a hawkish look, "You have the credits?"
Vaaro smiled, a disconcerting expression on a Rodian face. "Oh, I'm not paying in credits."
Watto blinked and his wings flapped wildly for a moment. "Then what you think you are gonna buy them with? Space angel feathers?!"
Vaaro shook his head, slipping the now-adjusted cowling over the ARC-170's engine exhaust. This time it fit. Perfection. Tightening the part's clamps, he languidly answered the junker. "Nothing at all. You are going to bring me the parts for free, even deliver them to my bay here at no charge."
Now the Toydarian was furious. "Have you gone sun-addled, you sucker-faced snake? What makes you think I'mma gonna do that?"
Vaaro finished working on the exhaust coupling and turned around to prepare the hyperdrive manifold. It would have to be reinforced to accept the Corellian rebuild he had in storage. It was a better unit than the ship had previous had, but it was also a little bigger and would need custom-built support struts. "Because, Watto, you do this for me and I forget to tell Dago about your chance cubes with the four red sides."
That made the diminutive dealer gawk for a moment. Then a sly smile crossed Watto's face and he nodded. "I knew you were really a Rodian, my friend. Okay, okay. The turbolasers will be at your workshop by first sundown tonight. All right?"
Vaaro nodded his ascent and started measuring lengths of reinforced steel. Each strut would have to be precise. This would be a job for his best laser cutter. "We have a deal." Before Watto could respond in kind, Vaaro punched the call button again and his comm went black. He liked sparring with the Toydarian but there was exacting work to be done.
He rubbed his hands together with glee. By slaving the guts of a power droid to the wing mounts, he could easily generate the power needed to maintain those turbolasers at full burn. It was an experiment he'd been wanting to try for a long time and he finally had a testbed ship to experiment with.
After all, if the whole thing went oblong and this old fighter novaed into a thousand bits and pieces, it was no slime off his snout, right?