Kari tried to focus.
She had been reviewing the data from the attack on the fuel depot for almost an hour, but had made very little progress. Despite the unrelenting lines of figures which scrolled down the monitor in front of her, a smile would not leave her lips, and a flight of butterflies had seen fit to inhabit her stomach, bouncing around like moths trapped in a lampshade.
No one had ever asked her to dance before.
It was exciting.
For a moment, she let herself drift back to the outskirts of the celebrations; things like this did not happen to her, it felt strange…but not in the usual way; not daunting, or intimidating like most of life was. It was still beyond her full understanding, and certainly beyond her experience, but…in an intriguing way. She was doing what normal people did! And it did not scare her…she laughed, making Reggie give a gonk of surprise.
“Sorry…” she said, placing a hand on his head. He shifted from foot to foot merrily. Kari smiled at him then looked back at the screen and her brow furrowed. During the attack, when blaster fire had hit the power droid’s shield there had been a massive power drain.
“Makes no sense…” she mused, leaning in, resting her chin on her hands, her elbows on the table as she read through the data. He was, in essence, a shield strapped to a fusion reaction…somewhere, she had not got something right – it did not follow that a blaster shot should reduce his energy so much. Admittedly, getting the shields back to full power had taken seconds, but that required her being there, which limited his tactical versatility.
Kari followed the data through again, monitoring power output, the pick-up rate of the shield generator, and watched the relationship between the two as the blaster shots hit. She frowned, and glanced down at Reggie, arching an eyebrow, “…and just what is wrong with my shield generator?” she asked
Reggie gonked uncomfortable in response and shuffled from one foot to the other. The action made Kari giggle, and she turned back to the screen, checking her assumption: both the fusion reactor and the shield were operating within normal parameters, and the conduit between the two seemed to be working perfectly…just as she had set it up. This left one option: Reggie was blocking the power transfer.
Power droids, right the way back to the Veril EG-6, were not known for their intelligence. They did not need to be clever: they had a single function which was, by and large, standing next to other things and charging them. Reggie had received several AI updates since Kari had taken ownership of him, but even now he could not operate at anything like the level of a protocol droid, much less Biter. What power droids did have, however, was a top of the line diagnostics package. Reggie was fitted with x-ray scanners, sonar emitters, and an infrared array, all designed to allow him to judge sensibly whether the item he was charging was in a good enough condition for him to precede without making it explode.
She did not have the time, or the tools, to run a full check on the shield generator now, but one thing was for sure – GNK droids had a well earned reputation for stubbornness. If Reggie did not feel the generator was up to him constantly charging it, but was willing to drip feed it on command, nothing in this galaxy would change his mind until she sorted the problem.
When they left Shaymore and she had a week in space with little to do, she would check all the connections in the little droid’s shield system, and re-check her code which integrated the device into his operations, but for now she was happy with her working theory.
Moving on from the data provided by Reggie, Kari began reviewing the information from Biter. Since he had been in the other party, she was keen to know what had happened on the other side of the building. She had heard Kaz’s report; a mixture of joy at their success, and anguish as his unit had been slaughtered.
Again her brow furrowed in confusion at his response. She shook her head in mild annoyance and re-focused on the data before her. Kari monitored the battle droid’s functions as she waded up river, surprised at how little the strong flow affected him. Before she got much further, she heard the familiar steps of metal on metal and knew B1T3R himself was approaching. She glanced up as he reached the door and offered a warm smile, “Hello” she said.
“Hello” he returned in a mechanically modulated voice as he entered Engineering, pacing over to her.
She glanced down at his left arm; the standard part having been replaced when he had returned from the battle with only one – the thermal detonator having granted them success.
“I’ll make you another one” she said, trying to sound understanding, “But…I don’t have another T.D…I…kinda borrowed that one from the rebels” she confessed, blushing slightly.
Biter did not respond, simply looking down at the neutered left arm; its functionality returned to the very basic, so unlike the incredible destructive power he had wielded until recently. Finally he said, “That would be appreciated”
Kari smiled and nodded, turning back to the screen, she pointed. He leaned in, the data instantly forming a cohesive picture in his head as his programs translated and compiled them. She was looking over his part in the mission!
Upon return, he had been aware that he was being treated differently – the Sesseh who had avoided him previously, referring to him, so he had been told, as the skeleton, the walking dead, Death, and a number of other rather disparaging names which highlighted his lack of humanity, but in a shape that mocked their dead form, now welcomed him. Cheered and announced him a hero.
The lone survivor of Kaz’s honour guard told excited and dynamic stories of how Death had risen from the waters and avenged their fallen kin, sacrificing his own arm to smite their foe.
Even Commander Oberon had looked impressed.
But Kari had been absent; unable to hear of the victory he had wrought with the weapons of her manufacture. Their excitement he cared little for, but he assumed the emotion was transferable – and he wanted her to see what he had done.
“If you are reviewing mission data…” he said, and moved onto the charging pad, pointing to the cables on the edge of her desk, “I have something you might find useful”
Kari looked at him, tilting her head to one side slightly with curiosity, before she got up and plugged the cables in, then returned to her computer.
She watched as Biter fast-forwarded through his memories; minutes of murky, detritus filled water, every now and again, one of Kaz’s limbs coming briefly into view, or the fading shape of a Sesseh warrior swimming briefly in front of the droid before disappearing back into the current.
Eventually, she saw the droid’s gaze turn to the bank, marching up slowly so that only his head broke the surface. Water streamed down his optical receptors, and it took a long while before vision was clear.
Kari reached over to her note pad and made a very simple note: “Vision modes: Improved magnification/Heat Sensitive/Night Vision?” it read.
Even in the dark, the depot could be clearly made out – a collection of lights for the staff shone arcs of perfect vision out over the base. The tanks were in plain sight, as was the perimeter fence.
As his gaze washed over the base, his AI pinpointed features, indicating a couple of storm troopers on patrol, highlighting them with a lurid green outline, before doing the same to one of the tanks; the shape being drawn out of its setting and rotated, exact dimensions being attributed to it, before it lowered into place again.
A small indicator in the lower right corner of his HUD stated that his systems were seeking for prior military data to compare the base design against but could find nothing newer than 25 years old.
Again, she made a note – “Borrow Rebel files on Imperial installations and tactics – update required”
Biter again fast forwarded his memory. She saw the flashes of light from the far left of his vision; clearly Valin, Quan, and Oberon had just started their attack. Several more Storm troopers appeared and were highlighted in green. He tracked their movements, waiting patiently as they headed away from his position. The droid continued to watch, waiting for another minute and then he broke cover, heading to the large fence quickly; his actions seeming jerky in the first-person, fast-forwarded view.
Suddenly an image appeared in his reticule, from the other side of the base. She remembered sending the image over, so that he would have tactical knowledge of the diversion. He marked well the three soldiers in on group, five in another, each being tagged, and their position added to the facility map his system was building up.
Simultaneously, his audio sensors picked up a mechanical screech, then a thunderous sound, then another screech. Turning to face the direction of the noise, he scanned at head height. Nothing…
Continuing to search as he made his way up the bank, his vision picked up a large piston, identifying it. Quickly, it located many other parts around the piston each being highlighted in turn in the glowing green until the full image of a huge leg had been outlined. Biter instantly raised his gaze, and found the leg attached to an Imperial AT-ST. The massive walker now bordered in an ominous green against the black of night.
Kari gasped, her eyes widening as she looked at the screen. She turned, looking at Biter in disbelieve as the monolithic war machine brought its foot down again and another loud thud was heard. It was like watching a film – something a studio had created, not a battle she had been involved in! She found her eyes returning to the monitor, desperate to know what happened next!
He ploughed on, unburdened by fear. Reaching the fencing he fired at the tanks – the words “Chain Reaction” appearing in the bottom right of his HUD. The shots hit. But nothing happened.
Kari gasps – “No!” she said to herself, leaning closer to the screen.
As Biter’s systems reassessed his options, a hail of laser fire came from behind him. He did not turn, but she assumed it was Kaz and the Sesseh.
The AT-ST took a couple of good hits, but its armour proved more than adequate for the small Imperial Blaster Rifles they were using.
There was a satisfying fizzle of Laser hitting wet mud, and she heard Kaz shouting orders from behind B1T3R, then there was a terrible sound: the muted chug of a grenade being forced out of a pipe, the slight whistle of it in the air, then a powerful explosion. Biter’s optical array picked up the fiery glow from behind him but, again did not turn.
His combat assessment seeming caught between two suggestions – keep shooting at the tanks (though a host of computations were now in action trying to determine if the shots had been unlucky or if the tanks were made of a stronger material than initially thought) or to use his arm.
Option 2: was decided upon, as it would succeed regardless of tank material.
She inched closer to the screen again, her eyes still wide with excitement, her mouth hanging open as she saw biter take two steps back from the high fence and throw his left arm up. His targeting computer took charge, plotting a course and trajectory for the make-shift rocket. Referring to his initial assessment of the AT-ST and looking for weak points. She then clapped her hands with glee as her own code booted up; overlaying alternative suggestions from things Biter had learnt since his activation – in essence, it seemed, he had learnt that his original targeting system was awful. He corrected the course quickly, compensating for the additional weight of the Thermal Detonator in the arm, as well as wind interference.
As the AT-ST’s cockpit turned to face him, he fired.
Kari gasped again, her hands flying to her mouth as she watched; the missiles progress charged in a separate window now. Her hands moved back down to the table, but she dare not breathe, as she watched the small dot getting closer and closer before disappearing.
Suddenly the AT-ST exploded violently, sending metal in all direction. One of its huge legs was thrown wildly to the left, as though it were made of nothing, not tonnes of metal. It sliced straight through two of the fuel tanks which caused them to erupt.
“Chain Reaction” flashed again in the HUD, over and over as it waited.
As the tanks passed the explosions down the line, the words faded and “Mission Accomplished” replaced them. Biter watched for another second as the last tank threw its burning contents into the air, showering it on the guards, many of whom, a sudden tactical update from Kari told him were stunned and lying prostrate on the ground.
The base itself groaned.
Biter started to back away and noticed several large holes in the structure caused by pieces of metal sailing into it – parts of a couple of fuel tanks, and the war walker. Finally, he turned and headed back to the river.
The recording stopped.
Kari laughed with joy, clapping her hands excitedly, before turning to face the droid, “Look what you did!?” he said, a wide smile on her face, glancing back at the last image of the blazing inferno which had once been an Imperial Depot, “You kept everyone safe!” she beamed.
“Not everyone” Biter commented passively.
Kari gave him a questioning look.
“All imprinted figures remain intact” he confirmed.
She grinned at him, turning again to look at the screen, “Can you run it back?” she asked.
Biter did as requested.
“Stop!” the woman said excitedly. The image of Biter’s left arm, braced by his right hand, the towering Imperial War Machine filling his vision. She leaned forwards and typed a few things before the printer under her desk started to whir.
She grabbed the image and grinned at it, “A souvenir” she announced, and marched over to the notice board on the Engine Rooms wall, and put it up, stepping back to look at it again. She glanced back at Biter, and nodded, “You did so well…”
She looked back at the image on the wall and grinned, biting her bottom lip slightly; it had been a good night.