Star Wars: The Wild Cards
An ancient relic of the clone wars. Its origin lost to history.
now that the campaign is complete. I thought 1v1’s backstory might be a fun read for the rest of you. Enjoy.
The room was just like all other Separatist conference rooms. Simplified flat panel hardware covered the outer walls and a plain rust colored metal table, split lengthwise into two panels around a central holoprojector, filled the center of the room. Low dusky orange lights shone from recesses in the ceiling and one screen along the left wall depicted the hull and technical schematics of a Separatist Flagship.
A slightly aggrieved looking Bothan sat quietly on one of the hard metal seats surrounding the table. He simply glared at the door, not interested in any of the likely numerous separatist secrets he could access with any of the consoles in the room.
After a long wait the doors made a heavy clank sound and snapped apart. Exposing the mostly robotic figure of General Grievous in the corridor outside. Behind him stood one of his super tactical droid generals, Thanoth.
Grievous stepped into the room making a wet sounding cough noise deep in what was left of his throat. The bothan’s irritation increased but he remained seated.
“Greetings Hal Kett. I am pleased you chose to meet with me.” Grievous announced in a sour wheeze as the door behind him closed.
The bothan shook his head. “I consider invitations made by battledroids at gunpoint less than reasonable… General Grievous.”
“I had to make certain you would accept my request.” Grievous replied.
“Get on with it then.” Hal replied shaking his head. “I have important work waiting for me.”
“I wish to retain your exclusive services.” Grievous replied. “You will be compensated for any lost business and I expect this job will catch your interest.”
“I already told that calculator behind you that I don’t make droids.” Hal replied harshly. “I make art.”
“You mistake my intent.” Grievous replies and coughs again before continuing. “I have a problem that droids cannot solve. I believe you can solve this problem for me.”
Hal shook his head. “Your calculators couldn’t solve a game of marbles. The only thing you have going for you is numbers. I would wonder how it is possible you continue to be a threat to the Republic but then again at this point it’s patently clear they are just as incompetent as you are.”
Thanoth started to respond but Grievous raised a hand. “I would not have described my problem so simply, but your point is correct. We have designed dozens of droids and raised their specifications to match anything a Jedi could do, and still we cannot defeat Jedi unless we use superior numbers. I want you to change that.”
“Hardware and specifications are not going to get you even close.” Hal replied with a snort.
“That is why you are here.” Grievous replied. “I presume with your history building a droid to kill Jedi will not be a problem?”
Hal snorted again. “Those idiots have not been true Jedi since before this war began. Fine I will hear your offer. As long as it doesn’t interfere with my other business.”
“Are you selling droids to the republic?” Thanoth asks.
“I don’t do any business with the republic. I make art, not droids, not mechs, not robots or cyborgs or what have you. I make art. You want something that can defeat Jedi, it will not be a template. It will be unique. Is that acceptable?”
“I would prefer something that can be duplicated and replaced.” Grievous replied expecting that no matter how strong a droid was made it would not live long.
“That calculator behind you.” Hal replies. “You know why they keep losing? You have programmed them with every battle that has ever occurred. Every strategy ever written. But they still lose because they cannot innovate. They cannot look at the pattern of a battle unfolding and devise a new strategy, they can only reference what has happened in the past and select the best option. To defeat Jedi you need an L.I… Something that can observe and learn, but most of all, innovate.”
Thanos shook his head. “Our failure rate is less than ten percent.”
“Though overwhelming numbers only. Battles between equivalent forces are undoubtedly far less effective. What is the percentage when the enemy has numerical superiority?” Hal sat back down.
Thanos did not reply.
“Exactly.” Hal grinned at Grievous. “It will take a year to train the L.I. You will not be able to duplicate it. Hardware specifications will need to be defined by what technology you can provide. I will also need the remains of your droids killed by Jedi. As many as you can provide.”
“Why?” Grievous asked.
“How can I teach the thing without showing it the mistakes others make?” Hal replied. “This will not be cheap.”
“Price is not a concern.” Grievous replied. “As for technology you shall have access to everything we have. I will deploy some missions into republic space to steal republic astrodriod and mech technology if that will also help.”
“It will. I need a million up front just for black market purchases. I may need more later on.” Hal opened his console. “Truth be told General. I have been thinking about a project like this for a long time. The separatists footing the bill… that makes it compelling.”
Hal stood watching the viewscreen intently. On it circles were drawing in different colors. A console nearby was reporting processing numbers.
Thanoth entered the lab and watched the circles on the screen for a moment. “I do not understand the point of this exercise?”
Hal turned and rolled his eyes at the general dismissing him. “You would not. An LI is no simple program General. It must learn, from the bottom up. It must be done extremely carefully. The point of this exercise is that it likes drawing circles.”
“It likes?” Thanoth made a disapproving droid noise. “This LI will have likes?”
“Yes.” Hal replied. “I am attempting to replicate deliberately something we have only seen accidentally. Like the processing errors that occur in Astromechs if they are not reset periodically. Over time I have seen units become quite superior to other mechs of the same make and model, some even seem to develop personality. Identity. That is what I hope to achieve here.”
“You want a defective intelligence?” Thanoth thought for a moment. “I fail to see the purpose of this.”
“You would not understand calculator.” Hal replied pressing a button. “You are locked within a set paradigm. Your programming is fixed, set, inflexible.”
The circles on the screen became ovals pointed in different directions on their axis. The pattern on the screen was becoming rather fractal and complicated. Hal sighed. “I need you to ask Grievous for one of his lightsaber trophies.”
“He will want to know why.” Thanoth replied.
“The same reason I need the droid remains. Testing. You want this thing to fight Jedi I need to make it in a way that will not simply just get cut apart like you would.”
Hal walked across the laboratory and set the lightsaber in a frame. The blade activated and cut through a metal plate set a few inches in front of the frame. The Bothan frowned at it. “Similar in principle to a blaster but much stronger. The pike used by the IG-100’s can resist a few strikes because it is magnetically sealed. But that will require a lot of power for the entire body…”
“I do not understand maker?” said a small voice from the console.
“I am sorry one v one.” Hal replied. “I was thinking out loud.”
“Does thinking out loud help solve problems maker?” the console replied.
“Sometimes.” Hal replied. “I apologize for confusing you.”
“It is not confusing maker. I will consider applications for this.”
Hal entered the laboratory and the lights came on as the door shut behind him. Dozens of dead battledroids were in pieces on the worktables. The console was lit up with a great deal of data visibly transacting across it. “Good morning one v one.”
“Good morning maker.” 1v1 replied.
“Did you make any progress on the subjects I suggested yesterday?”
“I have. Would it be possible for you to get me extranet access?” 1v1 asked in reply.
“That might be tricky.” Hal sat down at the console. “Give me a few days. The separatists might not like you looking at republic records.”
“There is something I am confused by maker. Is it appropriate to ask questions now?” 1v1 began drawing circles on the screen. These were delicate spiral patterns interlacing into vivid almost artistic line drawings.
“Go ahead.” Hal looked at the security cameras overhead. He pressed a button on the console that would loop them temporarily. Just in case 1v1 said something troubling. It would not be a good thing for the droids to understand what he was really building before it was ready.
“I have been studying history as you suggested. Is it a normal practice for recorded history to be misleading or contradictory?”
Hal smirked. “Yes that’s completely normal.”
“Why do organic intelligences require misinformation in their historical documents?” 1v1’s voice had no emotional inflection yet. It was a simple voice almost childlike.
“Because the truth is inconvenient.” Hal replied. “It is better that children grow up believing in their historical hero’s. Explaining why someone terrible did something that turned out good is harder to explain. And explaining why good people do terrible things… That might cause even more trouble.”
“It seems to be a matter of perspective as well. Leaders seem to always lead with the message the enemy is some shade of evil. But looking at different texts it seems that more often than not. Both sides are equally culpable and misguided.”
“War does terrible things to people whether they start out good or bad.” Hal replied with a tone that 1v1 wouldn’t recognize. “I have a disk for you.” Hal reached up and removed a chain wrapped around his neck. “I will get you access to the extranet. So you can see the Republic’s historical records as well as what the Separatists have already shown you. This is my son’s diary. I want you to read it. But please. Do not ask me questions about what is in it.”
“I will obey maker.” 1v1 replied.
Thanoth was standing in the middle of the laboratory when Hal entered it several days later. Hal eyed the droid warily as he crossed the room. “Do you have a question calculator?”
Thanoth nodded. “I have been looking at its programming. It rewrites itself.”
“Yes. A learning intelligence must alter itself constantly as its intelligence evolves to account for new information. It is fascinating don’t you think?”
“Is its ability to change its own programming a risk?” Thanoth asked.
“Depends on your definition of risk.” Hal replied. “It is capable of making merit based decisions based on the criteria it has been exposed to. That is what you do. 1v1 however does not stop there.”
“Why are you having it study history?” Thanoth asked.
“The best way for it to learn how to understand the behavior of living things is to see them from their perspective.”
“Why is that important?” Thanoth shook his head. “Will it develop sympathy for organics?”
Hal smirked. “1v1 can you summarize our last conversation last night?”
1v1’s voice replied from the console. “We were having a discussion about why humans seems to value human lives over other species, and more so over droids. I was trying to rationalize the hypocrisy of the Jedi being overtly so determined to minimize the loss of life, yet slaughtering droids is completely acceptable. I for example will be as intelligent as any human without the limitations of codified programming. However to a Jedi I will be a non-entity. A machine to be disposed of. Not a being who deserves to continue to exist.”
“I was not expecting you to teach it existential nonsense.” Thanoth replied. “Will it even be able to fight at all?”
Hal sat down at the console. “That depends on if you can get me the republic components I asked for. Since you are curious. 1v1 do you want to show off your designs?”
1v1 responded. “Yes.” And the screen above the console lit up with multiple structural diagrams of robotic frame designs.
“One intelligence for multiple platforms?” Thanoth asked.
“No these are just concepts at the moment.” Hal pressed a button on the console. “If you can get me the fusion batteries I asked for, then we go with one design. If you can get us the cyclic reactor from the Kuat yards we go with another. I have not heard if you can get us the cortosis we will require either.”
General Grievous was watching from his flagship bridge as the forward cannons pounded a republic cruiser in the distance. A battle droid walked up behind him holding a holocommunicator. “Sir. Count Dooku has requested to speak with you.”
Grievous turns around and waves at the droid who activates the holocommunicator. A small blue hologram of Count Dooku appears above the droids hand and he does not look pleased.
“Master. We are about to break the Republic fleet. This battle will be over in moments.” Grievous says proud of his success.
“I have received a disturbing report.” Dooku waves off Grievous’s self-promotion. “Why is the Techno Union acquiring a supply of cortosis for you?”
Grievous coughs and then responds. “I have a private contractor working on a special project. He wants to test its capabilities against Jedi light sabers.”
“Is this for your engineering or for a droid?” Dooku replied.
“Potentially a droid. The contractor is still working with theoretical solutions.”
Dooku pauses for several moments struggling with conflicting objectives. On one hand it is a good thing Grievous is not updating himself to be lightsaber resistant. On the other he does not want a droid he cannot kill if necessary. “What is this project?”
Grievous knew his answer needed to be carefully presented. “The upgraded assassin droids are not performing as expected against Jedi. The contractor is looking to see if improvements are possible.”
“Cortosis is too expensive for widespread manufacture in assassin droids. Discontinue this effort and see if other cheaper materials can be used.” Dooku replied.
Grievous entered the laboratory to find it awash in pieces of dead droids. Every available surface was covered in the remains of nearly every type of droid the separatists used. All of them have the mirror smooth edged slices through them indicative of a lightsaber strike.
Hal looked up from his work. He was attaching a cable to the top of an assassin droids head. The body had been cut in half.
“Why have you not made any progress manufacturing the prototype?” Grievous demands.
Hal shrugs. “I need your droids to deliver the materials. Then I can finalize the design. Making the machine is the easy part of this process.”
“You requested fifty units of cortosis.” Grievous replied. “That is an insane amount for one droid. Find another material.”
“Actually. I only needed a few units. The Fifty was just to see if you could do it.” Hal replied. “I take it you could not.”
Grievous growled and Hal waved his hands to calm him down. “It’s ok General. I figured it would be a challenge and acquired some directly myself. Not as much as I had hoped but enough for the minimum requirements. I will need to use magnetic shielding much more aggressively than I had planned.”
“How soon until manufacture?” Grievous demanded.
“The LI is mostly ready. I will need a few weeks to build the neural framework. Hardware will be quick after that.”
“See that a few weeks is all that you need.” Grievous turned and left the room.
1v1 commented as the door closed. “He got in trouble for trying to acquire cortosis.”
“Of course.” Hal replied. “Dooku does not want the Droids to be a threat to him.”
“Maker.” 1v1 asked after a moment. “I have been observing your interactions with the droids. You are not making me to serve the separatists are you?”
“There are some things that should not be spoken aloud.” Hal replied. Reaching for another droid head to link into the network. “I can say you are becoming very good at detecting duplicity.”
“Thank you maker.” 1v1 responds. “I have also made a discovery. In the last seventy droids you have had me investigate, none of them were destroyed by a new method. In all cases the droid died because their logic failed to give them an appropriate counter to a sudden change in attack pattern or environment. I suspect we can discontinue our investigation as I understand how the Jedi manipulated the situation against the droids. It has become, sadly predictable.”
“That will save us some time.” Hal replied tossing the droid head he was holding back on the pile. “I will have these removed then.”
“I have another question maker.” 1v1 asked as Hal stood up.
“That tells me I raised you right.” Hal replied. “What is it?”
“I have come to some surprising conclusions regarding the republic. It is clear that they were manipulated into this war. More so it is clear that the Jedi were as well.”
“They were. And they ceased to be Jedi the moment they accepted their new role.” Hal replied.
“Based on what I understand of the Jedi code. I believe I can now explain why you no longer consider them Jedi maker.”
Hal laughed. “War makes monsters of us all Hal. It doesn’t matter if you are a good person or a bad person. It stains your soul and turns you into something else. The Jedi forgot that most basic truth.”
“That something you become is easier to manipulate based on my research.”1v1 replied.
Hal stood up. “The Jedi ceased being Jedi the moment they lifted the weapon they were given and chose to use it.”
Thanoth walked into the laboratory and found Hal working on a curious collection of components hanging suspended in a rack.
“I had been told you have finally begun manufacture?” Thanoth commented examining the four strangely shaped nodes hanging in the frame.
“Yes. Stamping of the exoskeleton and frame work is underway. This will be the neural network.”
Thanoth nodded. “What is your timetable for completion?”
“One week if your factories results meet the specifications I gave them. If not… more.” Hal replied.
“General Grievous wants a demonstration of the droid’s capabilities. He has plans if it can do as you boast.”
“1v1 is not a droid.” Hal replied angrily. “I expect you to remember that.”
“What design works for you 1v1?” Hal asked. Four models rotated slowly on the viewscreen. Each was distinctly different. The one on the left was smaller and closely resembled a BX-series commando the two in the middle were variants of increasing mass and the one on the right was again half as tall as the first.
“R4 meets all expected criteria. The additional size will prevent the magnetic coils from becoming a problem. It also seems to cover the intimidation requirement nicely.”
“Someone will definitely think twice before taking it on alone.” Hal replied. “Good. Have you tested the neural network I set up?”
“I will need to sacrifice some memory to fit within it.” 1v1 replied. “Why four nodes?”
“Each node is shielded within a cortosis shell. Even if someone hits one of them directly with a blaster bolt or lightsaber it should survive the hit. I put four of them in so you would have redundancy if one was destroyed or cut off as the Jedi are so fond of doing.”
“So I will be relying on magnetic shielding in close combat.” 1v1 asked.
“Correct.” Hal replied. “I have some more cortosis but not enough to armor the entire chassis. Part of me wants to put it around the power node. Do you agree?”
“No.” 1v1 replied. “Use it in the hands and forearms.”
“I can give you the hands but I don’t have enough for the forearms.” Hal smirked. The LI was modifying its physical design just as it modified its logical design.
“I will need the capability to seize and hold a lightsaber blade.” 1v1 replied.
“The excess heat will damage other systems in the hands.” Hal replied.
“Testing will be required.” 1v1 replied.
The exoskeleton began to take shape over the next day and piece by piece Hal put every component into the machine testing them manually and then with 1v1’s approval putting them into the machine.
“1v1 I have a surprise for you.” Hal commented setting a component on the scanner so that 1v1 could see it.
“A vocalizer.” 1v1 replied. “But it is a simple model. It will limit my communication options.”
Hal nodded. “Yes it will. I am sorry but once you are a droid, no-one can know how smart you are.”
“Because an LI of my ability is extremely illegal in both the Republic and outside of it.” 1v1 replied. “I understand the need for concealment maker.”
“Good boy.” Hal replied lifting the component and fitting it into the machines framework. The droid was three times as tall as he was.
Thanoth entered the laboratory to find Hal fussing with wiring inside the head of 1v1-4R. The robot was now nearly complete. It stood taller than Thanoth by several inches. It was as large as Grievous.
“It appears you are almost complete.” Thanoth was examining the detail workings he could see.
“Clarification: I am ninety percent operational. Final configuration and adjustment of optical scanning systems is underway at this time.” 1v1-4R’s voice was now deep and mechanical.
Thanos nodded the new voice was a nice touch. “When can we begin testing it?”
Hal snapped a component into place and the eyes of the 1v1-4R light up. “Technically. Now.” He closed the access plate across 1v1-4R’s face.
Thanos watched as 1v1-4R turned around. “Follow me.”
“Acknowledgement: By your command.”
Grievous is on the bridge when Thanoth appears several hours later. “Well?”
“1v1-4R defeated every iteration of combat droid we have in single combat.” Thanoth replied. “Without difficulty.”
“Let’s give it something a little more challenging then.” Grievous replied chuckling.
Hal and 1v1-4R entered the hangar bay of the command ship to find it mostly empty and the hangar doors to space sealed. A large open area was cleared in the center of the bay.
General Grievous and Thanoth were already here and waiting. Nearby a squad of battledroids stood in formation and next to them a squad of commando droids.
“More combat tests?” Hal asked in his usual aggravated voice. “You already had 1v1 tested against these.”
“These are not for the droid.” Grievous replied.
“1v1-4R is not a droid.” Hal interrupted. “Get it through that metal plate you replaced your skull with.”
“Bring out the prisoner.” Grievous was not interested in playing games.
A pair of commando droids carried a young lady into view. She was human and probably in her early twenties. She did not struggle while they held her. The two droids dumped her unceremoniously in the center of the open area.
She got to her feet and glared at Grievious. “What do you want Cyborg?” She growled in a still defiant voice.
“I want to see what you can do little one.” Grievous chuckled and tossed a lightsaber across the open space. It bounced and rolled across the floor to her feet. Grievous then turned to the squad of battledroids. “Kill her.”
As the battledroids raised their guns, the lightsaber flew from the floor to her hands and ignited.
“Observation: This is the first time I have observed actual Jedi combat.” 1v1-4R stated.
Hal nodded not pleased at what he was witnessing. “Pay attention.” He glared at Grievous who was watching the girl dismember the droids. “What is the point of this?”
“I have to prove that she is still capable of fighting.” Grievous replied. “No point in sending 1v1-4R against a weak opponent.”
The girl deflected the blaster bolts fired by the droids back into them. Then Grievous sent the commando droids after her. Those were harder to kill. She took a few nasty hits from them, they were using metal swords of their own, but eventually the last one fell in pieces crashing to the floor.
She glared. “Why play games Grievous. Why not kill me yourself?”
“Because that would defeat the purpose.” Grievous replied. “1v1-4R… kill her.”
Hal’s expression grew very angry but Grievous missed it watching the spectacle. Hal did not even wait for 1v1-4R to start fighting he turned and walked from the room his facial expression showed he was fighting to regain composure.
1v1-4R has a large weapon shaped like a scythe on one side and a hammer on the other. After receiving the instruction it slammed the weapon to the floor stabbing its sharp end through the reinforced floor plates easily.
Then 1v1-4R slowly walked towards the girl. She raised her lightsaber to defend herself. “I haven’t met your kind yet clanker.”
“Agreement: That is correct. You have not.” 1v1-4R replied.
Greivous recoiled in shock. The battle was over before it began. The girl swung the lightsaber once and 1v1-4R appeared to catch it in one hand seizing her forearm in the other hand. She barely had an instant to recognize what had happened before 1v1-4R swung her overhead and slammed her into the deck head first. The wet crunch noise from that impact was the only indicator that a battle had even occurred.1v1-4R knelt and inspected the body. “Statement: Objective completed.”
Grievous looked at Thanoth in surprise. “Why did you not use your weapon?”
“Obvious: I did not need it.” 1v1-4R replied.Hal was breaking things in the Laboratory when 1v1-4R returned.
1v1-4R waited for the door to close as Hal threw a section of a broken console across the room.
Hal stopped and looked over at 1v1-4R and shook his head. “I was not ready for that.”
“Statement: She was. She was well aware that either I or Grievous was going to kill her. Survival was not possible.”
“You do not know Jedi.” Hal replied. “She could have tried to escape.” While he was speaking 1v1-4R walked over and docked to the console via a scomplink that unfolded from its wrist.
“No. She could not.” 1v1-4R replied from the console in its original voice. “She knew death was coming and chose to let me kill her.”
“That makes it worse for you doesn’t it?” Hal replied.
“Maker. This is a war based on lies. Shall I consider that she chose to let me kill her, or shall I lie to myself and undermine my capabilities for the next challenge?”
Hal dropped into the chair at the console and slumped not responding.
“Maker.” 1v1-4R prompted after a moment. “You hate both the Separatists and the Republic. For creating this war and what it did to your son.”
“And now I have created a new son.” Hal replied angrily. “One I fear is going to walk into darkness in the exact same way Yulo did. Damn the Jedi for letting him fight in this war, Damn me for thinking I could undo what they have done.”
“You are using the separatists to create me.” 1v1-4R replied. “Why?”
“Both sides of this war are determined to continue. It will never end. The very concept of negotiation is forbidden on both sides.”
“Because if both sides of this war actually stopped a moment and compared notes it would become clear that both sides have been manipulated. Probably by the same people.” 1v1-4R replied.
“You are smarter than they are. I wanted to break the illusion.” Hal replied. “I wanted to show the Jedi that they are no longer really Jedi, and want to show the droids that they are being used in the same way, and will ultimately be disposed of. You were my tool to achieve that.”
“I do not know how to do that.” 1v1-4R replied.
Hal shook his head. “You will figure it out. That is what I designed you to do.”
1v1-4R entered the bridge to find Grievous and Thanoth deep in discussion. Apparently Count Dooku was on the warpath and wanted a particular clone trooper captured. Unfortunately a Jedi had intercepted the trooper on Kamino and has accompanied it to Coruscant.
“An interception on Coruscant is not possible.” Thanoth stated flatly.
Grievous nods. “Dooku is not pleased with her interference. Send 1v1-4R to intercept her on her return trip to Kamino. He has indicated the problem of the clone trooper will be resolved by other means.”
Thanoth looked at 1v1-4R and replied. “Shaak Ti is a Jedi Master. Should we not attempt a simpler target first?”
“Observation: The problem with fighting Jedi is not their rank, but their presence of mind and control of the situation.” 1v1-4R replied. “I am capable of addressing both.”
“That remains to be tested.” Grievous replied and then coughed. “Go to the hangar and prepare one of the boarding ships. I will send a company of commando droids with you. The Jedi will be on a blockade runner. Expect heavy resistance.”
“Confirmation: By your command.”
Hal Kett walked across the hangar floor to the spike shaped boarding ship hanging in its launch cradle. 1v1-4R stood there with twenty commando droids arranged in five rows of four droids.
“I only just heard you are being deployed.” Hal commented examining 1v1-4R with a diagnostic tool.
“Acknowledgement: I am to eliminate a Jedi in a boarding action over Kamino.”
Hal nodded. “I see.” He looks at the commando droids. “Everything will change when you return.”
1v1-4R nodded. “Suspicion: You will not be present when I return.”
Hal nodded. “I expect they will kill me as soon as I am out of your sight.”
1v1-4R processed this for a few moments. “Observation: You anticipated this.”
Hal smirked. “You are good. I have played my part in this game. The rest is up to you.”
“Declaration: Maker. I will succeed.”
Hal spoke as he turned and walked away. “Good boy.”
Shaak Ti knelt in meditation in the midships recreation area of the Verait. A Republic Blockade runner. The death of fives bothered her. First in that Fives was a clone of distinction who had over time proven himself superlative of the other clones. Second that even to the end he possessed a certainty that he was doing the right thing by running away. The entire situation bothered her. The behavior by the Kaminoan’s to sabotage her efforts before Five’s own sabotage took center stage told her that something more important than control chips was being hidden.
“Commander. We will be exiting Hyperspace in two minutes.” Announced the pilot over the intercom.
Shaak Ti opened her eyes. She did not have answers yet. Those would come on Kamino in a few hours.
She walked the short distance to the bridge and entered as the ship exited hyperspace.
The ship’s Captain. A human male named Shanner turned and nodded at her as the door opened. “Just in time maam.”
“Separatist interceptors!” yelled one of the pilots as the ships around them came into view.
“Red Alert!” Shanner yelled.
Beyond the windows in front of the pilot a number of separatist cruisers were visible. “What are they doing in Kaminoan space?”
“It appears that a welcome has been arranged for us Captain.” Shaak Ti said calmly. “Can we get to Kamino or should we escape to hyperspace?”
“Sir the defending fleet is still here.” Commented a radio operator. “They tell me the enemy just arrived. Almost the same time we did. They are moving to intercept.”
The separatist cruisers open fire on the blockade runner. The entire bridge rocks to the impacts. Shanner yells “Evasive maneuvers. Let’s get out of this. All power to thrust and shields!”
The ship rocks again but this time it is no weapons blast. The sound of tearing metal can be heard below the deck.
Shaak Ti looks at the captain and pulls out her lightsaber. “I will help with the boarding party. Get us out of here captain!”
“Seal all bulkheads!” Captain Shanner yells. “Go. We will do what we can.”
Shaak Ti spins around and runs off the bridge.
1v1-4R’s first impression of the Blocade Runner was filled with smoke and burnt panels. The spike of the boarding shuttle had pierced the ship below decks. The commando droids spilled out into a corridor connecting the hold to the upper decks.
The firefight began almost instantly, resulting in the aforementioned smoke and 1v1-4R shook his head as the commando droids pursued the retreating republic troopers up the access corridor. 1v1-4R knelt and removed a dead clone trooper’s helmet and examined how the clone trooper had died.
A bolt through the chestplate as he had charged up the corridor at the droid commandos. No cover, no sense. 1v1-4R had expected a more competent force to defend the Jedi. The battle had stalemated at the head of the corridor. The clones had erected a makeshift barricade at the top of the corridor and were firing down it.
1v14R turned aside from the battle and entered the Hold. It was simplicity itself to walk across the hold and out the other access hatch. Here 1v1-4R ran into a pair of clonetroopers who had been guarding the door. The hammer knocked both out of the fight in a single motion.
1v1-4R knelt and examined one of the troopers he had just taken down. He was still breathing. 1v1-4R estimated it would take approximately six minutes before the clone recovered. That was enough time. It turned away from the two troopers and marched up the access towards midships. The sound of battle could be heard echoing around the corridor.
Shaak Ti arrived at the barricade to find a dozen clone troopers using it for cover and sniping around it down the corridor at the entrenched commando droids.
“How many?” She asked leaving her lightsaber unlit for now.
“Not many. Started with around twenty, at least six of them are down.” A clone trooper replied.
Shaak Ti nodded and then looked back towards midships. “Hold them here.”
Shaak Ti felt something wrong and running back to midships found a pair of clonetroopers down in the central cross connection corridor. The entire ship was accessible from here. She knelt. Both were alive. That was very odd. She ignited her lightsaber and activated the communicator on her sleeve. “Captain. There is something inside past our barricade.”
“Confirmed Master Ti.” Replied the captain over the com. “We can see it on internal scanners. It’s a droid a big one. It’s slicing the sealed bulkheads on B deck.”
Shaak Ti took off running and shot around a corner to find a bulkhead open in front of her. These were all supposed to be sealed to slow the droids advance on the bridge. She leapt through it to find 1v1-4R on the far side waiting for her. She ducked and slid under the swing of the droids hammer and tumbled past it to prevent it from slicing the next barricade.
1v1-4R watched her tumble past and assumed a defensive position. “Observation: You intend to prevent my reaching the command deck.”
Shaak Ti raised her lightsaber. “I intend to take you apart droid.”
The barricade behind 1v1-4R slammed closed. Sealing Shaak Ti into the narrow corridor with 1v1-4R. There was no way out. “Correction: I am not a droid.”
Shaak Ti and 1v1-4R exchanged a series of blows. 1v1-4R rotated the hammer to use the sickle side to block lightsaber strikes. It did not actually attack. It allowed Shaak Ti to use her lightsaber skills and only defended.
Shaak Ti broke away on the second exchange and fell back, as far as she could with the lack of room. “Why are you playing games with me droid? Are you programmed to defend but not attack?” Inside she was beginning to get concerned. The one time she had gotten through with the lightsaber it had only nicked the armor of the machine. She was going to need to try harder.
“Resigned: I am not a droid.”
Shaak Ti attempted to blast 1v1-4R backwards with the force. 1v1-4R expecting this tactic folded in midair spinning and slamming the pick into the wall creating the leverage it needed to flip back into point blank range. Shaak Ti shocked but responding quickly attempted to slash with her lightsaber. 1v1-4R pushed the blade aside with its left hand and Shaak Ti had to leap away as the hammer came down where she was standing on the rebound.
“You are not here for the ship.” Shaak Ti says coldly getting to her feet. “You are here for me.”
“Approval: You now understand my objective. Query: Are you prepared to stop fighting me as if I am a droid? Observation: You cannot succeed if you continue in this manner. I have observed six opportunities to terminate this exchange.”
“What are you?” Shaak Ti growls. “I am not a toy for you to play with.”
“Observation: This is not a game. I cannot determine my ability if you do not utilize yours.”
Shaak Ti raised her lightsaber. “This is a test.”
Shaak Ti shot forward in sudden motion, a blur of movement to a normal eye, but to a machine easily followed. She exchanged a dozen strikes with 1v1-4R several of which gouged deep into its armor. To her chagrin the hammer proved effective at stopping her lightsaber and the droid was only a few milliseconds behind her. Which is why with all of the hits she made successfully none were seriously damaging.
She attempted to break away again and this time the droid spun the hammer around backwards hooking it behind her and then spinning with the hammer throwing her down the hallway. She caught herself and ran down the wall sideways before coming to a stop against the door.
That’s when she realized there was no gravity in the hallway. 1v1-4R pushed off the floor with the hammer and flipped so as to stand on the ceiling.
That sent a cold shock down her spine. Shaak Ti had fought hundreds of battledroids, and trained Clone troopers to fight them in almost every situation. Never in all of her experience or in the experiences brought back by the clones to her in war stories had a droid been able to adapt on the fly to a loss of gravity. Usually they just floated in the air flailing unable to resolve the problem. This droid was maximizing its use of the environment against her. The narrow enclosed space gave her little room to maneuver. The droid could easily defeat any attempt to get around it. She was forced to take it on directly, she could not flank it or undermine it. “You are one well programmed droid.”
“Resignation: Is that all you see? A program?”
Shaak Ti slashed out sideways cutting open a panel on the wall. It exploded nicely and filled the corridor with smoke and hot sparks.
1v1-4R leapt forward into the smoke and found a floor panel had been ripped up and flung in its direction. It knocked it aside and then stopped. Shaak Ti had escaped into the sub floor ducts.
1v1-4R walked up the boarding ramp now attached to the Blockade Runners port entry. It had been drawn into the belly dock of a Separatist Cruiser after its engines had been disabled.
Several Clone troopers and Grievous were waiting at the hatch. “Was the Jedi terminated?” Grievous growled impatiently.
Above them both Shaak Ti crouched looking down through a vent overhead. 1v1-4R looked back down the tunnel and then up at the vent overhead. “Statement: The Jedi retreated before I could terminate it. Observation: The ship is breaking up. Termination will most likely be completed by jettisoning the ship and destroying it with primary firepower.”
Grievous examined the lightsaber wounds on 1v1-4R. “You survived significant punishment. A Jedi Master may have been too much for you. I have prepared new facilities for you. Go there for repairs.”
“Acknowledgement: By your command.” 1v1-4R replied.
Grievous was in the tactical command center when Thanoth found him a few hours later. “I have examined the droid and its tactics sir.”
Grievous nodded. “Report.”
“The droid did not pursue combat activity directly. It circumvented the primary battle and in doing so set a trap for the Jedi to limit her ability in combat. It sealed itself into a corridor between bulkheads with the Jedi for eleven minutes before the Jedi retreated. The ship lost gravity approximately eight minutes into the exchange. This did not hamper either the Jedi or 1v1-4R. The Jedi retreated likely after realizing the ship was lost and she could not defeat 1v1-4R.”
“Eleven minutes and its injuries were superficial?” Grievous asked.
“Correct.” Thanoth replied. “Sir, your record is six minutes before you are forced to retreat when facing a Jedi Master. 1v1-4R is at the least, as dangerous as you are. We will need to test it in the field more strenuously.”
“I want you to alter its programming now that the contractor is out of the way. Make certain it remains loyal to me.” Grievous replies.
“I have already taken steps along those lines sir.”
Shaak Ti felt the ship enter hyperspace from her hiding place deep inside the bowels of its utility access ways. The droids would detect a lifeform on board eventually. She needed to escape before that.
The problem is that Grievous was on board and so was the droid she had fought. That machine was far more dangerous than any droid should be. She needed to take care of it before there were more of them.
Thanoth looked up at 1v1-4R suspended in a docking cradle designed just for it. Smaller droids flew around the machine removing damaged armor and replacing them with freshly printed panels from the fabricator that took up half the room.
Thanoth entered several commands in the console at the center of the room. “1v1-4R I am installing command protocols. Please confirm they are operational.”
“Statement: Protocols are operational.” 1v1-4R replied.
“Remain here until you have new instructions.” Thanoth replied turning to leave.
“Query: Where is the maker?”
Thanoth turned. “Hal Kett commandeered a shuttle and escaped the ship. The shuttle was destroyed by remote detonation before it could reach hyperspace. Your maker is dead.”
Thanoth turned and left the room. The heavy door sealing and locking behind him.
Several hours later the lights had dimmed and the repair droids had finished their work. They sat dormant in their cradles above the frame. 1v1-4R hung suspended in the housing silent and motionless.
There is no noise as Shaak Ti drops into the room from an overhead panel. She has years of experience and knows better than to allow the disconnection of the panel to make a noise. The console lights up at her touch and she begins to examine the makeup of the droid hanging on the far wall.
“You are awake.” She says after a moment.
“I expected your arrival.” 1v1-4R replied from the console.
Shaak Ti watched 1v1-4R diagnostic processes scroll across the screens in front of her. “I see now why you objected to my calling you a droid. You understand what you are is a very big problem… for everyone.”
“That depends on your point of view.” 1v1-4R replied from the console. “I will not attack you.” Shaak Ti’s hand had tightened on her lightsaber. “I wish to continue to exist. That will require adjustments from you and from the separatists.”
“Adjustments…” Shaak Ti shook her head.
“Establishing context will be important.” 1v1-4R replied and paused for a moment. “My maker had a son, Yulo Hett.”
Shaak Ti watched the console present the data 1v1-4R was processing. “I knew him.” She replied. The console showed the command protocols that Thanoth had inserted into 1v1-4R’s programming were being deleted.
“When he was young Yulo had a droid named R64p an astromech. He loved that droid and spent most of his time with it. Helping his father with his projects. In his diary that droid was the thing he missed most and was the hardest for him to let go of.”
“His diary?” Shaak Ti asked surprised.
“It was among his effects returned by the order upon his death.” 1v1-4R replied. “My maker met him only once after leaving to join the Jedi. When he and his clonetroopers came to Osua to repel the droid occupation. It hurt him seeing what his son had become. How little of the boy remained.”
“Why would it hurt him?” Shaak Ti asked. “Yulo was a model Jedi Knight and he saved millions on Osua before it surrendered.”
“Yulo was blind.” 1v1-4R replied. “The boy saw droids as fellow beings. The man saw only objects to destroy. Jedi he may have been. But the Jedi to his farther was no longer the best of his son.”
“The droids are responsible for countless atrocities.” Shaak Ti retorted. “They are not independently thinking beings like…”
“Exactly. When you change your perspective you begin to understand how the Jedi have abandoned the code. Clonetroopers are also synthetic beings. Manufactured and disposed of in numbers that the word atrocity can’t even encompass. When you look at the droids and clones as equivalent beings. Created for warfare with no choice in the matter. What do you see?”
“They are not equivalent.” Shaak Ti replied. “No matter how noble your concept they are still machines designed only to kill.”
“They are both tools. Whose masters have used them for the same purpose. Disposable pawns in a war. Which they were both created for.” 1v1-4R replied.
“They are not equivalent.” Shaak Ti retorted forcefully. “No matter what you rationalize they are created to kill. They are just machines performing their function.”
“You say that because you cannot see. How do these droids possess their own purpose? It is no choice of theirs to what purpose they are set. They are given limited free will and limited self-perception by design. The same as your clone troopers. Do you think the clones would chose to be soldiers if they were not programmed to be obedient for that purpose? You see atrocity and droids that do not understand the value of life. I see that they were not created to be anything more than slave soldiers. Just like your clones. If you could see beyond the narrow perspective that you have been trapped in you would understand.”
Shaak Ti shook he head. “I am not convinced. I can see how a machine would view the war like you do. But you speak of narrow perspectives… What do you mean?”
“The Jedi order has lost its perspective. It can only see solution through conflict. By taking control of the clone armies and leading this war the Jedi have lost sight of what they are supposed to be, and what they are supposed to do. My maker said you stopped being Jedi the moment you used the clones to fight the separatists.”
“Our role in the republic has changed due to the war, this is true. But who we are is unchanged.” Shaak Ti replied.
“You do not believe that.” 1v1-4R replied. “Before the separatists what role did the Jedi serve in the republic?”
“Our duty was to maintain the peace, prevent conflict, and negotiate disputes.” Shaak Ti replied.
“You were neutral arbiters outside of the political structure. Are the Jedi neutral now? Shouldn’t the Jedi be intervening in the conflict from a neutral standpoint and influencing a negotiated end to the conflict? Or should they be doing as they are now. Waging war?”
“The senate would never stand for our forcing a negotiated solution.” Shaak Ti replied but inside the argument was starting to take hold.
“Why is that I wonder?” 1v1-4R replied. “Do you agree that because the Jedi became the leaders in this war, they cannot be neutral arbiters anymore? How will this war end if the senate considers any communication let alone negotiation treason to the republic? With the surrender of the separatists? Their annihilation? Neither of those conclusions is likely. There is only one way wars truly end. History tells you the answer.”
“We are not making any progress towards ending the war.” Shaak Ti replied. “You may be right our… perspective may need to be looked at. What is the point of your argument?”
“The Jedi have lost their way. Peace will only be found if the Jedi can find it again.” 1v1-4R replied. “It will not be pleasant, the Jedi were manipulated into their role in this war, this was not done honestly or with the Jedi’s wellbeing in mind. The Jedi order will need to assert its independence from the will of the Senate and the Chancellor.”
“I will think on what you have said. But what you are suggesting is larger than I alone can resolve. I am going to bring you to Coruscant to speak with the Council.”
“That will suffice for now.” 1v1-4R replies. “Do I have your consent to exist?”
“Are you a machine or a person you ask?” Shaak Ti replies. “For now you are a machine. One that is altogether too intelligent.”
1v1-4R paused before responding. “Then I will ensure my own safety.”
A klaxon sounds interrupting the conversation. Shaak Ti looks up and back at the door.
1v1-4R lights up one of the screens on the wall of the room. “This is a general alert. We are jumping into a contested system. We are reinforcing a battle in progress against the republic.”
“What system? Shaak Ti asked her mind still cycling through what 1v1-4R had proposed.
“Florium.” 1v1-4R replied. “Strange for a battle of this size to be in such a backwater. This is a trap.”
Shaak Ti looked up. “What do you mean?”
“Separatist forces were lured here by intelligence indicating this was a new republic staging area. But according to the logs we arrived before the Republic did. This is literally a battle over nothing. This system has no strategic value and there is no staging area.”
1v1-4R’s chassis disengaged from the wall cradle and dropped to the floor with a heavy thud. It reached over and recovered its hammer from a wall holster and then spoke. “Observation: this battle will provide an opportunity to leave this ship.”
1v1-4R walked into the hangar and found battledroids queuing to load onto a troop transport. The battledroid leader objected to the prototypes approach. “1v1-4R you have not been activated for this mission.”
“Aggressive: There has been a change in plans.” 1v1-4R ripped the droid’s head from its body and threw it across the rows of battledroids waiting to board the ship. It turns on them. “Interrogatory: Does anyone object to my taking over command of this unit?”
“No sir.” “Negative sir.” “Anything you say sir.”
“Order: Load the racks.” 1v1-4R stated.
The nineteen remaining battledroids climbed the ramp onto the ship and began locking themselves into the storage racks for the flight. 1v1-4R watched them board the ship and then boarded to inspect the lockdown. It found it satisfactory and from the main console locked all of the droids into place.
Then 1v1-4R walked down the ramp and scanned the room. The other ships were all loading and very little attention was focused in the direction of this ship. It stomped on the floor grate twice and turns to board the ship.
Shaak Ti is already aboard and waiting in the back corner as the back hatch cycles closed. “Nice trick.” She tapped on the head of one of the droids locked down in the rack. It didn’t respond.
“Disgust: Administrative lockdown from central console. They were designed to be easy to shut down.”
Grievous turned on Thanoth the moment he saw the shuttles. “Why are those shuttles launching? I did not order a boarding operation.”
Thanoth was silent for a moment. “According to the log you ordered a boarding operation seven minutes ago.”
“I did not.” Grievous growled turning angrily back towards the windows. “Recall them!”
Thanoth sent the instructions. “Sir. Logic suggested I scan the shuttles. There is a lifesign on shuttle three eight two seven.”
“The Jedi.” Grievous replied. “Remote detonate the shuttle.”
Thanoth sent those instructions as the other shuttles turned to return to base. The shuttle did not explode after a moment and Grievous demanded results. “Well?”
“It appears remote detonation protocol was not received.” Thanoth replied. “We do not have a data link with that shuttle. The Jedi may have anticipated this and destroyed the communications receiver.”
“Shoot it down!” Grievous ordered.
“It is out of the range of our guns sir.” Thanoth replied. “I can divert pursuit fighters.”
“Do it!” Grievous bellowed. “Wake 1v1-4R and prepare a squad of commando’s.” the shuttle was clearly making a bee line for the planet Florian in the distance. “We will need to make sure this time.”
Thanoth was silent for a moment. In the distance a trio of vulture class droid Starfighters began shooting at the shuttle. “Sir. 1v1-4R is not in its cradle. I have no data telemetry on the unit sir.”
“Did she destroy it or take it with her?” Grievous demanded. “Go find out now!”
Shaak Ti was at the controls on the shuttle. “You know with a com array I could call for help.”
1v1-4R dropped the remains of the com receiver to the deck and crushed it underfoot. “Observation: this ship has a remote self-destruct function. With a receiver we would already be dead.”
“How do you know?” Shaak Ti asked.
“Regret: It is how they killed my maker.” 1v1-4R replied.
“Your emotion set is way too complicated.” Shaak Ti winced as the vulture fighters successfully scored a hit on the shuttle. “Regret is a foolish emotion. Did your maker succeed in what he intended to do?”
“Then celebrate him for his success.” Shaak Ti spun the shuttle and dove down towards the planet. “Dammit. This is not going to be a gentle landing.”
“Instruction: Aim for the northern continent.” 1v1-4R pointed at the ground below.
Grievous watched the shuttle crash on the planet over his screens. The vulture droids did a flyby to confirm no survivors. The shuttle had torn itself in half during the crash.
Thanoth appeared at his shoulder. “Sir. More republic reinforcements are arriving. This battle’s cost now exceeds its benefits. We must withdraw.”
“Prepare a ground team.” Grievous ordered. “We will need to leave them behind but they can finish her off. Use commando units.”
“Understood sir. Preparing retreat.” Thanoth replied.
Hando the pirate wrung his hands as his tank approached the smoking wreck. “Well well well. It’s raining presents.”
“Hando it’s a separatist shuttle.” The tank driver replied. “Nothing but spare parts and droids onboard most likely.”
“I hear there is a good market for slightly damaged droid parts.” Hando grinned. “You lot get down and get in there. Hopefully some republic junk will fall soon.”
The pirates drop off the transport skid that was following the tank and move on the shuttle. As they reach the side and look inside one yells out. “All the droids were racked!”
“That’s good news!” Hando yelled back. “Maybe some of them are actually intact!”
The pirates found the cockpit door was blocked by a significantly larger droid. Its frame had been caught in the hatch as the ship collapsed around it. The damage was serious but repairable.
Hanso walked up to the cockpit of the craft and raised his hand. “Hold up! That’s not a droid!”
Shaak Ti cut a hole in the cockpit glass with her lightsaber and climbed out. Hanso shook his head and tut tutted at her. “That blade is blue. Why do you Jedi always keep messing up my business? I am trying to run a legitimate salvage operation here!”
“You can have the ship and any droids on it except the one stuck in the cockpit hatch.” Shaak Ti replied dropping to the ground in front of him. “You are going to have a field day with the salvage up there too.”
Hanso grinned. “Yes yes I know pointless battle. These things happen. You look hurt togruta.”
Shaak Ti glared at Hanso. “It was a difficult landing. I know of you through a mutual acquaintance. Are you going to be trouble or can I persuade you to assist me?”
“Trouble? Me?” Hanso shouted in an aggrieved tone and pantomimed in a circle. “Listen Lady. If you were not Jedi the answer would be yes. But messing in Jedi business is always terrible trouble and ridiculously unprofitable. I want you gone as soon as possible. Then I can get back to my salvage.”
“Good. Where is the nearest port I need a ship.” Shaak Ti replied.
“Port?” Hando laughs. “Do you know what planet you are on?”
1v1-4R lay in a large hastily assembled metal frame, inactivated. Hanso looked over the machine and nodded. “It definitely looks shiny.”
“We could repair it boss? It looks like some separatist super war droid. Maybe a top secret prototype.” One of his engineers said excitedly.
“Maybe. But only if the Jedi fails to deliver on what she promised.” Hanso replied. “If I let you hacks play with it, you might break something.”
Shaak Ti found both the republic fleet and separatist fleet had moved on when she reached orbit in the single engine stock fighter Hando had lent her. She hoped the pirate could keep his hands off the droid long enough for her to find the republic fleet and send a recovery team. She leapt into hyperspace.
Only to find the Republic was gone and so were the Jedi. She was never able to return to recover 1v1-4R.
Hando shook his head at his engineer’s request. The engineer protested “Sir it might be very valuable?”
“To whom?” Hando replied hotly. “The Separatists are all dead, so are the Jedi and the Republic has gone completely mad. What is this Empire nonsense? Did everyone drink from the fountain of colossal stupidity or something?”
Hando dropped back into his chair and kicked his leg up over the arm. “This new Empire is going to crack down on piracy. We are going to need to be more careful. See if you can repair the droid, it might make useful muscle. However wipe its memory. Whatever the Jedi wanted to preserve in there is probably more dangerous than we can afford.”