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Efficiency

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Theron Shan was no stranger to unusual technologies.  Even assuming his job didn’t involve getting up close and personal with everything from datachips to gladiator droids on an almost daily basis, dealing with Darth Mekhis and her devices meant his threshold for being genuinely impressed by new tech was pretty much destroyed. 

That didn’t stop him from gawking at his new friend’s very unexpected companion.

“Is that an HK droid?”

“Correction: I am not merely an HK unit,” the droid crossed its arms in an almost offended manner.  “I am HK-51, the pinnacle of the HK series.  My assassination protocols are second to none.”

“Err… right,” Theron nodded at the droid and turned back to the Jedi sitting on the other side of the table.  “Gotta say, I’m surprised you of all people would have an assassin droid.”

“I’m still trying to believe it myself,” Barsen’thor said with a wry smile. “I’ve had to destroy all the other ones I’ve met.”

“Consolation: the Empire’s current droids are all inferior models with subpar protocols, master.  The galaxy does not suffer for their loss.”

 


 

“Conclusion: the current state of the Empire’s droids is nothing short of distressing, master.”

“Is that so?”  Darth Occlus leaned against the doorway, watching with some amusement as HK-51 stared at an increasingly nervous 2V-R8 going about its duties.  “Why do you say that?”

“Observation: the Sith Lord Lana Beniko used an A7 unit to convey her messages,” the assassin droid actually shuddered at the memory, its sniper rifle clacking loudly against its back.  2V yelped and scurried out of the room with a hasty bow. “Even amongst astromechs the A7 series is notoriously fickle and prone to certain lapses in programming.  That such an esteemed personage would even consider utilizing them says much about the available selection.”

“That makes sense,” Occlus said agreeably.  “But you must realize the Empire is low on resources and most of our isotope-5 production has gone towards fleet upkeep.  Perhaps with time we’ll return to commissioning more droids of your caliber.”

(He’d actually thought Lana’s little purple droid was rather nice and was considering buying one for Talos, who’d mentioned wanting an astromech to take on archaeological digs.  Now he was tempted to get one for himself just to see HK’s reaction, though he was half-certain the ensuing storm might scare poor 2V-R8 into short-circuiting.)

 


 

“Well,” Theron looked like he couldn’t decide whether to pull out a holorecorder or run for his life.  “This is awkward.”

“That’s an unusual term for interesting,” Darth Occlus turned to his other temporary Republic ally with a smile.  “I believe your Order has a saying, something about the Force working in mysterious ways?”

“We do say that a lot, don’t we?” Barsen’thor met Occlus’s smile with a bemused expression.  “Though… this is not what we usually have in mind.”

“Be as it may, I’m sure they are mature enough to handle this without our supervision,” Lana cleared her throat.  “Perhaps we should continue?”

 


 

“Lamentation: it is unfortunate to see a member of my production line beholden to a Jedi,” HK-51 sighed, sadly shaking its head.  “Your efficient programming is wasted under her ownership.”

“Confutation: the Jedi’s lifestyle has been very accommodating with opportunities to delete troublemakers,” HK-51 placed its hands on its hips.  “How many organics have you deleted as bodyguard to a Dark Councilor?”

“Admission: I do not liquidate as many undesirables as I’d like,” HK-51 crossed its arms.  “But my liquidation targets are of an exponentially better quality than any litter found on the battlefield.”

“Elaboration: ah, but you assume incorrectly,” HK-51 wagged an admonishing finger.  “My master rarely settles for such pedestrian targets.  Look at the data and you’ll find that high-value Imperial troublemakers have been deleted with 99% more efficiency since my reactivation.”

“Observation: if your calculations are correct then this is a strange Jedi indeed,” HK-51 turned to look at the organic sentients standing on the other side of the room.  “Consideration: perhaps the correct stimulants would encourage her to explore the more efficient path of the Sith.”

HK-51 tapped its chin thoughtfully. “Rumination: close analysis of his actions since ascending to the Council suggests your master is not a normal Sith by any means.  Perhaps the correct stimulants would encourage him to explore the more efficient path of the Jedi.”

There was a long moment of silence.

“Declaration: I think we both know that the only thing more efficient than either of us is both of us working together.”

“Suggestion: perhaps it is in our best interests to ensure this alliance between our masters becomes permanent.”


 

Occlus leaned back as comfortably as he could in the rickety chair, subtly studying his surroundings with a practiced eye.  Like its counterparts in countless places across the galaxy, the Blaster’s Path Cantina was a place for natives to mingle and outsiders to soak in the atmosphere while enjoying cheap drinks and local cuisine.  Of course, in this case ‘natives’ meant members of the pirate gangs which inhabited Raider’s Cove and ‘outsiders’ tended to be adventurers and bounty hunters dropping in for a job or excitement. 

All things considered, Occlus was still trying to figure out how these suspicious, seasoned people of ill-repute could be so easily tricked.  The Jedi’s attempts at pretending to be a cannibal pirate captain was truly something for the Holonet archives.

“Declaration: I have compiled a list of high-value troublemakers on this planet.  While nowhere near the quality I would normally suggest, they should more than suffice until we leave.”

Occlus blinked, turning to face the assassin droid that had just slid into the empty seat beside him.  He’d never heard HK-51 describe the ‘liquidation’ targets in such… saccharine terms before. A glance at the unfamiliar rifle on HK’s back confirmed his suspicions.

“If you’re looking for the Jedi, I believe she’s back at the safehouse,” he said, gesturing vaguely towards the door.   “Do I want to know why she needs a list of ‘high-value troublemakers’?”

“I am aware of my master’s location at all times,” HK-51 gave Occlus an expectant look.  “This list is for your personal use.”

“Do I want to know why I want a list of ‘high-value troublemakers’?”

“Suggestion: perhaps you would like to have a personal hand in helping make Raider’s Cove a more welcoming place for organics from all walks of life.”

“… What.”

 


 

Meditating on the light side wasn’t exactly easy when sharing a house with two Sith, but Barsen’thor had decided to approach it as a personal challenge.

She was quite confident she could pass the challenge as well, as long as there wasn’t a Dashade lurking in a corner and staring at her hungrily.

“Is there something you need?” Barsen’thor asked politely, looking up at Occlus’s personal bodyguard.  Like the rest of his species Khem Val was resistant to the Force, his presence muted to her senses.  His expression was inscrutable as well, though Occlus seemed to delight in assuring her that Khem was simply jealous of not having his master’s full attention.

Such a declaration tended to result in annoyed rumbles whenever Khem was in earshot.

No,” Khem growled, crossing his arms.  “My master has ordered me to guard this place and leave you be…for now.

But if there was one thing Barsen’thor could be sure of, it was that Khem really wanted to eat her.

The droid has also asked that I inform him when you are finished with your meditation.  I will fetch him now.

Khem spun on his heel and marched out of the room, leaving Barsen’thor staring after him blankly.  A moment later HK-51 strode into the room with a stack of datapads tucked under its arm.

“Declaration: I have compiled a list of high-value undesirables on this planet.  While nowhere near the quality I would normally suggest, they should more than suffice until we leave.”

“If you’re looking for Darth Occlus, I think he’s at the cantina,” she said slowly.  Even if she ignored the droid’s uncharacteristic use of ‘undesirables’, the sleek Imperial rifle on its back was an obvious giveaway.  “Do I want to know why he wants a list of ‘high-value undesirables’?”

“I am aware of my master’s location at all times,” HK-51 said in a slightly miffed voice.  “These targets have been collected for your personal perusal.”

“That’s… very thoughtful of you, HK, but I’m not sure why I’d want a list of ‘high-value undesirables’.”

“Suggestion: perhaps you’d like to perfect your liquidation techniques on lesser organics before confronting Revan.”

“Um... not particularly, no…”

 


 

"Report: our initial endeavors have had less impact than we expected."

"Rumination: perhaps we should liquidate these undesirables ourselves to show our masters the benefits of their deaths before preparing our next list."

 


 

"Hey, uh, guys?"  Theron's eye twitched slightly as his cybernetic implants, which were feeding him images from several hidden cameras around Raider's Cove, suddenly began showing two very familiar droids.  One of the droids turned to look straight at the closest camera and gave Theron a small wave.  "Why are your HK droids stalking a local while pretending to be protocol droids?"

The two Councilors looked at him with almost identical expressions of confusion.  Then understanding dawned and they glanced at each other, seeming to reach an unspoken conclusion before standing and rushing out the door.

Theron stared after them.

"I'm sure they can take care of themselves," Lana called from the other room.  "In the meantime, Theron, can you take a look at these sensors?  The data I'm getting doesn't make any sense at all."

"Uh… right.  Sure," Theron shook his head and decided to chalk everything up to some Force weirdness he’d never understand.  On the bright side, at least the two mortal enemies were getting along better than he’d hoped.