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climb, climb

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K-2SO says, “There is a ninety-five per cent chance I will outlive you.”

“Gee,” says Cassian, “thanks.”

K-2SO has a comprehensive knowledge of human idioms and linguistic quirks: he knows precisely what sarcasm is.

He’s a little shit. He pretends he doesn’t.

“You’re welcome,” he says.

 

 

--

 

 

Do droids have memories? Personalities? Souls?

K-2SO never worried about that sort of thing in the time Before, when he was a droid programmed to kill who he was told and spout statistics so that other beings could kill more effectively.

He was a glorified blaser: a tool, a weapon. Nothing more.

He remembers it. He shouldn’t, but the re-programming wasn’t perfect (Cassian is a skilled engineer, but not that skilled) and so he remembers seeing Cassian Andor and thinking DESIGNATION REBEL: DESTROY and that -- well, droids do not have emotions but if they did then he would weep from the fear that he had been so close.

So close.

(should droids feel guilt?)

Stupid Cassian Andor, with his quick-thinking and statistically-absurd luck. He had lived. Planted a bolt right into the back of K-2SO’s head; then all was black and fuzz and K-2SO woke to...complexity.

New thought processes -- except he hadn’t meant to call them that, they were meant to be glitches in his programming , problems with his verbal reasoning, new words absorbed like a sponge, learning when he was not meant to. Not thoughts, droids don’t think, droids in the Empire do not think -- he remembers this, but droids in the Empire are also not meant to remember.

The first time K-2SO called Cassian an idiot, suggested that he would be better off blindfolding himself and tap-dancing towards his intended target because that course of action is 23% more likely to succeed than this abomination of a plan --

Cassian had blinked. Stared. And K-2SO, without quite understanding why, had stepped back. Because in the strangeness of his new mind was fear, and doubt, and a new knowledge: that if he was decommissioned, if he was re-programmed...then he would no longer be him .

In his new mind he had a strange new thought, utterly alien but profoundly true: I am me.

I am me -- not a droid, not a weapon, not a tool -- I am me, this strange man has made me me and if he reprograms me then I cease to exist.

Cassian’s mouth cracked open and he uttered a strange, hard cough.

K-2SO did not know what human laughter was. He feared that his new

(master? Captain? What was the right word?)

person was choking, so he grabbed him by the ankles, flipped him upside down and smacked him good and hard between the shoulderblades to dislodge whatever was wedged in his throat.

“Just as well they programmed us with First Aid,” said K-2SO, cheerily, dropping Cassian onto the ground. “Have you finished dying?”

 

 

--

 

 

“You don’t trust me,” K-2SO pouts, when Cassian refuses him a blaster for the sixteenth time.  

Cassian frowns “And that bothers you?” he says.

“Of course!”

“Why?”

“Because it is annoying; statistically speaking --”

“You said that you don’t like it that I don’t trust you .”

“Well,” says K-2SO, “yes.”

“Huh,” says Cassian. “ Huh . Other droids talk about their programming -- ”

“I am not,” K-2SO says, rather prissily, “ other droids .”

 

 

--

 

 

R2-D2 is an irksome little thing that enjoys zapping humans for no good reason. K-2SO adores him.

We shot down fifteen TIE fighters this morning!

“You’re a bloodthirsty thing, for a maintenance droid,” says K-2SO, because he’s spent long enough around Cassian to know what joyful battle-pride sounds like.

I’m me! Not just a maintenance droid!

“Yes -- I suppose you are.”

 

 

--

 

 

“Do droids have souls?”

Cassian’s very drunk. He’s lolloped over K’s knees -- well, what could be (loosely) termed knees.

“Don’t be absurd. That is silly superstition.”

“Don’t you believe in the Force?”

“I believe in what I have seen work.”

“Ah. Like me?”

“No. Like me .”

 

 

--

 

 

Humans are strange things.

Baze’s heart-rate increases around Chirrut. They are pair-bonded. This is clear. But apparently congratulating them on a particularly satisfying night of copulation is not appropriate.

It makes Cassian stutter.

Thus, K makes a point of saying it as much as possible.

“What odd customs humans have,” he says.

Chirrut snorts.

“You are a devious creature,” he says.

If K had a mouth, he would smile.

 

 

--

 

 

“You are you,” Chirrut says. He takes K’s hand. It is a gesture that has no equivalent in droid culture: no droid craves physical contact, not really.

But K understands the meaning behind it.

He closes his digits around Chirrut’s fingers.

“I do not know what you mean.”

“You have friends. You have opinions. You will never return to being a mindless slave. I promise you this.”

“The Force is in every living thing. That isn’t me.”

“Do you not stand? Walk? Converse? remember ?”

“Scientifically speaking, none of those mean that I am alive -- besides, memory is a construction --”

“The Force has a plan for you,” says Chirrut, gently.

 

 

--

 

 

It does.

The Force, K thinks, is an arsehole .

 

 

--

 

 

Droids do not have feelings. Droids do not have thoughts. Droids obey orders, nothing more, and K’s lip is a fault in his programming.

All these lies and more, brought to you by K-2SO, the amazing droid with existential anxiety! Roll up, tiny and breakable humans, roll to bond with him so that when you eventually, inevitably, die he is left to mourn you.

That’s not what happens.

K’s circuitry fizzes and snaps. He cannot see properly, not anymore; but he sees enough to seal the vault. “Climb!” he shouts, panicked and afraid -- not for himself, but for brave Jyn, beautiful Cassian, fire and and fury in their tiny human shells, enough fire and fury, perhaps, to melt the greatest weapon the universe had ever seen. “Climb! CLIMB!” he howls, and something snaps within him. Droids cannot feel pain. They cannot feel pain --

I’m one with the Force --

The Force is with me --

I’m one with --

I’m --

I --

 

 

--

 

 

He opens his eyes.

He’s there to greet Cassian and Jyn and Chirrut and Baze, and Bodhi and all the others.

He’s there.

“Told you so,” says Chirrut, smugly.

K is still a little shit.

He smacks him around the back of the head.