His last coherent thought as he destroyed the control panel and his systems briefly surrendered to the damage from the shot to his chest and the energy backlash from his act of destruction pretty much summarized the entire situation rather effectively:
This day was turning out exactly as badly as he predicted.
K-2SO went offline, losing all awareness and sense of time. Then he was forced back on, his systems working around the problems and blaster shots through his body. Thank the Maker for poor aim and built-in redundancies. Of course, since he was built as essentially a replaceable walking weapon by the same people who just tried to reduce him to scrap metal, he could only thank them so much.
Error. Primary Power Cell Severely Damaged. Power Levels At 17 Percent.
Error. Electromagnetic Field Sensors Offline.
Error. Infrared Sensors At 4 Percent.
Error. Auditory Sensors At 62 Percent.
Error. Photoreceptors At 79 Percent.
Error. Targeting Systems At 23 Percent.
He disregarded the rest of the stream of error messages from his diagnostics. He was quite aware his power was low, his senses were hampered, and his motor skills were now pathetic, thank you very much. The precise numbers did not help much beyond predicting how close to zero his chances of survival would be. The information did nothing to change his intended actions.
No wonder the organics did not like it when he told them the precise odds.
He heard the sounds of blasters as he pulled his broken body back online, several people firing behind him as the droid remained draped across the floor near the console. Only a few moments must have passed. His photoreceptors flicked back on, but he didn’t move yet.
Stormtroopers. How humiliating. Could it not have been at least Death Troopers? The black-armored forces could actually aim and hit a target without depending on random chance. Still, considering how many Stormtroopers tried to attack down the twin hallways and how many he had already killed, he was bound to be overwhelmed eventually. They had numbers on their side. And now, by the sounds of it, they were attempting to blast their way through the sealed door to the data vault.
They were trying to stop Cassian and Jyn. K-2SO would not allow it.
Between twenty-three percent remaining for his automatic targeting system that all Enforcer models of the KX-series Imperial security drones possessed, four percent for his infrared sensors, and sixty-two percent for his auditory sensors, he could estimate the location of seven hostiles in the room without looking. They were all crowded around the door. He did not turn to look or climb to his feet as he reclaimed the loaned blaster with his right hand. He only had a seventeen percent chance of succeeding. Surprise only raised his chances to twenty-four percent. But he could not allow the Stormtroopers into the data vault. So while their focus was on the sealed door, he should act.
K-2SO provided strategic analysis. That was his role within the Alliance; mostly assisting Cassian on his missions, piloting when necessary, and rescuing a young woman from a labor camp on rare occasions. He was not allowed a weapon. That was the agreement Cassian made in order to keep him, the man arguing and bargaining to protect the droid that originally tried to kill him before the rather substandard reprogramming. That was the deal Cassian made to prevent someone in the Alliance from decommissioning a potentially dangerous droid. Even now, many of them were afraid that he would revert to his original programming and purpose someday.
But Jyn gave him a blaster. No fear or hesitation. Only trust. She gave him a blaster. And he still remembered what he was built for.
In one swift motion that only worsened the damage to his body, K-2SO shoved himself up, spun around, and fired several shots. The first four blasts tore through their armor and those Stormtroopers hit the ground before they even realized he was back online. The last three shots also hit their targets, but not fast enough to prevent return fire. Even with his durable construction, the blasts burn through more of K-2SO’s circuitry and he was forced to catch himself as his legs gave out again.
Error. Motor Control For Left Leg Disabled.
Error. Motor Control For Right Leg Disabled.
Reestablishing Connection… 40 Percent Control Restored.
Error. Power Levels At 15 Percent.
Well, that certainly was not the best news he had received all day. And it would likely continue to grow worse. K-2SO could at least start pulling himself back upright, however unsteadily. But it also meant he was losing power faster than expected through all the damaged circuitry, servos, and wires. He could hear the occasional pop and fizzle of electricity sparking. His chances of getting out just dropped significantly. And they were not that high to begin with.
There was nothing more he could do. Jyn and Cassian would get the blueprints off the planet. The odds were not high, but both of them seemed to defy expectations improbably often and he had provided them all the assistance he could. He could not help them or the mission further. His remaining options were to stay in this room until he lost power completely or to try making it back to towards the stolen cargo ship. Neither choice significantly raised his likelihood of survival.
But waiting around for someone to finish him off sounded boring. Not to mention the Imperial forces would probably try to hack his memory banks for information on the Alliance if they found his offline body lying around. So it would be best to at least try escaping while he was still capable of the attempt.
Working past the damaged components as much as possible, K-2SO took an unsteady step towards one of the twin hallways. Navigating past the piles of dead bodies he had left there would not be fun, but he should be able to manage. He was still operational within limits. If Cassian survived as well, he would ensure the droid was repaired rather than replaced. This was not so bad. It was manageable.
He pulled up the map for the citadel tower that he had downloaded in his processor, trying to determine the most effective path back to the Landing Pad 9 that would bypass most of the remaining forces. While no hostiles remained alive in the room, there would be others. And due to the heightened state of alertness, his manufactured model would not be enough to protect him from detection this time. His body riddled with the damage of blaster fire was not exactly the low profile he needed. He would indeed be a “walking target” to anyone he encountered in the hall or on one of the overhead walkways.
A noise behind him was all the warning he received that at least one shot did not hit perfectly and one hostile remained. K-2SO tried to force his damaged body to turn. Two blasters fired at the same time and—
Error. Error. Error. eRroR. Eerrrorr.
Both shots hit.
Target dead, shot in chest. No longer threat.
Damage already done. Shot in head. Not accurate hit, head still mostly intact. Online, but severely hampered. Processor and left photoreceptor damaged by shot.
Chance of survival?
Calculating odds inadvisable at present. Losing track of time, malfunctions.
Focus on goal, return to cargo ship.
Move down hallway. Keep hold on blaster. Brace against wall, balance.
Forward. Continue forward. Keep walking—
Time skip in memory. Side effect of damage.
Empty space. Large room. Must locate transporter, rails leading to landing pad.
POWer leVELs At 12 PerCEnt.
Circuitry sparking and sizzling. Systems failing. Breaking. Broken. Losing con—
Firing blaster. Hostiles. Time skip in memory. Disorienting and hindering to escape.
Aim suffering. Some shots miss targets. Hostiles return fire.
Further damage. Blasters shots destroying—
PowER 1EVeLs A7 8 pERc3Nt.
PH0toR3CeptorS aT 10 P3rCenT.
Time skip in memory.
Slight vibrations. Transporter moving along rails. No hostiles. Alone.
Audi7ORy s3NSors At 14 PeRC3nt.
Blurry vision. Muffled hearing. Left arm unresponsive.
…Correction. Left arm missing.
Blaster in right hand. Not helpless yet.
Identifying and locating hostiles difficult with hampered sensors. Must not shoot ally forces when transporter stops. Cassian would disapprove.
Overhead, sounds of blasts. Ships firing? Getting clo—
Error. Error. Error.
Return online. Lying on ground. Sand. Outside. Transporter and rails gone. Destroyed. Time skip in memory.
Lower body? Gone. Chest and internal components? Only half intact and heavily damaged. Right hand and weapon? Gone. Right arm? Damaged, gone below elbow joint.
PHotOR3cep7oR2 AT 4 p3Rc3Nt.
Walking not an option. Crawl across sand. Dragging broken body with remaining arm, only able to move at shoulder joint.
Sounds of distant combat and explosions. Move towards noise, towards stolen ship.
Unable to see destination. Vision weak. Memory only.
Processor damaged. Uncertain of current location relative to cargo ship. Memory unreliable guide. Success unlikely.
Crawling clumsily, pushing sand into inner workings. Unpleasant. Keep going.
P0w3R l3ve1s aT 3 PerC3NT.
Helpless. Weak. Broken. Failing.
Less sand. Solid surface. Landing pad? Keep going.
Sound. Ship engine starting. Nearby.
Clang. Metal-against-metal. Arm hitting metal, not sand or the landing pad. Ship ramp?
Pull body faster. Ramp moving, lifting closing. Must not be left behind.
Drag body further, onto ramp. Surface tilting, sending body rolling down, falling inside ship.
Crash into metal objects, irregularly shaped. Shrapnel? Broken pieces of equipment? Result of explosion? Uncertain.
PoW3r Lev3Ls at 2 peRcen7.
Movement beneath. Ship flying. Escaping?
No. Stopping somewhere. Ramp lowering.
“Get in! Now!”
Bodhi. Loud. Stressed. Pained. Above, piloting ship.
AUdIT0rY R3C3ptORs At 4 pErC3Nt.
Staggering footsteps up ramp. One? Two? Uncertain.
“Go! Close it!”
Jyn. Pained, but less so. Scared. Tired. Winded. Carrying burden? Moving towards wall, sliding down.
Vibrations. Not just ship flying through atmosphere. Shockwave? Like Jedha?
P0Wer 13V31s aT 1 p3RC3N7.
Hyperdrive activated. Rattling. Ship damaged, but functional.
Labored breathing. Two. Jyn and unknown. Hurt, tired, unmoving. Alive.
Three surviving organics onboard. Bodhi. Jyn. Unknown.
Cassian? Unable to see. Unable to ask. Unable to move. All operations failing.
Broken. Damaged. Useless.
Not worth repairing. Replaceable.
“Bodhi?” called Jyn.
Unsteady person climbing to their feet, stagger across cargo hold, climb ladder to cockpit above. Slow movements. Injured. Tired. Adrenaline fading?
Quiet voice, worried, horrified. Scrambling sounds. Few distinct words audible. Failing auditory sensors to blame.
“Where… medkit? …burns… How…? …worse than…”
Pained cough. Unknown. Cannot identify.
Possible. Jyn survived. Could be Cassian.
Cassian may be alive. Uncertain.
Breathing pattern changed, barely audible even in confined space. Unknown unconscious.
Shutting down. Too damaged, power failing.
Jyn had resigned herself to dying, staggering towards the beach while bearing most of Cassian’s weight. She was limping, battered, and bruised. He was barely standing and clutching his lower right side, making her suspect a blaster wound or something similar. But a far greater issue was the bright light on the horizon. The Death Star fired on the planet and they couldn’t out-run the approaching destruction. But they passed on the blueprints, ensuring her father’s sacrifice would not be in vain. The weapon would be destroyed. That would be enough. She could accept her upcoming demise without too many regrets.
Her plans to stumble to the water’s edge and watch the approaching explosion were abruptly interrupted by a cargo ship dropping out of the sky in their path, the ramp lowering before it properly landed. Jyn almost froze in shock.
“Get in!” shouted Bodhi in a pained and desperate voice from within. “Now!”
He didn’t need to ask again. Half-carrying and half-dragging Cassian towards the ramp, Jyn quickly limped her way into the stolen cargo ship. The instant they stepped on the ramp, Jyn shouted over the engines.
“Go! Close it!”
The surface tilting underfoot managed to speed them along a little faster. She nearly tripped by the time they reached a wall she could brace against. As she tried to slow her raching heart, Jyn and Cassian slid to the floor.
The cargo hold was covered in scorch marks and broken metal, all the equipment and even the seating that normally folded into the wall now reduced to shrapnel and scrap. Jyn heard it rattling as the ship shook. It was Jedha all over again. She silently hoped with all her heart that Bodhi’s flying skills and the cargo ship’s engines would be enough to escape the blast. And that the Imperial forces orbiting the planet would be too distracted to notice one of their cargo ships limping away.
She stayed pressed against the wall and tried to keep balanced. Neither of them were strapped down and the cargo ship shook wildly through the air. They weren’t as fast as their previous ship. The blast must be catching up.
They could make it. She hoped with all her might. She wasn’t Chirrut, but she silently prayed as the rattling began to slow. She held her breath until she heard the hyperdrive kick in and the brief jolt of acceleration.
Jyn slumped back against the wall briefly in relief and Cassian gave her a tired look that was somewhere between a grin and a grimace. She couldn’t believe it. They did it. They actually did it. Somehow they managed to steal the plans for the Death Star, transmitted them to the rest of the Rebels, and got off the planet alive. Everyone who volunteered knew it was a suicide mission. She’d known all of them would die on Scarif. Chirrut… Baze… K-2SO…
But she was alive. Cassian was alive. And Bodhi…
“Bodhi?” she called, but no response followed.
She pushed past her shock and forced herself back to her feet. She needed to check on him. She had to see if he was all right. These two people were all she had. Her father, Saw, everyone… They were gone. Jyn had to keep these last two people safe.
She stumbled over to the ladder. The lower rungs were bent enough that Jyn was concerned about climbing the thing and the dark liquid smeared on the metal made her throat tighten. But she had to go up.
With her first few steps, her muscles started screaming at her. The effects of the day could no longer be ignored. Her body ached, everything battered and bruised. But Jyn gritted her teeth and kept climbing until she pulled herself into the cockpit.
The smell hit her first. She’d noticed the smoky and chemical smell of an explosion down in the cargo hold. In the cockpit, the scent was overwhelmed by the smell of burnt meat and hair. Her stomach rebelled as Jyn cursed under her breath.
She wasn’t even certain how Bodhi managed to drag himself up the ladder and over to the pilot’s seat, though the smeared trail left behind proved he’d done so. He didn’t quite look human anymore. His body was bloody, burnt, and broken. His right leg caught her eye, a formless chunk of black-and-red meat with a piece of metal jammed into it. But somehow he was alive, semi-conscious through stubbornness alone, and flying the ship.
“Where do they keep the medkit?” she asked, searching the cockpit frantically. She kept talking, the words falling out of her mouth. “All those burns… How are you even piloting? You look worse than Cassian and I’m fairly certain a few of his ribs are broken.”
Finally spotting the medkit stashed in a corner, Jyn grabbed it and sat in the co-pilot seat. She wasn’t a doctor and most of her experience was at patching herself up rather than someone else. And Bodhi needed more help than a basic medkit could handle. But Saw taught her some basic first aid along with how to fight and even limited treatment was better than nothing.
“Didn’t… see anyone else. Almost didn’t see you,” said Bodhi quietly, his voice tense with pain. “Couldn’t save anyone else.”
“You saved me and Cassian. That’s more than anyone expected,” Jyn said as she pulled out her limited materials. “What happened?”
“Explosion in the cargo hold. Guess it was defective since… it wasn’t worse. I lived and the ship still flies.”
As he flinched as she tried wrapping some bacta-infused bandages around his leg without jostling the chunk of metal, she said, “If Chirrut was here, he’d say it was the will of the Force.”
They fell into silence. Jyn finished off what little doctoring she could manage. The medkit appeared to be one of the smallest available, meaning there really wasn’t much to work with. Who would have thought the Empire would be such cheapskates? The best she could hope for was that it would be enough to keep him alive until they reached Yavin 4. He still looked more like scorched and bloody meat than a person, though.
“Wake me up when we get close,” Bodhi mumbled finally. “Autopilot should be enough for now.”
Then he either dozed off or passed out. Jyn leaned back in the chair and sighed tiredly. She should head back down and see how Cassian was doing. He wasn’t hurt as badly as Bodhi and the cheap medkit didn’t have much left that would do anything for internal bleeding. But she needed to do something. She couldn’t lose them. She couldn’t be alone again.
She would climb back down in a moment. She just… needed to catch her breath. She’d take care of Cassian in just a moment…
“Unknown Imperial cargo ship, identify yourself now or we’ll be forced to take action,” ordered the voice over the communication line, snapping her awake.
Scrambling briefly at the equipment, Jyn yelled, “Rogue One. We’re Rogue One. Don’t shoot. We’re not part of the Empire.”
The line fell silent momentarily. She closed her eyes briefly in frustration, vaguely noticing they’d slowed down and the hyperdrive had grown silent. She wasn’t a pilot and she was new to the Alliance, at least outside of Saw’s particular corner of the rebellion. Jyn knew she must have completely messed up on the protocol. Hopefully it would still be enough to avoid being attack.
“W-who is this?” asked the voice on the Alliance frequency.
“Jyn Erso,” she said. “Captain Cassian Andor and Empire deserter, Bodhi Rook, are also on board and in need of immediate medical attention. We stole this ship. Please don’t shoot us down.”
“Acknowledged,” said the voice after a slight hesitation. “Rogue One, you’re clear for landing.”
“Thanks,” she said before dropping the conversation. Turning towards the pilot’s seat, Jyn called, “Bodhi. Bodhi.”
She could see him breathing shallowly, but he didn’t stir at the sound of her voice. She couldn’t shake him awake. His skin looked like it was peeling and flaking off. She wished she could just let him rest a little longer, but she couldn’t land the ship herself and they couldn’t remain in orbit forever.
“Bodhi, wake up!”
He didn’t so much snap awake as fall into partial consciousness. His eyes opened slightly, he mumbled something about being the pilot, and he reached for the controls. The burnt skin on his hands cracked and bled with each movement. But he didn’t let that stop him from flying the ship. She had to admire determination like that.
Making sure that he had everything under control, Jyn limped her way back towards the ladder down. She instantly regretted the decision, her entire body sore. Her ankle felt like it was on fire. All the adrenaline that masked the pain before was gone. But she needed to check on Cassian.
A rattling jolt as the damaged ship hit atmosphere caught her at just the wrong moment, disrupting her balance and causing her to fall the rest of the way. Jyn’s back and elbows hit the metal floor hard, making her hiss in pain and bringing tears to her eyes. She couldn’t move for a moment. She just stayed there, listening to the broken fragments around her shake. Everything kept hurting and she couldn’t even complain because she was alive when so many others were dead. She was just so tired.
As the noise of their continued approach towards the ground grew louder, Jyn reluctantly started pushing herself into a sitting position. Her hand bumped against rough metal as she turned towards Cassian. He was breathing. He was still alive and leaning against the wall even as the ship jostled beneath. Cassian had just passed out at some point. Beyond those basic facts, she couldn’t really tell how badly off he was. She wanted to reach him, but the rattling of the damaged ship coming in for a landing meant crawling would be her only option.
As she tried to move, her hand bumped against the chunk of metal on the floor again. This time, Jyn looked. Briefly, she thought it was a piece of the ship’s mechanical components broken and dislodged by the explosion. It certainly looked burnt enough and the metal was roughly melted in places. Then her brain caught up and recognized the general shape of what it used to be. Or rather, who.
The formerly tall and powerfully-built K-2SO barely looked like himself. Well, technically it could be the broken remnants of any Imperial security droid, but something told Jyn it really was him. Most of his body was gone, leaving only a small chunk of his upper torso, part of one arm, and his head. While he was always dark in color, everything was blackened further with soot and scorch marks. Most of his outer plating was gone, exposing the broken internal workings. What remained looked melted, showing where blasters burned and tore through him.
Jyn briefly touched the side of his head, the most recognizable piece left of him. Her hand brushed against where a shot burned a deep gash that damaged one of his sensors and exposed the scorched components inside. Everything about the droid looked broken, burnt, and barely recognizable. He resembled nothing more than scrap metal.
Kind of like how Bodhi looked like scorched meat rather than a person.
Jyn didn’t know how K-2SO managed to get onboard. They last heard from him as he faced an endless horde of Stormtroopers before urging the pair to climb and finish the mission, communication cutting off sharply. Even as Cassian called to him desperately, Jyn knew the droid was gone. So the fact he somehow made it back with only half an arm and about ten percent of his original body mass seemed impossible. Of course, she, Cassian, and Bodhi making it off Scarif alive also seemed like a miracle. Either they were all the luckiest beings in the galaxy or she was dreaming all of this while dying.
She didn’t realize the rattling of the descending ship stopped until the ramp started lowering. Security and medical personnel rushed onboard almost instantly, swarming towards her and the unconscious Cassian. Jyn waved them off from her.
“Not me. Help Bodhi,” she said. “The pilot. Help him and Cassian. I’m fine.”
One gave her a quick disbelieving look, but they hurried to deal with their more critically-injured patients. She zoned out their conversations and the exchange of medical jargon. Her brain couldn’t seem to focus on anything. Between the way she’d passed out and how her head felt fuzzy, she figured she was suffering from shock or something. But Bodhi and Cassian needed help more than she did. While everyone worked on stabilizing and moving her friends off the ship, she stayed on the cold metal floor with the broken remnant of a droid.
She didn’t have any family left and she hadn’t had any friends for a long time. But she knew how much loss hurt. Even when both her father and Saw were torn from her life years ago, witnessing their ultimate demises cut her deep. Having that brief hope from seeing them again made it hurt worse when they died. Jyn knew how much loss could leave painful wounds on the mind and heart, especially when she held so few dear.
And Cassian, who seemed to dedicate his entire life to the Rebellion and very little else, appeared to have almost no one. He was like her in a way. It could be hard to grow close to people when you know how easily that dangerous life could snatch them away. As far as Jyn could tell, the closest thing to a friend he appeared to possess was the snarky and blunt droid now resting beside her in fragments.
She’d seen how it hurt him when Cassian called desperately in the data vault and received no response. K-2SO was not merely a replaceable tool and stolen property of the Empire reprogrammed for a better purpose. He was a friend who’d fallen in the line of duty, just like so many others who joined her on that suicide mission. He was Cassian’s friend and, more recently, Jyn’s. An abrasive one, but a friend regardless.
“Miss? Miss?” a man in a security personnel uniform said gently, crouching in front of her. “The others are being cared for. Are you sure you wouldn’t like someone to escort you to receive medical attention?”
Shaking her head briefly to clear it, Jyn said, “No. I can go myself in a moment.” The fact she had no idea where on the base the medical facilities might be didn’t faze her. “Just… I need a favor.”
“What do you need?”
She glanced back towards the burnt, blackened, and broken figure beside her. Even still being the size of a decent backpack, the droid looked so small and fragile compared to how he once towered over all of them. He looked like spare parts for a speeder.
“Can… Is there any chance someone here can repair this droid? Without wiping his memory. He is, or was, a KX series, an Imperial droid, but maybe…”
He frowned momentarily and said, “Uh… I’m not certain. We do have parts. We run into enough of those things and scavenging materials from encounters with the Empire is practical. But I don’t know if there’s enough to really salvage. Our mechanics are good, but look at it. You’d be better off replacing it with a new droid. Maybe an astromech?”
He was speaking gently and his expression seemed kind and concerned for her. He acted like she was fragile and might break any moment. He probably thought she was focusing on the broken droid so she wouldn’t have to think about Cassian’s internal injuries, how Bodhi looked nearly burned beyond recognition, or how a ship packed full of volunteers returned nearly empty. And maybe she was focusing on the one person she could still help. Maybe she was wrung out and emotionally exhausted by the last few days. Maybe she should have someone check her out for physical trauma already piled on top of the mental issues. But none of that changed the fact that she would never forgive herself if she didn’t at least try to do something.
She couldn’t save Saw. She couldn’t save her father. She couldn’t save Chirrut, Baze, or the rest of the team. She couldn’t save the people of Jedha. She didn’t even save Cassian; the badly-burned Bodhi bringing the ship in at the last moment deserved credit for that. What would happen now to Cassian, Bodhi, and the stolen Death Star plans was out of hands. Jyn had to at least try to save this blunt, sarcastic, and annoying droid who couldn’t bluff his way past a couple of deathstick addicts.
“No,” said Jyn. “Just… See what can be done to fix him. I understand if it won’t work, but at least try.”
He nodded reluctantly and said, “Fine. I’ll ask someone to try salvaging its memory and programming. Now will you let a doctor examine you?”
“All right,’ said Jyn, allowing him to pull her to her feet. She bit back another hiss of pain as her ankle rebelled against the weight. Once she was certain she had her balance, she continued, “And whoever you ask to work on him, ask them not to… Don’t tell Cassian about this.”
“May I ask why Captain Andor should not be informed?” he asked as he guided her down the ramp.
Limping unsteadily, she said, “I wouldn’t want to get his hopes up until I know it’ll work. It would be easier on him that way.”