Another of my SWTOR stories, this time a break away from the endless angst of being a former Jedi-turned soldier, who still retains the power of mechu-deru. Not always to best effect…
* * *
There were few things in life more startling than a power droid whose expressive ‘GONK’ing could genuinely be likened to singing. Over the past few weeks, Gileas had grown used to the variance of pitch that suggested his charismatic little power droid was doing just that. In fact, it had reached a point where he even found it quite endearing. J’us certainly liked it: the spukamas kitten was a frequent passenger on Spyro’s casing, riding the stumpy legged droid around the apartment. The singing didn’t seem to bother the cat in the slightest.
But the dancing? That was something new.
His room in the two-bedroomed apartment that he and Nebulae shared was an untidy, chaotic junkyard of parts and equipment. Generally, he kept the door closed. Even the naturally untidy Gileas was faintly embarrassed by the sheer levels of horror evident in that room. But when he was not on shift, he enjoyed nothing more than sitting on the end of the bed, tinkering with whichever project was occupying his time. Inevitably, Spyro would join him, occasionally dispensing tea that was too hot to drink. ‘I am certain,’ Gileas occasionally commented, ‘that I didn’t retro-fit that droid with the heart of a sun.’ But that was certainly the standard temperature of the tea that came out of it. Undrinkable at point of delivery, by the time Gileas could manage a tentative sip, Spyro had dispensed a second.
Gileas’s junkyard of a room was thus also littered with plastic cups from the droid.
It had been a cute idea at the start, fixing up the droid so that it provided tea on demand. But as with most of the droids who came through Gileas’s extraordinary care, the damn thing had taken on a personality. Now, providing tea was its prime directive. If it could not dispense tea it had no purpose. He’d gotten used to it of course, and Nebulae’s boundless capacity for tea consumption sort of balanced it out. Spyro was a member of their little set up.
But the dancing? Yes. That was definitely something new.
The little droid stood in the corner and had been inert since the last round of tea production, leaving Gileas in relative peace to work on the protocol droid that a noble of House Organa had brought to him for repairs. Cursory examinations and diagnostics revealed a minor bug in the programming that was easy enough to iron out. Dismantle the neural circuits, re-programme them and rebuild. Simple. For company, he tuned the apartment comms feed to a radio station that played music.
He was halfway through the job of dismantling a droid brain when he noticed the movement. Spyro was shifting from one stumpy leg to the other in a motion that was undeniably in time with the rhythm of the music. With every movement of its chassis, the little droid emitted a little GONK of delight.
It was mesmerising. Completely distracted from his task, Gileas turned to watch this interesting new twist to the power droid’s ever-growing collection of eccentricities.
Shift, GONK, shift, GONK, shift, GONK.
Absently Gil reached for a treat. Before she had left that morning, Nebulae had provided him with a plate of sweet, sugared doughnuts. She knew his metabolism well and also knew that when he was working on a project, eating became a lesser problem. Also, Gileas had a love of doughnuts that was bordering on legendary. He closed his hands around one of the cakes and ate it with great enjoyment as he watched Spyro’s entertaining jig. The song ended, the next one began and it appeared that the power droid didn’t like the new tune. He squatted down on his little legs and dispensed another cup of undrinkable, lava-hot tea.
Gileas ate another doughnut, watched hopefully for a dancing encore and didn’t get one. He sighed and turned his attention back to the protocol droid. Spyro steadfastly refused to repeat the dancing and Gileas knew Nebulae wouldn’t believe him.
He would not learn until three days later just what the practical cost of allowing himself to become distracted during work on a neural interface would be.
Three Days Later
‘Sergeant L’Amedaro? Would you take another look at my protocol droid?’ The Organa nobleman was a balding, middle-aged man whose brow was creased by a perpetual worry frown. The young Praetorian looked over his shoulder at the approaching protocol droid and felt his heart sink just ever so slightly at what he saw.
‘What seems to be the problem this time?’ Gileas asked the question, despite knowing precisely what the answer would be. He could tell just by looking at the protocol droid what had happened.
He should have known. Droids plus Gileas plus mechu-deru plus distraction equalled a protocol droid in distress. The poor thing was trying, unsuccessfully, to cram doughnuts through its mouth grille. It raised its golden face to Gileas and he swore that there was misery in its eyes, a craving denied.
‘I like doughnuts,’ it said sadly.
‘Of course you do,’ said a guilty young Gileas. ‘Of course you do.’