Something told Ignite that the area on the map currently displayed on his datapad was important. Perhaps it was the label, “House Organa” or the Force warning the Sith. Perhaps it was the way Khem was currently slobbering at the mouth, saliva dripping from his lower jaw as he shook from hunger. Ignite shook his head as he regarded the Dashade; obviously membrosia affected hunger, because Khem was downright starving.
Returning his attention to the area they stood Ignite paused as he regarded a Republic banner fluttering in the wind. “Ah,” he stated flatly. “That’s why House Organa rings a bell.” The words were hardly out of his mouth when three Jedi dropped down from the rooftops, each igniting their green lightsabers and blocking the Sith’s path. “It’s times like these I wish I had HK,” Ignite muttered, igniting his own crimson lightsaber and preparing to do battle.
The Sith called upon the Force, preparing to unleash a torrent of lightning, when he was interrupted by Khem. The Dashade gave an unearthly howl and roared something that sounded like, “Food!” Ignite’s jaw dropped as the Dashade charged the surprised Jedi and wrapped his arms around the nearest one. The Jedi desperately shoved his lightsaber into Khem which had an equivalent effect to poking a beehive with a stick. Ignite cringed as the Jedi was swallowed in one bite; the lightsaber wound on the Dashade rapidly closed with the bolster of Force energy from the Jedi.
Khem didn’t give the other two time to consider the horror they just witnessed nor recuperate as he roared and charged once more. Both Jedi rolled away and Khem veered to the right in hot pursuit of one. The second came up and prepared to leap into the fray when he realized his fatal error: he’d forgotten the Sith. Lightning forked through the air and into the Jedi’s back, causing him to scream in agony. Ignite channeled enough lightning into the Jedi to thoroughly fry him before allowing the poor man to collapse, smoking.
The Sith turned to see Khem sitting on the ground, chewing contentedly on the remnants of the second Jedi. Robes and pieces of lightsaber were scattered around the Dashade and his eyes were glazed over in satisfaction; having finally satiated his burning hunger. Khem swallowed and looked up as his Master approached. “Feeling better?” Ignite folded his arms and raised an eyebrow, his lekku twitching in amusement.
“Even on the battlefields of Yn and Chabosh I never experienced such hunger,” Khem rumbled. “I wish to devour the Pipsqueak when we return.”
“Afraid I can’t allow that,” Ignite snorted. “Just let this be a lesson to you: never eat something offered by a Jawa.”
Khem was silent in thought before he nodded slowly. “I will consider these words,” Khem stood and stretched. “Are there more Jedi for me to devour, Master?”
Ignite turned on his heel as he felt a tremor in the Force. Four Jedi were waiting patiently, none having the nerve or, as Ignite called it, common sense, to stab the Sith in the back. “Looks like the food is coming to us this time, buddy,” Ignite chuckled.
HK, Vector, and Pipsy approached the entrance to House Cortess in silence. HK paused at a holoterminal and pressed a button, checking to make sure his blaster had not been tampered with by the Pipsqueak. Vector stood at attention with his hands clasped firmly behind his back, ignoring Pipsy who was running circles around, “Bug Man,” as she called him, and demanding an explanation on why his eyes were black.
A full minute passed by before the holoterminal finally flickered to life, the image of human male, in full armor, appearing. “House Cortess is currently on lockdown to resolve an internal issue and cannot entertain—“
: The meatbag will allow this unit to enter the premises and recover the Master’s artifact. Failure to comply will result in extreme liquidation of all undesirables. Admittance
: This unit hopes the meatbag refuses so that the liquidations may commence, but Master demands we employ negotiation once out of every ten encounters.
The guard remained silent until his eyes found Vector. “You there,” he pointed at the Dawn Herald. “Call off your droid or we’ll be forced to activate our defenses.”
Vector cocked his head to the side. “We do not fear your defenses. The nest wishes to expand to this complex and so we too hope you refuse the droid’s demands.”
: The time to surrender the artifact has passed. This unit will now commence with extreme liquidations. HK removed his blaster, flicked the safety off, and fired three times at the holoterminal. All three missed horribly. The droid whirled on Pipsy, the Jawa having jerked the leash attached to his wrist and thus diverting the shots. Pipsy pointed innocently at the Dawn Herald.
: Will the meatbag take the Pipsqueak so this unit may commence?
Vector held out his hand, a small smirk on his features, and took Pipsy’s leash. Pipsy hid behind Vector’s legs while HK returned to the image of the guard once more.
: This unit will now commence liquidations. HK fired three times and the holoterminal shut down. Vector looked down to see the leash missing its Jawa and balked as he saw her, lightsaber ignited, wandering over to the automated defense turrets. An intercom for the facility squeaked to life before the voice of the guard emanated from within. “Activate defenses!”
HK placed several thermite charges on the wall in a circular pattern before walking away casually, Vector at his side. The Dawn Herald watched as Pipsy rushed over babbling, her arms full of random parts and salvage. The automated turrets remained motionless behind them.
“We are confused,” Vector spoke up. “How did the turrets not activate?”
: This unit calculated the time it would take the Pipsqueak to break free of her leash and wreak proper havoc on anything not bolted shut. I believe we are far enough from the blast radius. Wishful Statement
: A pity the Pipsqueak will not be caught in the blast radius. HK pressed the button on his remote detonator and the thermite charges exploded, blasting a massive hole into the wall of the complex. The droid began walking through the smoke with Vector at his side.
“What would have happened had you not given us the leash?” Vector questioned.
: Then this unit would have been forced to make different calculations. The Pipsqueak knows better than to break the leash when attached to me. HK fired several times and screams of agony emanated from the smoke within the complex. Pipsy babbled something and rushed off, vanishing from sight seconds later. HK continued his warpath with impunity, methodically making his way to the front door of the palace. Vector was able to get some combat with his electrostaff but found that HK was quite efficient at liquidation.
By the time they reached the door the perimeter of the palace had gone eerily silent; most dead or too scared to show themselves with the droid in the vicinity. HK reached up and banged his metal fist against the door, the boom echoing throughout the grounds. A shaky voice from the other side called out, “Go away! I’ve got a handful of pyro grenades that I’m not afraid to use!”
: The meatbag will need an exponentially greater amount of power to breach this unit’s chassis. There is no known entity that has ever managed to see the brilliance of my creation other than Master; and I am forced to shut down when he works on—HK halted as he felt his right thigh panel open and looked down to see Pipsy babbling and holding a wrench.
“Droid walk funny! Pipsy fix!”
: The Pipsqueak will cease all hostilities against this unit or be used as a battering ram for the door.
“Pipsy not hostile! Fix droid! Walk funny.”
: This unit does not, “walk funny!” That is part of my higher programming. It is a predatory gait.
Pipsy shook her head and readied her wrench. “Walk funny.”
HK plucked the Jawa up by her collar, and firmly closed his thigh plating before presenting her to the door. Ominous Assurance
: If the meatbag does not open the door then this unit will be forced to do something drastic. There was no reply and the door remained firmly locked. HK shrugged and walked away with Pipsy still in hand; Vector followed.
: The Pipsqueak will enter the facility and disable the magnetic locking mechanisms on the door with extreme prejudice.
“Pipsy fix door!” The Jawa promised. “Why droid no come?”
: I used all of the thermite on the wall.
Pipsy nodded and fished around for her lightsaber, eventually finding it stashed away in a side pouch, and activated it. HK held the Jawa as she cut a hole small enough for her to fit through in the wall; once done he chucked her inside the palace and turned to face Vector.
: Now we wait.