Back on the ship Andornikus had dozed off; the pirate finding solace in the fact that he was safe on the ship of a Sith and currently in said Sith's employ. The beeping of the holoterminal jolted him awake and he rubbed his eyes to clear the fog before answering. An image of Ignite flickered to life, the Sith kneeling down and shaking his head. “Andro,” he called.
“I need you to bring the ship to these coordinates,” Ignite grunted, heaving on something. “And I think we’re going to need a crane.”
Andronikus raised an eyebrow. “May I ask why?”
“Khem ate too much,” Ignite stood with a disgusted look on his face. The image flickered as the Twi’lek turned and sent a gout of lightning into something out of view before turning back to Andronikus. “I’m kind of surrounded by Jedi,” Ignite stated dryly. “Haste would be appreciated.”
“On it,” Andro cut the feed and rushed to the pilot’s chair, firing up the ship while punching in the coordinates Ignite send through his datapad. Two minutes later Andronikus was on his way to Ignite, curious as to how the Sith Lord got in his current predicament in the first place. As the Fury took to the skies Andronikus looked out his portside window to see House Cortess go up in flames. He blanched when he saw an army of what appeared to be bug-creatures pouring into the palace moments later.
“Glad I didn’t leave the ship,” he muttered. He brought the ship in low as he approached the coordinates, surprised to see a Republic banner and the banners of House Organa floating in the wind; even the pirate knew the staunch relationship the two shared. In the center of the courtyard was a bloated Khem, the Dashade’s stomach was at least five times bigger than normal, and the hulking beast was on his back, breathing heavily. Andronikus set the ship down and activated the automated defenses before climbing a ladder to a separate turret.
Seconds later the courtyard was cleared with no more Jedi or Republic soldiers forthcoming and Ignite finally deactivated his lightsaber, the Sith feeling the first touches of fatigue since his trials on Korriban. Ignite looked down at Khem to see what appeared to be the sleeve of a robe sticking from his mouth and reached down to remove it. He was surprised when Khem clamped down and started chewing.
“You’re still eating?!” He gawked, yanking on the robe unsuccessfully.
Khem swallowed and burped as Andronikus lowered the ramp and came out of the ship. “Ugh,” he blanched. “What’s that smell?”
Ignite pointed at the Dashade.
“Almost as bad as the Jawa,” the pirate muttered.
“I think we have a winch somewhere in there,” Ignite rubbed his chin in thought, ignoring the sweat that rolled down his forehead.
“How many?” Andronikus questioned.
“I lost count at twenty two,” Ignite shrugged.
“That’s it?” The pirate looked around in disbelief; there were at least thirty bodies scattered about.
“Oh,” Ignite chuckled. “I was speaking about how many Khem ate. I probably killed fifty or so.”
“Bet your droid won’t like that,” Andro pointed out.
Ignite looked at the smoke rising in the distance and shrugged. “I’m sure he’s entertaining himself. Lets get Khem on the ship.”
The pirate followed the Sith into the Fury and watched as Ignite grabbed a steel chain thicker than his wrist. “You sure we’re gonna need something that heavy?”
Ignite paused. “He’s got over twenty Jedi in him.”
“Forget I said anything,” Andro grabbed further down the chain and heaved. “Sorry I didn’t have time to bring a crane.”
“It’s—“ Ignite pressed his hand to his ear, activating his receiver. “Yes, HK?”
: The Pipsqueak has effectively obliterated the compound. Accusation
: Anything the Pipsqueak says to the contrary is a lie! She most definitely did not, “fix” anything as she claims!
“Do you have the artifact?” Ignite inquired.
: Yes, Master. The meatbags were in possession of what was rightfully yours. It seems the Pipsqueak did not desecrate it.
Ignite heard a bit of static followed by muffled chatter before he heard another voice. “That Boss?! Boss!” Pipsy called. “Pipsy fix door!”
: Get off of me, Pipsqueak before I use you as a heat shield for the next excursion into the debris!
“Behave, HK,” Ignite chuckled, shaking his head.
: Master, this unit humbly requests you come acquire the Pipsqueak.
“How’s Vector? And we’ll be on our way shortly.”
“Bug Man nice! “Pipsy called. “Go with Bug Men! Build home! Many many homes!”
: The meatbag was contacted by Imperial Intelligence shortly after the Pipsqueak blew up the palace; something about a Cipher Agent on his way to investigate. Advisory Statement
: Master, it would be wise to leave the premises immediately.
“We’re on our way,” Ignite flicked off his receiver and turned to see Andronikus finished with wrapping the chain around Khem. “Ready to go, Captain?”
“Always,” Andro smirked. “But I can’t say how this will play out for your pet here.”
Khem mumbled something.
“What was that?” Andro leaned down.
“I hung—“ Khem groaned and his stomach gurgled ominously before all hell broke loose.
Ignite noted the change in the Dashade’s coloring and bolted up the ramp, shouting over his shoulder as he ran.
Unfortunately for Andronikus it was too late.
HK watched the Jawa crawling over scrap heaps, the droid wishing he could end the little nuisance’s life. Pipsy babbled and whipped out her lightsaber, shoving it into the heap and moving it in a circular motion before retracting the saber and crawling into the makeshift hole.
: Master does not use his weapon in such a distasteful manner.
Pipsy emerged with what appeared to be a small power core. “This nice! Very nice! Generate ten times more power than what in Mean Droid. Pipsy take, show boss!”
HK stiffened. Retort
: There is no hardware that can improve my chassis. I am the pinnacle achievement of sentient meatbags in the galaxy.
Pipsy stuffed the power core into a pouch, ignoring how it bulged and stuck out. “Mean Droid power ship?”
“Then power core not best,” Pipsy pointed out, returning to her salvage. HK stomped over, recovering the artifact he felt was too close to the Pipsqueak. The droid then returned to his post, the artifact in hand.
: Master will be most displeased with the destruction wrought here.
“Boss want artifact. We find. Boss happy.”
HK’s red photoreceptors bored holes into the Jawa. Acknowledgement
: The Pipsqueak is correct. This once.
Both Jawa and droid turned their heads upwards as Ignite’s ship flew overhead, landing a few meters away in the center of the scorched plaza. HK shouldered his blaster, grabbed the artifact and plucked the Jawa, who squawked in protest, up by the collar before throwing her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The moment the droid touched the ramp the ship began lifting off, the airlock sealing and allowing the two onto the ship.
HK dropped the Jawa, who scampered off immediately, and turned his attention to his Master. Ignite was leaned against the holoterminal and HK’s scanners showed the Sith was weary and agitated. HK set the artifact down and stood at attention. Greeting
“Dare I ask what happened?”
HK cocked his head to the side. Statement
: The Pipsqueak and I recovered your artifact, Master.
Ignite rolled his eyes. “Is that how you want to play?”
: This unit does not know what happened, Master. I gave the Jawa access to the palace with directives to disable the magnetic locking mechanism on the door.
Ignite smacked his forehead. “You let Pipsy run loose alone in the palace?”
HK shrugged. Answer
: Yes, Master. This unit ran out of thermite charges.
“Boss!” Pipsy tugged at the Sith’s robes, having finished stowing away her salvage. “Pipsy find a thing!” She held up the power core proudly.
Ignite knelt down. “What happened in the palace, Pipsy?”
Pipsy whirled on the droid. “Pipsy fix door! Tell Mean Droid! Very very mean to Pipsy. Mean Droid try to use Pipsy as battering ram!”
: This unit did no such thing. I merely threatened with such a punishment had you continued hostilities.
“Pipsy fix Mean Droid walk! It off!”
HK stiffened. “It is a predatory gait!”
: Is all well, Master? My bioscans are showing you are operating on adrenaline and a healthy amount of horror.
“Master!” 2V-R8 came charging out of the medical bay. “Khem has been subdued and I am now in the process of extricating the Jedi remains from his—“
“Yeah, thanks,” Ignite closed his eyes, trying to blot out the image. “Just get it done.”
“Perfection is my goal, Master!” 2V returned to his duties.
Andronikus emerged from the refresher seconds later, drawing an immediate smirk to Ignite’s features. The pirate scowled and reached for his blasters, prepared to threaten the Sith if he so much as snorted, and gawked as he saw Pipsy go running off with both held high over her head. “Hey!” He roared, stumbling after the Jawa.
“Just a busy day,” Ignite wandered off to the refresher. “Good work, HK. Go relax. Take an oil bath. Recalibrate.”
HK nodded once. Admission
: I shall do all three, Master.
Ignite emerged from the refresher with a sigh, glad to be clean, and noted his crew missing. The Sith shrugged and looked over at his holoterminal to see it currently showing no missed calls and grinned. “Finally!” He stretched. “A break! I think I’ll go take a nap.” The Sith made his way to his room and looked into the hyperdrive room to see HK submerged in oil, the droid’s red photoreceptors following his every move. “Taking a nap, HK,” he informed. The droid nodded.
The Twi’lek exhaled and collapsed onto his bed without a thought, immediately falling asleep. After what seemed like days he awoke groggily, feeling an acute disturbance in the force. He opened his eyes to see a blue blob standing over his bed and rubbed his eyes, hoping to clear his vision. What greeted him was the ghost of a man wearing a Sith mask, standing at attention and watching him. Ignite was immediately awake and called his lightsaber to his hand, igniting it. “HK!” He roared.
“Halt, flesh of my flesh,” the ghost held out his hand, addressing the Twi’lek. “I must speak with you, and do not have much time.”
Ignite blinked as he stared at his doorway. HK stormed in, the droid obviously peeved at having his calibrations interrupted. Query
: Yes, Master?
“What happened to you?” Ignite stared, dumbfounded. HK looked down.
: I will liquidate that Pipsqueak.