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Chapter 48 - Part 2

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IG-68

The kats were coming. IG-68 directed his remote right leg to blast at one kat pack, while he provided some counterfire against Chona's nearby RX-9. A mine took out one feline droid, but the pack advanced strongly.  I have to slow them down. IG-68 made a difficult decision, so that when this pack came closer, his leg leapt down right into the midst of the passing group.

They tore the leg apart, but it wasn't meant to survive. He sent the command, and a thermal detonator inside his leg exploded, almost decimating the rest of that pack. A worthy sacrifice for his leg.

The other six were alive and well and on their way. He couldn't give up his other leg turret. He desperately took a few more shots at Chona and her mining droid with Ax, managing to blind some of the droid's sensors.

When the six kats piled on the roof, he knew that from here on out Era and Graff were on their own. Sparks! Why couldn't they have climbed conveniently up in a tightly-formed cluster?

With Ax he quickly dispatched two, but the four others rushed him. Ax transformed out of her rifle configuration, and tried to lure off some of them to no avail. She jumped on to one of them and wrestled it to the ground, while IG-68 tried frantically to fend off the others with wrist blasters. Whatever damage he had done, it wasn't enough to keep the three from leaping on to and tearing at his armored, electronic flesh.

With a thud, he hit the roof floor. They were mangling him. Firing his chest thruster he blasted one kat off of him, carrying the other two attached to him in tow. He detached his right arm, which one of the kats was gripped to, letting it rip his arm apart. The last cat tore at his left shoulder. Summoning a vibroblade out of his left forearm, it whirred, and he shoved it straight through the kat's jaw and up through its head, and then flung it to the side. He fired his chest thruster again to move his body away from the kats, and he bumped and skidded atop the tower roof.

He pulled himself up on his metal stubs, and fired desperately with his remaining wrist blaster to ding at the two charging kats. In all his years, he'd never got himself in a pinch like this. Assassins made their hits and quickly escaped; it was a delicate, precise operation. This fighting, on the other hand, was chaotic and brutal. Pure insanity.

He damaged one of the kats enough to quickly dispose of it in melee. As the vibroblade extending from his forearm plunged into its chest, he realized his mind had reached a conclusion in background processes. If he made it out of here alive, he was done with accepting all of these missions. No more hits. At least for a while. He might be a droid, but by the maker, he was tired of this. From now on, he'd ink the pages of his life on his own terms. If the military wanted him, they'd have to persuade him.

It was a desperate, almost silly conclusion for a time like this. But hadn't he pushed himself enough, shown his versatility, to justify trying something else out for a while? To put his primary function of killing behind him?

The kat's companion was upon him before he could pull the vibroblade free from the kat unit. His conclusion was desperate indeed. He called out to Ax and she responded with surprising alacrity, abandoning the kat she was sparring with. She bolted to his aid and wrapped around this kat's legs, tripping it. With a yank, she tore the limb off. Sparks showered from the droid, and lights powered off the unit. Ax shot blaster bolts inside its exposed innards, and the kat unit fumed with smoke and collapsed.

Finally getting his vibroblade free, he couldn't respond quickly enough before Ax's prior opponent slammed down on her, and raked her with its claws. No! The digital screech of his friend was awful.

IG-68 rotated his torso around, and fired it to propel him directly toward the remaining kat unit. With the molecular saw extended, he gouged it along the flank, and the kat tossed Ax to the side.

He skewered the kat in the side when a swift blow from the kat's claws knocked IG-68's head clear off.

Good thing for custom, built-in redundancies. He slid his vibroblade up the kat as Ax fired wildly at it with what strength she could muster. The kat clawed violently at his mainframe in its final death throes.

IG-68 rolled and crawled towards his broken friend with the one arm. She was hurt; badly. Droids tended to take a lot of superficial damage, which made it difficult to gauge their actual health. He made one quick diagnostic of Ax, and knew she needed significant repair. And repairs to this extent sometimes had tenuous outcomes on salvaging a droid's... personality. And what was death, other than the end of the person? Organs and parts were repurposed all of the time. A mind and will, however, couldn't be shared.

He wished he could cradle her, offer some gesture of comfort, but he didn't have the resources himself to do it. So all he did was digitally demand, "Ax, sing to me!" My comfort to her is to ask her to do yet one more thing for me? I need help.

She whistled softly.

"What's that, girl? You're... sorry?" She uttered a string of melodious beeps. "For... all of the things you've done? You wish you'd done better things with your life?" Who doesn't near the end? "Right now, I think I understand your--"

She digitally snickered, and sent him a picture of an obscene Gamorrean hand gesture. It figured she was just screwing him. The droid powered down.

An alert told him he wasn't too far from that event himself. Two wounded, surviving kats from the other pack were on their way to his location. He lacked the resources to fend them off.

"Idge, can you hear me?" came Til'trius' voice. He didn't respond. "Commander Kenobi's freeing the hostages from the mining droids. The path's about to be clear!"

IG-68 remoted into his left leg atop the other building and confirmed Til'trius' claims. With the force, Kenobi was snapping free the hostages' chains while Icol and Kharn provided cover fire for them to flee.

Chona grabbed one of them and jetpacked away with the human. The meatbag she carried was as good as dead. He'd have had a clear shot, and he was certain he could have made it, if he'd had a weapon left.

There was still one thing left to do. IG-68 sent the query through his narrowcast network to power the transport ship to life. It surged forward, and the RX-9 wasn't trained to see the transport shuttle as a threat until it was too close. It nailed the mining droid at full force, crushing it inside a building. That should sufficiently weaken the unit. IG-68 backed away the shuttle, as Kenobi's soldiers fired upon the droid amongst the debris, and led it towards the other droid.

This droid was more alert, and prepared for a frontal assault. It's mining laser cut into the hull of the shuttle, as IG-68 sent the query to activate the shuttle's tractor beam. It gripped onto the mining droid, and since its relative mass was far greater than the RX-9, the droid had no choice but to be jerked along with it at IG-68's chosen trajectory. And that was upwards, and right over the hangar for the security interceptors. After reaching a few hundred meters, he cut the shuttle's drives and both of them plummeted to destruction, annihilating the interceptors' hangar.

IG-68 scanned and sensed the two remaining kats had made it to the rooftop. He couldn't let his mainframe be salvaged by the Rodian autori and be used to uncover information about the operation. There was only one thing left to do. He primed the thermal detonator inside his chest and waited for the kats to get closer before he would fire it.

And then he was floating in the air, and so were the kats, and pieces of him and Ax. He made a quick scan--a tractor beam. The Halcyon? It was early. Daniah and Echo easily shot down the two kats.

"My companion here thought you could use a hand," came Daniah's message. "It looks like you could use a lot more than that."

He was about to make some brave retort about how he'd seen worse, but when he combed through his database tables, he realized he hadn't. So this is what it's like to be speechless. The cargo bay doors opened, and he floated aboard.

"That's one of you rescued," she said. "Let's see what we can do about the rest."

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