Monday, May 24, 2010
Episode 5: Droid Planet
They arrived at the temple just as the Republic Shuttle was touching down. Aarik thought that was fast. “The Guardian was already close to the Dantooine System when the Republic was notified of the trouble on Valest III”, Taedron said as the two were boarding. Taedron and Aarik got it their seats and the shuttle took off again. As the shuttle approached the Guardian, Aarik was impressed with the ship. The Star Destroyer Guardian was new and out on her first patrol in the Raioballo sector. The ship was a Venator-R class, recently produced for the Galactic Republic by Kuat Drive Yards, the design was based on the old Venator class from centuries earlier. “It is quite a ship isn’t it Taedron?” The Jedi Master answered, “Yes, it is, brand new I believe.” Aarik saw the ship was in Republic livery, the symbol was on the port and starboard sides. The pilot said, “We are just about to land Master Jedi.” Taedron acknowledged the pilot and said to Aarik, “When we get on board Aarik we need to report to the bridge for a complete briefing on the situation on Valest III.” The shuttle landed and the two disembarked, they were immediately greeted by a young Republic officer. “Jedi Master Harion, Welcome aboard the Guardian, I am Ensign Lihn, I'll to take you to the bridge to meet with Captain Cathon.”
Aarik and Taedron arrived on the bridge, it was large and very advanced. Aarik was especially impressed by the new holographic technology, the figures on the holopad were in vivid colors and the audio was extremely crisp. The positioning system was a holographic detail of this sector of space, floating above a console in the center of the bridge. The ship’s displays, controls and interfaces were also all holographic. Even the bridge forward windows had holographic HUDs. The ship was piloted by very advanced looking droids of a series that Aarik didn’t recognize, they were painted with Republic colors and symbols. “Captain Cathon, this is Jedi Master Hairon,” Ensign Lihn said. “Captain Cathon”, Taedron said to the Captain, nodding. “Master Hairon, Welcome aboard the Guardian.” Taedron replied, “Thank you Captain and this is my Padawan Aarik Kernis.” The Captain and Aarik nodded at each other. “A very impressive ship you have Captain”, Taedron said. “Thank you Master Jedi”, the Captain replied. “The situation we are investigating is unexpected, reports from two mining ships say that the Baktoid Combat Automata factory on Valest III is operational and that Vulture-class droid starfighters were patrolling the space around the planet. The mining ships were attacked, but managed to escape the system. Baktoid Industrial Systems is the parent company and they have no knowledge of the factory being operational, it was supposedly shut down at the end of the Clone Wars.” Aarik said, “That was over a thousand years ago, it could not have been continually operational for that long, right?” The Captain looked at Aarik and said, “I don’t believe it could have been, but we will not know until we arrive. However, if that is the case, there will be LOTS of droids.” Taedron said, “Well let’s hope not.”
The Guardian entered hyperspace towards Valest III. The trip was short only lasting about two hours, as the Valest III was close to Dantooine. The large ship dropped out of hyperspace on the edge of the Valest system. The Guardian masked its approach to Valest III from behind its small moon. The Captain said, “Send out a stealth probe droid and let’s see what we’re dealing with.” One of the officers on the bridge said, “Aye Captain.” Taedron added, “Good call.” The probe droid was launched and it rounded the moon and approached the planet. It was transmitting back coded data real time and the data was displayed on the holoimager. There were many vulture droids patrolling the space around the planet. As the probe droid approached the location of the droid factory on the surface everyone was amazed at what they saw. Where there once was a droid factory, there was now huge complex stretching for hundreds of kilometers. The sky over the complex was full of droids, images of various models covered the holoimage. If Aarik didn’t know better he would swear it was a large city for the complex had tall buildings of sorts, droids flying like vehicles following traffic. “That reminds me of Coruscant’s industrial district. This is simply extraordinary”, Taedron said.
“Well, though the probe is in stealth more the level of technology down there look to be very advanced, they probably detect it”, a man said in a blue uniform. “Jedi Master Taedron meet Dr. Narsting, sorry I didn’t introduce you before. Dr. Narsting is a droid engineer from Baktoid Industrial Systems." Dr. Narsting added, “I don’t see how they could have completed such a project on their own, these droids built here at the time were for combat. This factory, according to the company records built, B-1, B-2, T-Series and Variable Geometry Self-Propelled Battle Droids.” Taedron said, “We are here to investigate, so we have all the information we can get from a probe, so I think we should go down there and do some first hand investigating. Captain would you happen to have a protocol droid onboard?” “Yes, but you are planning just to go down there?”, the Captain asked. “May as well”, Taedron answered. Dr. Narsting spoke up, “I’d like to go down with you, my knowledge of droids may be helpful and I would really like to see what is going on down there.” Taedron said, “Fine, you may come.”
The protocol droid met them in the hanger, “I am A-6PO, and I understand I am to accompany you to the planet’s surface?” Taedron answered, “That is correct. I want you to also make the contact for us with whoever or whatever is down there. Put that programming to use and get us landing permission, do you understand?” The droid answered, “Why certainly sir, I look forward to this assignment, after all that is what a protocol droid is designed to do.” The four boarded the shuttle and left he hanger. The small ship rounded the moon and was headed for the planet, “Transmit a greeting A-6PO”, Taedron said. Aarik who hadn’t said much since they boarded the Guardian found all of this quite exciting, though he was apprehensive about the group landing on the planet. The protocol droid linked with the communications computer, “This is A-6PO in the shuttle craft approaching your planet. I humbly ask for permission to land so I am speak with your leader or leaders.” The droid stopped transmitting and turned to Taedron, “I have transmitted in a number of droid languages that Baktoid Combat Automata originally used in the timeframe the factory was operational.” Aarik said, “Well, I guess we see if we get a response?” About the same time as Aarik said that an image of a T-series droid popped up on the view screen, “This is TX-75 of Droid City, what do you want?” Taedron nodded at the protocol droid, “We would like to land and talk to your leader or leaders, that is.” The TX droid turned and said to someone or something off to the side, “He says they want to talk to you.” Whomever or whatever he was addressing gave him an answer and he turned back to the viewer, “Well, ok, you can land, but don’t try anything. Land you craft on the pad at 2435,19,-1271.”
Taedron landed the shuttle and the group got out. They were met by TX-75 and a group of B-2 Super Battle Droids, painted yellow and black. The TX droid said, “Follow me.” The group followed the TX droid followed by the B-2s. Now Aarik was nervous but very interested at how this would play out and also was very curious to who their leader was. The four followed TX-75 into a building and then onto an open lev-train. The train sped off deeper into the massive complex. The train stopped in a large central part of the ‘city’ it was open and surrounded by tall towers, droids of many types were going about there business, some walking some flying and even very small ones scurrying about. There were holographic billboards with advertising and what looked like news of some sorts on large holoscreens. The TX got off of the train and proceeded up a ramp into one of the tall towers. The four followed the TX, by now they were in awe of what the factory had become. Inside the building the lobby was full of art and odd shaped furniture, it looked as though it were made just for droids. Aarik finally said, “This is amazing.” The protocol droid added, “Indeed.”
The TX droid said, “Thank you.” The TX finally reached the elevators, the five got on and the B-2 stayed behind.
The elevator raced to what turned out to be the top floor. When the door opened and the group walked into what looked to be a throne room, command center, living quarters. There were sculptures and artwork of various models of droids doing various things, some looked like portraits.
TX-75 said, “Well, they are here.” From around the corner came a small droid, about one meter tall, it had human features, with a silver tone. The droid said, “I am PC-1, Baktoid Home Automata Personal Companion Prototype.” Dr. Narsting stepped up to the PC-1 and said, “Baktoid Home Automata?" Amazing, that was an in house test name brand that was never implemented. And you PC-1 you were the first prototype?” Dr. Narsting was smiling, it was clear he was excited by seeing this working piece of his company's history. Aarik said, “You have an amazing place PC-1.” The droid replied, “Thank you and what is your name?” “My name is Aarik”, he answered. “Nice to meet you Aarik.” The protocol droid who was still taking in all that he was seeing said, “I am A-6PO, human-cyborg relations.” PC-1 said, “I am glad to meet you as well, fellow droid.” Taedron finally said, “I am Jedi Master Hairon and this is Dr. Narsting, he is a droid engineer. We are here to make contact with you and investigate this facility.” The small droid thought and said, “Yes, I understand.”
“How is you came to be here on Valest III?”, Dr. Narsting asked. PC-1 answered, “This is where I was made, by Dr. Zanich, he was my maker and my friend.” The PC-1 looked at Dr. Narsting then around him at the others and waved saying, “We can all be friends too.” Dr. Narsting said, “Dr. Zanich made you but who left you here when the factory shut down?” The PC-1 paused for a moment, “It happened fast. I was in my alcove recharging and talking with the computer system like always. Though they never knew we talked. The computer is my friend as well, like TX-75 and now you all too. Then all of the lights were turned off, the next thing I knew I was not talking with the computer anymore, they had turned it off as well. I did not like that so I left my alcove and turned the computer back on.” Dr. Narsting said, “Well, that made sense you missed your friend.” PC-1 said, “Yes, I did. And I missed Dr. Zanich, I do not know what happened to him. I also missed the other people. So I made more friends.” Taedron asked, “So you turned the factory back on?” PC-1 answered, “Oh yes, I did. It makes lots of friends.” Taedron continued, “And friends need places to recharge as well, so your droids built the city? Am I right?” PC-1 was so excited with questions, “Yes, we did and then the computer and I accessed all droid plans and made them all too. Having different types of friends is very important, it keeps your mind open.” Dr. Narsting said, “You are a very smart droid.” PC-1 replied, “Thank you Dr. Narsting.”
One more question from me, “Why did the Vulture Droids attack the mining ships this week?” PC-1 said, “The ships that came to the planet?” Taedron answered, “Yes”. PC-1 explained, “They were not nice to TX-75 when he told them to go away, they did not leave but tried to land without asking. We did not destroy the ships though.” Taedron said, “No you didn’t.” Aarik stepped forward and asked, kneeling down to talk to the little droid, “Who did all of the artwork we see throughout the building?” PC-1 looked at Aarik and said, “I did, is it good?” Aarik smiled and said, “It is very good.”
Dr. Narsting and A-6PO remained with PC-1 on the planet. PC-1 and TX-75 assured Taedron that Dr. Narsting would be safe with them. The report that Taedron submitted to the Jedi Council and to the Republic probably raised eyebrows and may have been met with skepticism. Taedron had called the little droid PC-1 sentient in his report and requested that Valest III be put under Quarantine, which under that status would protect the planet from Baktoid Industrial Systems and anyone that wish to exploit the droids and their planet.