R0-N1 was still processing data when he heard a voice call out. “Hey, TB2-4708. Sergeant wants…what the hell?” The trooper stared at the scene in front of him, Cutter sprawled on the floor and R0-N1 wedged between the legs of TB2-4708 looking like the trooper had given birth to an impossibly large, lumpy egg.
R0-N1 unplugged from the socket and spun around just in time to see the trooper drawing his blaster. With no time for strategy, he angled his body forward and fired his thrusters, hurtling headlong into the trooper. He smashed the trooper’s head against the wall, knocking him out. They both fell to the floor in a heap as R0-N1’s rockets sputtered and died, R0-N1 landing last with a thud and rolling off the trooper’s chest.
As R0-N1 struggled to right himself, his circuits whirled. First things first, he maneuvered himself to the door controls and sealed off the room, preventing any more wandering personnel from barging in. Now that he was out of stun grenades and his thrusters were well and truly dead, he didn’t have a lot of offensive options available to him. If he were found, he would be getting off easy with just a memory wipe. Given what he had done to Cutter and the other troopers, there was a non-zero chance that they might just scrap him. I have to get off this ship. R0-N1 ran through his options. He could steal an escape pod, but those were barely better than his own (dead) thrusters, and they were much too easily destroyed by the ship’s turbolasers. He needed something with maneuverability, and ideally a hyperdrive. That meant he would have to make his way to the hangar bay and steal a ship.
Were he still with Master Zagiri, he could rely on the Jedi’s stealth skills to help escort him to safety. Those weren’t exactly in R0-N1’s wheelhouse, however. He had heard of astromechs relying on biologics general disregard of droids to get around unmolested, but that relied on R0-N1 blending in with other droids, which he knew very well he did not. He would need a different approach. Maybe there’s something around here I can use, he thought.
R0-N1 examined the inventory of material available to him. The Separatist droids he considered briefly, then discarded. B-1 droids bordered on useless, and the scraps of other models weren’t enough to make use of. There was a droideka that showed some promise, and he seriously considered attempting to remove the shielding unit from it, but the power requirements were prohibitive in his current state. Further back, he found a protocol droid that seemed to be in reasonable condition. Maybe I can convince him to act as my counterpart until we get to the hangar, thought R0-N1. He found its activator and switched it on.
“Greetings, I am TC-135, att- att— attaché to General Grzzzz…” said the droid. As its voice fizzled out, it turned its head to the side and its eyes went dark. R0-N1 waited a few seconds for it to continue, then gave it a small electric jolt. The protocol droid snapped back to attention and said in a sing-song voice,
There once was a Jedi named Bizhin
Who forgot to pack his provisions
He pulled out his saber
Seasoned for flavor
Now half of his tongue has gone missin’
R0-N1 switched him back off, making a note to ignore any more protocol droids. He kept searching shelves of inventory, hoping for something more useful than a droid spouting poorly-composed limericks. Unfortunately, past TC-135 there was little more than scrap, and not much for R0-N1 to work with. That is, until he got all the way to the back, where he found an entire wall of MSE-6 droids, all stacked in their charging cradles.
Investigating further, R0-N1 connected to the control unit and ran a short diagnostic. Unlike nearly everything else around, these droids were in perfect working order. They were simply here for a standard recharge and update. Better yet, MSE droids were among the simplest of droids to program, or reprogram.
R0-N1 unsealed the maintenance room door and let the first few MSE droids out. Three took an immediate left, while two more went right. The rest stayed with R0-N1. He waited for a few minutes to be sure the coast was clear, then sent the signal. The MSE droids responded in turn.
The rest of the MSE droids swarmed out into the corridor, forming a diamond shape, with a pocket in the middle for R0-N1, who was the last to leave. Once out, R0-N1 sealed the door shut again, scrambling the door codes to keep anyone from getting in or out for as long as possible. He took his position in the center of the formation.
They headed down the corridor at a leisurely pace, with R0-N1 both listening for reports of incoming troopers and utilizing his own sensors as a backup. They had only gone about fifty meters when they ran into their first obstacle, a pair of stormtroopers on a routine patrol, approaching from around the corner.
R0-N1 called for everyone to stop, and directed one of the lead MSE droids to execute plan 6-B. The little droid zoomed ahead with an enthusiastic “Whee!”, wove down the corridor, took a tight turn around the corner and came to a dead stop in front of the troopers. He repeated the same phrase over and over again, Urgent! Return to command deck! Briefing in five! Urgent!
The stormtroopers looked back and forth from the droid to each other. “Do you know what he’s talking about? I didn’t hear anything on the comms about this.” asked one.
The other shrugged. “It’s probably got something to do with that thing we pulled off Ryndellia. I swear, any time force-wielders get involved everything goes to crap.”
“You’re probably right. Okay, droid, we’re going.”
The MSE droid waited for them to turn and disappear around a bend, then signalled to R0-N1, All clear.
R0-N1 sent an acknowledgement, and told the droid to stay in position. If anyone else comes from that direction, send them to the command deck as well.
The group of droids continued making their way through the ship, MSE droids peeling off here and there to head off anyone who might interfere with R0-N1’s progress. Each time they ran into someone, R0-N1 had the MSE droid send them in a different direction, to reduce the odds that any of the redirected personnel would bump into each other and realize what was going on. They had gotten to within just a hundred meters of the main hangar, when one of the MSE droids left as a sentry broadcast an alarm. A protocol droid had found him, and was insisting that he should get past. R0-N1 stopped the procession and sent a message back. Use plan 8-A.
I tried that, replied the MSE droid. He’s not buying it.
Can you delay him?
I’m trying to block his way. He keeps dancing around. He’s threatening to call in a squad.
This could be a real problem. Does he have a com link?
That was it. R0-N1 turned around and sped down the corridors as fast as he could without losing his MSE droid support, backtracking and darting down corridors. Within a minute, he found the stubborn protocol droid awkwardly hopping around the MSE droid sentry, trying to get past him. The MSE droid zipped in and out of his path, making progress as difficult as possible. R0-N1 picked up speed and lowered himself so that the channels that made up his body were completely horizontal. His back and front feet separated as far as they could, turning R0-N1 into a squat battering ram. He barreled into the protocol droid at top speed, knocking his feet out from under him. The droid fell to the floor with a clank, protesting vehemently.
The MSE units extended their grasping claws and swarmed the fallen protocol droid. They each latched onto a limb, immobilizing him. Meanwhile, R0-N1 pulled himself back up to his standard posture and searched for a way to switch him off entirely. However, there was no physical way to do this. Where is his off switch? he asked.
The MSE droids all answered at once, nearly scrambling R0-N1’s circuits.
He doesn’t have one.
He’s a special model.
Remote shutoff only.
It would take a blaster.
R0-N1 let out an audible burp of frustration, then broadcast, New plan. Take him apart. He immediately got to work, removing the set of bolts that held the protocol droid’s head in place.
“What are you doing? Stop that, you maniac! Cease!” protested the silver droid as he renewed struggling with the MSE droids.
When R0-N1 finally got the head off the droid’s torso, it wobbled on the floor, still protesting. “I will have you deactivated for this!”
Ignoring the protests, R0-N1 next got to work on the droid’s arms, removing them at the shoulder. Unlike the head, these went limp once they were removed from the body. By now, the head was reduced to simply shouting “Help! Help! He-elp!” over and over again.
R0-N1 directed one of the droids that had been holding down the protocol droid’s left arm to take the head somewhere dump it down a garbage chute. The last thing he heard of the protocol droid was it protesting, “Where are you taking me, you vermin! I hope you get eaten by a Rancor!”
The disassembly work got easier as he went along, and as each limb was removed, R0-N1 directed the MSE droids to stash them somewhere. Storage closet, footlocker, it doesn’t matter. Just make them hard to find.
By the time this job was done, R0-N1’s phalanx of MSE droids was reduced to just two. The trio raced back to where they were before the alarm had been sounded, and then slowed to something closer to normal speed, but still moving at a good clip. Without support droids to spare, R0-N1 wanted to get to the hangar as quickly as possible before anyone else found them.