The lounge of the Mon Calamari Cruiser Liberty was its usual self: dark, filled with the babble of a dozen different languages conversing in a myraid of different conversations. Rooster and Mixer were unusually busy, however; a large number of the Liberty's crew were downing drinks and meals, relishing the feelings that came with a job well done.
Corsair's pilots were exceptionally vocal; the young team of recruits had assembled around the bar and two of the closer tables and were comparing stories and their accomplishments since they'd come to the Liberty.
One of the pilots, Flight Officer Adam "Guardian" Burns, wasn't participating as enthusiastically as most of the rest of the group. A few of the others had noticed, but since that was how Guardian normally acted, they paid it no special heed. So it came as something as a shock when Guardian popped out of his chair, a broad grin breaking on his face, and yelled "Cutter!"
Most of the pilots turned toward the door, following Guardian as he jogged to a new arrival. What they saw made them pause and take another glace. The figure Guardian was approaching had the top half of what looked to be a 2-1B medical droid, with a few extra boxes placed irregularly around its surface. But, from the waist down, the droid had a flat base and hovered about half a meter above the floor. Nevertheless, Guardian walked straight up to the automation, and began conversing with it excitedly.
Rafael "Hyl" Costa Guerra, Corsair Six, Vince "Stryker" Rambo, Corsair 12, and the Wookiee Groznik, Corsair Four, all exchanged one glance and followed their flight group leader up to the droid. The four had been teamed together in Corsair Squadron's first mission, and had formed a friendly, if rather competitive, group. Stryker made it to Guardian's side and got in the first jab. "So, I see your date's arrived, Adam."
Guardian stopped talking to the droid and turned, a grin on his face. "No, Vince, he came to resuccitate yours. Sorry, big guy, but he's an old friend."
Hyl and Groz finished the circle, both looking over the robot. The droid returned the glances, analyzing the new figures. Guardian placed a hand on the droid's shoulder and made introductions. "Hyl, Groz, Stryker, this is Cutter. He's a modified Two-Onebee medical droid that I've known for a long time."
The droid nodded once, then said in a slow drawl, "Pleasure to meet you gentlemen." It then turned to Guardian. "I will see you in the med bay, Master Adam. I may be needed there." With that, the droid rotated on its repulsorlift undercarriage and floated away.
"I'm glad you're here, Cutter," Adam called after it. The droid tossed a wave back over its shoulder, then dissappeared out the door.
"So," Hyl interceded, "what's the story? You're talking to him like he's an old friend."
"He is," Guardian insisted, leading the four back down to the Corsair group. "I met him a long time ago, before I was even a pilot."
"Sounds like a story," Groz growled through his translator.
Guardian eased himself back down into his seat and picked up his Ithorian Green for a quick sip. Then he nodded, and the rest of the group fell silent.
"It all started on Briggia. I had been stationed there as a medic, my third assignment..."
The scream echoed down the trench, seeming to come from a million different directions at once. Medic Adam Burns, newly assigned to Briggia Base, looked up from the wounded soldier he was tending, trying to find the source of the cry. He tapped another medtech on the arm, grabbed a medpack, and began to race down the trench, keeping his head low.
Artillery blasts rained down on the Alliance position, blowing chunks of soil and rock skyward, threatening to vaporize men or send shrapnel ripping into them. Adam kept low, trying to avoid tripping over discarded equipment, torn soil, and, all too frequently, unbreathing bodies. He found the source of the yell, kneeling next to another fallen soldier. The kneeling soldier was a young man, a sergeant by the insignia on his arm, and he looked at Adam with tears in his eyes. "Help her!"
Burns looked down at the fallen trooper. It was a woman, a young one at that. She'd taken a blast to the shoulder and upper chest. This was not going to be easy. The medic broke open the medkit and prepped a painkiller, then injected it into her. He looked up at the sergeant. "I can't guarantee anything."
"Try, damn it!" the man screamed back, his voice on the verge of breaking. The sounds of weaponfire were decreasing, Adam noted. He nodded, then began his business. He was interuptted by his comlink; the device buzzed off, then began to voice one signal, over and over again.
"Code Alpha-Echo-Alpha-One. Code Alpha-Echo-Alpha-One. Code..."
Adam looked up at the sergeant. "I've done all I can. We gotta get out of here."
The trooper met Adam's gaze. "We're not leaving her!"
Adam nodded. "I know. Can you carry her?" The sergeant didn't need any furthur coaching; he merely stood and slung the woman over his shoulder, then began running for the evacuation center. Adam watched him leave, then ran back to his med team. They were ready to leave as well, having their charge on a stretcher. "Okay," Adam yelled as a blaster bolt slammed into the trench, "time to get the hell out of here. You guys get to the transport--I'm going to take one more look around." The other medics all nodded, then started running for the evac transports.
Adam picked a blaster pistol up from the ground, checked its power supply, and started back into the base. The corridors of the installation were eerie in their silence, broken only by the muffled detonations of weapons against the base's outer walls.
He reached the medical center. It was bare, having been stripped of all valuable equipment and loaded long before the Imperials had arrived. A movement caught his eye, and Adam spun, weapon following his sight line.
He froze, then pulled the weapon up. A 2-1B medical droid cowered in the corner, thin arms sheilding its head. "Come on, you," Adam snapped at the droid. "We're leaving." The med droid lowered its arms slowly, then stepped into the light.
"Sorry, sir. I heard that the Imperials had overrun the base."
"Not yet, they haven't. Come on--there's still a transport waiting."
Adam led the droid out of the medbay and toward the hangar area. They had almost made it when a series of blaster bolts cut the droid down, splitting him in half at the waist. Adam spun, his pistol ready, only to drop it a moment later. Four stormtroopers, rifles drawn, approached him. He was a dead man. He looked down at the droid, wanting to apologize for getting it into this mess. But the droid's eyes were dark, and Adam didn't see anything processing. It was gone.
He was alone.
The troopers circled Adam, keeping their weapons level. The medic had no other choice but to keep his hands up. He wasn't a fool--he didn't want to die. Not like this, anyway.
One of the troopers holstered his weapon, pulled a pair of binders from his utility belt, and readying them, stepped towards Adam. The medic held his wrists out, awaiting the inevitable.
At that moment, the droid's photoreceptors flashed on. The medical unit's right wrist flared as well and a cauterizing beam shot out of a projector. In one smooth, surgical motion the droid swept the beam across one of the trooper's weak knee joints. The beam sliced through the joint like the flesh, bone, and body sleeve weren't even there. The man fell, screaming, only to be silenced when the droid ran the beam through his neck with the same result.
The other troopers distracted by the droid, Adam acted. He grabbed the wrists of the guard coming at him and pulled him forward and across another's path. In one motion he released the guard, grabbed his weapon from its holster, and sprayed four bolts into the trooper's midsection. Turning, he managed to fry the two remaining troopers before they could decide on the greater threat--him or the droid. When it was over, Adam looked down at the droid. "You okay?"
"No, sir." The droid's cutting beam hissed off. "Please, don't leave me."
"Not a chance." Adam knelt, picked the droid up, then fit the droid on his back. "Hold on." The Two-Onebee's arms crossed around Adam's chest, and the medic piggy-back carried the legless droid to the hangar bay.
It was empty, save for a pair of Y-wing fighters. The transport had left without him. Adam sighed, then grabbed a discarded flight helmet and raced to a fighter. Awkwardly, he clambored up the side and dumped the droid into the cargo area. "Hold on." He dropped into the pilot's couch, and began running the fighter through its warm-up.
"That's some story," Andy "Backlash" Jacina, Corsair Nine, said. "So, is he here to stay?"
Guardian nodded. "Yeah. As long as we need him."
John "Fireball" Dagen laughed. "Maybe it's just me, but I'm hoping we don't need him all that much."
That grew a collective laugh from the group. "Nah," Dave "Hyp" Barnett mused, "we won't need him--once we teach Parody where the trigger is."
Micheal "Parody" Miller's face tightened at the remark about his uncanny ability to find enemy fighters with the structure of his ship, at least in the sims. "Yeah, yeah, go ahead, rub it in."
Guardian just smiled, leaned back in his chair, and sipped his
tea. "Maybe we won't need him," he thought, "but it sure makes my