You shake your head in silent anger as you watch Soarin' on the recording. He stares at the droid's eyes, scowling.
"Droid." Soarin' says.
The droid's view vibrates slightly and Soarin' is focused on further. "Greeting: Good day, prospective purchaser! I am HK-53. How may I serve you?"
Soarin' winces a little as he shifts his weight on his leg. It must still be broken. What an idiot.
"HK-53. I understand that the 'HK' in your name stands for 'hunter-killer'. Is that right?" He asks.
"Proud answer: Indeed it does, prospective purchaser." The droid replies. "This unit is equipped to track targets of all kinds to nearly anywhere in the galaxy, and dispose of them with extreme prejudice."
Soarin' doesn't react. "Ever dealt with Mandalorians before?"
"Answer: This individual unit has had no direct experience with Mandalorians, however, my programming is designed to engage a myriad of enemies, from Mandalorians to Echani warriors."
You clench your fists tighter and your knuckles pop in a few places. This is not good for your rage.
Soarin' looks the droid up and down before looking back to Verko. "I'll take twenty of them."
Verko gasps loudly behind him. "Twenty?!"
Soarin' nods. "Twenty. As soon as possible."
You shake your head and growl. "Spineless little son of a..."
You huff and stop the recording before placing your hands on the terminal and taking a deep breath, your fists shaking slightly. At least you know how many droids there are in total now.
"Who is he, Sunset? How do you know him?" Twilight asks.
You sigh again. "He was one of the survivors of Octavia's assassination attempt on Dantooine. Have you ever heard of the Wonderbolts? He's one of them."
Twilight's eyes furrow. "I have heard of them. You saved him from that fire. I read the reports. Why in the world would he want to attack us?"
You shake your head. "Well... we weren't able to rescue his captain from the explosion before she died. Maybe that has something to do with it."
"It's possible." Spike appears on the table again. "According to rumors circling around on Naboo, Soarin' and Captain Spitfire were going steady with each other at the time of her death. They wanted to keep it secret."
You nod and turn back to Twilight. "There you go. He's pissed we couldn't save his girlfriend, and now he wants revenge."
Spike continues. "Republic records on Naboo also show that, because of his injuries, he was forced into early retirement, with honors. Fleetfoot was as well."
You look back at Spike. "So he's not flying anymore?"
He shakes his head. "Not for the Wonderbolts, no."
You cross your arms and think for a moment. The implications behind that means that he still flies in his spare time. Which makes perfect sense. He is a pilot, after all. Pilots are the happiest in the air and in space, more than anywhere else. You can personally testify of that.
While you think, Twilight speaks up. "Spike, is Fleetfoot mentioned at all in this droid's memory core?"
Spike turns away for a moment before looking back at her. "I can't see any mention of her, but I did find this recording you might be interested in."
He vanishes again and another holographic screen appears over the central terminal. It, once again, show's things from the perspective of the HK-53 unit. You can see Soarin' limping away from his blue Naboo Starfighter toward you.
The droid speaks. "Query: How may I serve you, Master?"
Soarin' grunts as he stops walking. "HK-53. My friend in the Senate has the information you need to hunt down and kill Anonymous, Sunset Shimmer, and Pinkamena Diane Pie. They're going to the planet Myrkr."
"Statement: I am equipped and ready to depart immediately, Master. The other units and myself will execute these meatbags with extreme force."
Soarin' holds up his hands. "Just Anonymous, Sunset, and Pinkamena, HK-53. They'll be travelling with people from the Republic to Myrkr. Good people. Do not harm them in any way. They don't deserve it. Only target the Mandalorians."
Twilight and Fluttershy look over at you as you watch the recording.
"Query: Master, if those members of the Republic have allied themselves with the Mandalorians in question, should they not also be labelled as enemies? The Mandalorians are our enemies, and if your Republic meatbag companions have allied themselves with them, then logically, they, too would be enemies."
Soarin' just shakes his head again. "No, HK-53. Do not kill or harm any Republic personnel in any way. Scare them, threaten them if you need to get closer to the Mandalorians, but do not kill them. I command it."
"Acknowledgement: I understand, Master."
The recording stops and you think to yourself for a moment. That explains why this droid went after Fluttershy instead of you yesterday. Soarin' is all for threatening and using intimidation tactics against her, Twilight, and Big Mac to get to you, but has commanded that they live. That's comforting, at least.
The first idea you get is to use them as a barrier between you and the droids, but you quickly throw it out. No way in hell would they be okay with that.
"Well, it's good to know that at least you all are safe from the droids." You say.
Big Mac crosses his arms. "I wonder if I could just blast any droids we meet by myself without any resistance from 'em."
That sounds too good to be true.
Twilight shakes her head. "I don't think that would work, Big Mac. Some droids have manufacturer's protocols that dictate some of their actions."
Spike cuts her off. "Including this one, Twilight. HK-53 units have a self-defense initiative in place if they are attacked or threatened, and a self-destruct initiative if they are captured."
She cocks her head. "If they do, then why didn't this droid tell Soarin' about it?"
"Well, HK assassin droids are programmed with an aptitude for unadulterated violence." Spike replies. "It was probably looking for an excuse to try and kill you."
Twilight frowns and looks back at the still image of Soarin' for a moment. "Well, what do you think we should do, Sunset?"
You pause and think. "One way or another, we'll have to deal with Soarin'. There's a chance he could be close by. If we can lure him here and meet up with him, then I could 'persuade' him to call off the droids."
"I have an idea." Twilight says. "Spike, download the HK's memory banks and behavior core, then use its vocabulator to contact Soarin' and bring him here."
Spike nods. "Yes ma'am!"
Twilight smiles as Spike begins downloading the information from the droid.
You cross your arms and watch Spike as well. "This AI is incredible, Twilight. You should be proud."
Spike blushes a little and Twilight giggles. "Thank you, Sunset. He's an invaluable asset, and a great friend. I had the idea about creating him when I was a teenager."
Spike rubs his artificial neck bashfully. "I've had a few upgrades installed since then, but I'm still me. As long as I'm able to help Twilight, I'm happy."
You smile a little as they look at each other. He may not be alive, but he means a lot to Twilight, just as she means a lot to him.
Spike blinks a couple of times. "Download complete."
"Good work, Spike." You say. "Now, bring Soarin' here."
Spike nods at you and brings up a galaxy map. He appears to float in the air as the map zooms in on a section of the galaxy, getting closer and closer until only a couple of stars are visible.
One of the stars lights up. "Here is us." Then another one lights up as well. "Here is where Soarin' is. On another recording, he mentions that he would wait for HK-53 to inform him that Sunset is dead."
You huff. "Well, time to tell a little lie then, Spike."
He nods and starts contacting him.
Fluttershy speaks up behind you. "Um, if we're telling a lie, then maybe it's a good thing that Applejack didn't come with us."
Twilight and Big Mac both laugh a little at that. If there's a joke here, you aren't in on it. You must not know Applejack that well yet.
"Alright, guys. Stay quiet." You say.
Everyone pipes down as Spike waits for Soarin' to answer his comms.
After a second, he finally does. "HK-53. Is it done?"
You feel yourself get angry again at the sound of this coward's voice. He'll get his.
Spike clears his throat and speaks with the voice of HK-53. "Statement: Indeed it is, Master. The Mandalorian is dead, as is Pinkamena Diane Pie."
He pauses for a moment. "Just one Mandalorian?"
Spike thinks to himself. He may be a machine, but Twilight programmed him with humanoid facial expressions and emotions. Right now, he looks nervous. On the verge of panic, even. Machines are terrible liars by nature.
Luckily, you aren't a terrible liar.
You whisper. "Tell him you kept me alive so he can deal with me personally."
Spike nods at you. "Statement: Yes, Master. The Mandalorian Anonymous is dead, but Sunset Shimmer is still alive. She is incapacitated and in great pain. I wanted to see if you were interested in dealing with her personally, Master. I do love seeing pain inflicted on meatbags like these."
As his lie progresses, he looks more relaxed and confident. You nod at him when he finishes. That was a very convincing impression.
Soarin' chuckles once. "Damn, you HK droids really are sadistic..."
"Grateful statement: Oh thank you, Master! You flatter me so." Spike replies.
You grin and Twilight silently giggles at that.
Soarin' continues. "Send me your coordinates. I'll be there soon. Make sure she stays alive until I get there."
"Statement: Yes, Master." The comms cut and Spike sends your location to Soarin' before exhaling and turning back to you. "Statement: Soarin' is on his way here, Sunset."
He's still mimicking HK-53's vocabulator.
"Nice work, Spike." You reply. "Although, you don't need to keep sounding like HK-53, you know."
Spike's eyes widen for a second and he lightly pats his cheek twice before clearing his throat. "*ahem* Whoops. Heh... Sorry about that."
Twilight smiles. "That's alright, Spike. Good work."
You take a deep breath. "Okay. Now that he's on his way here, there's a good chance that the rest of the droids will be as well. We'll need to lock down the ship again and wait."
Big Mac nods and goes over to the wall terminal he's closest to and activates the Ground Lockdown Defense Initiative. The ship seals itself again and hums softly as the defenses come back online.
You continue. "Spike, you'll be our eyes and ears. Any outside movement from droids or vornskr, you tell me about it. Keep a constant watch out for Soarin' as well."
He nods. "Yes ma'am!"
He vanishes and you turn to Big Mac. "You and me are going to be on defense against the droids. If we end up going outside for whatever reason and get separated, or if I end up dying, do not engage the droids. Their manufacturer's protocols won't kick on unless they're attacked."
Big Mac nods. "Eeyup."
You turn to Fluttershy and Twilight. "As for you two, I need you to stay out of the way. I can't lose either of you to these droids."
Fluttershy nods immediately, but Twilight steps forward. "Sunset, how exactly do you see this conflict ending?"
You pause for a moment. That's a good question.
When you first met Soarin', he and Anon got into a little fight with each other. You, Pinkie, and Spitfire had to hold them all back, but Octavia Melody was forced to intervene before they finally stopped. He gave you the cold shoulder the whole time you were on the job. He obviously wanted another shot at Anon. He's a petty, stubborn piece of work.
"If I'm being honest, I'm planning to have to kill him." You reply. "I don't expect him to cave and call off the droids without a bit of physical force. He hates me and Anon with a burning passion."
Even if that wasn't the case, you're not in a very nice mood right now. Killing him would be a pleasure.
Twilight gives you a concerned look. "Sunset, if there's any chance to resolve this amicably, I beg you to take it. Please. I understand that you're angry right now, and you have every right to be, but please don't kill him right away. Let's try to find a way to end this conflict without any more bloodshed."
You growl softly. This sleemo is trying to kill you, and Twilight wants you to be nice to him? It must be an excuse for her just practicing her future politician skills.
You exhale softly. "I'll try, but don't hold your breath, Twilight. I won't make you any promises."
She nods. "Trying is all I ask, Sunset."
She places a hand on your shoulder and gives you a hopeful smile before turning away. You just grumble under your breath and head into the armory. You need to prepare.
As you enter, you remove your jetpack and set it down on the workbench. It needs fuel. The gears in your head start turning as you look around for the fuel canister. Dantooine is still fresh in your mind. You remember seeing Soarin' trapped under that pile of rubble with that broken leg of his. It's a vivid picture in your mind.
Why didn't you just leave him there to die? That son of a bitch was blatantly trying to escape on his own, even though he had to have known it was useless. He just wanted to prove a point. You should've let him try to get away on his own. It would've been funny watching him squirm helplessly on the ground while the building collapsed around him. Anon would've been okay with it, there's no doubt in your mind about that.
It's not good to think this way.
You sigh. As much as you hate Soarin', you made the right choice in rescuing him and not leaving him to die. He was trapped, and it was part of your job. You did your job the best you could, just like you always do. You know it, Anon knows it, and Senator Melody knows it. He's condemning himself with this little quest of vengeance. That's all he's doing.
You're curious who his friend in the Senate is that told him where you're going. The only person who knew about Myrkr were the ones in the briefing room on the Kandosii. Maybe that's what Twilight wants to figure out as well. It has to be someone she knows. Maybe she talked to someone about this mission and didn't know that they aren't happy about this alliance between the Republic and Mandalore. It's the only logical explanation.
With this perspective in mind, you're a lot more willing to show restraint against Soarin' when you finally meet him. That doesn't mean you won't beat the hell out of him though. He is trying to kill you, after all.
With that, you start refueling your jetpack and grab whatever weapons you'll need. He should be here shortly.