Chapter 3: Droid Prep

        Artoo carefully rolled up the ramp that led to Jabba’s currently unused sail barge.  The ramp opened into a large room with a dais at one end, surrounded by narrow rectangular openings covered with slats to keep out the sun.

        “The Master enjoys executing his prisoners, but he doesn’t wish the sunlight to ruin the paint while he does it,” explained the nasal voice of the obnoxious FX droid that was showing him around his new worksite.

        Artoo let him talk, knowing that any information might be useful once Master Luke set about rescuing Captain Solo.  The Jedi was counting on him, and Artoo wouldn’t let him down.

        The FX unit continued, “You will have a serving tray affixed to your dome while Master Jabba is on the barge, and when he’s not, you will still have plenty to do.  The Master gets very excited when executing prisoners.  He tends to make a mess, and the others in his court are no better.   We must keep the sail barge in readiness for when Master Jabba wishes to use it again.”

        Artoo let him chatter on.  He reminded the astromech droid a bit of his companion C-3PO.  It felt soothing to his logic circuits to be chatted to by a fussy protocol droid.

        Artoo rolled down another ramp.  The FX unit had paused to stare at a heap of metal parts at the bottom of the ramp.  “I see that no one has cleaned up this former KB unit.  How does anyone expect us to do a proper job in these conditions?”

        Artoo beeped a question.

        “This is the remains of the droid you’re replacing.  He was shot three nights ago.  I expect someone from Jabba’s party got lost, then used KayBee for target practise.  It happens all the time.”

        Artoo gave a worried whistle, all the while knowing that Lando Calrissian had laid in wait for any droid assigned to the sail barge to appear, and had shot this KB unit several times at point blank range.  Master Luke needed a droid on the sail barge in order to complete his upcoming mission, and like any good inside man, Lando had taken care of it for him to make way for Artoo to save the day.

        “Don’t worry,” the FX unit said now.  “Stay away from trouble, and it will stay away from you.”  He looked both bored and proud of himself as he said the words, like he had said them many time before, but they didn’t lose their power with the retelling.

        “Over here are the drink dispensers.”  FX gestured at a wall covered by barrels and spigots  “Don’t mess up the Master’s drink orders.  An R9 unit did that once, and the Master shot it himself, then had it thrown over the side into the Sarlacc pit.  I don’t recommend finding out if it will happen again.”  Artoo’s second whistle was downright distressed.

        Artoo slowly followed FX back up to the audience chamber, then up another ramp to the top deck.  Now Artoo’s interest was truly piqued.  In order to carry out Master Luke’s orders, he would have to be positioned near the edge of the deck.  Artoo scouted out the best location as FX prattled on.

        Finally, he became aware that FX was yelling at him.  He swivelled his dome around so that his eye sensor was aimed in the correct direction to stare at him.

        “You aren’t even listening to me!” FX said more loudly, his version of yelling.  He gestured towards the surrounding sand.  “If you wish to view the nearby desert, I suggest you do it on your own time.  Jabba does not take kindly to droids that don’t do their work.  I hear your former master thought of you as hardworking.  He must not have been very demanding.  Jabba is different; he’s your master now.”

        Artoo gave an agreeable whistle, but if Threepio had been there, he could have told FX just what Artoo thought of that comment.  But Threepio wasn’t here.  He was assigned to Jabba’s main audience chamber, and was far too busy for things as mundane as serving drinks.  Artoo was alone on this mission.

But he was up to the task.  As Artoo followed FX down the ramp to the deck below, he continued to scout out the top deck until the last possible moment, calculating angles and trajectories.  He quickly ruled out the first three possibilities, but his fourth idea had merit.  Yes, to best help Master Luke, he should stand right there.

The End