e suddenly felt pulled upward by an invisible, yet very real force. While his body achieved the mandatory tactical-combat posture, he gained visual contact and discovered himself surrounded by the presence of hundreds of others like him. He quickly realized it was time to fight again.
A couple of seconds later, much more due to an external bidding than to his own desire, he found his usual blaster rifle in his hands. A quick, 90 degrees right-turn and then a complete stop were ordered from high above.
He now was ready. All of them were.
A brief pause followed.
The impalpable waves that soared all over the green surface forced him, along with all others around, to swagger in a rhythmical pattern. The sound of solid steps, combined with that of all the moving metal joints, created a scary melody he had gotten used to long ago. All battledroids were programmed to march firmly and heavily, as an effective mean to scare the enemy.
Aware of his power, he strode confidently.
As of now, 52-K had seen more than 20 worlds, but had lost track of how many killings he'd made.
Blood of countless colors had been scraped off his metallic body more times that he could count; and furious battles, along with dozens of invasions, and innumerable destroyed partners, grouped together to form a blurry image in his memory banks.
He wanted to remember more, and for the first time, he regretted the constant memory wipes the Trade Federation conducted religiously on all its battledroids. Recently, he had thought he was experiencing some kind of internal malfunction. He never refused a good battle, but the last ones had not been particularly pleasing. Maybe it was a short circuit within his being that caused these awry vibrations. As soon as he was back in the droid control ship, he would request a thorough circuit search.
As he kept walking forward, his electronic brain merged these thoughts with some images from the last time he was in a battle. It has to be a short circuit, he thought.
Suddenly, he could recall the time the Trade Federation had sent his battalion to a small planet in the Ocanda system. Inhabitants of Arul refused to pay the taxes imposed by Nute Gunray, and the only way to deal with such a problem was - as usual - to send the battledroids to negotiate.
The bright, red fire arising from the burning homes, and the startling screams of the women and children of that little village became alive inside 52-K's electronic mind. He vividly remembered the futile struggle that Arul's men had made to fight the trade federation droids.
The encounter had been short.
After landing and deploying his troops in a nearby clear zone, Zm-7 had ordered them to move against the rim of the village first, creating a concentric attack pattern. This managed to cut all access to the small town, along with any attempt to flee it.
A perfectly coordinated, fast offensive had left more than 500 locals dead, with few casualties for the Trade Federation.
In the end, they were forced to pay more than double the taxes originally imposed by Nute Gunray...
While he kept walking instinctively towards his new objective, he struggled to keep his data processors focused in the current battle . . .there was something about these Gungans, so obviously primitive, yet so bold and daring.
As the massive, pink dome grew closer to 52-K's eyes, the locals safeguarded inside it became more visibly nervous, preparing the archaic weapons they expected to use against the metallic militia. Aided by his high sensitive hearing modules, 52-K was able to pick up some conversations between those Gungans. Then he realized that every battle was the same, no matter the planet, no matter the race: Fear was always the common reaction; anxiety continuously permeated the air.
This time it was no different, except for the fact that the locals were not overtaken by their fear. No matter how uneasy they may have seemed, they stood still, awaiting for what they know would be their demise.
What could possibly drive a bunch of unarmed lower species to defy a battalion like 52-K's? He could not find an answer. Indeed, there was something unusual with this populace.
Then, all of a sudden and as if it was commanded by a higher power, the memory banks in 52-K's brain recovered the visual information on Arul's battle. He processed the image of a dweller's head getting smashed by a dry, quick blow he had struck with the bottom of his blaster rifle. A casualty of war, the villager had attempted to tackle him down, painfully unaware to the strength of a battle droid.
That poor being, thought 52-K in a flash. He noticed that, for the first time in his long military service, he actually meant it. A split second later, he was calculating the millions of life-possibilities that the villager could've had in his now scrimped future.
The first line of battle droids entered the energy dome that protected the Gungans from enemy attack. As soon as the plasma field was trespassed, the laser-fire sounds filled the air with their usual chants of violence.
52-K looked around. On the opposite side, some Gungans died loudly when hit by the high-power beams furiously fired from his comrades' blaster rifles.
Several droids also fell, hit by their own fire ricocheting off the Gungans' shields, or by energy balls thrown by the Gungans. Hundreds of droids behind them took their places, as if nothing had happened.
The battle had begun.
Screams and pleas were mixed in a chaotic cacophony of sounds inside 52-K's brain. He kept transmitting to the command ship all data he received through his electronic eyes and ears. The message back was of one pleased . . .
. . . "Keep firing," ordered Zm-7 while many droids fell victim of heavy rocks thrown from hut's roofs. Livid, green rays of gunfire coming from trenched Arul's inhabitants, killed many units . . .
As he stepped on the sparkling torso of a fellow combatant, 52-K could see a droid grab a Gungan by his long ears and hardly pull his face towards him. The amphibian-like skull squashed into a durasteel chest, putting the warrior to rest . . . for good. The sound of the cracking bone resonated loudly into 52-K's brain. He transmitted the data, not without a glint of pity for the fallen Gungan.
Now he knew something was definitely wrong.
Manufactured by Baktoid Combat Automata, and constantly reprogrammed by the Trade Federation technicians, battle droids were not supposed to feel remorse. They weren't supposed to feel anything at all, for that matter.
52-K hadn't heard of it before, but these were not feelings, it was a sense of entirety. Something has changed, he thought as colorful laser lightning was fired past him.
One of these ricocheted laser bolts gashed his right arm, and 52-K realized the futility of this battle.
Suddenly, in an instant, he knew.
These Gungans, like the Arulian people before them, along with all the others they had massacred, had one thing in common: They fought for a noble cause, for a higher ideal.
He was aware that he had been constructed to destroy, no matter what, no matter whom, but now he wasn't willing to carry it any further, he wasn't disposed to die in vain.
While electronic sparks sprinkled from his right shoulder, he turned around to pick up his blaster and opened fire against another droid. The newly acquired enemy exploded out with a dry sound. He began firing against those who had been his partners, those who, like him, had killed for the wrong reasons.
After taking out a couple of droids, 52-K dropped the borrowed blaster and noticed that the energy shield protecting the Gungans from the heavy attack had fallen. The armored tanks marched in, and as their humming grew louder, 52-K felt weaker. His body had lost large amounts of power energy and now he could barely walk. He drifted away from the center of the battle, small star-like sparks dripping from his severed shoulder.
As he walked, the sight of a small Gungan being beat up by a much stronger droid made the armless machine charge the attacker with all of his remaining strength. As 52-K ran towards his fellow droid, it turned its head, and with a loud "This does not compute" discharged his assault blaster on 52-k's chest.
The rebellious droid's chest exploded open with a choked sound. 52-k fell gradually on his knees, slowly as he had risen a few moments ago, when he was brought to consciousness by the Trade Federation's command.
As he fell down on the ground, he recalled the battle of Arul one more time. The moment he had stopped fighting and had picked up a little human female from the ground came to his mind. Her tiny hands had touched his long face, and somehow the warmth of that touch had made its way into his electronic brain.
He fell down on the blood-covered soil of Naboo.
What a nice place to cease existence! he thought. His face touched the sun-warmed grass, and as his body consumed the last bits of electric power left, he remembered that little girl's smile . . . an image he would certainly take with him forever.
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