Senator Leia Organa gave her thirteen-year-old son a quick kiss on the forehead. “This meeting should be short, sweetie, and then we can have some lunch together. Think about where you’d like to go.” She paused as the door of the apartment swished open and C-3PO toddled up behind her. “Threepio, you’re about due for an oil bath,” she said to the gold-plated droid and then to her son, “Ben, could you take Threepio to droid maintenance on Level Twenty-Four?”
Ben Solo glanced up from the breakfast nook where he sat watching a holovid of an Echani competition from Akiva. “Uh-huh,” he mumbled around a mouthful of cereal.
“Oh, thank you, sir!” C-3PO interjected with sincere gratitude, “but, Your Highness, won’t you need me to record and translate for you today? The meeting may be brief, but there are a number of senators who….”
Leia held up a hand. “Not today, Threepio.” She shot Ben one last look. “You and Chewie stay out of trouble today,” she told him with a smirk, remembering the last time she’d left Chewie in charge of Ben. Ben was only ten then, but he’d convinced Chewie to help him practice his levitation skills. Leia had come home to find one distraught and growling Wookiee stuck on top of the roof of the hydroponic gardens with no way to get down. Young Ben had been too exhausted to lift him down again and Chewie had been too big to fit in Leia’s personal speeder.
Ben gave his mother a listless nod, eyes glued to the holovid. A second later, he heard the doors swish shut behind her.
“Sir,” C-3PO said, moving towards the kitchen as a buzzer sounded, “if you would like some freshly squeezed terrberry juice, I believe it is ready.”
“Sure,” Ben acknowledged absently as the soft low rumble of Wookiee snoring started up in the next room.
“Oh, dear!” C-3PO cried in dismay. “One of my servos seems to have frozen.”
With a sigh, Ben paused the holovid and came into the kitchen to find the droid waving his left forearm in a frenzy.
“What happened?” Ben said wearily. He had little interest in anything mechanical, which Han failed to comprehend. What boy didn’t like to tinker and fix things? It was important to understand how things worked, especially if you found yourself parsecs away from the nearest repair shop. But Ben always had his nose glued to a datapad, always scrolling through legends of the Old Republic and working out calculations in arcane disciplines. He spent as much time studying cloud patterns as Han did studying hyperdrive schematics.
C-3PO stopped jerking about and cocked his head to one side. “I’m sorry, sir, but my wrist seems to be malfunctioning.”
“Not again,” Ben groaned. “Who made you?” He took the droid’s hand in his for a look at the offending joint.
C-3PO interpreted the boy’s exasperated utterance for a question that demanded an answer. “Why, it was Anakin Skywalker who assembled me,” the droid reminisced in a merry tone. “It took him almost six years to give me coverings. Your….” His voice trailed off as a subroutine in his programming stopped his vocalization process. “Oh….” He uttered, confused for a moment as a new subroutine took control.
Ben caught the stumble and was eyeing the droid intently, ignoring the stuck servo. “Anakin Skywalker?” He recognized the surname as that of his uncle and mother – before she had become Leia Organa, that is. He’d been told that the twins had been separated at birth and adopted because their parents had been killed during the Clone Wars. Ben had accepted the story without further interest for a long time because there was nothing more his mother or uncle could tell him. They knew nothing of their biological parents but told him tales instead about their adoptive parents. But now Ben’s interest was piqued since C-3PO was obviously undergoing some automatic corrective programming.
“Uh, yes, sir,” the droid responded with a twitch of his head.
Ben let go of C-3PO’s wrist and leaned back against the cabinets, arms folded. “Was he related to my mother and uncle?”
The droid was not programmed to lie, but his speech simulator quivered. “Yes, sir.”
“My grandfather?” Ben ventured.
“Oh, uh….” C-3PO gave a little jerk as his behavior protocols went through a checklist. “Yes, sir,” he finally responded. “Let me just get that juice, sir. You must be thirsty and I still have one good arm.” He toddled off good-naturedly, but Ben grabbed his dysfunctional arm and spun him around. “My goodness!”
“What are you not telling me, Threepio?” Ben Solo’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t recognize the name, but he did recognize a ruse.
“Nothing, sir!” C-3PO threw up his other hand and tried to pull away.
Suspicion and rage grew within the young padawan. “What are you hiding?” He held the droid’s arm with a death grip as C-3PO struggled to get free, babbling a string of incomprehensible monosyllables.
Ben stumbled backwards, stunned, thudding into the wall as the arm came off in his hands. He blinked while the droid wailed.
“Oh, dear! My…arm! At times you don’t know your own strength, sir!”
They both turned as a tall shadow fell over them. Chewie took in the scene and gave a questioning rumble in Shyriiwook.
Ben groaned and looked away. “Mom’s going to kill me.” Suddenly, he looked up at the tall Wookiee. “You’re always threatening to rip people’s arms off. Couldn’t we say you did it?” he suggested hopefully.
Chewbacca roared and lifted his chin.
@MyKyloRen 28 September2016