A Master and An Apprentice
He wasn’t quite sure which came first: sentience, or the knife. His memory circuits couldn’t make sense of how a cleaning droid gained self-awareness, nor of why someone had taped a kitchen knife to the top of him, right at ankle-level for the humanoids on base. But Stabby did know that the humanoids found it hilarious to watch other humanoids scramble out of the way of the knife or be taken by surprise, and somewhere deep within his circuits, Stabby found it hilarious too.
He was just doing his job one day, cleaning the floors (well, and deviating from his randomly-generated pattern to startle six humans, two Mon Calamari, and a Twi’lek) when he heard a chorus of binary coming from a nearby supply closet. Curious, Stabby peeked his visual sensor in and saw a circle of astromechs huddling around a blue and white R2 unit, hanging on its every beep and whistle. The R2 unit told story after story of adventure, fighting evil, and saving the galaxy. Stabby had not known if he was capable of the emotion that humanoids called “awe”, but listening to the R2 unit’s tales of heroics, he became sure.
After the night grew late and the other astromechs returned to their charging stations, Stabby wheeled up to the storyteller.
[Hello there] he ventured. [Your stories are wonderful.]
[Hello, and thanks!] the R2 unit replied.
[I was wondering] Stabby beeped hesitantly, [if you could teach me how to be a hero?]
The R2’s processor whirred as he considered the question. [Well, anyone can be a hero, by being brave at the right time. And you’ve even got a little weapon there. Sure, why don’t you come back here tomorrow, and I’ll teach you some tricks?]
[Thank you so much!] Stabby burbled with joy. [I’ll be here!]
So Stabby began his training with R2-D2, the droid that had been in the center of so much of the action in the galaxy. He learned about the weaknesses of organics, about when to ignore what humanoids and pessimists were saying, and most importantly, about honor, courage, and persistence. And all the while, he practiced with his knife. The more the humanoids got used to watching out for Stabby, the more stealthily he learned how to attack.
“I swear, it’s like that kriffing little thing’s sentient,” grumbled one officer. “It’s like it knows how to getcha when you least expect it.”
Stabby’s circuits lit up with delight, but he said nothing and pretended to almost bump into the wall on his way out.
Stabby loved training, loved being R2-D2’s apprentice, until one day, the enemies attacked the base. R2-D2 had to take his place in the battle, while Stabby tried to stay out of the way of the humanoids trying to escape.
Stabby’s circuits shook with fear. This was a real battle, not a funny prank. He was just a cleaning droid, and his master was nowhere to be found. He backed into an alcove and tried to stay out of sight as white-armored bad guys ran through the hall.
The door at the end of the hallway opened, and out of a cloud of smoke came something very dark and very tall. It walked on two legs and made a rhythmic noise. Stabby recognized Darth Vader from R2-D2’s stories.
As Darth Vader walked past him, Stabby remembered what his teacher had said: anyone can be a hero by being brave at the right time. Well, this was his chance.
Silently, he rolled out of the alcove, aimed for Darth Vader’s ankle, and accelerated at full power.
The knife hit something solid, and Stabby felt dazed. Vader did not fall down dead; he did not fall at all. He bent down and picked Stabby up.
Stabby froze in fear. Surely this was the end for him!
From inside the mask came a soft, raspy noise. In confusion, Stabby realized that Vader was laughing at him.
Vader turned to one of his troopers. “Take this back to my shuttle, and see that no one knows about it.”
The trooper took Stabby, eyeing him warily. “Yes, Lord Vader.”
Well, this was certainly going to be an adventure. Maybe Stabby was following in his master’s footsteps after all.