Impossible Orders and Lost Memories

Darth Nox exited the conference room with a huge grin on his face. He exulted in his moment of triumph. Immediately following the meeting, Nox called General Riiy'enni'sansa.

"The dark lord greatly honors, me. How may I serve you?"

"What progress has been made in the Dark Council chamber, General?"

"The heavy stone work, removing the top five meters of the apex, has been completed. The opening at the apex is now much larger, allowing more daytime starlight into the chamber as the dark lord wished. The council chamber floor is being reconditioned. We are waiting for delivery of the new stained glass cap to complete the apex.

"In the meantime, the wiring of the climate control and lighting are being installed, and improvements to the turbolifts has just been completed. It has resulted in a much faster ride, Dark Lord," the general said, completing his report.

"The work on the Dark Council chamber must be completed in time for the Dark Council meeting in twenty days, General," Nox emphasized, "There can be no delays. The Dark Council will meet there in twenty days."

"I'll add a second and a third shift and have them work around the chronometer, Dark Lord," Riiy'enni'sansa promised.

"Good," the dark lord said, ending the call.

Nox made his way to the bridge of the Doombringer. He wanted to consult with his powerful vassal, Moff Valion Pyron.

As he made his way, turning a corner in the labyrinthine passages of the gargantuan warship, Nox passed a section of bulkhead with a highly reflective surface and saw his excited grin in his reflection. He laughed at himself.

"I look like some foolish youth who'd just lost his virginity."

He laughed out loud at the thought, but when the mirth had passed its moment, he worked to get the grin off of his face. He also took a moment to examine himself in his reflection. While aboard Moff Pyron's flagship, Nox had been dressing in traditional formal Sith attire.

Today, he had dressed in a black glossy roomy blouse with billowing long sleeves, and collarless v-neck, billowing matching leggings and a matching, wide black sash all made with a very expensive silk fabric. The bottoms of his leggings were stuffed into his nicely polished black knee-high natural leather boots.

Moff Pyron was among the first to see Nox exit the turbolift and enter the bridge. He could see that Nox's normal scowl was gone, replaced with a look of ease and calm.

"That's unusual," Valion thought, "I wonder what impossible order I'm about to be issued?"

He also wondered about the dark lord's dress.

"I don't think I've ever seen him not dress in armor, and it's always been deep mat-black and brilliant yellow," the moff reflected.

The day before, Moff Pyron saw Nox in a red and black business suite, but today it was glossy black clothes.

The moff watched as his benefactor neared the steps to the raised platform.

"Does the dark lord feel safe aboard my ship? Shouldn't he be alert for assassins, no matter where he is?"

The moff didn't realize that Nox was armed with a concealable lightsaber, hidden beneath his sash, and that he constantly monitored the emotions of everyone around him, searching for hostility aimed at him.

Nox ascended the stairs to the raised highly polished black durasteel platform, and came to a stop within arm's reach of Pyron. It was very rare for Nox to allow others to stand so close to him. Nox's proximity to him was explained when the dark lord spoke to him in very low tones.

"Darth Marr has received information," Nox started to say, before stopping himself to ask the moff, "Have you heard this too? That is, that Republic forces might withdraw ships from several of their star systems to consolidate a force large enough to be capable of challenging us, here?"

"Dark Lord, I have not received such intelligence reports," the moff replied in equally low tones, adding, "If this is the case, then we must increase our presence on the planet surfaces and speed up operations. I'll have to risk losing ships and force our presence for orbital bombardments of enemy ground forces."

"Will we risk defeat if we lose ships during the bombardments?"

"No, Dark Lord, but it will increase our losses and expenses as we lose ships to counter attack," Valion Pyron replied.

"Then make the necessary adjustments to finish this eighty world campaign quickly," Nox instructed.

"Yes Dark Lord," Nox's vassal replied.

Darth Nox then gave his vassal other pertinent information.

"Darth Marr is in position to quickly relieve your forces in the field. So that we can move on to our next set of objectives. However, there will be a change in the plans."

Pyron's gaze seamed to sharpen, indicating he was ready to receive his new orders.

"Instead of invading eighty worlds, on our next round of conquests, we shall cut that down to forty, Nox said, "It seems that our maximum force, high tempo operations has put a great strain on our manufacturing and logistics train capacity. Reducing our conquest objectives will also grow the size of our reserve forces so that we'll be able to handle any challenge that a reorganized Republic naval attack force might bring us."

Pyron gave a single nod and a smile of approval. He liked his orders.

"There's one more thing," Nox said, "I'll listen to any pleas from the Republic to end the war. We've made a lot of gains, but our economy is starting to deteriorate, and our treasury is becoming depleted. Those must be refreshed, and our military refurbished."

"As you say, Dark Lord. This long term strategy will see us ready for the next war," Pyron said, again nodding his approval.

"Precisely, Moff Pyron," Nox confirmed. Nox then asked his vassal, "Do you need anything else from me?"

"Yes, Dark Lord. Your orders and intentions are quite clear. Materially, we have what we need. We'll be even better off when we move on to the next set of worlds. The only thing I need from you is which of the forty worlds do you want us go for out of the eighty originally targeted?"

Nox thought a moment before answering.

"Keep it simple, just as long as our new border with the Republic isn't too complex."

"Yes, Dark Lord, I'll concentrate on keeping our boundary simple. That will make patrolling our conquests simple as well."

Nox nodded his satisfaction, turned and walked towards the steps to descend the platform, making his way to the turbolift. As he stepped into the turbolift, Nox got his communicator from his utility belt.

"Hey Boss, you got work for me?" Andronikos Revel asked his employer.

"Andronikos, prepare my ship for departure."

"Sure thing, Boss. Where'd you want to go?"

"I'll tell you when I get to the ship."

"I'll have the engines warmed up by the time you get here, Boss. Darth Virulous and Khem aren't on board, did you want me to call them back to the ship?"

Nox stepped out of the turbolift and made his way to Officer Country, to his guest stateroom.

"No. I don't want them aboard."

"You don't want to give them time to get their stuff out of their quarters, either?"

Nox sighed, then said, "Call them. Tell them to get their things and to arrange their own transportation to wherever they wish, but to be ready to return to me upon my call."

You got it, Boss.

Nox rested his palm on the scanner, and the door to his guest stateroom slid open. The Dark Lord went about quickly packing his belongings as he prepared to leave the rest of the war to Pyron. His presence on board and his initial leadership had had the effect he had aimed for. He was regarded as a conquering war hero. Even if he didn't stay until the end, he was still in command, and in communication with Moff Valion Pyron.

Nox did one last check to be sure he had everything before bringing up his communicator again.

"Master, how glad I am to see you. What tasks do you wish me to perform?" 2V-R8 asked.

The ship droid wasn't holding a holo-transceiver in its mechanical hand, but had one built-in to its communications circuits, the holographic image of the droid hovering above Nox's hand was merely a digitally created facsimile of the droid.

"Quickly! Come to my stateroom aboard the Doombringer, and carry my luggage back to my starship," Nox commanded.

"I will complete this task with great haste, Master."

Nox cut the connection and placed another call.

A holo-graphic image appeared above Nox's device. It was of a thinly built man, plainly dressed, in his early sixties, precisely trimmed graying hair with male pattern baldness. The figure knelt, with his right fist planted on the floor of whatever room he was in when he answered Nox's call.

"Dark Lord, you honor me greatly with your call. How may I serve you?"

"Meet me at the Imperial embassy on Hutta. We must speak, face to face, Keeper."

"Dark Lord," Keeper said, "Your enemies and rivals do not know that I serve you directly. They even believe that I am dead. If I were to meet you at any embassy, it would be discovered that I am alive, and answering to your summons. May I recommend that we meet somewhere where none of your foes will discover that I yet live and am serving the Empire through your impeccable leadership?"

"Were does such a place exist, Keeper?" Nox asked thinking that Keeper was going to try blackmailing him.

"At the Citadel in your offices, Dark Lord," Keeper said to Nox's great surprise.

"How can they discover that you are not dead at an embassy, while oblivious to your presence at the Citadel, Keeper?" Nox asked, incredulous.

"I have already scrubbed all of the security systems in the Citadel of any image of me and my real identity. I replaced my appearance with a computer generated one. My true appearance turns up a manufactured identity of a low level supply officer, a low level intelligence officer, a low level infantry officer, or a low level security officer, as my needs apply."

Wondering what other systems Keeper had compromised, Nox asked, "How is it that you could so thoroughly compromise the security systems at the Citadel, but not at an embassy on Hutta?"

"Before the trouble with Darth Jadus, and later with Darth Zhorrid, while I was still leading Imperial Intelligence, I had already set up the false identities, and the fake image of Keeper and later the fake image of the minister of Imperial Intelligence. I activated the programs just before I walked out of my office when Imperial Intelligence had been disbanded. However, I don't have access to the physical security systems of embassies and consulate offices throughout the galaxy."

Nox finally understood how Keeper had so thoroughly compromised security in some places, such as The Citadel, but not in others. Keeper's limitations had become apparent to the dark lord. Nox realized that this meant that there were places Keeper could not go, or he'd be recognized.

"Very well, Keeper," Nox said, "We'll meet in my offices in the Citadel."

"As you command, Dark Lord," Keeper said, his face perfectly masking his feelings. Nox couldn't sense his feelings via holo, but as the dark lord cut the connection, he knew that Keeper had to know what was on his mind, and that Keeper had to have some apprehension about the topic of the clandestine meeting.

Nox stepped into the fresher to relieve himself. After washing his hands, and stepping back out of the fresher, the door chime sounded.

"Enter!"

The door hissed open and 2V-R8 rushed into the room. Nox pointed at the luggage on the bed. The droid immediately veered left to the bed and the luggage. Nox used The Force to retrieve his sabrestaff from the bed next to his luggage. The droid stopped in its tracks, and turning its head, tracked the weapon as it floated into its master's outstretched hand.

"You do not wish me to carry your sabrestaff as well, Master?"

"No, R8. I'll carry my own weapon. You take care of the rest."

"As you wish, Master," the droid took two more quick steps to the bed and picked up the two pieces of luggage and proceeded to rush to the door, saying, "I assure you, Master, that your luggage will…." The door had slid shut behind the droid.

Nox, dressed in his traditional deep black and brilliant yellow medium grade armor, walked at a leisurely pace. Touring the dreadnought, as it were, on his way to the hanger bay and his starship. On the way there, officers and enlisted, snapped to attention, snapped crisp salutes and gave their well wishes and congratulations to the dark lord's successful reopening of offensive operations against their hated enemy.

Nox smiled and nodded acceptance of their praises and adulations. He thoroughly enjoyed the glory, believing wholeheartedly that he deserved all of it. He knew he couldn't do it alone. He knew he depended on faithful followers to trust him and follow him and to do their part, but this was his plan, his leadership, his vision that was carried out.

As Nox passed through the threshold into the massive starship hanger bay, he saw his starship, busily attended by droids. He was in time to see the service lines disconnected; the fuel hatches shut and service power juncture access points shut. The supply bay hatches were being shut, and the service droids were all surging away from his ship. The engine exhausts were glowing a very dim blue.

The ramp was down and both Darth Virulous and Khem Val stood at the bottom of the ramp, with their luggage, as well as Lennell Juuntos. Nox had forgotten about the young man.

When he reached the three, he told them, "If you want a ride to Dromund Kaas, then board the ship. I thought I was going somewhere else, but I'll stop at Dromund Kaas, first."

"Thank the stars!" Virulous breathed in great relief.

Khem Val, rolled his eyes and shook his massive head as he picked up his luggage and hauled it back up the ramp.

Lennell looked at his master and said with utter solemnity, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you."

Nox became uncomfortable, thinking suddenly of his dead son and daughter. He remembered how fervently they wanted to be like their mother and father. A pang of grief struck him as he remembered how they'd died.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Exhaling, he opened his eyes and was about to deliver a thorough tongue lashing to the youth, to remind him that he was not the youth's father. However, the dark lord stopped himself, as he was struck by an epiphanous thought. The Force showed him a vision.

Virulous watched Nox blink twice as her dark lord took on a look of great astonishment. She said nothing as Nox stood staring off into space for many long seconds. She wondered what could be going through his mind as the dark lord squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head.

Virulous wondered what could have overcome her dark lord as Nox looked at the boy seemingly as though he feared the inexperienced youth. Nox told the youth, his voice thin, seemingly unsure.

"Bring your things back into the ship, Apprentice Lennell."

"Apprentice Lennell?! Not, 'Boy?'" Virulous asked herself in disapproval.

For the first time Virulous began to fear and to hate the boy. She thought about the boy's unnatural affinity for The Force.

"Why is that kid so important to the dark lord so suddenly?!" she asked herself, then wondering, "Is he going to replace me? But the dark lord promised I didn't have to worry about that. Has he changed his mind?"

Virulous was right about the boy's sudden importance to Nox, but she was wrong about the boy taking her place. She watched as the boy trudged back up the ramp, carrying his things, her face twisted with hatred for the hapless child.

Nox saw the look on her face, and realized she thought of the youth as her rival and her enemy.

Nox walked to his apprentice and stood next to her, watching the boy disappear into the main airlock.

He then told her, "Darth Virulous, do not harm that boy."

"As you will, Dark Lord," she replied with an edge of bitterness in her tone.

"Don't teach him anymore Force techniques," he added.

Virulous looked up at her lord and found him closely scrutinizing her face. There was no hardness, nor coldness in his eyes as he studied her features.

"You don't want him to learn, Dark Lord?" she asked Nox, becoming confused, and asking herself, "How can that boy take my place if he doesn't learn Dark Side techniques and rituals?"

However, what he told her next startled her.

"Don't get attached to him. He isn't going to last, but I will."

"Do you believe he will challenge you, Dark Lord?!"

"You will take him on as your subordinate, but do not teach him anything. Keep him busy doing menial tasks. Let him strengthen his body, and let him become proficient in lightsaber combat, but that is it. Teach him nothing about The Force."

"If he will not last, why teach him anything at all, Dark Lord? Why even keep him?"

"The Force," Nox said, shaking his head in wonderment, "has given me a wonderful gift, and yet…"

Nox left the rest unspoken.

"Nothing must happen to that boy. Keep him safe, but not coddled," Nox commanded.

"As you will, Dark Lord," Virulous said, bowing her head to her lord.

Nox gently rested his hand on her shoulder and gave her a gentle push towards the starship ramp.

"Let's get aboard, I'll have the droid bring your things up."

As the two walked up the ramp, she leaned into him, and he put his arm around her shoulder. Then she put her arm around his waist.


The starship had left the Doombringer's hanger bay the previous day, and had been traveling in hyperspace since shortly after leaving Moff Pyron's flagship.

The following morning, Nox awoke from a deep slumber and was mildly surprised, and happy to find that Virulous still lay against him, her arm draped over his chest, her thigh over his loins, and the calf of her leg pulling her against him, holding her hips close to his side. He looked at the chronometer on his desk on the other side of his stateroom. It was just about time to get up for the day.

He leaned into her and began to kiss her face here, there, her nose, her closed eye. He had been busy with his hand, too, caressing her skin and tracing her breasts with a very light touch, and gently pinching one of her nipples. And when she let out a soft moan of pleasure, he kissed her mouth. When Virulous began to return his kiss, he kissed her deeply, hungrily.

Later, for a time, the two lay entwined in each other's arms and legs, luxuriating in the afterglow of the moment. He didn't want to spoil that moment either. However, he had to get started for the day.

"Time to get to work," he told her, reluctantly.

"You say the most romantic things," Virulous replied, teasingly.

"I love you," Nox said, tightening his embrace.

"I love you, too, my lord," she whispered into his ear.

A few moments later, they finally began to untangle themselves, Nox rising from his bed, and Virulous rolling to her side to watch the dark lord stroll into his private fresher. Virulous quickly rose out of her lover's bed. She wrapped her black hooded robe around herself, wearing nothing underneath, and carrying the rest of her armor, boots, and gear, she opened the door to her lover's stateroom.

After looking both ways to be sure no one was in the passageway, she darted down a ways to her own quarters where, after entering, she unceremoniously dropped everything to the deck and shed her robe, dashing into her fresher.

Nearly an hour later, Virulous was dressed in casual Sith attire, sitting in front of her holographic vanity imager, styling her shoulder length hair. She was pleased at how quickly her hair was growing back.

Her armor, boots, and under armor linings were in her valet, getting cleaned. She had just finished fussing with her hair when her door chime sounded. It was very unusual. No one ever visited at her door aboard the starship. She walked to the door and hit the contact, which caused it to slide open.

Nox was outside in casual attire, behind him 2V-R8 was pushing a cart.

"I brought breakfast," he said, then asked, "May I come in?"

Virulous, becoming excited, stepped aside.

"Yes, of course, my lord. Please, come in."

Nox entered, his ship droid following him in while pushing the cart into the room.

Nox stepped to the side of the room, beckoning Virulous to follow him to the side as 2V-R8 began to arrange some of her furnishings, setting up her caf table and two chairs in the center of her room. The droid then set a white fabric table cloth and a life-like 3D printed floral arrangement to adorn the table setting. The droid then went to work at its cart, while Nox guided Virulous to the table, helping her into her seat before taking his seat.

The two sat, looking into each other's eyes, enjoying the giddiness that it gave them.

Nox's smile kept widening, until he gave a chuckle, embarrassed, but he felt good. His bashful laughter proved contagious, and Virulous, who was also smiling, couldn't help but give a small tittering laugh of her own. The two felt absolutely silly.

"Did you plan this?" Virulous asked, indicating the set table, and the droid preparing breakfast in her room.

"The idea came to me at the spur of the moment. I thought to get R8 to bring me breakfast, and it occurred to me that we could breakfast together," Nox said, a bit embarrassed, "It would be fun, I thought."

"It's delightful," she agreed.

Neither one could think of anything to say, really. Nox was careful not to discuss work. He turned his attention to the droid and found the droid's deft, quick and precise movements fascinating for some reason. He pointed it out to his lover. The two quietly watched the droid work for a while.

"I'm sure that when R8 is done, we shall be served a truly delicious and nutritious meal," Nox said, laughing, as he mimicked the droid's enthusiastic manner of speech.

"You are correct, Master. This meal will be wonderfully delicious and most nutritious," the droid said, adding, "following your strenuous mating ritual, both you and Lord Virulous must have certain nutrients replenished."

Virulous planted her face into both of her hands, laughing up a storm. Nox, also laughing, planted his face into his right hand. The two caught their breath as their laughter had subsided.

"I can't believe R8 was listening in on us!" Virulous said.

"I'll have to modify his subroutines to correct that," Nox admitted.

2V-R8 was set up to monitor the intercoms throughout the starship, to be ready to answer any call from any part of the ship as required. It also occurred to Nox that what this meant was that every conversation he had ever had was overheard and possibly recorded in the droid's memory, including conversations of treachery and treason.

"I'll have to wipe R8's memory, as well," Nox thought, regretfully.

2V-R8's personality subroutines would be gone, and all of the quirks and peeves of the people in Nox's inner circle that it served would be forgotten. It would for example forget Khem Val's favorite food, and would forget all of the subroutines that Andronikos Revel painstakingly programmed into it to help the semi-retired pirate run the starship. Not to mention Nox's own particular tastes. The droid would forget those too. 2V-R8 would have to reacquaint itself with Nox and his inner circle to rebuild the database of each individuals' preferences.

"I'll talk to Andronikos to give him a chance to copy his subroutines before I wipe the droid's memory," Nox told himself, thinking those were the most important, but then another thought occurred to him.

"That pirate might make copies of my conver…." Nox stopped himself, as another realization came to him, "Maybe he's already made copies of my conversations!"

Nox knew that Andronikos had been skimming hundreds of millions from the budget of his sphere of influence. He'd already taken Andronikos' forged credit card, which was an exact duplicate of the original that had been mistakenly given access to the entire budget of the Sphere of Ancient Knowledge. Nox had decided at the time, that since it was his own stupid mistake, and because he valued Andronikos' service, to allow the pirate to keep the stolen credits as a prize of piracy and cunning.

Andronikos, however, resolved to never cheat his employer again. He was flummoxed when his employer laughingly ceded the six hundred million he'd stolen over time. Knowing Nox's nature, he waited for the day that Nox would summarily execute him on a whim for stealing from him, but nothing ever happened and his accounts were never frozen nor seized.

Yet, Nox worried, "Would that pirate use these recordings to blackmail me?"

Virulous had been watching Nox, letting a morsel of food hang from the end of his fork, forgotten, as his face darkened into growing anger.

"You're thinking about work. Aren't you?" she asked, breaking the dark lord out of his darkening train of thoughts.

"Not quite work, but a problem just the same," he said, remembering to eat again.

"Have you thought about an heir, Dark Lord?" Virulous asked out of the blue, "Honor me. Let me bear your heirs, my lord."

"When I ascend the throne…," Nox started to say, but stopped to think. When he looked more closely at the problem, he told her, "Our Empire has been ruled for the last thirteen hundred years by one emperor who existed in the bodies of several servants.

"Not only did he have no heirs. He had no empress, nor even a consort. The emperors, before Vitiate, had no empresses nor consorts, though they had many children. Yet their children were not chosen as heirs. Succeeding emperors were chosen from the strongest of their followers shortly before they died."

"Then, when you ascend the throne, what will our relationship mean to you, Dark Lord?"

"I will start a new tradition," Nox declared, "I will make you my consort."

"Thank you, Dark Lord!" Virulous said, excitedly.

"However, I have to give a lot of thought about having children," Nox told her, explaining, "Our enemies would seek to hurt us, break our spirits by murdering our children. Acina had tried to break me in this manner. It was why I had sent you to Tatooine, remember?"

"I realize the risks, my love," Virulous answered, "Nevertheless, I want to have your children."

"We must think carefully on this," he said, then a very brief flash of grief flitted across his face, as he cautioned her, "It is terribly painful to bear the murder of your children."

Virulous put her fork down. Having lost her appetite, on remembering her own crime of murdering the two small children of that Exchange Gang leader. The very one who was hired to destroy Nox's palatial home atop Dromund Tower, where Nox's two children died in the conflagration that followed the bombing.

"I'm done eating," she said in a somber tone.

Nox nodded and put his fork down, too. He rose from the table, walked around to the other side, and helped Virulous out of her chair. The two embraced and kissed.

Then stepping back from her, Nox ordered the droid, "Clean this up, R8. When you are done, report to me in my quarters. I have questions for you."

"It will be my pleasure, Master. I look forward to engaging in conversation with you," 2V-R8 said, as it began to clean up the breakfast table, asking, "What would you like to discuss, Master? Perhaps we can discuss the meaning of certain works of art, or maybe…,"

"I'll tell you what we'll talk about when you report to my stateroom," Nox said, cutting the droid off.

"I'm certain the dark lord will enjoy a discussion of ancient Sith operas," Virulous told the droid.

"That is an excellent idea, Lord Virulous!" the droid exclaimed, declaring, "I shall research the galactic holo-net for resources on that topic."

Nox shook his head, laughing, as he turned about and let himself out of her room.

A short while later, 2V-R8 announced itself as it entered Nox's stateroom.

"Master, I have uncovered a wealth of information on ancient Sith opera and other forms of music and theater. I think you may find some of it of great interest."

"I'll hear your report another time. For now answer my questions," Nox told the droid.

"Of course, Master."

"Has anyone ever accessed the records stored in your memory?"

"This has happened many millions of times by all members of your immediate staff, including yourself, Master."

"What? What do you mean?" Nox asked, urgently, "Give me the most recent example of this," he demanded.

"The most recent example of someone accessing records stored in my memory occurred eighteen seconds ago, when you asked me if anyone has ever accessed records stored in my memory, Master."

Nox threw up his hands as though giving up, tossing his head in disbelief, and rolling his eyes.

"R8, I meant…" Nox began but gave up. Opting, instead, to more precisely frame his inquiry.

"Has anyone ever copied records from your memory onto an external device?"

"No, Master."

"Is it possible to do this?"

"Yes, Master."

"Would you have a record of such an attempt?"

"No, Master."

"What would need to be done to make copies of records in your memory?"

"Master, in order to copy records from my memory, my chassis would need to be disassembled. My head would need to be dismantled, to retrieve my positronic brain unit. My brain unit would need to be mounted to a Mern Esk Mern – twenty seven hundred (MEM-2700) series memory retrieval system. My memories could then be successfully retrieved.

"Unfortunately, Master, my positronic brain would be severely damaged in the process, and would have to be discarded," the ship droid told the dark lord.

"Then a new positronic brain would have to be installed?" Nox asked, "and a copy of the records uploaded to it, before reassembling your head?"

"No, Master. Dismantling my head to access my positronic brain, means draining the non-conductive cooling fluid, exposing the brain cavity to the atmosphere, completely contaminating and ruining the contacts which connect to my brain.

"An entirely new head with a brain must be obtained," the droid told its master, "In the case of military grade general purpose droids, such as myself, it would be far more economical to simply purchase an entirely new factotum droid. Most of the expense in manufacturing my class of droids is in the brain and brain casing, Master."

Nox's gaze went to a blank space on his desk as he thought carefully. What this meant, he realized, was that there wasn't a practical technological solution for downloading copies of a droid's memory without destroying the droid. Returning his gaze to the droid, he reflected that 2V-R8 was specific when it said, in the case of military grade general purpose droids.

"Are there other ways that copies of specific conversations could be recalled and copied?"

"One might ask me to repeat a conversation that I had overheard, Master," the droid said, "but that requires, that the one asking know the specific times and dates of specific conversations. Otherwise I might recite every conversation I've ever heard held by a specific individual. Retrieving records of conversations in this manner requires a lot of time and an external recording device. It's possible but cumbersome, Master."

"Is there a way to selectively wipe specific conversations by a specific individual from your memory?"

"Yes, Master, but that would require many weeks to complete, during which time, I would be operating at a reduced capacity, less than seventy percent efficiency, while I searched many years of archives," 2V-R8 said, cautioning, "The gaps in my records could cause me to make errors in my functions and duties, Master."

"Give me an example," Nox demanded.

"If, for example, Lord Virulous had given me an order to add a new scheduled routine to my daily activities but later you ordered me to end such activities, the record of your order would be gone, so I would resume Lord Virulous' orders," the droid said, "there would be many, many such errors and inefficiencies. It would be more practical to simply wipe my memory completely."

"What if I ordered it, would that bother you?" Nox asked the droid.

"I will always happily serve you, Master. My only regret will be that I would not be able to serve you at my best, because all of your favorite preferences would need to be relearned," the droid said, adding cheerfully, "But my regret will only last until my memory has been wiped. Once I begin anew, I shall reacquire all of your favorite preferences."

"Do not repeat my line of inquiry about this matter with anyone," Nox commanded.

"Yes, Master."

"You are dismissed, carry on with your normal duties."

"Yes, Master," the droid said, turning about to do as it had been told.

As soon as the door slid shut, Nox got on the ship's intercom.

"Andronikos, report to my quarters."

"Uh, oh…," the semi-retired pirate said, lifting himself from the Navigator's station chair in the bridge.

"R8, report to the bridge, man the pilot's seat and monitor the controls. Report all anomalies," the captain of Nox's starship commanded as he made his way to the hatch connecting to the common crew space on his way to Darth Nox's stateroom.

"Yes, Captain," the droid replied just as it had entered the engineering department. Andronikos didn't hear the droid's response from there, but he had no doubt that the ship droid was responding to his orders.

A chime sounded at Nox's door.

"Enter."

The door hissed open and the pirate stepped briskly into his employer's quarters. He stopped in the middle of the space and reported.

"Yes, Boss. You got orders for me?"

Nox cracked the tiniest smirk, thinking to himself, "So, polite! He has a natural instinct for knowing when he's in hot water."

"Have you ever accessed or copied conversations from 2V-R8's memory?"

Nox could tell, not only from the surprise registering on his face, but from his emotional response that the question was not at all expected.

"I never thought of that," Andronikos said, truthfully, which Nox could tell through The Force.

"I worry that conversations I've had on this ship, in my residences, or office – which the droid has overheard could be downloaded, copied and used to blackmail me," Nox said, as he sifted through the range of emotions and reactions of his ship's commander.

"Wow, Boss!" Andronikos replied, "I never even thought about that! There sure are lot of things I've said and done around R8 that I'd like the bucket of bolts to forget, permanently!" Andronikos said, truly worried, asking, "How about you, Boss? You want me to wipe R8's memory?"

"Give me an example of something you'd like R8 to forget," Nox said conversationally, but it was a command, and Andronikos knew it.

"All the acts of piracy, I've committed, using this ship with R8 aboard helping me to get it done," Andronikos said, without missing a beat, then adding somewhat lamely, "and other various crimes," hoping Nox would not ask him to elaborate.

"Have you ever collected information about me from the droid, so that you could later blackmail me, or so that you could sell that information to the highest bidder?" Nox asked, making it clear he didn't care about the semi-retired pirate's criminal activities.

Nox could sense that the pirate actually relaxed, his fear quickly dissipating as he answered the dark lord.

"No, Boss. I've never done anything so damned stupid that it would get me insta-killed."

"If you wanted to do it, do you know how?" Nox asked, just to see if he could catch the pirate in a lie through The Force.

"Yeah, Boss. I keep R8's maintenance manual stored along with the ship's maintenance manuals," Andronikos said, then asking, "Remember? I've had to rebuild R8 after you wrecked him a couple of times," then citing the manual, "Other than to create a backup copy to later upload into a new droid's positronic brain, never dismantle the droid's head to access the positronic brain. Doing so will permanently destroy the droid. That's from the manual, Boss."

Nox leaned back into his very comfortable office chair, deciding that Andronikos was being truthful to him.

"R8, come to my quarters," Nox ordered.

After a few moments, the droid arrived, and Nox gave Andronikos orders.

"Wipe R8's memory."

Without hesitation, Andronikos told the droid, "R8, sit in the maintenance posture."

The droid did as it was told, cheerfully replying, "Yes, Captain."

When the droid became still, Andronikos gave the command.

"2V-R8, begin memory wipe operations."

"Warning, Captain, conducting a memory wipe will irreversibly delete all information, including all desirable learned behaviors and subroutines. Do you still wish to proceed?"

"Yes."

"I require the pass phrase to continue."

"Six two seven you're not the boss of me nine two nine."

"Starting memor….," the droid couldn't finish its statement, because it had shut itself off as part of the process.

2V-R8's standalone memory wipe process had taken over, shutting down the droid and starting the deletion of nearly 2 decades of learned behaviors, preset subroutines, and learned traits, as well as all of the evidences of every criminal and treasonous activity ever committed by both Andronikos and Nox.

"Boss," Andronikos said, "This will take a couple of hours. When it's done, R8 will reactivate and you'll have to tell it you're its owner. You'll have to give it some basic instructions for how to…"

Nox interrupted.

"I'll give it a few instructions. After that, you'll program the droid for its ship duties as needed."

"Right, Boss."

"You may go."

Andronikos nodded acknowledgment, turned about and walked out of Nox's stateroom.

17