AN: Yes, I still don't own Star Wars (do I look like George Lucas to you?). Well, this has got to be one of the weirdest things I've ever attempted to write. Blame it on my Science Fiction Literature class, which emphasized the theme of sympathy for the artificial life form.
"Really, is this absolutely necessary?" C-3PO protested as Captain Antillies, his new owner, grabbed his arms.
"Yes," said Captain Antillies. "Senator Organa wishes it."
"But what about Master Anakin?" 3PO persisted. "I'm certain he would not approve of this."
"Your Master Anakin is dead," the captain said gruffly. "I'm in charge of you now."
"Yes of course, Master Antillies," 3PO said, obeying his programming to be friendly to his owner, though somewhere in his circuitry was horror, or at least what he thought horror meant. He couldn't be certain, though, since he was not human, not meant to really understand what these things called feelings were. Yes, there were times when he thought he could feel what humans called happiness, or fear, or anger, but he reasoned to himself that those moments had to be illusions brought on by spending too much time around humans. After all, droids were incapable of emotion. Whatever that was.
Captain Antillies sat his new droid down on a metal chair, taking his wrists and strapping them to the chair's arms. 3PO didn't protest any further as he continued to observe his new master and wonder just what had happened. His master wasn't dead...at least he didn't observe him dying...he merely observed him growing incredibly different from his usual self...then attacking his mistress.
Foreign bits of metal jammed into the side of his head, plugging him into something, though he wasn't sure what. Was this what would erase his memory? How would he even tell?
His master and mistress persisted their images in his interior data storage, as if calling out not to forget him. Master Anakin's smile. Miss Padme's voice. They were going to have a baby soon...a baby that he could help care for. Then Miss Padme turned out to have two babies...he remembered them crying out. Miss Padme...she was no more, wasn't she?
"Will it hurt, Master Antillies?" he suddenly asked. "I must say that I do not like pain."
There was a hint of concern in Captain Antillies' eyes. "I don't know." He seemed hesitant as he slowly reached over to press a button on the control panel, sharply turning his head away, as if he didn't want the droid to see his face.
Something vibrated inside his cranium circuits. It started as a low buzzing, only a tiny irritation, but with each pulse the intensity increased, soon growing into actual pain. He tried to cry out only to find that his voice chip had been disabled.
Within seconds his ocular sensors were disabled too, blacking out the external world. Yet his consciousness remained, the painful buzzing jumbling his head and stimulating thoughts deep within his motherboard.
He saw a man and a woman embracing each other. They were smiling, absorbing comfort from each other's bodies, and yet there was something sad about them. They talked about a baby, a family, and the inevitability of death. Death...they were dead now, weren't they? At least one was...
He saw the woman lying on a bed, screaming out in pain. She was someone very dear to him, someone he cared about, yet he found himself unable to comfort her. He could only watch - watch tears pour out of her eyes, watch her eyes barely open long enough to name her babies before closing forever.
And this woman's name was...what was it?
Panic flooded into the droid's mind at the realization. He knew her name...he knew it...he KNEW it...
The image changed again, this time to a younger man carrying a body wrapped in cloths. Was it the same man as before? It could have been...what did that other man look like?
What other man?
This man was glaring ahead at nothing, as if angry at nature itself, cradling the body with the tenderness of a mother holding a newborn. Someone precious was dead...dead...it was someone 3PO knew well...very well...but why didn't he know who she was? She...why was he convinced it was female? Someone special...not only to this man...but to 3PO...
The seconds passing reduced the image to blurs, yet the droid's mind chased the blurs with whatever thoughts he could manage. Once they vanished, they would be gone forever...gone forever...gone forever...no! This couldn't happen...it couldn't...it couldn't!
Yet the blurs faded away, and with them any connection they might have had. 3PO vaguely remembered the blurs, vaguely remembered that they meant something important, but the meaning had vanished like a dream.
Now a little boy was standing in front of him. His sandy blonde hair whipped in the desert winds, his small eyes staring ahead. Reverence suddenly swirled into 3PO's head. The maker...this was his maker! The reason for his existence. The one who granted him the gift of consciousness. Life...what a blessing...even a droid could recognize that. His every second was owed to that boy.
The boy smiled at him, sending a terrible realization at the droid. He would disappear, disappear just like everything else...everything else that he no longer remembered. He searched his memory circuits, finding nothing, only the impression that something precious to him had been taken away. Fear seemed to penetrate his every molecule. Fear...yes, he knew what fear was. This was fear. The knowledge that he was looking into his maker's eyes for the final time.
He absorbed his creator's every line, every hair, every feature, driven by some feeble hope that if he concentrated hard enough he wouldn't lose this child. He took note of the child's rosy face, the small freckle on his neck, the way his arms swung when he moved. The boy seemed aware that he was about to vanish - there were tears streaming down his cheeks.
Tears...how the droid envied him. If he had the ability to produce tears, he may very well be crying too. He wanted that ability to release his inner sensations the way humans could. This...this was what humans called sadness. Yes...yes...he did understand emotions...he was feeling them...
Perhaps he could feel them all along...
The child's image was fading into blurs, like he was dissolving in water. The droid yearned so desperately to chase after him, but he was frozen in place, helpless to the outside forces granting him his destiny. Even words were out of reach, all except for one simple call, one unheard plea.
The child crumbled into dust, and with him the memories began draining, momentary flashes sparking in the droids mind before vanishing completely. Birth, death, love, marriage, friendship, battles, sadness...all piling on him like the wave of an ocean that lasts merely a second.
Before all went black, there came another word, a name, a link to the past about to slip into oblivion.
And there was nothing.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3PO awoke to unfamiliar surroundings, his head empty like a brand new droid. Perhaps that was true, and he was newly built, ready to receive orders from his very first master. Yes, that had to be true...so why were his circuits nagging him, telling him that he did exist before this moment?
No...it had to be a slight malfunction, something his master would surely fix. That tiny concern was quickly washed away by the sight of a man in gray in front of him, smiling. His programing soared with happiness, stimulating the urge to serve him. This was his master.
"Hello," he said cheerfully, "I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations. And how may I be of service?"