"This," said K-2, "is an infrared solar charger."

"Yeah?" asked Cassian, without turning. There wasn't room in the small fighter, but that was fine. Cassian tended not to take prisoners. "So what?"

"I can't run on these, these only work in red giant systems and we're not passing through one of those. I will need to go into semi-hibernative mode until we dock."

"You didn't tell me that."

"According to my backup data, I did tell you that. The odds that this is erroneous are less than ten to the minus-"

"Okay, okay. Why don't you pack next time."

"Because I have not been approved to requisition supplies for organics."

"That wasn't a question. And is that even a rule?"

"It was according to officer Draven."

Andor sighed. "I'll deal with him. You can hibernate, it's probably better than listening to me."

K-2's conscious mind was, of course, not capable of forming memories during hibernation, so he was unable to make a subjective comparison. He ascertained, however, that Cassian didn't actually want him to respond.

"You are not in any fit state to travel," K-2 declared.

"Sure I am," said Cassian. "Nurse checked me out and everything. You don't think I could pull one over on the med-staff, do you? I mean, for biolife, they're pretty competent."

"I believe that your injuries have been adequately treated," said K-2, "but your last psychological evaluation is out of date."

"How...would you even know that, if it were the case?"

"Because you asked me to forge an authentication two years ago and you haven't revoked my access."

"I gave you account access because I trust you. We're partners. Not so you can spy on me."

"I'm not monitoring you regularly, I only got the alert when you tried to forge the dates."

"Kay, I did not try to forge the dates, it's just-there's nothing they can do so why should I bother."

"Then you're not fit to fly."

"That means you're grounded too," said Cassian, "and you couldn't last a month stuck here with organics."

K-2 lasted three weeks stuck with the organics before Cassian agreed to transfer to Zhilren's squadron. They had some eccentric traditions, and the insignia was garish, but the chaplain had seen field duty and was experienced in counseling. "Now if only she could stop going on about the Force," Cassian summarized, "that would be great."

"The Empire reveres the Force," said K-2, "they have lightsabers and everything."

"Since when have you been an expert about lightsabers?"

"Since I installed this new patch. Apparently there was a cybernetic warlord who had four limbs he could duel with. Very efficient."

"Kay!" Cassian snapped. "You can't just install untested software, who knows what it could do to you!"

"We're in a war, we take risks. There was a less than seventeen-"

"There aren't technicians on staff who could repair you if something had gone wrong."

"And whose fault is that?"

"Not mine," said Cassian, "at least not personally. Look, as a favor for me, please don't do that again."

"I suppose," said K-2. "It's not like I could get a lightsaber around here anyway. Blasters are more efficient."

"I thought we might take a few days off," said Cassian, "and go to Iltve or somewhere. Just us."

"Is there a lead there?"

"No. Just some of the experimental mod-tech stuff, I know you like that."

"You are being very unusual."

"If you don't want to, just say so."

"I suspect I would enjoy it, but I want to know why you are behaving this way."

"I thought I'd do something nice for your birthday, is that so hard to imagine?"


"Your birthday. The K-2 models were first released this week, according to the Coruscanti Revised calendar, so I thought maybe-"

"The only thing you know to about the Coruscanti Revised calendar is how to fudge dates to postpone your maintenance appointments."

"You're right, fine, I'm a spy, not a metrics guy. When's your birthday, then?"

"How about my liberation day? I don't care when my shell was created, there are thousands of other units like me. What matters is when I became a person."

"Well, uh. That's kind of weird."

"There's nothing weird about it, just because your hardware and software develop at the same time-"

"That makes me sound like, you know, your dad. And that's not how I wanted to spend an anniversary weekend."

"Stop humanizing things," said K-2. "We can go to Iltve the next time it's on the way somewhere that matters."

Cassian blasted, and a large security droid fell. Blasted again, and another recoiled as it approached, staggered, collapsed. He crouched, dodged incoming fire, then took aim at an encroaching shadow-

K-2 shoved him out of the fray.

"I told you to stay with the ship," Cassian yelled as they beat a hasty retreat.

"Don't give me free will if you don't expect me to use it," said K-2, firing at one of the faster-moving astromechs.

There was nothing to say to that, or maybe Cassian was too tired to argue until they were safely in hyperspace. "I could have shot you," he noted, once the void had emerged around them.

"No you couldn't have."

"Are you insulting my aim?"

"You'd have recognized me."

"As long as one of us is confident."

"Emergent behavior. The way I carry my body weight, intone my vocal modules, even my walking gait. It becomes increasingly variable even in identical models, and noticing an individual gestalt is something humans do well. One of the very few things, mind you."

"That's why us humans are so good at espionage," said Cassian dryly. "We know how to tell each other apart."

"Well," K-2 allowed, "perhaps your particular skills are above-average for a human."

Take the next chance, Jyn Erso had said, and the next. As if that made it simple. As if there was anything in the tangible galaxy that wasn't a series of steps, that couldn't be broken down into discrete units. Maybe it had inspired the others.

Well, Cassian had chosen to follow her, and he followed Cassian, big words or no big words. That part really was simple.

"You can still send the plans to the fleet," said K-2. That was the short version, stripped down to human scale for people who needed to communicate in sound. The contingencies and consequences would have to wait. "If they open the shield gate, you can broadcast from the tower."

That would take the work of Bodhi Rook, still in the hastily-named "Rogue One," and who knew how many people on the ground? For all the work they had done, just him and Cassian, the scope of the war was so much vaster. Maybe Cassian had the right of it, not expecting to live long enough to see the outcome of his fight.

"Locking the vault door now." Cassian was screaming something; Jyn looked even smaller than normal, steeling herself against the wall. The imperial droids were oncoming. He wondered if they knew enough to recognize him, to see in him what they might have been. If they pitied his death, more than he pitied their lives without freedom. "Goodbye-"