Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hunting Season

It slipped through the low foliage of the dense jungle, a black steel sphere with folded limbs. Held aloft on bursts of gravity, it was as silent as it was deft. No trace of its passage was left behind. No tracks or smoke, no signs of its approach to startle its prey.

It was a stalker droid, elegant in its design and efficient at its sole purpose - assassination.

Programmed to hunt and kill, the device had all the tools needed to accomplish its goal. Its sensory array was second to none, incredibly small but amazingly powerful. Sonic, motion, heat and even pressure sensors were placed around its body, enabling data collection from all directions. There was a blaster built into its chassis, a pair of dart launchers in its lateral cowling and four manipulator arms equipped with retractable, vibrating blades.

As advanced as it was, there was nothing special about its mundane equipment, nothing that would visually set it apart from a thousand other illegal combat models. What made this droid truly unique was not its weapons or its function. Rather, this droid was singular in its class because of the nature of its prey.

This model of stalker, dubbed Evil Eye, was a modified DarkEye probe, and it was built specifically to kill Jedi.

Dangerous quarry called for an equally dangerous hunter. The Evil Eye fulfilled this role well, using a state of the art detection grid to sense the eddies in the Force that surrounded those capable of using its mysterious abilities. This detection system was highly experimental and relied on an organic interface deep within its core - a small piece of living cerebral tissue sensitive to the Force.

In this way, the relentless stalker could track its prey no matter where it tried to run and sense its use during combat engagements. This gave it an almost preternatural ability to react to Force-wielding opponents, a great advantage in battle against the Jedi.

Lastly, its hull has a bonded shell of neosteel and cortosis weave. Strong enough to repel small arms fire and able to withstand a direct hit from a lightsaber, the Evil Eye could survive heated combat with a trained Jedi long enough to inflict serious or lethal injuries. Few droids could claim any kind of viability against such opponents but with its array of tricks and defenses, there were few Jedi in the galaxy safe from its pursuit.

Now it was on this Outer Rim world, a system isolated enough that the planet had only a stellar code for a name. It had been dispatched as part of a scouring project, a sweep of outlying systems where Jedi might flee the hand of the new Galactic Empire. Drawn to this world after a passing sensor ship detected a metallic mass on an otherwise uncolonized world, it was fulfilling its directives.




It was deep in the commission of its first directive now, tracking the passage of a small vessel across this overgrown world by means of its dirty particle emissions. The vehicle was not very efficient; ion signatures were usually gone in a matter of hours. Whatever ship was lurking on this planet, it was either damaged or badly built Either way, its trail was much longer lasting and thus easy to detect.

As its magnetic sensors warmed it that it was approaching the vessel in question, it brought up its stealth systems and vanished from sight. This invisibility cloak was not perfect; it left a slight 'haze' around the droid while it was active. At a distance, though, the stealth field was quite effective.

Hovering slowly through the undergrowth, the Evil Eye opened the port on its chest blaster and brought up its telescopic sight. Small impulses of its repulsors took it top the very edge of the tree line where, last the green barrier, a rocky outcropping surrounded a large, barren hill. There, parked in the shadow of the the small peak, a converted escape pod rested on makeshift landing gear.

After a quick visual scan revealed no one on the site, the Evil Eye switched to thermal optics. The heat scan showed one living humanoid occupant neat the middle of the craft, prostrate, likely asleep. From this position in the trees, it could just wait. Sooner or later, the occupant would step out of the sheltering vessel and right into its gunsights...

...but waiting was not on the mind of the creature that had been stalking the droid for the last few hundred yards. A very efficient killer in its own right, the nycaraptor was a four foot tall, seven foot long scaled killing machine drawn here by the scent of recent meals around the pod and kept around by the scraps fed to it by the strange two-legged creature inside.

Now there was some strange intruder in its hunting territory. The sauroid was not sure what this thing or why it could no longer see it very well but it still had a scent and it seemed to want to linger nearby. This could not be tolerated. There was, of course, only one thing to do.

The Evil Eye had been tracking the dinosaur for several minutes but, on a planet this populous, the indigenous life had been determined a negligible threat. The droid considered the raptor to be just another native pest, unworthy of notice. Even as it crept closer, the Evil Eye remained focused on the escape pod, focusing its blaster targeting on the craft's only visible door. The overgrown lizard was, in its estimation, no significant threat.

That was a mistake.


The next morning, when Trill came outside to put the night's remnants in the little metal dish she'd set aside for her strange 'pet', she almost tripped over something. There, just outside the pod door, there was a metal manipulator arm with teeth marks in its plating. Nearby, a proud looking raptor with a burn mark down its side paced expectantly by its bowl.

"Hey, Toob?" She said, picking up the bent arm and staring at it. "Did you lose something?"


A long way off, resting almost completely powered down in the hollow of a dead tree, the Evil Eye waited while its self-repair systems toiled to get it functional again. Its core computer, unable to process much beyond basic system needs, managed to run a single command override.

-=[ targetpriority change: downgrade 'Jedi' ]=-
-=[ targetpriority change: exterminate reptilians ]=-