The huge, yellow shape of the 88th Precinct Station-house drifted silently and watchfully over the bright lights of Demeter City far below on the planet Altor.
Inside the station, things were winding down for the night, though “winding-down” might have been an overstatement. No one could remember a day when things had been so quiet.
“You’d think that for once, everyone decided to become model citizens!” Officer Haldane quipped, as he pulled another file off the slowly-dwindling pile on his desk, “Would it be too much to ask for a little action? A purse snatcher? A concession stand hold-up? I’m not picky! But if I have to process one more file, I swear I’ll-“
“You’ll what, Officer Haldane?” Captain Podly’s voice rang out from the walkway above the main workspace.
Haldane sighed inwardly, then grinned in a faux cheerful manner and replied, “I’ll enjoy every second of it, Captain!”
“You’re not here to enjoy yourself,” Podly wagged a finger at Haldane in admonishment, “you’re here to work and you should be grateful for a chance to catch up on that lot.” With that, he turned, walked back into his office and shut the door.
Lieutenant Brogan grinned at his partner, “He’s got you there, Haldane. Guess that’s what you get for letting those cases build up.”
Haldane could barely contain his look of disgust, “Let them build up? In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been pretty darned busy lately.”
“Right,” Brogan replied patiently, “and now we’re not. So the sooner we get this lot cleared up, the sooner we can go home.”
Haldane rolled his eyes at the prospect as Slomo glided up to their shared desk, “You requested my assistance, Lieutenant?”
“Yeah, Slomo,” Brogan replied, passing a small stack of files to the RSA unit, “take these down to records and have them filed right away.”
“Affirmative,” Slomo responded and with great efficiency of movement, he made his way out of the main office towards the records room.
Slomo had noted the unusual calm which seemed to have descended on the station-house. Although he was simply a machine and not capable of having, much less expressing, feelings about such things, he nonetheless recognised that it seemed to have had an effect on his creon, tarn and human colleagues.
He was still puzzling about it when he returned from the records room, having filed each of Lieutenant Brogan’s folders with expert thoroughness.
Just then, his internal comms unit received a message, “Slomo, It’s Officer Carson. Report to the weapons range please.”
Obediently, Slomo turned around, moved to the elevator at the end of the corridor and made his way to the weapons range.
Carson was smiling when Slomo entered the range area, “Ah, Slomo – excellent! Now we can begin!”
“Uh, um, begin what, Officer Carson?” Slomo asked, wracking his circuits for something he may have forgotten.
“I’ve been talking with Captain Podly, and he agrees that it’s high time you had an upgrade. From now on, any time you take part in a mission away from the station, you’ll be equipped with this!”
Carson beamed as he held up a metallic white cylinder. Slomo looked at it for a moment, the lenses of his optical processing unit taking in the most minute details.
“What is it?” he asked.
“This, my friend, is the brand new Guardian Defense Pod – specially adapted so that it can be fitted to your spare arm. It fires a non-lethal stun charge to incapacitate targets in situations where they may cause injury to themselves or others.”
If Slomo had been capable of feeling pleased, he would have been, “I see,” he said simply, “That seems to be a pertinent addition.”
Carson smiled and nodded, “I thought you’d approve! Now, how about we test it out? I’ll set up a few targets and we can calibrate it as necessary.”
Just over an hour later, Slomo rolled back into the main work area. Haldane sat alone at his desk, the other officers having gone off shift for the night. He. closed the last file and glanced up at the small RSA unit as Slomo trundled past. Haldane stifled a yawn.
“Well, Slomo, I’m done. I’m going home, my bed’s been calling my name for the last few hours.”
Slomo tilted his head to one side as he responded, “Your bed talks to you? How curious.”
“Forget it, Slomo.” Haldane said, too tired to explain, “It must be tough being an RSA unit, never being able to sleep. I don’t know how you pass the time on days like this. Night!”
With a brief wave, Haldane made for the exit.
Slomo moved towards his alcove at the other side of the room. As he did so he reflected on Haldane’s words.
It was true, he didn’t need sleep as his biological colleagues did. He would never experience the robotic equivalent of a dream, even in his low power standby mode. But Slomo didn’t mind.
He had just been given the opportunity to take more of an active role in the 88th Precinct’s operations and for Slomo, whose primary function was to assist others, that was worth all the late night shifts in the world.
It almost made him feel happy.