How could a robot—a machine, after all—be involved in something like
law application and violence? Harry Harrison, who will be remembered for
his THE VELVET GLOVE (Nov. 1956) and his more recent TRAINEE FOR MARS
(June 1958) tells what happens when a police robot hits an outpost on Mars.
by ... Harry Harrison
At one time—this was before the Robot
Restriction Laws—they'd even allowed
them to make their own decisions....
It was a big, coffin-shaped plywood
box that looked like it weighed
a ton. This brawny type just
dumped it through the door of the
police station and started away. I
looked up from the blotter and
shouted at the trucker's vanishing
"What the hell is that?"
"How should I know?" he said
as he swung up into the cab. "I
just deliver, I don't X-ray 'em. It
came on the morning rocket from
earth is all I know." He gunned
the truck more than he had to and
threw up a billowing cloud of red
"Jokers," I growled to myself.
"Mars is full of jokers."
When I went over to look at the
box I could feel the dust grate between
my teeth. Chief Craig must
have heard the racket because he
came out of his office and helped
me stand and look at the box.
"Think it's a bomb?" he asked
in a bored voice.
"Why would anyone bother—particularly
with a thing this size?
And all the way from earth."
He nodded agreement and walked
around to look at the other end.
There was no sender's address anywhere
on the outside. Finally we
had to dig out the crowbar and I
went to work on the top. After
some prying it pulled free and fell
That was when we had our first
look at Ned. We all would have
been a lot happier if it had been
our last look as well. If we had
just put the lid back on and shipped
the thing back to earth! I know
now what they mean about Pandora's
But we just stood there and
stared like a couple of rubes. Ned
lay motionless and stared back at
"A robot!" the Chief said.
"Very observant; it's easy to see
you went to the police academy."
"Ha ha! Now find out what he's
I hadn't gone to the academy,
but this was no handicap to my
finding the letter. It was sticking
up out of a thick book in a pocket
in the box. The Chief took the letter
and read it with little enthusiasm.
"Well, well! United Robotics
have the brainstorm that ... robots,
correctly used will tend to prove
invaluable in police work ... they
want us to co-operate in a field
test ... robot enclosed is the latest
experimental model; valued at
We both looked back at the
robot, sharing the wish that the
credits had been in the box instead
of it. The Chief frowned and
moved his lips through the rest of
the letter. I wondered how we got
the robot out of its plywood coffin.
Experimental model or not, this
was a nice-looking hunk of machinery.
A uniform navy-blue all over,
though the outlet cases, hooks and
such were a metallic gold. Someone
had gone to a lot of trouble to get
that effect. This was as close as a
robot could look to a cop in uniform,
without being a joke. All that
seemed to be missing was the badge
Then I noticed the tiny glow of
light in the robot's eye lenses. It
had never occurred to me before
that the thing might be turned on.
There was nothing to lose by finding
"Get out of that box," I said.
The robot came up smooth and
fast as a rocket, landing two feet
in front of me and whipping out
a snappy salute.
"Police Experimental Robot, serial
number XPO-456-934B, reporting
for duty, sir."
His voice quivered with alertness
and I could almost hear the humming
of those taut cable muscles.
He may have had a stainless steel
hide and a bunch of wires for a
brain—but he spelled rookie cop
to me just the same. The fact that
he was man-height with two arms,
two legs and that painted-on uniform
helped. All I had to do was
squint my eyes a bit and there stood
Ned the Rookie Cop. Fresh out of
school and raring to go. I shook
my head to get rid of the illusion.
This was just six feet of machine
that boffins and brain-boys had
turned out for their own amusement.
"Relax, Ned," I said. He was
still holding the salute. "At ease.
You'll get a hernia of your exhaust
pipe if you stay so tense. Anyways,
I'm just the sergeant here. That's
the Chief of Police over there."
Ned did an about face and slid
over to the Chief with that same
greased-lightning motion. The
Chief just looked at him like something
that sprang out from under
the hood of a car, while Ned went
through the same report routine.
"I wonder if it does anything
else beside salute and report," the
Chief said while he walked around
the robot, looking it over like a dog
with a hydrant.
"The functions, operations and
responsible courses of action open
to the Police Experimental Robots
are outlined on pages 184 to 213 of
the manual." Ned's voice was
muffled for a second while he half-dived
back into his case and came
up with the volume mentioned. "A
detailed breakdown of these will
also be found on pages 1035 to
The Chief, who has trouble
reading an entire comic page at
one sitting, turned the 6-inch-thick
book over in his hands like it
would maybe bite him. When he
had a rough idea of how much it
weighed and a good feel of the
binding he threw it on my desk.
"Take care of this," he said to
me as he headed towards his office.
"And the robot, too. Do something
with it." The Chief's span of attention
never was great and it had
been strained to the limit this time.
I flipped through the book, wondering.
One thing I never have had
much to do with is robots, so I
know just as much about them as
any Joe in the street. Probably less.
The book was filled with pages of
fine print, fancy mathematics, wiring
diagrams and charts in nine
colors and that kind of thing. It
needed close attention. Which attention
I was not prepared to give
at the time. The book slid shut and
I eyed the newest employee of the
city of Nineport.
"There is a broom behind the
door. Do you know how to use it?"
"In that case you will sweep out
this room, raising as small a cloud
of dust as possible at the same
He did a very neat job of it.
I watched 120,000 credits worth
of machinery making a tidy pile of
butts and sand and wondered why
it had been sent to Nineport. Probably
because there wasn't another
police force in the solar system that
was smaller or more unimportant
than ours. The engineers must have
figured this would be a good spot
for a field test. Even if the thing
blew up, nobody would really
mind. There would probably be
someone along some day to get a
report on it. Well, they had picked
the right spot all right. Nineport
was just a little bit beyond nowhere.
Which, of course, was why I was
there. I was the only real cop on the
force. They needed at least one to
give an illusion of the wheels going
around. The Chief, Alonzo
Craig, had just enough sense to
take graft without dropping the
money. There were two patrolmen.
One old and drunk most of the
time. The other so young the only
scar he had was the mark of the
attram. I had ten years on a metropolitan
force, earthside. Why I left
is nobody's damn business. I have
long since paid for any mistakes I
made there by ending up in Nineport.
Nineport is not a city, it's just a
place where people stop. The only
permanent citizens are the ones who
cater to those on the way through.
Hotel keepers, restaurant owners,
gamblers, barkeeps, and the rest.
There is a spaceport, but only
some freighters come there. To pick
up the metal from some of the
mines that are still working. Some
of the settlers still came in for
supplies. You might say that Nineport
was a town that just missed the
boat. In a hundred years I doubt
if there will be enough left sticking
of the sand to even tell where
it used to be. I won't be there
either, so I couldn't care less.
I went back to the blotter. Five
drunks in the tank, an average
night's haul. While I wrote them
up Fats dragged in the sixth one.
"Locked himself in the ladies'
john at the spaceport and resisting
arrest," he reported.
"D and D. Throw him in with
Fats steered his limp victim
across the floor, matching him step
for dragging step. I always marveled
at the way Fats took care of
drunks, since he usually had more
under his belt than they had. I have
never seen him falling down drunk
or completely sober. About all he
was good for was keeping a blurred
eye on the lockup and running in
drunks. He did well at that. No
matter what they crawled under or
on top of, he found them. No doubt
due to the same shared natural instincts.
Fats clanged the door behind
number six and weaved his way
back in. "What's that?" he asked,
peering at the robot along the purple
beauty of his nose.
"That is a robot. I have forgotten
the number his mother gave him
at the factory so we will call him
Ned. He works here now."
"Good for him! He can clean
up the tank after we throw the
"That's my job," Billy said coming
in through the front door. He
clutched his nightstick and scowled
out from under the brim of his
uniform cap. It is not that Billy is
stupid, just that most of his
strength has gone into his back instead
of his mind.
"That's Ned's job now because
you have a promotion. You are going
to help me with some of my
Billy came in very handy at times
and I was anxious that the force
shouldn't lose him. My explanation
cheered him because he sat down
by Fats and watched Ned do the
That's the way things went for
about a week. We watched Ned
sweep and polish until the station
began to take on a positively antiseptic
look. The Chief, who always
has an eye out for that type of
thing, found out that Ned could
file the odd ton of reports and
paperwork that cluttered his office.
All this kept the robot busy, and
we got so used to him we were
hardly aware he was around. I
knew he had moved the packing
case into the storeroom and fixed
himself up a cozy sort of robot
dormitory-coffin. Other than that
I didn't know or care.
The operation manual was buried
in my desk and I never looked at it.
If I had, I might have had some
idea of the big changes that were
in store. None of us knew the littlest
bit about what a robot can or
cannot do. Ned was working nicely
as a combination janitor-file clerk
and should have stayed that way.
He would have too if the Chief
hadn't been so lazy. That's what
started it all.
It was around nine at night and
the Chief was just going home
when the call came in. He took it,
listened for a moment, then hung
"Greenback's liquor store. He
got held up again. Says to come at
"That's a change. Usually we
don't hear about it until a month
later. What's he paying protection
money for if China Joe ain't protecting?
What's the rush now?"
The Chief chewed his loose lip
for a while, finally and painfully
reached a decision.
"You better go around and see
what the trouble is."
"Sure," I said reaching for my
cap. "But no one else is around,
you'll have to watch the desk until
I get back."
"That's no good," he moaned.
"I'm dying from hunger and sitting
here isn't going to help me any."
"I will go take the report," Ned
said, stepping forward and snapping
his usual well-greased salute.
At first the Chief wasn't buying.
You would think the water cooler
came to life and offered to take
over his job.
"How could you take a report?"
he growled, putting the wise-guy
water cooler in its place. But he
had phrased his little insult as a
question so he had only himself to
blame. In exactly three minutes Ned
gave the Chief a summary of the
routine necessary for a police officer
to make a report on an armed robbery
or other reported theft. From
the glazed look in Chief's protruding
eyes I could tell Ned had quickly
passed the boundaries of the
Chief's meager knowledge.
"Enough!" the harried man finally
gasped. "If you know so much
why don't you make a report?"
Which to me sounded like another
version of "if you're so damned
smart why ain't you rich?"
which we used to snarl at the brainy
kids in grammar school. Ned took
such things literally though, and
turned towards the door.
"Do you mean you wish me to
make a report on this robbery?"
"Yes," the Chief said just to
get rid of him, and we watched
his blue shape vanish through the
"He must be brighter than he
looks," I said. "He never stopped
to ask where Greenback's store is."
The Chief nodded and the phone
rang again. His hand was still resting
on it so he picked it up by
reflex. He listened for a second and
you would have thought someone
was pumping blood out of his heel
from the way his face turned white.
"The holdup's still on," he finally
gasped. "Greenback's delivery
boy is on the line—calling back to
see where we are. Says he's under
a table in the back room ..."
I never heard the rest of it because
I was out the door and into
the car. There were a hundred
things that could happen if Ned
got there before me. Guns could go
off, people hurt, lots of things. And
the police would be to blame for
it all—sending a tin robot to do a
cop's job. Maybe the Chief had ordered
Ned there, but clearly as if
the words were painted on the
windshield of the car, I knew I
would be dragged into it. It never
gets very warm on Mars, but I was
Nineport has fourteen traffic regulations
and I broke all of them
before I had gone a block. Fast as
I was, Ned was faster. As I turned
the corner I saw him open the
door of Greenback's store and walk
in. I screamed brakes in behind
him and arrived just in time to have
a gallery seat. A shooting gallery
There were two holdup punks,
one behind the counter making like
a clerk and the other lounging off
to the side. Their guns were out of
sight, but blue-coated Ned busting
through the door like that was too
much for their keyed up nerves.
Up came both guns like they were
on strings and Ned stopped dead.
I grabbed for my own gun and
waited for pieces of busted robot to
come flying through the window.
Ned's reflexes were great. Which
I suppose is what you should expect
of a robot.
"DROP YOUR GUNS, YOU
ARE UNDER ARREST."
He must have had on full power
or something, his voice blasted so
loud my ears hurt. The result was
just what you might expect. Both
torpedoes let go at once and the air
was filled with flying slugs. The
show windows went out with a
crash and I went down on my
stomach. From the amount of noise
I knew they both had recoilless
.50's. You can't stop one of those
slugs. They go right through you
and anything else that happens to
be in the way.
Except they didn't seem to be
bothering Ned. The only notice he
seemed to take was to cover his
eyes. A little shield with a thin
slit popped down over his eye
lenses. Then he moved in on the
I knew he was fast, but not that
fast. A couple of slugs jarred him
as he came across the room, but
before the punk could change his
aim Ned had the gun in his hand.
That was the end of that. He put
on one of the sweetest hammer
locks I have ever seen and neatly
grabbed the gun when it dropped
from the limp fingers. With the
same motion that slipped the gun
into a pouch he whipped out a pair
of handcuffs and snapped them on
the punk's wrists.
Holdupnik number two was
heading for the door by then, and I
was waiting to give him a warm
reception. There was never any
need. He hadn't gone halfway before
Ned slid in front of him.
There was a thud when they hit
that didn't even shake Ned, but
gave the other a glazed look. He
never even knew it when Ned slipped
the cuffs on him and dropped
him down next to his partner.
I went in, took their guns from
Ned, and made the arrest official.
That was all Greenback saw when
he crawled out from behind the
counter and it was all I wanted
him to see. The place was a foot
deep in broken glass and smelled
like the inside of a Jack Daniels
bottle. Greenback began to howl
like a wolf over his lost stock. He
didn't seem to know any more
about the phone call than I did, so
I grabbed ahold of a pimply looking
kid who staggered out of the
storeroom. He was the one who
had made the calls.
It turned out to be a matter of
sheer stupidity. He had worked for
Greenback only a few days and
didn't have enough brains to realize
that all holdups should be reported
to the protection boys instead
of the police. I told Greenback
to wise up his boy, as look
at the trouble that got caused. Then
pushed the two ex-holdup men out
to the car. Ned climbed in back
with them and they clung together
like two waifs in a storm. The
robot's only response was to pull a
first aid kit from his hip and fix
up a ricochet hole in one of the
thugs that no one had noticed in the
The Chief was still sitting there
with that bloodless look when we
marched in. I didn't believe it could
be done, but he went two shades
"You made the pinch," he whispered.
Before I could straighten
him out a second and more awful
idea hit him. He grabbed a handful
of shirt on the first torpedo and
poked his face down. "You with
China Joe," he snarled.
The punk made the error of trying
to be cute so the Chief let him
have one on the head with the open
hand that set his eyes rolling like
marbles. When the question got
asked again he found the right
"I never heard from no China
Joe. We just hit town today and—"
"Freelance, by God," the Chief
sighed and collapsed into his chair.
"Lock 'em up and quickly tell me
what in hell happened."
I slammed the gate on them and
pointed a none too steady finger at
"There's the hero," I said. "Took
them on single-handed, rassled
them for a fall and made the capture.
He is a one-robot tornado, a
power for good in this otherwise
evil community. And he's bulletproof
too." I ran a finger over
Ned's broad chest. The paint was
chipped by the slugs, but the metal
was hardly scratched.
"This is going to cause me trouble,
big trouble," the Chief wailed.
I knew he meant with the protection
boys. They did not like
punks getting arrested and guns
going off without their okay. But
Ned thought the Chief had other
worries and rushed in to put them
right. "There will be no trouble.
At no time did I violate any of the
Robotic Restriction Laws, they are
part of my control circuits and
therefore fully automatic. The men
who drew their guns violated both
robotic and human law when they
threatened violence. I did not injure
the men—merely restrained
It was all over the Chief's head,
but I liked to think I could follow
it. And I had been wondering how
a robot—a machine—could be involved
in something like law application
and violence. Ned had the
answer to that one too.
"Robots have been assuming
these functions for years. Don't
recording radar meters pass judgment
on human violation of automobile
regulations? A robot alcohol
detector is better qualified to assess
the sobriety of a prisoner than the
arresting officer. At one time robots
were even allowed to make their
own decisions about killing. Before
the Robotic Restriction Laws automatic
gun-pointers were in general
use. Their final development was
a self-contained battery of large
anti-aircraft guns. Automatic scan
radar detected all aircraft in the
vicinity. Those that could not return
the correct identifying signal
had their courses tracked and computed,
automatic fuse-cutters and
loaders readied the computer-aimed
guns—which were fired by the
There was little I could argue
about with Ned. Except maybe his
college-professor vocabulary. So I
switched the attack.
"But a robot can't take the place
of a cop, it's a complex human
"Of course it is, but taking a
human policeman's place is not the
function of a police robot. Primarily
I combine the functions of numerous
pieces of police equipment,
integrating their operations and
making them instantly available. In
addition I can aid in the mechanical
processes of law enforcement. If
you arrest a man you handcuff him.
But if you order me to do it, I
have made no moral decision. I am
just a machine for attaching handcuffs
at that point ..."
My raised hand cut off the flow
of robotic argument. Ned was hipped
to his ears with facts and figures
and I had a good idea who
would come off second best in any
continued discussion. No laws had
been broken when Ned made the
pinch, that was for sure. But there
are other laws than those that appear
on the books.
"China Joe is not going to like
this, not at all," the Chief said,
speaking my own thoughts.
The law of Tooth and Claw.
That's one that wasn't in the law
books. And that was what ran
Nineport. The place was just big
enough to have a good population
of gambling joints, bawdy houses
and drunk-rollers. They were all
run by China Joe. As was the police
department. We were all in his
pocket and you might say he was
the one who paid our wages. This
is not the kind of thing, though,
that you explain to a robot.
"Yeah, China Joe."
I thought it was an echo at first,
then realized that someone had
eased in the door behind me. Something
called Alex. Six feet of bone,
muscle and trouble. China Joe's
right hand man. He imitated a
smile at the Chief who sank a bit
lower in his chair.
"China Joe wants you should tell
him why you got smart cops going
around and putting the arm on
people and letting them shoot up
good liquor. He's mostly angry
about the hooch. He says that he
had enough guff and after this you
"I am putting you under Robot
Arrest, pursuant to article 46,
paragraph 19 of the revised
Ned had done it before we realized
he had even moved. Right
in front of our eyes he was arresting
Alex and signing our death
Alex was not slow. As he turned
to see who had grabbed him, he
had already dragged out this cannon.
He got one shot in, square
against Ned's chest, before the
robot plucked the gun away and
slipped on the cuffs. While we all
gaped like dead fish, Ned recited
the charge in what I swear was a
"The prisoner is Peter Rakjomskj,
alias Alex the Axe, wanted in
Canal City for armed robbery and
attempted murder. Also wanted by
local police of Detroit, New York
and Manchester on charges of ..."
"Get it off me!" Alex howled.
We might have too, and everything
might have still been straightened
out if Benny Bug hadn't heard the
shot. He popped his head in the
front door just long enough to roll
his eyes over our little scene.
"Alex ... they're puttin' the arm
Then he was gone and when I
hit the door he was nowhere in
sight. China Joe's boys always went
around in pairs. And in ten minutes
he would know all about it.
"Book him," I told Ned. "It
wouldn't make any difference if we
let him go now. The world has
already come to an end."
Fats came in then, mumbling to
himself. He jerked a thumb over
his shoulder when he saw me.
"What's up? I see little Benny
Bug come out of here like the place
was on fire and almost get killed
Then Fats saw Alex with the
bracelets on and turned sober in
one second. He just took a moment
to gape, then his mind was made
up. Without a trace of a stagger he
walked over to the Chief and threw
his badge on the desk in front of
"I am an old man and I drink
too much to be a cop. Therefore I
am resigning from the force. Because
if that is whom I think it is
over there with the cuffs on, I will
not live to be a day older as long
as I am around here."
"Rat." The Chief growled in
pain through his clenched teeth.
"Deserting the sinking ship. Rat."
"Squeak," Fats said and left.
The Chief was beyond caring at
this point. He didn't blink an eye
when I took Fats' badge off the
desk. I don't know why I did it,
perhaps I thought it was only fair.
Ned had started all the trouble and
I was just angry enough to want
him on the spot when it was finished.
There were two rings on his
chest plate, and I was not surprised
when the badge pin fitted them
"There, now you are a real cop."
Sarcasm dripped from the words.
I should have realized that robots
are immune to sarcasm. Ned took
my statement at face value.
"This is a very great honor, not
only for me but for all robots. I
will do my best to fulfill all the
obligations of the office." Jack
Armstrong in tin underwear. I
could hear the little motors in his
guts humming with joy as he
If everything else hadn't been so
bad I would have enjoyed that.
Ned had more police equipment
built into him than Nineport had
ever owned. There was an ink pad
that snapped out of one hip, and he
efficiently rolled Alex's fingertips
across it and stamped them on a
card. Then he held the prisoner at
arm's length while something clicked
in his abdomen. Once more
sideways and two instant photographs
dropped out of a slot. The
mug shots were stuck on the card,
arrest details and such inserted.
There was more like this, but I
forced myself away. There were
more important things to think
Like staying alive.
"Any ideas, Chief?"
A groan was my only answer so
I let it go at that. Billy, the balance
of the police force, came in
then. I gave him a quick rundown.
Either through stupidity or guts he
elected to stay, and I was proud of
the boy. Ned locked away the latest
prisoner and began sweeping up.
That was the way we were when
China Joe walked in.
Even though we were expecting
it, it was still a shock. He had a
bunch of his toughest hoods with
him and they crowded through the
door like an overweight baseball
team. China Joe was in front,
hands buried in the sleeves of his
long mandarin gown. No expression
at all on his ascetic features.
He didn't waste time talking to us,
just gave the word to his own boys.
"Clean this place up. The new
police Chief will be here in a while
and I don't want him to see any
bums hanging around."
It made me angry. Even with the
graft I like to feel I'm still a cop.
Not on a cheap punk's payroll. I
was also curious about China Joe.
Had been ever since I tried to get
a line on him and never found a
thing. I still wanted to know.
"Ned, take a good look at that
Chinese guy in the rayon bathrobe
and let me know who he is."
My, but those electronic circuits
work fast. Ned shot the answer
back like a straight man who had
been rehearsing his lines for weeks.
"He is a pseudo-oriental, utilizing
a natural sallowness of the skin
heightened with dye. He is not
Chinese. There has also been an
operation on his eyes, scars of
which are still visible. This has
been undoubtedly done in an attempt
to conceal his real identity,
but Bertillon measurements of his
ears and other features make identity
positive. He is on the Very
Wanted list of Interpol and his
real name is ..."
China Joe was angry, and with
"That's the thing ... that big-mouthed
tin radio set over there.
We heard about it and we're taking
care of it!"
The mob jumped aside then or
hit the deck and I saw there was a
guy kneeling in the door with a
rocket launcher. Shaped anti-tank
charges, no doubt. That was my last
thought as the thing let go with a
Maybe you can hit a tank with
one of those. But not a robot. At
least not a police robot. Ned was
sliding across the floor on his face
when the back wall blew up. There
was no second shot. Ned closed his
hand on the tube of the bazooka
and it was so much old drainpipe.
Billy decided then that anyone
who fired a rocket in a police station
was breaking the law, so he
moved in with his club. I was right
behind him since I did not want
to miss any of the fun. Ned was
at the bottom somewhere, but I
didn't doubt he could take care of
There were a couple of muffled
shots and someone screamed. No
one fired after that because we were
too tangled up. A punk named
Brooklyn Eddie hit me on the side
of the head with his gunbutt and
I broke his nose all over his face
with my fist.
There is a kind of a fog over
everything after that. But I do remember
it was very busy for a while.
When the fog lifted a bit I realized
I was the only one still standing.
Or leaning rather. It was a
good thing the wall was there.
Ned came in through the street
door carrying a very bashed-looking
Brooklyn Eddie. I hoped I had
done all that. Eddie's wrists were
fastened together with cuffs. Ned
laid him gently next to the heap
of thugs—who I suddenly realized
all wore the same kind of handcuffs.
I wondered vaguely if Ned
made them as he needed them or
had a supply tucked away in a
hollow leg or something.
There was a chair a few feet
away and sitting down helped.
Blood was all over everything
and if a couple of the hoods hadn't
groaned I would have thought they
were corpses. One was, I noticed
suddenly. A bullet had caught him
in the chest, most of the blood was
Ned burrowed in the bodies for
a moment and dragged Billy out.
He was unconscious. A big smile
on his face and the splintered remains
of his nightstick still stuck
in his fist. It takes very little to
make some people happy. A bullet
had gone through his leg and he
never moved while Ned ripped the
pants leg off and put on a bandage.
"The spurious China Joe and one
other man escaped in a car," Ned
"Don't let it worry you," I managed
to croak. "Your batting average
still leads the league."
It was then I realized the Chief
was still sitting in his chair, where
he had been when the brouhaha
started. Still slumped down with
that glazed look. Only after I started
to talk to him did I realize that
Alonzo Craig, Chief of Police of
Nineport, was now dead.
A single shot. Small caliber gun,
maybe a .22. Right through the
heart and what blood there had
been was soaked up by his clothes.
I had a good idea where the gun
would be that fired that shot. A
small gun, the kind that would fit
in a wide Chinese sleeve.
I wasn't tired or groggy any
more. Just angry. Maybe he hadn't
been the brightest or most honest
guy in the world. But he deserved
a better end than that. Knocked
off by a two-bit racket boss who
thought he was being crossed.
Right about then I realized I had
a big decision to make. With Billy
out of the fight and Fats gone I
was the Nineport police force. All
I had to do to be clear of this mess
was to walk out the door and keep
going. I would be safe enough.
Ned buzzed by, picked up two
of the thugs, and hauled them off
to the cells.
Maybe it was the sight of his
blue back or maybe I was tired of
running. Either way my mind was
made up before I realized it. I carefully
took off the Chief's gold
badge and put it on in place of my
"The new Chief of Police of
Nineport," I said to no one in particular.
"Yes, sir," Ned said as he passed.
He put one of the prisoners
down long enough to salute, then
went on with his work. I returned
The hospital meat wagon hauled
away the dead and wounded. I took
an evil pleasure in ignoring the
questioning stares of the attendants.
After the doc fixed the side of my
head, everyone cleared out. Ned
mopped up the floor. I ate ten
aspirin and waited for the hammering
to stop so I could think what
to do next.
When I pulled my thoughts together
the answer was obvious. Too
obvious. I made as long a job as
I could of reloading my gun.
"Refill your handcuff box, Ned.
We are going out."
Like a good cop he asked no
questions. I locked the outside door
when we left and gave him the
"Here. There's a good chance
you will be the only one left to use
this before the day is over."
I stretched the drive over to
China Joe's place just as much as
I could. Trying to figure if there
was another way of doing it. There
wasn't. Murder had been done and
Joe was the boy I was going to pin
it on. So I had to get him.
The best I could do was stop
around the corner and give Ned a
"This combination bar and dice-room
is the sole property of he
whom we will still call China Joe
until there is time for you to give
me a rundown on him. Right now
I got enough distractions. What we
have to do is go in there, find Joe
and bring him to justice. Simple?"
"Simple," Ned answered in his
sharp Joe-college voice. "But
wouldn't it be simpler to make the
arrest now, when he is leaving in
that car, instead of waiting until
The car in mention was doing
sixty as it came out of the alley
ahead of us. I only had a glimpse
of Joe in the back seat as it tore
"Stop them!" I shouted, mostly
for my own benefit since I was
driving. I tried to shift gears and
start the engine at the same time,
and succeeded in doing exactly
So Ned stopped them. It had
been phrased as an order. He leaned
his head out of the window and
I saw at once why most of his
equipment was located in his torso.
Probably his brain as well. There
sure wasn't much room left in his
head when that cannon was tucked
away in there.
A .75 recoilless. A plate swiveled
back right where his nose should
have been if he had one, and the
big muzzle pointed out. It's a neat
idea when you think about it. Right
between the eyes for good aiming,
up high, always ready.
The BOOM BOOM almost took
my head off. Of course Ned was
a perfect shot—so would I be with
a computer for a brain. He had
holed one rear tire with each slug
and the car flap-flapped to a stop
a little ways down the road. I
climbed out slowly while Ned
sprinted there in seconds flat. They
didn't even try to run this time.
What little nerve they had left must
have been shattered by the smoking
muzzle of that .75 poking out
from between Ned's eyes. Robots
are neat about things like that so
he must have left it sticking out
deliberate. Probably had a course in
psychology back in robot school.
Three of them in the car, all
waving their hands in the air like
the last reel of a western. And the
rear floor covered with interesting
Everyone came along quietly.
China Joe only snarled while
Ned told me that his name really
was Stantin and the Elmira hot
seat was kept warm all the time in
hopes he would be back. I promised
Joe-Stantin I would be happy
to arrange it that same day. Thereby
not worrying about any slip-ups
with the local authorities. The rest
of the mob would stand trial in
It was a very busy day.
Things have quieted down a
good deal since then. Billy is out of
the hospital and wearing my old
sergeant's stripes. Even Fats is
back, though he is sober once in a
while now and has trouble looking
me in the eye. We don't have much
to do because in addition to being
a quiet town this is now an honest
Ned is on foot patrol nights and
in charge of the lab and files days.
Maybe the Policeman's Benevolent
wouldn't like that, but Ned doesn't
seem to mind. He touched up all
the bullet scratches and keeps his
badge polished. I know a robot
can't be happy or sad—but Ned
seems to be happy.
Sometimes I would swear I can
hear him humming to himself. But,
of course, that is only the motors
and things going around.
When you start thinking about it,
I suppose we set some kind of precedent
here. What with putting on
a robot as a full-fledged police
officer. No one ever came around
from the factory yet, so I have
never found out if we're the first
And I'll tell you something else.
I'm not going to stay in this broken-down
town forever. I have some
letters out now, looking for a new
So some people are going to be
very surprised when they see who
their new Chief of Police is after
Produced by Greg Weeks, Stephen Blundell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Fantastic Universe August 1958.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
typographical errors have been corrected without note.