Harry Harrison Short Stoies

Free Harry Harrison Short Stoies by Harry Harrison

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Authors: Harry Harrison
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 excitement.
    * * * * *
    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 whiter.
    “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 answer.
    “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 Ned.
    “There’s the hero,” I said. “Took them on singlehanded, 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 them.”
    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 robot mechanism.”
    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 job.”
    “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

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