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´╗┐Title: Arm of the Law
Author: Harrison, Harry, 1925-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Arm of the Law" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



    _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._


 arm
  of
 the
 law

 _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 back.

"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 dust.

"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 off.

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 Box.

But we just stood there and stared like a couple of rubes. Ned lay
motionless and stared back at us.

"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 doing here."

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 120,000 credits_."

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 and
gun.

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 out.

"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 1267 inclusive."

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?"

"Yes, sir."

"In that case you will sweep out this room, raising as small a cloud of
dust as possible at the same time."

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 the rest."

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 bums out."

"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 work."

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 floor.

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 up.

"Greenback's liquor store. He got held up again. Says to come at once."

"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 door.

"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 sweating.

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 at that.

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 first thug.

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 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 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 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
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 should--"

"I am putting you under Robot Arrest, pursuant to article 46, paragraph
19 of the revised statutes ..."

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 warrants.

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 satisfied tone.

"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 on Alex!"

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 driving away?"

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 him.

"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 neatly.

"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 booked Alex.

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 about.

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 a reason.

"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 "whoosh."

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 himself.

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
probably his.

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
reported.

"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 old one.

"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 salute.

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 key.

"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 briefing.

"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 he returns?"

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 by us.

"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 nothing.

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
little suitcases.

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 Canal City.

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 one.

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 or not.

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
job.

So some people are going to be _very_ surprised when they see who their
new Chief of Police is after _I_ leave.



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.





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