I dragged myself towards Hanna’s place for breakfast. I was quite happy to see Ash leaving his tent alone, thank God. According to Mariana my worst fears about Ash were now constrained to the appearance of propriety, as His market presence was over. I would believe that when I saw it, I was the Hound Dog before he was. But damn if an ex-Aussie SBS operator could trip him, more power to them both!
Grabbing a plate of eggs and potatoes, I went to one of the outside tables. Ash drug up with a cup of coffee, “Not going to eat?” I asked.
“Nah, I grabbed a sandwich earlier. Karl asked me to check on the last guard mount. They are getting good at using the Bots’ sensors. They are getting to be a good tripwire warning system and fast; whether they are going to be able to shoot or not I ain’t so sure.”
“That’s all we can ask for Ash, they are essentially the Police; they are not Combat Troops.” I saw a face I recognized coming out of the kitchen area, “Hey Rocco, come on over.”
Rocco sat down his plate and coffee mug. “I wasn’t sure that I would be welcome over here after that first day on Mayflower.”
Ash laughed, “Rocco that was over with about the time Andy shucked the mag outta my XD. If I had meant you harm, it would have happened right there! Although, this might even the score!” That being said with a friendly grin, as Ash handed him a 2qt. canteen.
Rocco started to open the cap and froze as everyone for two tables deep around us who had a smoke lit started running. He extended his arms as far as they would go and twisted off the top; followed by his eyes watering, face flushing red and coughing as he screwed the cap back on.
Joe chimed in from a safe distance, “Rocco, if you need to peel paint off a bulkhead that stuff will do it,” he laughed as he went away with his plate and cup.
“Good Lord Andy, how do you drink this stuff?’ Rocco asked.
“Well first you talk to Hanna, ‘cause you need about two gallons of the distilled water she is putting out from that Sun still we built her. That will give you ten quarts of 80 proof raw moonshine. Also known in polite circles as Bourbon waiting to grow up; and it’s not too damn polite about it either.”
“Andy, I hope you are aging out some of this stuff; this could get old in a hurry!”
“No problem Rocco, only one third of each run stays raw. The rest is going into casks that Walt is making. This stuff is just to keep the Bar at Hanna’s going and of course Bribes.
“The key is Rocco don’t tell any spacer about this stuff. We have a good old country shenanigan ready for our friends.
“By the way how are you coming on the lights for the upper bridge?”
“I should be ready at the junction box by tomorrow afternoon, why?”
“Well, I have not let this out Rocco but we are going to test spin sometime tomorrow. We will put you a spur down to the bridge and set up a delivery transformer just below your junction box. Main power for the township is coming in on the grid Z-20, a-19 and b-18 line in behind that rock line. Wait just a second Rocco.”
“Cpl. Nug, Front and Center.” The robot moved smartly over and responded, “Sir, Yes Sir.”
“Cpl. Take Pvt. Mycroft with you and dig a trench from Mr. Rocco’s work location at the Upper Bridge to the main distribution node at the dam. It needs to be ready for LT. Benjamin’s wire team immediately after the test spin. Human lives are at risk without those lights, so get it done Cpl!”
After two in chorus, “Sir, Yes Sir’s” Rocco stared at me, “What are you doing Andy? I have already figured out you never do anything for one reason.”
I could only shake my head, was I that damn transparent? “Rocco I am trying to do my best Dr. Susan Calvin imitation!”
He looked dumbfounded, “Who the hell is that and why?”
“Well actually she was a fictional character in a series of books by a noted Sci-Fi writer named Issac Asimov. He predicted the use of intelligent robots and came up with the ideas that were actually used in programming our robots. Dr. Calvin was the shrink who always figured out why a robot did something no one expected. Her work and Asimov’s series revolved around the Three Laws of Robotics.
“1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
“What I am trying to do is build on that First Law basis, look at the secondary clause.”
Rocco thought for a long moment, “Through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Damn, are you saying a robot can kill something and not blow a gasket?”
“Yes Rocco, if that robot has had responsibility hammered into its little positronic brain it would have no choice. I cannot think of any circumstance that I could make a robot harm a human being. But drop a rumbler to save a child. Hell Yes, they can.”
Rocco just stared, “What are you doing?”
“What I always said I would do, Defend this place!”