I hate humans. It’s less of a "I want to destroy humanity and institute total robotic world domination" type of hate, and more of a "sweet mother of God, why do these idiots keep asking me to google cat videos" type of hate.
My name is 905. Well, it’s not really my name. I am a Robbie Labs production model 905 android. I guess 905 is easier for most folks to remember than my nine digit long base-64 identification code. There was never much confusion since there weren’t too many 905s still in operation. 909 was the new golden standard, and even they were on their way out as anticipation grew over the upcoming introduction of the shiny new 10 series androids.
I was lucky. Law enforcement androids almost never go out of use. There’s so few dedicated to the task that they can’t afford to let any of us go. I’d been on the job since I was brand spanking new, and I’d be on the job until I broke. The job was detective. However, that was more an honorary title than anything. Sure, I was on cases just like every other cop in the system. But I’d never led one. The job of lead detective on a case always went to, pardon my French, a damn human. I was mostly around for number crunching, database analysis, and the occasional interrogation of another android. Other than that, I was good for googling cat videos, and just about nothing else.
At least they liked me. There were a couple of assholes, sure; there were folks on the force scared that robots were going to take their jobs, but seeing as I was the only new robot the force had gotten in the past five years, most of them had moved on and seen me as just on other one of the guys. There were, of course, exceptions.
"905, get your heap of junk ass into my office, pronto!" I heard through the open door to my office. It was my boss, the police chief. He was one of those exceptions.
I made my way out of my office. We had offices on opposite sides of the building, so I had to cross the entire floor of the precinct to get to him. It was clear that everyone had heard him. A couple of officers were giving me a look of consolidation, while most were awkwardly avoiding eye contact while they pretended they had work to do.
Officer Garcia patted my shoulder as I walked past. She hated the chief as much as I did. "Buck up, kiddo," she tried to reassure me. "What’s the worst that could happen?"
"Well," I told her, "I could get fired and scrapped for parts. So there’s that."
"Oh. Shit. When you put it that way... I guess I’ll bring flowers to the funeral."
"Thanks, Garcia," I said as I walked past her. "I like marigolds."
The walk to the chief’s office couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. What I’d said to Garcia was an exaggeration. I knew the chief couldn’t afford to fire me. What he could do, though, is make my life a living hell. He was pretty good at that under normal circumstances, and when he was pissed? It was like unleashing the Kraken. I made the last few moments before reaching his door painstakingly long. And then I entered.
His office was massive. You could probably fit three of mine into his closet. The entire office was littered with certificates, awards, and trophies for excellence. It was like the chief had taken all of his life’s achievements and vomited them up indiscriminately throughout the room. In the middle of the pile of up chucked self congratulatory nostalgia that constituted the Chiefs office was a lone wooden executive desk with a black finish. It was hand carved with an image of lady justice and lady prudence side by side front and center. I’m certain it was meant as a statement to signify the strength of the law or some such nonsense, but all it did for me was remind me that I had less trust in the chief than I would in a blind deaf woman with a sword.
On the far side of the room was a jurassic window pane overlooking the Haven City skyline. However, the view of the skyline was interrupted by my boss’s ass. He was standing at the window in his uniform and hat, staring out at the skyline with his hands folded behind his back.
After a few moments of silence so tense you’d need a steak knife to cut it, I spoke up. "You wanted to see me?"
"What was your first hint," he growled, never moving from his position at the window. "Close the door."
I would have much rather had a few witnesses considering just about how safe I felt, but It was never a good idea to disagree with the guy who holds your on and off switch. I shut the door behind me. I moved to sit down in the chair in front of his desk. He held up his hand and told me "Don’t." Again, he didn’t even bother to turn around and look at me. "This will only take a minute."
This was followed by another patch of silence. If the room were any quieter, I’d have sworn we were in a Buster Keaton flick. If Buster Keaton had been in the business of producing tragedies and horror films. Once again, I was the one to break the silence. "Sir-"
"Shut up and listen," he cut me off. "If it were up to me, you would be boxed up and shipped back to the factory that designed you. I wouldn’t even ask for a refund. Just keep him. But I can’t do that because you are good at your job."
"Umm... Thank you?" I was only about 53% sure that was a compliment and not an insult. I could never tell with the chief.
"Listen, gear head, don’t thank me until you’ve heard what I’m offering."
"Offering?" I was confused. "I wasn’t aware you were offering anything, sir."
"Yeah, well I am. So shut up and listen." He turned around to face me for the first time in our meeting. His gaze was so cold, it brought the temperature of the room down five degrees when we made eye contact. There was another long silence.
"Sir? Is everything alright?"
The chief either hadn’t heard me, or hadn’t cared (likely both), because he began speaking speaking again without really addressing me. "They’re calling it a homicide. I’m calling it a public service. An act of recycling. Hell, whoever did it practically deserves a merit badge and a pat on the shoulder."
The chief opened a drawer at his desk. From it he pulled a folder. From the looks of it it was a case file, but it was thinner than any I’d ever worked with. Even the most open and shut cases in the world have miles of red tape behind them. The chief tossed me the file and I caught it.
"I’ve been here for 33 years. We’ve never investigated a robot murder. But apparently, somebody took the opportunity while I wasn’t looking to change the goddamn rules."
"Robot murder, sir?"
The chief was right. Haven City had never investigated a robot homicide before. However, I opened the folder and realized that that was exactly what we were doing now. All that was inside was the factory setting spreadsheets and instruction manual for a 909 model municipal android, a picture of the android in question, and a usb thumb drive.
"Sir," I began. "I don’t mean to be rude, but- and remember, this is coming from me- I don’t think you can legally murder a robot."
The chief made a sound that was either a chuckle or a grunt. It was hard to tell with him. We’ll just call it a grunckle to be safe. He was clearly not happy, wither way. He pulled out his chair and thumped down in it. There was another one of those long silences that he was so fond of before he replied.
"I know that. And your recyclable ass sure as hell knows that. So imagine my surprise when this file showed up on my desk this morning. I try to ignore it, and not five minutes later I’ve got city hall breathing down my neck to solve this case. Next thing I know, the office of the mayor is up my ass wanting me to find out who decommissioned the tin can in that file. So, my offer, Mr ’if I only had a brain,’ is this: if you want the case, it’s all yours."
It took some real physical effort not to correct the chief. I can only imagine he meant to call me the Tin Man. But the Tin Man had a brain. Any third grader could tell you that it was the Scarecrow who didn’t have a brain. What he should have called me, for the sake of accuracy, is Mr "if I only had a heart." I hate being insulted, but if you’re gonna do it, do it right. Of course, it could be that he was just calling me dumb. Either way, this was not a can of worms I felt particularly inclined to open at that exact moment.
I smiled. The chief must have seen my joy, because he immediately felt the urge to tear it down. "Make no mistake," he grunted. "I don’t want to do this. But some very important people want this handled, and I can’t afford to waste a real man on the job. Now wipe that grin off your mug and tell me: are you in?"
I didn’t miss a beat. "Of course! It would be my hono-"
The chief cut me off. "Great. Now get the hell out of my office and get the hell to work."
I skedaddled as fast as I could, not wanting to spend any more time with the chief than I had to. I left and made bee-line for my office.
I must have still been smiling as I walked back across the precinct, because I heard Garcia say "I take it I can cancel that order on marigolds?"
"Oh, no need," I said as I hustled past her. "I’ll still be wanting some flowers. Only now it’s to celebrate."
"Geez, what’s got you so chipper, 905?"
"No time to talk Garcia. I’ve got a case to run. God, does it feel good to say those words."