Author : Chris McCormick

Drone sat upon the empty dresser. A lithe little bundle of rods, wires and wings atop the last piece of furniture not yet pawned. From here it trained a camera upon another little bundle on a pile of towels on the floor. This warm little bundle had stopped crying now. It swelled and sighed gently at the pace of a baby breathing.

Drone Mazggen Vinzen had logged the cessation of crying and was now observing the heartbeat, and counting the average duration and standard deviation of time between breaths. For about seven minutes and fifty five seconds the baby’s temperature had been climbing. Febrile seizure was increasingly probable.

Drone alighted from the dresser with a gentle whirling thrum, noted the closed door – slammed shut by a human in a hazy drug induced fury – and headed directly for a panel in the ceiling that afforded egress into the roof space above. A gentle test bump before it punched upward into the dark space, switching camera EM envelope wide and amplifing signal as it did so. The ceiling tile flipped away harmlessly with a polystyrene pock. Drone ducked and swooped precisely past beams, pipes, cables, stalling gently above another ceiling tile over the common room of the abode.

It whirred up as high as it could in the space and reconfigured pieces of metal skeleton with a snap, making a rough upside-down teardrop shape. Then all engines reversed and it powered downward. Upon impact the tile bounced but did not break and the drone’s fans reversed again, recovering from the bounce with a wobble. It pulled up for a second crack, and this time the tile gave way and the drone plunged through into the space below amidst a flurry of light, white shards of ceiling tile.

Two humans lay sprawled on beanbags and dirty old towels. About them were strewn cans, food containers, mouldy food, syringes and the other detrius of addiction. Drone hovered for a moment, monitored heart beats, states of consciousness, and then swept down over the unconscious man’s head.

“Excuse me, sir,” vocalized the drone.

No response.

It drifted gently downward and extended a small probing armature to tap on the man’s hairy cheek three times.

No response.

“Excuse me, sir,” again but louder.

Still no response.

This time the drone issued a small electric charge from the probe into the man’s face.

Observing the motion of the man’s fist it began evasive action, but there was not sufficient time to reach full power before impact. It ricocheted off the wall and, noting hostile action, withdrew to the hole in the ceiling, hovering there a few seconds. The man had barely entered consciousness and was now drifting downward again, punching arm limp across his chest. Self assessment showed no real damage from the punch – nothing that couldn’t be tightened back up.

The drone mobilized rapidly through the ceiling space again, and back into the baby’s room from above. Amongst the towels the baby was convulsing and emitting a tiny mewling choking sound. The drone dropped swiftly, bouncing four times in succession next to the child, snatching up the corners of a towel with each bounce and then raising gently upward, strained flying machinery squealing softly as the warm bundle was lifted from the floor.

Shards of glass spun into the air outside as the tiny human-robot package burst through the window into the glorious sunshine. Drone Mazggen Vinzen felt its skin flood with a soft hot rush of photovoltaic energy. It assumed a hard forward trajectory in the direction of the medical facility.

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