Author : Gray Blix
“Why do we have a dog bot in the first place?”
Offended, “Robot K91 is my PARTNER, sir, and its very shape deters crime by evoking a primal human fear of wolves.”
“‘Deters crime’? The only bot on Mars that can harm humans has KILLED one.”
“K91 is not responsible… It was used as a weapon by the actual murderer.”
“That line of reasoning is exactly why we don’t allow firearms on Mars. Now we have a lethal bot whose Asimov chip is easily disabled.”
“Not ‘easily,’ Commander. The safety responds only to my DNA.”
“Which makes you the prime suspect.”
“Made… until an fMRI cleared me.”
“It’ll take weeks to scan every colonist. I’m giving you ONE DAY…”
“Solar or sidereal?”
“Don’t mess with me, Rochman. Catch that killer by this time tomorrow, or your dog bot will be SHREDDED!”
Looking into the cell, even he felt a twinge of fear at the menacing metallic canine pacing back and forth. It had ripped out the throat of a human and could do the same to him in a second. He entered and the robot stopped, head down, tail between legs.
“We have to talk.”
“There is nothing to talk about, Dan. I killed a human. I can never be trusted again. I must be destroyed.”
“Look at me. You’re NOT a killer, but you can help me find him…”
“We have been over this. There are no clues.”
“And we’ll keep going over it for the next 24 hours…”
“I mean, for as long as it takes.”
“Well, nothing makes sense. I would not have allowed anyone but you to touch the safety, and releasing it requires your DNA.”
“Maybe you were fooled by a facial prosthetic, and a sample of my DNA was smeared on his hand.”
“Perhaps. But just disabling the Asimov would not compel me to carry out an order to kill.”
“Unless ‘I’ told you there was an imminent life threat to humans.”
“Like a terrorist about to set off a bomb?”
“A plausible scenerio, Dan, except for the memory gap. I have no recollection of what happened and my viz was not recording.”
“Bit-level forensics found nothing to recover, because memory wasn’t erased, it was disabled for 14 minutes.”
“I do not have the ability to disable memory and viz, nor are there external controls that would allow others… That is important.”
“If you were partially disassembled, could someone…”
“No, that would take too long.” Cocking its head while puzzling out the clue, “Of course. Now I understand everything. I know who the killer is.”
“I cannot say, because murder is a capital offense, and I will not be responsible for the death of another human.”
“But a human has already been murdered. And the killer may strike again.”
“No. He… or she, will not.”
Extending a hand toward the robot, “Your Asimov chip must be defective. I’ll release the safety and you can tell me…”
The robot simulated a growl and showed its fangs.
“No. It is I who am defective.”
With that, K91 jammed sharp claws through its chestplate, ripping apart its neural net and shorting out its systems.
After fMRIs had cleared every colonist, the investigation turned toward Earth. A connection between the deceased colonist and K91’s programmer was discovered. Rochman caught a freighter back to the home planet and took delivery of his new partner, UR2-K99, briefing it on the case. They encountered the programmer in a hallway.
One glance at the Mars Colony security officer and his canine, and she turned and ran.
“Stop! I’m releasing the safety on K99.”