Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

They’re sitting in the middle of the road, a bearded older gentleman facing a young girl in a saffron tutu. He’s sitting cross-legged, she’s kneeling. His hands move as he talks, face a picture of concern. She’s gazing at the ground, head down, dirty blonde curls stirring slightly in the freshening breeze.
I can see the woman who called us behind the controls of the flitcar stopped a coach-length beyond the pair of them. She’s beckoning to me, then pointing at them.
“Control, this is A614298. Please connect me to the reporting unit for Incident BB14-8092.”
“Will do. Anything we need to prep for?”
“No. Just comms and the usual safeguards, please.”
There’s a click, then a ringtone. I see the woman tap her ear to pick up the call. It rings again. I see her pound on the dash. The ringtone stops abruptly.
“…oddamn stupid tech- Oh. Hello?”
“Good afternoon, ma’am. This is Officer Gonzales of the South East England Rapid Response Unit. You called in an emergency?”
“Oh, thank God. He’s got this girl in the middle of the street and is threatening the poor thing. There’s some useless plod just stood watching! It’s heart-breaking. Are you going to be here soon? If not, can’t you get him to step in?”
Always nice to be appreciated…
The guy makes a ‘wait a moment’ gesture to the girl. The other goes into his pocket.
“Oh god, I think he’s going for a knife. Isn’t there a riot drone you can send?”
Not that again.
The guy’s activated the personapad in his pocket. It links to my dutypad. I request IDs. Stepfather and daughter. Looks like she’s got medical issues, poor kid. My interference won’t help.
He pulls out an inhaler with an attached spacer.
“He’s offering her something! This is terrible. Just like you see on ‘Real People, Real Lies.’”
That well-known source of largely fictional ‘reliable’ information – including riot drones. I particularly liked their documentary entitled ‘The British Police Have Been Replaced by Androids’.
The woman is gesturing angrily at me.
The daughter slowly reaches for the inhaler.
“I have to save her. I’m going to ram him.”
Glad I asked for safeguards. I disable her flitcar.
She starts thumping on the dash again. There should be a big ‘Police Override’ banner flashing right where her fist is landing.
“My car’s died!”
She tries the door.
“I can’t get out!”
“Please stay calm, ma’am. We’re working on that.”
The father pantomimes how to use the inhaler properly. The daughter nods. She takes it from him and uses it, face a picture of concentration. Her hands slowly drop into her lap. A beaming smile spreads across her face. She looks about, then hands the inhaler back to him. He pulls a hydropouch from another pocket and indicates she should rinse her mouth.
She does so. Keeping the hydropouch clutched to her chest, she stands up and offers the other hand to him. He takes it. She grins and leans back. He stands up, grinning at her. They walk off, hand-in-hand.
Good luck to you both.
I enable the flitcar, noting the woman couldn’t flit over the pair because of a three-month aerial activity ban for ‘aggressive queue jumping’.
The flitcar pulls over next to me. She glares, then registers my name tag. This could be amusing.
“You related to Officer Gonzales of the South East England Rapid Response Unit?”
Best not to say anything. Just nod.
“He obviously inherited the balls and brains in your family.”
She accelerates away.
Always happy to help, ma’am.