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Mans Best Friend (Made In China)

Posted on 02 Jan 2022 @ 3:41pm by Lieutenant Commander Reginald Hawthorn Jr & Commander Kylie Rhodes & Lieutenant Junior Grade Alex Ramirez

Episode: Episode 1: Diligent
Location: Cargo Bay 3, Engineering Deck
Timeline: Date 2081-11-01 at 0830

"My boys had themselves a hard time telling me what they found wasn't for us. Thought maybe the gods of procurement and logistics had seen fit to bestow on us lowly mechanics something truly sublime."

Reggie sighed, stepping through the hatch and into the cargo bay. Beyond were fabric wrapped packages and crates affixed to the walls with tie-downs and connectors. One crate, though, was in the middle of the floor. It was an odd mix of colours, titanium white, rich blue and orange stripes. And it looked like hard plastic, or composite casing instead of the padding usually used for anything that might float free in microgravity.

He walked to a wall cabinet, opening it to reveal an emergency suit locker, and pulled out the arm section from its mounting and slipped it on.

"Give me a second to boot it up," Reggie said as his fingers worked the screen built into the wrist of the suit. "So...from College Ball to Coast Gaurd Enforcement. Reckon there must be a story or two there?"

"Quite a few, Football paid for my college, then afterwords, I got signed by the Birmingham Iron in the AFC South for a couple years, then when that ended, I wanted to do something that mattered, and my dad was a cop, so I enlisted."

"My pa was a butcher, went outta work the same time tuberculosis made a comeback. Took every extra credit course I could get my hands on when the Net was workin' to get out of town before I wound up like him," Reggie shrugged his expressive shoulders. He clicked his fingers, which in the gauntlet of the suit glove was no mean thing. "Got it."

The boxy rectangle on the deck shifted, plates parting slightly, sliding just enough to clear, and then it gracefully unfolded. A robot greyhound was perhaps to on the nose, but it had the sleek aerodynamic look of the breed. Each leg ended in a multitool attachment, and the wedge-shaped head was dotted with sensor pits and lenses.

"Autonomous Rescue, Mapping & Enforcement Drone. ARMED...Armed? Arid? Red?" Reggie said, glancing at the wrist screens he shook his head. "They should have given your naming to a poet. This is a stripped-down version of the drone they use down on the surface. Amry, Marine Corp, all a little different but this one is 16th Watch certified. Thermal/optic camera beads, LADAR imager, vibration sensors for reading sound through conduction in a vacuum. All singing, all dancing SciFi hunting dog."

"Very nice, make SAR more efficent." Alex started studying the robodog. In his mind the usual, jokes about robot uprisings and skynet went unsaid. "Gives us an edge."

"In point of fact, she's getting a reading on something..." Reggie said, looking at the wrist screen and pointing to the pressure hatch. "In three....two...one..."

On cue the hatch cycled, and Cmmander Rhode's walked in over the hatch lip.

"Even through the noise clutter of air handlers, piping, and folks just being on duty this clever bit of silicon detected the good Commanders boot soles on the deck liner. Now imagine that sensitivity helping find a spacer trapped in a wreck in a vacuum? Or someone hiding away?"

Alex was very impressed and nodded, "Very nice, this will save lives. Of course it needs one thing...A name."

"Figured you'd want in on that level," Reggie grinned at Ramirez, and then looked at Commander Rhodes. "And I imagine you have some level of veto on certain names Ma'am?"

"Maybe... what is it?" Kylie asked, as she approached the group and the robot.

As Reggie spoke, the drone seemed to perk up and turned away from them. It walked with a steady gait towards the bulkhead, reached out with a multi-tool tipped limb and gripped one of the cargo tie-downs. It then began to climb up the wall...and onto the overhead. Its head turned to look at the three officers, before swiveling 180 degree's so it was looking at them from the ceiling the right way up.

"I suggest running the drone from your wrist computer. The AR set up for the hardshell helmet might lead to some vertigo induced motion sickness." Reggie said with a grin.

"I can imagine..." Kylie said, staring up at it. "What are we using it for?"

"Sale pitch says Search & Rescue. The Army and Marine versions come fitted with a modular weapon mount on the back: everything from rifles to minor league artillery. They use'em in Nigeria to guard the oil fields there. Our one does not have a gun mount, but can be fitted with a thruster unit so it can jet across the vasty nothingness and scout out danger 'fore we send in The Ram," Reggie said with a nod to the Law Enforcement Officer. "It's a combination thermal imaging camera, and seismic sensor. And it also can act defensively."

Reggie raised the suit gauntlet, and pointed a stubby gloved fingertip at Ramirez.

"Drone: Target and lock, five-meter exclusion zone around the user. Force level is minimum," Reggie said clearly into the air. The drone scuttled down the wall and back onto the deck liner, and took up a warding stance between Reggie and Ramirez. It did this by rising onto its back legs, its shoulders shifting slightly back and forth as it kept balance.

But its smooth teardrop-shaped head, with its concentric rings of black sensor dots, remained rock steady.

"Just as a heads up, the drone is not Asimov Compliant in any mode beyond 'minimum'. In this mode, this girl cannot harm a person, nor allow harm to its self, or by inaction allow a person to be harmed. Anything beyond minimum implies the target is hostile or actively belligerent, and it assigns a new value set to them," Reggie said this and walked around the cargo bay. The drone kept in perfect lockstep with him, always facing Rameriz and keeping itself between him and Reggie. "Bit like how autoCar in the cities do stat balancing to determine if the life of a pedestrian is more or less than the life of the passenger."

"I'm not sure how I feel about this," Kylie said, as she watched the robot follow along with him. "And evaluating which life is worth more kind of goes against everything the Coast Guard stands for, doesn't it?" she stated, rhetorically.

"True, which is why...Drone, Force Level increase to Moderate."

Suddenly the looming bipedal robot vanished, turning into a box rattling to a standstill on the deck. It had curled back in on itself so fast the air had made a whip-cracking exclamation.

"There," Reggie said. "Like I said this one is 16th Watch certified. It can only go to minimum force mode because even the act of pushing someone away from you could end up breaking a faceplate or rupturing a seal. Try and push it past its Asimov Compliance boundary and it goes to stand by mode. Need to use a special key to unlock it and bring it back to life."

Reggie chuckled, slipping the gauntlet off and holding it out to the Commander and her Law Enforcement officer.

"I say key, it's this little pin thing fits into a slot under one of the sensor pits on its head. Fiddly, but not easy to bump into,"

"I guess that makes me feel a little better," Kylie said, still clearly unsure by the expression on her face. "I suppose they'll expect us to actually test this thing, huh?"

"Well, it cost the taxpayers of America a cool $2 million to get it here. I mean if you want me to slap a return to sender label on it I can do that," Reggie said. "But look at Ramierz, could you separate a boy and his dog like that?"

That got a chuckle from Alex who had been looking up the specs on the newest acquisition and was impressed, "It would be good for Search and Rescue, the ability to have localized sensors that are portable."

Kylie shook her head, though her smile showed she was amused, "I suppose we're stuck with it then. Just don't let fido pee on the decks."

"I have a crewman already picked out to give it a walk around the ship once a day," Reggie grinned. "You hear that Fido? You're gonna dig being a Coastie."

 

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