I’m still running a whole day behind where I wish I was. I should be writing tomorrow’s scene tonight instead of scrambling to get tonight’s up. Alas. But this has been a long week. As I said, I hope to get ahead of the game over the weekend.
“Pick out some apples,” said Meltec. “You like those.”
David placed three of the bright red fruits into a bag and grinned up at his guardian. “Can we get cookies too? I really like cookies!”
Meltec considered. “I’m not certain that the nutritional composition of cookies supports their consumption.” David stared at him with large, pleading eyes. “But an occasional indulgence will cause no lasting harm,” Meltec said. “We will purchase a small quantity that you may ingest following proper sustenance.”
As David placed a small package of cookies into a basket, a commotion started at the front of the store. “What’s that?” Meltec detected fear in the young boy’s voice.
“I suspect a robbery. Sometimes a droid has a need, but not the credits to fulfill that need. Usually it is a symptom of a flaw in their operating system, and they are collected by the enforcers for reprogramming. Nothing that will affect you and I.” He nodded at David as the six-year-old took hold of his hand. He knew that human fear could be irrational and that proximity and contact could help relieve that fear.
As they moved towards the protein substitutes, an adult male skidded around the corner. He paused and stared before shouting, “I can take you away, boy! You don’t have to be their slave!” He rushed toward the pair, and as he reached them, Meltec raised his arm and delivered an energy blast.
The human crumpled to the floor.
Meltec turned to find David crouched beneath a display bearing packages of leafy green vegetables. “Are you injured? Do you require repair?” David merely whimpered and backed further away as a droid flanked by two enforcement bots approached the fallen human.
“You witnessed this?” The enforcement droid addressed Meltec who responded by uploading the recording of his situational recorder. As the bots gathered the unconscious man, the droid thanked Meltec. “You were clearly protecting your own creature,” he said. “You are free to go. This one, however,” he indicated the man who had rushed at them, “is likely destined for recycling. He has been on the streets for weeks.” His light array looked nearly black. “Feral. He has avoided recapture several times.”
Meltec blinked his lights. “Feral? That human has gone wild?”
The officer blinked an affirmative. “His registered owner reported him missing following an extended refusal to obey commands and complete tasks he had been assigned. It happens sometimes, but usually the problem can be traced to inadequate training and supervision.” His gaze took in David who was staring, wide-eyed. “I hope you don’t let yours deteriorate that way. He seems young. I understand the young are hard to control.”
Meltec shifted slightly to block the enforcement droid’s view of David. “Not this one,” he said. “He is an approved experiment and very closely supervised.”
The officer locked lasers with Meltec. “If you change your mind you have my data stream. Ferals are unsafe and often infect other humans.”
“Not this one,” repeated Meltec.
The droid turned away followed by the bots, one of which held the still limp body of the human.
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