|The Next Step
Author: Radaslab PM
Detective Elijah Baley had four times dealt with cases involving "off world" issues. Of the billions on Earth, why was he the only one to deal with "Spacers"? No true aliensRated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi - Chapters: 4 - Words: 31,151 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 01-10-12 - Published: 01-01-12 - id: 7700340
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For those of the family of Isaac Asimov, I do appologize, but this is a fanfiction and it takes place outside of his books.
For his fans, this begins after "The Robots of Dawn," immediately afterwards in fact.
For those who have followed my other stories and alerted them, the first chapters include a summary of that which came before in a manner I hope you can take. While I would encourage you to read "I', Robot", "The Caves of Steel", "The Naked Sun", "The Robots of Dawn" and all of his "Foundation" series as they're all inter-related in the end, I hope it's not necessary to understand this work. This work follows the three named works, although if you check, you'll see they did not follow in sequence to his "Foundation" series. One character featured occassionally in the "Foundation" works (which took place at least 20,000 years later) - a robot named Daneel Olivaw. Another also featured - a human. This is their story...
Detective, Grade C-7 (Temporary) Elijah Bailey was primarily a homicide detective with the New York City Police Department. He had been with the Department now for over twenty years and a Detective in Grades C-3 through C-5 for most of those years. In many ways, he was an anomaly.
In the massive, domed hives of humanity on Earth in the fifty-fourth Century of the Common Era (C.E.) or thirty-second of the Hyperspacial Era (H.E.), depending which count of years one used on Earth, the nearly nine billion inhabitants of Earth lived in massive cities of ten million or more all of which were enclosed by a series of massive domes. This had nothing to do with the environment "Outside." It was no more and no less hostile than it had been throughout human existence. The development of the Cities (always with a capital "C") had been a recent one, if one considers over nine hundred years recent. It had begun, in part, to prevent economic disruptions that were associated with weather events and certain natural events and had continued because the human population of earth could no longer be sustained with the limited amount of open land. While crops and livestock were still raised on the open lands outside the Cities, they were luxury goods and no humans were involved in their care. All outside activities including mining were done by robots. Humans lives and worked in their domed caves of steel and concrete.
This confinement of humanity created a highly structured, stratified and controlled society. At the top were the senior government officials either of the City governments or the Terrestrial Government. They were stratified based upon their positions of authority from Grades G-1 through G-12.
A corresponding class were the senior executives of industry and business in Grades E-1 through E-12. Below them were the technical classes of highly trained individuals such as scientists, college educators and academics, doctors and the like with their Grades T-1 through T-12. Below them were the "working classes" which included a large variety of occupations. Those in Civil Service, such as Policemen were Grades CC-1 through CC-12. Those in non-technical professions such as lawyers and accountants and a myriad of their support staffs were classified as N-1 through N-12. Service sector jobs such as shop keepers, lower school educators, the community kitchen staffs even entertainers and a host of other jobs were S-1 through S-12. Workers in non-supervisory positions in the factories, power plants, city services, and the vast yeast, fungus and algae farms (micro-culture farms) which provided the bulk of the City's food were classified in Grades W-1 through W-12. Collectively, these grades were known as the "Common Grades" and their identity cares carried a uniform (C) with their level. The truth was there was little distinction between an E-1 and a G-1 except they were higher than any of the others below the other Grades 8. Likewise, there was no distinction between a CC-1, N-1, S-1 or W-1 aside from being almost at the bottom.
The distinction between the classes was one of privileges and access to amenities. For the vast majority of humans on earth there was no such thing as a private bathroom or, as they said at the time a "Personal." They showered, washed and relived themselves in vast Common Personals that could accommodate scores if not hundreds at one time. The vast majority ate their meals in Common Kitchens which could easily accommodate two thousand or more at one sitting. Each person and family had their designated meal hours for their local Kitchens. Meals were typically served in three shifts. Each Kitchen could accommodate a certain number of "guests," but being or bringing in a guest usually was an unpleasant experience as it upset the logistics situation both at that Kitchen and elsewhere. The food included meats, fruits and vegetables of some kind, but never in large amounts. Most of the food were micro-culture substitutes. Access to a real steak, a real complete potato or such was highly restricted. As a C-5 or higher you could acquire such things from time to time provided you were married and had a private kitchen. As a C-4 that was an amenity a family could expect - the private kitchen known as an "in suite". Private Personals were reserved for C-10 and above. The right to take all your meals "in suite" was reserved for Grades C-10 through C-12, T-8 and above and G/E-6 and above.
At the bottom of City strata were the Unclassified. These were the unemployed or the unemployable. They lived in massive barracks and their personal space was limited to their bunk and their locker. The size of bunk and locker was dictated by their familial status as in whether they were married and/or had a child to care for. Single people had the smallest bunks. Married couples or unwed and unemployed mothers had larger bunks and married couple with authorized children had the largest, but families had to share bunks and there was no such thing as privacy. Copulation, consensual or otherwise, was public. One changed their clothes publicly. Arguments were public. There was no access to "luxury" goods of any kind. If you even had a watch, it was best to keep it hidden because crime was most rampant in the Unclassified Sections.
Elijah Bailey's father had been a Nuclear Physicist, Grade T-10 working in a senior supervisory position at one of New York's six nuclear power plants when he was born, but Elijah had no memories of life at that high classification. When he was but a toddler, there was an accident at the plant and his father was blamed. He had been declassified completely so Elijah's earliest memories were of life in the crowded, public barracks. It was the worst thing that could happen to a person with any classification being cast down into the barracks. It was a loss of whatever you had, however little that was and the higher you were, the harder it was for while it was possible to work your way into classification again you truly were starting at the bottom again.
Elijah had been a product of his class as a young child, particularly after his father had died. He was a petty thief, stealing mostly sweets or other bits of food he could devour quickly. He had snuck into Subethric shows, the holographic entertainments. As any classified, he needed a card to do so properly and of course did not had one. On occasion, he stole something more valuable to barter for something else - probably stolen as well. He had seen violence and as a young teen had participated in riots and demonstrations. He had been among the rioters at the Spacer riots when Spacetown closed itself off by a barrier. At the time he didn't care about the politics or anything. It was a chance to yell and throw stuff. One thing he had never done was looting. Deep down he saw that as wrong. Likewise was robbery or any act of violence against a person other than self defense. And the one thing he avoided was the police and any sort of criminal record.
If there was on thing to be said of the City that was positive, it was that there was no such thing as a birthright. Then again, if you were born to someone with a high classification there was no guarantee you would ever come close again one you entered the workforce. Everyone who finished basic education and got any kind of work began as a C-1. Those with degrees began as Grade C-3 provided their job was based upon their degree. Elijah Bailey's mother died in the Unclassified Barracks when he was five most likely from despair. His father died five years later probably from depression and alcohol abuse, a habit he became afflicted with in the Barracks which was hardly uncommon. Elijah was moved to the Orphanage, which was only marginally better. But he excelled in school, well enough to enter college.
Elijah was very intelligent whether he knew it or not. He did well in school and in college, but was not technically inclined. As a young man with an education that might lead to a good classification, he wanted to do something positive: something for his parents, something for the people he had lived with and had known, something for the Unclassified. He decided to become one of those Police Officers he evaded in youth. They tried to protect society from its worst elements. He passed his Civil Service exams with high marks and entered the Police Academy graduating well within the upper half and left rated as a C-3 and as a "Uniformed" Officer. For three years he was a "Beat Cop," one assigned to a section to deal with whatever happened as a first responder in law enforcement and one who did his best to help the Unclassified he came across - the ones who had some hope of redemption in their society. But for whatever reason, being a uniformed officer was not enough. Elijah wanted more and when he had the time in grade, he took the exam for Detective. Passing would not increase his Classification, but a Detective was more involved in solving crimes than he had been. He passed high enough that Homicide took him on immediately. It was during this time he met his wife Jessie.
He found he loved the job. It was challenging and he proved to be good at it even from the beginning. He loved it so much he really could not see a life at a higher rank. He refused to take the exam for Sergeant. His superiors thought this strange as Elijah was certain to pass, but he wanted to be on the ground as it were running an investigation and not supervising from behind a desk. This, naturally, would circumscribe his Classification. As a detective only, he would never rise above Level C-7 or C-8 and even then such advancement was after so many years of service. But even as a lowly C-3, he was leading investigations and within a few years he was leading or supervising "out of Section" investigations. These were not just out of Sections 4 of New York's Homicide Division, these were "out of City." He'd been to Los Angeles, Chicago, Madrid, London, Moscow, Shanghai and other Cities as well as Lead Investigator or and adviser. It didn't get him an early step up in Classification, but he was proud - quietly - of this and his wife was as well.
The Homicide Division within any Section worked in pairs. There was always a Senior Partner - the more experienced one - and the Junior who was learning the ropes and working his or her way up. Assignments within Section came from "the Wheel." If there were eight Senior Partners within the Section, there were eight slots on the wheel. As each case came in, Senior Partners one through eight took them in order. Out of Section assignments were different. These were usually at either the discretion of the Chief of City Homicide or Chief of Police depending upon whether it was within the City or somewhere else. These assignments when they happened were without regard to the in Section Wheel and only applied to the Homicide Detective assigned. In the case ot "Out of Section" or "Out of City" assignments, designation as Senior Detective or any assignment of a partner was up to the respective local Section Chief. Elijah - and many other of his colleagues - was used to this, but that does not mean they liked it. After all, one got used to his "in Section" partnership. "Out of Section" work always seemed to mean forming a new Partnership for that investigation and that one only. It was annoying; but for those assigned - especially those like Elijah who seemed to be favored that way - it was part of the job.
In many ways, Elijah Bailey's life changed with an "Out of Section" assignment a little over three years ago. It was 5329 C.E. or 3151 H.E by whichever count of years you choose. It began with a summons to see "The Boss" or Chief of Police Julius Enderby. Enderby and Elijah had been friends since college although Enderby had been a couple of years ahead. Like Elijah, Enderby had entered the Police Force upon graduation but unlike Elijah he had moved swiftly through the ranks. He was a capable cop, but a much better manager and political type than most cops and had risen to the top on those skills far more than his skills at law enforcement.
The summons came from R. Sammy - a Robot foisted upon the New York City police by the Terrestrial Government and then only upon pressure from the Spacers. It had cost a good and eager young man his job and Classification and so naturally no one liked R. Sammy. Then again, there were few on Earth who liked robots of any kind and to see a human - a real human - lose his job and all classification to a machine, well it was not a way to endear the Earth bound human race to any robots of any kind. But there was a treaty between Earth and the Spacer Worlds which forced such things. No one on Earth liked it, but there were battle fleets out there which Earth could not hope to defeat apparently ready and willing to enforce the situation.
Elijah was assigned to an "Out of Section" murder case. And it was not just any such case. The victim was a Spacer. The Spacer's believed it was and Earther who committed the crime so this case had interstellar repercussions one way or another and, if Earth failed, the damnable Spacer battle fleets might well return. Even Elijah was aware of this and to say he was politically ignorant was probably an accurate statement.
To understand the implications, one must look back upon Interstellar history for a bit. Not long after the dawn of the Hyperspacial Era when mankind learned to cheat the so called speed limit of the Universe and built ships that could travel light years of space in a infinitesimal fraction of a second, Earth began to explore and colonize space beyond its immediate solar system. It's population was then some eight billion and certain climatic forces were threatening (and in some locations causing) famine or worse. Habitable planets were found in these initial explorations. They had water and the right atmosphere to support human life. There was life on them, but nothing more advanced than mosses and such and nothing threatening to humans. Pre-existing life seemed to be necessary as it consumed the toxic or suffocating gasses of methane and carbon dioxide - and others - and in time produced an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. Such life needed liquid water, as did human life. But such planets seemed more common than theorists supposed once the scouts went forth and soon talk of colonization went from theory to practice. These colonists would one day become known to Earth as the Spacers.
Even in the earliest days, the colonists were always chosen based upon their health and intelligence. A simple cold at the wrong time could exclude you. An adverse genetic history of cancer or some such would exclude you. Medical Doctors were not in sufficient number to include - except piecemeal - in the colonization so only healthy humans were allowed. Those who qualified and had an "unhealthy" spouse or child had a choice: stay behind or leave them behind forever. It was a cruel policy of the Emigration Department of Earth and may well have contributed to what followed.
But one thing that was included in the emigration were robots. They were all but banned on Earth but accepted as necessary "off World" and had been for a century or more. Each colonization ship had robots - at least one per colonist - to help with the process of making a virgin world viable. Robotasists were among each of the future colonists to tend to the Robots and one day to train their successors in the design and construction of new robots. Few ships left without at least one robot expert aboard.
Over the centuries something changed in the colonies. True, there was trade between them and Earth but it was far more in favor of Earth than the colonies and worse, from the colonies point of view, Earth continued to off load its "diseased" masses in their direction. In 3267 C.E. or 1089 H.E., the Colonies joined together and launched the First Interstellar War - which they won. Earth's battle fleet was no match for the fleets from the Colonies, especially the older ones. The war lasted only three years before Earth was forced to sue for peace. The battles had all been in space. No planet was invaded or bombarded. Earth lost. Their colonies demanded an end to emigration to their worlds and got it. Earth decided to focus all but entirely on new worlds. They too would be colonized in time but they too rebelled in the end.
In 4358 C.E. or 2180 H.E. the Second Interstellar War erupted, mostly for the same reasons as the first. The "Thirty" old Colonies sided against Earth with the "Fifteen" new ones and launched a massive attack. On Earth, a billion or more died in their surprise orbital bombardment. It was another factor in the eventual formation of Cities on Earth. They had lost again to the "Spacers." For all intents and purposes, the treaty they signed kept them out of interstellar space. Earth was allowed a total of five hyperspace capable ships for research purposes only. All interstellar trade would be done on Spacer ships. It was humiliating and yet they had no choice short of total eradication. They were now dominated by the Spacers. If the Spacers wanted something, Earth bowed its head and submitted. But it was not nearly that simple. The government of Earth would bow - and often be ousted for doing so - the people of Earth would not. Earth could not truly stand against the Spacers, but neither would they as a planet submit.
This had been the case for centuries before Elijah was born. It was the case not long after when the Spacers insisted on opening embassies and trade delegations with every City. It was the case when the Spacers insisted upon forcing the Earthers to accept robots into their Cities. Each robot meant at least two people would be declassified and they, their spouses and children, sentenced without cause to the barracks. The Spacers did not care and the Terrestrial Government lacked the means to stop it - only to slow it. Thus, the anti-Spacer riots. It was in these riots, the many that occurred, that as a youth one Elijah Bailey was a participant.
If Elijah Bailey was anything, he was apolitical. He hated that game which was why he would never truly advance far in the Department or in law enforcement on a global scale despite his talents. And yet…
Julius Enderby had called him into the office by one of those damnable robots not less. Elijah's college friend, the Commissioner of Police, then gave him an Out of Section assignment. A Spacer in New York's Spacetown had been murdered of all things and he - Elijah Bailey - was to be lead investigator. His junior partner would be a Spacer - or so Julius said. Truth was, it was Daneel Olivaw. He looked human unless you truly knew otherwise. Daneel Olivaw was a robot and a highly advanced Spacer one at that. At the time, R. (for robot) Daneel Olivaw was to have been an infiltrator, Elijah later learned. He was to enter the City and study it. But the murder of one Dr. Sartan ended that plan before it could be carried out. Instead, R. Daneel Olivaw became the Junior Partner assigned by the Spacers to the investigation into the murder of one of their own with Elijah as the Senior.
It took him and his new robot partner a few days to solve the case during which they uncovered the Medievalist Movement. Even Elijah knew there were those who sought to "go back to the soil," but he didn't expect a movement of - well subversives - who were in any way organized nor did he expect his own wife Jessie was one even if she only attended meetings. But the real shock was the true murderer of Dr. Sarton of Aurora. It was his own boss Julius Enderbry. It wasn't an intentional killing of another human being but the attempted destruction of a human looking robot - Daneel. But Julius was seriously nearsighted and as a Medievalist wore highly archaic glasses rather than opt for optical reconstruction. He apparently dropped his glasses and blasted the Auroran and not the target robot. Involuntary Manslaughter is what the report would say and he would plead to a lesser offense and simply be forced to retire at a C-4 rating. The Spacers were happy with the resolution and for reasons that Elijah did not totally understand, they to the adulation of most on Earth removed their various legations forthwith aside from their small embassy at the Capitol of the Terrestrial Government and a few seriously downsized trade delegations. One man, not billions, had done what countless generations had failed to do. That man was Elijah Bailey, but fate kept it quiet for now - not that Elijah minded for a moment.
A year or so later, Elijah got another "Out of Section" assignment. This time it did not come from any official in the City of New York, but from the Terrestrial Department of Justice. This time it was not an assignment to another City on Earth, but another world altogether. There was a murder - or at least a non-natural death - on some planet called Solaria. He was partnered again with the human-form robot Daneel Olivaw of another planet Aurora. His assignment from Earth was to do his job and solve the case one way or another. But he was also assigned duties as a spy of sorts. It had been almost a thousand years since anyone from Earth had been to any Spacer planet and Earth was clearly interested in whatever it could learn from this unique assignment.
Solarians were, in the end, human. But as a culture and society they and Earth were so far apart they'd see each other as alien civilizations. Earth had nearly nine billion crowded into its cavernous cities of steel. Each person's personal space, even amongst the highest classifications, was defined in square meters and such. Solaria had but 20,000 or so registered adults and about half were "married." Their personal space was measured in the hundreds of square kilometers or much more. They were not Solarians, in Elijah's opinion, but bred as Solitarians. As a culture, they grew to loath not just personal contact with others but even the physical personal presence of any other. They lived in estates that would easily rival anything man had ever in his decadence had devised. Then again, they were each and every one of them supported by an army of robots - at least 20,000 for every adult human on the planet. Most feared true human interaction by their early adult years. And as Elijah learned, Spacers lived for three hundred Earth years and more. His edge in the investigation was to impose his physical presence on these isolated Spacers.
They had it right to begin with. The murderer - or murderess in this case - was the only one who could have done the deed. She was the young and assigned wife of the victim. A crime of passion if there ever was one for she bludgeoned the man to death for … well, for being so Solarian, near as Elijah could tell. But the murder was not the real crime. The real crime would shock the entire human race throughout the human galaxy. The murderess would leave Solaria un-charged and un-convicted because of what Elijah found in a mere three days on that alien world. The murder had been set up. Not staged, but set up by another. The victim had been close to uncovering a vile plot against all humanity. His true killer took advantage of the victim's young and - for a Solarian - overly romantic and overly passionate wife and gave her the means to do the deed. The true killer - who twice tried to kill Elijah (by proxy) in the ensuing days - wanted a universe to himself almost. He was designing robotic controlled weapons of mass destruction that could wipe out planets and despite the positronic prohibition against causing harm or allowing harm to humans of any sort would do so anyway. It sent shockwaves through the Spacer worlds and the unraveling of the case made one Elijah Bailey of Earth an intergalactic hero almost overnight.
But being the Galactic hero meant nothing to Elijah. He was a homicide detective plain and simple. That was it. But what worked in the back of his mind was a short conversation he had with one Dr. Han Fatlolfe. The man had been a colleague of the murdered Dr. Sarton of Aurora in Elijah's first interstellar investigation. The interview - aside from eliminating a suspect - put the so called bug in his brain. The human race was committing a form of suicide. The Spacer Worlds in their way and Earth through its Cities in another. There was no expansion into the Galaxy and there had been no such thing in hundreds of years and even then it was limited. Every planet in the Human Galactic hegemony had breeding quotas and such (enforced at various degrees) to keep humans down. They needed to expand to survive as a species. The Spacers - who by no could expect to live three hundred earth years or more - were ill equipped to see to the survival of the race. It was the short lived and fast breeding humans of Earth who were best suited. Spacetown and the attempt at forcing robots into the Cities of Earth was an attempt to get Earth moving once again in that direction. Elijah came to believe this fully after Solaria and started what one day would be called the Outsiders.
It began with just his son teenaged son Bently. The two of them on Elijah's days off would do what no Earther would willing do. They'd leave the comfort and familiarity of their domed city and explore the Outside. Two soon became twenty - mostly teenagers looking for a new adventure. There were soon much older ones - life long Medievalists who had long espoused a return "to the soil" who joined them and their children and grandchildren with them. And that expanded quickly into hundreds and even thousands. Not one of them actually lived outside truly. But they ventured out to learn about it and experience it and a year or so later to learn how to live in it even if they all returned to the City at dusk.
Elijah remembered a conversation he had with his son on a nice day outside under the shade of an oak tree.
"If we could colonize the Galaxy again, Dad, who would go?"
"There're millions who would given the chance," Elijah thought aloud. "Millions. Even if it would be only one in ten who lived, there are millions who'd take that chance. Millions of unclassified, millions who cannot for whatever reason increase their classification; millions who would take that risk, Ben. It's what we have over the Spacers if we can ever use it."
"The Spacers will never allow that," Ben said.
"Not now," Elijah agreed with his son, "not today. Time can only tell. What little I know of them is this: they are not the future. Only we can be, son. Only we can be if they let us."
"Will they, Dad?"
"No idea. One day I hope so. I hope this for you and if not for you for your children and grandchildren. I hope for a world somewhere without classification and the risk of losing it all. I hope for one where you are what you are 'cause you should be and all that. Not just one world. Many. Thousands in the end and maybe more than that…"
Then came his second summons into space. Elijah was forty-six. He was young by the standards of Spacers who had conditioned themselves and their worlds such that three hundred plus was an expected life expectancy. For Earth, he was easily middle aged, easily halfway between birth and expected death by old age if nothing else. Each of his prior two Spacers case assignments were indeed murder investigations on the surface but each had their own intergalactic political implications. Elijah was never the politician and never saw himself as one which was in large part why he knew he'd never get any kind of G rating. He'd be a C-class for life and this didn't bother him. Being sent off world - again - did.
The Spacers, or at least certain ones, had requested him. Earth, once again, agreed provided he played the spy again. It was not Elijah's idea of any kind of good deal. The only good news is he was again partnered with the human-form robot Daneel. Despite his general aversion to artificial intelligence, he had come to see Daneel as a friend. This was their fourth partnership. After Solaria, there had been a third occasion. It was now known as the Mirror Image Case. Two Spacer mathematicians were implicated in the murder of a third. The two suspects were identical twins. One did it, the other could not have. But which one? Their ship was held while the matter of the investigation was left to Elijah and Daneel. There was plenty of DNA evidence, the problem being that identical twins were identical down to their DNA. In a few days, Elijah solved this case as well and again added to his fame as an investigator - at least in the Spacer worlds.
This most recent case called him again into space to a strange world for the second time in his life. The Mirror Image Case had been conducted on Earth - or at least the investigation had been. Elijah had been "off world" to Solaria and that was it until now. This time, it was off to Aurora. It was the largest (by human population) and most powerful of the Spacer worlds and again Earth expected a report about them in the end. He was to investigate the "murder" of a robot. As far as Earth was concerned, he knew this was irrelevant. No Earther had been to Aurora in almost a thousand Earth Years. The Terrestrial Government was less concerned about the investigation than what he might learn about Aurora. But it had been made clear. There was serious pressure on Earth about this and if he failed in this "murder" investigation… things might well go bad for Earth and for him.
Fortunately, it seemed, the investigation had gone well at least from the standpoint of those on Aurora who had requested his assistance. Still, none of this Spacer stuff made sense to Elijah from his standpoint, that of a homicide detective. For his entire professional career his goal was to catch the perpetrators and see them brought to justice. Naturally this meant he needed to know who had done the deed, he preferred to know why it had been done and he needed evidence to prove that the doer had done it, sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction because the bottom line in law enforcement was obvious: enforce the law. In all four of his dealings with Spacers, they seemed less interested in obtaining justice for the crime than the why of the crime itself. It was this thought that he worked over on the twelve day trip back to Earth.
He spent his time aboard the interstellar transport cooped up in his cabin. His only social contact was with the human form robot Daneel. The Spacers barely tolerated him he knew because he was from Earth. This was not an across the board prejudice. There were clear exceptions in each case. Still, where it did raise its head it was clear that the Spacers who held onto their prejudice looked down upon Earth and its billions as a lesser form of intelligent life. The even less polite view was to view them as modern day lepers who should wear bells and walk about warning everyone they encountered that they were unclean. It seemed the space ships he had been on held the latter view as at no time in any of his space travels had he been allowed out of his cabin. He found this insulting on his trip to and from Solaria. On his trip to Aurora, he was less concerned for the lack of distractions and interruptions allowed him to study book films on Aurora and its history. And on this return trip, it was allowing him time to prepare lengthy reports. If the ship's crew and its passengers (assuming there were any other passengers as there was no longer a Spacetown on Earth) if they did not want to socialize with the diseased Earther, this time it was fine with Elijah.
Having Daneel present during this trip back home was useful. On his return trip from Solaria aside from preparing a standard report of his investigation he had done little or nothing. This time, once the standard report to his boss was complete he intended to prepare at least two others, much more in depth and longer reports. One would be about Aurora. He had only been there for a little over three days, but he had observed and learned quite a lot about that world and culture. He would never truly consider himself an expert on that world, at least not by Spacer standards. But by Earth standards he was and reluctantly knew he was. He had been there. He had moved through that world - or at least the small portion of it necessary for his investigation - with relative ease and spoken with Aurorans from different walks of life, even if the majority of his contacts were with robotisists. The second and potentially longer report was on Spacers in general. This would be based upon his time off Earth on both Aurora and Solaria as well as his two Spacer investigation that occurred on Earth - the murder of Dr. Sarton in Spacetown three years ago and the "Mirror Image" case aboard and Auroran interstellar transport. In all four instances, the robot Daneel had been his partner and as a robot had absolute and objective recall of what he had witnessed. These later two reports he would not share with Daneel, even though he intended to rely on Daneel for recall for those interviews he had been a part of. These reports also would not be presented to the New York City authorities. They were for the Terrestrial Government alone and what the "Terries" did with the reports was their own business.
Daneel had been assigned to Elijah by the Spacers because he looked human. In fact, unless you both were aware he was a robot and very observant, you could not tell the difference at all. Daneel breathed, blinked and physically behaved as if human. He could eat and drink if it was necessary to preserve the illusion, although he could not digest the food. His human persona was so close to perfect that even robotisists and Spacers intimately familiar with robots could not tell his true nature just by looking. But he was a robot. Intellectually, he understood notions of human emotion, but he lacked the capacity to truly emulate emotional responses. His intellect was purely logical and governed by the three laws of robotics:
First Law: A robot may not harm a human being nor through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law: A robot must obey any order given by a human being unless such order conflicts with the First Law.
Third Law: A robot must preserve its own existence unless doing so conflicts with the First or Second Law.
A clear violation of the laws would permanently damage the robot's positronic brain and, perhaps, destroy it completely. Naturally it was not that simple. Maybe in the earliest days it was, but over the millennia the positronic brain had become extremely complicated and subtle. What might appear as a violation of one of the laws to a layman was not necessarily a violation that could damage a modern robot at all. If A was greater than B, then B did not violate the laws. If, for example, the potential harm to A was greater than the potential harm to B, then harming B to prevent A was within the realm of acceptable compliance and the objective difference in degree between A and B could be so slight as to be practically an infinitesimal degree. In the case of Daneel, when his programming was modified so that he could become Elijah's partner, Elijah became the ultimate A. But where harm to Elijah was not a factor in the computations, Daneel like any robot would default to the basic programming.
This specific programming had not been a significant factor in the Spacetown Investigation nor had it been one on Aurora. True, on Aurora Elijah and others were concerned about elements that might wish to harm the Earther so Daneel and the other robot Giskard were as much body guards as they were assistants. But it had been a factor on Solaria. Elijah was a New York City cop. You did not conduct any investigation from behind a desk or by remote control. You went to the seen of the crime. You gathered evidence. You personally interviewed witnesses and persons of interest. You personally took risks with your own safety to catch the perpetrator and see to it that justice could be served. Solaria was very, very different from Earth.
In his over forty years of life prior to his first trip to a Spacer world, Elijah had never been "Outside." The cities of earth were fully enclosed. Light was artificial. The climate was constant and mild. There was little difference between the inside of your quarters or anywhere else in terms of temperature - except in the micro-culture farms and industrial plants where a temperature difference was unavoidable. There was no rain, no sky above your head. There was no wind. While all Earthers had experienced something akin to winds and breezes, these were always a product of their movement through the air rather than the air's random movements against them. Life in such an enclosed, controlled environment invariably led to a sense of agoraphobia in one degree or another. On Solaria, he learned it was something that could be overcome; that at least for him it was not a pathological condition. Upon his return he began venturing out of the City into the open country during his days off - never far, never more than a couple of miles from an access, but still it was exposure to the open. Joined by his teenaged son Bently at first and more young people later - who saw it as an adventure - Elijah realized that the agorophobia he had experienced was due to decades of conditioning and not an ingrained part of Earther psychology or genetics. The young people, while initially startled by the open and by changes in whether, adapted very, very quickly and learned to deal with it in weeks or even less.
Elijah knew Daneel was unique for a robot. He was one of two human form robots ever made for certain and both by the same robotisist Dr. Han Fostolfe of Aurora. The other was named Jander and was the "vicitm" whose "murder" had brought Elijah to Aurora. He now regretted not asking why Jander had been constructed. It now seemed to him that was somehow important considering he knew why Daneel had been made. For those who assumed sinister motives about Spacers, which meant for most of the almost nine billions inhabitants of Earth, Daneel could be called an "infiltration" robot. He could, if his nature was not known, enter the Cities of Earth and do whatever the Spacers wanted (subject to the Three Laws of his positronic mind, of course). His real original intent was less sinister. He was, for lack of a better word, a probe. He was intended to learn about Earth, its people and culture through observation and interaction and no more. Consequently, he was designed with substantial human psychological subroutines to aid in his observations. These would not in and of themselves make him more human, but would help in his analysis of Earth. It also affected his interpretation of the First Law.
From his initial programming, Daneel also knew what the Spacers knew of Earthers. He knew they never ventured outside and - as did the Spacers themselves - suspected there was a psychological prohibition at work. Because he had the psychological protocols as part of his primary programming, Daneel had an expanded concept of the First Law. The billions of other robots in the galaxy saw harm as a physical thing. But Daneel understood there was also a psychological aspect. To knowingly cause psychological harm to a human or through inaction allow such harm to occur would also engage the strictures of the First Law. As near as Elijah could see, psychological harm and its attendant risks were a lower class of harm than physical, but they were still a part of the equation. Thus, allowing Elijah to expose himself to the true outside, without greater risk of not doing so, would violate the First Law. Elijah was willing to take this risk if it would further the investigation. Daneel was not absent proof that the risk was acceptable but his robot nature would not allow for experimentation thus he prevented Elijah from attempting such experimentation no matter how well reasoned Elijah's arguments to the contrary had been.
Elijah's safety was the "A" in the simple equation, an "A" that trumped all "B's" His Earther inclination towards agoraphobia - one which Daneel had witnessed personally less than an hour after their arrival on Solaria - triggered his "A" response. There was, however, a powerful "B" for a psychologically aware robot, one which could trump "A" if "A" was even moderately suppressed and that was the Solarians themselves. If "B" was greater than "A" even by the tiniest amount, preventing "B" was the robots adherence to the First Law. Daneel knew this as well. Elijah knew that Daneel knew this. Even if Elijah could convince that he could - for a time - function without physical or psychological harm outside the walls of the specially built mansion he had been assigned, the Solarian "B" would mean (and did) that Daneel would prevent Elijah from leaving the estate. In varying degrees, the vast majority of Solarians were so conditioned (as Earthers were in their conditioned fear of the outside) such that they suffered from degrees of Anthropophobia - a fear of humans in the physical sense. Elijah's investigative plan required he physically inspect relevant places and physically meeting with persons of interest in the investigation and, as such physical (as opposed to meetings by holographic projections) might cause psychological harm to the Solarians in question themselves, robot Daneel would be obliged by his programming to prevent this as well.
Criminal law was all about intent and more specifically a concept known as "specific intent." There were exceptions, but they were few and for a homicide detective there were almost no legal instances of a strict liability killing - one where intent was never a factor. Intent defined the crime. "Homicide" was the killing of another human - any such killing fell into this definition. It was the intent of the perpetrator that defined it as a criminal and its degree of criminal culpability. To kill a person to save your life or that of another was a homicide, but if that was truly the case it was a justifiable one for which there was no criminal repercussions. To kill a person by accident was also a homicide, and whether it resulted in criminal responsibility came down to intent. If you intended the even which led to death but not any potential harm that followed and could not reasonably anticipate such harm, there was no crime. But, even if you intended no harm but could or should have anticipated its possibility, it was. "Murder" required an intent to kill a person, even if it was not the person who died.
Elijah was not a psychologist nor a sociologist nor, for that matter a robotisist. He had taken at least introductory course in all three in college but that was it. But he was a cop and a homicide detective and over years he certainly had an on the job indoctrination into the first two disciplines and could intuitively deal at a rudimentary level with the third to a degree. He took advantage of the Second Law and ordered Daneel to reveal his true nature to three of the robots of the estate built for him. They were to detain him until ordered otherwise. Elijah's knowledge of the sophistication of the positronic brain was admittedly limited for it only took Daneel an hour or so to escape, but that hour was all that was needed. Until the end of that day's escapades, an end which might very well have ended in Elijah's death in a shallow pool when the intense and increasing sense of agoraphobia finally overwhelmed him, Daneel was always a step behind.
As an Earther and by that very nature, Elijah despised robots on principal. They had been banned from Earth since the earliest days. They were deemed, for whatever reason, a threat. They were, after all, artificial intelligence. The Three Laws aside, who could say where that intelligence would take the robots. Who would truly be the slaves and who would truly be the masters? The Spacers accepted robots and relied upon them and had done so since they first set forth into the galaxy. The Earthers never had. The Spacers accepted that the three laws were a guarantee against a robot dominated realm and the Earthers never had. Solaria began to teach Elijah the truth and his trip to Aurora confirmed it…