In the Line of Duty

In the dining room, a blue astromech droid was making its dexterous way through the crowd of sentient creatures and machines. It cut a zigzag path from the centre of the room to the service counter at the end where nourishment was apparently being served. With the ease of well-greased gears, its journey was completed with the minimum of collisions; it retrieved the nourishment allocated to its mistress according to the record on her meal ticket datapad and it delivered this nourishment to her also with a minimum of collisions and most importantly, without losing any of the contents of her meal in the process.

R2-D2 was a very efficient machine.

There had been one small incident on its way to the service counter. Not five metres from the counter, its audio sensors had detected a small, biped creature standing directly in its trajectory, upper limbs akimbo, lower limbs spread apart in the universal stance of aggression. R2's logic circuitry decided that as the droid had done nothing to provoke this sentient creature, the apparent antagonism must be directed elsewhere. The astromech droid then wheeled right to bypass the creature. Immediately the creature stepped to its own left and blocked R2. Unperturbed, R2's gears did a 180o and wheeled to the left; and the creature stepped to its right and once again presented itself as an obstacle. Its facial orifice was moving and emitting a low stream of audio data. R2's sensors filtered out the audio frequency from the steady background of noise in the confined room and retrieved the information.

"Gonna break you up into little pieces, you piece of junk. You ask your big shot owner to come get his own meal."

So although there seemed to be no apparent provocation, the little droid's logic circuitry computed that R2 was in a hostile situation. R2 examined its procedural options. From audio and visual observations, analysis arrived that the creature was a juvenile human/humanoid of the category of delinquency. Unfortunately, R2 had no hard-wired programming instructions in regards to engagements in juvenile hostilities; on the other hand, the droid was in the process of completing a high-priority task for its mistress and this creature was impeding its performance.

A sudden alteration in equilibrium caused the astromech droid to jolt. In the process of processing the information, R2 had powered down its optical senses and thus failed to detect a sudden impact on its mechanical chassis initiated by the creature. In confirmation, the creature repeated the motion and R2's sensors identified the long, thin metallic object that was being used to jostle its outer casing. The material and shape of the object if applied with a certain minimum pressure would cause considerable damage to the droid's external and internal systems.

This situation analyzed, its interrupt function was called, triggering the emergency priority override. Sufficiently empowered, the droid automated its utility limb until it made contact with the epidermal covering on the boy's limb, calculated the minimum amount of current required to induce shock and not harm, and passed this quantity through its limb into the creature's anatomy.

The result correlated with estimates. The creature emitted shrill audio data, retracted its weapon and collapsed on its rear muscles. R2 ran basic life signs scanners on it and confirmed that it was not critically injured. Then, emitting a shrill beep that was the astromech droid's equivalent of "Don't mess with me, kid," it retracted its utility limb, wheeled round the creature and completed its journey to the service table and its Mistress.

"Thank you, Artoo."

R2 responded with a long beep and whistle, the binary translation of this Basic phrase: "The things I do for you."

Fin


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