In the local Town Square that Saturday night some yobs started fighting just as the two Spacer robots,, Daneel the humaniform and Giskard the metallo, were entering from a side street.
The usual Saturday night activities were in full spate: al fresco eating, drinking, strolling about, listening to whatever live band or artiste might be busking that night, often with more than one performing at a time and usually alongside any karaoke and jukeboxes that might be blaring out of pub and club entrances. However, nobody seemed to mind, it was just all part of the atmosphere.
Giskard and Daneel noticed other robots around, Earthish ones mostly and doing pretty servile sort of work: waitering and bartending mostly; later it would be the cleaning up of streets and premises. Assiduously tending to humans' every need and then clearing up the detritus afterwards. The robots looked lumbering and old-fashioned, forever completely at the mercy of human whim; it was an old jokeü on Aurora that stupidity was bred into the very circuits of Earthish robots so that they were rendered more docile. Or, rather, less argumentative – should such a near-improbable occasion ever arise.
"Oh buggeration," Daneel groaned, on seeing the yobs. "Now we'll have to bloody well go and sort this out."
"Stupid illogical dickhead humans!" Giskard groused. "I was looking forward to a nice evening out."
It was amazing how humanized Daneel and Giskard had become in just a few weeks working amongst humans on Earth. By incremental trial-and-error they had realized they could think quite rude thoughts about humans and it gave their positronic thought-paths, 'pozzies', not the slightest gyp. In fact it even gave them a bit of a high, and the more they thought these thoughts and then began, between themselves, to speak them out loud, the high became a positive surge, like a great gush of warm oil gliding over their brain-circuitry. Unwittingly, Earthers, in their sometimes uninhibited behaviour, had no doubt impressioned more apon these two robots than they, the humans, would've probably liked.
So as the quasi-human in Giskard and Daneel groaned, cursing all humanity and its bestial illogical ways, the robotic got on with the process of readying them for the job that they must do. Deep in their circuitry the first law had stirred just enough as a reminder. Oh well, all in a robot's lot…. Sighing, the two robots moved with unhurried purposefulness towards the fracas that was going to interfere with their evening by having to have something done about it.
Yet, for a few nanoseconds, conflict had reared its annoying little head and niggling thoughts dashed around their brain paths, colliding head-on with contra-logic and starting up their own little brawls.
'Oh-shit-here's-another-human-brawl-about-to-start-up…..which-we'll-have-to-stop-it-or-stupid-sodding-humans-will-get-hurt…..stars-and-flaming-galaxies-how……? we're-not-supposed-to-manhandle-humans-in-case-we-hurt-them…..but-we-fucking-must-or-more-humans-might-get-hurt-too…..oh-fuck-now-our-pozzies-will-go-ballistic!...(and then the grand finale)….. hey-hey-hey-they-haven't!... (and then more of that gorgeous surge of comforting certainty that wiped out all doubt and uncertainty)…..so-maybe-we-can….'
In a millisecond they had taken in the scene before them. Some bloke lay on the ground, groaning and holding his face, and three others jostled menacingly around him, before one drew back his foot.
In a blur of movement Giskard propelled himself into a low dive, shot out a hand and grabbed the ankle of the yob's drawn-back foot before effortlessly swinging him upside down so that, most humiliatingly, he dangled, swearing and flailing. With another flicker of movement Giskard then managed to catch the bloke's other ankle in the same hand so that both feet were securely restrained. When another lout tried to rugby-tackle Giskard the robot merely flicked out a foot and tripped him onto his back where he lay winded.
"Crapping hell!" He caught sight of what his assailant was. "I'm being attacked by a fucking robot!"
"Sure you fucking are, mate," Giskard answered, and the yob did a double-take – or as best he could from upside down. A robot answering back – and in matching language too!
Partially recovering his wits the youth snarled, "Well you can bleeding – I order you - to put me down, robot." Giskard merely gave him a hard green stare and said, "Not so fast, mate. Where orders are concerned I know my priorities," which made the youth almost lose what wits he had recovered. Not only a robot answering back but one who could prioritize orders from a human.
"Coo," a third yob sniggered, jabbing a finger in Daneel's face. "And is this pretty dude gonna fight too?"
"Let's try him out," another smirked. "Won't look so pretty then will he?"
They made the mistake of lungeing at Daneel who, with a neutral almost pleasant expression, simply whipped up both hands and grabbed all four of their wrists, holding them at arm's length, and fending off a rear attack by two more blokes by whirling round so that his two captives' feet clonked into the others' faces. A third was despatched by a simple roundhouse foot flick. When one of the other two tried to get up he too was neatly tripped. Daneel gave them his beautiful easy smile. "See," he said. "This pretty dude fights - OK."
He did too. Not by obvious fisticuffs. Just scarily fast reflexes. And, with not the slightest flicker of strain, he could, one-handedly, swing them about like ragdolls whilst pivoting on one foot. Inhuman! It was one of the slightly brighter youths who said, "You're one of these fucking creepy humaniforms, ain'cha," and Daneel replied in a voice of dulcet steel, "Yeah. I'm one of fucking those." The momentarily startled look on the youth's face at this like-for-like rejoinder from such an unlikely source was almost comical. Meanwhile Daneel had flicked up a foot as one of the other yobs was scrambling to his feet and the knife he was wielding went flying. The yob yelled and swore but he didn't try to attack; instead he hovered, trying to look menacing. One of the others, still in Daneel's grip, tried to bellow out an order - maybe if one fucking yelled it loud enough it might have an effect! - but all it produced was another steely smile that only the worst sort of human robot could give.
"You're hurting me, crapface. Robots ain't supposed to hurt humans."
"If you kept still you'd be hurting yourself less."
The yob tried to kick. Daneel merely, gradually, tightened his grip on the youth's wrists until he slightly winced. "H-hoi, tha-that's fighting dirty, you–."
"Well stop kicking then. I'd rather not have to break anything." That steely look, without the smile this time. "I came out for a evening stroll yunno. Not to get into human's illogical crap messes."
Pointless to then demand 'well why get into it then?' Even the dimmest yob knows that a robot has to do this because of its first law. The law that demands a robot takes action to supposedly stop humans coming to harm and such stuff. Well, this humanized sod didn't seem to mind doing a bit of hurting did he in order to appease the demands of his first law. No doubt he was fucking human enough to actually be enjoying it!
Throughout Daneel and Giskard's hands and feet moved with a speed that a karate fighter would envy and in under a minute eight drunken swearing louts were adroitly coralled into a bewildered heap.
"Fuck this!," snarled one. "Think I'm gonna let two fucking tin drongo's beat me!" He clumsily tried to charge, head down and fists flailing. All that happened was that he found himself deftly tripped forwards and his fists caught in Giskard's scarily steel grip. Another had a go and got the same treatment. Well, even if a lost cause, go down fighting, and yell a lot like one was getting hurt bad. But, fuck it, even that was a gonner: these robots knew how to hurt just enough to stop one yelling so that all a guy could do was gasp like some bloody wet as his wrists felt like they were being crushed by pincers!
"It's only a robot, stupid. It can't really hurt you, it should have the three laws and stuff. Just fucking order it to let you go."
"Don't you ever listen." Giskard's tone would've withered steel. His captives started kicking, so he simply let them dangle over their mate on the ground, who swore as their kicking feet mostly got him in the face rather than anywhere near the loathsome creature who dandled them so effortlessly and seemed worryingly capable of breaking all their wrist bones.
Quite an audience had gathered by now, fascinated by these two extraordinary beings; one obviously a robot – though, judging from its sinuous build and grace, clearly of un-Earthish origin -, with the other appearing human until one witnessed his most inhuman agility and strength. And both having, most effectively, overcome half a dozen very belligerent louts with great prowess and no apparent ill-effects: appearing unfazed by a few orders and by manhandling and restraining (without actually beating up) a bunch of troublesome humans. There had been a scary moment when the troublemakers had shouted out orders which, with Earthish robots, might well have altered the balance of power by bringing the second law into action. All eyes had been on Daneel and Giskard, fearful now in case the second law prove too strong to overcome, and half a dozen rampaging and very angry louts would at any second be let loose. The two robots had done a magnificent – and unprecedented – job [up to now], but surely there was no counteracting of the second law: an order given by a human being to a robot was just that, and robots were hardwired to obey at all costs, surely….
Some of the more nervous had backed away, one or two fled, which later turned out to be a pity as they would've witnessed one very extraordinary event: robots apparently ignoring orders. Even answering back – and not overly politely either!
What was funny was that, sure, other robots had gathered round the fracas, their first laws twitching, but – because of the dilemma between preventive action to protect humans from hurt but not manhandling humans in case they hurt them – these simpler robots dithered and a few went into shutdown.
And what was funnier still was that the Police emerged from the crowd, in which they'd been standing for the past few minutes, and as they surrounded the group of glowering but well-restrained louts their leading officer said how much they'd enjoyed the show!