Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.
Ed made his way down the corridor from the morgue to the Commodore's office. He continued to wonder who might've been behind these murders. He had spent many a night (and morning) in the bar and hadn't ever heard a threatening word against another colonist. He couldn't think of a single person who would have a grievance against another. But it must be there. It had to. He approached the Commodore's office and rapped his knuckles against the metal of the door.
"Come in." came the sonorous voice of the Commodore. Ed opened the door and approached the Commodore. He sat in front of a large, sleek, metallic desk. It was covered in papers and he shuffled these around importantly as Ed drew closer.
"Good evening, sir"
"Good evening..." the Commodore's voice trailed off.
"Engineer Edward Buck, sir, first class."
"Ah." The Commodore snapped his fingers. "Good Evening Engineer Buck. Tell me, what brings you here? I assume the unfortunate incidents involving Engineer Lugton and Biologist Stevens?"
"Yes sir." Edward nervously scratched his head.
"Well, want do you want to say?"
"Sir...uh...I believe that these incidents were not mere accidents. It seems too...coincidental."
"Speak up Buck!"
"It's too coincidental to be accidents sir. Furthermore, any debris that could've hit Stevens wasn't even present near his body. Also, both of these men had cylindrical-shaped dents in their skulls. No ceiling panels are shaped like that. He had to have been killed by someone, sir."
"This is a very serious accusation Buck. Do you have any evidence that indicates this is true?"
"No sir, not yet. But I aim to fix that tonight."
"And just how?"
"I'm going to take Alex and my old F-6 and stakeout the canteen tonight, using myself as bait."
"And on who's authority?"
"Hopefully yours sir. I also have this message from Mortician Davis. He believes that there's something amiss too."
"Very well. Just don't get trigger-happy, alright?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
Ed left the Commodore's office and headed towards his dorm. He didn't strictly know where Alex was. It had a tendency to wander off into the halls and only come back whenever it felt like it. It didn't matter. Ed knew Alex would come back and in the meantime, he ran a field check of his F-6 laser pistol. It was an older model, from his days almost fifteen years prior as a combat engineer in the Terran space armada. He had been offered a newer gun many times, and had refused on every occasion, each time using the same excuse. He always said that the newer models were mass-produced and too unreliable. But he actually kept the F-6 because it reminded him of the closest he had ever gotten to his dream of planet-hopping. He took it out of the case under his bunk and looked at it, scanning for any sign of wear or dysfunction. As always, he could find none. Upkeep of the pistol was the closest thing he had for a religion. He was staring forlornly at the pistol when just the thing he was looking for walked through the door. It boomed at him in a commanding voice:
"Firearms are a dangerous item and have no place in the colony. Please surrender your weapon." It made a grab for the F-6. The blocky, silver letters on its side spelled out "SECBOT."
"Alex, we've been over this. I'm allowed to have it. If you're not satisfied, read this." he thrust the note the Commodore had given him underneath Alex's vision panel. It stared at the paper for a few minutes. It raised its face up to Ed.
"It is indeed the handwriting of Commodore Theodore F. Nimitz. You may keep your firearm." Alex turned away from Ed and fit itself into the charging alcove in the wall. A flashing light started in the middle of its chest.
"Oh no you don't. We're on patrol duty tonight. Come on." he beckoned to it. The robot reluctantly removed itself from the wall and followed after him. The walked along the darkened and deserted corridors, only once meeting a cleaning bot.
"Cute little guys aren't they?" Ed asked Alex.
"They fulfill a vital function for the colony as well as you. Their physical appearance has no bearing on their prime directive."
"Loving as always Alex. Things like this are why I keep you around." teased Ed. They stopped and Alex turned towards Ed.
"Colony law dictates that all personnel should not let their SECBOTs be lost. You are required to continue you association." responded Alex.
As they neared the canteen, Ed motioned Alex to be quiet and tucked his shirt over the pistol at his hip. They walked through the doorway and found no one. Ed turned to Alex,
"Well, looks like it's a real stakeout." He pointed Alex in the direction of a table a went to the bar to get himself a glass of water. Alex noted on this peculiar behavior;
"The beverage you are about to imbibe contains less than 1ppm of alcohol. Are you feeling well?" Ed propped his feet up on the table and took a sip from his glass.
"I am so glad I reprogrammed you to be an enabler, Alex. But no, I'm fine. I just can't get drunk on the job."
The pair whiled away the time. Ed would try to strike up a conversation with Alex, who would respond in its robot tendencies. Thusly, the hours passed quite agonizingly. After what seemed like an eternity, Ed heard a noise from from the west side of the colony. He quietly drew the F-6 from his holster and motioned Alex to walk down a corridor separate to his. Ed walked down the corridor slowly, keeping his back to the wall, occasionally looking behind himself. He searched for ten minutes before he decided to give up the chase and regroup with Alex. As he walked in the direction he saw Alex go, he heard a metallic thud. Fearing the worst, he took off in Alex's direction. As he neared, he started calling its name.
"Alex!" he called. "Alex!" No response came. He neared the location of the sound and a pair of awful sights greeted him. Alex was lying on the ground with a massive dent in one of its arms. It wasn't moving. The second was the corpse of a man with another head wound. Ed pressed his fingers up against his neck. His head dropped when he didn't feel a pulse. He rushed to Alex's side and dropped to his knees. He ran a systems check of it and gently felt the dent in its arm. The robot had entered a state similar to unconsciousness in humans. He called a security team to the site of the dead man and walked back to his dorm holding Alex in a gentle fireman's carry. He carefully, almost lovingly, placed it in the charging alcove and got out his tools. He set to work repairing the dent in its arm. After almost an hour he collapsed into his bunk after almost two sleepless nights. As he neared sleep, he noticed a few specks of rust on Alex's chest plate and arm. I'll have to sort that out tomorrow, he thought.