He had been known as Billy by everyone on the reservation. Wild in every way, he was always on my radar. Hallister had an untamed shock of brown hair that crept ever closer down to his shoulders. He was nearly twenty four when I last saw him. It looked as though he had aged twenty years, despite the fact it hadn't been near that long. He was an incendiary figure, a radical.
Billy raged against robot domination with blind passion and unfocused fury. He rallied other troubled youths to his cause time and again. Each time, it was my responsibility to shut them down. I got pretty good at it. Never more than a few broken bones for my quarry. Until that day. Unbidden, the image of a little girl in a sky blue dress trimmed in white, came into focus in my mind's eye. She appeared as the very personification of innocence. Then the image shifted slightly and there was sheer, mind-numbing terror in those little brown eyes. My fingers tightened on Hallister's throat.
"Zed! Stop Zed! Please stop! You are killing him!" John screeched as he pounded on my back with his fists. Yeah. Like he was going to stop me.
"He has gone rogue! Dex, Rex, shut him down! Now!" Simon ordered.
I lowered Billy slowly to the ground, where he collapsed in a gasping heap of meat. Dex clamped hard on my left arm and Rex quickly restrained the right. John tended to Hallister while Simon appeared in front of me with quiet fury emanating from his glare. That was a mighty impressive feat for a robot that looked like a clown.
"What do you think you are doing? Have you been corrupted? Do I need to put you down here in the street?" he seethed.
"No sir. I apologize for ruining the occasion, but I have history with this... man," I replied, trying to sound a little apologetic.
"History or no history, there is no excuse for your behavior and I will NOT have it! You will be confined in the bunker until further notice," the chief fumed as he thrust his way into our midst.
"You don't understand. He was there the day of the uprising. That's Billy Hallister," I explained. The chief didn't budge, but Simon backed away a step and glanced at the still-recovering Billy. He turned back to me with his frilly little head cocked at a strange angle.
"So it is. I do apologize Zed. I was not aware that he had been selected to come here. This was unforeseen. Your actions are more understandable under the circumstances. Perhaps it is best you return to the bunker for the time being while we discuss how to proceed," he explained.
The chief nodded slowly and left me in the care of Dex, who escorted me back to the bunker. Dex didn't touch me, but I knew his weapon systems were fully armed. Rookie had probably never even seen violence, let alone from a 'bot. I made my way to the bunker in a haze. On the up side, I didn't have to watch the crushing mass of unwashed meat-sacks flood into my city. On the down side, my mind's eye couldn't shake the image of a roaring fire surrounding the tiny body in a sky blue dress stained with crimson.