A yellow and black Mustang, colored like Bumblebee from the Transformers, made a radical, obtuse-angle turn, in order to catch the exit ramp. It sped down the ramp, as a pair of police cruisers sped past, unable to make the turn in time to exit. The Mustang followed a series of alternating left and right turns, evading what appeared to be a non-existent pursuit. Then it raced down Olive, a residential street. Tires squealed and smoke billowed as Ryan cornered aggressively into his driveway. He had already pressed the remote to open the garage door, so he continued to look behind the car. No pursuit, no flashing lights, no reason to panic. Great!
“Ryan,” George squeaked, one white-knuckled grip on an overhead ceiling, the other hand choking his shoulder harness.
“Relax, George. I have sensors installed that send a signal to my brakes when the car is in the right position in the garage. We won’t crash.”
“But Ryan,” Cate added, pointing forward. Her other hand, not free, held her door handle in a death grip.
The sensors worked, and the getaway car screeched to a halt, leaving black marks on the garage floor. Now Ryan was looking backward to smile at Cate. And to drool over the bags of cash stolen from First Union Bank that filled the back seat of the Mustang. The garage door, also communicating with the sensors inside, began rolling closed.
“I told you we could pull it off, Cate.” Ryan turned to look at George. “And I told you I could outrun the police and get us safely home.”
“But Ryan . . .” A loud, metallic voice interrupted George. Ryan turned to stare at a squad of five robocops standing in his garage. A wide-shouldered, large robot stood in the center, flanked by a pair of smaller robocops on each side. It was the one in the middle that spoke.
“Please exit the vehicle, with your hands in the air. Resistance is futile.”
The Blue Collar Gang, which Ryan called the trio of Cate, George, and himself, knew what would happen if they resisted, so they climbed out of the car, hands in the air, as they were told.
“You got us,” Ryan admitted with a smile. Somebody on the force had a sense of humor. R2D42 blazoned across the chest of the large robot in the center of the robocop squad. “I guess the predictor algorithm works, R2. Even though you are nowhere near as cute as the original R2D2.”
“Of course it works,” R2D42 responded, ignoring the slight. “It was programmed by Watson II, checked by a Hall V, installed by B-9, and rechecked by Robby. Then I pored over the code, as I have been programmed to do, ensuring that I would be capable of predicting all human behavior. I knew that you and your friends would rob the First Union Bank today, and return here, believing you would outrun our police force. So I brought my team here and waited.”
“So the cruisers chasing us were a feint? They knew you were here, so they sped past the exit ramp and let us think we were getting away?”
“I knew you would realize that, too. You cannot surprise me. Unless you are not actually a human. And my sensors tell me you are a human, not an android.”
“I’ll bet you didn’t know George was coming with me this morning.”
“We don’t bet. If we did, you would lose. We knew that.”
“How about Cate? You couldn’t possibly have known about her.”
“You sought out an attractive woman with martial arts training and no criminal record. Your business meeting turned into a date, followed by two more dates. Of course you invited her along.”
“To join my Perfect Posse?”
“Knowing why you named the group the Blue Collar Gang, I predicted correctly that you would not be wearing blue collars.”
“I’m hungry. Can we eat now?” Cate looked to Ryan for an answer.
“Did you see that coming, R2?” Ryan sneered.
“Of course. We have a healthy snack prepared for you at the station. Now George would like to say something.”
“Me, too,” George added.
“Come to think of it, I could use something to eat myself,” Ryan agreed with his fellow gang members. He headed towards a large toolbox sitting on a chest-high shelf on the side of the garage.
“Stop,” R2 ordered.“What’s in that toolbox?”
Ryan stopped. “Food,” he answered. “With your terribly invasive, ridiculous predictive algorithm, you predicted that we would all be hungry. Stress induces hunger, and we’ve had a very tense and stressful morning. Come to think of it, you’re not helping with that.”
“Protect and serve, our mandate, does not include allowing criminals to open large containers during an arrest.” R2’s equivalent of eyes, a pair of adaptable multi-focal length lenses, clicked open and closed. “I’ve consulted my database. You will not be denied food. That doesn’t mean I can allow you to open the toolbox.”
“What? You think there are guns inside? What good would guns do, against you guys? Pardon me, against you and your Terminator squad.”
“Robocops, not Terminators,” R2 corrected Ryan. R2’s lenses clicked. “Terminator is a fictional type of robot, from a series of movies.”
“Whatever. Go ahead and scan the toolbox for weapons. All you’ll find is protein bars. We really need to eat.”
“Yeah, we need to eat,” George echoed Ryan’s sentiment.
Bright cyan light flashed from R2’s lenses and washed over the toolbox. “Warning. I see dense rectangles inside. Those could be grenades.” R2 was staring right at Ryan. At least his lenses were pointed in Ryan's direction.
“Are you serious? Grenades are shaped like eggs with lumps. Not rectangles. Those are protein bars.”
“Or like cylinders,” R2 added. “Dah. German grenades.” T135, the robot to R2’s left added.
“Do you see any bumpy egg shapes, or cylinders, in my toolbox?”
Cyan light fanned out from R2’s lenses, washing over the toolbox. T137, the robocop to R2’s far left, and T138, to R2’s far right, rolled out of formation. They positioned themselves where they could each scan the toolbox, getting a different perspective than R2 had. Yellow light fanned out from T137’s lenses and moved across the toolbox. Magenta light from T138 spilled across the toolbox after the yellow light went out.
“Only rectangles,” T137 announced.
“Only rectangles,” echoed T138.
“That’s all I saw, as well,” R2 concurred.
“Can we eat now?” whined Cate.
“OK, let’s chow down,” Ryan called out, stepping towards the toolbox again.
“Can’t wait,” George muttered, going around the Mustang.
“What do we have in there?” Cate asked, coming up beside Ryan.
“Halt,” R2 commanded. “Only one of you may open the toolbox.”
“What do you mean?” Ryan complained. “I have many different flavored protein bars in there. We should each be able to choose our flavor.”
“You’re not choosing for me,” George complained, smacking Ryan on the shoulder. “You’d probably give me bubble gum, if there is such a flavor.”
“And just like the jelly beans in Harry Potter, you’d probably give me snot, or poop.” Cate made a face.
“Harry Potter, and Bertie Botts’s every-flavored jelly beans are fictional,” argued R2. “Go ahead. You may each reach into the toolbox, one at a time, after Ryan opens it.”
Ryan opened the toolbox and pulled out a pair of large protein bars. The wrappers declared them to be beef. George removed two more, labeled Chicken. Cate took out a pair of Vegan bars. The members of the Blue Collar Gang nodded at each other. As one, they turned and tossed their ‘protein bars’ at the robocops.
Each brick-sized bar smacked up against one of the robocops. Both of Ryan’s slammed into R2, one on his chest, the other on his head. Flashes of light, similar to miniature lightning flashes, flared across each robocop body and head, accompanied by a series of snap-crackle-pop sounds. All five robocops slumped and went quiet, the lights representing eyes winking out.
“Magnets,” Ryan made a brushing motion with his hands. “Sort of like a taser against robocops. Didn’t see that coming, did you?”