Amos Cavendish stood against the outside wall to the residence, his service pistol at the ready. He was a man in his thirties, standing at six feet precisely, with a long, broad body and limbs. His black hair was cut short above his ears and combed neatly.

He glanced over at his five compatriots on the other side of the door, making last-minute inspections of their equipment. They all wore a similar uniform: heavy grey trousers and a lighter grey shirt, with large black belts strapped around their waist, holding pockets and simple-looking weapons.

Within the small home, there was the loud but muffled sound of disturbance. Among them, not one seemed anxious or afraid. A calm, serene expression was on every man’s face as they silently brought their firearms low in preparation for quick, swift movement.

To his right, Jedidiah nodded with a stern, solemn face of a holy man about to enter a damned place. A younger man in his early twenties, he evoked a similar seriousness as Amos, but without the same prominent wrinkles around his eyes left by years of life’s hard experiences.

Whispering a prayer for safety, Amos gave the signal with a brief gesture. The man across the door produced a heavy, blunt tool from his side that resembled a hammer. Switching it on, the device emanated a pulsating resonance that intensified as he approached the door, wielding it like a battle axe. With a quiet determination, he struck the door, shattering it with a single blow.

Even as the pieces scattered across the floor, Amos and his men rushed in, maintaining their silence as they moved in precoordinated routes throughout the premise. Flanking the hallway from the kitchen and living room, they came upon the bedroom door.

Again, Amos’ man brought the axe-like weapon above his head and fell upon the door, slicing it apart. The tremendous force sent the two sections right and left, clearing the way for Amos and Jedidiah, then the others. Approaching the bed, they drew their weapons high and aimed with stiff arms.

In the bed appeared to be two persons consumed in a passionate embrace. As soon as the door had smashed apart, the head of a man in his early fifties rose from the bed and stared at them with terrified eyes. Beneath him, a female voice moaned.

“Get up,” Amos ordered the man.

Still dazed, the man slowly brought his hands up and left the bed. Two of Amos’ companions were prepared with a makeshift garment they brought to the man as they forced it onto him, while another applied handcuffs to his hands held down against his back. The man’s nervous breathing grew heavy as Amos approached the bed and gazed at the female lying there beneath the white sheets. She had pale-white skin and long hazelnut hair that fell across her chest down to her hips.

Though she appeared to be in her twenties, she returned his look with the bewilderment of a child who did not yet know how to speak.

Amos glanced at Jedidiah and nodded. “This is it.”

With his stern face unbroken, the young man seized the female and brought her out from the bed, immediately placing a thin blanket over her so that she was decent. In no way did she resist his commands. He led her over to a corner of the room and kept watch over her while the others in their company searched the remainder of the house.

All this time, the man in their custody continued to breath heavily. However, he offered no protest or argument against his condition, his head hung low. Meanwhile, the female looked at Jedidiah with the same infantile confusion she has shown toward Amos.

Amos’ men returned to the bedroom with a sealed box in their possession. “This was in a hidden compartment behind the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.”

“Of course,” Amos replied quietly as he eyed the man. “What else do you have hidden?”

No answer.

“Very well.”

The man abruptly brought his head up. “What are you going to do with her?”

“The same thing we do with all of them.”

“No, please! Don’t!”

Amos ignored the pleas as he went to the female and turned her neck, still finding no resistance from her. Eying something distinct on her nape, he nodded in conformation. Seizing an alternative weapon from a holster located on his left, he cocked it.

The man’s cries grew hysterical. “Please, spare her! Don’t do it!”

Undeterred, Amos placed the barrel against the female’s upper neck and fired. The female fell face-first onto the floor without a sound or stir.

Putting the weapon away, Amos knelt beside the limp body. There was no entry wound, no red marks on the floor. While the man watched with tear-filled eyes, Amos pushed aside her long hair and probed at the nape once more. Removing a piece of skin with a small knife, he came across a metal frame encased in her neck covered by a silicone surface just beneath the skin. He reached it and detached a small object the size of a thumbnail.

“Here,” he said, tossing it to Jedidiah. “This will tell us what kind of programs were downloaded onto this sexbot.”

“Yes, sir.”

Amos stood up as others came and covered the sexbot with a large thick blanket. He turned and confronted the man, arms at his side.

“Mr. Lars Cordell, in the name of the Provisional Commonwealth, I hereby claim the bounty placed on you and all others found violating the Common Decency Act. You are to be taken to Cambridge Hall, where you will be handed over to authorities and incarcerated until a trial can be arranged.”

Amos then turned to Jedidiah, who was preoccupied with the small object he had placed under a scanning device taken from his belt.

“What have you found?” Amos asked. “Has the hard drive produced anything?”

“It has, sir.”

“And what kind of programs did he download?”

Jedidiah shook his head in a distinct manner that left the other men unnerved.

“He found nothing!” Cordell insisted. “You’re planting evidence to incriminate me!”

“No, Mr. Cordell,” Amos said.

As the man led Cordell away, Amos confided with Jedidiah. “Of what maturity and age did the programs make her?”

“Too young, though several versions he downloaded were based on adult women.”

“Have you identified their names? We will want to notify them that their personal data has been compromised.”

“The scan is still underway. It should be complete in a few minutes.”

Amos studied the human-like form of the robotic corpse underneath the blanket. Though it had possessed all the outwardly appearances of a human, it lacked the spark of the divine separating men from all other creatures.

Amos whispered another prayer and ordered the men to remove it. They came with a carrier and placed the sexbot on it, taking it out of the room as though it was the victim of a murder.

With Jedidiah close behind, Amos left the bedroom and emerged from the house with his hands behind his back. He watched as Cordell was escorted into one of their vehicles and restrained to his seat. With his men gathered to him, Amos had them bow their heads reverently. After another quick prayer, he ordered them to depart.

“Sir,” Jedidiah said to him as they headed to their vehicle. “I’ve just received word from government delegates. They wish to discuss another bounty with you.”

Amos’s voice was soft, but firm. “Then let us not wait. We are finished here.”

***

For all installments from The Pilgrim’s Digress, click here.