Tank used his connections
at NASA to secure a job with the CIA. His employment filled
a quota: All of those government agencies have to boast about
having at least one robot on staff. Because he was created
for reconnaissance, Tank was especially adept at seeking out
the coffee cart and returning to the office with news of the
various types of pastries that were being offered. Occasionally,
he was recruited for practical jokes: His snapshots of co-workers
in awkward circumstances, complete with witty captions, made
it to the company bulletin board on more than one occasion.
Life was good. He was pulling in decent money at a job that
most people would find prestigious and gratifying. He was
fitting in well with his fellow employees. But there was still
something missing. Then . . ..
And if retrieving pastries for bureaucrats held little meaning
on September 10th, it meant absolutely nothing now. In the
following months, Tank watched closely as the government declared
that Osama Bin Laden was the culprit. He watched even more
closely as they determined that Osama and his posse were holed
up in the caves of Afghanistan. Tank seized the opportunity:
He was born for this kind of work. He could be the one to
investigate the deepest crevices that no one else dared to
venture into. He could be the one to save the world (and,
not coincidentally, win again the adulation of his father)!
He enlisted in the War on Terror.
from the offices to the desert was not an easy one. At first,
the CIA was skeptical because of Tank’s less-than-stellar
past. But some reprogramming and coercing on Tank’s
behalf won them to his side. What is a robot for, after all,
if not to handle the tasks that fail to interest humans? Once
the decision was made that he could go abroad, there were
still other necessary adjustments: Eye-crunches to strengthen
his sight; rewiring so he could stand the heat without a meltdown;
a scratch-resistant screen to deflect the swirling sand; a
general toughening and bulking up. The overhaul rendered the
“new” Tank barely recognizable. He had gone from
being a scientific tool to being a “G-Man.” If
only Tank’s father could see him now.
in the Desert
At first, Tank
relished his time in the Afghani desert. He was all the rage
with the fellow soldiers, who admired his siding because it
was more protective than the doors on their Hummers. So what
if there was an occasional grumble about breaking him down
for scrap metal? Everyone seemed to recognize that he was
doing important—and undesirable—work. Even the
natives took a shine to Tank when they discovered that, if
they attached a piece of aluminum foil to his head, he could
get pretty good reception for “The Gilmore Girls.”
But then Tank had to quit socializing and get to work.
of . . . What Exactly?
when Tank actually got into the contested territory, the old
problems cropped up again. His reconnaissance work for the
CIA was no better than it was for NASA. Only whereas before
Tank had a difficult time discerning our planet from the others,
this time Tank was unable to differentiate between the good
guys and the bad guys. At first, the Powers That Be believed
it was only a glitch in his system. After fine-tuning him,
they sent him back into the fray. But when Tank repeatedly
offered a line-up of completely harmless Muslims—with,
perhaps, even a stray American soldier or two thrown into
the mix—the CIA had no options other than to remove
him from the project. Now the disgruntled soldiers really
did want to harvest him for scrap metal, so Tank was ushered
back to the states as quickly as possible.