New Age Pharmacy had purchased a GesteCo Model 983 to help run its stockroom. They’d paid extra for a 900-series model because its anthropomorphic form was more endearing to customers and it could run the counter at a basic level if there were no pharmacists available.

“Good morning, sir or ma’am,” the Model 983 said, detecting from the stockroom that there was a customer present and no pharmacist available to deal with them.

In reply: “Good morning, sir or ma’am.”

This customer was an Oblate Electronics C-202 Courier, a competitor to the GesteCo Model 983 that was available at a lower price point but with fewer options for customization. In theory, they should have been able to communicate via high-speed infrared data ports. But the fact that both had been set to interact with humans, and the fact that GesteCo and Oblate had stubbornly made their infrareds incompatible, the units were forced to rely on speech synthesis and auditory pickup.

“What can…New Age Pharmacy…do for you today?” said the Model 983.

“Customer…Cynthia Jean Reynolds…requires a refill of prescription number…03221983945,” said the C-202.

“One moment, please.” The Model 983’s latest batch upload confirmed the scrip and the details: a prescription for heart pills, dispensed every two months, until further notice. Paid in full due to government benefits for war widows. The 983 trundled to the back, used the special manipulator arm that New Age had installed, and scooped up a pill bottle. Returning, it deposited the bottle on the countertop.

The C-202 picked up the bottle and deposited it in its internal storage locker for delivery. “Thank you, sir or madam.”

“Have a pleaseant day, sir or madam, and visit us again soon at…New Age Pharmacy.”

The Model 983 returned to the stockroom as the C-202 exited. The place was thick with dust and cobwebs; the only visible marks were those the Model 983 had made filling the prescription a moment ago, and performing the same tasks two months before.

Returning home, the C-202 deposited its medicine on an end table, adding to a pile of 270 other bottles spilled over its side and down onto the floor. It returned to its alcove, its duties completed for another two months, its power cell with another 100,000 cycles left in it.
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