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III. Guardians of the Law

McLane and the others are dragged out of the middle of a robotics course to take on a "special assignment" with the new ORION VIII.
Spring-Brauner is sending them to 12-M-8 to "gut" sixteen space probes whose memory shall be evaluated on Earth for the weekly astrophysical report.
Helga Legrelle and Atan Shubashi are the first to go aboard a Lancet to start work. Meanwhile the ORION is being called by the ore freighter Sikh. Commodore Ruyther, whom Cliff McLane has served under as an ensign, transports Germanicum ore from Pallas to Earth. While he used to be in contact with the colonists, they have been sending only transport rockets to the Sikh lately, which instead of ore contained only overburden. There are seventy colonists working on Pallas with over twenty work robots.
When McLane asks what he should do about it Ruyther replies that in former days he would already be on his way there. Cliff promises to see into the matter. Tamara Jagellovsk pointing out to him the ORION would disappear from Earth's locating system, McLane resorts to a trick: The Lancet with Helga and Atan aboard will generate an energy field--a so called Laurin, so nobody realizes the ORION is on her way completely elsewhere.
On Pallas McLane can't make contact with the colonists, either. Cliff, Tamara, Mario, and Hasso search for the entrance to the underground mine. Meanwhile the ORION is being called by several stations. Spring-Brauner giving an Alpha Order to redescend to Earth. Although the ORION is within location at 12-M-8 all connections fail.
In the upper levels of the mine on Pallas McLane and the others find neither people nor robots. Only when they advance into the underground tunnel system they are overpowered and disarmed by several out of control robots.
They meet the colonists, who tell them there has been a conflict with a drug dealer, resulting in his and one of his cronies being shot. The robots have to protect human life, so in order to prevent further mutual killing they took command over the mine.
Meanwhile the Galactic Security Division interrogates Commodore Ruyther, who has repeatedly brought only trash to Earth. General Wamsler is mad at Colonel Villa, because he had ordered this autonomously. According to Villa "a man can fail, a robot never."
In the Lancet work continues, yet calling the ORION -- in vain. In time the energy reserves are diminishing rapidly but Atan won't let the Laurin break down, despite risking his and Helga's life.
On Pallas McLane and the others have to think of something to overpower the robots. It transpires that the death of drug dealer Forrester is the reason for the robots malfunction - he was shot in a fight with Richard Hall, the boss of the mine. While they have to save men in the first robot law they have to harm others which is against the second law.
Only Tamara remembers the robot course but doesn't exactly know which switches are responsible for this action. After trapping 2 robots Cliff and Tamara reset some switches and send the robots back to the control center. They return with guns and the men make their escape.
Back on the ORION they meet the Lancet last-minute.
Cliff counters Atans reproaches: "You've been in my crew long enough and should have learned to act without orders in danger."
A message reaches the ORION. Spring-Brauner has mistakenly sent the ship to a job which should have been done by cadets on board the ARION!
General Wamsler meets the crew in the starlight. A bunch of robots should be brought to a colony and the general has "heard something about laurin ..."
German TV: 15. October 1966

Starlight Info:
Translated from "Hüter des Gesetzes"
by: Ulrich Schreglmann [12/97]
Completed by M.Höfler [2004]


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