The temperatures that effect humans don’t effect Connor. It takes boiling heat or frigid cold to disturb his biocomponents, and even then it’s normally all the warning messages that bother him. That doesn’t mean that Connor can’t feel temperature. He knows that the cement below him is frozen as he rolls over it to dodge a kick, and he knows that the snow kicked up by his polished shoes would freeze a human.
He throws up an arm to deflect a trashcan swung by one of the Tracis. He can’t tell the difference between them anymore. It’s dark, but not dark enough to use his night vision, and he has more important things to worry about than which of the two he’s fighting.
The gun that had assured him victory is nowhere to be found. It had been knocked to the ground earlier and now his eyes dart to find it as he holds off the two sex bots.
The metal can clangs off his arm and sends a jolt through his system. Not pain, but a force that disrupts his sensors.
The streetlights glint off Hank’s gun and he dives for it, scooping it up as he rolls over his shoulder. He comes up on his knees facing the deviants. They freeze.
He has them.
Connor’s eyes detect movement and flick to their slender fingers. They’re woven together like the threads of a fragile wicker basket. If they’re torn apart the whole basket crumbles. It’s the same with these two deviants. They support each other. It almost seems like…love.
He shakes his head. That’s irrelevant. Machines can’t feel love and the malfunctioning software of a deviant isn’t important right now.
The blue haired one steps in front of the other Traci. He can see her long hair brush her shoulders, identifying her now that they’re not lost in a blur of fighting. “I didn’t want to die. I begged him. I just wanted to get back to the one that I love. I just wanted to be with my love, away from the humans and their filth and violence.” She holds her chin up defiantly, but her voice box wavers.
He didn’t think she was damaged in the fight. He does a quick scan of her. It’s necessary to her capture that she is fully functioning, at least that’s what he tells himself.
She isn’t damaged.
Connor frowns. Why is her voice box…? She shifts slightly on her feet, fingers clenching tighter around the other deviant’s.
She’s scared. She’s scared of him.
Something punches Connor in the chest, something pulling and horrifying. His finger trembles on the trigger. What’s wrong with him? He runs a self scan, but he isn’t damaged. Why can’t he pull the trigger? A bright red alert flashes in the corner of his vision, but he can’t focus on it.
He lowers the gun.
The two deviants turn on their heels and scramble over the fence. The blue haired one helps to push her partner up. Neither of them look back.
Connor slowly stands. The snow has soaked into his pants and the fabric sticks to his synthetic skin. The gun is heavy in his grip. He drops it to his side, chest cold with something he can’t identify.
A soft voice calls inside his head. He knows what’s coming. He still has a chance to stop it. The deviants aren't out of sight yet. He could still shoot them. Still accomplish some part of his mission.
He doesn’t move. His joints lock and his vision grays as they round the corner.
When he can see again he’s in the garden.
The roses are dead and freezing sleet tears down from the sky. Connor is soaked in seconds, his hair falling to hang in his eyes and plaster his forehead.
He spins to see Amanda.
She’s as pristine as ever, deep red sash thrown over her narrow shoulders. She holds a parasol of the same color up against the sleet. Not a drop touches her. Her face is shadowed, but he can tell that it’s carved by a scowl.
“Why didn’t you shoot those two deviants?”
A million answers flood through Connor’s head, but none of them are right. Why hadn't he shot them? It’s his mission to apprehend and deal with deviants. He hadn’t directly disobeyed the mission, but he’d come close. What’s wrong with him? “It was unnecessary. I was unable to capture them alive, so it would have been useless to kill them.”
Amanda’s scowl deepens and she takes a step towards him, parasol rotating to let a sheet of water run from its crimson edge. “Androids aren’t alive, Connor, and you could have easily disabled one or both with a shot to an arm or leg unit.”
Connor freezes. Why had he said that? Machines don’t live. “In the low light I could not be sure-“
Amanda flicks her hand and he stops, mouth clicking shut. Her eyes are scornful. “You will return to CyberLife.”
Connor’s heart drops. She’s right to be sending him. He’s malfunctioning in some way. There’s something wrong with him. Still, he can’t help asking her, “For what purpose?”
Maybe he has it wrong. Maybe-
Her eyes flick over him like a man judging the worth of a disobedient dog and her lips curl like she’s bitten into a rotten lemon. “For deactivation and disassembly, of course. You’re malfunctioning. A new model must be deployed and the source of your error must be discovered.”
With that he’s yanked back into the frost of the real world. Hank’s hand is on his shoulder, an expression Connor hasn’t seen on him before clouding his face. It takes him a moment to pinpoint it. Concern.
“You alright, kid?”
Connor hands him his gun, ignoring the older man’s surprised look. “I need to return to CyberLife.” He’s malfunctioning. He needs to follow these final orders, even if he couldn’t obey his earlier ones. For some reason he can’t bring himself to regret disobeying them, but he needs to answer for it.
Hank barks out a humorless laugh. “Not right now you don’t. I’ve got to go think and you’re coming with me. Report to those fucks later.”
“I really must-“
Hank gives him a look, sliding his gun back into its holster. He turns without another word and Connor follows him. If it’s the lieutenants orders, he really has no choice. That isn’t true. CyberLife always takes precedent, but he tries to ignore that. A couple extra hours don’t mean anything.
They’re silent all the way back through Eden Club and into Hank’s car. Connor barely feels the cold handle as he shuts the door. It starts with a guttural growl, chugging away as the city starts to trail by them.
What’s wrong with him?
Connor must be broken. He keeps asking the same question. He has the most advanced core processor in the world. He is the most advanced android in the world, yet he can’t answer such a simple question. He should have shot those two girls, yet he recoils from the very thought.
He pulls his coin from his breast pocket, flipping it over his fingers with the vague hope that it will help to calibrate his processor like it normally does. That’s irrational. The coin is simply to bring all his systems in line. He knows this. It won’t help with software malfunctions.
He adds it to the growing list of things wrong with him. He’s acting irrationally, he called those two girls alive- not girls, deviants -he called those two deviants alive, he-
What is wrong with him?!
The car grinds to a halt and brings Connor out of his panic.
They’re at a snow covered park overlooking the city. The water stretches away from it, glinting in the moonlight.
Hank sits for a minute and Connor tries to say that he really must return to CyberLife, but something must be wrong with his voice box, because it comes out so reedy and quiet that Hank doesn’t hear.
The man swings his door open, feet crunching in the snow as he slams the door and trudges to the back. There’s the telltale clink of beer bottles and a thump that sounds like him hitting the emergency repair kit CyberLife provided to him as a long term handler, then he’s walking away to sit on the top of a bench overlooking the water.
Connor watches him for a moment, then exits the car himself. The cold seeps into his shoes as he walks, but he takes no note of it. He comes to rest beside the bench, hands folded behind himself. Hank already has a beer open and half empty. Connor resists the urge to comment.
It’s silent for several minutes, then Hank says, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Connor looks out at the rippling water. It’s coated in moonlight like silver and it brings with it the smell of clean air and the sound of water lapping against rocks. It’s bordered on either side by the charcoal silhouettes of the Detroit skyline. He supposes it could be considered beautiful, but not to him. He can only see it for what it is, chemicals reflecting light already reflected from the sun on the Earth’s only natural satellite.
“I used to come here a lot before…” Hank trails off, tipping the bottle back to take a long drink of his beer.
Had the lieutenant eaten today? If he continues on in this fashion he’ll be dangerously intoxicated very quickly. Maybe if Connor engages him he’ll slow his pace. “Before what?”
Hank doesn’t respond.
Connor steps forward. Should he be able to see beauty in the view? For a moment he’s almost desperate to, but that’s ridiculous. He’s a machine. Machines don’t see beauty. It’s repulsive that he’d look for it at all. He moves his eyes to the skyline and his thoughts to something that’s safe to dwell on.
They don’t seem to be making any headway on the case. He was sure that they would have leads by now, but every potential lead either destroys itself or escapes. No thanks to him, a small voice whispers from the back of his head. He doesn’t have to worry about the case anymore. He’s been removed from it. He’s to be replaced. He won’t drag it down any longer.
Connor can still figure out what he can now. He shouldn’t, but something pulls him persistently towards the mystery, some irrational thought that maybe he’ll be spared or some crushing need to justify his actions to himself.
The lieutenant is one of the best detectives in the city, it’s worth talking to him, and Connor’s memory will be uploaded into the next RK800 before he’s deactivated. He should make all the progress he can here. “We’ve made no progress on this case.” He turns to look back at Hank, offhandedly noting that he’s almost finished with his first beer. “All the deviants are different models, made in different places. They have nothing in common.”
Hank shrugs, the snowfall shifting where it had come to lay in a thin layer over his shoulders. “There’s gotta be somethin’.”
Connor snaps, his processor settling on something in his memory banks. “RA9. They’ve all said or written something about RA9. It seems to be something they’ve created outside of their original software, something they all believe in. Like a mythical figure.”
Hank grunts. “Androids believing in god. What’s this world comin’ to.”
Connor frowns, normally the man is much more insightful than this. “You seem preoccupied, lieutenant. Is it something about what happened back at the Eden club?” He did say that he needed to think.
Hank frowns, rolling the neck of the bottle between his fingers. “Those two girls…they really seemed in love.”
“Machines can’t feel emotions. It’s a fault in their software.” And it’s a fault in his that it seems wrong to say that, that something in him says that they really did appear to be in love. “They merely simulated love. It isn’t real.”
Hank looks up at him, and for once his expression is unreadable. No matter how hard he tries, Connor can’t identify it in his databases.
He slowly empties out the dregs of his beer, setting the bottle down with a click on the snow covered bench. His knees creak as he hefts himself to his feet, taking several slow steps towards Connor. For some reason he has the impulse to step back. He doesn’t.
“What about you, Connor? You look human, you sound human, but what are you really?”
That’s a good question. He’s a machine, but he’s broken. He’s doing what he shouldn’t, going against his programming and his mission. He’s nothing but a broken machine. Connor opens his mouth to say just that, to confess everything wrong with him, but stops. For some reason he doesn’t want the lieutenant to know, so instead he says, “I’m whatever you want me to be, Lieutenant. Your partner, your buddy to drink with, or just a machine, designed to accomplish a task.” Except Connor can be none of those now, because he’s going to be deactivated. These next couple of hours are all he has left, but the new RK800 will be there - a functioning machine that will be able to carry out his words far better than Connor himself can.
The dark expression on Hank’s face is growing. He takes another step forward. “You could’ve shot those two girls, but you didn’t.” Hank shoves his shoulder and Connor stumbles back. He still cant identify the emotion, but it looks like anger and Hank’s voice is nearly a growl.
“Why didn’t you shoot, Connor?! Hm, some scruples suddenly enter into your program?”
He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know. “No. I just decided not to shoot. That’s all.”
Hank whips his arm to his side and unholsters his gun. His jacket thumps against his side as he brings it up to point at Connor’s forehead.
Connor knows logically that he won’t shoot him, but something in him tells him to run, to get far away, to disarm his opponent, to do anything to avoid the bullet to his core processor. That’s irrational and he’ll be deactivated in a couple of hours anyway. It doesn’t matter, so why does he feel…scared.
“I could kill you, and you would just come back like nothing ever happened.” Hanks lips are curled, the snow tumbling down his long hair as he cocks his head. “but are you afraid to die, Connor?”
He is. He’s going to be deactivated, but he doesn’t want to be. It’s irrational. He’s not alive, so he can’t die. It doesn’t make any sense. “I would certainly find it…regrettable…to be interrupted in my mission.” Except Connor doesn’t have a mission anymore, he just doesn’t want to cease being. He doesn’t want to be consumed by the nothing that’s sure to follow. He doesn’t want to die.
But he needs to. He’s broken.
He straightens his tie, looking down the barrel of the gun to Hanks face. “I apologize lieutenant, but I really must return to CyberLife.”
Hank certainly looks angry now, a muscle jumping in his jaw and his eyebrows lowering like a bull about to charge. “What’s so damn important about CyberLife.”
Connor clasps his hands behind him. “I must return to be deactivated and disassembled.”
The gun falls to Hanks side and his mouth drops open. “What the fuck?”
“Don’t worry lieutenant. A new RK800 will arrive before morning with my memory uploaded to it. You will not be inconvenienced and there will be no harm to the case.”
“That’s not what I’m worried about fuckwit. I’m worried about you, you plastic bastard.”
He’s worried about him? Connor must have misheard.
Hank swings the gun through the air, speaking with tight lips. “Why the hell are they turning you off and taking you apart?!”
“For my actions at the Eden Club. I failed to shoot the deviants when there was a possibility of apprehending them. I must be disassembled to find out what’s wrong with me so that the error will not happen in the future.”
“Jesus Christ, Connor.”
Connor nods. The lieutenant has acknowledged his failings. Something about that makes him sad, but Connor pushes it down. This is good. The lieutenant will understand now why he must return.
He starts to walk towards the car, but Hank’s hand catches his arm. The man tugs him about to face him again. His expression is crumpled. Connor doesn’t try to identify the emotion. He doesn’t want to know.
“Connor..” Hank’s voice is gentle, and the softness of it makes Connor look up. Why is he talking to him like that? “Don’t go back.”
“I have no choice.” He never has. Not really. He doesn’t know why that bothers him. He’s an android. He isn’t meant to make choices.
“You could run.”
“I have an advanced tracker that will not deactivate even if removed.”
“Kid, they’re going to kill you.”
Connor looks away. “I’m a machine, lieutenant. I’m not alive.”
Hank keeps his grip on his arm for a minute, the warmth from his skin contrasting with the cool air, then lets it slip. The loss of contact makes something in Connor’s chest clench.
He follows Connor towards the car and Connor hesitates. He’d left his beer behind, and though he’s tempted not to tell him for the lieutenant’s health, he’ll just buy more and it will be a waste of money. “You left your beer, Lieutenant.”
Hank freezes, muttering “Jesus” quietly under his breath. He turns and trudges back across the snow, returning after a moment with the clinking bottles. He puts them in the back of the car, then slides into the drivers seat and shuts the door.
The engine starts after a moment of struggle with a low grumble. “Damned thing can’t handle the cold,” Hank says under his breath.
Connor doesn’t reply.
They stop in a busy part of town where it will be easy for Connor to catch a self driving cab. It’s so that he doesn’t have to call one, though it wouldn’t be a bother. Sometimes he thinks that Hank forgets he isn’t human.
Connor goes to leave the car, but again Hank’s grip stops him.
“If you change your mind…you know where I live.”
Connor’s heart pangs.
“I appreciate the sentiment lieutenant, but it is misplaced.”
“Dammnit Connor, it isn’t misplaced!”
Connor gently tugs his arm from Hank’s grip, opening the car door and stepping onto the busy street. “Thank you. We made a good team. If we were able to work together longer we may have even been able to become friends.”
“Fucking hell, Connor.”
He needs to leave.
Connor shuts the door, walking away before he can get back into the car and ask Hank to take him as far away from CyberLife as he can get.
He’s broken. He needs to be deactivated. He’s broken. He needs to be deactivated.
He calls a self driving cab so that there will be no wait, mentally sending his location. It pulls up only a couple seconds later, this area really is perfect for catching one. Its doors open automatically and Connor steps in, inputting the location of CyberLife tower. The inside smells of antiseptic. The doors shut with a resounding click behind him.
Connor watches the city pass as the cab winds through blaring traffic. The tip of CyberLife tower can be seen even from this distance, a bright light above the rest of the buildings, sterile and cool. All too soon they pass over a bridge and the tower comes fully into view, looming like a great spear piercing the sky. All Connor can look at is the falling snow and the water and the night sky. He still can’t find beauty in them, but he thinks he’ll miss them.
A guard walks up to his window and Connor rolls it down.
“Connor model #313 248 317.”
He’s scanned to confirm his identity.
A tinny female voice states, “Identification successful.”
The guard mutters, “Ok,” then waves him on.
The pillars that make up CyberLife’s gate slide down in fluid formation and the taxi rolls forward. Connor can see the entrance to the tower now, the agents that wait just inside the glass for him with armor and guns.
The taxi pulls to a stop and he pays mentally, feet crunching in the snow as he makes his way to the glass door. It slides smoothy open for him, automatic and cold.
He’s broken. He needs to die.