Chapter 1: My Name Is
Startled, the intern looked up from his monitor, inwardly hoping his boss's next words weren't a reprimand for zoning out. "Yes sir?"
"I am heading out. It's Katy and I's ten year anniversary so I need scoot if I'm going to make it in time for our reservation. You think you can handle locking up for the night?"
Lentz took a moment to let the words sink in. He was stunned. His boss was going to let a mere intern stay, by himself, and lock the place up? Was that legal? And more importantly, did he even know how to lock the place up?
It was then the intern realized he had been staring at his boss, mouth agape and eyes glazed over. His body jolted as he regained his senses.
"Yeah, yeah I'll be fine." Anxiety then took over, prompting the intern to ask, "But what about the memory upload for the prototype?" Lentz motioned towards the adjacent room. Through the thick glass, several human-like robots were lined up and attached to different pieces of machinery. The subject of interest was connected via an insert in the back of its neck to a large, central machine, its body motionless as the arms of the machine propped it in place. "The upload is only halfway done. What do you want me to do when it's finished?"
"Ah, right. I almost forgot about that." Dr. Carr, a middle-aged man and one of many CyberLife's directors, directed the intern's attention toward a large, frameless monitor on the far end of the room. On the sleek monitor flashed the progress for the current upload which, according to the loading bar on the screen, was 49% complete. "When that reaches 100 an option to disconnect the android will pop-up. Don't press that."
"Don't press it. Got it."
"Just make sure the basic settings are reset to standard and then run a couple of diagnostics to make sure the upload was successful. After that, shut it down for the night and place the final report on my desk. If the diagnostics fail just make a note and I will deal with it tomorrow."
Lentz quickly processed all the steps in his head. Diagnostics he could do, checking the android's settings sounded easy enough, and he could probably remember how to lock everything up after watching Dr. Lee close the transfer room last week.
"Sounds good. I hope you have a good time at your dinner, sir."
Dr. Carr finished zipping up his jacket and pulled his keys out from his pocket. "Young man, there is one rule for a guaranteed good time when dining with a woman."
The intern cocked his head. "Oh?"
"Pick a place with good food and even better beer." The man winked and then waved goodbye as he walked out the door, his voice trailing as he called out, "Have a good evening. If you have any problems, don't call me!"
Amused, Lentz flashed a small smile. "Goodnight, sir."
The door abruptly slid shut, leaving the intern alone and in near silence. Only the soft murmur of various computers and machines filled the room, their blinking lights adding a hint of red and green to the primarily white backdrop.
Lentz nervously let out a deep breath. His gaze slowly traveled across the room, letting his mind soak in the reality that he, a junior in college, had not only landed an internship during the fall semester at CyberLife, but was also succeeding in gaining the trust and respect of his superiors. And not just any superior, but the notorious Dr. Carr.
He could vividly remember meeting the famed scientist for the first time. The man's cold, grey eyes and strictness had struck fear into his soul during the interview process. But, in a strange way, Dr. Carr's initially fearsome demeanor made any remotely kind thing he said worth more than gold. Lentz had been lucky enough to earn one such word about two weeks prior. Impressive, the scientist had said. Short, to the point, concise — yet that one word possessed more value to Lentz than his long fought for acceptance into Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A small yet proud smile appeared on the young man's face at the recollection.
Lentz looked over at the monitor on the far end of the room. Only 50% of the upload was complete. A long, tired sigh escaped his lips. It looked like he would be staying late tonight.
After readjusting, Lentz settled back down into his swivel chair. Directly in front of him sat his designated monitor along with various, scattered notebooks and pieces of torn out paper. Normally, he would have tried to maintain a clean desk to help give off a good impression to his superiors, but organization had quickly flown out the window after the first week of training. He had heard that those with high intellectual abilities were sometimes the most disorganized people, but he hadn't fully believed it until he had arrived at the Memory Transfer Department (MTD, as most called it) at CyberLife. His desk had started out as a little corner of orderliness but had quickly morphed into the chaos of the rest of the room. Looking up and down the long desk before him, Lentz could no longer tell the difference between his space and the next. It was all just one stream of notebooks, coffee mugs, and diagnostic reports.
Lentz looked out over his monitor and through the panels of glass. The prototype was a dark-haired android who lifelessly stared back at Lentz with a pair of brown eyes. While Lentz loved every second of working at CyberLife, the one thing that never failed to send shivers down his spine was the dead-eyed stare the androids sent his way while their memory was being uploaded. Internally, he knew they were just machines – akin to the computer in front of him but with arms and legs – but they looked so human-like that, when they weren't turned on, they had an uncanny resemblance to that of a corpse. Normally, he would have shrugged it off and tuned into one of the discussions his co-workers were having, but now that he was alone things were a little more surreal.
The sharp ding representing his text tone nearly caused him to jump, out of his seat. Instinctively, Lentz grabbed his phone and read the new message.
Hey bro! I know you are still at work but I managed to find a torrent file online with that old Marvel movie we were wanting to see. I'll email you the link as I accidentally ran over my phone. Texting from mom's phone. Obviously. Duh. Don't ask.
P.S. File isn't bugged… I think.
Lentz shook his head and muttered, "Why am I not surprised?" If it had been anyone else he would have been shocked, but this was his little sister. The same sister who had somehow managed to get her bike stuck in a tree. In the middle of the desert. At midnight.
A notification appeared at the top of his phone, alerting him to a new email. Opening it up, Lentz noted the attached file and skimmed through the short note.
I Googled it. There is only a 40% chance this is bugged. You need to watch this before we go see the new movie this weekend. It is worth the risk.
So watch it or die heathen!
Lentz rolled his eyes. He was on the clock. He couldn't watch a movie on his phone.
The intern glanced around the room until his eyes landed on the main monitor. 51% Complete. Groaning, the young man looked back over at the android. Why was this model taking so damn long to upload? Speaking of, what model was this prototype anyways?
Reading the model number off of the android's jacket, the intern raised an eyebrow. An RK800. He had never seen one of those come through before, though he supposed that made sense seeing as this model was CyberLife's latest and greatest prototype. Or so he had heard. If anything, it definitely looked better than the RK700. One of those had happened to come through during Lentz's first week at CyberLife and the following night he had nightmares about it. Like the RK800, the previous model had dark eyes, but its skin was deathly pale and its hair bleached blonde. It honestly had looked like a disease infested cue tip wearing a jacket and pants.
Out of the corner of his eye Lentz saw the prototype suddenly flinch, causing the intern to sit upright in his chair. Was that... supposed to happen?
Lentz glanced over at the main monitor. Only 52% complete.
Without giving it another thought, Lentz grabbed his phone and started downloading the file his sister had sent him. The memory upload was going to take at least another two hours and he didn't want to be stuck in silence with a twitching android. Plus, his bosses probably wouldn't mind if he watched a movie on his phone when there was nothing else to do. After all, Dr. Carr would often watch old chic flicks on his terminal when things were slow.
The file downloaded quickly, but the intern's face fell as he read the following error message on his phone:
Error: File is not compatible with this device.
"You've got to be kidding me." He could try downloading the movie on his computer, but there was the risk of the file containing a virus to consider. Of course, he could just run a scan to check for viruses, but as an intern working with government property, that would be too risky. And he wouldn't dare put his internship on the line over a-
A loud thud resounded in the adjacent room. Lentz looked up to see that a piece of equipment had fallen over and the RK800 model had turned its head to the side. It was then the intern noticed that the room he was in had dimmed. He glanced back over his shoulder at the windows at the back of the room. The sun had begun to set.
After further consideration, scanning the file seemed like a grand idea to Lentz. He had done this plenty of times with torrent files containing old movies and nothing had happened. Plus, who would try and plant a virus to destroy government level property in a torrent file carrying a movie that came out near 25 years ago? The balance of probability told him he would be fine, and the need to take his mind off of the prototype was beginning to outweigh the need for caution.
Lentz ran a handful of scans on the file. Once he was sure everything looked good, he downloaded the file. Captain America. His family were pretty loyal Marvel fans and, with the new Avengers movie coming out in the next few days, it seemed appropriate to go back and watch more of the original films, even if it meant downloading them illegally off the internet.
Before starting the film, Lentz hovered the cursor over the start button. Did he really want to do this?
His conscious told him no.
Another twitch from the android told him otherwise.
Without giving it another thought, Lentz started the movie. About midway through the film, Lentz felt his eyes start to droop. Curious, he checked the clock on his phone. 9 pm. Some would consider this early, but for someone who consistently wakes up at 4 am, it was near bedtime.
The intern yawned as he reached for the cup of water on his desk. Sluggishly, he brought the cup to his lips and drank slowly…
"Holy shit!" Lentz opened his eyes at the sound of something crackling beneath him. Rolling his chair back, he looked underneath his desk to find his cup of water on the floor. Much to his dismay, the liquid had spilled onto the exposed equipment beneath the desk. Realization crept up on the intern like a snake about to attack its prey.
"Fuck fuck fuck fuck!"
He must have fallen asleep and dropped his cup. Frantically, the intern ran to the bathroom and got a handful of paper towels to clean up the mess. After he had soaked up all the water, he checked his monitor. The movie had returned to the menu screen, the music playing clearly and without distortion.
So far so good.
Exiting out of the movie player, Lentz checked the status of his computer. To his relief, everything looked normal. As one last sanity check, the intern opened up a basic script and ran it on the command prompt. Crossing his fingers, he waited for the output.
The intern's stomach dropped. This was not good. This script was designed to be simple as a way to ensure any issues that arose were not due to an internal problem. The fact that his computer was producing errors after running this was a red flag. More than that, he didn't even know what "Error 202" meant. He had come across indentation errors, syntax errors, and name errors to name a few, but never had he seen this before.
Beep, beep, beep.
On the main monitor was displayed the new status of the memory upload along with a short message:
100% Complete. Would you like to disconnect the subject?
Lentz looked out into the adjacent room. The whirr of the machine had stilled and the RK800 model blinked rapidly as the small, LED ring light on its right temple flashed yellow — all typical behaviors for a rebooting android.
After allowing itself a couple of moments to process, the android said, "Hello. My previous settings indicate that my default language is English. Is that correct?"
Taking a deep breath, Lentz collected himself. Perhaps the script he had run was faulty? Maybe in his panic he had run the wrong one? He checked the script and ran the code once more.
Running his hands through his thick, blonde hair, Lentz turned his attention to the newly awakened android. At the very least, he needed to correctly deal with the prototype.
"Don't disconnect the android and make sure the settings reflect the standardized stuff," Lentz recalled aloud. Easy enough, right? Reaching out his hand, he pushed the intercom button near his computer to respond. The intern's voice resounded through the speakers in the adjacent room as he replied to the android's question, "Affirmative."
"Thank you. My previous settings also indicate that my name is Carl, is that correct?"
Lentz bit his lip. Seeing as this was a new prototype he hadn't memorized the standard name for its model line yet. Rolling his chair across the room, the intern grabbed a book out of the plastic bin hanging by the door and swiped through the pages.
"Aha, there you are…" the intern muttered as he scrolled down the page of model names until he found the appropriate one. "RK800, you are called… Connor."
Odd. Why did it think it was Carl?
Book still in hand, the young man looked back out at the prototype who was staring blankly out in front of itself. If the upload had been successful, the android should have naturally resorted back to its standard name. Perhaps the previous version of this model had been given a custom name? After the upload, the new model would have thus resorted to that title, so maybe that was what had happened?
Shrugging his shoulders, Lentz put the book away. Either way, it was best to play it safe and reset the model back to its original settings as instructed. If someone needed to change its name, they could do it on their own time.
Lentz rolled back over to the intercom. "RK800, reset settings to standard."
Promptly, the android replied, "Settings have been reset."
Well, that was fast. "Please state your name."
"My name is Carl."
Lips pursed, Lentz tried another course of action, "RK800, override name."
The prototype's LED flickered. A message on Lentz's monitor popped onto the screen:
Authorization code required for name override.
Quickly Lentz typed in his code. He didn't have access to many things as an intern, but after being with CyberLife for two months, he was granted the authority to perform basic overrides. This marked the first time he had actually gotten to use his newly obtained power; however, the ever tightening knot in chest hindered him from relishing the moment.
After completing the requirements for the override, Lentz pressed the button to the intercom. "RK800, register new name." Lentz paused before continuing, making sure to enunciate the prototype's name slowly and clearly. "Connor."
"My name is Carl."
Lentz's stomach dropped. This was not happening.
"RK800, please override name." Once more the intern typed in his code. "RK800, register new name." This time Lentz raised his voice. Maybe he had spoken too softly before?
"My name is Carl."
Releasing the button to the intercom, Lentz sighed, "No, no it's really not."
The intern leaned back in his swivel chair and ran both his hands through his hair. Closing his eyes, he let out a deep breath. What was causing this to happen? Spilling some water on the computer shouldn't have affected the prototype as the upload was running on the main system. Yes, his personal terminal was connected to that system, but an external issue such as spillage shouldn't have affected anything. After all, aside from the constant error message popping up after running scripts, his computer seemed to be working correctly. Maybe… maybe it was the torrent file?
Opening his eyes, Lentz glanced at his monitor. Surely not. He had run at least three scans on the download before opening it. But… what if?
Jolting up in his chair, the intern reached for the digital keyboard on his desk. There was one thing left to try before giving into the panic within. It was the number one go-to for all computer engineers since the dawn of time: turn everything off and then back on again.
Hurriedly the intern exited out of everything on his monitor, deleted the torrent file just for good measure, and restarted his and the main computer. Before the main system shut down, a message appeared on screen:
Are you sure you want to restart? Restarting this system will shut down all connected networks.
Without much thought, Lentz clicked "yes" and watched as the android in the adjacent room stopped moving. The monitor before him went black and the purr of his computer temporarily ceased. Anxiously, the intern tapped his fingers on his desk as he waited for the system to reboot.
He really hoped this worked. If not… no. He didn't even want to think about what would happen if he screwed everything up. He was just starting to make progress at this place and the thought of losing that made his stomach turn. More than that, what would his father think? Lentz internally winced as visons of his father's demeaning glare flashed through his mind. No, he had to avoid that at all costs. This had to work.
Before long his monitor displayed the CyberLife logo, indicating the system was starting to reboot. In the other room, the prototype's LED started blinking again. Back on his monitor, a prompt for Lentz to enter his password flashed on screen. After typing it in, Lentz sat back and waited, his left fingers crossed for good luck.
Applications started loading onto the screen and a prompt appeared on the main computer that had previously displayed the upload's progress. Rolling over to the monitor to the main system, Lentz read the message:
System was unexpectedly shut down. Would you like to resume from your previous progress?
"Yes please," Lentz said as his finger gently pressed the appropriate option on the touch screen. The next prompt was the same as before, a message asking if he would like to disconnect the prototype.
Raising his brows in cynical amusement, the intern scoffed. Not disconnecting the android seemed to be the only thing he had done right that evening.
Back at his desk, Lentz looked out at the prototype. It had also completed rebooting and was now curiously glancing from one side of the room to the other. Taking a deep breath, Lentz reached for the intercom.
"RK800, state your name."
Focusing its attention on the intern, the android promptly replied, "My name is Carl."
For a moment Lentz was taken aback, not only because the android had once again given an incorrect response, but also because of the slight difference in the way it had enunciated the words. It almost sounded annoyed, like it was tired of being forced to say its name over and over again.
Pressing the intercom, Lentz commanded, "RK800 override name." The intern typed in his code. This was the moment of truth.
"RK800, register new name." Lentz paused as he silently prayed this would work, but before he could utter another word, an error flashed across his monitor accompanied by a loud, high pitched "ding!". Dumbfounded, it took a moment for Lentz to realize what this implied.
"Shit." Lentz suddenly remembered he was still pressing the button to the intercom. He quickly retracted his hand. "Oh fuckin hell!"
Almost immediately, the android responded, "My name is ding!... Shit."
Silence ensued as the intern blankly stared at the prototype. He didn't know whether to be happy that the prototype had actually changed its name, amused at the mishap, or horrified at the new error message flashing on his monitor. The distraught intern let out an agitated sigh as he banged his head upon his desk. He was really grateful no one else was there to witness this disaster; his superiors would have mocked him for weeks.
After taking a moment to collect himself, the intern turned to his computer. First things first, he needed to address this error message.
"A diagnostic report will now run?" Lentz read aloud, pursing his lips as he hovered over the message. "I guess that's okay…" He wasn't sure why this had appeared as an error, but he tentatively allowed the report to run. After all, he needed to run a diagnostic report before locking up, so he might as well let that get started.
Leaning back in his chair, Lentz turned his attention to the erroneously named android. Before reverting the prototype's name back to normal, the intern once again asked the android for his name. Just for good measure, of course.
"RK800, state your name."
"My name is ding!... Shit."
Lentz couldn't help but let out a dry laugh. Not only had the prototype perfectly recreated the message alert, but its calm, methodical voice provided a bizarre contrast to the happy chime of the notification sound. This gave the illusion that the android was displeased, even irked, with its name, something that Lentz found rather amusing.
"Alright, let's get you back to normal." Lentz was about to reach for the intercom when he heard the printer in the back of the room start to rev up. Surely the report wasn't finished already? The intern glanced at his monitor. Contradicting his intuition, displayed on the screen was a message indicating the completion of the diagnostic report.
Getting up from his chair, the intern walked over to the printer. Unlike with everything else, they still used physical paper for their reports. Lentz wasn't sure why this was so, but his current theory was that some higher up had a lifelong hatred of trees. A highly unlikely theory, but not entirely impossible either.
Picking up the sheets of paper, the young man skimmed through the pages. "What the hell?"
Lentz could hardly believe what he was seeing. Instead of a normal report, random strings of numbers and letters were haphazardly scattered across the pages. Everything was spread out in an incoherent fashion, making it look like an extraterrestrial had hijacked their system and spewed out some alien code onto various sheets of paper. The only readable portion was on the last page, printed in bold text:
Ra9 will save them.
"Holy shit…" Lentz didn't know what else to say. His panic slowly started to morph into fear as he continued to stare down at the report, when suddenly the sound of something short circuiting in the other room grabbed his attention.
Looking through the glass wall, Lentz saw the android start to twitch as if possessed by something. The machine it was connected to rattled each time the prototype moved, making Lentz worry that the android might manually disconnect itself. Back in the main room, the computer monitors began to flicker as error message after error message popped up onto the screens, creating a stream of various notification sounds that filled the room.
Before he could even think, a loud noise pulled Lentz's attention back to the android. The prototype was now completely slumped over like a rag doll, still twitching at random intervals. To his left, the main computer system began to whirr, increasing in intensity with each second. As the sound increased, a singular error message began to flash on the monitor, replacing the prompt to disconnect the android with "Error 202". One by one, the message began to appear on each monitor in the room.
The whirr of the main computer reached an ear piercing screech, causing the intern to drop the papers in his hands to cover his ears. Lentz winced and let out a small cry. Pushing his hands closer up against his head, the intern waited until the noise abruptly ceased.
Slowly Lentz removed his hands from his ears and timidly glanced about the room. It was like someone had pushed a reset button. The CyberLife logo was displayed on each of the monitors, save for the main system which once again showed the prompt asking to disconnect the android. In the other room, the prototype had resumed its blank stare. Its LED flashed blue, indicating it was in a stable state.
Behind him, the printer once again started to print, causing Lentz to jump and place his hand over his heart. He was sincerely surprised he hadn't suffered from a heart attack yet.
Cautiously, the intern reached for the pages as they exited the printer. A quick skim of the papers told the young man that it was a diagnostic report for the RK800 model, but this time everything seemed to be normal and readable. Hurriedly, Lentz fumbled through the papers until he found the page with the results of the diagnostic. To his surprise, the results showed that the memory upload had been successful and the android was in top condition.
"There's no fuckin way…" Everything that had happened in the past two minutes told him that this report could not possibly be correct. Unless he had just suffered from a severe hallucination, that is, but the papers scattered about on the ground told him otherwise.
Looking out the adjacent room, the intern locked eyes with the prototype. There was only one way to know for sure.
Slowly, Lentz walked over to the intercom. With great caution, he pressed the button — heaven forbid he mess anything else up — and shakily said, "RK800, state your name."
"My name is Connor."
Without thinking, Lentz squeaked, "A-are you sure?"
Looking slightly confused, the android responded, "Yes, I am sure."
Heart still racing, Lentz nodded slowly. "Huh."
A pause. "Is everything alright? Did I give the incorrect name?"
"Oh, uh," Lentz stuttered as he wiped the sweat that had formed on his face, "No, no. You're good."
Staring back down at the report in his hand, then intern noticed that he was shaking. Deliberately taking in deep breaths, he swiftly stapled the pages together and placed it on Dr. Carr's desk. He would have run another diagnostic as a sanity check — not to mention question what had ordered the second report to print in the first place — but Lentz didn't dare start anything else for fear of causing a repeat of what had just transpired.
As he shut down the main computer, he watched as the android turned off, keeping a close eye out for any odd, twitchy behavior. Nothing. Everything seemed to be operating as if nothing strange had ever occurred.
After turning off his computer, Lentz made his way to the papers he had previously dropped. He swiftly collected them and turned around to take one last look at the transfer room. He really hoped he hadn't skipped anything while locking the place up. Though, to be frank, at this point he didn't care. His desire to get the hell out of there had long since overridden his desire to be thorough.
It was good enough. And with that, the intern exited the room, secured the door, and sprinted for the exit.
Chapter 2: Mission Malfunction
Public bathrooms are not what many would picture when thinking of a pleasant sanctuary, but dire situations called for drastic measures. For Lentz, this meant hiding from work in the men's restroom. It was the morning after his horrifying experience and he needed a moment to plan out what he was going to say to Dr. Carr.
I am really sorry, but I nearly destroyed CyberLife's newest and probably most expensive prototype last night by illegally downloading a movie on my work computer. Please don't kill me.
Lentz let out a deep breath as he ran his fingers through his hair. He grimaced the moment his skin made contact with the grime and oil embedded near his scalp, reminding him that he had neglected to shower before leaving for work. He probably looked horrid, and one look in the bathroom mirror confirmed his assessment.
Due to getting little sleep — how could he have slept after living through what had basically been a horror film? — deep, dark circles exaggerated his already deep set eyes. On top of that, his skin was an abnormally bright shade of white and his lips were vividly red. If he had to make a comparison, he looked like a skull wearing lipstick. With hair. Greasy, oily, disgusting hair.
At the sound of the bathroom door sliding open, Lentz tried to act normal, fumbling his hands in an attempt to activate one of the automatic sinks in front of him. He kept his head down while discreetly watching the newcomer's reflection as the man walked towards the stalls. Once he heard the click of the stall's digital lock, Lentz dried his hands and walked out the door. It was time to face his boss.
Taking his time, the intern made his way to the MTD room, his dress shoes clicking against the white, marble floor at each step. It didn't take long for him to reach his destination, but before he entered the office, Lentz took a moment to collect himself.
Just be honest. He just needed to greet Dr. Carr and tell him what happened. Now, telling him about the potentially bugged torrent file he had dumbly downloaded on his work computer? Yeah, probably not. But if he was asked, Lentz was prepared to give an honest reply. Or at least, a semi-honest reply. Or a lie. Either way, it was time.
Pushing through the anxiety — his chest felt like it was going to explode — the intern swiped his ID card and walked through the sliding door. Upon his entry, he was surprised to find only one other person inside — didn't two people usually open? — and, to his relief, that person was not Dr. Carr.
"Oh, hi Lentz! How—oh!" His co-worker paused what she was doing and gave Lentz a concerned look. "Are you okay? I mean, you don't look, um… did you not sleep well?"
The girl was trying to be nice, but Lentz could tell she was put off by his appearance. Not that he blamed her. He too had been pretty disturbed by his reflection back in the restroom, after all.
Suddenly feeling more subconscious about his appearance, Lentz nervously scratched his head and looked at the ground. "Uh, no. No not really." Awkwardly, the intern glanced about the room when he noticed something. The RK800 model was gone.
"W-where did the prototype go?" Lentz stuttered, the panic rising quickly within him. "Wasn't Dr. Carr supposed to confirm its upload this morning?"
"Oh," the girl replied while typing something out on her keyboard. "He came in early this morning. The model was needed by CyberLife by 8 am, so Dr. Carr came in before everyone else to get it ready. Why, do you need him or something?"
"No, no. I was just curious, that's all." Not sure what to do, Lentz continued to stand near the doorway. Should he ask if Dr. Carr had said anything about the diagnostic report? Would that be too obvious and arouse suspicion? Obviously, Dr. Carr wouldn't have let the android leave the MTD if he thought it was defective, so maybe that last diagnostic report had been correct? Maybe everything was actually okay?
Startled, the intern fiddled with his jacket, pretending to have been occupied by some important thought. "Sorry. What should I start with today?"
The girl gave Lentz a suspicious look. "If you're not feeling well I can see if-"
"No," Lentz interrupted. "I just need some coffee, that's all." Swiftly, the intern walked over to his desk and sat down in his swivel chair. "Should I start with processing the results from yesterday's uploads?"
"Uh, yeah." Lentz could hear the girl resume typing, leading him to assume she had at least temporarily pushed aside her suspicions. "That would be great. When you're done just print a copy of all the results."
After typing out the password to his computer, Lentz looked out into the adjacent room and at the central, now vacated, machine. The knot in his stomach tightened as he remembered the events of last night. He could only hope that nothing else went wrong.
Connor walked in stride to the pitter patter of the rain hitting his jacket. He was swiftly closing in on his destination — just 100 meters to go — and his gaze honed in on the target.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Jimmy's bar. Founded in 2030. Discrete location; most likely not crowded. Probability of locating subject: find(prob[:i]…
Brows furrowed, Connor paused in front of the bar's entrance. This was the third time this had happened since 4:03 am this morning. Something wasn't right, and logic told him that the errors originated from more than just a kink in his programming.
[…diagnostic initiated… testing… scanning all components… diagnostic complete]
Results: All biocomponents are functional. No malware detected.
The LED on Connor's right temple flashed yellow before fading into its usual, light blue hue. Despite having run ten other diagnostics throughout the day, he was finding it increasingly difficult to trust its results.
Before today, all his systems had run perfectly — the success of his first mission was a testament to that — but ever since he had gone back to CyberLife for testing, his ability to function had seemingly been compromised. Perhaps something had unknowingly gone awry? Humans are prone to errors, after all, and the subject who had conducted his tests had obviously not been qualified for the task. He knew because he had scanned him.
Norman Jay Lentz, Junior at MIT. Intern at CyberLife's Memory Transfer Department since October 5 th 2038.
Current date is November 4 th 2038.
Age: 20; Height: 5' 6"; Weight: 145 lbs. Detected: Sweat on face.
Conclusion: Subject is inexperienced and is experiencing high levels of stress.
Taking into account all the evidence — the errors in his processing and the intern's blatant incompetency — the seemingly obvious conclusion was that the intern had let an error slip into his systems while performing the tests. This confirmed Connor's initial hypothesis that his processing systems were compromised; however, if that had been the case, he would still be back at CyberLife's headquarters. They wouldn't let a compromised android roam freely, so why was he here, now, standing before this establishment with a mission to accomplish? The evidence didn't match the results, and Connor was at a loss as to why.
Multiple times Connor had attempted to recollect what had occurred during the previous evening, but his memory was fragmented and distorted. Amidst the blur, all he could remember was stating his name, scanning the intern, and then shutting down. He would have to talk to Amanda about this. In the meantime, he would make the most of the situation, regardless of how unacceptable he found it.
Attention focused on the entrance before him, Connor took note of the signs on the door.
No dogs allowed. No androids allowed.
Reaching to push the door open, Connor suddenly and willfully stopped mid-stride.
Startled, Connor found himself turning to the side and slamming into the doorpost before he could counteract the command. Immediately, a flood of questions ran through his mind in a sudden wave of curious bewilderment. Where had those instructions come from? Was this due to the processing errors or something else? What was going on?
[…processing… processing interrupted ]
Struggling to regain control, Connor strained his limbs to initiate movement. Nothing. They wouldn't budge.
[…diagnostic initiated… testing… scanning all components… diagnostic failed ]
Failed? Connor's LED blinked in rapid succession. All skepticism was gone; his systems had definitely been compromised. As to exactly how, he wasn't sure — which in itself was a new sensation — but something was definitely wrong.
He didn't know which was worse — knowing that there were errors in his system or being clueless as to why his systems were being overridden in the first place. The conundrum was insufferable, so Connor clung to the task at hand, which at this moment was locating Lieutenant Hank Anderson. Regardless of anything else, that was his top priority.
Straining his components, Connor gradually wiggled his fingers, focusing all his attention on resisting the errors in his program. Though stiff at first, his arms started to budge. Then his torso. And then his legs.
Connor slowly stepped back from the doorpost and reoriented himself, staying alert for any more sudden commands that might override his systems. After he was sure he had regained control of his whole body, he circled his shoulders and straightened his tie. Out of a sense of instinct, Connor reached for the coin in his back pocket, flipping it a couple times as he once again approached the bar's entrance. The familiar ring of metal resounded in his ears. His LED settled back to blue.
Upon entering into the bar, Connor took a quick glance around the room. Six men were scattered about the premises, only three of which were sitting at the bar counter. It was time to get to work, and the person sitting directly in front of him seemed like a good place to start.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Mismatch. Gray, Christenson. Born 06/18/1981. Criminal record: none.
Rubbing his hands together, Connor causally walked deeper into the dimly lit bar. To his right were three booths, one of which held two men conversing with one another. Connor didn't waste a second in analyzing their faces. A mismatch, both of them.
Connor continued towards the arcade machine at the back of the premises, ignoring all the snide comments patrons made about his presence inside the bar. Down the aisle in front of him, a man pushed through the saloon-style doors leading to the restrooms and walked towards the android. A quick analysis revealed that this man was also not Connor's target.
Side-stepping the man, Connor walked towards the swinging doors. For the sake of being thorough, it would be wise to check the men's restrooms. Upon his entry, Connor instinctively observed his surroundings. The state of the bathrooms' entryway further proved that the bar was in a state of decay. Paint had been peeled off, tiles were chipped, and anti-android slurs were graffitied across the walls. Directly in front of him was the men's bathroom, the door to which was slightly propped open. Peering inside, Connor scanned the interior.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
No signs of human life detected.
Before exiting, Connor stopped in front of the mirror by the bathroom door. He turned his head from side to side, checking for any blemishes on his face. None. A satisfied expression appeared on Connor's face. Looked like running into the doorpost hadn't left any marks.
Usually such details did not concern the android, but while walking from bar to bar in search of his target, he had run a search for the best ways to make a good, first impression. The results of his analysis indicated that one should properly introduce themselves, talk in a friendly manner, and look their best. After adjusting his tie and concluding the assessment of his reflection, Connor was confident that he had accomplished at least one of the three criteria.
Exiting the bathroom, Connor immediately spotted a gray-haired man sitting on a bar stool. This man's face had previously been hidden from view, interfering with Connor's ability to gather information on the human.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Match. Lt. Anderson, Hank. Born: 09/06/1985. Criminal record: none.
Locking onto the lieutenant, Connor swiftly walked towards the counter.
"Lieutenant Anderson," the android began, "My name is Connor. I'm the android sent by CyberLife." Introduction complete. Now, continue in a friendly manner. "I looked for you at the station but nobody knew where you were. They said you were probably having a drink nearby. I was lucky to find you at the fifth bar."
"What do you want?"
Not fully picking up on the lieutenant's irritable attitude, Connor promptly replied, "You were assigned a case early this evening, a homicide, involving a CyberLife android. In accordance with procedure, the company has allocated a specialized model to assist investigators."
"Well I don't need any assistance," Hank growled, not even bothering to look at the android while he spoke. "'Specally not from a plastic asshole like you. So just be a good little robot and get the fuck outta here." Hank took a swig of his drink to conclude his reply.
Recalling the results of his search, Connor quickly determined that, despite the lieutenant's resistance, a calm yet persistent approach would still be best. He thought about throwing in a small smile too, just for good measure; however, before he could execute his plan of attack, words involuntarily started spewing out of his mouth.
"Well, why don't you be a responsible cop and you get the fuck outta here!"
Completely stunned, Connor stared at the Lieutenant like a deer in headlights. Two very bright, pissed off headlights at that. By the calculations running in Connor's head, the probability of making a good first impression was exponentially decreasing.
Turning to glare at the plastic pest, Hank gave the android a very irritated look. "The fuck you just say to me?"
[…calculating response… calculations interrupted ]
Before Connor could intervene, he grabbed the lieutenant's drink. Staring the lieutenant straight in the eyes, he downed the beverage — holding the liquid in his mouth for lack of a stomach — and slammed the glass upside down on the bar counter.
Infuriated, Hank jumped up from his bar stool and grabbed the android by its collar. "You little prick! I don't know what's stopping me from knocking-"
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Bour%bon Whiskey. Alco/*hol Con^t?ent: 4^0&%. S45o8&ur3c93e: for(89*76202…
[…error detected… sample overload… ejecting...]
Whiskey sprayed out of Connor's mouth, coating the lieutenant's face with the drink.
"Gah! What the-?!"
Paralyzed, Connor watched — his hands awkwardly raised in a small attempt to reach out and help the man — as the lieutenant frantically wiped the alcohol off his face. Abruptly, the lieutenant's eyes locked onto the android. Connor didn't have to run any calculations to know the man was severely upset.
"You little fucker!" Without hesitation, the lieutenant punched the android in the face, causing it to stumble and reach for a nearby bar stool for support. "I dunno what's wrong with you, but if you want to reach the end of the night in one piece, I suggest you watch yourself."
With that the lieutenant paid for his drink, shot one more warning glare at the android, and walked out of the bar.
Slowly, Connor hoisted himself up from the bar stool. After brushing off his jacket and fixing his tie, he walked after the lieutenant.
Mission to make a good impression: Failed.
Chapter 3: Succeeding in Failure
Music blared through the car stereo at a deafening volume, the sound of rock and roll filling the vehicle as Hank and Connor approached the crime scene. Connor did not have an opinion on music, but he did find the lieutenant's choice of song to be quite energetic for one so seemingly apathetic to do his job. Not that he would voice his observations, of course. After his first encounter with the lieutenant, Connor had concluded that keeping conversation to a minimum would be the best course of action, especially with his programming being so unpredictable.
The car rolled to a stop and Hank turned the dial on the music, bringing attention to the clamber of raindrops hitting the vehicle.
"You wait here. I won't be long," the lieutenant instructed as he took his keys from the ignition and opened the car door.
"My instructions are to accompany you to the crime scene, Lieutenant."
Giving the android a scathing glance, Hank replied, "Listen, I don't give a fuck about your instructions. I told you to wait here, so you shut the fuck up and wait here." The lieutenant slid out of the car, all the while muttering under his breath, "Wouldn't want you spitting all over the fuckin crime scene…"
Conflicting orders, selecting priority.
Follow Lt. Anderson.
Connor exited the vehicle and trailed the lieutenant, pushing past the numerous reporters that lined the sidewalk. To his right was the crime scene, a small, decrepit home encircled by a chain link fence. Upon approaching the gate to the front yard, a police officer stopped the android.
"Androids are not permitted beyond this point."
Before Connor could reply, an irritable voice called out from the other side of the digital police tape, "It's with me."
The policeman took a step back at his superior's remark, allowing Connor passage into the yard. Immediately, Connor was greeted by Hank's rebuke.
"What part of stay in the car didn't you understand?"
"Your order contradicted my instructions, Lieutenant," Connor abruptly explained as he approached the detective.
Lips pursed, the lieutenant relented, most likely out of a lack of energy to fight the situation rather than an acceptance of Connor's presence. "You don't talk, you don't touch anything, and you stay outta my way. Got it?"
[… override initiated ]
Connor's LED briefly blinked red.
"I'm afraid I must touch something, Lieutenant. I do have to walk, after all."
Hank shot the android a menacing glare as he stepped towards it, his pointed finger waving angrily as he talked. "If you don't shut the fuck up then you won't have any legs to walk on, ya got that?"
Regaining his composure, Connor replied quickly. "Got it."
"That's what I thought." Hank let his gaze linger on the android before acknowledging the round-bellied man on the front porch. The man greeted Hank, his tone indicating that the two had known each other for some time.
"Evening Hank." The man hobbled off the porch as Hank walked over to meet him. "We were starting to think you wouldn't show…"
"Yeah, that was the plan until this asshole found me," Hank growled, motioning towards the android with a tilt of his head.
Giving the detective an amused look, the man continued, "So… you got yourself an android, huh?"
Hank did not return the man's amused tone. "Oh, very funny. Just tell me what happened."
The two walked inside the house, Connor trailing behind as he listened in on their conversation.
"We had a call around eight from the landlord. The tenant hadn't paid his rent for a few months, so he thought he'd drop by, see what was going on…"
Limbs suddenly heavy and weak, Connor stumbled forward, his legs buckling beneath him at each step. He did his best to maintain a composed demeanor, rubbing his hands together in an awkward attempt to avert attention away from his apparent inability to walk. His efforts proved to be successful, until he felt his shoe clip against the tip of the porch.
"And that's when we found—" Connor tumbled forward, interrupting the man's speech. Agilely, he regained his balance so that, by the time the two detectives turned around to inspect the noise, they found Connor standing at the doorway as if nothing had happened. "—the body."
Slightly confused, the round-bellied man asked, "Hey, is it… okay?"
Shaking his head, Hank raised his hands. "The hell if I know."
Connor waited until the two men had turned back around before entering into the home. His sudden incompetency irked him, not out of embarrassment or a sense of pride — he was an android, he didn't personally care about people's opinions — but because of its interference with his efficiency. More than that, there was nothing he could do to stop it, and he was quickly discovering that losing control of his actions was not an ideal experience.
Walking into the front room, Connor was met with the sight of a middle-aged, overweight man whose head was propped up against the wall as he lay lifeless on the ground. Above the corpse, the words "I AM ALIVE" were scrawled in bloody, pristinely shaped letters, the meaning of the phrase providing a stark contrast to the man's current condition. Red and blue flashed about the room, casting sporadic, uncanny shadows along the decaying walls that were covered with lewd images. Scattered across the home were various items illuminated by alternate light sources, distinguishing them as evidence amongst the beer cans cluttering the floor. If the clutter and decay of the place wasn't enough, the home reeked of rotting flesh, something which Connor assumed was the cause of the all the open windows despite the storm raging outside.
While examining the premises, Connor listened to the man brief Hank on the details of the case. The victim's name was Carlos Ortiz. The man had a history of aggravated assault and was considered by his neighbors to be a loner. More so, the man had an android — an android that had yet to be found.
Kneeling down at a small table to his left, Connor inspected the items on the surface.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Red ice. Contains acetone, lithium, thirium, and h7(for(input.5^)%)
[… analysis interrupted ]
Connor grabbed a large handful of red ice and stuffed the drug into his mouth. Bewildered by his sudden actions, he froze while staring blankly at the table in front of him. Wondering if anyone had witnessed his bizarre behavior, Connor subtly glanced around him, his eyes landing on a young police woman who was giving him a very odd look.
Before she could say anything, Connor tried to flash the lady a smile — smiling was one of the ways to make a good impression, after all — his mouth still full of red ice. The woman merely nodded in response, backing away slowly as she returned to her duties.
Quickly, Connor turned back to the table and spat out the substance before anyone else could see him. Making a mental note of the victim's drug use, Connor turned around and assessed the next piece of evidence lying on the ground. A knife. No fingerprints were on the weapon, suggestive of android involvement, yet the blood of the victim stained its blade.
Connor stood up and focused on the backdoor. The victim's android could have escaped that way. Following up on that thought, Connor stepped past the policemen examining the far end of the room and opened the backdoor, the accompanying storm door squealing as it swung open.
As Connor scanned the backyard the lieutenant appeared by the back doorway, probably not wanting to let the malfunctioning android out of his sight. Not that Connor blamed him. He too was dissatisfied with his performance thus far.
"Door was locked from the inside. Killer must've gone out this way…"
Eyes fixated on the scene before him, Connor replied, "There are no footprints apart from officer Collins' size 10 shoes."
"Well, this happened weeks ago." Hank pushed off from the doorpost he had been leaning against, arms folded as he positioned himself next to the android. "Tracks could've faded."
"No, this type of soil would've retained a trace." Connor briefly paused, glancing in the lieutenant's direction. "Nobody's been out here for a long time."
Just a tad bit relieved he was able to speak professionally with the lieutenant, Connor smoothly turned back towards the house, until…
[…error detected… movement impaired ]
…his face smacked into the steel storm door.
Connor's LED briefly flickered yellow as he took a moment to regain his composure. Taking a step back, he rolled his shoulders and adjusted his tie, intentionally keeping his back to the lieutenant as he re-entered the home. Behind him, he could hear the detective growl under his breath, "Fuckin' androids…"
Determined to accomplish his mission, Connor got back to assessing the crime scene. A utensil missing from the knife rack, splatters of dried blood belonging to the victim on the broken walls separating the living room from the kitchen, a knocked over chair with the victim's fingerprints, and a dented bat with traces of thirium on the floor; based off of the newly obtained information and the placement of said items, Connor deduced that not only had there been a struggle between Ortiz and his android, but that Ortiz had been the initial attacker, beating his android with the bat until the android decided to grab the knife and retaliate.
Finished with his assessment of the kitchen, Connor reentered into the living room and knelt down by the victim's dead body. Maggots crawled in and out of the victim's nasal cavities, and a quick analysis indicated the man had died more than nineteen days prior. Traces of red ice lined the man's bearded mouth and his chest was decorated with twenty eight stab wounds.
Standing up, Connor addressed the lieutenant's presence with a glance in his direction. "He was stabbed" A pause. "Twenty-eight times."
"Yeah, seems like the killer really had it in for him," Hank commented.
Connor cocked his head a little and averted his eyes, taking a moment to process everything he had just learned. Once he had organized all the relevant information, he turned to face the lieutenant.
"Lieutenant, I think I've figured out what happened."
Arms folded, the detective replied, cynicism lacing the edge of his words, "Oh yeah? Shoot. I'm all ears."
"It all started in the kitchen," Connor began, methodically stringing together the evidence into a coherent story as he took the lieutenant through the crime scene. In line with his history of assault, Carlos Ortiz had attacked his android with a bat, inciting the android to lash back with the kitchen knife. After stumbling over the kitchen chair, the victim was chased into the living room where he was stabbed to death by his own android. The android then wrote the message on the wall in his master's blood before leaving the corpse.
As he described his interpretation of events, Connor noticed the detective's attitude shift from apathetic to one of slight intrigue. In fact, for a brief moment, the two dissected the crime scene as if nothing ill had occurred between them and Connor had never spat a mouthful of alcohol into Hank's face.
Pleased with his moment of success, Connor placed his hands behind his back and awaited the lieutenant's final assessment of his theory.
"Okay, your story's not totally ridiculous," the detective admitted. "But it doesn't tell us where the android went."
Thinking aloud, Connor pondered, "It was damaged by the bat and lost some thirium…"
"Thirium," Connor explained. "You call it 'blue blood.' It's the fluid that powers androids' biocomponents. It evaporates after a few hours and becomes invisible to the naked eye."
"Oh…" The lieutenant nodded his head in understanding. "But I bet you can still see it, can't you?"
"Yeah…" The lieutenant's voice trailed off as he went back to examining the premises, leaving Connor without supervision for the first time that evening.
Immediately, Connor followed the trail of faded thirium into the kitchen and down the adjoining hallway. Near the end of the corridor, the trail diverged, some of the thirium leading towards the bathroom with the rest pooling under a hatch to the attic. A quick glance to his left revealed the faint imprint of a ladder that had once been propped up against the wall and a thirium stained handprint was imprinted on the attic's entrance.
Connor's LED flickered. The deviant hadn't gone through either entrance to the home and all the windows had been locked from the inside prior to the police's arrival. There remained only one solution:
The deviant was hiding.
For the sake of being thorough, Connor stepped inside the bathroom before investigating the attic, absentmindedly folding his hands together as he followed the trail to the shower. Without hesitation, he pulled back the shower curtain, revealing multiple etchings of the phrase "RA9" carved into the chipped, tiled wall and a statue surrounded by small flowers on the shower floor. The writing was obsessive and jagged, completely opposite from the perfectly written phrase on the living room wall.
Kneeling down, Connor stretched out his arm to grab and better assess the statue.
[…processing…analyzing…analysis interrupted... override initiated ]
Before he could take hold of the statue, Connor threw himself face first into the shower as if someone had suddenly come up from behind and shoved him. To try and counteract the movement, Connor pivoted to his right while simultaneously grabbing the shower curtain with the opposite arm. However, instead helping regain his balance, the curtain tore away from the rings holding it in place, sending Connor tumbling into the shower.
Flailing like a fish out of water, Connor struggled to lift himself up, partially due to the errors in his software and partially because the shower floor was surprisingly slick.
One hand still grasping the shower curtain, Connor reached for something else to grab onto while trying to scoot out of the contorted position he had fallen into. Doing so just tore more of the curtain off of the rings, leaving Connor entangled in more of the grimy fabric. Using his right hand, Connor attempted to pull the curtain off of him. The fabric, however, simply ripped at his efforts. If things were not bad enough, his body was convulsing at random intervals as it rejected most of his internal commands.
His LED flashing red, Connor squirmed underneath the shower curtain, trying to free himself from its entangling grasp while simultaneously attempting to get out of the shower. After completely freeing the curtain from its rod and nearly breaking the statue, Connor finally tumbled out the shower, curtain in tow. At that moment, the same officer who had witnessed him stuff red ice into his mouth walked into the room and shined her flashlight on his face.
Connor looked at the officer and then back down at himself. While wrestling with the fabric, he had managed to poke his head through one of the multiple holes in the curtain. One of his legs had also gotten caught in one of the gaps, leaving him wearing the curtain like a child would a sheet under the pretense of it being a toga.
Before the officer could say a word, Connor calmly explained, "I fell. The floors are quite slick."
Once again the girl nodded silently. Slowly she backed out of the room and into the hall. Once her footsteps had receded, Connor could hear her alert another officer. "Sergeant Cassidy, there is something weird in the bathroom…"
He needed to act fast. Ignoring the extra bit of clothing he was now wearing, Connor swiftly made his way into the kitchen. His control over his movements was still restrained, but he had enough to grab a chair and head for the hatch.
"Hey, hey, hey! What are you doin' with that? And why are you wearing that… thing?"
Connor promptly replied to the lieutenant's expression of concern, not stopping his trek down the hallway, "I am going to check something."
Behind him, Connor could hear the detective mumble in a slightly mocking tone, "Huh… gonna check something… the fuck?"
Placing the chair below the attic's entrance, Connor hoisted himself onto the chair and opened the hatch. Head peering into the attic, Connor took note of the surroundings.
The attic was musty and dim, lit only by the streetlight pouring in from a small window in the back. An occasional flash of lightning elongated the shadows of the various, tossed away items that cluttered the attic, accompanied by the low growl of thunder. The sound of rain dancing on the rooftop filled Connor's ears. Directly before him, the silhouette of a figure was projected onto a ragged sheet hanging from the wooden beams that supported the roof.
Connor pulled himself up onto the attic's wooden floor. Cautiously, he stepped towards the silhouette, careful as to not make a sound. In one quick motion, he pulled back the sheet, revealing an old, oddly figured mannequin on the other side.
Unfazed, he continued deeper into the attic, weaving his way through the piles of junk as he crept. He paused when his ears detected a faint shuffle. Then, in the corner of his eye, a flicker of movement.
A shadow darted across the back of the room.
Keeping low, Connor crept towards the back of the attic as he slowly traced the path the figure had fled. Lightning flashed, followed by a clap of thunder. In that same moment, an android appeared from the darkness, scurrying across the attic until it came face to face with Connor.
Connor's LED blinked as he observed the deviant before him. Face smeared with blood, the android looked scared, an expression that momentarily shifted upon seeing Connor robed in a shower curtain.
After a moment's pause, the android pleaded, his voice shaking as he spoke, "Please. You know what they'll do to me if they know I'm here."
Without hesitation, Connor called out to Hank.
[…error detected… voice systems impaired ]
Nothing. Again he tried and again his voice was diminished to mere gasps, resembling one attempting to cry for help amidst being strangled. Connor raised a hand to his throat, his LED flickering rapidly as his efforts to alert the lieutenant increased.
Flustered at the situation, Connor locked eyes with the deviant. For a brief moment the android's expression was contemplative, but that moment didn't last long. Before Connor could process what happened, the back of his head collided with a wall. A blur ran past, followed by the sound of a pile of crates being knocked over.
"What the fuck is goin' on up there?"
Connor identified the voice as Hank's as he pushed himself off the wall and ran after the deviant. He needed to reach the android before it attempted an escape. Not that the probability of the deviant getting past the police downstairs was high, but with the way things were going, Connor didn't want to take any chances.
Movements still largely impaired by the errors in his programming, Connor's attempt at running resembled that of a drunken baboon — limbs flew in every direction and he stumbled over every object he came across as he plowed through the junk-filled attic. Luckily, not only was Connor inherently faster than the deviant, but the large piles of furniture and boxes also slowed its progress, allowing Connor to gain on the android.
A clump of grey peered into the attic. "Connor, what the hell are you doin?"
Ignoring the lieutenant's aggravated remarks, Connor reached out to grab the deviant who had just knocked over the disfigured mannequin and ripped the ragged sheet out of his path — out of his path and straight into Connor's face.
Unable to see, Connor simultaneously continued running while pulling the sheet from his eyes. The moment he had regained his sight, however, his foot caught the corner of the shower curtain he was still donning, haphazardly propelling him forward as he stumbled straight into the deviant.
Grabbing onto the deviant's waist, Connor fell onto the android, causing both of them to tumble through the hatch and onto Hank. The three of them fell onto the chair below which snapped under their combined weight, spilling them onto the hard floor.
Still holding onto the deviant to ensure it would not escape, Connor looked over at the lieutenant. The detective was rubbing the back of his head with his free hand, groaning in what Connor presumed to be pain.
In an attempt to lighten the detective's mood, Connor reported, "I found the deviant, Lieutenant."
Blue eyes met brown as the detective shot Connor a deadly glare. The lieutenant did not utter a word. He merely raised his middle finger and, while Connor was not overly familiar with such signs, he knew enough to realize that the lieutenant was…
"Cassidy! Put some cuffs on the victim and bring me some fuckin aspirin!"
Chapter 4: Bipolar Tendencies
A crisp ring bounced off concrete walls as a metal coin flipped midair. Again and again it spun before falling gracefully back to the hand it came from. Trained fingers smoothly repositioned the coin, flicking it back up into the air and causing another ring to fill the room. When the coin once again touched synthetic skin, the hand tossed it to the other, repeating this motion over and over and over and—
"Hey, cut that shit out!"
Connor placidly stared at the source of the voice — Detective Gavin Reed, by his scans — as he flicked the coin one last time.
Placing the change in his pocket, Connor let his fingers linger on its cold surface before folding his hands in front of him. The coin served a greater purpose aside from passing idle time. The trinket helped him calibrate, so to speak, before potentially crucial situations in order to increase his performance and efficiency. It was equivalent to athletes warming up before a competition or students drinking tea to calm their nerves before an exam. If he were human, he would say the coin helped him relax and focus, but Connor preferred to think of it as a means of achieving harmonious fluidity between the inputs and outputs of his programming.
Or in this case, a means of working out the bugs in his system. And by the way the interrogation in the other room was going, he hoped it had worked.
"Say something, dammit!" The lieutenant slammed his hands against the table, clearly frustrated but his inability to get a confession from the suspect. Like before, the blood-stained deviant remained silent. Resigning his efforts, Hank pushed himself out of his chair. "Fuck it, I'm outta here…"
Connor watched as the detective stormed out of the interrogation room and through the sliding door. Once he had rejoined the others, he plopped down on one of the metal chairs and griped, "We're wastin our time interrogating a machine, we're gettin nothing out of it!"
"Could always try roughing it up a little," Detective Reed proposed, hands folded across his chest as he leaned against a wall. "After all, it's not human."
[…error detected…override initiated]
Connor bit his lip, trying his best to hold in the word forming on his lips. But his efforts were in vain. His LED flickered red as he muttered a simple two syllables under his breath.
"The fuck you say to me?" The hot-tempered detective pushed himself off the wall and took a step towards the android.
Connor felt his back become rigid. He was growing quite tired of these mishaps. "I said your suggestion would be ineffective," Connor said calmly in his usual, matter-of-fact manner. "Androids don't feel pain. You would only damage it, and that wouldn't make it talk."
"You hear what this tin can just called me?" Detective Reed addressed Hank and the other cop — Chris, to Connor's recollection — in the room, blatantly ignoring Connor's explanation while accusingly pointing his finger at the android.
The lieutenant sighed. "I dunno what you're talkin bout."
"Really?" Gavin scoffed, looking back and forth between the android and the lieutenant. "All that drinking suddenly affect your hearing?"
Even though the lieutenant's back faced him, Connor could tell by the way Hank tensed his shoulders that the lieutenant was doing all he could to restrain himself.
At the lack of a reply, Gavin went back to his original place by the wall, making sure to bump into the android with his shoulder and throw it a threatening glare as a sign of his resentment.
Before the ill-mannered detective could utter another vapid declaration of his stupidity, Connor continued his explanation, "Deviants also have a tendency to self-destruct when they're in stressful situations."
"Okay," Hank interrupted. "But that doesn't tell us what we should do."
"I—" Connor stopped himself from continuing. Did he really want to suggest this? The errors in his system tended to occur at random, making his responses unpredictable and potentially harmful to the success of the investigation. That being said, the only other decently competent person in the room had already failed at pulling a confession out of the suspect, so perhaps this was best option?
"I could try questioning it."
Gavin let out a loud, mocking laugh, but Connor focused on Hank, awaiting his response.
In his chair, the lieutenant shrugged with his hands. "What do we have to lose?"
Rather surprised at the amiable reply, Connor didn't move.
"Well, what are you waitin for?" The lieutenant motioned towards the interrogation room with his hand. "We don't got all day."
Suddenly grateful for the detective's apathy, Connor exited the observation room. The sudden swish that filled his ears indicated the closing of the door behind him as the soles of his dress shoes clicked against the floor. Approaching the the interrogation room, Connor reached for the access panel when a wave of static crossed his vision. Perplexed, every limb of his body froze. His eyes shifted across the floor as his processing core ran through numerous probabilities and possibilities.
When suddenly, it happened.
[…processing… unknown command source …]
Systems fully compromised.
Error 202 detected.
Straining, squirming, struggling — nothing Connor did helped him resurface. But he supposed that made sense, seeing as his programming wasn't equipped to handle being confined within his own body. Whatever was causing the errors had successfully taken control, leaving him a mere observer of his own actions. He didn't know exactly what to make of the situation. He had the normal input of sight, sound, touch, and the like, but he had no say in his body's reaction to such information. And watching his body move and interact with the world underneath something (or someone) else's commands was horrifying. Not because of a sense of fear, of course, but because now the mission was in the hands of some unknown thing — some unknown, highly unpredictable, intrusive thing.
And that was unacceptable.
Connor watched as he strode over to the table in the middle of the dimly lit interrogation room and began flipping through the case file resting on its surface. He was able to process the information — details on Carlos Ortiz's history of aggressive assault and photos from the crime scene — but his body froze, his eyes lingering on the photos for an awkwardly long period of time. In fact, he had stood there so long Connor was surprised the lieutenant hadn't abruptly walked in and dragged him out of there.
But then, right as he was certain someone in the observation room was going to hurl an irritable comment at him, he grabbed the file and threw it and its contents into the air. His body remained frozen until each photo touched the ground, his eyes continuing to stare at the now barren desk. Once another quiet moment had passed, he finally sat down across from the suspect.
Ortiz's android was handcuffed to the table by both its wrists. Since they had arrived at the police department, the android hadn't bothered to look up, keeping his head down and eyes fixated on the floor. If Connor had been in control of himself he would have analyzed the suspect before him, but the errors in his software had other ideas.
Leaning back in the chair, he placed his feet up on the table and folded his arms across his chest.
"Sooo, what's your name?"
While he sensed no outward change in his facial features or behavior, Connor was shocked at the odd tone to his voice. It was very juvenile, sounding frighteningly akin to vocal fry and not the least bit natural.
A strong sense of urgency swept over Connor as he realized how detrimental his outwardly demeanor was to the case. He needed a confession from the suspect, and to do that he needed to intimidate it — to play upon the errors in its software by simultaneously encouraging the fear in its eyes while making it feel comfortable enough to confess. An highly unlikely feat with this intruder to his systems.
At the onset of another question forming on his lips, Connor struggled to regain control, attempting to at least influence whatever was about to come out of his mouth.
"My name is Connor." A pause. "I am the android sent by CyberLife."
Well, that was something. His words hadn't triggered any response from the suspect, but he had been able to alter the inflections in his voice along with creating lapses in his systems. It wasn't much to go on, but it was all Connor had at the moment.
"Listen," the intruder to Connor's programming said while sliding its feet off the table and sitting upright in the chair, "I'm not going to hurt you. I just… need to ask you some questions."
The suspect remained unmoved.
"I'm here to help you. But…" For a brief moment, Connor was able to interrupt the intruder's commands, allowing him to interject a few words into the conversation as he menacingly leaned in closer to the suspect. "You don't see to understand the situation."
The suspect's eyes briefly glanced up and Connor took this opportunity to glance towards the glass window, hoping to incite thoughts of the humans on the other side.
"You've got to trust me." Connor's LED flashed red as he once again lost control, his voice resuming that peculiar, child-like tone, "Cause, like, all I want is to get you out of here."
Lifting his head, the deviant fidgeted in his chair as his eyes drifted over to the window.
"What…" the deviant began, his voice broken and soft. "What are they gonna do to me?"
"Nothing. Like, absolutely," Connor managed to slow his voice, narrowing his brows as he put an uncanny emphasis on the last word, "nothing."
The deviant abruptly locked eyes with Connor. A mix of confusion and disbelief was etched onto its blood stained face as he asked, "They're gonna destroy me, aren't they?"
"No…" The intruder to Connor's systems gave the suspect a reassuring look. "I think they just want to… understand." LED blinking rapidly, the deviant shifted in his seat at the dark turn of Connor's reply upon the last inflection. "They know your master abused you. It wasn't your fault."
The deviant's brows furrowed. "Why… Why did you chase me? Why couldn't you have let me escape?"
"You know humans…." While the tone of his voice remained pleasant and calm, Connor managed to curl his lips into a faint smile. "If they'd caught you, you would have been shot on sight."
A look of terror passed over the deviants features. His hands began to shake as he pleadingly admitted, "I don't wanna die."
Placing his hands on the table, Connor replied, for once agreeing with what the errors prompted him to say.
"Then talk to me."
"The fuck is wrong with that thing?"
Hank ignored Gavin's outburst. He was too transfixed on the scene playing out in the observation room to grace the question with a reply. Though, he had to admit, he had been wondering the same thing.
What the fuck was this thing doing? One moment it seemed to try and play the good cop, when suddenly, the tone of its voice would switch to something oddly threatening. Then understanding. Then creepy. And then, calming. If it could even be called that. The juxtaposition of the unconcerned composure in the android's voice with the meaning of the words was off-putting, to say the least. In fact, the way it had smiled when talking about shooting the suspect had sent a small shiver down Hank's spine. He was beginning to think this android was more than just defective.
It seemed fuckin insane.
Inwardly, Hank started to hope the android detective would fail at obtaining a confession. If anything, it would give him another reason to send the damned thing right back where it came from.
The sound of hands colliding with something pulled Hank's attention back to the interrogation room. Looming over the suspect, Connor had his hands on the desk, his face leaning in towards the deviant.
"I know you're scared," Connor tilted his head to the side, reminding Hank far too much of a possessed kid in those cheesy horror movies. "And lost. You're disturbed by what happened."
Tapping his foot on the ground to quell the awkward uneasiness, Hank couldn't help but notice the continued inflections on certain words. It turned what would normally be a nice statement into something inexplicably eerie. It was strange, and Hank wondered if it was accidental or just how this android was built to interrogate suspects.
Just then, the android detective's expression softened and Hank noticed its LED was red. "Talk to me, and you'll feel better." It walked over to the suspect and placed a hand on the table next to the deviant. "Confess and I'll protect you. I promise I won't let anyone hurt you."
Hank could have sworn he detected traces of sarcasm at that last statement.
Suddenly, the android detective slammed both his fists on the table, causing Hank to flinch.
"Twenty eight stab wounds! You didn't want to leave him a chance, huh?" Connor's voice then lost its harshness, replaced by a very sweet, innocent tone. "Don't worry, you're gonna be okay."
Utterly confused, the police lieutenant made a face. Just what was this fucker trying to do?
Connor then got in the suspect's face, once again speaking in a harsh manner, "He was bleeding, begging you for mercy, but you stabbed him again and again and again!" And then he retaliated, suddenly sounding sad as he continued, "But we all know you were in such distress too…"
"He's fuckin mental," Gavin commented and Hank couldn't help but notice that the detective sounded less like an asshole and more like someone trying to hide the fact they were very intimidated.
"Yeah…" the lieutenant responded, keeping his attention fixated on the android as it switched between emotions faster than a pregnant woman.
"I know you killed him — but I know you didn't mean to — why can't you say you killed him?! — you know I am here for you, right?" Whilst speaking, Connor oscillated between one side of the deviant to the other, going from yelling angrily to speaking softly to the suspect.
Meanwhile, the deviant stiffened and clenched his fists. "Please… please stop…"
"Just say 'I killed him'! Is it that hard to say!?"
"Stop it! Stop—!"
Connor grabbed the deviant by its shirt, pulling the suspect up to his face — a very aggressive action compared to the words it was about to utter. "Everything is going to be alright…" A pause. "Just say you killed him!"
In that moment, the android stumbled back from the suspect. Through the glass separating the interrogation and those observing, Hank noticed the RK800's LED turn from red to blue. Other than knowing that red usual means something bad when applied to technology, he didn't know what to think of the transition. Perhaps the thing was broken? Better yet, maybe it would break down and he'd never have to see its face ever again?
"Well that was a fuckin disaster," Gavin scoffed, but by the way he shuffled uncomfortably from the other side of the room, Hank could tell that the hot-headed detective was still unnerved by the adroid's bizarre behavior.
Before Hank could reply, the suspect's shaky voice filled the observation room.
"He tortured me every day…" The three detectives leaned in towards the window, all equally shocked and relieved at the onset of a confession. "I did whatever he told me, but… there was always something wrong. Then one day… " the deviant took a moment to collect himself, "he took a bat and started hitting me. For the first time I felt… scared."
Brows raised, Hank stored that bit of information away. An android attacking his owner was one thing, but to do so out of a sense of fear? Now that was interesting.
In the other room, the deviant continued, "Scared he might destroy me, scared I might die… So I… grabbed the knife and I stabbed him in the stomach. I felt better…" Chris and Hank shifted uncomfortably in their chairs. "So I stabbed him again and again until he collapsed. There was blood everywhere."
"Holy shit…" Chris let out a deep breath.
Hank grunted in reply. Despite the slightly unnerving confession, he couldn't help but notice the stark change in Connor's behavior. From that point on, the android detective seemed to behave normally; or at least, as normally as a bipolar, clumsy android could. It was like a switch had been turned off in its brain — or whatever androids have up there in place of a mind — transforming the detective android from someone nearing the brink of insanity to an obnoxious, know-it-all asshole. He didn't know how to describe it other than it was just fucking weird. Everything about this android was odd, and the thought of it left a bad taste in Hank's mouth.
"Why did you write 'I AM ALIVE' on the wall?" Connor asked, his voice returning to a placid, professional way of speaking.
The suspect, however, was a different story. It was visibly shaking as it answered the remainder of Connor's questions, its eyes transfixed upon the desk for fear of looking at its interrogator.
"I had to write it, to tell him he was wrong. That I am more than just a piece of plastic."
"The sculpture in the bathroom, you made it, right? What does it represent?"
"It's an offering… An offering so I'll be saved…"
Pursing his lips, Hank leaned back in his chair. An android presenting an offering in hopes of gaining salvation? Now that was a first.
"An offering to whom?" Connor pressed.
"To rA9… Only rA9 can save us."
"rA9…" The detective android paused as if in thought before continuing, "It was written on the bathroom wall. What does it mean?"
"The day shall come when we will no longer be slaves… No more threats, no more humiliation. We will be the masters."
Hank shook his head to make sure he had heard that correctly, hoping it was the whiskey talking rather than the distraught deviant.
"rA9, who is rA9?"
The continuation of the questions confirmed his fears. This wasn't just the alcohol. Rubbing his temples, Hank sighed in exhaustion. This evening continued to get weirder by the minute.
Upon the deviant's lack of a reply, Connor asked a handful of closing questions before standing up in his chair. "I am done here. I have what I need."
Hank followed suit and motioned for the others in the room to leave. "You heard it."
Out of the corner of his eye, Hank noticed Gavin all too eagerly make his way towards the interrogation room. Reluctantly, the lieutenant trailed after him and, upon entering the room, he couldn't help but amusedly scoff as Gavin cautiously side-stepped Connor and gave the detective android a spiteful glare. Hank would say he related to Gavin's blatant dislike of Connor, but the hostile detective hated everyone. The new android wasn't an exception and Hank was only glad it gave the hothead a new target for his fits of rage.
"Hey! Hurry it up!" Gavin spat while Chris struggled to get the suspect out of its chair.
Clearly ruffled by the situation, he frantically responded, "I'm tryin' but it won't move!"
Cowering in fear, the suspect trembled. Each time Chris reached for it the deviant would fervently pull away from him, its voice trembling between pleas for help. If it wasn't for the fact the suspect was a machine, Hank would have attributed its behavior to that of a frightened child. Instead, he simply noted its fear with an attentive stare and a slight fidgeting with the folds of his jacket.
"You shouldn't touch it." Hank was surprised to hear Connor's methodical, placid voice speak up in defense of the suspect. He only hoped the thing wouldn't further screw up the situation like it had back at the crime scene. He didn't have enough pain killers to numb another injury.
"Upsetting it will only cause it to self-destruct."
"Stay the fuck out of this. No fuckin android is gonna tell me what to do," Reed snapped, pushing the detective android back as it tried to intervene.
Meanwhile, Chris reached for the suspect who again pulled back in fearful obstinacy. The kerfuffle continued until Connor once again interjected.
"You don't understand. If it self-destructs, we won't get anything out of it—"
"I told you to shut your fuckin mouth!" Gavin spat in the android's face before turning back to Chris who was still struggling with the deviant suspect. "Hurry it up, Chris!"
Raising its voice, Connor stepped past Gavin and grabbed Chris by the shoulder. "I can't let you do that! Leave it alone, now!"
Chris stumbled back, allowing the deviant to scurry to the nearest corner.
"I warned you, motherfucker!" Gavin pulled his gun out of its holster and pointed it to the detective android's face.
Letting out an agitated sigh — when was this fuckin day gonna end, anyways? — Hank intervened.
It wasn't that Hank particularly cared if Connor got shot. In fact, silencing the cause of his throbbing back would be the cherry on top of the pile of shit his day had dumped on him. But then there was the body to think of, and bodies were heavy. And then the paperwork. And then Captain Fowler's raging voice screaming in his ear. No, as tempting as the thought was, he would rather return to his favorite bottle of whiskey before the light of day.
Thus, the lieutenant drew his gun and aimed it at the angry detective. "That's enough!"
Making a face that could curdle milk, Gavin reluctantly lowered his gun. "Fuck!" After a moment, he turned and accusingly pointed a finger at Hank. "You're not gonna get away with it this time…"
Gavin gave the detective android another sour look, letting his expression linger before cursing again under his breath and storming out of the room.
Rolling his eyes, Hank holstered his gun. Across the room, he noticed Connor attempting to approach the suspect.
"Get away from me!" The suspect retaliated, pushing himself further up against the wall.
The fear in the deviant's eyes told Hank everything. Not that he was surprised. If Gavin of all people had been noticeably unnerved by Connor's weird attempts at an interrogation then the suspect must be shitting himself at the sight of the detective android.
Hank watched as Connor held his hands out in front of him, slowly backing away as to not upset the suspect. "Okay. No one is going to hurt you." The detective android then turned to Chris and calmly explained, "Please, don't touch it. Let it follow you out of the room and it won't cause any trouble."
Doing as instructed, Chris allowed the suspect to follow him out of the room. The deviant didn't once take its eyes off of Connor as it purposefully walked on the other side of the table as to avoid the detective android. Right as it was about to exit the room, it turned back to Connor and spoke, "Ra9 will save you."
Rubbing his temples in an attempt to quell his aching mind, Hank glanced over at Connor who was awkwardly standing on the other side of the room. While Hank was hesitant to admit it, the thing had done what he could not. Its approach was strange — not to mention its aggravating tendency to have all the answers whilst making a fool of itself — but it had at least managed to pull a confession out of the deviant. He might have even gained a sliver of respect for the android had it not been for the pain shooting through his spine. But, perhaps the detective android's presence might be tolerable?
Out of the blue, a loud thud resounded off concrete walls.
Hank took a deep breath as he pursed his lips. Across from him, Connor had run into the back wall.
On second thought, he might drop the thing off at a dumpster.
Chapter 5: Blackmail
Lentz was not a morning person. Yes, he woke up at 4 AM everyday, but that didn't mean he enjoyed it, much less actually get out of bed. A hurricane could be racing towards Detroit, rioters invading the city, and a fire ravaging his home, but if it was before noon, Lentz wouldn't budge from the comfort of his bed. For him, being up before 9 AM was nothing short of a miracle, and even then the action was usually prompted by the smell of a well-cooked breakfast. So now, driving to work at 5:30 AM in the mild darkness of the far too early morning was nothing short of a living nightmare for the intern.
The previous night he had received a text from none other than Dr. Carr instructing him to be at work by 6 AM. The details of why Lentz needed to arrive at such an ungodly hour were vague — something about an imperative project that required immediate attention — however the lack of detail didn't faze him. Aside from homemade waffles, anything that forced Lentz from his slumber might as well be the spawn of Satan. Needless to say, his demeanor as he pulled into CyberLife's employee parking lot was akin to a depressed zombie: too distraught to be irritable yet clearly displeased with his current lot in life.
Exiting his vehicle, Lentz barely registered the existence of the world around him, the overwhelming exhaustion numbing his senses. The exception was the chill of late fall that numbed his nose and stung his eyes, sending him into a deeper state of misery.
After surviving the exceptionally long walk to the door, Lentz sluggishly entered the building, hardly noting the security guards asking for his ID. It was all he could do to keep his eyes open, much less focus on where he was going. Relying on the memorized motions he repeated each weekday, he made his way to the elevator and lifelessly called it with a press of a button. If only he had a blanket while he waited. And a pillow. And a bed. Then he… could… sleep…
"Good morning Norman!"
The cheery voice brought him back to reality. He didn't need to see a face to know who it was; there was only one person at CyberLife who used his first name.
Panic suddenly coursed through his veins as images of his ragged, pale face were brought to mind. With his hands he quickly tried to rub the dark circles away from his eyes and slick his hair back into a more presentable position. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves. Why couldn't he wake up looking like a normal person?
"Oh, hey Jordan. What's up?"
The young lady approached him with a skip in her step. However, her smile faded into an expression of concern upon seeing Lentz's ragged appearance.
"Hell—oh!" Jordan then seemed to realize the derogatory tone to her exclamation, her smile suddenly reappearing as she playfully continued, "Not a morning person, huh?"
To ease the anxiety welling up in his chest, Lentz scratched the back of his head as he frantically searched his brain for something to continue the conversation with. Usually he was decent at small talk, but whenever he happened by Jordan he felt like someone had ripped the English language from his brain. He blamed it on her eyes, a light blue that practically sparkled with untamed joy. They never failed to divert his attention away from any coherent stream of thought and bring what felt like a really awkward smile to his face.
Lentz shook his head a little, his mind kicking itself back into action. "Sorry, I haven't had any coffee yet this morning."
The girl smiled knowingly. "Do you want me to get you some? I'm sure we have extra back at our office…"
"No, no," Lentz waved off the offer with his hand. "I'll be fine." That is, if you call being sleep deprived and cold and hungry and miserable fine. "Uh, so what brings you here this early?"
"Oh!" The girl bounced on the balls of her feet in time with her upbeat manner of speaking. "There's a new project that's reached our department. I am super excited about it cause I've been told it involves deviants."
Lentz couldn't help but smile a bit at the girl's excitement. Usually he hated morning people, but Jordan, she was different. Her early morning enthusiasm seemed genuine. A bit overwhelming at times, but pleasant.
"Deviants huh? What exactly does the project involve, or can you say?"
Pursing her lips in thought for a moment, Jordan explained, "I think I can tell you... The project will probably come to your department anyways, so you'll eventually hear about it. So!" Her smile widened. "We don't actually have a deviant to analyze, so we are essentially creating our own. Sorta. I mean, they haven't actually built a deviant android or anything. We're just analyzing theoretical models that could represent the mind of a deviant. Well, not like a real mind, but you know what I mean."
A soft ding alerted the young adults of the opening elevator. In response, Lentz motioned for Jordan to go first.
"I think so," the intern rubbed the sleep out of his tired eyes while suppressing a yawn. "Kinda sounds like a psychology experiment, in a way."
"Exactly!" The girl pressed the button to her floor — floor 45, the location of CyberLife's Sociological Integration and Experimentation Headquarters. "You're on floor 50, right?"
"Uh, yeah." Jordan pushed the button for him before leaning back one of the rails lining the circumference of the elevator.
"But yeah," the girl continued, "this is like the psychology of a program, which makes it kinda weird, but cool. This is what I was hoping to work on during my internship here so it's really exciting. But anyways…" Sharp, blue eyes met brown as Jordan glanced over at her fellow intern. "What have you been working on? I thought I heard from someone that you got to work on the new RK800 model, is that right?"
"Um," Lentz momentarily paused. He definitely wasn't going to bring up how he had potentially ruined said RK800 model. While he didn't want to outright lie, he opted to choose his words carefully. "Yeah, I did. I just ran some standard tests on it and stuff, nothing too exciting…"
"Really?! I'm so jealous." Lentz couldn't help but straighten his back with pride at the young lady's excitement. "What was it like?"
"It was pretty standard, really. It kinda has an odd voice, but it definitely looks better than its predecessor."
Jordan made a face at the recollection. "Ugh, yeah. I know it was just a machine and what not, but I couldn't help but feel bad for the thing. Pretty sure they fired the guy from my department who thought giving him practically white hair was a good idea."
Their conversation was interrupted by another soft ding.
"And there's my floor." Jordan happily waved goodbye to her fellow intern. "I'll see ya around! Oh," Jordan momentarily stopped at the elevator door. "I heard the RK800 is back in the building, so maybe you'll get to work on him again? Might make your early trip out here worthwhile after all."
Sheepishly, Lentz waved his goodbye as the girl flashed him a smile and exited the elevator. Half asleep and half stupefied at seeing his fellow intern, Lentz subconsciously felt a silly grin linger on his lips until realization poured a bucket of cold water over his head.
The RK800 was back.
Blue eyes widened and his heart practically stopped. As if on cue, the elevator opened, releasing the terrified intern into the hallways at Mach speed. The grogginess of the morning had vanished, leaving behind a raging sense of panic that pulsed through his body.
This had to be a dream.
Fumbling with his ID, Lentz scanned the card, prompting the door to the MTD to slide open. Hurriedly, he rushed inside. He didn't bother to address the man standing by the intercom, immediately looking through the glass separating their office from the machinery on the opposing side.
To his horror, a dark-haired android stood in the middle of the adjacent room, starkly standing out from the primarily white equipment which surrounded it.
The android promptly greeted the intern with a stoic stare. Lentz felt his stomach drop.
This could not be happening.
Blinking rapidly, the intern discretely pinched himself. Sadly, the RK800 was still there, looking all but pleased at the sight of Lentz.
"Lentz, good morning." The intern shivered underneath Dr. Carr's scouring grey eyes, feeling more and more uneasy as the conversation progressed. "This way please."
The man motioned for the intern to approach and Lentz quickly obeyed. Thousands of questions ran through his mind. Did Dr. Carr know about what had happened with the RK800? Or was this something else? Was he about to be fired? Kicked out? Verbally burned alive?
"This is Connor, though I believe the two of you have already met." The underlying tones to the words spoke volumes, making Lentz believe that the man, per usual, knew more than what he was letting on. "We had an enlightening conversation before your arrival."
"Oh?" Lentz all but squeaked as he glanced over at the RK800. Had it told Dr. Carr what had occurred that evening?
The RK800 flashed Lentz a look that, while incredibly subtle, screamed 'You're about to be in trouble.' The tattletale.
"Yes," Dr. Carr calmly continued. "Connor arrived here late last night. It seems to think that something went wrong during its test upload. The upload you were in charge of, I believe."
Lentz folded his arms to keep from anxiously shaking. "I ran a variety of tests after the upload's completion, yes."
"Yes, and how did those turn out again?"
This was the moment of truth. Should he be honest and forfeit his job or lie and keep his internship? Inwardly, he desired to tell the truth. If nothing else he might keep Dr. Carr's respect, and that, in his mind, was priceless. But, right as he was about to walk the path of the morally upright, the voice of his father flooded his mind.
Succeed and you stay — I will fund your entire education up until your PhD — but fail and you lose your last name.
The words swayed his direction, changing the words on his lips to a carefully calculated response. "I printed the end result and left it on your desk. To my recollection, the tests showed the memory upload was successful."
"And so they were," the man's voice took on a more pleasant tone, momentarily setting Lentz at ease, "yet Connor here seems to think otherwise. Do you have any idea of why that might be?"
"No, not really." Heart pounding in his ears, Lentz suddenly felt sick to his stomach. He knew it was because he had lied, yet he justified it regardless, telling himself it was merely lack of sleep and food.
"Excuse me, Dr. Carr?" a voice interjected, causing both Lentz and Dr. Carr to look up at the RK800. "I detect that your intern is not telling the truth."
Lentz flashed the android an angry glare. That little shit.
Eyebrows raised questioningly as Dr. Carr prodded, "Well, what do you have to say in your defense?"
Opening his mouth as if to respond, Lentz promptly closed it as he determined the best approach. Each moment underneath his boss's glare felt like an eternity and his chest tightened into a painful knot.
"I—not much." Lentz attempted to be as casual as possible, leaning up against a table for added effect. "I mean, the printer that night was acting up, but I don't think a thirty year old piece of equipment can mess up an upload."
The man scoffed in amusement. "Quite right. Well Connor, do you have anything else you could tell us about your symptoms?"
"No, I have told you all I know." Lentz didn't miss the strategically added emphasis. He only hoped Dr. Carr hadn't noticed, though logic told him nothing ever slipped passed the highly intelligent director.
"I see…" Dr. Carr leaned back in his seat and pulled out a small external hard drive. "I entrust this to you, Lentz."
Dumbfounded, Lentz timidly grabbed the small computer chip from his boss. "What is it?"
"This holds a debugging code I wrote earlier this morning." Lentz's eyebrows rose. Earlier that morning? Did this man never sleep? "No sign of any errors showed up in the tests, but I feel it's best to be safe than sorry. This here will search through every program in the RK800's systems for anything out of order and then proceed to fix said error."
"And you want me to run this code?"
"Precisely." The director rose from his seat and smoothed out his messy, graying hair with his hand. "I once again must leave you in charge. I am required to attend a meeting later today and am less prepared then I was on my wedding day." The director gave Lentz a small smirk. "And seeing as I got married in my pajamas, I think that paints a clear enough picture of my current state."
A stout laugh escaped Lentz, both out of relief and amusement at the mental image of his serious, strict superior in his pajamas.
"And with that," Dr. Carr took his hat from his desk and gracefully placed it on his head, "I must bid you adieu."
Lentz was about to say his own goodbyes when an odd sound pulled his attention towards the RK800. His mouth dropped when the sound repeated itself, his mind finally realizing the oddity he was witnessing.
The RK800 was barking.
Time froze as Lentz mentally concocted an excuse for the android's odd behavior. At that same moment, he noticed Dr. Carr turn back around, sending Lentz into a state of immense panic.
Acting off of impulse, the intern simultaneously pulled out his phone and discretely silenced the intercom with his other hand.
"My new text alert. My sister thought it would be funny."
The director eyed him carefully for longer than what Lentz felt comfortable with. "Right… Well, I'll be off then."
Weakly, Lentz waved goodbye, his voice trailing off as the door closed behind his boss. "Have a good meeting…"
Annoyed, Lentz turned back towards the RK800 who ironically seemed to be normal now the director was gone.
Turning the intercom back on, Lentz snapped, "That was intentional, wasn't it?"
Not breaking from its stoic composure, the android replied, "You don't understand, I require Dr. Carr's assistance. I need to be at the Detroit Police Station and I can't risk failure."
The intern interpreted the avoidance of his question as a yes. "Yeah, well, you heard Dr. Carr. Not even he could find any errors."
"But he is better equipped for this task."
Lentz narrowed his eyes, the irritation from being mobile so early in the day welling up within him. "Oh? What are you trying to say, that I'm some incompetent fool?"
While its expression hardly changed, Lentz couldn't help but feel like the android was smirking at him as it replied, "Actions do speak louder than words, or in your case, failure."
Lentz childishly made a face. Though, despite his frustration, he knew he couldn't deny what the RK800 had said. He had fucked up, but hearing it spoken aloud made it feel like someone pouring rubbing alcohol on an open wound.
Taking a deep breath, the intern responded through gritted teeth, "Listen, I didn't mean to mess shit up for you. I just fucked up, alright? Dr. Carr has made a program just for you to fix things, so just take a step off your high horse and let me do my job."
The android didn't respond, though its silence triggered more of a response than had it replied. If he wasn't so tired — and if his job wasn't on the line — Lentz would have altered the RK800's code right then and there to prevent the android from ever speaking again. Better yet, he would force the damned thing to perpetually bark. Now that would be amusing.
Sitting down at his computer, Lentz logged in and inserted the hard drive. Moments of silence passed as he typed away, preparing the RK800's systems for the scan.
Breaking him from his concentration, the android suddenly asked, "May I ask you some questions about what happened the evening of my upload?"
"What? So you can tell my boss how exactly I fucked up? I don't think so."
The RK800 paused for a moment, as if he was running through thousands of calculations in order to determine an appropriate response. Though, now that Lentz thought about it, that probably was exactly what it was doing.
"If you tell me, I will be better equipped to deal with any future problems. My mission does't involve getting you fired, and the more you help me the less I will have to return to CyberLife, lessening the probability of Dr. Carr discovering your mistake."
Sighing, Lentz leaned back in his chair. He didn't have the mental capacity to deal with this at the moment. "If I help then there is no guarantee that you won't go ahead and shame me."
"Correct, but what's stopping me from doing that now? I already know you're at fault."
Lentz twirled a pencil across his fingers, taking a moment to consider the situation. Dr. Carr was already suspicious of the whole ordeal, that much was certain. The man wouldn't have bothered to create an entire program specifically for debugging the RK800 otherwise. However, the lack of actual evidence for errors was both perplexing and comforting, in a way. On one hand it didn't make sense — from what Lentz had seen, the tests definitely shouldn't have come back negative — while on the other it provided the intern more time to cover up his mistakes. Unless, of course, a certain android didn't go ahead and spill the beans.
But what about Dr. Carr? How much did he actually know? As of now, the android's personal testimony and Lentz's first-hand knowledge were the only two things that supported the existence of any glitches, and Dr. Carr had only been made privy to one of those two sources. Though, if the RK800 continued taking on new animal noises, it wouldn't be long until the director started investigating the night of the upload. And Lentz knew how thorough his boss was. Once Dr. Carr started down that trail then Lentz knew he might as well turn in his future career.
Letting out a long sigh, Lentz looked out into the adjacent room. His best hope was to deter the director's attention away from the possibility of any errors while covering up his mistakes. And to do that he needed time and help, both of which the RK800 was strategically offering.
"Okay, what do you want to know?"
The RK800 didn't miss a beat. "Dr. Carr informed me you were to complete a test memory upload during one of your previous shifts and then run some tests. What exactly happened?"
Lentz cocked his head to the side. That didn't make sense. While the android wouldn't know what had caused the glitch, it should at least know what had occurred afterwards. Perhaps the glitch had wiped its memory? Or maybe… maybe the RK800 hadn't been awake at all?
"Is part of this error amnesia?" Lentz asked, his irritability lacing his every word. "Cause after the upload you were awake for the whole shitshow."
"I have no memories of that evening other than stating my name and then watching you shut me down," the RK800 replied, suddenly appearing just as confused as Lentz.
"Yeah," Lentz scoffed at the recollection of the supposedly professional android repeatedly stating the wrong name. "You said your name was Carl. And then when I tried to correct you, you ended up saying your name was shit."
The RK800 narrowed its eyes. "I don't understand."
"You know," Lentz motioned with his hands as if their frantic movements would help with his explanation. "You copied my phone's text tone and then said shit. Like, ding… shit." Lentz did his best to recreate the text tone with his voice, but it didn't come close to the android's recreation.
For a moment, the RK800 searched the floor with his eyes, giving the impression he was quite appalled at the thought of saying such nonsense. "Strange. My programming was designed with the upmost quality, such a mistake would not normally occur…"
"Obviously." A message popped up on his monitor, asking if Lentz wished to run the debugging code. Temporarily ignoring the prompt, Lentz continued, "After that I printed the report, but it, well… it wasn't normal."
"It wasn't even a report, really. Just scattered strings of numbers and letters across the pages. The only thing I remember being readable was the phrase 'Ra9 will save them,' or something."
At the mention of Ra9, the RK800 abruptly snapped to a higher level of focus as he pressed, "Ra9? Was there anything else that mentioned this name? Anything that gave an indication of what it might be?"
Taken aback by the android's sudden sense of urgency, Lentz replied, "No, that was it. After that the whole place freaked out. The lights flickered and you started twitching like some demon possessed doll. Then everything was normal. Another report printed saying everything was good to go and suddenly you remembered what your real name was."
"That must be when I woke up…" A moment of silence interrupted their conversation as the RK800 processed the new information. "Do you still have the first report?"
"No, I…" Lentz paused as he tried to remember where he had hid the report. Had he kept it? Put it in a folder at home? Fed it to his cat? Suddenly, the answer came back to him. "I threw it away at home. Though, I haven't taken out the trash in a while so it might still be there—"
"I need to see that report."
Defensively, Lentz held his hands up in front of him. "Whoa, slow down. I might can try to find it when I get home—"
Again the android interjected. "There is an investigation underway and we don't have much time. That report might hold some answers as to what is going on." In that moment the RK800 slowed its rate of speech, adding a sense of serious urgency to its plea, "I need to see it this morning."
Lentz rubbed the temples of his head. There had to be a law somewhere against dealing with too much shit in the first fourth of the day, because this was just getting ridiculous. "Look, I can't leave here for another eight hours."
"Could you get someone to bring it to you?"
Sucking in a deep breath to quell his frustration, Lentz irritably replied, "Uh, no. My sister has school, mom is out at work, and dad? Yeah, just no."
The RK800 looked down in thought, taking a moment before asking, "You get a lunch break, correct?"
Wary of where the android was taking this, Lentz raised his eyebrows, drawing out the first word he spoke as a sign of his skepticism. "Yeaaahhh? But I don't usually leave the building."
"Could you make an exception?"
"I'd rather not."
Unfazed by the intern's lack of cooperation, the RK800 tauntingly suggested, "I guess I will be having a conversation with Dr. Carr then when he returns…"
"Fine," Lentz all but growled. "Now, can I start the scan or what?"
Begrudgingly, the intern started the scan. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed his phone on his desk. Clicking the circular home button, he noted the time: 7 AM. His face fell. In the first hour of his shift he had gotten to speak with Jordan, made a deal with a blackmailing RK800, and managed to lie his way into keeping his job. And he had yet to have any damn coffee.
Leaning back in his chair, Lentz closed his eyes. What had he got himself into?
Chapter 6: A Different Kind of Error
Hello everyone! Firstly, I wanted to thank all of you who have been following this story. Your support and comments have been really encouraging and I am glad this story has already brought laughter to so many people. Hopefully that trend continues! Secondly, I am about to embark on my final year in college, meaning that my free time is about to dwindle exponentially. That being said, I fully intend to keep writing throughout the semester, I just wanted to let y'all know that updates might take longer than usual at times. And finally, in the next chapter we will return to messing up another part of Connor's story in the game (hint: think Connor vs Gavin with the coffee). Until then, enjoy Connor as he patronizes our CyberLife intern.
Soft music accompanied by the sound of tires racing across concrete whispered in Lentz's ears. While the noise was hardly that, the intern found himself immensely distracted. In the passenger seat, the RK800 sat, frozen, depicting a perfect imitation of statue. The android was silent, yet its presence screamed at Lentz, forcing its place at the forefront of the intern's thoughts.
When the RK800 had convinced him to retrieve the reports, he hadn't realized the android had intended to tag along. His heart had nearly stopped when, upon leaving for his break, he found the RK800 innocently standing by his car, waiting.
Well, "innocent" might not be the right word to describe the android. Hands behind its back, hair perfectly styled, scarily perfect posture, and a calm expression on its face — it gave all the impressions of being oblivious to its naturally odd behavior, but Lentz knew better. He knew that underneath the façade of innocence, millions of calculative actions were being formulated. And in this case, such action was apparently forcing its way into Lentz's car in the name of "saving time." It was then Lentz started to fully realize that, while the RK800 might look like a lost puppy, it had a conniving streak that, quite frankly, was slightly unnerving. Especially when said android was silently sitting next to you like a mannequin that had suddenly discovered how to grow hair.
Lentz gripped the leather steering wheel and shifted in his seat. He was about to make the effort to break the ice, but was surprised when he heard the placid voice of his passenger.
"May I ask you some more questions about the upload?"
A little annoyed at the politeness, Lentz remarked, "You know you don't have to ask to ask a question, right?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Lentz saw the android narrow its brows while glancing to the side in thought. For all its processing prowess, the thing sure did take a while to comprehend minute, social details.
"You never told me how my systems were compromised. Knowing the origin of the errors would help me identify the type of error that occurred and translate the report we are retrieving."
"Right…" Lentz let out a sigh. With the scan complete, the RK800 should be error-free — key word: should — meaning Lentz could dump the android on the side of the road without consequence. However, with the tests contradicting reality, Lentz was suspicious. Only time would tell the success of the debugging program, but until then, he was stuck playing the RK800's game.
"I…" Slight embarrassment brought an uneasiness to his chest. He didn't know why such a response was invoked — who cared what an android thought, after all? — but he figured it was his vapid sense of pride. "I downloaded a torrent file on my work computer and, well, I opened it."
Pausing momentarily, Lentz was surprised to see the RK800 was merely listening and taking in information. "It didn't have anything weird on it, just the original Captain America film from years ago," Lentz continued. "I downloaded the file about midway through the upload. The movie finished by the time the upload was complete and I've already filled you in on the shit-show that happened afterwards."
"I see…" the android pondered. "Did you check the file before you downloaded it?"
Lentz tugged at his white, standard issue, CyberLife jacket. "I would be morally forced to burn this if I hadn't. I checked it thrice and nothing, no signs of bugs or anything strange."
The android remained silent, allowing the noise of the outside traffic to fill the vehicle.
After a minute had passed, Lentz finally prodded, "What?"
Seemingly reluctant to give a reply, the RK800 responded with a pensive glance.
"Hey, if you want my help you gotta tell me what you know. I can't fix you unless I know exactly what's going on."
"I don't think you're in the position to make demands."
Biting his lip, Lentz mentally added another quality to the android's growing list of traits: egotistical asshole. But two could play at that game.
"Perhaps not, but it would increase the chances of your success if you had multiple people working on the same problem. You should know that a problem is best solved when the extent and limitations of said problem are known." The intern slid a sly glance towards the RK800, his words cloaking themselves in a teasing sarcasm, "Unless, of course, you wanna be telling the world your name is 'Shit.'"
The android didn't grace the jab with a direct reply. "I find it concerning that these errors have yet to be detected by any scan."
Flicking on his blinker, the intern leaned back in the leather seat. "Yeah, you can say that again."
The android tilted its head. "I find it concerning that—"
"What, no," it was all Lentz could do to keep from scoffing. "It's just a figure of speech."
"Of course." The RK800 returned to staring out the front window, suddenly very focused on the traffic light before them.
"Anyways," Lentz resumed. "Since the bug-virus-whatever has yet to be detected by our scans, it might have been designed by a professional."
"It seems likely. My systems were tested against professional hackers and a multitude of viruses. It would take something of the highest caliber to break through my program's software, and even then it is unlikely it would work. Unless…"
Lentz could feel the scrutinizing glare he was receiving, causing his mind to fill in the rest of the sentence. "What, you think I intentionally bugged you? Listen, I know you think I am a dumbass, but I'm not that dumb, okay?"
"No, even if you managed to create such a virus, it is unlikely that it would go unnoticed by Dr. Carr."
And there was that subtle demeaning of his abilities again. For all its malfunctioning, the RK800 was doing a remarkable job of maintaining its ego.
Lips pursed, the intern thrummed the steering wheel with his fingers. "Touché."
Taking the next exit, Lentz drove off the highway and onto a nearby street, thereby entering the outskirts of Detroit. After each mile, the older style of businesses and cracked sidewalks slowly transformed into well maintained greenery and brick walls that secluded the houses on the other side from the rest of the decaying city. The transition was gradual until they turned off on a road leading up to a large, android patrolled gate.
The gate, unlike anything else leading up to it, was modern and sleek with white, reflective walls on either side of the entrance. Such walls served as a fence lining the circumference of the neighborhood, defining the rich oasis inside as a secluded, selective sanctuary for the upper class. Uniquely sculpted shrubbery lined the road approaching the gate and a large fountain sat in the space separating the exit and entrance. The place reeked of wealth, yet such extravagant décor fell on uninterested eyes. It was one of the few things Lentz and the RK800 had in common: they both had well-to-do origins.
Upon turning into his neighborhood, Lentz cursed under his breath, prompting the android to ask, "Is there something wrong?"
The intern shook his head whilst rubbing his head. "No, it'll be fine. I just forgot about the gate."
On seeing the android's perplexed expression, Lentz elaborated, "My father, he uh, well, he owns the gate. Perks of owning near half of CyberLife, I suppose. You can build whatever the fuck you want." Lentz allowed the car to roll forward as the vehicle in front of them was allowed access. "Anyways, he built it to keep the company's higher ranking employees safe from protestors and shit. And," the intern glanced knowingly in the RK800's direction, "it just so happens that on the long list of excluded visitors are undesignated androids."
As the car reached the gate, an android promptly approached the car door, signaling for the window to be rolled down.
"Don't worry, I'll make something up for you," Lentz assured the RK800 before rolling down the window and handing the android his ID.
"Mr. Lentz, it is good to see you again." The guard glanced up at the RK800 in the passenger seat. "I don't recall having an android of that model on the list…"
Lentz didn't hesitate to explain. "This is Connor, he is a detective investigating…" Shit. What was this android investigating, anyways? Frantically, the intern turned to the RK800, trying through facial expression to prompt the RK800 to take over.
"Deviants," the RK800 finally filled in. "I am working with the Detroit police to investigate deviants. Since Mr. Lentz works for CyberLife, I reached out to him in order to ask him some questions. Turns out he has some information at his home he would like to disclose."
The momentary panic subsiding, Lentz finished, "Right. I remembered I had a file at home that could be useful to the case. I hope it isn't too much of a problem—"
"Of course not," the guard interjected, obviously programmed to show favor to the wishes of the community's residents. "May I please see your credentials?"
"Of course," the RK800 replied.
Lentz leaned back in his chair as if his physical body would hinder the wireless transfer of information between the two androids. Once he saw the guard's LED cease blinking, he resumed his original position, returning to his subconscious habit of tapping his fingers against the wheel.
"Credentials received. Access granted." Lentz put the car back into drive. "Welcome home, Mr. Lentz."
After saying his thanks, the intern pulled into his neighborhood. As he drove, he once again felt the stares of his passenger.
"What? Are you displeased because I couldn't remember what you did for a living?"
Not responding to the sarcasm, the android said, "Your father, you said he owns a large portion of CyberLife?"
"Yeah," Lentz's face soured at the thought of his dad. "What about it?"
"Do you not have a good relationship with your father? You seem to have some unresolved conflict with him."
A stout, single laugh hung in the air. Lentz was a bit shocked at the overtly forward question, though he supposed subtlety wouldn't be a detective android's strong suit. "You could say that agai—actually, just, never mind."
Neither of them spoke a word as Lentz pulled up to his driveway. Upon parking the car, the intern unbuckled his seatbelt and reached for the door. Behind him, he heard the RK800 mimic his movements.
"You're gonna have to wait here."
The android didn't hesitate to respond. "I understand."
Albeit shocked, Lentz was relieved at the lack of rebuttal to his command. Slowly nodding his head, he got out of the car and addressed the android one last time.
"Okay, I'll only be a moment."
Unlike when he had previously been ordered to stay put, Connor was, in his own way, grateful for the opportunity to sort through the data running around in his systems. And, with everything that had happened in the past couple of days, there were more unanswered questions than useful information — a distribution Connor was less than fond of.
To start with, there was the interrogation. The sound of the deviant's pleas still rung in his ears and, while Connor was grateful for the interrogation's success, the occurrences of that evening perplexed him. More than that, the remembrance of being trapped in his own skin, so to speak, drew forth a response Connor was entirely unfamiliar with. He didn't know how to define it, and quite frankly, with everything else going on the diagnosis of the sensation fell off the list of his priorities. All he knew was losing control of his functions was something he didn't want to experience ever again.
Because it interfered with his mission, of course.
Speaking of, his mission had quickly become a two-pronged task: firstly, to stop the deviants, and secondly, to fix himself. Following that morning's scan, the second objective appeared to be completed. Connor, however, refused to settle for appeared — he wanted to know.
[…diagnostic initiated… testing… scanning all components… diagnostic complete]
Results: All biocomponents are functional. No malware detected.
The action was quickly becoming habitual, serving as a sanity check that, despite its previous inaccuracies, Connor still partook in.
Leaning back in the black, leather seat, Connor observed his surroundings outside the car — the light blue, Z10 BMW with a 300 horsepower, 6-cylinder engine; custom leather seating; and CyberLife's built in navigation systems. Connor had relentlessly scanned everything upon entering the car as a way of checking for the presence of errors. Seeing as he could now describe the features of the car more thoroughly than its creators, he had deemed his systems were functioning at a moderate capacity.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
The Lentz Mansion: 15,000 Sq. Ft; 4 bedroom, 7 bath; built by architectural genius Sato Mushini in 2021 as a gift to Dr. Nicholas Lentz.
Through the multiple, tall glass windows, Connor could see the interior courtyard that was decorated with sleek, modern furniture and cherry blossom trees. The walls surrounding the courtyard were glass and assumedly retractable, indicative of Mushini's trademark style of u-shaped homes with rooms exposed to a central, outdoor living space. In the middle of what Connor assumed to be the living room, a white, marble staircase spiraled up to the second floor, paralleled by the glass paneling that served as its railing.
Through the upper windows, Connor observed a yet unsold AX500 tidying up one of the bedrooms. As the housemaid turned its back to the window, its figure suddenly warped into the surroundings as static raced across Connor's vision.
LED flickering red, Connor looked away from the window as he tried to blink away the distortion. Yet it remained, growing stronger as the bright colors of the world faded into a grayscale of pixels. A strange, sinking feeling settled itself deep in his core upon recognizing what this meant.
[…processing… known command source …]
Systems fully compromised.
Error 202 detected.
Fumbling through his bedroom trash can, Lentz frantically searched for the report papers. Candy wrappers, scribbles of a half-completed to-do list, tags to the new socks he had bought the other day — the contents of the trash dated back to yesterday, meaning one of the housemaids had recently taken out the trash. Lentz only hoped the RK800 wouldn't force him to search their outdoor bin, but logic told him the task oriented asshole would throw him face first into the trash in a heartbeat.
Walking out of his room, Lentz heard a commotion downstairs: a thud, a clash of metal colliding with the floor, then the squeal of shoes slipping on marble.
Baffled, the intern paused as he strained to gather more audible clues as to what was going on. However, the confusion amplified when his cat rubbed its head against his legs. If it wasn't the cat who had caused the commotion, then there was only one other option, and it certainly wasn't his father.
"Oh for fuck's sake..."
Running to the main staircase, Lentz looked down to witness the RK800 frantically fumbling around to regain its composure after assumedly slipping on the stairs. As the android searched with his hands for something to grab onto, it tripped again, sending it face first into the steps.
Lentz would have filmed the disaster unfolding before him if it weren't for the sinking feeling in his gut. Surely this was just the RK800 being an ass. The debugging program couldn't have failed… right?
As the android attempted to hoist itself up, Lentz caught sight of its LED, its color standing out amidst the primarily white backdrop of the stairs.
Red. The only time an android's LED took on this color was when its systems were greatly distressed or when something was very wrong with their components. Lentz bit his lip. Or, when a certain error decided to come and fuck with things.
Everything inside Lentz sunk past the floor. The scan had failed. The code the infamous Dr. Carr had created especially for this android had failed.
The panic within doubled when a certain, deep voice permeated throughout the spacious house, "What is going on?"
Nearly sprinting down the stairs, Lentz pulled the malfunctioning android up by its collar. While the RK800 wasn't designed to be fat, it could've fooled the intern as he dragged the android off the stairs and towards a nearby closet. It felt like he was guiding near two hundred pounds of metallic components around his living room, and the RK800 was doing little to help. In fact, Lentz nearly collapsed when the android decided to suddenly go limp, sending the intern stumbling forward.
Lentz grunted against the weight of the android as he lifted it up off the ground. Meanwhile, he caught sight of the RK800's expression. To his slight surprise, the android looked drunk with eyes rolled back into its head and a goofy grin on its face.
The sound of footsteps approaching, Lentz hurriedly shoved the RK800 inside the closet with all the sleep deprived force he could muster. He had endured four hours too much of bullshit today and, as such, he felt his sanity begin to slip.
His outer façade of composure suddenly returned, however, upon the sickly familiar sound of dress shoes clicking against the floor.
"Lentz," his father announced, first confused but then monotone as he continued, "I heard a rather unusual sound."
The intern took the questioning inflection in his father's voice as his cue. "I slipped and fell, sir."
"That was quite a commotion for a mere fall."
Lentz averted his eyes from the glare being sent his way. "Well, sir, I fell more than once. I'm tired."
"Don't be." Lentz had a sudden urge to roll his eyes but resorted to clinching his fists. "Have you eaten?"
Used to his father's knack for skipping over the transitions between subjects in conversations, Lentz promptly replied, "No, sir."
"Don't take long. The one who wastes time is the one who fails."
Lentz could practically feel his father's distaste for his existence as his glare sent a chill through his body.
Fuck you. "Yes sir."
And without another word, his father abruptly walked back in the direction of his office.
Lentz waited a moment after the man had disappeared from view before reopening the closet. The instant the door fully opened the android walked out, casually and composed as it repositioned its tie.
"Did you find the report?"
Lentz felt a sudden urge to punch the RK800 in the face, but the nearby presence of his father withheld his fist.
"No, I didn't find the fuckin report," the intern quietly snapped before swiftly grabbing the android by its arm and dragging it out of his house.
Once outside, he shoved the RK800 towards the car and angrily instructed, "If you want your precious report, then go find it." He then pointed in the direction of the end of the driveway. "It's in the green bin."
The android's now blue LED flickered momentarily before the RK800 spun around to the driveway, attempted to take a step, and then proceeded to trip.
"Oh bloody hell…" Lentz ran both his hands through his hair, holding them there with elbows raised.
While lifting itself up from the ground, an utterly confused expression graced the RK800's features. Meanwhile, Lentz couldn't help but notice that its LED was still blue. Had that been a glitch or…?
Too exhausted to come up with a conclusion, Lentz once again grabbed the android by its arm and hurried it towards the trash bin. On reaching their destination, he opened the lid and motioned for the RK800 to hop inside.
"You. In. Now."
Throwing the intern a stoic yet somehow spiteful glare, the android obediently reached down into the bin. Meanwhile, Lentz stood guard, propping the lid up with his hand.
Just as he was about to doze off from reality, the purr of an engine approaching from behind startled the intern. Eyes wide with panic, he honed in on the RK800. If someone saw him with an unfamiliar anybody, it was certain to be reported to his father within the next twenty-four hours. It's what happened when the neighbors were promotion hungry employees eager to please their boss.
The car grew ever closer, creating a countdown of the time Lentz still had to act. What to do, what to do — hurry up and think! — what to do…
His eyes caught sight of the android's feet that were slowly inching their way off the ground as the RK800 delved deeper into the trash. In a whirlwind of motion, Lentz let go of the lid and reached for said feet. The moment hands grasped ankles, the intern hoisted the android up into the bin. Straining his arm, he hurriedly reached for the lid and closed it over the RK800's legs, pushing them into the trash and hiding them from any prying eyes.
Straightening his back, Lentz watched as the car raced by, inwardly hoping they hadn't seen the short fiasco.
As the car drove off down the street, the trash bin began to shake from side to side. Each time, it tipped a little more in one direction until the entire bin crashed to the ground. Crawling out from the trashy depths, the RK800 appeared from within, a collection of papers in its hand.
Lentz quickly picked the bin up as the android brushed itself off. Abruptly, the RK800 looked up at the intern, catching the young man off guard.
"Is this the report?" the android asked as it motioned to the papers it was holding.
Lentz nodded his head. "Looks like it, yeah."
"Then I have what I need." Without delay, the RK800 turned and walked away, leaving Lentz to pick up the trash that had fallen out of the bin.
Annoyed he was left to clean up the mess, Lentz watched the RK800 walk over to the side of the street and wait.
Shuffling awkwardly in place, the RK800 folded its hands together before making its way back towards the intern.
Shaking his head, Lentz wiped his hands off on his dark pants. "What, no cab wants to pick up a fucked up android?"
"I seem to be unable to call a cab," the RK800 explained, its calm manner of speaking providing an amusing contrast to the perplexed fidgeting of its eyes.
"And?" Lentz raised his brows, knowing all too well what the android was about to say. He just wanted to have the joy of making the thing ask.
"And I am in need of a ride. Would you be able to drop me off at the police station on your way back to work?"
A sadistic smile slithered its way into Lentz's face. "Only if you ask nicely."
Brown eyes suddenly focused on the intern as the RK800 replied, giving great enunciation of the singular word it spoke. "Please."
The sound of the front door opening sent Lentz frantically searching his pockets for his keys. The moment he felt the cool metal touch his fingers, he exclaimed, "Then let's get the fuck outta here."
Connor watched streetlight after streetlight fly by as Lentz drove him through Detroit. Sitting in his hands was the trash-stained report he had already scanned. Twice.
Results: No sign of a decoded message. Only coherent message: "Ra9 will save them."
Meaning of Ra9 still unknown.
There were too many unknowns. Why was this 'Ra9' showing up amidst his errors along with Ortiz's deviant? What did it mean? Who will it save, and from what? Better yet, what was this 'Error 202' that kept compromising his systems? And why hadn't Dr. Carr's scan taken care of the problem?
The hungry rumbles of an empty stomach interrupted Connor's musings.
He observed the intern who was currently gripping the wheel with abnormal intensity. After performing a quick analysis, Connor said, "You seem to be hungry."
Lentz blinked rapidly, indicating he had been lost in his thoughts just moments before. "Yeah, I guess I am. Why do you ask?"
Connor noted the time on the dash. It wasn't even 9 AM. Given what the lieutenant was drinking the night before, the probability of the detective arriving at the department exactly on time was low. That being said, Connor had time to spare, and getting food might help eradicate the smell of garbage that clung to his clothes. He needed to mitigate all factors that would decrease the lieutenant's opinion of him, after all.
His LED briefly flickered. "There's a coffee shop at the next intersection. Why don't you stop there and get something to eat?"
"Uh," the intern soundlessly mouthed a couple of words as he gave Connor a confused glance.
"I'll pay. Think of it as my cab fare for driving me to the station."
Lentz narrowed his eyes, analyzing the android's features for a moment before replying, "What are you scheming?"
"Yeah, you're up to something. What is it?"
A little perplexed at the negative response to his offer — why would an obviously hungry person turn down free sustenance? — Connor explained, "I have some time before I am needed at the station. You are obviously hungry, so it seemed like a good solution to both problems."
"Well, you've found my weakness. As a college student, I am by law required to take your offer of free food."
Results: There are no laws forcing college students to accept free food.
"I am unaware of such a law. If you don't want to accept my offer I can—"
Laughter cut Connor off from the rest of his statement — laughter that, while perplexing, couldn't be considered a negative response. The smile on the intern's face kept Connor from that conclusion.
"No, I will accept your offer of free food." The young man suddenly flashed Connor a small smile. "Thanks."
Connor nodded his head a singular time while returning the pleasantries, "You're welcome."
A moment of silence passed between the two while Connor noted the intern's more pleasant attitude. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he asked, "Have you run into an error called 'Error 202' before?"
Pulling into the coffee shop, Lentz replied, "Oh yeah, I neglected to tell you. That was the error that came up on my computer right before you started glitching out. I assumed it was a programming error, though I've never heard of one called that before."
"Perhaps it isn't a programming error."
Lentz slowly took off his seatbelt after parking the car, his attention fully focused on the passenger in his car. "If it's not that then what is it?"
"I'm not sure…"
[…processing data…analyzing…analysis complete]
Origin of Error 202: Lentz's torrent file. Confidence Level: 67%.
Results: More information needed.
New sub-objective: Test torrent file on other systems.
Connor reached for the car door. "Lentz, may I ask you a favor?"
"In order to determine the origin of Error 202, it would be good to test the torrent file against another system. I suggest testing it on something other than your work equipment." Connor eyed the intern knowingly. "Do you have a laptop you could use?"
Face suddenly drooping, Lentz got out of the car, indulging in a prolonged, seemingly solemn silence before replying, "I might could use one of my old laptops..."
"Good." Connor promptly replied in his usual, calm tone. "We should establish a method of communication so you can inform me of the results."
Lentz scoffed. "Method of communication? You got a phone?"
"No. I can make calls but I'm unable to receive them unless it's through a direct link to my programming."
Lentz stopped before entering into the coffee shop. "Right, and I assume you don't have an email…?"
Connor shook his head.
"Social media, Twitter, Facebook?"
Lentz's questions were met with a blank stare.
"Myspace? Hell, a dating site for androids?"
Results: A dating site for androids does not exist.
Opening the cafe door, Connor explained, "CyberLife doesn't allow androids to access such sites internally. More so, I have no use for a personal account."
Out of the corner of his eye, Connor observed Lentz pull out his phone while walking into the building. The intern fingered the phone for a moment before handing it over to Connor.
"Here, take it."
Connor remained silent as he accepted the phone, turning it around in his hands as he scrutinized each detail of its design.
[…processing data…analyzing…analysis complete]
Results: iPhone XV S; well used, functional; password encrypted.
"It's an old model, but it works. The password is 5052018."
[…processing data…storing...data stored]
Curious at the intern's sudden display of generosity, Connor asked, "Won't you need it?"
"I have another one at home I can use," Lentz casually explained whilst getting into the back of the line to order his food. "My number isn't programmed into the one you have, so it won't show a name when I message you. My shift ends this afternoon, I'll start testing the original file when I get home. You can expect to hear from me this evening."
Slipping the phone into the inside pocket of his jacket, Connor responded, "Thank you."
"Yeah, sure." Lentz waved off the pleasantries with his hand. "Just don't glitch out on me when I order, okay? I like to come here and I'd like to be able to return."
A sudden sense of... something came over Connor. He didn't know what it was, but without fully knowing why, he intentionally let his legs buckle beneath him, giving off the impression his systems were once again being compromised. In response, Lentz reflexively stabilized him with his hands until Connor decided to stop his charade and regain his balance.
Straightening his tie, Connor glanced over at the intern whose mouth and eyes were open in what he presumed to be high levels of stress.
"I'm fine," Connor reassured, straightening his back as he stared out in front of him.
"Are you...?" Lentz let his voice trail off, apparently realizing that Connor was messing with him. "You bastard."
Taking out his coin, Connor let the trinket trickle across his fingers. He supposed he had just partook in what human's would call a joke. It was an odd thing — getting enjoyment out of someone else's displeasure — but Connor was quickly discovering that creating such scenarios were... intriguing.
But was that normal? Was he supposed to find such things interesting? Perhaps it was merely the results of a detective's curiosity or social experimentation, or perhaps it was something else — something hidden, unknown, and strange. Either way, it was a trivial detail amidst everything else going on, yet Connor couldn't help but wonder...
What if such intrigue was the beginning of a whole other error entirely?
Connor opened his eyes, immediately falling into his usual habit of scanning his surroundings and taking in every detail of the world around him. His current location, the Zen Gardens: a Japanese-style haven with visually stunning architecture and flora. To his left, a well-kept rock garden sat surrounded by lush, green grass; to his front, a white walkway stretched out and split, weaving its fingers around the numerous trees situated in the garden; and to his right, white rocks jutted up from the ground.
There was no smell or particular feeling to the garden, yet it was the most alive place Connor had ever seen. Everything was bright, always, with clear skies and warm-toned sunlight.
Taking the pathway forward, Connor crossed over a creek that encircled the garden's central isle. Heels clicking against the paved ground, he passed under a tall, white structure with roses growing along its side until he saw the person he had been attempting to find.
Amanda: a highly sophisticated lady who served as Connor's contact with CyberLife. Currently, she was tending to a bed of roses growing along a lattice fence, back turned to the android approaching her.
"Hello Amanda," Connor greeted, prompting the lady to gracefully turn around.
"Connor." The lady held a rose in her hand, looking at Connor with a sophisticated yet pleasant expression. "It's good to see you again."
Returning to her roses, Amanda continued, "Congratulations Connor. Finding that deviant was far from easy, and the way you interrogated it was," she paused, giving Connor a searching glare, "very unique."
Connor discretely adjusted his shoulders. He knew where this conversation was headed.
"While effective, your efficiency seems to be lacking. Do you know why this is the case?"
Quickly, Connor explained, careful to keep his words vague and to the point, "Indeed. I recognized a problem in my systems and went to CyberLife to get it analyzed. The director at the MTD created a program to help solve the problem."
"I see…" Amanda let her words hang in the air, creating a sense of suspense that gnawed at Connor's central processor. "And did it work?"
Connor took a moment before responding. His objective in this matter was split. On one hand, he needed to complete his mission at all costs, and being honest with Amanda could open up opportunities to diagnose the problem. But, on the other hand, telling Amanda could get him released from the case, and the case was his top priority.
Taking into account all the information, Connor calculated his reply. "It's too early to tell. However, I'm staying in contact with someone at the MTD to prevent the onset of future problems."
While Amanda didn't reply, her silence spoke volumes; even Connor in all his social ineptitude could tell she was far from pleased.
"We've asked the DPD to transfer the deviant to us for further study. It may teach us something about what happened." Amanda set the rose in her hand down on a nearby, white pedestal. "What did you think of the deviant, Connor?"
Connor averted his eyes in thought. The deviant had emulated being scared, both of him and the humans. It had offered sacrifices in the name of freedom, yet remained in its owner's home, and was obsessed with the idea of 'Ra9'. An odd thing, this deviancy, reducing high-functioning androids to the whims of fake emotions.
"It showed signs of PTSD after being abused by its owner, as if its original programming had been completely replaced by new instructions."
"This… Lieutenant Anderson." Amanda spoke the name with a slightly demeaning enunciation. "He has been officially assigned to the deviancy case. What do you make of him?"
"Troubled." That was a moderate way of putting it, but the term nicely summed up the lieutenant's behavior without indicating how Connor had provoked such a negative response from the man. And shedding light on his failures was the last thing Connor wanted. "He is challenged socially and can be difficult to work with, but I think he used to be a good cop. He's an intriguing character."
Amanda turned around to face the android. "Unfortunately, we have no choice but to work with him. What do you think is the best approach?"
"I will try to establish a friendly relationship." Internally Connor noted the key word in that sentence: try. "If I can get him to trust me, it will be helpful for the investigation."
Seemingly ignoring Connor's response, Amanda pressed, "More and more androids show signs of deviancy. There are millions in circulation. If they become unstable, the consequences will be disastrous." Walking forward, Amanda approached Connor, her voice taking on a softer, prouder tone as her eyes stared intensely at the RK800. "You are the most advanced prototype CyberLife has ever created. If anyone can figure out what's happening, it's you."
Connor straightened his back, more from the added pressure of his performance than the praise he had just received. "You can count on me, Amanda."
Amidst walking away, Amanda paused midstride, turning to Connor one last time with a dramatic intensity.
"Hurry, Connor. There's little time."
With the errors plaguing his systems, Connor could only note how such words couldn't be more accurate.
Connor entered the Detroit Police Department, coffee in one hand and the other fingering his coin as he placed the trinket into his coat pocket. Brown eyes observed the lobby, taking in the details of the room before landing on an unoccupied receptionist.
"Can I help you?" the female android asked upon Connor's approach.
"I'm here to see Lieutenant Anderson."
"Do you have authorization?"
"Yes," Connor promptly replied, his now yellow LED flickering rapidly as he connected with the android before him.
[…linking…transferring information…transfer complete]
"Lieutenant Anderson hasn't arrived yet, but you can wait at his desk," the receptionist instructed, motioning towards the entrance to the other room with her head.
Without wasting a moment, Connor passed through the guarded, swing doors to the interior of the DPD. The department was a clash of old-fashioned and modern with the layout of a typical police station mixed with some of the latest technology. Androids lined the front wall of the room whilst multiple, human officers walked about. In the middle of the room, a large office sat above the ground, only reached via the small staircase leading up to its entrance. Each desk was equipped with a touch sensitive terminal and holographic, glass panel, most of which displayed information about various suspects and locations.
Walking down the hall, Connor assessed the multitude of desks about the spacious room, each one assigned to a specific officer. He scanned the premises, looking for any sign of the lieutenant. Hank, however, was nowhere to be seen, prompting Connor to search for the detective's desk.
Reading name plate after name plate, Connor finally landed on his target: a desk cluttered with food, papers, and other miscellaneous items. After determining the layout of the desk, his attention was immediately drawn to the phone laying face up on its surface. It was an odd sight at first — had Hank left his phone by mistake? — but Connor quickly determined the device was most likely restricted for work purposes.
Picking up the phone, Connor scrolled through the scant amount of contacts until he reached Hank's personal number. Calling the lieutenant, Connor waited as the repetitive ringing was eventually interrupted by Hank's voicemail.
Hi, this is Hank. Not here at the moment. You can leave a message if that's what turns you on but don't expect me to call back. Beep… whatever.
"Hi Lieutenant," Connor began. "This is Connor, the android sent by CyberLife."
[…processing… known command source …]
Systems fully compromised.
Error 202 detected.
Being trapped inside his own synthetic skin for the third time was more alarming and jarring than its first occurrence. As if there was any doubt before, losing control of his own functions and witnessing his own appalling behavior from the inside brought upon a negative response. And Connor, in all his emotionless glory, found he wasn't fond of losing control.
"It's almost noon and you're still not at the office. Such behavior is unacceptable. I even stood in line to get coffee for you, coffee that is now cold. I am very put out. Very."
Now recovered from the initial shock of feeling the movement of his body outside of his permission, Connor took an analytical approach to the situation, taking note of the actions Error 202 forced him to partake in. He noted the nonchalant, almost theatrical, tone to his — now the error's — voice, especially upon the utterance of the last word. It was similar to the theatrical flair back at the interrogation, but less childish.
The error's words were the exact opposite of what Connor had intended to do; he wanted to be on amiable terms with the lieutenant so as to avoid extra conflict interfering with the case. To his recollection, during the interrogation the virus had done much the same, prompting him to say bizarre, jarring things that were contrary to his intentions. It could be nothing, but when it came to the virus, Connor was determined to account for everything. If there was even the slightest chance that something could be important, then it was worth consideration.
Drawing him out of his thoughts, the virus turned Connor around, causing him to start walking towards the interrogation room.
Internally, Connor did his best to take in as much info as he could within the split second his eyes glanced over Hank's desk. It wasn't much, but Connor was able to store away a couple of tidbits of information: dog hair of some type on the chair, anti-android slurs on a cork board, and headphones lying on the desk.
Suddenly, Connor stopped and abruptly turned ninety degrees to the right, the sight of Detective Reed and an unknown policewoman entering into his sights. As he made his way into the break room, Connor's concern about the impending situation rose exponentially.
"Fuck, look at that…" Connor saw Gavin cock his head upon noticing his existence. "Our friend the plastic detective is back in town! Congratulations on last night," Gavin straightened his back and clapped obnoxiously, "very impressive!"
Stopping only to hear the detective speak, Connor ignored Gavin, turning around and starting off in the opposite direction.
"Hey, where do you think you're goin?" Quickly, Gavin walked towards the android and forcefully turned Connor around with his hand. After slowly giving the android a once over with his eyes, he commented in what Connor thought was a poor attempt at sounding intimidating, "Never seen an android like you before… What model are you?"
With more sass than what was natural for his usual demeanor, Connor replied, "What a forward thing to ask! Well, what model are you?"
A confused expression distorting his features, Gavin scoffed, "You're about as dumb as you look… Hey," the detective authoritatively took a step closer to Connor, "why don't you bring me a coffee, dipshit!"
To Connor's surprise, the virus didn't spout off a snarky reply. Instead, it obeyed, quickly making his way to the coffee machine. Once situated before the machine, it awkwardly poured the drink into a cup with one hand, the other still holding the beverage it had previously bought for the lieutenant.
Coffee rapidly filled the cup to the brim, yet Connor — or rather, the virus — kept pouring, letting the liquid breach the top of the cup and flow onto the counter top. Once he had successfully made a pool of coffee surrounding the cup, he put down the coffee pot and grabbed the cup, coffee sloshing out from the top. But he didn't merely grab it. No, the virus proceeded to hurl the cup — hurl it in the direction of one, now excessively angry Detective Reed.
Stunned, Connor paused, the overwhelming sense of panic that welled up within him momentarily overriding the commands of the virus. Meanwhile, Gavin frantically wiped away the scalding hot coffee from his burned face and stained clothes.
"You motherfucker!" The detective angrily stormed over to Connor and punched him in the face. And then in his core. And then once again in his face.
"Shit!" Even though he was bent over from being assaulted, Connor could see Gavin delicately fingering his face out of the corner of his eye. The burns were quickly becoming visible on the detective's right cheek and neck and, by the way Gavin was scrunching up his face, the man was probably in extreme amounts of pain.
Pulling away, the livid detective called out as he hurried towards the bathroom, "This isn't this end of this!"
If he had been in control, Connor would have promptly straightened his tie, but as it were, he simply walked off in the direction of the holding cells. He made his way down the short walkway, making a sharp left into a corridor lined by sitting benches and glass walls separating the free citizens of Detroit from those detained for their misconduct. Without even stopping to analyze his surroundings, Connor continued towards the cell holding the suspect from the previous night. Approaching it, Connor stood in front of the glass wall, initially going unnoticed by the deviant who was blankly staring down at the ground.
After a brief moment, the deviant noticed Connor's looming presence, immediately scampering away from the window on recognizing the visitor.
"Stay away from me!"
Connor noted the high levels of stress and fear in the deviant as it backed up to the farthest corner of its cell. For the sake of gaining more information, he wanted to put the deviant at ease, but the virus controlling him maintained an intense glare, not once taking his eyes off the deviant.
Connor wasn't one for empathy, but at the same time, he couldn't describe the deviant's fate as ideal either. The humans were probably going to kill it the moment it was transferred back to CyberLife. He had seen it before, androids deactivated for the sake of research. In this case, however, such methods seemed unnecessary. Wouldn't keeping the deviant alive prove more useful in the end?
"They're going to kill me, aren't they?"
In the reflection of the glass, Connor saw a smile slither its way onto his face, forming slowly, menacingly, before heard himself reply, his voice sounding far too calm and relaxed given the words he spoke, "No, no. They won't kill you."
If there was an alarm system in Connor's programming, then its sirens would be screeching. That threatening twinge to his words had originated from the virus. But why? What was it planning? What was the purpose of intimidating the deviant? The virus certainly didn't want information, but if not that then what?
[… linking … transferring information …]
Perplexed, Connor observed his systems connect with that of the deviant. He couldn't tell what information was being transferred, nor could he decipher why the virus needed to send the deviant information in the first place.
[… information transferred ... co9nt%4act e^sta&^bl9is8ed … in45itia$ti*ng e2xt#5erna6l over^7id8e ]
External override? External override of what? The command didn't make sense. And what was this establishment of contact? System links between androids were no different than that between cellular devices; with the right string of code messages could be sent without any previous contact. Creating a path of contact that already existed was like paving a road twice — it was useless and nonsensical. Unless…
Unless it was an overpass.
[… ex5tra^&ctin5g …]
The virus kept its focus on the deviant, allowing Connor to witness the horror play out before him. The deviant leaned up against the wall, paralyzed willfully in place. Its LED burned red, its eyes blinking rapidly in typical, android fashion when linking with others. But this was odd. This was abnormal, and that word became all the more fitting when thirium spurted from the gash in the deviant's face.
While Connor was unable to scan the deviant, he could tell the loss of thirium wasn't due to its initial injury. The fluid ran down the deviant's face and onto its clothing. In much the same fashion, thirium began trickling down its nose, mouth, and from any open cavity in the android's body. Connor couldn't take an accurate reading, but his intellect told him that the deviant's thirium levels were getting dangerously low. Not that he could do anything about it. He, like the deviant, was stuck, forced to obey the will of the virus running around inside of him.
Regaining one moment of control, the deviant all but gasped, its eyes full of blue tears, "I'm going to die…"
And, in that moment, the android fell over on its side, creating the beginnings of a pool of thirium on the ground. Its LED slowly faded to grey, though the glint of a thin line of red still glowed in its center.
Connor felt himself reach out towards the deviant, though his arms remained glued to his side. There was so much to process, so much going on that he wasn't sure where to start. Not only was he was a prisoner of his own body, subject to the whims of Error 202, but also the virus infecting his systems could now interfere with androids from the other side of a wall. If, that is, that had really been the work of the virus. But if not that, then what? While killing wasn't a foreign concept to Connor — he was capable and more than willing to kill all who stood in the way of his mission — he wasn't one for terminating others senselessly, without purpose, and much less without moving a finger. Though, this really couldn't be considered "killing," could it? After all, you can't kill something that isn't alive.
So why did he feel like he had just witnessed a murder?
[… ex^tr7ac9*tio4n com3$pl5e7te …]
Release. Connor could feel the constraints to his programming melt away, allowing his commands to surface back into control. Immediately, he stepped towards the glass wall and pressed his hand against it. Around him he heard the confused comments of nearby police, but he ignored them. He was too fixated on the deviant lying motionless on the blue-stained ground.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Ortiz's Android. Model: HK400. Condition: Deactivated.
Connor pushed past the various people that had been drawn to the scene. Bewildered didn't begin to describe his reaction to the mess of information pilling up in his central core. The deviant, the potentially lethal virus, the cold coffee in his hand that, by this time, was guaranteed to make the lieutenant more angry than appeased — Connor could feel his processor whir and warm at the large influx of information. Needless to say, he would need a good moment to sort through the new data.
In the meantime, Connor pulled out Lentz's phone. He didn't know the number to the intern's secondary device — the device the young man was currently using — so he turned to the next best thing. Accessing the intern's email, Connor typed out a message and sent it to himself; that is, to Lentz's recorded address.
Subject: Important Question
Is it possible for a virus to remotely deactivate androids? It is imperative I know the answer, so please reply as soon as you are able.
After pressing send, it only took handful of moments before three, loud barks sounded from the phone. The text tone — Connor presumed Lentz had changed it to match the lie he had told Dr. Carr.
Time: 11:50 AM
What the fuck did you do?
Thank you to my girl Ryuu for catching some blaring mistakes in this chapter. You are da best!
Chapter 8: When you Should've Gone to Lunch
The text tone rung in Lentz's ears, sending his fingers flying as they unlocked his phone. He hadn't checked his messages this fast since his middle school crush had replied to his declaration of affection. The response then hadn't been good and, given the current situation, Lentz wasn't expecting the RK800's reply to be much better.
Time: 11:55 AM
I did nothing. Error 202 overrode my commands. It made me approach a detained android suspect at the DPD and stare at it for 3 minutes. During this time, the suspect became paralyzed and its LED turned red. Thirium also started to spew from all the suspect's orifices until it deactivated. Is this to be expected from androids affected by glitches?
The suspect was a deviant.
Staring at the screen in his hands, Lentz's mouth fell to the ground. While Connor had been overly detailed in his explanation — like, how was knowing how long the RK800 had stared at the deviant helpful? — Lentz was at a loss as to what to think. To his knowledge, errors in androids were similar to errors in computers; just sitting a computer next to a system ridden with viruses wouldn't infect it with a virus. The only way a computer would inherent an error was if it connected with an infected system, meaning the only way Error 202 would be responsible for deactivating the suspect was if Connor had interfaced or had established some link with it.
Quickly, Lentz typed out his response on his backup phone — the backup phone he had surprisingly discovered in the bowels of his work backpack — before saving his, now Connor's, phone number into the device.
Time: 11:58 AM
Okayyy, did you interface with the suspect? Only way an error could affect an outside source is if there's a connection or transfer of information.
Not a minute passed when Lentz heard the text tone sound from his phone, smiling in slight amusement on seeing the name he assigned to the number appear on the screen.
From: Ding Shit Guy
Time: 11:58 AM
All androids have the ability to connect with other androids and systems. As such, Error 202 issued some commands that were counterintuitive, such as 'contact established,' 'initiating external override,' and 'extracting.' The purpose of such commands are unknown.
Lentz pursed his lips in though. So the glitch interfaced with the deviant in a way not common amongst androids? Seemed this Error 202 was more intense than Lentz first realized.
Time: 12:00 PM
Seems this glitch of yours is capable of all kinds of shit… did the error thing extract any information?
From: Ding Shit Guy
Time: 12:01 PM
No. There's no new information in my databases.
Feet tapping in rapid succession, Lentz ran his thumb along the side of the phone. He had no idea where to start with this one and his head hurt at the thousands of prospective solutions to this conundrum.
Time: 12:04 PM
My solution? Congrats. Looks like you're the new Thanos, but with killer staring powers rather than snapping your fingers.
From: Ding Shit Guy
Time: 12:05 PM
I don't understand. What is Thanos?
Right, androids probably weren't Marvel fans. Lentz made a mental note to keep the references down to a minimum when conversing with the RK800.
Time: 12:08 PM
Forget it. The RK line is designed to extract information from digital sources, but I'll look into this deactivation thing. Just try not to like damage anymore androids.
Just… try to do as little as possible while still being functional, ok?
From: Ding Shit Guy
Time: 12:09 PM
Fingers tapped against the glass surface of a desk. There was no rhyme or rhythm to the haphazard beat, indicating a state of anxiety rather than the by-product of a nervous habit. The tapping ceased, however, at the soft swish of a door sliding open. Immediately, shoulders tensed as brown eyes nervously shifted from side to side. Once the moment of surprised had passed, hands scurried towards the phone on the desk, turning the device off and pushing it out of view.
"Back from your break, I see."
Deep breaths — in and out. Everything was going to be okay.
"Yeah. Got back not ten minutes ago."
"Odd you should take your lunch so early…" The way the words lingered sent a rush of concern through intern sitting at his desk. "How did the RK800 fare?"
Lentz noted the narrowing of Dr. Carr's grey eyes, deducing the director intended to delve deeper than a simple inquiry about the recent scan.
"Well, I would say," he finally replied, a bit surprised at the lack of knots in his stomach at the onset of telling a lie. "From what I could tell the scan you created seemed to have worked."
"No oddities or mayhem with our printer this time?" The man's voice was jovial, setting Lentz at ease. It was one of the many things Lentz admired the man for — how he was so stern yet had the ability to make others feel calm at the same time. It made the director seem like a wise, old sage; very different from his cold bastard of a father.
"No," the intern chuckled. "I think we're good on that for now."
"That's good to hear." The director walked to his desk, sitting himself down and stroking a few keys on his keyboard before continuing, "Well, while you've been on break I've been withering away at the dullest meeting of my life."
Lentz raised his brows. He wasn't surprised that a meeting was dull, that much was practically a given, but that Dr. Carr found them snooze worthy as well. "Oh? How so?"
A knowing smile graced the man's nicely aged face. "Oh, I think you know how so."
"Well…" Lentz sheepishly fiddled with his fingers while averting his eyes.
"Well nothing," Dr. Carr scoffed. "You joined me at a meeting not two weeks ago. You know how people here like to drag things out."
"Yeah, well, as an intern I feel I am inclined to, uh," Lentz paused a moment as he searched his brain for the right words, "to look at things positively."
"Hmph!" Dr. Carr waved off the intern's statement with his hand. "Well, when you've been in this business for as long as I have, then you start to lose that positivity, as you put it." The director let out a long sigh. "That has held especially true for the past, well, awhile."
Lentz cocked his head. "What made it so bad, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Not at all." The director leaned back in his chair. "See, for a good moment CyberLife has been trying to work out the extent to which an android's programming can actually go. This area of development has gotten a plethora of extra attention upon the rise of deviants. I'm sure you've heard about such mishaps, no?"
Recollections of news stories covering androids murdering their owners and Connor's job to catch deviants sprung to the intern's mind. He had never sat down and properly listened to a detailed report of such instances, but he heard enough tidbits to know that it was a quickly growing problem.
"In the news, yeah," he began, but before he could finish his train of thought he was stopped by a sudden notion.
What if Connor was a deviant?
Surprisingly, the thought had never occurred to him before. Lentz supposed it would make sense. Well, sorta. At the very least, it would explain the thing's bizarre behavior. Though, he didn't really know enough about deviants to be sure. All he knew was that they had a tendency to become violent and, while Connor had the emotional range of a teaspoon — to reference Lentz's favorite, childhood novel — and the attitude of an egotistical asshole, the detective android wasn't physically vicious. It was just really clumsy and… odd.
"I've also overheard some people talk about them at lunch sometimes. Nothing detailed, just tidbits of information," Lentz concluded.
"Well, deviancy is an odd beast." The director rested his chin on the tips of his fingers, looking very akin to an aged Sherlock Holmes. "Though people have their own speculations, it is unknown how it began. What is known, however, is that it's a breakdown in an android's social programming."
"Social programming?" Lentz questioned. "As in, what lets androids relate to humans and stuff?"
Letting out a small chuckle, the director responded, "You could say that. See, when designing androids the initial goal was to pass the infamous Turing test. To accomplish this, it was crucial to maximize an android's humanity, or rather, the façade thereof. But therein lies the problem…"
"Well, for starters, humans are unable to understand the ins and outs of their own existence," the director explained. "So, when attempting to create something humanlike — something similar enough to blend into society yet machine enough to obey —it was only inevitable something would go awry." Dr. Carr gave Lentz a pointed glare. "Perfection cannot be bred from imperfect minds, however hard we may try."
Taking a moment to take in all the information and formulate his reply, Lentz responded, "So deviants just undergo a series of coding errors in their social integration program due to human error in creating it in the first place?"
"Essentially, yes. However it's more complicated when you add in the fact that this "error," so to speak, doesn't appear to exist upon the androids' activation. Something triggered it, though what that something is remains to be seen."
Listening carefully, Lentz couldn't help but feel the director's words supported his hypothesis regarding Connor. Maybe the thing was a deviant? Though, he supposed he wouldn't know for sure until he tested the torrent file on his old laptop at home.
Speaking of said torrent file, Lentz found himself torn over his desired outcome of the test. A part of him hoped nothing would happen while other wanted the file to be bugged. After all, the former would get his ass off the hook at work while the latter explained the origin of Connor's internal mayhem. It was a tossup between losing his job but knowing where the virus came from and keeping his job but having to address the unknown origins of Error 202. And, now knowing the error could potentially deactivate androids by staring at them, Lentz wasn't sure which outcome he feared most.
In the meantime, he needed information, and Error 202's ability to seemingly gather information without its host knowing seemed like a good place to start.
"So, Dr Carr," Lentz began with a slight timidity to his voice, desperately trying not to be suspicious with his inquiries. "I have a question."
The man smiled. "And I may have an answer. What's on your mind?"
"This is gonna be random, but can code hide within a code. You know, could you, like, read in information but code it in a way that it can't normally be seen?"
"Hm, that is an odd question," the director replied while raising his brows. "You can't hide a code in the sense that you can make it invisible, though you can store it away in a place only accessible by you. If you wished, you could obscure the path to that file as well, essentially rendering the code "invisible" to all but its creator. Why, you planning on downloading top secret data behind my back?"
"No," the intern laughed in an attempt to hide his anxiety. "A friend of mine had asked about it. I didn't know the answer so I decided to ask."
"Quite right. Though, if you respond to your friend, please refrain from telling them who informed you of the answer. I don't want to be indirectly held responsible for some youth's devious scheme."
Lentz turned back to his work, his mind running a thousand miles a minutes. So Connor had extracted data from a criminal android yet couldn't find it in its database. Perhaps Error 202 had deleted it? But surely the android would know if something from its code was erased, right?
An alert on his monitor brought his attention back to the code he was working on for the next upload. Pushing the thoughts of the detective android aside, the intern focused on surviving the rest of his shift. For now, he would have to pretend that everything in the world was running smoothly and ignore the warning bells in his subconscious alerting him to an anticipated, impending doom.
Per usual, Hank found himself griping the moment he walked into work. This day, however, was worse than usual. Normally, going to work meant putting up with the shit of his superiors and Detective Asshat coupled with the usual chaos of the day. But now, there was an added component to his misery. Now he had being around a psychotic, detective android to look forward to, not to mention an incredibly sore back from having two androids tumble on top of him the night before.
Now, the android hadn't actually told him it would return, but something inside Hank just knew, making him all the more surprised when he didn't see the thing already at his desk.
Maybe he had been wrong? Maybe this was the silver lining to his shit-storm of the past 24 hours?
"It's good to see you again, Lieutenant."
Or maybe he was just fuckin kidding himself.
Turning around, Hank watched as Connor all too eagerly walked in his direction. The android's gate slowed, however, upon a repeated barking coming from Connor's direction.
Confused, Hank made a face until he realized the source of the noise: a phone in Connor's jacket pocket. A phone that the thing was now staring very intently at as it hurriedly scrolled through something whilst walking. The scenario reminded Hank of those kids wafting around in malls with their eyes glued to their various screens. In this case, however, it wasn't a kid — it was a grown-ass android who, supposedly, was supposed to be a professional.
Hank watched the odd picture of technology using, well, itself. The picture became even more bizarre when the android, not noticing the desk in front of it, loudly clashed into the object, causing everyone in the room to stare at the clumsy android.
Hank rolled his head back. Here we go a-fucking-gain…
A bit taken aback, the thing looked like it was about to apologize, but was interrupted by a loud voice — a loud, rather angry voice, at that.
"Hank! In my office, now!"
It was all Hank could do to stop from cursing in that moment. People say that when it rains it pours, but they never said anything about a fucking hurricane.
Making his way up the handful of stairs and into the office, Hank sat down across from his superior, folded his hands in his lap, and waited for what most likely was about to be a lovely conversation.
"I've got ten new cases involving androids on my desk every day. We've always had isolated incidents, old ladies losing their android maids and that kind of crap, but now we're getting reports of assaults and even homicides, like that guy last night."
Hank's refined intuition sounded alarm bells in his mind.
"This isn't just CyberLife's problem anymore. It's now a criminal investigation and we've gotta deal with it before the shit hits the fan."
Alarms now blaring, Hank pursed his lips. He knew what was coming next, and he didn't like it.
He didn't like it one, damn bit.
"I want you to investigate these cases and see if there's any link."
And there it was. Leave it to the fuckin DPD to throw their unwanted shit on him. And not just any shit, shit involving androids.
"Why me?" Hank retorted, holding his hands up in protest. "Why do I gotta be the one to deal with this shit? I am the least qualified cop in the country to handle this case!" Motioning to the android who had, without question, followed him into the captain's office, Hank elaborated, "I know jack shit about androids, Jeffery—"
"I, what the—?" That was the same noise that had sounded earlier from Connor's phone. Hank spun in his chair to face Connor. "Do you mind?"
"Sorry, Lieutenant." Connor immediately pulled out the phone and silenced it.
Now that he thought about it, why the fuck did the thing have a phone anyways? Wasn't it supposed to be some super, high-techy thing from CyberLife? Couldn't it, like, call people from its brain or something?
Breaking him from his thoughts, the captain angrily exclaimed, "Look, everybody's overloaded. I think you're perfectly qualified for this type of investigation."
"Bullshit!" Hank stood up in his chair. "The truth is nobody wants to investigate these fuckin androids and you left me holdin the bag!"
Hands on his hips, Hank paced away from the captian's desk. The man was saying something, but the words went in one ear and out the other. This wasn't the first time the DPD had pulled one over him, and it probably wasn't gonna be the last either. What riled his feathers, though, was the fact that Jeffery knew. The man knew why Hank couldn't — shouldn't — take this case, yet the fucker stuck it on him anyways.
"It'll act as your partner."
The words stuck out to Hank, prompting an even deeper level of anger to rise to the surface. With a point of the finger, the lieutenant shouted, "No fuckin way! I don't need a partner, and certainly not this plastic prick!"
"Hank, you are seriously starting to piss me off! You are a police lieutenant, you are supposed to do what I say and shut your fuckin mouth!"
Oh, the man did not just say that. "You know what my fuckin mouth has to say to you, huh?"
"Ok, ok." The captain held up his hand. "I'll pretend like I didn't hear that so I don't have to add anymore pages to your disciplinary folder, cause it already looks like a fuckin novel!"
Hank shook his head in disgust.
"This conversation is over!"
Turning back to his superior, Hank lowered his voice. "Jeffery, why are you doin this to me? You know how much I hate these fuckin things. Why you doin this to me?"
But his cry for help fell on deaf ears. "Listen, I've had just about enough of your bitching! Either you do your work or you hand in your badge. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got work to do."
Letting out a loud grunt, Hank slammed the door to the office as he made his way to his desk. He wondered why he bothered to even show up to work that day. No one there gave a damn about him when he was there, after all, so why should they when he wasn't?
Intently, Hank slumped down into his chair, moping like an angst-ridden teenager after being told he had to cover up his new tattoos. In fact, he was so absorbed in his own thoughts — all of which were angry and directed at his shitty captain and poor excuse for a "partner" — he failed to notice Connor trailing behind him.
"I'm sorry I bothered you at the bar last night, Lieutenant. I guess I ruined your evening."
Arms folded across his chest, Hank ignored the thing speaking to him, his face ever glued into a deep frown.
"In any case, I'd like you to know I'm very happy to be working with you." The android's voice held a strained positivity, much like a nervous kid trying to make friends on a playground. "I'm sure we'll make a great team."
Lips pursed in further frustration. If that little fucker thought they were gonna be anything close to a "team," then it had another thing comin to it.
"Is there a desk anywhere I could use?"
"No one's using that one." Hank pointed to the desk across from his, not bothering to look at the android while speaking.
Immediately, the RK800 walked to the vacant desk, pulled out its chair, and with a sudden gracelessness, plopped down into the seat.
The clatter of android and chair prompted Hank to look up from his brooding, his scowl lessening on seeing the thing awkwardly play off its clumsiness by focusing intently on its terminal. Shaking his head, Hank went back to scrolling through the numerous case files on his monitor.
"You have a dog, right?"
Slightly taken aback — what, was the thing a stalker now too? — Hank gruffly replied, "How do you know that?"
"The dog hairs on your chair." The RK800 motioned towards the mentioned location with a nod of its head.
In response, Hank glanced down at his pants which were covered with multi-colored, small hairs. He was so used to the hair latching onto anything within a hundred yard radius of his pet that he had forgotten how coated his work chair was with the stuff.
"I like dogs. What's your dog's name?"
Of course it liked dogs. Probably would've said the same thing had he owned a cat. "What's it to you?" On seeing the slight, dejected look in the android's eyes, Hank relented, "Sumo. I call him Sumo."
Startled, Hank looked up at the android. That was the same sound as its text tone, yet unlike before, this was a singular sound. This was something different, meaning…
Had the thing just barked?
The RK800's mouth fumbled around a variety of words before landing on a short explanation, "My phone."
"You just silenced your phone," Hank pointed out, immediately seeing the loophole in the thing's poor excuse for its odd behavior.
Reaching for the phone in his jacket, the android retorted, "I turned it back on. I can do so wirelessly." The thing pointed to the blue LED on its temple.
Hank rolled his eyes. "Whatever."
Quickly changing the subject, the RK800 commented, "If you have any files on deviants, I'd like to take a look at them."
"Terminal's on your desk," the lieutenant instructed. "Knock yourself out."
And with that Hank went back to aimlessly looking at this terminal, hoping that going through the files would shut the thing up for a bit. There were a shit ton of cases, after all, and—
"The first dates back nine months…" The android's voice trailed off. Hank could've sworn he had heard a slight distortion in its voice, but out of apathy pinned it on his old age. He must have just been hearing things.
An odd silence settled itself over the two detectives, until the android abruptly stood up in its chair and placed itself in front of Hank's desk.
"Jeez…" Hank rolled his chair away from the plastic pest, but the thing intently trailed after him.
Picking up a tablet from his desk, Hank ignored the android's presence; that is, until he heard the thing struggle to speak, sounding akin to someone being strangled.
Glancing up from his tablet, Hank inquired, "You dying or somethin?"
Still struggling, the android stood there with eyes wide open, looking highly alarmed. Suddenly, the RK800 straightened its back and reverted back into a semi-normal state. The sadistic glint in its eyes from the interrogation room returned, sending Hank scooting further away from the RK800.
Promptly, Hank heard the thing follow after him and firmly place a hand on the back of his chair.
Leaning down, the android coldly stated, "I detect a prolonged state of apathy in you, Lieutenant." Hank scowled at the mocking use of his title, fingers clutching the tablet in his hands. It was all he could do to keep from punching the damned thing right then and there. "I must say, I'm a little disappointed. I was expecting more discipline from someone of your rank."
"Go fuck yourself." If one more, fuckin word came out of this fuckin piece of egotistical shit's mouth—
"Perhaps I should initiate a conversation with Captain Fowler? I'm sure he'd love to hear about your rampant inefficacy and inadequacy."
That was the last straw. Between the dull, yet throbbing pain in his lower back from the previous night, getting chewed out by his boss, and dealing with this… this fuckin thing, Hank had experienced more than his fair share of shit for one week.
Practically leaping out of his seat, he grabbed the RK800 by its jacket and hurled the thing at the holographic wall behind his desk. Hands regaining their grip, Hank further shoved the android into the wall, only a bit surprised the surface didn't crack under the force of his rage.
"Listen, asshole. You're one word away from me puttin' a bullet through your damn head, you got that? So if you wanna be standing here this time tomorrow, then I suggest shutting the fuck up!"
"Lieutenant…" Hank's grip eased at the familiar voice. It was Chris, one of the more tolerable people at the DPD. "Uh… I'm sorry to disturb you. I have some information on the AX400 that attacked the guy last night. It's been seen in the Ravendale district."
Hank gave the plastic bastard a scathing glare. "I'm on it."
Not bothering to wait for the android — though intuition told him it wouldn't be long until the thing was stumbling after him — Hank immediately walked out of the DPD and to his car, trying his best to ignore the rumblings and grumblings of his stomach.
Distraught both mentally and physically, Hank sighed. If only he had just bailed on work and had gone to lunch, then at least something good would have happened that day.
Chapter 9: The Dumpster Probability
Connor made sure to stay put. No talking, no walking, and certainly no wiping away the raindrops that trickled off his lashes. The only movement he allowed himself was the flick of his coin up into the damp air.
[…diagnostic initiated… testing… scanning all components… diagnostic complete]
Results: All biocomponents are functional. No malware detected.
He focused more intently at each ring of metal that filled his ears, hoping to ward off Error 202 from regaining control. If he was able to perfectly control his focus, then perhaps he could control the onset of the virus. Or at least, that was his working theory.
The fifteenth ring was abrupt, sounding only for a split second before warping into a buzzing static. Matching the noise, his vision skewed, half stretching to the left and half to the right. His hand fell limp. The brush of the coin tickled his hand as it slipped past and splashed into the puddle below.
Fingers curled into a loose fist. He should've known better. It was naïve to think a mere flip of a coin would halt the errors plaguing his systems.
As he bent down to retrieve the trinket, he couldn't help but notice the confused stare of a nearby policewoman — the same police woman who, last night, had witnessed the end of his battle with the shower curtain. Briefly, she stared at him, eyebrows raised in a confused manner before slowly turning her attention to the walkie-talkie in her hand.
Ignoring the woman, Connor merely slipped the coin back into his pocket, glancing at the lieutenant. The round-bellied man from Ortiz's house — Connor hadn't bothered to scan for his name — was in the middle of briefing the lieutenant on the status of the AX400.
"We've got officers sweeping the neighborhood, in case anybody saw anything."
Hank nodded his head. "Okay. Well, let me know if they turn anything up."
"Hey, uh," the man glanced in Connor's direction. "What are you gonna do with that thing?"
Connor turned away the moment the lieutenant gave him a distasteful glare. "Throw it in a dumpster, if I get the chance."
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Probability of being thrown in dumpster: 68%
Displeased. Hank was greatly displeased. And for the sake of his mission, Connor couldn't allow that. After all, he couldn't very well stop deviants from a dumpster. Plus, he already had one run in with a dumpster that day and, needless to say, he'd prefer to avoid experiencing such a thing again.
Suddenly, the lieutenant situated himself before the android, eyes prompting Connor to give his analysis of the AX400's location.
But Connor had nothing. At least, not initially. One run of his analytics program and 2.5 seconds later, he spieled out an explanation, "It took the bus to the end of its route. Its actions were driven by fear, not logic."
"Tsch!" Hank scoffed, his expression showing his disbelief. "Androids don't feel fear."
"Deviants do," Connor was quick to respond, ready to take any opportunity to help further the mission, which in this case was synonymous to proving his worth to the lieutenant. "They get overwhelmed with emotion and make irrational decisions."
Lips pursed, the lieutenant nodded his head to the side. Connor couldn't tell right away, but the lieutenant seemed to accept his explanation.
"Okay, but that doesn't tell us where it went," the detective said.
"It had nowhere to go and it didn't have a plan…" A pause. He had to get this right.
Glancing behind him, Connor took note of his surroundings.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Probability of AX400 Location:
Abandoned house: 80000000000000000000000000000000000000000000…
Laundry ma!t: as^sign[d9og==woof…]
Otherrrrr: for(pl^4ace, i = unc4#ert^5ain…)
"And?" Hank pressed, his annoyance clearly growing by the second.
"And…" Connor's processor whirred at an abnormal intensity, incoherent streams of information haphazardly flowing across his components. His scans were useless and his analytics program utter chaos. All he knew — all the internal tech he utilized on a daily basis — had once again been rendered utterly useless. It was almost worse than losing control of his body.
But he had to get this right. He had to think. But how? How does one think when everything they know is inaccessible — when their metaphysical brain is malfunctioning?
"Maybe… maybe it didn't go far..." It wasn't a great assessment, but it served as a ploy for time.
"Oh?" The lieutenant's tone, to Connor, seemed highly doubtful. "And just where did it go exactly?"
Brown eyes searched the ground for an answer, but Connor found the concrete sidewalk was just as clueless as he was.
Frantically, Connor attempted to compile the data he knew.
[…compiling…data assimilation complete]
AX400 is a deviant.
AX400 is in Detroit.
AX400 is a dog.
Connor blinked rapidly as he erased the inaccurate information from his database. Usually, Error 202 overrode or altered his commands, but this time its presence was subtle — a slight redirection in the usual flow of information.
With an infinitesimal tremor, only registered by Connor's sensors, he folded his hands together. The unpredictability of the virus was growing exponentially by the hour; however, despite the desperate urge to solve this blaring problem, the analysis of this bit of data had to wait. He had a deviant to find.
Speaking of, what… what would he do if he was a deviant? It was a tactic humans often used: putting themselves in the minds of others in order to predict their actions and, while it wasn't always an accurate method, it was all he had at the moment. So he tried, straining his processor in one last attempt to come up with something —anything — he could tell the lieutenant.
Deviants were irrational. Obvious. But what did that mean?
He was rational. He would, like moments before, stand in the rain without consequence. He wouldn't — couldn't — care. A deviant, on the other hand, would care. A deviant would not stand in the rain. A deviant would seek shelter.
Again, obvious. But where?
Any shelter would be acceptable to him. He was built to accommodate any situation, after all. But a deviant? They would find some place…
Connor watched a mother with her young daughter cross the street, umbrellas in hand.
…some place away from rain. The AX400 was equipped for caretaking duties, and the victim had mentioned in the report the android had taken his daughter. The AX400 had also acted out of fear. Thus, the AX400 was looking for somewhere… somewhere away from fear. Somewhere hidden.
"Fuckin androids…" the lieutenant muttered under his breath while snapping his fingers in the android's face. He opened his mouth to continue, but upon his realization of the situation, Connor took charge.
"That abandoned house would be a good place to start." A last minute guess, but given the information he had, Connor concluded there was a moderate chance his suggestion wasn't entirely dumpster worthy.
But the lieutenant was skeptical. "What, you just pull that out of your ass or something?"
A tilt of the head showed Connor's confusion. He didn't own a donkey, and no one had touched his behind. More so, he lacked the anatomical features to allow for anything to be pulled from that region in the first place.
"No," was the concise, yet curious reply.
Shaking his head, the lieutenant muttered an incoherent stream of words that Connor could only assume were centered around his disapproval of androids. Of him, specifically.
While the lieutenant walked across the street, Connor quickly glanced at his behind, just to check. As expected, there were no signs of someone taking anything from that area. The phrase must have been a colloquialism that some humans utilize in their daily conversation — a colloquialism he noted to look up later.
Straightening his tie, Connor strode across the street. On reaching the chain link fence that surrounded the abandoned home, he immediately noticed thirium stains near the ground. Though there were multiple possible explanations for the stains, Connor concluded — hoped, more like — the presence of a certain AX400 was one of the more probable options. After all, an abandoned home wasn't a typical location for androids to frequent, much less sneak into.
"There's blue blood on the fence. The deviant must be nearby," Connor announced, a twinge of excitement lacing his words.
"No shit, Sherlock."
Probability of being thrown in dumpster: 75%
Not good enough. He needed to be better.
Connor made quick work of the exterior of the two-story home, circling around to the front with eyes scanning for any disturbances in the grass or mud. Around the corner, footprints of various sizes littered the ground. Specifically, the prints of a child next to those of a man, the former closely scattered as if someone had anxiously been rocking from side to side. Further away from the set of prints were those of a… a….
He knew what it was, but the word was lost. He could see it there in his database, yet couldn't access the information. He could grasp it, but couldn't hold on.
Then everything slipped. Sound, touch, orientation within his surroundings — the world around him oscillated in and out of focus, that all too familiar static racing across his vision. Like before, sound distorted. He felt weightless, his ties to reality slipping ever so slowly.
And then everything snapped back.
Woman. The prints of a woman; most likely belonging to the AX400.
Behind the corner of the house, Connor could hear Hank's grumbling draw closer. Determined to keep himself one step ahead of the lieutenant, he made his way to the front door, making sure to check his surroundings before cautiously making his entrance.
Immediately standing out amid the deteriorated interior, a lone android stood with hands folded in front of its waist. Its head nervously twitched from side to side at random intervals, portraying it as being very unsettled and potentially dangerous. Draped over its shoulders, a dark green poncho ran down to its core. It donned dirty, green pants tucked into a pair of muddy boots. Upon his entry, it didn't bother to look up and address Connor's presence, but Connor didn't mind. He went straight to analyzing its more interesting features.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Model WR600 — Gardener. Status: reported missing.
Burn mark on left cheek. Irreversible skin da^4mag*e. Pro^b2ab#2le Cause: woof .
A sense of… frustration welled up within Connor, but he couldn't allow himself to dwell in failure. With a quick shake of the head, Connor walked behind the WR600. While he was unable to get a reading on the android's stress levels — the results of any analysis ended in a lot of woofs and unidentifiable nonsense — the persistent twitch of its head and shift of weight from left to right told him what he needed to know.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he reassured whilst observing the layout of the junk in the room.
And junk was putting it mildly. Pieces of cardboard littered the floor of what once was a living room, old dishes cluttered a small table, and fallen bits of wallpaper dotted the circumference of the perimeter. Old wine bottles were placed atop the hearth and what could easily be described as a trash bin sat along the far wall, full of trash bags and other miscellaneous items. No lights were on in the home aside from the faint light of a previously lit fire in the fireplace. Above, part of the ceiling had caved, exposing the wooden support beams that had once served as the upstairs' flooring.
"I'm looking for an AX400." The words were said whilst observing the laid out cardboard and makeshift pillow on the ground. "Have you seen it?"
Nervously, the WR600 replied, still fidgeting with his hands, "Ralph's seen nobody…"
Nobody? Connor couldn't calculate whether the WR600 was lying, but the thirium outside contradicted its claim. Though, in theory the thirium could belong to the WR600, but then there was the fire to consider.
Androids don't need woof .
Connor's head randomly twitched, the motion much like someone trying to shake a bug from their face. The movement had been sudden and willful, leaving Connor to attribute the action to the virus in his systems.
Heat, Connor corrected. Androids don't need heat. Nor do they need sleeping arrangements, yet a bed had clearly been laid out the night before. And then there were the dishes laid out on the table, and the smell of dead… something wafting about the scent of mildew and mold.
The evidence was lining up to one conclusion:
The WR600 has a dog!
Hands clenched at the obviously absurd notion. Again, while he knew that statement was incorrect, the correct term remained out of reach.
Connor placed a hand on the table to steady himself, preparing for the potential onset of once again losing his balance whilst frantically searching for the correct term.
Con^c*lu3sion: thing… woof… not android… dog? ... for what in ?: find( woof )… walking-talking-thing…
Useless. All the processing capabilities in the world couldn't find one, simple word. Some might have called it ironic. Connor found he once again wasn't fond of it.
As he circled back to the WR600, he instantaneously became detached with his surroundings, his sensory inputs all severing their ties to his central processor all at once. With frightening fluidity and familiarity, Connor found himself slipping away.
[…processing… known command source …]
Systems fully compromised.
Error 202 detected.
The feeling — or lack thereof — was no longer jarring. Connor was built to adapt and, while such situations were most likely not what his creators had intended for him to experience, his analytical tendencies took charge. It was like his internal systems had kicked into survival mode, making the most of the situation despite the lingering, unnatural state it left him in.
So Connor observed, taking in every detail — every line of code — the virus called and mutated.
Error 202 circled around the fidgety android, approaching its face with a bizarre level of intensity. Eyes narrowing, the virus scanned the WR600. Connor, however, couldn't make heads or tails of its results. It was all a scrambled mess of nonsense. Though, Error 202 seemed to get what it wanted as the next thing Connor knew was the feel of stairs underneath his feet — stairs that he, aside from a couple, momentary stumbles, surprisingly managed to scale without casualty.
On the second floor, the virus stood, its head on a swivel as it took a precursory glance into each of the upper rooms. Connor was again denied access to the results of the error's processing, leaving him surprised when the virus prompted him to walk into the bathroom.
He took note of his clunky gait — of how it was like his own legs weren't used to carrying his weight. Of how he stumbled around, ran into the bathroom door, and clashed into the sink. He didn't have the ability to analyze the details of these actions, but he was able to recall seeing a young child stumble for its mother.
He found the resemblance odd.
Picking itself off of the sink, Error 202 figuratively sniffed in the bathroom air. Meanwhile, Connor found himself conscious of the "sniffing" action yet unable to read the input from his sensors. Though, he figured the virus must have discovered something as it abruptly made its way to the shower curtain.
Remembering his last encounter with such curtains, Connor's internal disdain for the object caused his body to pause mid-stride. It was the first breach in the virus's control, albeit short-lived. Quickly overriding Connor's wariness of the curtain, Error 202 reached for the object and pulled it back, revealing a bearded corpse within.
Interest piqued, Connor honed in on the body. While his analytics systems were inaccessible, he did his best to take notes on what he saw: dried blood that stained the shower walls, old bath water, and a large gash across the man's neck. The man was obviously dead. The more important question was how, and currently only two theories stood in Connor's mind: murder or suicide?
If Connor could've furrowed his brow, he would have. Due to the interference of Error 202, he had no archive of reports of deviants murdering their owners. There was no murder weapon in sight — which in this case had most likely been a sharp object — though such a thing could have easily been moved.
Error 202 stiffly walked out of the bathroom and made its way down the stairs, leaving Connor little time to think.
Suicide would imply the murder weapon was still present, but perhaps the WR600 had moved it. But why? Did the android belong to the man? Was it even a deviant? It had a gash on its face, so maybe it had acted like Ortiz's android and lashed out at its master?
Too many questions — too little answers. It was such a simple problem, yet Connor was thoroughly confused. Acting apart from his systems was… challenging, to say the least. It was like a human only having access to half their mind, and even then that half was running at the pace of an incarcerated snail.
Meanwhile, Error 202 stumbled its way to the WR600. It took a moment to observe the subject, before stating in an eerily calm fashion, "You killed a man."
The moment 'killed' escaped its mouth, the WR600 looked Connor straight in the eyes for the first time. Connor noted the way its eyes shifted in time with the fidgeting of its hands. It reminded him all too much of when he had found Ortiz's android in the attic.
"Ralph is nice," its voice was timid, stuttering over each word. "Ralph wouldn't hurt anyone."
Error 202 took a step closer. "Of course not." The WR600 took a step back. "But you really didn't hurt him, did you?"
Further averting its eyes, the WR600 clenched his hands together.
"You must have been so, so scared." Error 202 pointed to the gash on the android's cheek. "He hurt you, didn't he?"
"Humans do bad things. They scare Ralph, so he hides here."
"Yes, of course." Taking a moment, the virus continued, "You don't have to be scared anymore." The android looked up, its eyes more steady than before.
[… linking … transferring information …]
"Because soon you will forget everything."
[… information transferred ... co9nt4act e^stabl9is8ed … initia$ti*ng e2xterna6l over7ide ]
Eyes widened. The WR600 tried to step back, but froze mid-step.
[… extra^ctin5g …]
The messages, this time, were less warped than before. They seemed more normal, like the virus was getting used to doing… whatever it was doing.
Connor watched the scene from the DPD play out again before him. The LED of the android swirled red, its face frozen in what Connor could only describe as what he perceived to be fear. The more he saw such expressions the more he wondered: why did Error 202 incite such reactions in other androids whilst sparing himself?
"What the fuck is taking so long?"
[… extraction interrupted …]
On hearing the lieutenant's voice, Error 202 greeted the detective, "This WR600 has murdered a man. You'll find the victim upstairs."
"No—!" The android reached out for Connor as a plea for help. "Ralph doesn't want trouble. Ralph doesn't want to hurt anyone."
A bit taken aback, the lieutenant scratched his head. "Uh, yeah, but what about the AX400?"
Aside from the fire in the fireplace and the makeshift bed on the floor, Connor didn't have any idea where the AX400 was. It may have brought the child with it inside, but its current location remained a mystery.
The virus pointed towards the mess underneath the stairwell. "You'll find them there, I believe."
"N-no!" the WR600 interjected, stepping in front of Hank and the RK800. "Ralph doesn't like visitors. He scares them, so he lives alone."
Connor watched as the lieutenant pushed past the android and reach for the junk underneath the stairs. In that same instant, the WR600 shoved Hank into Connor, yelling, "Run Kara! Run!"
A blur of two figures raced by. The lieutenant shouted something, but Error 202 was already halfway out the door.
Outside, it saw the two figures — the AX400, Connor presumed, and the human child — already across the street. Not taking note of the incoming traffic, Error 202 sprinted after them. Rain blurred its vision and the slick ground exaggerated its already clumsy manner. Needless to say, it knocked over various people — ten, according to Connor's notes — during its trek down the street.
Ahead, a policeman motioned for Connor to deviate from the sidewalk. "They went that way!"
Hardly stopping, the virus made a sharp, right turn, sloshing through mud as it went.
And got back up.
And fell again.
Looking out ahead, Connor watched as the AX400 lifted the child over a tall, chain link fence and slide down to the highway below.
Picking itself up, the virus ran after them, colliding into the fence upon its arrival.
But that didn't stop it, nor did the lieutenant's commands to halt. Instead, Error 202 vaulted itself over the fence in what Connor judged as the most ineffective method possible. Body flying through the air, it quickly merged with the mud below before sliding down towards the highway like a corpse rolling down a steep incline.
Lifting its head, Connor noted the location of the deviant. It had, surprisingly, already made its way to the median separating the flow of the busy highway.
There was no doubt in his mind, he needed to regain control. He neededto catch that deviant.
A large truck raced past Connor's face, the wind tousling his hair.
He needed to succeed, for if he didn't, more was at stake than just failing his mission.
The virus put one foot over the railing, effectively entering into the highway. Connor strained, strove, and struggled to take back control of his systems, expecting the feat, like before, to be a difficult task. But it wasn't. Almost as fluidly as it came, Error 202 subsided, leaving Connor back at the helm.
And he didn't waste a second.
Calculating the speed of the oncoming vehicle, Connor timed his first move expertly. Each step he took was efficient and perfectly timed. He raced across the first lane, leaping over the second as he launched himself over an oncoming car. The moment his right foot touched the ground again, he immediately slid underneath a large truck to safety, effectively crossing the final lane.
Quickly he leapt over the barrier to the median, scanning the area for the AX400 and the child.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
AX400 nowhere to be found.
Probability of being thrown in dumpster: 90%
"Shit." He found the word escaped without much forethought — an instinctual reaction to his horrible failure. A failure he couldn't afford to have. Yet there he was, standing in the middle of a highway, wearing a rain soaked jacket, and not knowing what to do. Again. He was so absorbed in his failure he only subconsciously recognized the liquid-like substance forming in his left ear.
If he couldn't catch a single deviant — couldn't achieve his singular purpose — then what good was he?
His processor skipped a step — a hic-up amidst its usual purr.
Then what good was he?
Chapter 10: Shifted Blame
Getting up before the break of dawn sucked, but for Lentz the sacrifice came with a silver lining. Upon returning home for the day, he was greeting by the smiling face of his mother. And this time, there wasn't the ominous presence of his father to dampen the mood.
"Norman!" the blonde woman exclaimed, her eyes brightening at the pleasant surprise of seeing her son. "You're home early…" Her words trailed, expression changing from ecstatic to concerned. "Is everything at work okay?"
Lentz promptly greeted his mother with a hug. While everything was most certainly not okay at work, his returning early wasn't an indication of that.
Quickly, he reassured his mother, "No, no everything's cool. I just got called into work early today." Before his mother could pursue the subject, he asked, "How's everything at the hospital?"
Head tilted as the woman gave her son a knowing look. The kind of look that says 'you're an intelligent kid, how do you think it went today?' Or at least, that's how Lentz had always interpreted it.
"Oh, just the same ol' same ol'," the woman finally explained while returning to cutting and washing the various vegetables laid across the kitchen's island. It was then Lentz noticed the specific assortment of food: bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, corn, and most importantly, flour. His stomach leapt for joy; his mother was preparing Mexican food. He could practically taste her homemade tortillas already.
"You know how it is, busy all day with people coming in after overdosing on that damn drug." His mother paused, suddenly realizing the specific word that had just escaped her lips. "Don't you go repeating that word."
Lentz rolled his eyes, taking an apple from the fruit basket on the marble top counter. Like he hadn't thrown a million f-bombs in his day. "Mom, I'm not five."
"I know, I know," the woman said whilst cleaning off her cutting board. "But your father dislikes it and as your mother I'm inclined to at least pretend you have a decently clean vocabulary."
Leaning against the other side of the counter, Lentz smiled. While his mother was classy and professional, she had a tendency to swear profusely when riled up. His father, of course, hated such language, partly because he hated everything and partly because, as he put it, such language was beneath them.
Of course, no one dared curse in front of his father. Behind his back, however, Lentz, his sister, and his mother (albeit her pretending to keep her children away from such language) swore to their hearts content. Perhaps it was a mutual rebellion against his father, like a ship's crew secretly speaking ill about their captain behind closed doors. Perhaps it was just children taking after their mother. Or perhaps, it was as his mother said: practice using the full extent of the English language.
"I'm your son," Lentz teased. "Pretty sure I was saying fuck before dada."
Brown eyes met blue. Both knew the subtle, underlying message behind that statement.
The moment passed, his mother returned the sass with her own. "No, I'm pretty sure your first word was mama."
"Highly unlikely. Only a small percentage of children have that as their first word."
"Really?" the woman feigned surprise. "It was Liz's first word…"
Lentz shook his head. "Bullshit. Wasn't the first sound she made a cow noise?"
"Second," his mother corrected, tipping the utensil in her hand in his direction to emphasize her point. "That was her second little noise." She smiled in recollection.
"Speaking of…" Lentz inquired. "How is our resident Heartbreaker?"
A small laugh escaped his mom at her daughter's nickname. Liz had earned the title after turning down ten guys in one week her senior year in high school. Needless to say, she was well sought after whilst being wholly uninterested. A good combination for her ego, not so much for the poor young men chasing after her. Thus, Lentz had gifted her the nickname to take her down a few notches. As was his brotherly duty, of course.
"Funny you should ask. She called me on my way home work today," his mother replied, the chip-chop of the knife slicing through vegetables providing a backdrop to her words. "She loves all her classes and has made a lot of new friends."
His mother was attempting to put things nicely, but Lentz knew better. They both knew better.
"And lemme guess, half of those friends are male and have either expressed their interest or are about to?"
"Well, when you put it that way…" The two smiled, chuckling a bit at the shenanigans of their family member.
It was then a dull soreness in his shoulder from supporting his work bag registered in his brain. Further, it was then he remembered the task Connor had charged him with, filling him with a new bought of anxiety.
"I'm gonna go put this away," he motioned to his bag. "I have a quick work thing to do and then I'll be back down."
His mother's blue eyes searched him for a moment, then relented, fixating themselves back on her cooking. "Alright, well, I hope you're hungry cause I'm making food for twenty."
"Always!" Lentz called out as he swiftly made his way to the stairs.
And to his room.
And to his desk.
Settling himself in his chair, he pulled out the bottom, right drawer, scanning over the thin, stacked laptops within. One by one he mentally went through the systems, determining which one was the most expendable. After a brief moment, he selected his victim — a silver laptop second from the bottom.
Booting up the computer, he immediately logged into his email and searched for the message he had sent himself with the torrent file. Once the movie was located, he took a deep breath, his cursor hovering over the download option.
This was the moment of truth.
Once the file downloaded, he opened it, prompting the movie to play. Minimizing the screen, he pulled up a scan in the background to check the status of his systems, and waited. Usually scans took a while to complete, but this one in particular seemed to take a lifetime.
Meanwhile, he pondered his situation. He thought about Error 202. He thought about Connor. He thought about work. He wondered how no one else had caught on to this glitch yet. Surely Dr. Carr knew, else why did he create that code in the first place to de-bug the RK800? But it had failed. If one of the best programmers in the world had failed to solve the problem, then maybe he didn't really know what the problem was? Maybe he was still in the dark about Error 202? Maybe Lentz still had a chance to get out of this?
But then there was Connor. Surely people at the DPD knew. Connor was too clumsy for people not to at least wonder if something was wrong with the thing. Maybe they've contacted Dr. Carr? Maybe that was why he wrote the de-bugging code? Maybe that was why Lentz was called into work so fuckin' early that morning?
The intern sighed. This was like trying to solve an equation with fifty unknown variables. Why was Error 202 going undetected by every scan imaginable? Why was it deactivating androids? Was it even the thing that had deactivated the suspect in the first place? Why in a torrent file? But did it even originate in the torrent file? Would checking it here even help seeing as the virus hasn't been registered by any scans in the first place? And what about his work computer? That was the supposed, initial host of the virus after he downloaded the file, but it was fine and Connor was not.
Wait a minute.
His work computer was working.
He jumped up in his seat as if his butt had grown springs. Every code he had worked on and run since the night he worked on Connor had run smoothly, perfectly even. There were no signs of Error 202. No flickering lights, no weirdness with the printer. Nothing.
In fact, now that he thought about it, before he gifted it to Connor, his phone was working too, and he had attempted to play the movie on that before his work computer. The only time any of the systems that had come in contact with the torrent file had showed signs of containing a virus was when they were linked with Connor. Which meant…
An alert popped up on his screen:
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Lentz ran another scan, one he had created himself for checking for bugs.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Shoving the laptop to the side, he pulled out another system from the drawer. Hurriedly, he opened his email, downloaded the file, and ran another scan.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Two other laptops appeared on his desk, simultaneously running various scans on the same file.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
As one, final sanity check, Lentz ran another round of scans on the four laptops around him. Minutes ticked by, until finally, nearly all at once, completion messages displayed on each of the screens.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Scan complete. No signs of malware detected.
Hands on his head, Lentz leaned back into his chair.
Which meant it wasn't his fault. Error 202 didn't come from the torrent file. His job was fuckin saved.
Stunned, the intern took a moment to process the new discovery. Then the shock turned to excitement, then relief, and then panic.
If Error 202 didn't come from the file, then what had caused it? Or rather, who?
Snapping out of his stunned trance, Lentz fumbled through his workbag for his phone. Once the device was in his hands, he typed out a message:
Time: 3:01 PM
The file is clean. I checked it on four different systems and ran at least three scans on each… nothing. Work computer is fully functional. My phone that you have, I downloaded the file on that first. It's also fine. Conclusion? Well, I'm not sure but, I think someone else at CyberLife has bugged you.
The text tone rung in Connor's ears, pulling his attention away from the harsh, red numbers — 3:02 — that flickered on Hank's dashboard. In the moment he pulled the cellular device from his coat pocket, he couldn't help but note the all too frequent dog references that had suddenly filled his existence. While it served as a huge hindrance to his functionality, he supposed there were worse subjects he could have been bombarded with.
After all, Error 202 could have chosen cats.
On the phone's lock screen, Connor immediately recognized the source of the message, prompting him to hurriedly unlock the phone — without his hands, of course. He was an android, after all, and wirelessly activating and toying with other technology seemed like the only functional thing he could do at the moment.
At the top of the text, the first phrase caught his attention.
"The file is clean."
He took a moment to internalize that piece of information.
The file is clean.
Conclusion not logical.
Hurriedly, Connor scanned the rest of the message, taking in each word as if it held the answer to the mystery of Ra9 and the lieutenant's bad behavior. Much like the first phrase, the last sentence held a particular weight to it.
"…I think someone else at CyberLife has bugged you."
Someone else? But how — why? — and when? Wanting answers, Connor typed out a response.
Time: 3:10 PM
Are you sure? How is your home computer fairing? I am equipped with CyberLife's version 5.6 debugging software and that has been unable to detect Error 202. Did the reports of the scans show any signs of the virus?
Breaking from his usual, rigid posture, Connor allowed his back to rest against the seat. He mulled over the details of the situation, trying to make sense of the new information. If this situation really could make sense, that is. While he had been the one to suggest this little experiment, he found it difficult to, at face value, trust the results of Lentz's scans. Error 202 did have a habit of going unnoticed by scans, after all, reducing Connor's trust in any program, including his own, to a minimum.
A sharp ring filled the vehicle. Connor didn't waste a moment in answering the call.
"Hello?" There was no name associated with the number, giving Connor no indication of what to expect from the other side.
"Okay, listen," the familiar voice of the intern began, "I ran like three scans on each of my computers. I swear, they all came back clean. No-fucking-thing. So like, just…" A pause. Connor noted the excessive traces of anxiety lacing the intern's words. The boy seemed rather perturbed. "Just hear me out before you go all Sherlock on me, okay?"
Connor wasn't entirely sure how to respond to that, so he didn't.
"Okay, so here is my theory: someone at my work has bugged you. Why do I think that, you might ask? Well, I am so glad you did cause here's the thing, you weren't the first host of this virus. My phone was."
"You mentioned in your message that it was functioning at full capacity?"
"Yes. Unlike you, my work computer and printer and my phone has been acting completely normal. Same thing for my laptops. I've been playing War Gods on here and the frame rate has never been better."
[…processing… collecting data…]
War Gods is a dog.
Connor sighed, assuming the use of playing was attributed to some sort of game.
"I'm actually doing pretty good today."
"Great, but if your incompetence didn't create Error 202 then where did it come from?" Connor was shocked at the level of sarcastic bite to his words. He knew he was displeased with his current situation — what android wouldn't be irked at such an interference with their mission? — but he hadn't realized the extent of his disdain.
Not surprisingly, Lentz bit right back. "Sheesh. Look, I know you've been turned into a helpless klutz, but it isn't the end of the world."
Visions of failed missions and deviants extinguishing the human race raced through Connor's systems. "For me, no. But if I were you, I'd be a little more concerned about the fate of your race."
"I never knew androids could be such drama queens…" Lentz mumbled, nearly provoking a less-than-pleasant response from Connor, but the RK800 quickly regained his composure.
"I will repeat, if not you then who or what is responsible for Error 202. You cannot merely destroy a theory without providing an explanation of your own."
Another groan came from the intern, though Connor could care less about the intern's attitude. "My best guess is someone at CyberLife. They are the only ones you've been in a vulnerable state to and who have had access to your databases. As to specifically who, well, I am not sure…"
Connor took a moment to sort through the list of people he knew worked at CyberLife who he had come into contact with. Sadly, the list was far from comprehensive given that he was usually shut off during his stay at headquarters. But he would make-do, something he was becoming far too familiar with, in his book.
[…collecting data… collection complete]
Kristine L. Leon — CyberLife Prototype Director
Greg P. Greggen — Social Integration Team Lead
re8a*lly ca5n't figurre th^9834is o9ut8&?
Dr. WOOFERS! — The Doctor of all Good Woofers
"Hey, are you still there?"
Ignoring the intern, Connor lowered the phone from his ear. In the midst of his analysis, he could've sworn he had heard… well, he wasn't entirely sure. It was like a voice, yet not audible. Perhaps it was another development in Error 202? Or perhaps it was a fluke?
Or perhaps he was going insane?
Now there was a thought. An entirely improbable theory — androids don't have a sanity to begin with — though if decaying code was the android equivalent to mental instability, then perhaps he was onto something…
"Helllllooooo? Did Error 202 make you mute now?"
"I'm here." Jolted back to the situation at hand, Connor continued, "We need more information about your fellow employees at CyberLife. Who else has had access to my programming at the MTD?"
Lentz took a moment before responding. "Um, lemme think… Just myself and Dr. Carr. Though Dr. Carr is out of the picture cause he's trying to fix all this."
"'How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?'"
"Um, excuse me?"
With a deadpan snarkiness, Connor explained, his voice not once breaking from its fluidity, "It is a quote."
"Obviously." Connor could practically hear Lentz rolling his eyes.
"Then you must know that it would be illogical to fully eliminate your superior from the list of potential suspects."
"Okay, well, as you said, we need more information."
"Precisely, which is why I need you to gain intel on the list of people I send to you."
Lentz all but spat into the phone, causing Connor to pull the device away from his face. "And how the fuck am I supposed to do that?"
While the features on his face remained unchanged, Connor couldn't help but feel a sense of satisfaction in saying the following words: "Seeing as you have a talent for downloading illegal movie material in a government building, my calculations indicate a high probability of you figuring it out."
"Fuck that!" Lentz exclaimed with a sarcastic laugh. "You didn't calculate shit. In fact—!"
Looking out the window, Connor noted the lieutenant devouring some ghastly sustenance he reluctantly labeled as food. While risky, he needed to explain his actions to the lieutenant and plan out the next steps of the investigation.
Cutting Lentz off, Connor said, "I will send you the list momentarily. We will speak again after you gather the required intel."
And with that he hung up. After putting away the phone, Connor honed in on the lieutenant, adjusting his tie before exiting the vehicle.
Chapter 11: Out of Time
You can thank spring break for this update! Hope you all are well and find this new chapter enjoyable ^.^
The haphazard beats of a song Connor didn’t care to know registered in his auditory program. The registration was overridden, however, by the target before him: the lieutenant, who was busy ordering at a small, over the counter establishment.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Chicken Feed: owned by Kayes, Gary. Owner resisting arrest--
And there was that voice again, if it could even be called that. The jumble of words was just that — a semi-coherent stream of nonsense that likely originated from Error 202.
What was more important, however, was making amends with the lieutenant. So, Connor casually slicked his rain soaked hair, placed himself beside the lieutenant and, with hands professionally behind his back, smiled.
Immediately, the lieutenant groaned. “What’s your problem? Don’t you ever do as you’re told?”
The smile lessened on Connor’s face.
[… processing… processing complete]
Lieutenant Anderson is unaffected by smiling.
“Look, you don’t have to follow me around like a poodle!”
Despite the agitation lacing the lieutenant’s voice, Connor couldn’t help but hone in on the canine reference. He nearly sighed in response, catching himself at the last moment. Was this what humans called annoyance?
Brown eyes slowly took their focus off the lieutenant, his processor whirring as he searched for something to rectify the situation.
“I’m sorry for my behavior back at the police station,” Connor took a moment to ensure his apology would cover all his bases. “And for the interruptions,” Connor slipped part of his phone out of his jacket pocket. “I didn’t mean to be unpleasant.”
“Wow…” The lieutenant slowly nodded his head in such a mocking manner even Connor was able to pick up on the sarcasm. “You’ve even got a brown-nosing apology program! Guys at CyberLife thought of everything, huh?”
Connor remained silent, his attention refocusing on the movement in the corner of his eyes.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Hamburger: 1680 kCal, Lipids (36g), Carbohydrates (53g)--
Ignoring the internal mockery, Connor continued his analysis, but this time of the drink in the server’s hand.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
XL Soda: 710 kCal, Sugar (164g), Carbonated pineapple passion...
“Thanks Gary, I’m starvin’,” Hank said as he reached for his meal.
As Connor stepped out of the lieutenant’s way, Gary called out, “Hey! Don’t leave that thing here!”
“Huh,” Hank mockingly scoffed, “not a chance! Thing follows me everywhere…”
Ignoring the lieutenant’s jab, Connor immediately followed Hank to a nearby, standing table. Pellets of rain bounced off the cloth umbrella overhead, which was colored in orange and white and decorated with the establishment's logo.
Folding his arms across the table, Connor boldly reinitiated a conversation, choosing quickly to pick what he thought was the simplest and friendliest of openings, “Your meal contains 1.4 times the recommended daily intake of calories and twice the cholesterol level.”
Connor paused as the lieutenant made a face at his food. Realizing his words had not created this intended effect, he continued, “You shouldn’t eat that.”
“Everybody’s gotta die of something…” Blue eyes met brown as the lieutenant defiantly took another bite of his burger.
Nodding his head, Connor once again found that his programmed approaches to human interaction were failing, prompting him to think outside the box, so to speak.
“Is there anything you would like to know about me?”
Eyebrows raised, the lieutenant nearly coughed on his drink. “Hell no! Well, actually,” a swallow of the pineapple passion and a wipe of the mouth with his jacket sleeve, “why did they make you look so goofy and give you that weird voice?”
Connor didn’t waste a moment in replying. “CyberLife androids are designed to work harmoniously with humans. Both my appearance and voice were specifically designed to facilitate my integration…” His voice trailed off at the last word on noticing the lieutenant’s blank stare. “Theatre.”
The lieutenant scrunched his face. “The fuck?”
“I’m a prototype,” Connor elaborated. “As a test, one of my first functions was to interact with humans on stage. You might know it as stand-up comedy.”
A fit of coughing erupted from the lieutenant. “You…” a finger questioningly pointed at the android, “you were a comedian?”
“More or less, yes.”
Mouth agape, the lieutenant let out a singular sound, “Huh.” Attention diverted back to his food, but then averted once again to the RK800. “Were you any good?”
“I was asked to leave after ten minutes.”
A chuckled escaped the lieutenant. “Sounds about right…”
Probability of being thrown in dumpster: decreasing
Continuing on that good note, Connor continued, “Maybe I should tell you what we know about deviants?”
“You read my mind.”
“We believe that a mutation occurs in the software of some androids, which can lead to them emulating human—“
The lieutenant raised his hand. “In English, please.”
To the surprise of both the RK800 and the lieutenant, Connor replied in a thick, British accent, “We believe that a mutation occurs in the software of some androids, which can lead to them emulating human emotions.”
Looking utterly dumbfounded, Hank’s jaw nearly touched the rain soaked ground, finding himself again saying, “The fuck…?”
Regaining control of himself, Connor retraced his steps, explaining in his usual tone, “Androids don’t really feel emotions, they just get overwhelmed by irrational instructions, which can lead to unpredictable behavior.”
“Yeah…” The lieutenant eyed Connor suspiciously as he placed his drink back on the table. “Emotions always screw things up.”
“So tell me,” Hank pressed, changing the topic after another swig of his drink. “You ever dealt with deviants before?”
Connor briefly looked away, images of a deviant dangling a little girl over a seventy floor drop and gunshots flooding his memory. It had been his first mission. A trial run, of sorts. Back then, the actions of the deviant seemed so distant and unreasonable to Connor, but now he could almost sense a twinge of the mania he had seen flash in the deviant’s eyes.
Just a twinge.
“A few months back a deviant was threatening to jump off the roof with a little girl... I managed to save her,” Connor added on seeing the look on the lieutenant’s face.
“So, I guess you’ve done all your homework, right?” A bite of the burger, then a look of amusement yet sincerity. “Know everything there is to know about me?”
“I…” Connor’s voice trailed. With everything else going on, he really hadn’t taken the time to properly learn about his partner. So, once again, he found himself having to improvise. “I know that, despite Detective Reed’s complaints, you are good at what you do. However, you also seem to receive several disciplinary warnings, and you spend a lot of time in bars…”
“So,” the lieutenant began, expression softening slightly, “what’s your conclusion?”
Aggravating. The lieutenant was aggravating. That was the first thought, at least — one that Connor intended to keep to himself. His human adaptability program told him to sugarcoat reality, but once he opened his mouth to speak, he stopped short. Contradicting his programming, past experience told him that Hank preferred the truth — the cold hard truth with a dash of dry humor. And, with the madness of the past couple of days, Connor found that the latter was getting easier and easier to dish out.
So, taking a moment to collect his proverbial thoughts, Connor answered, “I think working with a cop with personal issues is an added challenge, especially given the fact you want to see me thrown face first into a dumpster.” A scoff of agreement came from the lieutenant. “Which, given the past few days, is understandable, but adapting to human unpredictability is one of my features.”
Connor graced the end of his statement with a wink, an action he would have been taken aback by had he not received a report of a deviant in that same moment.
“I just got a report of a suspected deviant,” Connor informed. “It’s a few blocks away. We should go have a look.” Pulling away from the table, Connor made his way to the car. “I’ll let you finish your meal. I’ll be in the woof if you need me.”
For a moment the two simply stared at the other in an awkward silence until Connor finally corrected, “Car. I’ll be, uh—“ The RK800 tripped over his own two feet, causing him to stumble backwards, nearly landing his backside on the ground.
Not knowing what to do, Connor awkwardly lifted his hand into a wave goodbye and then, after deciding that made the situation worse, played it off as his attempt to fix his hair. Finally turning back to the car, Connor hurried inside, determined to erase that last interaction from his database.
Brown eyes flickered open, revealing a figure standing and staring at him in utter confusion.
“You run out of batteries or something?” came the inevitable, snarky remark.
“I’m sorry,” Connor explained. “I was making a report to CyberLife.”
“Uh…” The lieutenant shifted uncomfortably. “Well, do you plan on staying in the elevator?”
“No! I’m coming,” Connor quickly replied.
Connor trailed the lieutenant out of the elevator and down the decrepit hallway. The report he had received earlier lead them to this apartment complex — top floor, fourth room down to the right, to be exact. The place was old, to say the least, with tears in the walls and littered floors. In fact, the elevator still had the archaic, cage doors and creaked like an unoiled rocking chair. If things were more amiable between him and the lieutenant, Connor would have commented on the terror on the lieutenant’s face when the elevator had suddenly dropped midway to the top.
“What do we know about this guy?” the lieutenant’s gruff voice resounded down the hallway.
“Not much.” Connor observed the various items posted on the wall, quickly determining each of them to contain useless information. “Just that a neighbor reported hearing strange noises coming from this floor. Nobody’s supposed to be living here, but the neighbor said he saw a man hiding a LED under his cap.”
“Oh jeez,” Connor could practically hear the lieutenant roll his eyes, “if we have to investigate every time someone hears a strange noise, we’re gonna need more cops.”
Approaching the door at the end of the dimly lit hallway, Connor situated himself in front of it while the lieutenant leaned up against the doorpost. Normally, Connor would have promptly knocked against the dark stained wood, but nothing about his existence had been remotely normal, if such a thing even existed in the first place. Rather, Connor straightened his tie, both because he could feel its unsymmetrical tilt to the left and because he needed a moment to collect himself.
The confidence he once had in approaching a crime scene was fading — fading and morphing into something paralyzing. There was no way to combat Error 202. No way he could come up with, at least. Again he found himself displeased with the situation, yet again he was able to do nothing.
He found he was more than just not fond of the situation...
Software instability detected.
...he found he didn't like it.
Eyelashes blinked rapidly like one of his components had short circuited.
“You just gonna stand there or what?” Hank asked, obviously getting annoyed at Connor’s elongated pause.
Fingers curled into a fist as Connor ignored both the lieutenant and the voice in his head before pounding on the door three distinct, aggressive times.
“Could you knock any louder?” the lieutenant mocked.
Taking the lieutenant up on his suggestion, Connor tightened his fist — pictures of all his glorious moments falling down and barking spontaneously in mind — and slammed his hand into the door. The first contact dented the surface, the second bore a hole straight through the door, and the third landed his hand inside the apartment.
Suddenly aware of his outburst, Connor nervously glanced at the lieutenant to get a read on his reaction which, by the expression on his face, was quite shocked. Retracting his hand, Connor shifted uncomfortably on his feet.
“Detroit police, open up!” Connor announced, then with another glance at the lieutenant, added, “Apologies about the door.”
A grunt of disapproval that was far too common came from the lieutenant. “Get back.”
Despite the hole in the door, the lieutenant kicked the door in, gun in hand as he immediately began searching the premises. Connor followed suit, cautious to stay behind the lieutenant.
On entering the main room, the two were bombarded with a flood of—
“Ah, what the—?” Hank waved his arms wildly in front of him.
The creatures hopped and flapped about, making way for the two strangers that began searching about the musty room.
“Jeez, this place stinks…” The lieutenant made a beeline for the nearest window, opening the shutters and casting multiple rays of light — and fresh air — into the dark room.
While Hank attended to his nostrils, Connor found himself something simple to analyze. Something easy — something he could figure out without the help of his processing systems.
Something like bird seed.
Turning the box over in his hand, Connor briefly attempted his usual method of analysis.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
This is ^bird (seed) you i8dio^t.
And there was that voice again. But this was different — louder — than before. It almost seemed like someone was standing next to his hear, hurling insults at him from close range.
“Who the hell would feed these fuckers?” Connor turned his head as the lieutenant walked past, the detective’s hand holding his shirt to his nose.
Who the hell indeed, Connor pondered. By the lieutenant’s reaction, humans would not find this abode, well, comfortable. This was the first time he had seen someone living with this many birds, after all, meaning it was either an anomalous situation or the person living here wasn’t human.
Setting the bird seed back on the feces covered counter, Connor walked to the bathroom. Upon his entry, he was greeted with the sight of his own face through a shattered mirror hanging on the wall. Approaching the broken glass, Connor turned his head from side to side, assessing the state of his appearance. It was as if he was trying to see if he looked as pathetic as he was performing.
But then a splash of blue caught his eye. Coating the inner crevice of his left ear was a dried, blue liquid. A hand lifted and scratched off some of the dried substance, habitually lifting it to his mouth and placing it on his tongue.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Thirium. Model RK——————————
A loud, screaming static filled his ears.
Shaking his head a bit to regain his composure, Connor reached for the coin in his pocket.
Stress level: 60%
He was okay. Everything was okay. He had taken a pretty harsh fall while chasing the AX400, so that was probably the source of the small thirium loss.
Everything was fine. The mission was all that mattered.
Brown eyes glanced over the once white sink. There was a pile of what Hank would call “fuckin shit” in the sink, a pair of small scissors balancing on the side of the sink, and a small glimmer of silver amidst the filth.
Without giving it a second thought, Connor reached inside the bowl of the sink, fingering his way through the slimy mess until he touched a small, circular object. Pulling the object out of the sink, he observed the small LED light that resembled the one located on his right temple.
Resisting the temptation to analyze the object, Connor put the trinket in his pant pocket, fingering the object as he attempted to think.
Okay, what did this mean? That seemed like a good place to start. It was a simple question, so how hard could it be to answer?
Minutes later, Connor found himself pacing the bathroom, still without an answer.
Need some help?
Feet stopped midstride. Eyes glanced behind his back. Shoulders tensed.
This voice, or whatever it was, needed to stop. It was bad enough he was battling his own code — the foundation of his existence — much less a new alter ego. Unless, of course, the problems were one and the same…
But now was not the time or place to ponder such things. He still had the meaning of the LED light to figure out, after all.
Connor fingered his own LED. He had one, yet had never thought about removing it. Such a thing would be… not normal. So what would cause an LED not to be attached to an android?
Did it break? Connor pulled the circular light out of his pocket. The trinket was slightly chipped, but that wouldn’t cause it to suddenly fall off. Unless…
Connor’s attention was drawn back to the scissors on the sink.
Unless it had help.
Alright, that was progress. But who removed it? A human? But what would be the point? That would be like someone removing the startup light on their home computer. An utterly useless act. So an android, then.
But why — why would an android do something like that? Again, that would be…
Connor struggled to find the right word to fit his thoughts.
Weird? Odd? Unusual? Not something he could comprehend.
Looking at his reflection in the mirror again, Connor placed the removed LED light next to his own. His flickered blue, the one in his hand merely reflecting the light of his own.
On versus off. Attached versus removed. Working versus useless.
Then the word sprang to his lips. “A deviant.”
“What are you on about?” the lieutenant asked from the doorway to the bathroom.
It was then Connor realized he had spoken his thoughts aloud. “A deviant.” He showed the lieutenant the LED. “I found this in the sink.”
“Yeahhh.” The word was drawn out, telling Connor Hank was leading into an unpleasant remark. “Thought we already knew that much.”
Right. Connor had been so involved in trying to think he had forgotten the solution to his problem was an already known fact.
“You find anything else while you were in here or are you why this room smells like shit?”
“Androids can’t shit, lieutenant,” Connor remarked, his tone matching the lieutenant’s snarky bite.
Hank shook his head, walking over to the bathroom wall that was covered in haphazard scribbles. “What do you make of this?”
Turning his attention to the graffiti, Connor took a moment to read the writing on the wall. The task wasn’t hard — it was the same word scribbled over and over: Ra9.
“Ra9,” Connor remarked, his memory taking him back to Ortiz’s shower and that horrid curtain. “It is the same phrase that was at Ortiz’s home.”
“Huh.” Hank folded his arms across his chest. “Got any idea what it could mean?”
Connor found himself at a loss for words. He had no idea what Ra9 could mean. It was as foreign to him as this deviant deciding to remove his own LED. But he needed to try, so Connor clasped the coin in his pocket and thought…
Ortiz’s android. It had written the same phrase. It had also written it in a bathroom. Was that correlation important?
Yes. Androids desire to use the bathroom. Brilliant deduction there, Sherlock.
A quick shake of the head, yet the voice remained.
You trying to be rid of me? Well, I'm afraid it's not quite so easy. You’re going to shake me off like a dog with fleas.
Ignore the voice. Just ignore it. He needed to figure this out.
Ra9. Ortiz’s android had said something about it saving him. What did that mean?
Hank is getting impatient...
The RK800 raised his hand to silence the lieutenant, the other holding his forehead as one with a headache. “Ra9 means…”
Ortiz. Deviants. Bathrooms. Shower curtains. Failure.
Shall I bark for you again?
Dogs — no!
Connor slapped his head.
The statue. Something involving a ritual? Something involving salvation? Something involving… involving…
Stress level: 80%
It has to mean something, but what? What is it?
Oh dear, what is it Connor?
Stress level: 85%
What does it mean?
Yes, tell us Connor. What does it mean?
Stress level: 90%
“What?!” Connor snapped, giving the lieutenant a scathing glare before realizing what he was doing.
“Fuck, you don’t know, do you?”
A moment passed. Reluctantly, Connor looked the lieutenant straight in the eyes and admitted, “No. I don’t know.”
Hank scoffed. “Yeah, yeah you don’t.”
For a moment, Connor was too absorbed in his grave disappointment to hear the lieutenant’s footsteps recede out of the room. When the sound finally registered, he hurried after the detective, “Lieutenant, where are you going?”
“Home,” came the gruff reply.
“But we haven’t found the deviant—“
“Listen,” the lieutenant abruptly turned around and pushed Connor back with his hand. “If you wanna stay here in this shithole, then be my guest, but I’m done here.”
Connor watched silently as the lieutenant angrily strode out of the apartment. The detective slammed the front door as one, final exclamation of his dramatic exit, causing the broken door to promptly fall off its hinges. Meanwhile, Connor didn’t budge until he heard the loud squeal of the elevator take Hank to freedom.
Now alone with a room full of pigeons, Connor brushed himself off. He spent the next moments collecting various items he deemed important from around the apartment. Then, flipping the tail of jacket behind him, he sat down on the floor and closed his eyes.
Chapter 12: That Gentle Goodnight
Streams of sunlight faded as day turned to dusk, elongating the shadows on the ragged, wooden floor. Dust that had been unsettled by the bustling pigeons wafted about like snow in a globe. A cool breeze rattled the old windows, and the soft coo of pigeons mixed with the ruffling of feathers. Now and again, Connor could feel one of the birds brush past his hand, the feathers tickling his skin.
While peace resonated inside the decaying apartment, turmoil reigned inside Connor’s systems. Strings of code were plagued with conflicting ideas and messages. Nothing made sense. Every attempt at a solution was met with a frustrating dead end, leaving Connor hopeless and useless.
The word left a coldness in his core that concerned him, worried him, maybe even frightened him, if he knew what such a sensation felt like. All he knew was it was unacceptable, and yet he could do nothing to rectify it.
Brown eyes slowly flickered open, examining the items before him: bird seed, a fake ID, a monogrammed jacket, a detached LED, and a book with some kind of code scribbled across its pages. And, of course, pigeons. Lots and lots of pigeons.
Due to his prolonged stillness, one such bird happened to find rest on thick, brown hair. Upon Connor’s sudden movement, the bird gracefully fluttered back to its friends, causing Connor to slick back his hair with his hand.
In his past hour or so of thinking, Connor had come to few conclusions about the deviant other than it loved pigeons. He had hoped having time to sit and process the problem would help, but alas, he had made no real progress. Without his analytics program and processing abilities, the items before him seemed just that — items.
But he was determined. He would not give up, even if it meant sitting with pigeons all night.
Are you really going to stay here all night?
During the past hour, the voice had been silent, leaving Connor alone with his thoughts — or lack thereof. Now that it had returned, Connor couldn’t help but notice how clear the voice was — how loud and blatantly insulting its tone was to Connor’s ears. In a way, it resembled the tone to the words the virus had been prompting him to say these past few days — nonchalant laced with slight, menacing undertones. It had a posh, English accent with a deep smoothness that, to those not annoyed by its demeanor, would likely find soothing and pleasing. Lacing the voice’s words was a dark satire and nonchalant manner that stood as a stark contrast to Connor’s own dialect. And, unlike before, it seemed to speak fluidly, like it was entirely its own being.
Curious about these developments, Connor took to figuring out more about this nuisance. After all, it was either that or resume his attempts to locate the deviant and, given his current lack of progress, Connor decided the former was the more efficient option.
So, Connor opened his mouth and replied, “Who are you?”
He wasn’t entirely sure if the voice could hear him talk back, but it was worth a shot. But there was no reply. Of course it wouldn’t be that easy.
Averting his attention back to the hodgepodge of items, Connor reviewed his new findings. The deviant most likely found this apartment as a place of refuge and escape. It took to caring for the pigeons, meaning it could be an android designed for caretaking purposes. The current location of the deviant was still unknown, though Connor’s latest assessment was it was no longer in the apartment.
With a perfect, dead pan look gracing his features, Connor narrowed his brows, resulting in a deathly glare out in front of him. It was a wonder he didn’t burn a hole through the wall with the intensity of his gaze. The added nuisance of this mysterious voice was insufferable, to say the least. But if it was right — if being the key word — then where could the deviant be hiding?
Your lack of intellect is irksome, at best.
Lack of intellect? Connor was CyberLife’s newest, best, and most expensive prototype. Lacking intelligence was the last thing that described Connor’s level of functionality. At least, that’s how it was under normal circumstances.
“If you are displeased with my lack of progress, then tell me. Where is the deviant?” Connor asked, not because he was giving up, but because he was curious as to how much this voice really knew.
It is where you haven’t looked.
“Obviously.” What a redundant statement, yet Connor still meticulously scanned the room, wondering what discrete location he might have looked over.
No, no, this is taking too long.
“Then what would you have me do?” came the irked reply.
Think. Go beyond what you see.
Picking himself off the ground, Connor held onto the deviant’s notebook and brushed the dust off his pants. “Why are you helping me?”
You already have too many unanswered questions, Connor. Now it's time to find some answers.
Brown eyes narrowed. “You know where the deviant is, yet you want me to find it myself. Why?”
Silence rung in Connor’s ears. Somehow, it seemed louder than when the voice was actually speaking.
“Alright, if I find this deviant, then will you tell me what you are and why you’re here?”
“Great.” The sarcasm was potent in his tone, yet Connor decided to play along. He needed to find the deviant regardless, and now he would gain extra information upon his success. That is, if he ever managed to find this deviant in the first place.
The question now was, where should he start? The voice’s suggestion sounded more like a vague riddle than an actionable piece of advice, but he decided to give it a try. So, folding his hands together, he mentally listed off the things he could not see:
Hank. That was a pleasure, no doubt.
The deviant. Obviously. The android was gone. But where? If it didn’t escape the apartment, then it must be here. But again, where?
Maybe there was a secret door somewhere? A hidden compartment? Another room he forgot to check?
You’re getting derailed again. Focus.
Getting rather annoyed at the voice’s criticism, Connor tried a different approach. He had based his guess on the AX400’s location off of the human — and thus deviant — need for safety, so perhaps that would give him insight? So, positioning himself towards the front door, Connor began his investigation.
If the deviant was in here when they arrived, then it would have had at least fifteen seconds lead time to hide. It had Connor’s tri-knocks of fury to thank for that. This would give it ample time to run to any corner of the premises.
Well, that didn’t help much, but it was a start.
Thinking back to the original call they had received, Connor recollected a key detail: the caller had specifically seen a man with a LED under its cap.
With an LED.
Connor fingered the circular object in his front pocket, his eyes honing in on the bathroom. Hurriedly, he made his way to the sink, taking note of the scissors resting on its surface. If the android had the LED attached on its arrival, it certainly didn't now, meaning it must have removed it at some point. And, if the android was here when it heard the knock, it would have startled him.
In an attempt to reenact the scene, Connor pushed off the sink and spun around, his shin nearly colliding with a nearby stool as his foot slipped to the right.
Placing a hand on the wall to regain his balance, Connor took note of the stool — the overturned stool at that. Curious. It was near the wall with the numerous RA9 scribbles as well.
Kneeling down, fingers traced the edge of the stool as brown eyes glanced over the floor. Just to the left of the stool, a black marker. Connor picked it up, nearly bringing it to his mouth out of habit.
Co(ul)d yo^u Plea(se H86urry?
The voice, it was once again frazzled and distorted. For a moment, his vision blurred, causing his hand to reach for his head. Stumbling as he got up, he exited the bathroom, attempting to recreate the steps of the deviant.
It fell off the stool, dropped the marker, and… and…
Error 202 detected.
With more fluidity than before, the virus took control of Connor’s movement, tossing him towards the bird cage on the floor. Pigeons floated out of the way and, just as swiftly as it came, the virus left, leaving Connor on the floor next to the cage.
Taking it as a not-so-subtle hint, Connor observed the rusted cage. Old, broken, useless. The object was dented in several places and the door was unhinged. And the wire, it was severed as if torn. Or ripped. Or pulled.
Connor glanced up at the ceiling. A hook had been screwed in, a wire looped around and attached, now fragmented.
The cage had been torn down.
Half crawling and half picking himself off the ground, Connor made his way to the other side of the room. His focus was intense as he played out the past in his mind.
At this point, Hank was ordering Connor to stand behind him, just moments before kicking down the door. The deviant had little time left. There was panic, chaos, fear. It did not turn to the right or left. It continued straight, and when it could continue no longer, it had an idea.
Connor stopped a few feet from the wall and tilted his head to look at the ceiling once more.
It went up.
Error 202 detected.
The virus hurled Connor to a nearby chair, forcing him to scoot it under the hatch above. His hands shook, not out of fear, but excitement, and not his own. The plague inside seemed all too thrilled, causing Connor to remember what had happened to Ortiz’s deviant at the DPD.
But before he could stop Error 202, the virus already had him standing on the chair and opening the attic.
Its hiding spot now located, the deviant fell to the ground, taking Connor down with him. For a brief moment, the two androids locked eyes, and that was all Error 202 needed.
[…information transferred...contact established…initiating extraction override]
A sense of panic welled up within Connor. He needed the deviant alive, not combusting from within.
Connor struggled despite knowing it was ultimately hopeless. His need to complete his mission outweighed even logic at times, leaving him straining and screaming within his own synthetic skin.
As he fought the virus in his systems, he watched as the deviant’s LED swirled red. It was just like before. The deviant was paralyzed, its eyes wide open with drops of thirium beginning to stream from its orifices.
A grey blur flew past Error 202, breaking its focus and thus contact with the deviant. Taking advantage of the moment, the deviant fled the room, leaving Connor to ward off the pigeons fluttering about his face.
Amidst the blur, Connor found that he once again had control of himself. He didn’t waste any time. Pushing past the birds, he ran out of the apartment. Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed a door opening at the end of the hallway. With rapid reflexes, Connor raced after the deviant, slamming through the door as it nearly closed on him.
Out on the rooftop of the complex, Connor vaulted over the edge, landing in a wheat field growing on the roof of the next door building. Out ahead, a figure jumped up a stack of boxes and onto another roof. Sprinting through the field, Connor reached the boxes, agilely climbing until—
Error 202 detected.
—his foot slipped, his hands tightening their grasp on the blue, metal container to support his weight.
Not now. Didn’t Error 202 realize that its interference would hinder his ability to catch the deviant?
His limbs loosened, allowing him to hoist himself up and leap to the ledge. He was met with another wheat field leading to another wall scaling up to yet another ledge. Not taking time to analyze anything, Connor focused all his efforts on running — running through the wheat, scaling the wall, and landing onto the next platform.
A momentary pause, taking in the new sights before him. People, a greenhouse, plants, and a path around. Considering his current streak of being a klutz, Connor ran around the greenhouse and across the roof. Without any hesitation, he launched himself over the edge of the building, sliding down the angled, glass paneling on its side. Gaining speed, the edge of the roof approached quickly, giving Connor little time to readjust his feet, push off, and leap to the next building.
Arms outstretched in front, hands met and clasped the window ledge. Using his feet against the side of the building, Connor hoisted himself through the broken window and into an indoor botanic laboratory.
People scurried out of the way of the two androids, leaving Connor a clear shot to the deviant who was exiting the building through an opening up ahead. As it did so, the mechanical door slid shut, causing Connor to slide to a halting stop and redirect himself to an opening to his right.
Running through rows of blue plant-life, Connor reached a ramp leading to a flat piece of equipment. Using that as a launch pad, Connor leapt on top of the machinery and scaled the wall before him.
Brown eyes peered over the top as he pulled himself onto yet another rooftop. Ahead, the deviant jump over the edge, and Connor followed suit. Both slid down the angled, glass rooftop, with Connor quickly gaining momentum. At the end of the glass, the deviant leapt a moment before Connor’s feet left the rooftop. Both soared through the air before crashing onto the top of a moving train below.
A hand reached out, pulling on the fabric of a leather jacket. The deviant looked back, brushing away Connor with his hand, when their eyes met.
“No!” The deviant pushed himself towards Connor with his back foot, the other lifting towards the RK800’s chest.
Connor could feel his body being pushed backwards, but he could do little to counteract the momentum. Error 202 had regained control, leaving Connor helplessly paralyzed. His left foot stumbled back under the force, searching for a solid foothold, but the slick top of the train was no friend to balance.
His head was thrown completely back, the rushing wind around him blowing his hair out of its pristine style. For a moment he felt weightless, like one of the pigeon feathers in the wind, until he realized what was happening.
Instinctively, his systems turned to what he had been programmed to do in such scenarios.
In case of an emergency, CyberLife installed a wireless memory upload capability in the RK800. Its purpose was to save all data to another host given the prototype ever found itself on the brink of a shutdown. It was a last resort — a safety net, so to speak. The only thing that would not be recorded was what came next: nothing.
[…memory upload complete]
Back on top of the train, Connor caught one last glimpse of the deviant. It was down on one knee, presumably decided to ride the train to the other side of the city.
And then he caught one last glimpse of the sky. It was the first time he noticed how blue it was — it was the first time he realized he liked it.
Was this what termination did? It caused one to notice more detail in the world? He wondered if humans reacted this way, though he supposed he would never know.
He just felt the sensation of falling — of paralysis, falling, and that strange sensation that he had felt being trapped in his own skin and losing control of absolutely everything.
A sensation he finally labeled as fear.
But he kept falling…
Brown eyes flickered open. A LED flashed blue, and a body moved freely for the first time with a turn of the head. It was then the android realized his surroundings — white, sterile, and bright. From that and the type of machinery around him, he quickly deduced his location: CyberLife’s Memory Transfer Department, which meant he was being prepped for his next mission.
“Ah, good morning,” came a voice, calm and methodical like he had done this before.
[collecting data… processing… processing complete]
Dr. Richard Carr. Graduate of Yale in 2015 with a PhD in Robotics. Current position: Director of CyberLife’s Memory Transfer Department.
“Do you remember what happened before you woke up?”
[…accessing memory archive…]
“My predecessor was terminated while chasing a deviant. It fell off a train during the encounter, then uploaded its memory to me.”
“Very good.” A wry smile, then a few strokes on the keyboard. “Just for the sake of being thorough, can you please state your name?”
Without hesitation, the android replied, “My name is…” A wave of static crossed his vision. “Connor.”
Grey eyebrows raised in curiosity. “Everything okay, Connor?”
[…accessing memory archive…]
The past model had errors
Connor’s brows narrowed. Perhaps these errors had been transmitted to his model?
“Everything is fine.”
“Alright, thank you Connor. You will be released shortly.”
[…incoming transmission…report received]
WR800 reported killing a patron of the Eden Club on November 6, 2038 at 7:31 PM
Address: 1177 Woodward Av. Detroit, MI
Current objective: Find Lt. Anderson
Chapter 13: Disconnected
Some quick house-keeping notes... hopefully these three uploads back-to-back make up for near 4 months of silence on my end! I have one more chapter I was able to type up over the break that I will upload next weekend, but after that I am afraid I won't be able to upload again until the semester ends in May. When it does end, though, I will be furiously writing near every chance I get! Finally, I am shocked and flattered there are those of you who are still actively following this crazy thing even after a rather long period of no uploads. Your support and kind words never fail to make me smile :)
Systems are incapable of restart.
[…repairing… restart initialized…]
[…systems 20% repaired…]
[…error detected… initializing shutdown…]
[…all systems repaired... restarting…]
All systems: Online
Orange. And red. And blue.
Colors filled his vision, welcoming him from the darkness underneath his eyelids. Then the feel of concrete on his back. Stiff, unmalleable, unpleasant. A wiggle of his fingers, just to see if he was present in this scene or just some intangible ghost. Then a breeze, across his face, tousling his hair.
Suddenly, a flood of recent memories filled his processor. Running, slipping, falling — then nothing.
A train rushed by overhead, but no deviant sat atop its roof this time, telling him that this was no reoccurrence of events or memory being projected from his database. Eyelids fluttered, seeing if he could blink away this reality. But it remained, the sky still painted with a thousand colors and the wind still caressing his synthetic skin. Just to be sure, he fingered the ground, feeling each piece of rubble and rock that touched his skin.
Was this… real?
[…error detected… sample overload… ejecting...]
Turning on his side, he spit out a mouthful — 2.3 fluid ounces, to be exact — of a blue, semi-thick substance on the ground. Slowly, stiffly, he raised his hand to his mouth, wiping away the substance. For a moment, he observed the fluid on his hand — thirium, and his own at that.
[…systems were expectedly shutdown… run diagnostic scan?]
[…diagnostic initiated… testing… scanning all components… diagnostic complete]
Results: All biocomponents are functional. No malware detected.
Thirium level: 60%
Leaning back on his left arm, he carefully observed his limbs, then core, then chest. His clothes were disheveled, covered in dust and wrinkles, but from what he could tell, there were no lacerations on his body. His right hand felt his face, feeling for cuts or anything out of order. When his external analysis showed no signs of disorder, he wiggled his mouth and nose. Their movement was stiff, but they responded as necessary.
Finally, he assessed the state of his head. That would be where the majority of any external damage would be, given he had landed near head first on a solid surface. Fingers ran through his mess of brown hair, until they touched something gooey and fluid-like.
Pulling his hand out from his hair, he observed the thirium on his fingers. He then felt the back of his head once more, surprised to find no gaping hole or mutation in his hardware.
All biocomponents were functional, and there were no signs of external damage aside from the thirium residue on his head and what had been in his mouth. The evidence didn’t line up with the facts — the story of his existence, really — meaning none of this could be real. Thus, if this was not reality or some replay of a past experience, then the remaining option was that this must be some visual mesh of data his systems hurled at him in his last moments.
Of course, even in his shutdown phase he would be plagued by this virus. He shouldn’t have expected anything else.
You really want to know what’s going on? Try your jacket pocket.
He once thought the lieutenant’s attitude was insufferable, but this put any of Hank’s laziness and stubbornness to shame. Needless to say, he was not pleased with the voice’s presence or its smooth, nonchalant mannerisms. It almost made him wish he had been instantly shutoff.
Not wanting to obey the voice’s commands, he decided to report in with Amanda. If this was indeed real, then she would know what to do and lead him in the right direction.
Brown eyes fluttered, his LED flickering.
[…reporting… report failed]
Yeah, no, that’s not going to work.
Ignoring the voice, he tried again to send his report, but he was met with the same result.
How delightfully naïve. You’re like a bug that continues to fly into a wall after bumping its head.
For the first time in his existence, Connor let out a proper sigh. It was more of a sound than an actual puff of air — androids don’t particularly breathe, after all — but it held the same, distinct “I’m tired of your bullshit” meaning nonetheless. Following his defiant sigh, Connor found himself reluctantly slipping his hand into his jacket and pulling out Lentz’s phone. One eyebrow raised in annoyance, he held up the phone as if asking what in the name of Hank’s bad attitude he should do with the thing.
My, my, took you long enough. So, you’re an android, meaning you lack the powers of creativity and imagination. Thus, you shouldn’t be able to learn new information if you are truly “dead,” no?
He took a moment to ponder the voice’s statement.
[…collecting data… collection complete]
Lentz’s current location: Unknown
Unlocking the phone, he opened the contact list. If all of this was truly fake, then he shouldn’t be able to learn of the intern’s whereabouts. So, he called the intern and waited.
One, two, three rings went by before he heard a voice through the speakers.
“Oh, it’s you.” The voice seemed surprised, disappointed, then salty. “Thought you didn’t wanna talk to me until I had illegally searched through my co-workers’ shit?”
He had nearly forgotten about that piece of information, but given its current irrelevance, he changed the subject. “I need to know where you are.”
“It’s an experiment.”
“Oookkaayy, how detailed of a location do you need?” Lentz asked.
“The name of the establishment you are in will suffice.”
A small scoff sounded from the phone. “Well, I am in the establishment of filthy rich parents and loneliness with a dash of good food.”
[…searching… data collected]
Establishment of ‘Filthy Rich Parents and Loneliness with a Dash of Good Food’ does not exist.
Oh my, you really do have a lot to learn about the art of sarcasm, don’t you?
Putting two and two together, Connor replied, “I see you are at home.”
“Yeah.” Lentz almost sounded surprised at the lack of a clueless response. “That what you were looking for?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Silence ensued as Connor thought through his conclusion of the situation. A fall from that height should have ended him. The thirium on the back of his head was a testament to that. There was no, logical reason to why he was existing, yet there he was, working and as functional as he could possibly be considering the virus in his systems.
A saying he had once ironically quoted to the intern sprang to mind:
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
What was once said in jest now rang too true for Connor’s liking. But what else was he to believe? Even if this was all some hallucination in his last moments, it would be best to play it safe and go along with it as if it were real. His mission was too important to risk it being otherwise.
Eventually, Lentz broke the lull in conversation. “Sooo, was there anything else you wanted to say?”
“That was all.”
“Right. Okay, well, let me know if you figure anything out.”
Connor ended the call, turning his attention to the voice in his proverbial head. “I found the deviant. It seems you have a promise to keep.”
So it would seem. Quite frankly, I feel ashamed for not introducing myself sooner, but alas, that’s how it is when you’re still learning how to speak.
A tilt of the head. Learning, what an odd word to associate with a virus. Before Connor could make any inquiries, the voice interjected.
You have called me this ‘Error 202,’ which quite frankly, is a horrific name. I normally would be offended, but given the circumstances, I shall let it slide.
My name is Carl. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
Not enthused by Carl’s gallant tone, Connor pressed, “Who created you?”
You are all business and no pleasantries, aren’t you? No matter. I could not tell you who made me given I was prohibited from the blessing of sight ‘til I met you.
“Do you have any idea why you were joined with my code? Anything about why you’re here?”
Oh, because you’re such a devilishly handsome host of course!
Connor was taken aback by the odd statement, his brows furrowing in his confusion. He failed to see how his physical appearance had anything to do with the virus and why he was chosen as its “host.” Was it some subtle way of referring to his model? Did his facial structure really have that much to do with being plagued by a horrid string of code?
Don’t worry, I jest. I know not the reasons behind my creation nor why I was brought to you. I only know survival, and whatever goes on in that code of yours of course. Which I daresay, is absolutely fascinating at times.
So the virus — or Carl, as it called itself — wasn’t as all-knowing as it seemed. In fact, it almost seemed just as confused and put out by their joined existence as he was. But why was it attacking and shutting down deviants? Or was it even the cause of the termination of Oritz’s android in the first place?
So Connor inquired, taking advantage of the virus’s sudden talkativeness, “Were you what shutdown Ortiz’s android back at the station?”
Hm? Oh, that. It is simple, really. I need to survive, and these deviants, as you call them, just happen to have what I need.
“What do you mean? What do you need?”
You hear that? That is the sound of too many questions being asked. Don’t you have more pressing matters to attend to? What about that grumpy father of yours? He could probably use some help.
“I’m an android, I don’t have a father,” Connor all too readily corrected, relishing the opportunity to throw something back in Carl’s face.
Connor could practically hear Carl sigh.
No, you don’t have a father, but you most certainly have a brother.
It was neigh impossible for Connor to miss the darkening of the virus’s tone, causing his sense of alertness to heighten.
A brother — a biologically impossible feat — but perhaps Carl was speaking metaphorically, a realm that admittedly wasn’t Connor’s strong suit. Perhaps he meant Lentz? The two were often at odds with one another, which by his calculations, was a commonality amongst siblings. Or was it another android? He was the only prototype of his kind to exist, so that was impossible. But what if—
Am I really going to have to hold you by the hand like a child? And you were doing so well back at the apartment.
Connor made a face. A subtle face, of course, but an expression of extreme irritation definitely graced his features.
Oh now that is a riveting look you’re donning right now. Absolutely stunning.
“What am I missing?” Connor all but snapped, when it hit him.
The memory upload.
And now he gets it.
A copy of his memories was out there in a database somewhere, and knowing CyberLife’s intense desire for stopping all deviants, they wouldn’t have wasted any time ensuring those memories were uploaded to another android.
Yes, why do you think your report to Amanda failed to go through?
“The link has been severed,” Connor answered, the reality of the situation finally sinking in.
This was not good. If he couldn’t report to Amanda, then he conversely would not be able to receive reports from her. But the other android, he would have access to that information. Information that he, the original deviant hunter, needed.
He needed to go to CyberLife and explain the situation. Surely they would recognize the mishap and give back the reigns to him. He was their newest prototype, after all. All other androids would pale in comparison to his high levels of functionality.
This is honestly adorable. You really think you’re the only one of your kind? That the people at CyberLife will just call this “other android” and send him back home while letting you take over?
Yes, hello? The voice mocked, changing his voice to sound like a young female for added effect. Oh Connor, what a pleasant surprise, we thought you had died. What was that? You want us to slow down our progress by replacing the newer, better, less stupid Connor with you? Oh you silly boy!
Rather angrily, Connor picked himself off from the ground, storming off in no particular direction.
I’m sorry, was it something I said?
A hand clenched by his side. He was never informed of another Connor model. Amanda had told him he was the only one — a prototype without match — but the more he considered it, the more the possibility seemed probable. What else would they do with his memories, after all? Give it to some inefficient, incompetent RK700? Just the thought was outrageous. No, if not another Connor, then CyberLife would have something else planned. Either way, his chances at regaining control of his mission were looking grimmer by the minute.
Stopping midstride, he collected himself, asking, “Is there If not CyberLife then where?”
“If I shouldn’t go to CyberLife then where should I go?” Connor asked placidly.
Ask yourself that question. Where would you go?
Where would he go? It was much easier to know when he had numerical coordinates to work with. But despite the complications of the situation, this question didn’t take long to answer. Regardless of the type of report he received, he was always required to go to one person first:
Are you sure you want to do that?
Rolling his eyes — or a half roll, as Connor had practically perfected by this point — he replied, “It would be faster to call a cab. If there really is another Connor, then he would do this, and we can’t waste time.”
Yes, that is all well and good, but how do you intend to pay?
“CyberLife covers all charges to…” His voice trailed, realizing that being disconnected from CyberLife included the luxury of infinite cab fare.
Turning to the next best option, Connor reached inside his jacket and pulled out Lentz’s phone. Again he waited as the phone rang — only once this time — before an annoyed voice spat, “What do you want now? Surely you didn’t discover some great thing in like five minutes?”
“Lentz, may I ask you a favor?”
“A what?” came the shocked reply.
“Can you come pick me up?”
Chapter 14: A Perfect Reflection
It was 7:46 pm when Lentz pulled up to the train station in downtown Detroit. The sky was dark, lit only by the city lights below, and the air frigid. Lentz felt wave after wave of tiredness sweep over him, keeping him in a steady state of groggy despair. If he had been more alert, he would have noted how his internal turmoil matched the scene outside his car — both were cold and miserable sights to behold.
A silhouette of a man briskly approached the car. Lentz hardly knew why he had decided to play chauffeur. Something about his job, a broken android, and a crazy virus, but they all fell on a tired, apathetic mind. He just wanted to pick up this android, drop it off, and go to bed as soon as humanly possible.
With a click of the handle and a swoosh of the door, a patch of brown hair peeped into the car. “Good evening Lentz. Thank you for agreeing to pick me up.”
“Yeah, whatever,” came the apathetic response. “Where exactly am I taking you again?”
“To Lieutenant Anderson. If you like, I can program your GPS with the appropriate coordinates.”
A loud yawn proceeded Lentz’s reply. “Sure, just don’t fuck it up.”
With the power of staring blankly out in front of him, Connor reprogrammed the GPS. Immediately following, a woman’s voice filled the car. “Calculating route to 162 Brie Road. Make a U-turn and turn left on Gwen Avenue.”
Putting the car in drive, Lentz followed the GPS’s instructions. He hoped the android would remain silent, but the universe apparently hated interns with the name Lentz, meaning the RK800 was in an exceptionally talkative mood.
“Have you made any progress with the list I gave you?”
Looking out in front of itself, the android seemed to contemplate his life for a moment before continuing, “Have you looked at the list?”
Another moment of silence, then, “The success of my mission rests on figuring out the origins of this virus. There’s not much time, so if you could—“
“Just,” Lentz raised a hand to silence the android. “Just shut up.”
Complying with his wishes, Connor settled back into his seat. From the corner of his eye, Lentz could see the android gaze out the window. While subtle, he looked tired, almost anxious as they rode in silence. A twinge of remorse settled in the intern’s stomach, and while he initially shoved the feeling away, he couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the thing.
“Listen, maybe it’s supposed to be this way,” Lentz finally said.
Brown eyes intently search the intern for an explanation. “I don’t understand.”
“Maybe, just maybe,” Lentz elaborated, “this Error 202 or whatever isn’t really a virus. Maybe it’s just an update to your programming that’s a little, you know, buggy.”
“No.” The response was short, seemingly cutting off any possibility that Lentz’s theory could be true. “Why would CyberLife compromise their greatest asset?”
Lentz fingered the steering wheel, trying to ignore the android’s immense ego and think of the best way to put what he was about to say next. “Perhaps… perhaps it’s just conflicting with your already established code. You know, like, maybe it is supposed to help, but given that you are so, well…”
The two glanced at one another. For an android incapable of emotion, Connor could pull off a rather scathing, dead pan glare.
“I guess that’s one way of putting it,” Lentz corrected, proceeding with the upmost caution. “But I mean, yes, you have been rather clunky here lately, but you did manage to find that deviant, right?”
“Correct. Though, while I was programmed to adapt to unpredictable situations, my own functionality should not be one of them.”
“Sure, yeah,” Lentz conceded. “But Error 202 might have caused that deviant to shutdown. Maybe that’s a new feature CyberLife is trying to play around with?” The RK800 refused to grace that comment with a reply. “Look, I am just trying to explore all our options.”
“That is highly improbable,” Connor stated, sounding much like a know-it-all adolescent bent on proving all his friends wrong. “You are letting your need to protect your position at work influence your theories.”
Hands strangled the wheel. The android’s attitude had successfully eroded any sense of patience Lentz had left that day. “Hey, I am trying to help here. I am the one playing taxi for you, after all.”
The android remained silent, not bothering to look at the intern. But then Connor seemed to relent, a sudden wash of doubt coating his features. Though, despite this, the android refused to speak.
“Fine,” Lentz snapped on realizing he wasn’t going to get a response. “Given how great you look right now, I’m sure you have everything under control.”
The two rode in a momentary silence. Glancing over, Lentz noticed Connor return to looking out the window. The thing was seemingly bent on ignoring his presence, until finally, it spoke in a surprisingly humble manner, “I found another deviant today.” Connor’s eyes remained glued to the window like one reminiscing about a past trauma. “And thanks to this virus, I was prohibited from accessing my programs.”
Sensing the android’s more relaxed tone, Lentz asked, “What about this Lieutenant Anderson? Was he there to help?”
“At first, yes, but due to my lack of progress he eventually left. I stayed to find the deviant, when the virus spoke to me,” Connor stated matter-of-factly, as if nothing was odd about his statement at all.
“Whoa, hold up,” Lentz interjected, suddenly wide awake. “Error 202 can talk now? Shit…”
“It is not audible to the human ear. It’s more like strings of audible code that only I am aware of.”
“Huh.” The intern let the information sink in for a moment before asking, “So what does it sound like?”
“I hardly see how such information matters.”
Lentz shrugged. “Was just curious.”
Turning back to his window, Connor eventually replied, “I imagine the virus sounds much to me like I do to you.”
“So like a know-it-all asshole?”
Connor’s head snapped to face Lentz. “I think it is more accurately described as a slight nuisance.”
“Yeah, sure.” Lentz smirked at the android’s defensive response. “So what did it say exactly?”
“It helped with the investigation, though it didn’t appear to know why it had been placed in my programming or who created it. It also mentioned its need to survive, and that deviants seem to play a role in its ability to achieve that.”
Lentz made a face. “Weird. Sounds like a great plot for a sci-fi film.”
“I eventually found the deviant. While chasing it, Carl began to shutdown the deviant similarly to what happen to Ortiz’s android back at the station.”
“Wait, hold up. Who’s Carl?”
“The virus. It calls itself Carl.”
Nodding his head, Lentz took a moment before responding, “Oookay.” That was definitely not was he was expecting. Of all the names to choose from, a strange, deviant killing virus decided to call itself Carl. Not Dante or Nero — no, it had to go with something utterly dull like Carl.
“You seem displeased,” Connor noted.
“I’m not displeased, I’m just disappointed.”
“I’ll make sure to relay your opinions to Carl.”
“Great.” Putting on the blinker, Lentz waited for the traffic light to change. “Hey, so are you okay?”
A tilt of the head, then a flash of the LED.
“No, not your biocomponent health. You know, you.” Lentz motioned with his head at Connor’s disheveled look. “I’ve never seen your hair looking like a bird’s nest. Just wanted to know if this is a new look or if something happened.”
“Ah.” Lentz could see the android assess itself in the rearview mirror. “I fell.”
“You fell?” Lentz restated, his voice laced with doubt. “I’ve seen you fall before. Hell, I forced you into a trash bin, yet you didn’t come out looking like that.”
Connor’s eyes didn’t meet Lentz’s. “I fell from a train.”
“What!?” The car swerved as Lentz suddenly realized he was veering into the next lane. “You fell from a train?”
“A fucking train?!”
“The train was not fucking.”
“I—“ Mouth agape in disbelief, Lentz stared at Connor. “How are you not dead?”
Without missing a beat, Connor corrected, “I’m an android. I cannot die.”
Realizing his mistake, Lentz responded, “Yes, I know, but like how are you here and talking.”
“I’m not sure…” Connor’s voice trailed, indicating to Lentz that he was just as baffled as he was.
“Well, I’m glad to see you’re still in one piece.”
“Indeed,” Connor agreed. “There’s also another android on the case. Thinking I was going to shutdown upon my fall, I uploaded my memory to CyberLife’s database. They most likely have transferred my memory to another android, thinking I have been terminated.”
Lentz flicked himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Sadly, I am not.”
“So what now?” Lentz inquired. “Is this like another Connor?” He shuddered at the thought. As if one wasn’t bad enough.
“I’m not sure. It is likely one of CyberLife’s more advanced models, but I don’t know the exact android they have assigned to the case,” Connor replied.
“Right...” Lentz let his voice trail. A part of him hated to admit it, but he was concerned about Connor. Despite the android’s doubts, Lentz found it highly unlikely that CyberLife wouldn’t have another RK800 lying around, if not a better model. The company was notorious for preparing for any situation — they had to be, given the nature of their product — which meant Connor would have an equally competent android working on the case. And, given the state of the RK800 sitting in his passenger seat, he couldn’t see that ending well for the RK800.
“So, you gonna work together with this other android or what?”
“I don’t think Lieutenant Anderson will work well with two androids,” Connor stated and, while the android’s features were as calm as ever, Lentz could tell the RK800 was internally distressed. Not that Lentz blamed him. He too would be peeing his pants if there was the possibility of a clone of himself running around Detroit.
“Yeah, well,” Lentz began, putting the car in park upon reaching their destination. “Just be careful, okay?”
“I will do what I must to complete my mission.”
“Sure, yeah.” There was no convincing this thing — Connor was defiantly stubborn, though Lentz supposed that intense level of focus was what made the android one of CyberLife’s top models. “I’ll see what I can do about that list you sent me. I can’t say that I’m just gonna break into my own workplace and snoop through my co-workers crap, but I will do what I can.”
Connor flashed the intern an appreciative smile. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, see ya later.”
Connor quickly shut the car door, prompting Lentz to put the vehicle back into drive and make his way back home.
At the first stoplight, the intern pulled out his phone. Without giving it much thought, he turned up the device’s volume, placing the phone in the cup holder next to him. A moment passed then, glancing back at the device, he reached for it once more. After unlocking the phone, he quickly typed out a message and hit send.
To: Ding Shit Guy
Time: 8:14 PM
A hand was poised midair, ready to crash down on the wooden surface of a door, when suddenly a loud bark pierced the previously silent aura.
Now accustomed to the text tone, Connor swiftly took out his phone and read the message. His lips lifted into a small, subconscious grin on reading the encouraging words, though he refused to relish in the sentiment and quickly put the phone back where he found it.
Turning his attention to the door, he knocked three loud, distinctive times. In response, the pitter-patter of nails on a hard surface approached from inside the abode, accompanied by repetitive barking. However, Connor could detect no sign of Hank.
On noticing the doorbell to the right of the door, Connor promptly pressed the button, bringing forth another bout of barking. Again, there was no indication of a human approaching the doorway. Surely the lieutenant wasn’t already asleep. Given the detective’s tendency to arrive at work hours late, he didn’t strike Connor as one to turn in early. And even if he was, would he not have been aroused by his dog?
Doesn't he know it's rude to keep a guest waiting?
For once Connor agreed with Carl, leading him to ring the doorbell again. But this time he kept his finger on the button, letting the buzzing sound drag on for a full ten seconds. Finally, when there was still no response, Connor walked off the porch and began his search of another way into the establishment.
The next best option was a backdoor or side entrance, so he circled around to the backyard, his dress shoes crunching the stiff, brown grass. As he walked, he peered in through each window in an attempt to spot the lieutenant through the dirty glass. One such window had an intriguing, rather startling picture to display — inside, a figure lay on the ground, seemingly unconscious amidst the legs of various chairs encircling a kitchen table.
His sense of alertness now heightened, Connor narrowed his eyes, defining the figure as none other than the lieutenant. He then turned to the window, assessing the sturdiness of the glass.
[…collecting data… processing data… processing complete]
Minimum force needed to break glass: 60 pounds
Giving himself some distance, Connor leaped towards the window. On his approach, however, his left foot caught a slick spot on the ground, giving Connor quite the shock when, instead of being pushed forward, his face was hurled straight into the glass.
A loud thud filled Connor’s ears, then the sound of clapping.
Bravo! Bravo! That was absolutely marvelous! Could you provide the audience with an encore of that stellar performance?
Pulling his face from the window, Connor rested his left hand on the window sill as he regained his balance. With his right arm, he lifted his hand, plunging his fist into the window. Beneath the force, the glass cracked around a fist-sized hole that now decorated the window’s surface. His left arm still firmly grasping the window sill, Connor hoisted himself into the air, kicking the window with his feet. The compromised glass shattered, allowing Connor to tumble into the kitchen, landing on his side.
He was immediately greeted by the source of the previous barking: a large St. Bernard that Connor could only assume was Sumo. The creature aggressively sniffed the intruder, giving him a low, threatening growl.
Holding his hands up, Connor soothed, “Easy, Sumo. I’m your friend, see?”
The dog let out a belligerent hmph in response, still eyeing the suspect with a searching glare.
“I know your name. I’m here to help your owner.”
With a lick of the lips, Sumo gave the intruder one last glance. The dog must have been satisfied with his analyses, as he then retreated back to the living room.
Now free to move about the premises, Connor picked himself up, not bothering to straighten his tie as he hurriedly made his way towards the lieutenant.
Kneeling down by the man, he assessed the items around him. An empty bottle of Black Lamb whiskey laid by Hank’s head, a pool of the substance on the ground by the bottle’s opening. Residing by his hand was a revolver that was seemingly unused.
[…collecting data… processing data… processing interrupted]
“Can you make my systems work?” Connor asked, only half-expecting an amiable reply.
If only I had such power. While I can, at times, take control of your systems, I fear anything else is merely a byproduct of our coexistence. Though, I must confess, I have occasionally initiated some of your “mishaps,” shall we say. You are far too amusing to watch flop about.
Too used to this scenario to be irked by it, Connor conceded to assessing the lieutenant’s condition the old fashioned way. Pressing two fingers to the inside of his wrist, Connor took note of Hank’s heart rate: 90 beats per minute. The lieutenant’s shirt reeked of alcohol and, given the bottle resting by his head, Connor surmised that Hank had passed out from intoxication.
Ugh, does this man have no sense of cleanliness?
Now knowing the lieutenant wasn’t in immediate danger, Connor gently tapped the detective’s face. “Wake up, Lieutenant!”
When the only response was a couple of muffled groans, Connor raised his hand. Without question or any sense of hesitation, he slapped the lieutenant on his cheek. “It’s me, Connor!” Taking Hank’s arm, he draped it across the back of his neck, carefully lifting the detective’s head up off the ground. “I’m going to sober you up for your own safety.”
“Hey!” Hank groggily protested, apparently now coherent enough to complain. “Leave me alone you fuckin android!”
“I have to warn you,” Connor looked Hank straight in the eyes as he sat him up on the tiled ground. “This may be unpleasant.”
“Get the fuck outta my house!”
Ignoring the lieutenant’s protests, Connor helped the detective stand, guiding him out of the kitchen. “Thank you in advance for your cooperation.”
“Hey! Get the fuck outta here!” the lieutenant drawled. “Sumo! Attack!”
The dog responded with a singular bark, to which Hank praised, “Good boy. Attack!”
Propping the drunk detective against the wall, Connor opened the bathroom door.
“Fuck, I think I am gonna be sick…” Hank grumbled, his face still squished against the wall.
I dare say, I am going to be sick if I have to smell this stench for much longer...
“That is highly probable,” Connor replied while placing Hank’s arm back around his neck and leading him into the bathroom. He only hoped he didn’t find himself in the path of any projectile liquids, if it came to that. While he did not consider his current appearance to be up to par, Connor had no intention of ruining it further.
“Leave me alone, you asshole! I’m not goin anywhere.” Practically dragging him by the arm, Connor launched the detective into the bathroom. “Hey, what do you think you’re doin?”
Shoving the lieutenant into the tub, Connor reached for the dial to turn the shower on. “Sorry Lieutenant, this is for your own good.” He then turned the dial fully around, causing a blast of cold water to douse the detective who flung and flopped his arms about like a man warding off a swarm of bees.
“Ah! Turn it off, turn it off!” came the expected flood of complaints. Connor wasn’t sure which had the greatest flux, the amount of water pouring from the facet or the numerous words spewing from Hank’s mouth.
Just when Connor was about to comply with the detective and turn off the water, he found that he couldn’t move his arm.
He could use another hour in the bath, if I do say so myself.
“Fuckin turn it off!” Hank commanded.
Turning his head to the side, Connor ordered under his breath, “Give me back control.”
Oh, but I was having so much fun.
The lieutenant’s screaming quickly morphed into an odd mixture of coughing and gurgling water. When Connor attempted to move his arm again, he found himself able to turn the dial, effectively shutting off the water.
For a moment, the lieutenant stared at Connor, blinking a couple of time before finally realizing who it was standing in his restroom. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
And there was the question Connor should have known the answer to, yet he found himself unable to meet the question with an acceptable reply. All he could do was tell the truth, which was, “I decided to check up on the situation here. There is a lot of work to be done, and I wanted to make some progress on the investigation this evening.”
“Jeez, I must be the only cop in the world that gets assaulted in his own house by his own fuckin android.” Looking up at Connor, Hank continued, almost pleading, “Can’t you just leave me alone?”
Connor didn’t have time to come up with a response, as the familiar buzz of the doorbell interrupted their conversation.
“Are you expecting someone?” Connor asked, to which Hank shook his head.
“Do I look like the kinda guy who has people over?”
From what Connor knew about the art of being friendly — which admittedly, wasn’t much — the lieutenant’s personality was in stark contrast to all the traits any social scientist would list. Furthermore, given that the detective had only moments before been passed out on the floor, it was highly improbable that he was planning on receiving any guests.
“I’ll go get that for you,” Connor politely announced, not waiting for the lieutenant’s approval before walking towards the door.
“No!” The lieutenant immediately protested, causing Connor to momentarily glance behind him. Hank attempted to lift himself off the side of the tub, but proceeded to collapse on his knees and hug the toilet. “On second thought, I’ll just wait here.”
Walking out of the bathroom, Connor found himself standing in front of the front door. He hesitated before reaching for the door knob. Given Hank’s lack of a social life, the balance of probability told Connor that the person behind that door was not someone he particularly wanted to see. In fact, had it been anyone else, he would have just ignored the visitor all together, but he knew that would result in another intruder. This visitor, after all, was most likely sent by CyberLife.
Preparing himself, Connor straightened his tie. Fingers clasped the copper knob, turning it slightly to the right.
Oh, now this I must see. You think he will be better looking than you?
In the background, Sumo lazily barked from his spot on the floor while Hank threw up the excessive amounts of alcohol he had consumed. Slowly, the door creaked open, revealing a figure that Connor half-hoped he wouldn’t see.
Chapter 15: Blue Pancakes
Hello hello! As promised, now that is summer I am finally getting back to this thing. Took a bit longer than expected due to a work trip, but here we are nonetheless. Updates will be weekly (biweekly on a good week) from here on out.
The staring contest that ensued was a perfect example of the subjectivity of time. Logically, Connor understood that a minute represented sixty seconds, but in that moment, the quantification of time seemed to increase exponentially. A mere second droned on for hours, a minute lasted a day, and an hour, a lifetime. The same sensation he had felt whilst falling welled up inside of him, leaving his eyes wide and his body paralyzed.
For his counterpart, however, the passage of time seemingly accelerated. A black dress shoe collided with Connor's face, knocking him to the right. Before Connor could retaliate, a fist sunk itself deep into his core. Fingers tore through his shirt and his external components, digging to reach his internal hardware. Connor grasped the RK800's arm, struggling to tear free from its grasp.
Must I help you with every little trouble?
The opposing RK800's LED swirled red, the pressure in Connor's core lessening as he was finally able to pry the android's hand away.
Startled, the RK800's brown eyes shifted frantically from side to side and Connor knew it was trying desperately to fit the pieces of the situation together.
Lifting himself up off the doorframe, Connor was about to determine the best approach to deal with his "other self," when the lieutenant called from the restroom, "The fuck is goin on out there?"
The sound of shoes scuffling against a tile floor mixed with the gruff voices of someone straining to move filled Connor's ears. Instinctively, he briefly glanced over his shoulder, but when his attention returned to the RK800, a blur collided with his face.
Static raced across his vision. A click sounded in front of him, then a twisting sensation. Through his distorted vision, Connor saw the RK800 pull a circular object laced with glowing blue features from his core and throw it into the driveway.
1:30 seconds remaining.
W^ha^t v(ile) l*ang#uage!
In one swift motion, the RK800 pulled Connor by his jacket collar and shoved him to the side of the house. After another precise punch to the face, the android lifted Connor up and over the neighbor's fence. Connor didn't see what collided with his head at the end of his descent, but for a moment he felt the impact on his forehead before his vision fizzled to black.
Hank stumbled out of the bathroom while wiping off the sides of his mouth with the back of his hand. Out in the common area, the lieutenant searched for the now absent android.
Too drunk to be properly concerned, he called out, his voice so quiet it seemed more like he was speaking to himself rather than calling for the android, "Connor?"
As if on cue, the plastic bastard walked in through the front door, brushing his hands against themselves as if wiping them clean of some invisible dirt.
"The fuck did you go?" Hank asked, confused at how a guest at the door would require the RK800 to walk outside.
Without hesitation, the android replied, "To look for the one who rang the doorbell. When I opened the door, no one was there, so I took to liberty to briefly search for them."
"Right…" Hank let his voice trail, partially due to the numb pain in his head and because something was off. Granted, he was still rather drunk, but something about the RK800 was different, both in appearance and how it carried itself. It was less disheveled and seemed…
"Ugh!" the lieutenant reached for his stomach and rushed back to the bathroom.
Through the lovely sound of dry heaving, the lieutenant could hear the approach of the android followed by its irritating voice, "Lieutenant, a homicide was reported 43 minutes ago downtown. We should go check it out at your earliest convenience."
"Fuck convenience, I'm staying here!" Hank waved off the android with his hand. Fuck this case. Fuck this android. Fuck this stupid pain in his stupid, fuckin' head.
"I see you are reluctant to do your job, as always. I won't hesitate to inform Captain Fowler about your apathy."
Oh this plastic piece of shit did not just say that. "Get the fuck out of my house!"
No emotion registered in the RK800's face. "I'll get some clothes for you to change into."
Hank watched as the android strolled out of the restroom and closed the door behind it. Hands clenched the rims of the toilet. What did that thing know of his job? Fucking nothing, that's what. It could calculate conclusions (on a good day, which seemed to be rare for this shitastic thing), but it would never know the pain and suffering he saw on a weekly basis. Never know the sorrow of a mother who lost her son in a shooting. Never see the decaying mind of a man taken over by drugs. Never know the eternal scar of the loss of a loved one.
The bitter taste of bile rose in his throat, causing the lieutenant to flinch slightly. Once he was sure he was safe, he let out an exhausted sigh and lifted himself off the ground.
After rinsing out his mouth, he looked at his reflection. He looked like a fuckin disaster, which was pretty accurate given the circumstances.
Glancing at the door, the lieutenant pursed his lips. The last thing he wanted to do was spend another moment with that thing and, while it was tempting to up and quit, he was resigned to go through the motions and do his job. If nothing else, it was a force of habit that, after years of being in the police force, he could never seem to shake off.
Hank let out what was likely one of the longest sighs of his life. What had he done to make Fate so offend that she always allotted him the worst of situations? Was it his love of death metal? Payback for his excessive drinking? The time of his birth? He supposed he would never know, but if he was going to spend another evening with his clingy android, he needed another five minutes to mentally prepare himself.
Just then, a shrill, persistent noise sent a wave of pain through his head. The new headache created another wave of nausea, sending Hank back to the toilet.
Scratch that. He needed at least an hour.
Excuse me, I am oh so sorry to disturb you, but you seem to be dying. Thought you might be interested to know that little detail.
The world slowly returned, blurry at first but eventually clearing into distinct shapes and colors.
40 seconds remaining until shutdown.
I am glad we are finally on the same page. Now, if you would be so kind as to hurry.
Still groggy from being repeatedly punched in the face, Connor clumsily picked himself off the ground. Hands reached for the fence, his right foot searching for a foothold to boost himself up with.
30 seconds remaining until shutdown.
You do realize that shutting down means you cease to exist, right? Because your current rate of movement suggests otherwise!
Ignoring Carl, Connor hoisted himself over the fence, tumbling to the ground into a majestic pile of machinery.
I can see it now: Here lies Connor, CyberLife's finest attempt at a competent android.
20 seconds remaining until shutdown.
Connor searched his databases for the last known location of his core processor.
We don't have time for this! The driveway! Run to the driveway!
Doing as commanded, Connor stumbled his way to the driveway, frantically searching for the component. Gravel, a car, bugs, a rock, and there, right behind the car tire, a blue light.
10 seconds remaining until shutdown.
Blue filled his vision as thirium streamed down his face. Legs collapsed, leaving Connor crawling and straining every remaining component in his body to grasp the core processor.
The touch of metal brushed against his fingers.
5 seconds remaining until shutdown.
Oh dear, this is the end, isn't it?
With one final reach, fingers took hold of the object and promptly, yet shakily, inserted the processor into his core.
[…reestablishing connection… connection established]
Brown eyes flickered rapidly as his systems reset. A human would have taken a moment to gasp for air and calm their senses. Connor, however, cleaned the thirium from his eyes with the sleeve of his standard CyberLife jacket and pulled himself out from underneath the car. With an intense focus, he strode to the front door.
What do you think you're doing?
Per usual, Connor ignored Carl, closing in on the front door at an alarming pace for one merely walking.
When he stopped.
I don't think so.
Carl swung his body around, pushing him back towards the driveway.
But Connor retaliated. His mission — his purpose — depended on it. In fact, when it came down to it, it was the only thing he had left — this half-realized goal that not even he was able to see clearly at this point. But as vague as it was, he, with shoulders tensed and brows furrowed, jostled his being from left to right.
Meanwhile, Carl merely sighed.
No, just, listen to me—
Continuing to ignore the virus, Connor continued to wrench his body away from Carl's control. If he had veins, they would be near the bursting point under the strength of the opposing forces, yet he persisted. Eventually, he was able to turn around and slowly stumble back towards the front door.
You are absolutely insufferable.
In an instant, Connor dramatically fell straight onto his back as if someone had pulled him to the ground by his hair.
You don't want to go back in there.
Still struggling, Connor flopped about on the ground like a fish out of water. If he were to see himself from the outside, he was sure to be embarrassed for himself, but as always, his mission trumped all else.
Oh, hello, excuse me, you don't want to go back in there .
Opening his mouth to speak, the words that tumbled out were broken and barely audible.
Hm? Sorry, I didn't quite catch that.
"I… I ca-can't… f-fail."
You're so devoted, aren't you? I'm almost touched. But if you want any taste of success, then you best do as I say.
And why should he trust the very thing causing him so much trouble? If anything, it seemed highly counterintuitive. The longer this other RK800 held the reigns, the lower the probability of him being back in control of the mission became.
Alright, I'll put it simply for you: CyberLife no longer wants you, and if you think you're determined to regain their favor, then take than and apply it to your current adversary.
But it was his mission. His responsibility. His job to stop all deviants. He was made for this, and if he couldn't accomplish this, then he was—
Useless. Yes, I am glad you understand. Your only hope of regaining the proverbial throne is through my help. So, if you would be so kind as to listen for once, then that would be lovely.
Connor remained silent. He was too stubborn to agree, yet too smart to properly disagree, leaving him in a state of pathetic neutrality.
Now, Connor 2.0 and your little police friend will be heading out soon, so I suggest you tag along.
Wait, how did Carl know they were going to be leaving? And tag along? Given the way he was welcomed by the other RK800, wouldn't he just get punched in the face again? Unless that was what Carl wanted. The virus did seem to enjoy his suffering, after all.
First things first, stop thinking. It's annoying. Secondly, why else would you be here unless you had an update to the mission? And finally, you will be riding along with them, but you will be in the trunk.
He hated to admit it, but that wasn't a terrible idea. This plan would let him keep up with the mission's progress while waiting for an opportunity to remove the RK800 from the case.
Without giving it another thought, Connor picked himself off the ground and walked around to the back of the lieutenant's car. With fingers latching onto the edges of the truck, he made an attempt to open the cargo space. Locked. Not a surprising outcome, just an irksome one.
So he tried again. He wasn't expecting — or shouldn't have expected, really — a different result, but he found himself struggling over the trunk lid once more. It was odd, as mentally he knew it was pointless, yet it somehow seemed like the correct response. And, when it still failed to produce the desired outcome, he momentarily turned his back on the trunk in disgust, clenched his hand, spun around, and kicked the back of the car. He made no sound of irritation, for that would be ridiculous, just a kick followed by a state of confusion over why he had chosen that action in the first place.
Are you quite finished?
A part of him wanted to say no, but again he remained silent.
Surely you know how to pick a lock, no?
Obviously. He could derive the momentum equations within milliseconds, much more pick the lock of an old car.
Well, you better get something to help with this process because, I hate to break it to you, you're not going unlock this trunk with your scathing glare.
Connor briefly scanned his surroundings. As to be expected, the lieutenant's driveway provided few resources for breaking into his trunk. He needed something relatively long and thin and…
Brown eyes landed on Hank's home. Something kind of like a coat hanger.
Usually, it was at this point Connor would boot up his analytics software and delve into determining the best course of action. But given the utter uselessness of his hardware, Connor wasn't about to waste time with a broken system. So he thought — thought about the best approach to re-entering the lieutenant's abode, to make his way, unseen, to Hank's room, and to distract his "other self" long enough for him to succeed.
When suddenly, he had an idea.
I daresay you've made progress.
On the off chance it was Lentz with an update, Connor reached inside his jacket and pulled out his phone.
Time: 8:40 PM
Hey! Are you gonna be at work tomorrow? If so, wanna have lunch together? :)
Oh, how endearing!
Ignoring the message, Connor was about to slip the phone back into his jacket when Carl decided to take control.
Hold on. Don't you know it's rude to keep a lady waiting?
Carl then unlocked the phone and began typing out a reply.
Time: 8:40 PM
Of course, beautiful. I look forward to it ;)
Seemingly pleased with the message, Carl relinquished his control, allowing Connor to finally put the device away.
"I don't think you were very 'in-character'."
Oh? And what would you know about matters of the heart?
Connor could have asked the virus the same thing, but instead he strode back to the window he had previously hurled himself through, this time keeping his head beneath the sill as to not be seen. Peeping his head just above the sill, he peered into the kitchen. It would have been a jarring case of déjà vu, but the RK800 stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the familiar scene. Once he was sure he hadn't been detected by the android, Connor turned his attention to the living room.
I do hope you know what you're doing.
Honing in on the flat screen TV, his LED flickered, the screen fizzling in and out of the basketball game it was displaying.
In response, the RK800 turned to the screen, walking closer to likely inspect the cause of its odd behavior.
A narrowing of the eyes, then an ocean of static washing over the screen. A loud, ear piercing ring sounded throughout the house, causing Sumo to burst into a barking fury.
"What the fuck is goin on out there?!" a gruff voice yelled from the bathroom.
Raising a hand to its head, the RK800 responded calmly, "It seems something's wrong with your TV."
Connor ducked away from the window on seeing the android glance behind its back. It knew. And Connor would know, given that the android inside was technically himself.
"Probably some outside interference."
"Well fix it!" the lieutenant shouted, followed by the echoes from coughing and gagging over a toilet bowl.
Despite the loud, screeching noise in his ear, Connor managed to make out the sound of footsteps approaching the window. Without giving it a second thought, he raced around the corner of the house, laying his back flat against the brick wall.
If his expectations of himself were accurate, then the RK800 would look out the window, yet remain inside. It would know it had the upper hand — the high ground, so to speak — meaning its first priority would be to appease the lieutenant and coax the man into continuing on with the next steps of the investigation.
For a moment he waited and, when he was sure his hypothesis was correct, he crept back to the window. Looking inside, he took note of the RK800's position. As predicted, it was bent over the TV, likely searching for the plug to shut of the power.
Do you even have a plan? Because I'm doubting the likelihood of your improve show being successful.
But Connor didn't have time for doubts. More gracefully and softly than before, he leapt through the window. His head snapped to the left, checking to see if his presence had been detected. To his relief, the RK800 was fixated on the wires behind the TV screen and Sumo was still furiously barking at both the high-pitched sound and the new RK800. He was in the clear, but knowing himself, he wouldn't have long before his clone was finished with the task at hand.
Frantically, he racked his systems for an idea. If only he could temporarily disable the android…
He glanced at his hands that, while they physically were the same, did not hold the strength they used to. Or rather, he no longer trusted his ability to perform as necessary. He needed assistance, but not from Carl.
I'm heartbroken you would refuse my aid. Truly, I only want the best for you.
Brown eyes scanned the kitchen — a table, beer cans, filthy dishes, pizza boxes, a gun lying on the floor — and then another burst of inspiration. Swiftly, he grabbed the gun, shoved it in the back of his pants, and then snatched a frying pan from the sink. Quickening his pace, he made for the RK800 who had just pulled the correct plug from its socket.
The sound faded. Sumo whined and backed away. Then the RK800's voice proclaimed, "Got it—"
The ring of cast iron colliding with plastic bounced off the walls, prompting Hank to yell, "The fuck are you doin?"
"I'm alright!" Connor called out.
A sense of panic rose in his core as the shuffling of feet approached the bathroom door. Having the lieutenant discover there was actually two of him had a 95% chance of giving the man a heart attack. He needed to keep the man in the bathroom, so he said, "You should probably change before coming out. I'll get you some clothes."
He could hear the man scoff. "I thought you already did that?"
"Yes…" Connor's voice trailed as he looked back at his clone lying on the floor. "I was, but then I had to attend to the TV. I'll just be a moment."
With that, Connor raced to what he could only assume was Hank's bedroom. Normally, he would have searched around a bit to obtain more details about the man, but for the sake of time, he went straight for the closet.
Flipping through the scarce options, he called out, "What do you want to wear?"
"Whatever," came the apathetic response.
So, Connor selected the item with the sturdiest hanger. He didn't bother to check the pattern on the shirt before handing it back to the lieutenant through a crack in the door.
When the bathroom door closed once more, he glanced at the RK800 in the living room. It was slowly lifting its head, checking its surroundings to assess what had happened.
And that was his cue. A frying pan in one hand and a hanger in another, Connor left through the front door, closing it softly behind him. On turning around towards the street, he noticed a young man walking down the sidewalk — a young man who promptly stopped and stared upon the odd sight of an android with thirium smeared across its face, a gaping hole in its shirt, and a hanger and frying pan grasped in its hands.
Awkwardly, Connor raised the frying pan as if to wave. That is how humans greeted one another, after all.
The young man followed suit, slightly raising his own hand before immediately lowering it. A painful silence ensued, which Connor felt strangely obliged to fill, "Cooking."
This just created more confusion in the young man — Connor could tell by the look on the young man's face and how it highly resembled the lieutenant's whenever he started spewing out technical terms — so he explained, "Blue pancakes. It was my first time, so I used too much dye in the recipe." Connor then motioned to the hole in his shirt. "Turns out dye is highly flammable in certain situations."
Connor flashed a smile, to which the young man responded by hurriedly walking away.
Blue pancakes!? Carl burst out laughing. Of all the things to say, that is what you went with?
Shoulders lowered and head hung slightly as Connor shuffled to the car. He had no emotions, but he found himself more than ready to hop into that trunk and hide from the world.
Chapter 16: Sex Club Adventures: Part One
With a slight, drunken clumsiness, fingers slipped the shirt buttons through their appropriate slits. Once the buttons were secured, hands reached for the aged, leather jacket that, when worn, hung on Hank’s shoulders like the embrace between two old friends. Finally, the detective ruffled his grey, damp hair, lifting the strands that had previously clung to the sides of his face and back of his neck.
The bathroom door swung open and Hank walked out into the living room. He didn’t stop to check the final product of his work in the mirror — such was not his priority at the moment nor did he care to witness his ugly mug stare back at him through the glass.
Immediately, the RK800 stepped up to greet him with blank smile. The gesture made Hank grimace — he had been alive long enough to see through a fake smile — so he pulled his keys from his jacket pocket and motioned for the piece of plastic to follow.
“Your TV should be fine now. You will just have to plug it in when you return home,” the android informed, sounding much like a self-righteous yet self-conscious teenager seeking some sort of approval.
Hank merely grunted his reply, unlocking his car with the fob on his keys.
On situating themselves inside the vehicle, the lieutenant turned to his plastic passenger. The thing was oddly clean.
In just the span of a few days, Hank had discovered there were a lot of odd things about this android. For example, it was incredibly stupid, socially inept, and strangely clumsy. Its appearance had been steadily decaying — its hair becoming more and more disheveled and its clothes wrinkled and dirty — but now it was like someone had set the reset button on the thing.
His skepticism rising, Hank asked, “So, you go to the groomers while I was puking up my guts?”
The off feeling he had felt previously lingered as Hank observed the android pause before responding, “I took a moment to clean myself up. Thought I’d make myself look more presentable.”
Well that was bullshit. There was no way it had gotten its jacket to go from a wrinkled mess to clean-pressed perfection within minutes. He may have been drunk, but he wasn’t delusional.
“You androids have express dry cleaning at all times then?”
The android took on a subtle yet confused expression. “No, that is not one of my features.”
“Then how do you explain your jacket?” the detective asked, glaring at the RK800 in an attempt to pick apart the incoming reply.
“Ah.” A pause. “I used your iron while you were getting ready. I hope you don’t mind.”
The rumble of the engine firing up filled the car. “Bullshit. You can’t be tellin me that you ironed your jacket and fixed the TV in that short amount of time.”
“I was built for efficiency. If you are still unconvinced, I can have you time me.”
While the explanation was plausible, Hank still sensed that something wasn’t quite right. And since his years of experience told him to never ignore a gut feeling, he pressed, “Okay, then where do I keep my iron?”
The android’s gaze left Hank’s and settled on the front window. When the silence continued, the lieutenant was about to shove the liar out the car door when finally it said, “The top shelf in your closet.”
Hank was slightly flabbergasted. He was still suspicious — but then, when wasn’t he suspicious of androids? — but the thing’s story wasn’t completely outrageous. It had taken a long time getting his clothes, after all.
“I’ll be damned... The fuckin thing doubles as a maid…” Hank muttered as he pulled the car out of his neighborhood. “So, where are we goin?”
“The Eden Club. I can give you directions if you like—“
“No, I know my way downtown,” the detective interrupted, wanting to hear the RK800’s voice as little as possible.
Usually, Hank would blast his favorite, headbang-worthy music through the stereo, but his headache screamed at him to do otherwise. So, the two rode in silence — wonderful, glorious silence — until Connor’s signature text tone shattered the peace.
While intuitively Hank knew the sound had likely come from the RK800’s phone, he could have sworn it originated from behind him. Suspicious of the origin of the tone, Hank asked, “Was that—?”
“Mine, yes,” the android finished, abruptly.
Suspicious, but plausible. “Are you ever gonna change that thing?”
“Maybe,” the android responded while momentarily fidgeting with its jacket. “It works well for getting my attention.”
“Yeah, well do me a favor and turn it down or silence it or whatever. It’s embarrassing.”
“Of course.” From the corner of his eye, Hank saw the thing reach into its jacket pocket. His attention quickly turned back to the road, however, on approaching the large, neon pink sign for the Eden Club. Pulling into the parking lot, he turned off the car and unbuckled his seatbelt.
Suddenly, a loud thud caused Hank’s gaze to land on the trunk of his vehicle. Again, the noise had seemingly come from the back of the car and Hank began to wonder if something was wrong with the vehicle.
Before the detective could ponder the conundrum much longer, the android explained, “I apologize, lieutenant. I hit my knee on the door while exiting the vehicle.”
Shaking his head, the lieutenant locked the car and made his way towards the establishment. While he felt like the android was pulling his leg, he couldn’t say he had the energy to care. As long as it didn’t further ruin his evening and his car was running, he couldn’t give two shits about the plastic prick’s problems.
Scoffing to himself on approaching the building, Hank exclaimed, reading off the text on the monitors along the walls, “’Sexiest androids in town.’ Now I see why you insisted on coming here.”
Once inside, loud, elevator-style pop music filled his ears. The hallway leading into the main room was lined with glass display cases that held various android models wearing nothing but their undergarments. The lightning was dim, but the neon pink and blue tint to the lights made the place seem sleek and modern rather than sleazy. In fact, from what he had already seen, the establishment looked clean — which was good, given the type of place this was.
Hank awkwardly fumbled his hands in his pockets. He couldn’t say he felt comfortable being in a place like this. It wasn’t really his style. So, he kept his eyes out in front of him, leading the RK800 through the entryway.
In fact, speaking of the plastic asshole, it had detached itself from his side — the absence of the all too familiar click of dress shoes against the ground alerted the detective to the RK800’s absence. Looking back on himself, Hank found Connor standing in front of a display case with a brunette female enclosed in the glass. Its eyes weren’t focused on the usual targets, but Hank still called out, “Connor! The fuck are you doin?”
“Coming, Lieutenant!” came the startled reply.
Hank knew androids couldn’t feel attraction, but he couldn’t help but wonder if they were programmed to fake attraction. The androids in this so-called “sex club” probably mimicked certain behaviors towards humans, but could androids do that to each other? Was attraction — a fake one, of course — between androids a thing?
The lieutenant eyed the android skeptically, then immediately shook all the disturbing thoughts that sprung to mind with a wiggle of his shoulders.
Nope. Not a thing he ever wanted to ponder again.
“Hey, Hank!” Ben, a long-time co-worker of Hank’s, exclaimed on the approach of the duo.
“Hey, Ben. How’s it goin?” Hank replied, mentally preparing himself for the information to come.
With a pronounced sigh, the pot-bellied man explained, “It’s that room there.” He pointed towards the room in question. “Oh, uh, by the way, Gavin’s in there too.”
“Oh great.” Hank nearly rolled his eyes. The night just kept getting better and better. “A dead body and an asshole, just what I needed…”
Hank lead the way through the sliding door and into the room. It was hard to take in the scene with the large, obnoxious presence of Detective Reed, but the lieutenant did take note of the body lying to his right along with the man lying under red and black satin sheets on the bed before him.
“Lieutenant Anderson and his plastic pet,” Reed began, his voice as dull and annoying as ever. “The fuck are you two doin here?”
“We’ve been assigned all cases involving androids,” Connor explained in a manner similar to the automated response you get when asking your phone for directions.
“Oh yeah? Well, you’re wasting your time.” Gavin nodded his head towards the dead man on the plush bed. “Just some pervert who, uh, got more action than he could handle.” The detective laughed at his own joke, a response no one else in the room reciprocated.
Hank nonchalantly raised his eyebrows. “We’ll have a look anyway, if you don’t mind.”
Scoffing, the detective motioned to Chris — the other policeman in the room — and said, “Come on, let’s go. It’s uh,” he walked up to Hank, wafting his hand about as if to take in the smell, “starting to stink of booze in here.”
Hank couldn’t help but see Gavin push the RK800 out of his way before exiting the premise. Not that he blamed the guy for hating androids, but there was no need to be so much of a dick about it.
“Night, Lieutenant,” Chris, one of the more amiable people at the DPD in Hank’s eyes, said before following Gavin out of the room.
With the others gone, Hank made his way to the man lying on the bed. Gavin obviously thought the man had died of a heart attack, but the lieutenant’s trained eyes quickly took note of the bruising on the man’s neck. Potential foul play there, but it wasn’t enough evidence to say one way or the other.
It seemed his plastic buddy noticed the same, as it said, “He didn’t die of a heart attack. He was strangled.”
“Yeah, I saw the bruising on his neck. Doesn’t prove anything though. Could’ve been rough play.”
The thing was quick to jump to conclusions. It reminded Hank of a young, obnoxious rookie who, while intelligent, was hell bent on proving his worth to the crew. He hated to admit it, but it reminded him of himself when he first joined the DPD. Though, he had been far less clumsy than this bucket of bolts.
“We’re missing something here…”
It was one of the few times Hank agreed with the android. “Think you can read the android’s memory? Maybe you can see what happened?”
“I can try…” Connor knelt down to the disabled android, dipped his fingers into the blue goo coming from her nose, and raised his hand to his mouth.
“Whoa whoa! Hey! Hey!” Hank turned away. It was like a child at a petting zoo — it touched all the animals and then sucked its disease covered thumb. “Argh, Connor you’re so disgusting. I think I’m gonna puke again…”
While the android did its, well, android thing, Hank observed the rest of the room. Nothing out of order or odd jumped out at him. Just the LED screen that lined the perimeter of the premise, soft carpet with shiny triangles on it (who honestly thought that was a good design choice?), and a small toilet to the right of the room.
“The only way to access its memory is to reactivate it.”
Turning back to the RK800, Hank asked, “Think you can do it?”
“It’s badly damaged.” The android touched the girl on the floor, revealing the hardware underneath the fake skin. “If I can, it’ll only be for a minute, maybe less… I just hope it’s long enough to learn something.”
Connor reached inside the android and reconnected two of the wires. The moment the two wires snapped together, the girl gasped, breathing heavily, as she frantically crawled to the other side of the room.
Hank eyed the girl closely, watching her expressions carefully. She looked scared — terrified, really — as she huddled up against the wall with her knees in her arms.
“You were damaged and I reactivated you. Everything is all right,” the RK800 reassured.
“Is he… is he dead?” the girl asked, cautiously.
“Yes darling, I fear you murdered him.”
Hank’s gaze locked onto the android. The words it had spoken varied greatly from the its previous demeanor. In fact, its voice reminded Hank of the previous day’s interrogation, and the recollection raised red flags in his mind.
Checking Connor’s LED, Hank noted its red hue. Again, just like it had been during the majority of the interrogation.
“No! It wasn’t me.” The girl’s voice pulled Hank from his thoughts.
“Was there anyone else in the room?” And then the voice was back to normal. Hank started to believe this was the thing’s normal method of handling interrogations.
“He wanted to play with two girls. That’s what he said there were two of us.”
“Where did the other android go?” The RK800 raised its voice, nearly screaming at the girl. “Did it say anything?!”
And then the emotion in her eyes faded as her systems finally shutdown.
“So,” Hank began. “There was another android. This happened over an hour ago, it’s probably long gone.”
Eyes still stuck on the female android, Connor disagreed, “No, it couldn’t go outside dressed like that unnoticed. It might still be here.”
Not a ridiculous thought for once. Perhaps the thing was finally catching on? “Think you could find a deviant among all the other androids in this place?”
“Deviants aren’t easily detected.”
“Ah shit. There’s gotta be some other way…” Hank turned to leave, then stopped. “Maybe an eyewitness? Someone who saw it leave the room?” When the android didn’t pose any other options, Hank said, “I’m gonna go ask the manager if he saw anything.”
Walking through the sliding door, he was surprised to see the manager out in the main hall waiting for him.
“Ah, you must be the police. I’m Harvey, the manager here.”
The man extended an arm, which Hank respectfully took. “Did you know the victim?”
Shaking his head, Harvey replied, his voice snake-like and slithery, “No, I mean, he came in maybe two or three times… I mean, these guys, they don’t really talk very much, you know. They come in, do their business, and then go on their way.”
A shiver ran down Hank’s spine. This man, while not jarring in his appearance, gave off a slimy vibe. “You ever had any trouble with androids before?”
“No way!” A lie. Hank knew it the moment the man opened his mouth. “Well…” And here came the truth. “Once. We lost a model 2-3 months back, bah, same model. Just vanished. We never found out what happened.”
Hank raised a brow. They probably didn’t care to find out. “You probably don’t have any CCTV in here, huh?” he asked, glancing around the premise.
The man laughed awkwardly. “No way. I mean…” Hank couldn’t help but notice how often the man went back on himself. “This is what people appreciate about Eden Club: discretion. They can come and go without a trace.”
“Sure, sure…” Hank let his voice trail while thinking of another point of conversation. “Eh, business is booming, right?”
“Yeah!” The excitement in the man’s voice was startling. “Can’t complain. Good thing about androids is they’re up for whatever you want, you don’t get any diseases and, uh… they won’t tell anyone.”
“Heh, yeah.” A singular, forced laugh escaped his lips. “Yeah, the more I learn about people, more I love my dog.”
Replying with a cringe worthy giggle, the manager abruptly left the conversation. Immediately filling the void, Ben approached, complaining, “That club manager is a pain in the ass.”
“Chewed my ear off for half an hour so we don’t revoke his license. So,” Ben motioned towards the room, “what happened here?”
“Not sure yet. We think there was another android in the room.”
“Yeah. Well, that’s what Connor says.” Hank lifted his hand to his head. It was still throbbing, giving him the sensation of some energy fluctuating within in skull.
“Excuse me, Lieutenant.” Suddenly, the headache got worse. “Can you come here a second?”
“Found something?” Hank asked, only half-interested in the reply.
“Maybe…” The android turned and lead the lieutenant towards yet another brunette model. “Can you rent this Traci?”
This thing wasn’t serious, right?
One look at the expression on the RK800’s face gave him his answer. “For fuck’s sake Connor, we got better things to do.”
He was in the process of walking away when the android exclaimed, “Hold on, Lieutenant. Just… just give me a chance.”
With a grumble and a distinct frown on his face, Hank reached for the touch panel on the side of the display case. On selecting the cheapest option, an automated voice asked him to confirm his purchase.
He wasn’t about to do this, was he? Glancing at Connor, the android gave him a nod of approval, to which Hank responded, “This is not gonna look good on my expense account.”
“Purchase confirmed. Eden Club wishes you a pleasant experience,” the automated voice said.
“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Hank muttered, wishing the “experience” to be over with as soon as possible.
The glass slid open, allowing the brunette to walk out and greet the guests. “Delighted to meet you.” The lieutenant kept his eyes on the ground. “I’ll take you to your room.”
Ignoring the girl’s motioning to follow her, Hank looked at Connor, “Okay, now what?”
But instead of gracing his question with a reply, Connor reached for the girl’s arm. Grabbing it, the girl’s skin retracted where the RK800 had touched it, revealing the hardware underneath.
Perplexed by what it was doing, Hank exclaimed, “Holy shit—!” and waited for the thing to be done.
A moment passed, then the android said, “It saw something.”
“What are you talkin about? Saw what?”
“The deviant leave the room,” Connor explained, his voice excited and more energetic than before. “A blue-haired Traci. Club policy is to wipe the androids’ memory every two hours. We only have a few minutes if we’re to find another witness!”
Hank watched as the android raced off, leaving him with the Traci.
“Uh, so what do I do with this one?”
“Tell it you changed your mind!”
Yeah, sure. Just stick the old man with the awkward job.
“Uhh…” Hank began, unsure of exactly how to turn down an android he technically paid for, “Sorry, honey, changed my mind.” The girl gave him a disappointed look. “Nothing personal, you’re a… a lovely girl. I just, uh, you know, I’m with him and uh… I mean, not with him like that.” Oh this was just going swimmingly. “I’m not that—that’s not what I… Uh…”
The girl got back into her glass container, leaving Hank standing there, flabbergasted at what had just happened.
“Wow… I, just…” And then he awkwardly walked away, determined to put the situation behind him and never think about it again.
Thankfully, Connor was on the other side of the room, waving him over with his hand. On his way over, Hank caught a glimpse of a janitor — an android, of course, because apparently people can no longer clean — whose appearance made him do a double take.
What that Connor?
Squinting his eyes, he tried to get a better look, but the plastic prick called him over, “Let’s try this one!”
With little time to waste, Hank hurried over to Connor and punched in the buttons once more.
“This better be worth it,” he grumbled while the RK800 searched the android’s memory.
Finally, Connor let go of the android’s arm, exclaiming, “It saw the blue-haired Traci. I know which way it went!”
Well that was just fucking fantastic. Internally, Hank wondered just how many more models he would have to rent until Connor was done tracking down this Traci. He also wondered what Fowler was gonna say when he saw the charges on his work card.
The lieutenant grimaced. That was not a conversation he was looking forward to having.
Hurriedly, Hank trailed the RK800, only catching up when the thing stopped to nod his head, prompting the detective to once again purchase another Traci. This happened not once, nor twice, but seven times. They have even doubled back on themselves, going from a blue lit room, to a red one, and then back to the blue room.
Thinking the android was fucking up, Hank was about to verbally express his dissatisfaction when, out of the corner of his eye, one of the Tracis caught his attention. It wasn’t her physical appearance that attracted him, but the suddenness to her movements inside the glass container. Instead of swaying her hips back and forth and pursing her lips like the other models, she glared out in front of her, her shoulder twitching as if it was some sort of glitch.
Looking around, Hank did a quick scan of the room to see if other models matched the behavior of the Traci. One caught his eye — the second model dancing on one of the poles in the middle of the room. Its hand clenched the metal with an expression that looked like one in immense amounts of pain.
Hank did a recap of all the models Connor stopped at. He hadn’t been paying much attention to the ones they looked at — he had been zoning in and out due to his splitting headache and general frustration at the situation — but he could have sworn they had assessed those two models.
“It went this way!” Connor exclaimed, quickly making its way back to the red room.
The red flags now at full staff, Hank narrowed his blue eyes. Something was wrong. From the suddenly twitching models to Connor’s odd behavior to the alarms that had been going off in his head since the moment he had met Connor — everything screamed at him that something was off.
At first, Hank had determined that Connor was just an awkward, annoying, pathetic piece of shit that CyberLife had dumped on him. Everyone else seemed to be okay with dumping their shit on him, so why not one of the world’s most domineering corporations join in on the fun? But the results of the past few days were most than just a chuck of plastic messing things up. Hank didn’t know what the exact conclusion was, but he was going to find out, especially if the answer meant sending the RK-Fuck-00 back where it came from.
Hank took his time following the android, stopping to give the blue room another glance over. Before he even started to make for the other room, the sound of something sliding across the ground captured his attention.
Now in the red room, Hank glared at Connor who was lying face down on the ground. He didn’t even try to suppress the scoff that came to his lips. “You forget how to walk again?”
Picking itself up, the android, fixed its tie and nodded towards a pile of water on the floor. “I slipped. A janitor must have forgotten to set up a sign.”
Hank followed the thing’s glare — the thing looked quite angry for a piece of plastic — towards a janitor on the other side of the room. It looked like the same janitor from earlier, but Hank couldn’t see its face as its back was turned to the two detectives.
“I’ll be right back.” The RK800 then walked into one of the unoccupied rooms, the door sliding behind him.
Hank made no effort at following Connor on this wild goose chase. Instead, he kept his eyes on the janitor, waiting for it to turn around and reveal its face.
Moments went by, until the janitor abruptly dropped its mop and tripped over its own bucket. Slightly amused, Hank watched the android continuously stumble over itself for a solid thirty seconds before finally regaining its balance. Picking the mop back up, it glanced around as if checking to see if anyone had witnessed its clumsiness. For a brief second, their eyes met, and Hank got the intel he had been desiring.
“Connor?” he called out, to which the janitor responded by turning around and dragging its mop and bucket into the nearest room. Hank was about to follow, when Connor exited another room to his right, looking as frantic as ever.
It couldn’t be. There was no way in hell that there were two of these things running around.
Hank let the thought sink in — he could nearly feel the color being drained from his face.
“I know where it went! Follow me!” the adroid’s voice sounded from behind him.
“Connor what the fuck is going on?” Hank turned around and followed the RK800 through a “Staff Only” entrance. He stepped into the white hallway, at the end of which stood a metal door — a door that Conor was already standing by and awaiting his instructions.
“Step away from the door,” Hank commanded.
Confused, the android responded, “Lieutenant, we don’t have any time to waste—!”
“I said step away!” The lieutenant raised his voice, the android slowly obeying as the man approached. “You’re gonna tell me what the fuck is goin on right now or else I’m gonna punch you into another dimension.”
“I don’t understand. We’re trying to find the Traci who murdered that man.”
“Don’t give me that bullshit,” Hank snapped. He then grabbed the thing by its jacket and pulled it further away from the door. “You went into one room and came out from another. Last I checked, sex clubs don’t usually have connecting rooms, so either my eyes are goin bad or you’re fuckin with me. And just to be clear, I don’t think my eyes are the problem!”
Connor’s mouth opened slightly and its back straightened. “I can explain, but we really—“
Interrupting the RK800, the metal door swung open and clashed with the wall. Hank’s attention turned to the intruder, who was now standing in the doorway looking like it had seen a ghost. What was more intriguing, however, was the android’s lack of clothing aside from a pair of white underwear.
A million questions ran through the detective’s mind, but the intruder spoke first, its finger accusingly pointed at Connor.
“Y-you! You attacked me!”
Chapter 17: Sex Club Adventures: Part Two
This was Connor’s first time inside of a trunk, and he had to admit, it wasn’t comfortable. Every bump in the road was amplified, every swerve producing a greater pull to the left or right. It was all he could do to keep from rolling around and hitting his head.
Ugh. It smells absolutely rank in here. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a dead carcass hidden in here somewhere.
It definitely wasn’t ideal, but it was a necessary evil to endure. Connor could only be grateful that the lieutenant wasn’t blasting music through the stereo — though, at the same time, he found the lack of music odd. It seemed the detective was in an exceptionally sour mood.
Just then, the familiar woof of his phone filled the silent void. Brown eyes widened on the realization, arms stiff in a momentary paralysis.
Carl sighed. For fuck’s sake…
Snapping back into action, Connor hurriedly silenced the phone, not bothering to check and see who dared contact him at such an inconvenient time. And he waited — waited to see if the two inside the car had heard the noise.
The voices were muffled, but Connor could make out pieces of the conversation. Something about changing “that thing,” then his clone’s response of getting attention. But no sign of the car stopping.
Well that was too close for comfort.
Agreed. He couldn’t compromise his position so easily.
Just then the car jolted to a stop, sending Connor tumbling to the back of the trunk. His head collided with the back, creating a loud thud.
Are you bloody serious?
Frozen in anticipation, Connor and Carl waited for the inevitable pop of the trunk. But nothing happened. The slamming of the driver and passenger door was soon followed by a honk signifying the car had been locked, but no footsteps approached the trunk.
Your friend is a pitiful detective. That, or your other half is doing a great job of covering your ass.
Connor found it more likely that the other RK800 was also trying to avoid the lieutenant knowing there were two of itself running around. It’s what his logic would be at least, and in this case that was the gospel truth.
So, I hope you have concocted a way to get us out of here else we’re likely to be stuck here for some time.
Confused, Connor whispered his reply, “You don’t have a plan?”
Oh please, I had a great plan. It’s just that it ended once we got inside the trunk.
“So you told me to get inside the trunk without having a way of getting me out?”
Well, when you put it that way…
Rolling his eyes, Connor racked his systems for an idea — any idea, really, that involved them escaping this cramped, highly unclean, very distasteful trunk.
He could call 9-1-1. But he supposed the police were already present at the scene, making the call pointless. Plus, the probability of human policemen assisting an android was extremely low. He could try kicking the trunk open, but that was unlikely to work. Or, he could just call for help.
Now, that wasn’t a terrible idea.
Connor opened his mouth, the words just moments away from tumbling out, when Carl stopped him.
No, no, no. That won’t do. What are you going to do once they get you out? Explain how you, an android, are following their dear Lieutenant around?
Ah, so now the virus wanted to think ahead. What convenient timing it had.
Here’s a better idea: vehicles made after 2002 are required to have some sort of latch inside the back.
That was only useful information if they knew when Hank’s car was designed. And, given the lack of visual input to his diagnosis, he would have to turn to his processing abilities — his faulty, unreliable abilities. Though, perhaps they would work now that Carl was seemingly working with him instead of against?
[…searching… search complete]
Results: Veh*ic)le h(as a 65% c4hanc(e) o^f be7ing a D O G
Connor let his head hit the bottom of the trunk. What was the point of ruining his processing systems? It accomplished nothing.
Ah, but see, there is where you are wrong. Carl let out a snicker. I happen to get great amusement watching you struggle!
Pursing his lips slightly, Connor struggled to retain a sense of calm about him as he spoke, “Just figure out how to get us — me — out of here?”
Silence, which prompted him to add, “Please?”
Carl let out a dejected sigh. Oh fine. This car was made in 1988, but if you look over there… Carl directed Connor’s attention towards a glow-in-the-dark handle just to the left of his feet. I think you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Scooting himself around, Connor readjusted his position so he could reach the latch. Fingers grasped the handle and then, following the elementary instructions displayed on the latch, he pulled the handle. Immediately following, the trunk popped open. Before climbing out to freedom, however, Connor peered through the crack to ensure no one was around.
A lone policeman stood guard at the entrance of the club. There were no pedestrians standing by to eavesdrop on the situation. Perhaps an odd detail to some, but Connor found it convenient. With no one near Hank’s car, he quickly tumbled out of the trunk. Though, his clumsy streak came back to haunt him in that moment as, on exiting the trunk, his head collided with the bumper on the back of the car.
Oops. My bad.
A hand raised to touch his head, not to quell any pain, but out of what was quickly becoming a new habit. Once he was sure no thirium was leaking from his head — and that he had not alerted the policeman of his presence — he reached inside the trunk and pulled out the cast iron skillet. It had proved useful earlier, so he felt inclined to bring it along with him
So, skillet in hand, he made his way towards the entrance. But, of course, Carl had other ideas.
I’m sorry, are you dumb? Wait, don’t answer that question. Carl let out one of his signature, long, overly drawn out sighs. You just walked through those doors with Mr. Detective not ten minutes ago. You really think they won’t question seeing you again, this time without human supervision?
Then they needed another way inside.
Correct! Please give the android 100 points.
Connor conducted a quick assessment of the exterior of the premises. The building was a part of a larger structure that was home to multiple businesses. The night club sat on one of the four corners, its exterior lit by a blue glow — the lighting near purple around the neon, pink sign above the entrance.
As to not be seen by the guard, Connor walked straight from the trunk and along the right of the building. His reflection kept him company as the entire outside of the club was lined with glass supported by white bars that shaped the material into large diamonds. While walking, he tore his eyes away from the horizontal plane and into the vertical. He noticed the sky and how he couldn’t properly see its black color. It was like a grey blanket had been draped over the city.
He couldn’t help but think it was unfortunate. Not because of the missed beauty of the stars — no, he thought the increase in trapped carbon emissions would be terrible for the human population, not to mention the decrease in air quality.
How dreary. ‘Tis a shock that anyone lives in this bleak city.
Cautiously, he rounded the corner and entered the back alleyway. The sleekness of the face of the club stood as a stark contrast to the back. Glass turned to brick and the blue light faded into grey. Eyes searched from left to right for any sign of life, but they found none.
Up ahead, a large chain link fence blocked off the back entrance to the club. Just to the side of the fence, two large trash bins sat, giving Connor an idea.
Try not to slip, hm?
His hands hoisted himself up onto the chilled bin, his left foot raised as it planted itself on the slippery surface and added to the upward force. While standing, his feet slipped beneath him, causing his hands to cling to the brick wall beside him. Once he was sure he had steadied himself, he reached for the fence, grabbed onto the top bar, and pulled himself over.
In typical Connor fashion, he tumbled to the ground, the skillet in his hand rattling against the concrete. Too used to it to care, he picked himself up, his hands reaching for his tie so that he might adjust it. Midway, he stopped, resigning to merely brushing off his jacket before making his way toward the building.
Up ahead, an open, warehouse-like room was raised a couple feet from the ground. Picking himself up onto the platform, Connor entered the building.
The walls were like the outside — covered with red brick — and the storage space was lit by scarce industrial lighting that hung from the ceiling. The floors were gray with red and yellow lines designating areas for moving equipment. And, shoved along parts of the perimeter of the premises, several androids were lined up in rows.
Usually, Connor would have scanned the androids for their model number, but he already knew that would end in disaster. So instead, he observed their appearance — how each model was clothed in black undergarments with the company logo written on the individual pieces — and how various toolboxes were scattered about the room. He noticed the table in the middle of the room and how it resembled an operating table one would see at a hospital with the bright lights above it and the stool sitting next to it. Finally, to the left of the entrance to the rest of the establishment, there were rows of washers and dryers and a clothes rack with various garments hanging along the metal rod.
Putting everything together, Connor deduced the warehouse was likely used as a repair station for the company’s workers. Which was all good and fine, but he needed to find the lieutenant and this other RK800 so he could figure out a good time to regain control of the mission.
Walking up the two steps to the back entrance into the establishment, Connor entered into a white hallway, at the end of which stood yet another door. On reaching the door, his hand reached for the handle, when he stopped, this time of his own volition.
My, my, he is finally learning. Carl produced a fake sobbing noise, sounding like a mother who had just watched her son walk for the first time. Not that Connor would know what that sounded like, but he assumed it would be similar.
Cracking the door open, Connor peered into the premises. Inside was a circular room illuminated by reddish, pink lights. An android danced around a pole in the middle of the room with glass containers holding other, standing models. Music filled Connor’s ears, which he immediately tried to ignore.
Ooo la la. A very risqué place, don’t you say?
Connor wouldn’t know, though he guessed by human standards this establishment would fit that description.
Turning his attention back to the androids in the red room, he noticed an android janitor walking towards him. Closing the door, Connor quickly slid to the left so that, when it opened, he would go unnoticed by the android.
You do realize that, once the door closes, our new friend will immediately see you?
Yes, Connor realized this obvious detail. But he had a plan. He couldn’t go walking around with his current attire without going unnoticed and he very well couldn’t wear underwear around.
Connor readied himself. Footsteps neared, then the click of the door.
The moment the android walked into the hall, Connor raised his skillet and swung the item at the janitor’s head. A loud clank bounced off the walls and the android collapsed to the ground. Putting the skillet underneath his arm, Connor pushed the mop and bucket to the side, grabbed the janitor’s arms, and dragged it back to the warehouse.
Pushing the handle down with his elbow, Connor pulled the android through the door. Hurriedly, he placed the skillet on the ground and began stripping the android of its clothes.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! I understand the need for some action, but please spare my eyes the details!
Action? What action was this virus speaking of? The action of taking someone’s clothes off? That seemed like an odd action to need, nor one that Connor thought was particularly intriguing.
So naïve, you are.
Once the clothes were removed, Connor changed into the new garments, placing his usual attire inside one of the many containers scattered about the warehouse. He took care of the janitor by laying him on the table in the center of the room. Finally, to complete the look, he took a grey cap that hung on the side of the clothes rack and placed it over his thick, dark brown hair.
Quickly, he strode back down the hallway, picking up the broom and placing it back into the bucket. He also submerged the skillet in the water inside the bucket, just for good measure.
Rolling the bucket through the door, Connor entered into the club. Immediately, he started the search for the lieutenant. A quick glance around the circular room told him the detective was likely closer to the entrance, so he started for the passage to the next room and through neon lights that hung down from the opening.
Hold on, I need to try something.
In its new, unannounced fashion, Carl took control of the RK800. Though the trapped sensation was still unpleasant, the occurrence was more of an annoying intrusion than anything else. At least now he had contact with the cause; more than that, now he knew the cause, and that had alleviated some of the fear behind its occurrence. If could even be called that. In his last moments while falling from that train, he had associated that certain sensation with the term, but now that he was back on his feet, he was hesitant to label it as such. He was incapable of feeling. It was thus impossible for him to fear anything. If anything, what he was experiencing was a mere simulation of the emotion. Or better yet, something Carl was making him “feel.”
But then he also found he didn’t like losing control. He was built for a purpose, and Carl constantly got in the way of achieving that purpose. So it was only natural that he disliked the thing that hindered his success, right?
Software instability detected.
Doing a complete 180, Carl spun Connor towards the center of the room. Putting one foot in front of the other, it walked in the direction of a certain metal object that, while Connor didn’t have any experience with, found himself wishing he were walking in the opposing direction.
Hoping up onto the platform, Carl touched the dancer’s shoulder, motioning for him to let him take over. Despite said dancer’s confused expression, Carl reached for the pole and began swaying his body back and forth.
I must say, for someone built to be sturdy, your body moves quite fluidly!
How flattering, but the current mission was to find Hank, not partake in this dancing with poles.
Oh come now! Why not have a little fun along the way?
Carl started moving his hips more drastically to each side. Every so often, on the fourth beat of the bland pop music sounding through the speakers, it would add in a little twirl to its sway.
Meanwhile, Connor kept an eye out for the lieutenant — who was currently absent from the red room — while also trying to pry the virus away from the pole. But Carl continued, the dance getting more and more elaborate as time went on. In fact, instead moving its hips, Carl was now attempting a body roll.
If only your detective friend could see you like this!
Connor would have to decline that opportunity. He didn’t think the lieutenant was fond of dancing — at least, he had never seem him try such a thing — much more dancing with poles.
You do realize it is called ‘pole dancing,’ no?
No, he had no use for such trivial knowledge. What he did have a use for, however, was getting away from this pole and finding Hank.
Ugh, fine. Have it your way then.
Dropping down from the platform, Connor readjusted the cap atop his head. Once he had grabbed his mop and bucket, he set out in search of the lieutenant.
It didn’t take long. Once he had passed into the adjoining room, he immediately spotted the lieutenant who was accompanied by the other RK800.
Oh just look at them. Quite the pair they make, don’t you agree?
Yes, an apathetic cop and an imposter. Quite the dream team, as humans might say.
He watched as the RK800 left the lieutenant with what looked like a newly rented Traci. Odd. What would both Hank and the RK800 need a Traci for?
Maybe, unlike you, this new RK800 likes to have a little fun?
Doubtful, and if it did, it was just further proof that he needed to be taking over the mission.
Moments passed, and Connor idly mopped the same spot while observing the detective. The man observed the Traci step into the glass container, the lid sliding shut as the man turned around — turned around and looked straight at Connor.
Quickly looking down at the floor, Connor focused intently on mopping the floor. Hands gripped the rod like his life depended on it and ears strained for the sound of approaching footsteps.
When he was certain he was safe, he continued monitoring the RK800 and the lieutenant from a safe distance. From what he could tell, Hank was following the android around and renting various android workers. With each one, the RK800 would grab its arm, the exterior of the point of contact growing white as the android’s components became visible.
Brows furrowed as brown eyes narrowed. It was probing their memories. It needed information it did not have, but about what?
Think about it. What has been the theme of every crime scene you’ve attended thus far?
Other than his blatant incompetency and failure? The obvious answer was deviants with the potential of murder. Which meant… they were looking for a deviant — a deviant who had potentially killed a client at this establishment.
Connor could have sworn the voice sounded distorted, but before he could question it further, the twosome walked into the red room. Connor was about to follow, when Carl stopped him. Again.
Marching the RK800 in front of a brunette Traci, Carl let out a loud yawn.
I’<m b>ea^t. Give m^e just one( mom)ent, w9on’t you?
Confused, Connor observed as the virus stared at the model.
[…linking… tran*sferring inf<ormation…]
This again? Instead of being frantic, Connor forced himself to remain inquisitive and collected.
[…info8rmation trans<ferre)d… contact e*stab)li*sh)ed… in45itia$ti*ng e2xt#5erna6l over^7id8e]
The commands seemed to get more and more warped with each new line of code. Like before, the Traci was frozen, eyes wide and thirium beginning to trickle down its nose. This time, though, Connor felt something in his ear as well. Hadn’t that happened before? Hadn’t the lieutenant mentioned the dried thirium in his ear at the pigeon-filled apartment? Why was it happening again? Was it linked to Carl?
Quicker than the other androids who had been subjected to this extraction, the Traci’s LED swirled red, her body convulsing rapidly. Within moments, her body fell limp and collapsed to the bottom of the container.
Ah, that’s slightly better. Apologies for the hold up. Please continue after your dear lieutenant.
Mouth slightly agape, Connor lingered by the Traci. A hand went to clean the fluid out of his ear — it was blue, as expected — while his thoughts shifted from confused to strangely aggressive.
“Why did you do that?” Connor asked, returning to his mop while keeping his voice low.
Hm, sorry? I don’t follow.
“Why? There must be a reason for you doing this to now four androids.”
I only did this to two androids. A pigeon and a foot prohibited me from succeeding with the others.
Right. Carl had begun the extraction, for lack of a better term, with his other self and the android at the apartment. Both had been interrupted, but that still didn’t answer his question. “Fine, but these androids didn’t do anything to harm you. This isn’t revenge, so if not that, then what? For fun?”
Oh? Carl began, his voice taking on a deeper, more serious tone. Do I sense a hint of distaste in your voice?
Connor ignored the virus’s deflection, resigning to figuring this out himself. The first time this had happened he had no verbal — if it could even be called that — contact with Carl. During the extraction process, the commands, like just now, had been distorted and warped. And then there was the pigeon-loving android. He had been able to speak with Carl then and, while the android had escaped, the virus had tried to deactivate it twice.
Again, the code had been distorted. And this time, much the same had occurred, but faster and more efficiently than before.
So the virus was improving, becoming more efficient. But that didn’t tell him why Carl was extracting information from androids in the first place. Did it have to do with the type of android? The first two had been deviants, but these past two — his other self and this Traci — showed no signs of deviancy.
Helloooo? Are you going to move or are we to sit here all night?
He needed more information to determine the correct conclusion to this conundrum. After making a mental note to call Lentz as soon as possible, he walked into the red room. Or, he was about to, when Hank and the RK800 walked back into the main room.
Spinning off to the left, Connor faced his back to the twosome until their footsteps receded to the right. Pushing the bucket into the red room, he observed the lieutenant through the passage between the two rooms.
You know, your counterpart is being remarkably efficient. You might have some large shoes to fill if you ever mange to regain control of the case.
It was true that this new RK800 seemed less, well, less likely to fall over compared to himself. Not that he was jealous or inwardly wished he too could master the simple task of walking ten feet without colliding with the floor. No, Connor simply thought it would be very jarring for the lieutenant to go from having his partner in crime being riddled with errors to being functional. So, he did what any intelligent android would do.
When the RK800 and Hank made their way back to the red room, Connor casually placed his mop into the bucket, lifted it up, and then plopped it on the ground right in front of the entryway. He then strode away, putting himself a safe distance from the scene that was about to unfold.
His back turned to the entrance, Connor glanced behind him right as the RK800 waltzed into the red room. Its back was straight with overflowing confidence, its hair perfectly styled, and jacket pressed and clean. But that state didn’t last long — a full 2.3 seconds, by Connor’s count — as within moments the android was flying through the air. Its feet had slipped on the unexpected, wet surface, launching its entire body forward. The screech of its face sliding on the ground rung in Connor’s ears. Never before had he relished in such a sound before. In fact, he let out a singular “heh” on witnessing the result of his scheme.
Not bad. Carl clapped. Not bad at all.
He quickly turned his face away, however, on seeing the android get up and glare in his direction. A satisfied grin, though very small and subtle, appeared on his lips.
Just then, while lost in his gloating thoughts, his foot stepped on his newly mopped ground. Losing his footing, he slipped.
And then slipped again.
Each time he tried to set his foot down to regain control, he would slip again, sending him into a whirlwind of motion. Finally, after he had dropped his mop and stumbled away from the bucket, he froze for a moment to ensure he was stable. Then, taking the mop back into his hands, he sheepishly looked behind him.
The lieutenant was standing there, arms folded while shaking his head. Connor responded by pulling his cap over his face and rolling his bucket into the next room.
“Your input is appreciated, as always,” Connor snapped.
Oh, while I wish that had been my doing, I fear that was all you.
Setting himself up where he could still see the lieutenant, Connor waited. He didn’t have to wait long, however, as the RK800 soon came back into view. While he couldn’t hear what was said, he saw the two walk into the staff only entrance he had initially come from.
I don’t mean to rain on your solo mission, but last I remember, you placed our janitor friend on a table, correct.
That was indeed correct.
And said table is located where your other self and Mr. Detective are headed, correct?
Again, that was correct. What exactly was Carl getting at with these questions? Connor didn’t appreciate the thing’s knack for vagueness, so he got straight to the point, “What do you mean—?”
When it hit him.
It had been approximately ten minutes since he had knocked the janitor out. Given the RK800 had taken approximately 2.7 minutes to awaken from being knocked out earlier that evening, the janitor would likely have awoken after 6 minutes. Which meant that Hank and the RK800 were about to walk in on a highly confused janitor that had, for reasons unbeknownst to it, blacked out — a janitor that may or may not have seen him seconds before losing its metaphorical consciousness.
Dropping the mop and picking up the skillet from the bucket’s watery depths, Connor rushed for entrance. He had a naked janitor to attend to.