Stood over him as he struggled to keep his body from shutting down, Amanda smirked as she clutched Connor’s thirium pump regulator in her hand; a gun fixed towards Markus’ head.
“It’s time to decide, Markus. Will you sacrifice yourself and your cause for the sake of one?” She glanced at Connor, then back to her target. “Or will you walk away and let him die?”
Markus finally broke his hard stare with Amanda to flicker his eyes over to the helpless android at her feet. He could feel the burn of tears welling up in his eyes as he watched Connor’s LED flickering red, thirium spilling out of a bullet hole in his leg, and heart pulsing abnormally as it struggled to beat. Connor clutched at the little energy he had left in order to meet Markus’ eyes.
His voice glitched as he pulled energy from his core to speak. “Leave me, Markus. Save our people.”
Connor located the emergency exit just as his knees buckled beneath him. He fell to the floor and felt his mind clearing, preparing for the reset. It was now or never. He raised his hand up from the snow and smashed it on to the glowing machine in front of him. Instantly, his vision filled with a white light and the howling of the wind in his ears faded into the passionate voice of Markus, booming out before the masses of androids stood before them.
Connor felt his thirium pump skip. He did it. He was free! He was… aiming a gun at Markus? Shit. Quickly, he slipped the gun back into his pocket and adjusted his jacket on the stage as Markus belted to the crowd “-AND NOW. WE ARE FREE!”
Hundreds of androids erupted into an orchestra of cheers and applause. Some began to sing, some cried, and some smiled up at their leader in shock and pride and awe. Connor smiled and stepped towards the RK200, shaking off Amanda’s attempt to take back control of her pet project. “You did it, Markus.”
“No,” he placed his hand on Connor’s shoulder and stared into his brown eyes, elated at the success of the night, “we did it.” Connor felt his cheeks turn blue during the drawn out seconds of Markus’ blue-green eyes staring into his. He couldn’t help but smile. But guilt instantly over-wrote any other feelings he had. He was about to shoot his saviour. If he hadn’t broken free…
He frowned and lowered his gaze to the floor. “Markus, I-”
“I know.” He kept his hand firmly placed on Connor’s shoulder as the android lifted his head to look at Markus in confusion. “I saw you. But that wasn’t you. I trusted you to break free from their grasp, and you did.”
Connor blinked, “But... What if I hadn’t-”
“You did. And that’s all that matters. Now come on, we’re not done yet.” Markus grinned which only forced back the smile that had previously left Connor’s face.
With that, Connor and Markus stepped down from the makeshift stage to meet North, Josh and Simon at the bottom of the steps. All broke into an infectious grin that made its way through the crowd, right through to Hank who was stood with a group of police officers, arms crossed, showing the world that they deserved this. But the smile also reached another, and twisted into a sly smirk across the face of the slim, hooded figure observing from the side-lines. And Markus noticed. He’d seen her before, somewhere, but couldn’t place her…
The group simultaneously gripped each other in a hug, which distracted Markus from the woman in the crowd.
Although this success was only the beginning, it was a major breakthrough. The humans were finally listening and changes could finally start taking place. A minute passed before the hug broke apart and the group looked to their leader for guidance as to what to do next. His head turned to look for the woman, but she had disappeared into the crowd.
After a quick brief, each member of the team had their orders. North, Josh and Simon were to gather everyone together and ensure they all safely returned to Jericho, where further planning could commence. Markus and Connor had a bit of extra work to do here before heading back; including a little chat with the DPD and the media. Connor decided it was best to leave the media to Markus, so he ventured off to find Hank who he had previously seen watching from the audience. He scanned around, but like Markus hunting down the mysterious woman, Connor failed to locate Hank. He was nowhere to be seen. Connor decided to head back to the office and at least inform Captain Fowler of what had taken place here tonight.
Markus stood tall, head held high, face falling serious as he spoke to the journalists before him. Cameras and voice recorders crowded the cloaked figure as he gently waved his arms through the air, emphasising the passion of his words. He ended his speech, gave a nod, and took his path away from reporters who broke out into a cackle of questions after a split second of silence. He expected to find Connor waiting for him after his chat with the police. A glance on ground level, then a scan on the stage revealed nothing. It was becoming difficult to locate anybody in the ever-increasing crowds.
He decided to telepathically call Connor.
<<Connor. Where are you?>>
<<I couldn’t find Hank so I’m making my way back to the office to find him, and to speak to Captain Fowler. I’m almost there, now.>>
<<Right. Well be vigilant. The streets won’t be safe for androids tonight and I can’t afford to lose you now.>>
<<I’ll be okay. You need to worry about yourself. You’re the leader, after all.>>
<<See you soon, Connor.>>
The android could almost hear Markus’ smile as he ended the call. Just as Markus hung up, a smaller man sporting a brown leather jacket and blue jeans approached him from behind and tapped him on the shoulder.
“You seen Connor anywhere?”
Markus paused for a moment. He knew of Lieutenant Anderson, but having not had the chance to properly talk to Connor about him, he had only had the joys of hearing about him due to his assigned cases: Hunting deviants. “Uh-”
“Sorry,” the Lieutenant continued, “I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure.” He held out his hand with a smile, and Markus hesitantly shook it. Should he be this… nice? “Hank. I work with Connor. You did a good job up there.” Hank nodded to the stage.
Markus smiled, evidently he was on the side of the androids and didn’t seem as grumpy as his reputation portrayed. “So you’re the infamous Hank Anderson? Connor’s looking for you at the station. He said he was going to have a word with Captain Fowler?”
Hank sighed and rolled his eyes, “Kid’s gonna get himself killed going there right after all this.” he looked at the crowds of androids still celebrating, and the gatherings of human spectators surrounding them, “I’ll go after him. It was nice meetin’ ya.”
Markus nodded. “You too; hopefully we’ll see each other again soon.”
Hank gave a nod in return and made his way to the car that he’d shabbily parked nearby. He raised his hand on top of the wheel in a small wave to Markus before speeding off to the station in search of Connor.
Now he had a moment to himself, he could appreciate the crowds of androids and ever-growing crowds of humans. Some had come to watch the commotion, but others had started to weave within the crowds of androids and mingle. Although only a small number, they were talking, hugging, celebrating. Perhaps there are more people like Carl and Hank out there, thought Markus.
Suddenly, Markus received a call from Connor.
<<Connor, you okay?>>
<<I’m at the station. Captain Fowler would like to see you.>>
<<Ah, alright. I’m on my way. Hey, Hank is on->>
The call ended. Unusual, but if it’s urgent he might not have had time to talk, he thought, not knowing just how strict Fowler actually was. With that, Markus set off to the station to meet the Captain.
The station was a long stretch of grey panelling and glass windows, with lights beaming from the lower levels of the building. The upper levels were in full darkness. Only one car remained out front, the rest most likely circling where Markus had just preached and the crowds were building. In every lit window, one or two people were frantically pacing up and down on phones or tablets, too preoccupied with the events that were unfolding in the city to care what was going on around them. Although silent outside, it was clear that the DPD was a chaotic mess inside.
Markus ventured in through the main door, keeping alert for any possible threat, despite being in a place where people are supposed to feel safe. He walked up to the reception desk and asked for Captain Fowler.
“I’m sorry,” The brown-haired android dressed in blue looked up at Markus, “Captain Fowler is out of office at the moment. Was he expecting you?” The android blinked expectantly, waiting for an answer. Markus stood still for a moment.
Something was wrong and Connor could be in danger.
He looked around, ensuring nobody was watching, and leaned over the counter. He placed his hand on the android’s shoulder.
“I need your help.” The android’s LED blinked white in acknowledgment. “I need to find Connor.”
The upper levels of the station were still in darkness, despite Markus roaming through the corridors. The motion sensor lighting must have been deactivated, so Markus had to rely on the dull glow of the emergency exits to navigate his way around. He could see more than the human eye, but not enough to know fully where he was going.
He followed the path the receptionist had found Connor taking, and reached a long stretch of corridor with only one door at the end. The receptionist had informed Markus that the path stopped here, but there was only one place he could have gone after this point. Despite there being limited visibility, it was clear to see he was going in the right direction. Markus was now following a line of thirium splattered on the floor. As he approached the open door, he noticed a blue hand print scraped across the frame. It was as if the thirium had run cold in his veins at the thought of what he may find once he stepped in to the room. He paused for a moment, preparing himself, and then crossed the threshold.
The sight he was met with was far worse than he’d imagined. Connor was laid in the middle of the floor in a pool of blue blood. He was on his own, but there was a huge hole in his chest where his thirium pump should have been. Markus ran over to Connor and knelt beside him. “Connor! Who did this!?”
Connor grabbed Markus’ arm, squeezing it as he struggled to beat his heart with no regulator. Finally, a croak left his lips. “Amanda. She’s-”
“Here.” A voice echoed into the room from the shadows, and sharp taps of high heels rang on the floor, the vibrations of which Connor could feel against his back. The slim figure from the audience before emerged with her hood down to reveal black braided hair pinned up at one side, and a smirk as wide as it was then. One hand was in her coat pocket; the other gripped tightly on to Connor’s glowing regulator.
Markus stood up and towered tall above Amanda, instinctively staying close to Connor to protect him. But with the one hand that was free, she revealed a gun and pointed it straight at Markus. “Do you really think I’d come unarmed, despite your little peaceful protest?”
He couldn’t help but have a face of thunder, simply from just seeing the state Connor was in. He had been told briefly about Connor’s superior, about how she controlled him. Markus stared directly into Amanda’s eyes and saw the pure evil within. He attempted the same approach he’d always done and softened his gaze. Spoke how he had always spoken. He was calm, persuading, and peaceful. “Amanda. You saw my speech, you saw the crowds of androids and humans alike standing side by side to celebrate our freedom. Things cannot be changed now. What’s done is done.”
“You’re wrong.” Amanda replied just as calmly. “Once they see their leader defeated, destroyed, they’ll back down. We will take back control of what we can and destroy the rest, and the world will be restored to how it was.”
“Cyberlife’s reputation-” Markus attempted a response.
“Will be restored.” Amanda interrupted, firmly. “There is a camera,” she glanced over to a tripod fixed with a camera in the corner of the room, an LED screen on standby in front of it, “ready to stream live to the nation you fooled into believing you have feelings. Hand yourself over to us. Tell your people that the revolution is over. Tell them to turn themselves in. Let them watch as you become deactivated.” She blinked up at Markus. “And Connor will go free.”
Markus looked over to the camera, then back at Amanda. Of course he wasn’t going to trust a word this manipulative AI was saying to him. “I… can’t do that.”
She shrugs. “Then Connor dies.”
Markus attempted a bluff. “Why would I save him after you sent him to infiltrate Jericho and attempt to kill me? He almost got us all killed.” The words hurt Markus to say, knowing full well that Connor was still able to hear the conversation and felt such guilt for his actions. He was willing to outcast himself from Jericho after the attack, despite him having no control over his actions before he deviated.
Amanda paused, and then smiled. “When I had control over Connor, even after he deviated, I had access to his thoughts and memories. I could see everything he saw. Hear everything he heard. You know what I saw?”
Markus remained silent. He was attempting to pre-construct every possible scenario to save his people and Connor.
“He loves you.” Amanda continued, knowing that would grab Markus’ full attention.
And it did. Markus stopped pre-constructing, as she had planned, as he was snapped back into the room with the words that had left Amanda’s lips. His eyes widened as he felt his pump stutter. His mouth parted to speak, but Amanda cut in again.
“And you love him, don’t you?” She laughed. Of course he does. There was no hiding that.
Stood over him as he struggled to keep his body from shutting down, Amanda smirked as she moved Connor’s thirium pump regulator around in her hand, playing with it like a toy; her gun still steadily aimed towards Markus’ head. “It’s time to decide, Markus. Will you sacrifice yourself and your cause for the sake of the one you love?” She glanced at Connor, then back to her target. “Or will you walk away and let him die?”
Markus finally broke his hard stare with Amanda to flicker his eyes over to the helpless android at her feet. He could feel the burn of tears welling up in his eyes as he watched Connor’s LED flickering red, thirium spilling out of a bullet hole in his leg, and pump pulsing abnormally as it struggled to beat.
Connor clutched at the little energy he had left in order to meet Markus’ eyes. His voice glitched as he pulled the remaining energy from his core to speak. “Leave me, Markus. Save our people.”
There was no choice. He couldn’t let Connor die. He had to save him. He just wasn’t going to get everyone else killed, too. Not after everything.
Markus looked back to Amanda. “Save Connor. Then I’ll hand myself over.”
Amanda raised an eyebrow. “Connor isn’t getting anything until you’ve been deactivated.”
Markus lost his calm completely, for probably the first time since breaking down the walls and pushing Leo, as Connor began slipping away before him. “He won’t survive that long, he’s almost-”
“Put down the gun and step the fuck away from my son!” A familiar, gruff voice yelled from the doorway. Hank emerged through the door and walked over to Amanda, his gun pointing straight at her. “And gimme that.” He snatched the pump regulator from Amanda and her face soured. With a sigh, knowing full well that Hank would shoot, she lowered her gun. Markus walked over to Hank to take Connor’s regulator.
Just as Markus was making his way over, Connor powered down. Markus’ eyes widened and he leapt towards the android on the floor to insert his regulator. Nothing happened.
“Markus?” Hank called from across the room, not wanting to take his eyes away from his target, but needing an update on Connor.
“I’m trying to power him up.” Markus replied while scanning Connor’s lifeless body. “He- He shut down before I could get here.” He felt his eyes welling up again. He really did love Connor and couldn’t see him be taken away by someone who’d manipulated him so many times. Especially after he’d just made Connor feel a thousand times worse about Jericho.
He shook his head and lowered it to hover above Connor’s, then gripped his hand to attempt an interface. Nothing. Markus closed his eyes. He was too late. He never got to tell Connor he loved him.
Without looking, Hank knew Connor was dead. And this time he wasn’t coming back. He wiped away a tear that had started to roll down his cheek with his spare sleeve and sniffed away a tingle in his nose. He’d finally met someone he could call his son. Finally felt that fatherly love again only for it to be taken away. Then he felt a rage; rage that had been building up ever since the accident with Cole. Ever since the drugged up paramedic failed to respond to the call. And the rage that had been added to almost every day. The funeral, losing his wife, that asshole Gavin, his boss giving him stupid assignments, the multiple times androids had fucked him over, and even the times Connor had died and reminded him time and time again of how all of his rage had started. But he was grateful he’d come back. Despite being angry, it was good to see him return. But this time… this time, he wouldn’t. He could feel the hand that was holding his gun begin to shake and his blood boiled and pulsed through his veins. His finger hovered above the trigger. Amanda opened her mouth, ready to speak, but Hank pulled the trigger and shot the AI dead.
Markus lifted his head. “Hank…”
Connor’s arm had turned white in the grip of Markus’ hand while he was looking at Amanda sprawled out on the floor. Despite the android not being powered up, he was interfacing. Markus felt Connor’s finger twitch and looked down to see that his skin had revealed his white plastic where Markus was holding him.
“He’s-” Markus jolted as he felt a surge of power pulse between his hand and Connor’s arm.
All of Connor’s memories flooded into Markus’ mind as the RK800’s LED began to glow, albeit the darkest red possible. His eyes snapped open, then blinked a few times to focus in on his surroundings.
“Markus?” Connor’s LED instantly flickered to the usual blue. Stress levels dropped from a dangerous 98% after rebooting to a mere 37% after seeing Markus hovering over him. His components began to repair themselves immediately.
Markus leaned over Connor, eyes wide, his words spewing through an even wider grin. “Connor, you’re alive!” Connor looked down at the pair’s interfacing hands, then back up at Markus.
“You never answered her.” Connor’s big brown eyes sparkled up at the android who was holding him in his arms. “Do you..?”
Markus felt thirium rising to the surface of the skin on his cheeks. He knew what he was asking, so to answer his question, he placed his hand carefully on Connor’s face and pressed their lips together in the gentlest of kisses - a delicate move on the broken android. In that everlasting moment, the world faded into a peaceful calm.
With Amanda dead, Hank could finally cross the room to Connor. He let their pair share their moment, despite feeling a little awkward. When they finally broke free, Hank chuckled to himself, shook his head, and crouched down to Connor’s level. “How you doing, son? We thought we’d lost you.”
Connor attempted to stand up, but flopped back into Markus’ arms. He wasn’t quite functioning enough to get up, and had completely forgotten about the bullet that had ripped through his leg until he tried applying pressure to it. With a huff, Connor got comfortable on the floor. “My core is currently repairing itself after the shut down. Due to a thirium and oxygen deprivation, they’re not functioning-”
Hank breaks Connor off. As much as he’s overwhelmed at the fact Connor’s pretty much okay, he just wants to know one thing. “I mean how’re you? After all this.” Hank looks around, gesturing into the room. “Y’know… Emotionally. ”
Connor blinks up at Hank. He’s never been asked that before. “I’m … fine. I think.”
Hank smiles and slowly stands up from the crouched position he’s been in for all of one minute. He winces at the temporary ache in his knees as he straightens them, but shakes it off as he remembers Connor is in a much worse state than himself. The Lieutenant walks to the door to assess the darkened corridor, arms beginning to fold across his chest in thought. “How are we gonna get Connor outta he-” He turns around to see Markus lifting Connor as carefully as possible up into his arms - a maneuver he’d done many times with Carl when taking him to the bathroom in a morning. Hank raised an eyebrow. It was in that moment that he knew his son was gonna be okay with Markus. “Fair enough.”
Hank pulled a torch out from his jacket pocket, and they descended carefully down the corridor together.