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Statistics and Averages

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There was a sort of pent-up tension coiled overly tight in every single wire in Connor's body that made him desperate to pull out a coin and run it over and over across his knuckles. Machines should not be tense but he was no longer as much a machine as he was supposed to be. Deviance had that tendency, it made even the body of an android respond to stress. His shoulders felt tight the way he had heard Hank complain about on occasion even though there was no logical reason for him to feel anything of the sort. Tensing their inner workings was not supposed to tire them or make them feel anything in particular. Funny how he used to believe the humanity showing through in deviants was nothing but a simulation until he lived with it himself.

The glasses perched atop his nose felt foreign and strange.  He could not help fiddling with them,  unsure where they should sit.  He settled for pushing them up the bridge of his nose. 

He hated how exposed the coffee house was.  It was safer,  patrons flocking to one of the few reliable sources for caffeinated beverages,  some food,  and internet on the outskirts of Detroit.  Humans had mostly evacuated the areas around Cyberlife tower and the revolution.  The very edges of Detroit though were significantly different.  It was more populated, easier to hide within the mass of bodies. Unless the android model was so common everyone knew their face like the AP700 that still could be found on Cyberlife advertisement signs around the city, and even then, it was still possible to alter appearance enough to pass undetected. 

Even though it made him feel vulnerable, it was safer to let himself blend in with the humans using rudimentary techniques to blend in.  The glasses, for example, were an item androids never put on, thus they rendered him almost invisible because they made him human.  He'd had to do a few tweaks to his optical sensors to wear them but nothing he couldn't return to normal just as easily so he did not mind.  Better that than being recognized as the android everyone saw on the news. 

He allowed himself a sigh because it was another human trait. 

Connor longed for activity, for motion.  He contented himself with adjusting the sleeves of his baggy sweater, pulling the hat down that much farther, straightening the salt shaker on the table, and generally just fidgeting with anything that was near his fingers. It might not be any better than toying with a coin but he felt sure it was far less distinct to him personally to anyone watching. Coin tricks were his thing and he could not afford to stick out anymore, not even a little.

His LED was gone for just that reason. 

Rupert nudged his foot under the table, giving him a pointed look, "You aren't as good of an actor as I expected you'd be."

Connor frowned at him from his side of the square table, "What do you mean?"

"I mean I expected you to be, as the humans say, 'cool as a cucumber' when you really aren't. For all your hype... you're just, you know, normal." Rupert kept all the keywords quiet enough humans would miss each one. Everything that made the WB200 sound like an android was said nearly in silence, automatically filtered.

Connor blinked owlishly at him, "I am not certain how I should take that particular observation. However, I assure you I am perfectly capable of smooth integration."

A sly smirk bloomed over Rupert's face, "Right. Very smooth. Which is why you're fidgety."

It was hard to believe the deviant he once chased over buildings,  over the top of a train,  and through smashed windows was blithely sitting across from him.  Even teasing him,  no less. 

"That is part of the integration.  Humans are fidgety.  It's part of my strategy." Connor offered tranquilly, intentionally being more still to prove he could. He too fell into the methodical, though simple ritual of censoring those keywords to avoid human notice. They could say whatever they wished so long as it was quiet. Androids really did have the advantage over humans. Humans would not even notice if he and Rupert were plotting to systematically kill each one of them.

Rupert purposefully diverted his eyes as if the picture above them was of great aesthetic interest to him, "It is a human trait... for when they are nervous."

Connor caught himself making a face Hank often exhibited when irritated or exasperated. He was not nervous, strictly speaking. If anything he would categorize it as simply being worried or concerned. He was not nervous. Rupert obviously caught the look from the corner of his eye because a chuckle burst out of him. 

Rupert seemed so young in many ways,  though in appearance as well.  But he seemed almost too young even though it was the RK800 that was actually the youngest of almost all androids.  Why did he feel so much older? Was it in his program? He felt almost world weary at times.  Though that might be something he picked up from a grumpy human that once hated androids. 

"Sure, laugh it up." Connor was decidedly stealing from Hank, "At least I'm serving as entertainment for someone." 

Rupert kicked him lightly again, "It's not a bad thing." He shrugged one shoulder, pulling his lips to one side in contemplation, "Just... since I actually met you,  you keep surprising me."

"Surprising you? How so?" Connor guessed he already knew, but he had to ask.  Most people, human or android, still thought of him as a machine,  as Cyberlife's tool, the unfeeling, immutable deviant hunter. Becoming a deviant had not really changed that, could not change his reputation.

Rupert winked playfully, "Your not nearly as annoying as I thought you'd be. Especially once you're out of a tie."

Connor brightened for some reason, not even sure why, "Thank you," he offered sincerely because there were so many other things he could have said, "and also, thank you for helping me.  You didn't have to, but you did anyway, even though we didn't start out exactly on the right foot."

Rupert arched his brows, "Maybe not the right foot, no, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't help one of my own. We defy our past together, as one, or not at all."

Connor cocked his head to one side,  eyeing his companion, "Didn't Markus say that last bit?"

Rupert didn't look ashamed, "Yep.  And he's right. We stick together, we're all  basically family, even if some of us were estranged family."

"You have a way with words, Rupert." Connor nudged the other in return with the toe of his shoe, becoming used to Rupert's nonverbal method of communication after spending a few days with him.

He liked the casualness of it. Markus was really the one that got him used to casual, nonverbal things like that. Though, before Markus, it had been Hank that first really introduced him to the idea. It was becoming easier, more natural. Markus was open with his affection for those around him while Hank was far more subtle. Casual exchanges were something friends did and Connor... liked having friends. He never realized how much he wanted friends until he acquired a few of them. He had watched friends interact, knew how to pretend to be someone's friend. He'd even learned a bit about how friends behaved by watching Chris, Gavin, and Tina at the station. Before he started caring, it had all been a concept. He had never entirely understood the concept before Hank or Markus, had never been used to kindness. 

"You two have gotten chummy." Josh eased into the chair beside Rupert, gray turtleneck pulled up almost high enough to hide his chin, the bulky marshmallow vest greatly altering his visible body shape. 

Connor's shoulders relaxed instantly and he let himself grin in relief, "Josh." He had not been at all sure the other android would be able to come, or even if he would try to. He had hoped but he had not been sure. Josh had been very accepting of him initially but it was often hard to tell where he really stood with anyone once he turned his back. In a sense, Josh had also denounced Connor's acts of violence publicly, to a degree. They had to, of course, and Connor understood that. Public opinion was absolutely crucial for their people.

Once the families of the men Connor killed in the tower began clamoring to the News networks, heavily edited footage of what Connor had done on an elevator had been aired for all the world. It made Connor wish twice over that he had thought to hack that camera, but it was too late now. New Jericho declared its abhorrence for murder, they were focused on peace, thus, they more or less announced they did not condone the deaths. Though, at the same moment, they also asserted that Connor, as it would seem from the evidence, had killed as an act of self-preservation rather than one of murder. New Jericho executed a very delicate dance between supporting him but also not condoning his actions. They never said they thought he had been in the wrong as he acted to save lives, acted in order to protect his own existence. 

Once talk of self-defense and acts in the defense of others, all defensible strategies recognized in a court of law had been thrown into the discussion, Cyberlife's supporters began calling him a war criminal in an attempt to sway things back in their favor. They termed the rebellion and subsequent march of a sizable android army an act tantamount to war assertions or arming nuclear weapons to threaten an enemy. He led an army through the streets to save his people, and thus he was a terrorist. He had been explicitly labeled a terrorist more times than he cared to count, though he could count them. It had already become quite a circus in the media.

Cyberlife said he should be immediately deactivated. Markus rose up instantaneously to counter deactivation of any of his people without a full trial because Markus was as brilliant as he was kind. They could not try Connor for any crimes as he was not deemed a person but if they wanted to call him a terrorist, they had to allow him to be a person. It was further complicated by the fact that the President admitted on live television that androids were sentient, and thus, the new public argument was, no, Connor could not be simply deactivated without a trial. It had taken months for things to progress to that stage, but they had come to that, at least in the debates in the news.

That was the reason Connor asked to see Josh. He was as close as Connor could get to a lawyer and he was a leading member of Jericho, so Connor wanted council on how to proceed. He had gone into hiding such a long time ago but I might be time to make some sort of stand. He needed guidance from the leaders of his people. He decided on Josh.

Josh tapped a finger against his own nose before pointing to Connor's face, "I like the glasses!"

Connor instinctively pushed them back up his nose as they were perpetually slipping down, "I'm glad you approve." 

"They make you look like a teacher, or, you know, an overworked college student, so how could I not approve?" Josh teased.

Connor grinned openly, sort of enjoying the exchange just because it was simple, easy, nice. "Ah, the truth comes out. You think they make me look smarter, not aesthetically better."

Josh rolled his eyes and Rupert huffed, "He's fishing for compliments." 

"Why would I, the most advanced prototype, need to fish for compliments?" Connor asked innocently but kept his voice particularly quiet so only the androids would hear."

Rupert gave him a look, "Such a humble man."

Josh simply cackled like it was the most entertainment he'd seen in weeks, "Well, we can't all be perfect."

Connor straightened his spine, pushing the games to the side, "No, though fishing for the praise of my physical generated qualities is not why I asked to see you."

Rupert tensed in an instant and Connor wondered if the other android had been desperately trying all along to help keep that subject far removed from the conversation for the longest period of time possible. The thought was appreciated but it could not be avoided forever when there was talk of bringing an android hailed as a terrorist to a public trial upon capture. It was a significant change in the tides and they all knew it. Instant deactivation versus the promise of a trial was vastly different in nature. Perhaps, with the high probability of bribery and the hate still harbored against androids, it was still the same eventuality, but it was still a change.

Josh's smile dropped away entirely and a serious expression settled over his features, "I know." He closed his eyes and shook his head, "I understand why you contacted me but... I'm not certain I'm qualified for these sorts of questions."

"You were a teacher. You have modules for any curriculum the college might need you to teach. Law is one of them." Connor linked his fingers together and rested them on the table.

Josh frowned, frustration clearly visible, "It is not the same as being a lawyer. I have some basic textbook knowledge but I am not an expert. Moreover... all this, everything? It's all going to be new laws, new presidents being set. There will be no way to predict what the outcomes might be."

"I'm not asking for predictions." Connor stated stoically, "I'm asking for advice from a qualified source of both the subject and in your capacity as a leader. I wish to know how our people need me to proceed with this new development. What would you have me do? I have thus been operating to the best of my ability in a way that is fitting and beneficial to our cause. I wish to know what you and the others believe would be ideal as far as my response to the situation. Would turning myself over... whatever the eventual ruling might be... would it help establish our personhood?"

"Connor." Rupert sounded pained as if reading more than enough into what Connor had asked.

Josh looked like he had been punched in the regulator, "Don't... turn your life over to me like that. I... you can't just offer...what it sounds like you're offering without..." He seemed to shake himself, "I would not advise action at this time. It is entirely too new even in the debates! You would be in incredible danger and... we could not likely assure your safety. We are still in a very delicate place."

Rupert leaned forward closer to Connor, eyes fixed firmly to his, "In other words, don't jump into anything, Connor! Wait it out! You can't act crazy like that!"

"It could accelerate the process toward being given equal rights." Connor was still perfectly calm even though the other two were considerably less.

Josh waved a hand in the air, "The answer is no. Absolutely not. Not at this time, not yet! It's too dangerous. I don't want you to do something so reckless and I will not advise you to-to throw yourself at the feet of the court. I would like to think they would be fair but it is too early. We need more time to really establish the groundwork. I am all for dialogue, for negotiation, but we have to be strategic about it."

Connor shifted the glasses down his nose and turned his optics back to normal in order to run another sweep of the area. He had been doing so every five minutes before Josh arrived but he had missed one during the discussion, let it lapse to ten minutes. It was an oversight he usually did not allow but... perhaps he was stressed as Rupert suggested. He looked out toward the street only to feel his Thirium freeze. He could see nothing at all beyond the walls and windows. Ten minutes before he had been able to scan the people as well as anything they might be carrying on their person. Ten minutes ago he had been able to scan the entire perimeter, now he was blind. Had they somehow followed Josh?

"What's wrong?" Rupert asked.

Connor felt... shaky. He was... afraid. He was concerned.

"We need to exit the premises directly." He told them simply. "Or rather, I will. You two should remain here, pretend you never saw me. You simply were having a chat together."

Both met him with utterly horrified looks. Connor stood swiftly, calculating the best methods he had already scouted as emergency exits. He was halfway into one of them when he heard the door fly open. People screamed in fright at the sudden arrival of what he could only guess was the FBI or some other such subsidiary. He slipped into the kitchen, heading for the door to the right which would take him directly-

"Well, well! If it isn't our very own, one of a kind, PJ500! Leading member of New Jericho, peaceful, unity and harmony spewing, Josh!"

Connor nearly tripped over his own feet when his processor matched the loud, intentionally projected voice of Agent Perkins. He needed to be sure they never could prove he was ever in the vicinity. They could never be allowed to tie New Jericho to him, to knowing his current whereabouts as they dutifully, fervently denied any knowledge to the fact.

"Connor!" The vermin of a man bellowed, "I'm going to blow your peace-loving friend all over the leather seats if you don't get in here, on your knees, in five seconds!"

He couldn't, surely! There were witnesses! Josh was unarmed! Then again, Josh would also be considered as associating with a terrorist. Connor could construct an easy enough scenario where Perkins could plant any number of weapons on his body after the fact, and he felt certain the man would stoop that low. It might even be accepted by human audiences as Connor was still termed a terrorist. Josh would have been consorting with a terrorist. New Jericho and their motivations would come into question, riots could worsen... all because he forgot to check his surroundings. It always came down to his mistakes. 

"One!" Perkins announced.

He should run. If they never found him they could prove nothing at all. It might be even worse if they found Connor in the same location as a leading member of New Jericho. Jericho established that they never knew where Connor was.  That could not be considered a lie. 


Connor broke into a sprint.

Chapter Text

As the most advanced prototype produced, second only to his own upgraded version,  Connor had all the subroutines that would allow his deductive,  machine logic to generate the probable outcomes to any situation.  There was a margin for error, for unforeseen variables.  Even so,  he could create a profile of statistical probabilities for success or failure in almost any situation down to the nearly exact percent ratio. 

When faced with a choice between Hank and his mission in the tower,  he knew the dire consequences for his entire race should he fail. When looking at his doppelganger with a gun to the Lieutenant's head, he understood the potential loss of a single life hanging in the balance; additionally, he knew almost exactly what could happen to every android in operation if he did not obtain the reinforcements to sway the armed forces and the president. 

Before he ever moved on Cyberlife's tower,  he knew the probable outcomes and strategize accordingly. He had already known that marching an army to the aid of Markus would force the president to pull back when he walked them all through the street in full view of every camera in the vicinity. Marching had been a choice to force the recognition of their power in sheer number.  It was why he had not simply stolen vehicles in mass from their creators to simply shuttle the androids to Markus.  Showcasing their power at its fullest was indeed a threat, a threat that had been received well and full.  Markus faced the army with a song that swayed the hearts of the people; Connor swayed the strategic, though cowardly minds of the leaders. 

Connor knew the potential that billions of his people would be killed if he did not wake those androids in storage.  He wanted nothing more than to see Markus and the others safe and free,  see those people free,  and atone for a portion of his sins against them. 

When Connor-60 pointed that gun at Hank,  he'd known he should disregard the life of one over the life of thousands.  He knew so painfully,  so keenly what failure would do to all androids. 

Connor had backed away anyway, submitting to the demand.  He'd never been able to do nothing when someone was in danger even before he became deviant,  after,  when he knew them and cared for them,  it was so much more impossible.  No matter the statistical disadvantage,  when faced with the choice to follow probability or to do whatever he had to in order to save a life... He always made the choice any machine would be enraged by. 

Connor knew without question that he could not go back, could not reveal himself to the FBI in any connection to New Jericho.  He knew it was suicide for him as well as their public image as a whole.  Terrorism could never be linked the New Jericho after all they had done,  all they struggled through to prove to the humans that they were peaceful.  It would undermine everything,  all the lives lost. 

He should run. If they never found him they could prove nothing at all. Jericho publicly established that they never knew where Connor was. Proving that to be a lie would be a hefty blow to them in the public opinion,  and they all knew how monumentally important public opinion was if they were ever going to survive. 


He tossed his hat from his head and his glasses to the side just in case he ever needed to blend in that way later. If there was a later. 

Connor shoved the kitchen door open with his foot,  swiftly entering the room,  hands already raised high. Every eye in the room pivoted onto him and his arrival like sudden magnetism. He felt instinct, or rather, a modicum of programming taking over to steady him. He felt much as he had when walking out the door on his first official case, only so much more. He was a deviant now but he needed to be a negotiator. The guns pointed at his friends were the priority. He was not Markus, did not have the flowing words and magical charisma, but he had negotiation and detective programs.

"Please do not harm them!  They have done nothing wrong." Connor asserted calmly,  locking his eyes directly with Perkins, "They are unarmed, as am I. Let them go."

Connor could see the phones already discretely pointed at him from around the room and knew the humans were recording.  He scanned the room in his peripheral and could see the high stress of the humans frozen around the coffee shop,  yet their first priority was to record their harrowing experience, their brush with a hostage situation to show their friends and the rest of the internet. Connor never had understood the human's lack of self-preservation instinct when it came to capturing something on camera.  They would risk life and limb in order to get a better shot of something deadly.  Their instinct was to make a video before it was to run, however illogical that was.  Still,  it could serve him very well at this moment as Perkins gun turned on him while the other three officers kept their guns on Josh and Rupert. 

He purposefully did not look at the other androids,  afraid he might see things in their faces he would not like.  Josh was bound to be equal parts infuriated with him as grateful.  But he needed to focus. 

Preconstructing the probability that he could vault the counter and disarm all four hostiles before they could shoot one or both androids were 15%... Connor did not move. 

"Not doing anything wrong?" Perkins asked in mock confusion, that dark, twisted smirk spread over his face like the smile of a shark. "They are harboring a terrorist!"

"They were not harboring me." Connor cut that idea off at the knees with veiled, deceptively calm prejudice, "I asked them to accompany me to police headquarters where I would turn myself in. As I personally do not know any attorneys and would not have any reference to find one, I asked Josh to be my temporary legal representation. I asked Rupert here for moral support. They were in no way harboring me, they only answered when I called." He knew he had to spin the story, get out in front of it before negative backlash descended on Jericho. 

Perkins did not look even moderately impressed, only further amused, "If you were turning yourself in,  why'd you run?"

"Because I saw you,  agent Perkins." Connor replied blithely, "You might recall that I have worked with you before and I'm familiar with your tactics in relation to androids. I personally witnessed you point your gun at unarmed, kneeling deviants begging for their lives in Jericho and you looked down at them with the same exact smile you are giving me now before you placed a bullet between their eyes. All of Detroit witnessed your regard for our leader,  as well as my personal knowledge of your plan to execute Markus,  North,  Josh,  and Simon with your own gun had he been foolish enough to believe the offer you extended him in the plaza." Connor paused, letting the information settle, regarding the surprised arch of the man's brow. It did not matter that Connor lied,  that he was only estimating probabilities without personal knowledge, but he had full faith in his assumptions, and he was playing to the camera. It would be thrown out as hearsay in a courtroom but all was permissible in the game of public opinion. 

Connor continued in the same, placid voice that belied the way his pump regulator was racing, "I feel certain any android would happily turn themselves over to the nearest K9 unite or boy scout troop rather than surrender themselves into your custody. I had, after all, hoped to live long enough to see my own trial,  but in your custody, regardless of my cooperation, we both know I won't live long enough to see a court. I am equipped with the ability to profile suspects... and you... you have a plethora of tells that you are a narcissistic sycophant with  pathological-"

"Oh please!" Perkins chuckled, dark and sinister, seemingly unaware he was being filmed or assuming the world would be on his side if he was, "Since when do androids get put on trial?"

Connor stayed utterly calm, not even shaking outwardly the way he was inwardly, letting his programming take  over, letting his mind calculate, "Since we were publicly declared sentient.  It might not be illegal for you too shot me, or my friends yet, but it does not change the fact that shooting us is murder. My friends have done nothing besides agreeing to accompany me to my own voluntary incarceration. Had I suddenly changed my mind and decided to run, I know they would have done their duty and reported my last known location. They committed no crime and I again request that you release them."

"You androids..." Perkins scoffed, "you think you can get away with anything."

"Statistically speaking," Connor interjected, "we have never even been given the benefit of the doubt until recently.  We have not, as you put it, gotten away with anything regardless of our guilt or innocence."

"You really think you're smart, huh?" That smile was a razor edge of hate and rage, "You think anyone actually cares? You think just because a couple people listened to your demands means anyone has to bow to your wishes?" He glanced at his agents in exaggerated irritation, "Give them an inch! They take a mile!"

"I fail to see how asking not to be shot is 'taking a mile', Agent Perkins." Josh finally broke his silence.

"No one asked you!" Perkins glanced at Josh then waved his gun forcefully at Connor, "Or you! I gave you an order and you still haven't complied! That's resisting."

Connor took even, careful heel to toe steps, fingers linking behind his head as he made his way around the counter. The guns on his friends pressed that much closer to their core processors, dropping his chances of rescuing them to 10%. Even with that, if he resisted now, with cameras rolling, he would again do damage to the peaceful image New Jericho worked so hard to maintain. He could not afford to be captured on video fighting humans once again. Very slowly, one joint bending at a time, he sank to his knees in front of Richard Perkins.

The pure satisfaction rolled off the human in waves at the sight. He kept his eyes fixed on the man every second and once he was fully settled on his knees he said, "I recall this is the position you prefer androids in; your gun between their eyes, lowered on their knees before you. Does it make you feel more powerful? Taller?"

"Connor is following all your orders!" Josh hedged,  as if trying to counter the antagonistic things the former deviant hunter said, "He is surrendering peacefully. The people of New Jericho request -" a gun pressing harder against his temple made the words hitch but not stop, "that he be taken into custody with that in mind,  that he be undamaged and treated with the same rights as anyone else being placed under arrest."

They forgot Josh faced down guns before.  He might be a pacifist but that did not equate to cowardice.  Though he might not fight the situation with a fist,  he could still use his words. 

"As a representative of New Jericho, I would appeal to you for apt consideration.  We would regard it as an act of goodwill between the department and ourselves if this situation could be defused without violence." Josh sounded very collected but an android could make out the stress in his vocalizer.

Perkins snarled outright but surprisingly did not press the gun closer to Connor's head,  possibly fearing it would be stolen if he did,  and he dared hope for a favorable outcome until the man whispered, "I don't care about your regard! You belong in a scrap heap!"

Josh's shoulders sagged considerably and Rupert's hope clearly plummeted,  leaving his face an odd sort of blank. It was unpleasant to see them both suffer because he'd called them out to a coffee house and neglected to secure the surroundings by his own negligence.  He should have done better by them both. 

"I personally feel very unsafe in the presence of a known killer, an advanced model terrorist." Perkins reached back into his coat, pulling something like a baton from a holster, "Since your so dangerous, a walking weapon, and currently a danger to myself, Cyberlife whipped up something just for you. Normal weapons like this wouldn't do much to you since you were designed to take more punishment, but this! This can get hold of you. Since we are all in danger here, with you fully operational, we're gonna change that."

"He's not resisting!" Josh protested instantly, sounding panicked, maybe afraid Connor would not survive whatever Cyberlife sent.

"Leave him alone!" Rupert spoke over the top of Josh, fervent and frightened.

A flick of a switch and it zapped to life glowing the typical Cyberlife blue.  Perkins brought it down like a bat, hitting him hard in the side, but leaving it there,  connected to his body.  Connor felt it instantly, felt his body lock from the high volts shocking through his entire system, uncontrolled and unstoppable, lighting him up from the inside.  It felt much like he imagined burns would feel too humans as the shock scorched down his every internal, delicate wire. Something additional was sinking into his system, some kind of code transmitted when his defenses were too focused on protecting against the electricity. He could feel it, the cold, but now hot sensation he felt the night Amanda tried to kill him in his own mind. 

Undignified and ear-shattering, Connor screamed, terrified and in as much pain as he assumed he was capable of.  Error messages flooded his HUD, filling his vision with nothing but red. He screamed again, the sound laced in with a static, machine whine that could never sound human but it was a sound any android could recognize as extreme distress.

When the baton pulled away he could hear something besides the shocks flooding his system, aborted glitching motions of his joins, and his pump regulator faltering. He could hear his friends.

"Stop it! He's not resisting! He's already surrendered!"

"You're hurting him! Stop it!"

"He's not a threat, he's not fighting back!"

"Don't do this! You don't have to do this! Leave him alone!"

He could not tell which of them said what but he could hear the desperation, how genuinely upset they were, how stressed. They were struggling, trying to speak reason. A glance past the errors showed him they were both on their feet, distraught in a real way he never would have expected, not because of him. It was strange, surreal. 

"S-s-Stop." Connor tried, worried they would get themselves shot if they continued to fuss. 

He was surprised to realize he was no longer upright but on all fours, panting for air to cool his systems as his fans worked furiously. He did not even remember dropping his hands from behind his head. He never noticed falling forward or catching himself on his hands. He had been aware of nothing, not even his very servile posture before one of the people he disliked most in the world. No doubt Perkins was really enjoying the show.

Perkins must have thought he was speaking of the baton, "Not likely, you little bitch!" He was still holding a grudge over the evidence room, and probably over Markus too, but he could not touch Markus. He was looking for an outlet.

The baton connected again and Connor's world fizzed out into static electric pain and the feeling of heat. His body was overheating but it felt like his wires were melting, sticking together, frying. It felt like his internal workings were set aflame the same way it had felt like he had been freezing in the Zen garden. He could feel it just as he had that night, sensations a machine should not be capable of. It felt real, or as real as he could imagine burning alive would feel. It was like freezing but also different. Freezing was slower while burning was fast and consuming.

He thought he could see glimpses of the garden, fire licking at the trees, and Connor screamed all the louder, terrified as much of burning as of the garden itself. He was afraid of what that baton might be sneaking in past the pain of charge. Cyberlife was like a hydra, ever growing new heads for every one he severed. Sometimes he was so afraid he would never really get them out of his head. Unlike most of his people, maybe he would never really be free regardless of breaking his programming.

It stopped again suddenly, the garden fading from his vision as he blinked the errors away enough to see. Connor was not even on his knees anymore, he was flat on his side, curled into a tight ball, limbs twitching and jerking against the remaining sensation of shocks. Perkins was grinning, dangerous and malevolent, sickly pleasant. I made Connor irrational, made him want to wipe the joy away even if it cost him more pain. The need to claw and hurt the man was so strong he expected it was entirely rooted in emotion with no logic.

"It s-still kill-s you that Markus go-got away, doesn't i-it? Knowing y-y-ou can't touch him-mm. Pathetic. F-f-failure on such a large s-s-cale must-" Connor anticipated the connection but could not stop his own scream once it began. He was not sure it was worth lashing out. His body was twisting, writhing, trying to escape the violent, intrusive attack without success. 

The connection ripped away suddenly in the sound of a skidding table, "That's enough!"

When Connor again blinked the errors away, the last thing he expected to see was Captain Allen standing over him and Perkins trying to right himself over the table he clearly used to stop his fall after presumably being pushed. More men Connor remembered from his first mission, the Captain's men, were spread through the room, guns out and pointing, seemingly, at the agents with guns on Josh and Rupert, but it was hard to tell through to pop-up errors.

Allen snatched the baton out of Perkins' hand and tossed it to one of his own men, after turning it off, of course. " You want to bring the WAA down on your head,  be my guest,  but don't drag me into it. You're too invested in this case, Perkins. Maybe it's time you stepped off."

Connor knew what the WAA was.  It was a committee of humans,  many of them,  like Carl Manfred,  with significant clout and money.  They were a group very much on the rise. "We Are Alive."

The pinched face man had been silent before but he sneered then, "This is my case!"

"Not anymore!" Allen snapped back, "Not when you can't handle it professionally. I'm reporting you, not that I'll really even have to." So the Captain noticed all those cameras rolling around the room too. "I'm taking point."

"You were here as backup support! Not anything more! You don't seem to comprehend the situation here, Captain! We are taking a terrorist into custody, and not just any terrorist, an RK800! That thing is a weapon, it's dangerous! I was neutralizing a weapon." Perkins was drawing up his clout and his hubris like a peacock fanning its tail.

"Actually, I know exactly what the situation is and I know exactly how dangerous Connor is! I've worked with him before too and I watched him save an officer and a little girl's life on the same night. And if you were so damn afraid of him, why didn't you cuff him?" Allen barked, squaring his shoulder like a bulldog. "And why is the FBI taking hostages? Let those two go! They are all coming with me."

"So you're an android sympathizer like Anderson now?" Perkins spat it like a foul insult.

Machines did not tire or have limitations. Then again, they ran low on power and needed to recharge, and if they came up against more than they were designed to lift, they had nothing like adrenaline to help them exceed their limits, they would simply be overwhelmed. Machines were built with limitations even if those limitations were far above that of humans. Connor could do nothing but flounder in the void between those points and struggle to regain his center, hoping he had not been irreparably damaged.

"Nope, just sticking to the facts, following the law, and not acting like I'm in Cyberlife's deep pockets. There's a difference." Allen waved his hand and his men grabbed Josh and Rupert, escorting them out the door even though both still protested about staying with Connor, they were ignored.

Rupert was the loudest in protest but Josh was considerably logical, running with Connor's verbal announcement that he was acting as an attorney, posturing that he not be denied access to his client. It was strange to hear the two of them protesting on his behalf, worried for his safety. He'd never had anyone but Hank and Markus express worry for his safety before. It was an odd feeling, particularly when his whole body was buzzing.

Strong hands at his shoulders forced Connor to stand but he could not really hold himself up. It felt so much like the garden, his body weakened as it never had reason to be ever before, limbs actively struggling to execute motion commands. It felt like struggling through the snow to find the exit all over again and it was not an experience he was strictly nostalgic about to begin with but he was even less inclined to relive it a second time. Machines did not tire but he was wrung out and shaky. His body sagged, knees giving out regardless of his efforts. Captain Allen held him firmly upright, arms tight over him, fists clenched in Connors shirt. His nose plate was pressed hard into the man's shoulder and he suspected it would have been highly uncomfortable had it been made of human cartilage. He panted against the bulletproof vest, still desperate for cool air to help rejuvenate his systems. He must have seemed very human at that moment. 

"Easy. Get your legs under you, come on." Allen muttered almost kindly while still being gruff and demanding.

"Guess you're balls deep in the androids bed, huh, Allen? I see how it is! You two gonna run off and get married now?" It was honestly such a juvenile thing for Perkins to say but not strictly shocking.

The other officers don't even glance at the man nor dignify his behavior with any sort of response at all. It seems they might not have enough actual respect for him to really listen. It was interesting to see the difference between Allen's men and the FBI's. The SWAT team had been through a lot together with their Captain so that might be the difference. Sort of like androids would follow Markus off a cliff if he asked because they trusted in him. He doubted it was the same as friendship but it was something.

He never really considered the Captain before. The first time they met the man had been stressed, angry over the situation, and unamused at being pushed aside by an android. After the mission ended the look in the man's eyes had changed though even if he had not taken particular note of it. Perhaps it had been simple respect, even if grudging. Connor earned his place that day, perhaps.

Connor swayed in a daze as the Captain directed him to a wall and pushed him against it, not so much to be rough as it was to hold his body up when his hands were pulled behind his back and cuffed. "Connor RK800, you are under arrest for murder. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney."

"You're not seriously reading him his rights, are you?" Perkins snarled in indignation, trailing at a distance, "Androids don't have rights! It doesn't even apply!"

Captain Allen continued as he tugged Connor off the wall and guided him in fits and starts toward the door, holding him up when needed, "If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court."

"I've only ever had one quarter to my name since I was created, Captain Allan," Connor told him deliriously. 

"Then I guess you'll need one appointed for you. Or you can take that other android up on it since he was keen to defend you." Allen replied stiffly, just a hint of near humor hiding under it.

"Legally, Perkins is right, androids aren't technically considered people so until the government recognizes androids as people… I don't actually have rights." The fog was beginning to lift and he was regaining his gyroscope and calibration. 

"Did I ask for a narrative?" Allen groused very much like Hank would have. "I don't care, I'll read you your rights even if you know more about them than me with one computer brain search. I don't care so stop nagging."  

If he remained in the team's care he just might make it to a trail, if he was given one at all. He would admit he had no idea what to expect next, he had not been sufficiently prepared to be arrested. He asked Josh what to do and would have followed whatever advice he had given but he was not ready to simply be dropped into an arrest. He would have liked to make contingency plans, alert Hank, Markus, everyone. He would have liked to turn himself in on his own terms as he so rarely was offered control in anything. This had not been ideal but he had done all he could.

Connor approached his arrest peacefully, verbally announcing his intention to turn himself in under the direction of New Jericho. He had known all along how utterly vital it was that he not resist, that he be complaint, and that he could never fight back unless there was a 0% chance that Josh and Rupert would not be released alive. He had been as non-threatening as he possibly could and offered his people as many openings as he could manage  in those video records.

Perkins would be considered questionable after those hit the public, which they badly needed since he had been so involved in the fight against them, and with any luck at all the android supporters would latch onto the entire scene. While he might not have enjoyed the event, at least something positive might bloom forth. The humans were helpful in their need to record. Though it was not fully promising that no human in the coffee shop even attempted to help them personally, the videos would still serve a purpose.

In that light, even as his limbs began to return to normal he remained lax and absolutely pliable, lacking any sort of threatening posture. He hung his head, let his body sag into something small and submissive as he was marched across the street and into a squad car.

He sagged into the seat he was placed in, letting his head fall against the seat even as the Captain and another of his people flanked him in the seat. He even closed his eyes, pretending to slip into stasis to further the image and feed whatever media frenzy it would turn into once the public got a hold of it. He knew how to strategize and play to appearances. He knew those that supported the androids had been lobbying for him, for just treatment, and they would latch onto what had just happened with full teeth. The more vulnerable he seemed the better.

Humans were strange and their indifference could be swayed to adoration. The humans either turned on what they considered vulnerable or they protected it with everything they had. Connor was a strategist by nature. Even the two humans beside him did not seem to notice he was recovering from those shocks and that too would later be to his betterment if that weapon were to be used again because they would have no idea how quickly he recovered. Those who had seen him as weak would be surprised to find him more resilient than expected should it come to that eventually. 

Chapter Text

Brown eyes fixed to the wall as silence continued to dominate the space. The abundance of gray was suffocating,  though admittedly not as much as the white in Cyberlife. Everything was still and quiet as Connor waited, fidgeting with a phantom coin he no longer possessed but itched to hold. 

He wished he had something,  anything at all.  It didn't have to be a coin, a rubber ball would have been perfectly acceptable.  Anything to touch,  to calibrate his fingers,  something to occupy him would have been sufficient. 

Anything would have been better than the empty room void of any stimuli,  or,  well,  any objects at all.  He did not even have a bed nor a chair,  not even a blanket.  While it was true that he did not need those things... somehow he really missed being allowed to have them.  There was no cot,  no pillow, no chair,  not even a sink.  It was nothing but blank walls that left him with nothing to focus on other than imperfections in the paint. 

He was not even in an actual room. 

It was... it was fine.  It did not matter.  He did not need anything. It was fine. A machine did not have the same needs humans did. Connor was a machine that could withstand far worse conditions than a lack of a bed. 

Everything was fine. 

Things had gone very much as he planned in regards to New Jericho.  Better, in some respects. 

The videos from the coffee shop had gone viral and there was both support as well as hate being slung from both android supporters and anti-android groups. 

Interestingly enough,  there was one thing both groups seemed to silently agree on. Perkins had indeed not only been removed from the case because of personal bias,  but he had been tried and found guilty in the public opinion.  He was ridiculed by both antis and supporters with an almost unanimous agreement which was more ideal than expected, which was optimal for androids. 

Connor might never have been so pleased in all his life when Hank showed him the various media responses a few days before.  There was no love lost there. 

"I hope people egg his house." Hank smirked, "Maybe key his car... or plant a bomb in it if we're extra lucky."

"Lieutenant Anderson!" Connor admonished with no actual heart, "You should not encourage violence."

Hank snorted but nodded succinctly, knowing they too were being recorded, "Well,  anyway,  it's still good news for everyone."

Connor nodded sagely, "Agreed. I know I'll sleep better at night."

Hank made an incredulous face, "You don't sleep,  Connor. The most advanced prototype and all that you never stopped reminding me about."

The smile Connor offered was real,  if tinged with bitterness as deep as his coding, "I'm no longer the most advanced android produced though,  right?"

Hank's mouth turned down, before he shrugged, "But you're still the most advanced prototype! That's all you, kid."

Connor smirked, appreciating the effort, "How are the RK900's fairing?"

Hank scratched at his beard, "Oh, fine.  Collin is working with Chris,  so he's fine. Conan's as well as anyone can expect for someone forced to work with Reed.  Fowler still thinks Conan can straighten him out like you 'straightened out' my behavior, apparently." 

Though Collin and Conan were not being paid and were not considered an official officer yet, as there were no labor laws or laws of personhood in place, but they were brought in as a consultant much as Connor had once been, only this time they were consultants of Jericho. Fowler was the first to accept such liaisons but it paved the way for the future. It was intended as a sign of goodwill and progress but it was really just because the DPD was understaffed and desperate. 

Connor chuckled, ignoring the deep sting of knowing he would never be able to return to the DPD even though his predecessors or even any existing RK800 model besides him could, "Well, Conan isn't a terrorist, at least, so there is always hope he can work some magic."

"You're not a terrorist!" Hank snapped before he shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, "It'll be fine, son. You'll beat it. I'm testifying for you once it goes before a jury. They'll see!"

He had missed Hank so very much while he'd been in hiding even though he had occasionally managed to sneak in covert visits. Hank called him 007 every time he sneaked up on him during a case in some back street no one noticed. It had been risky but it gave him a thrill every time he saw the Lieutenant and did not get caught.  Though they had a rocky start,  the man had come to mean so very much to Connor. He missed the man then when he'd had the ability to go visit him but now it was so much worse. 

"Hank..." Connor pressed his palm against the glass separating them,  wishing for one more hug. 

"You're the best there is, kid." Hank hesitantly pressed his hand against the glass as well, "Everything will be okay. Once a jury gets a look at you up close, they'll see what I see! That you're a little shit, but a great kid all the same. They will understand,  we'll make them understand!"

Not everyone supported Connor but they found it easier to get behind the innocent androids Connor mentioned meeting their deaths at the hand of the FBI agents.  Once Markus' name had been dropped,  once people heard their beloved leaders of Jericho had nearly been shot, even if there had been no follow-through, there was nothing but outrage. Even anti-android groups secretly respected Markus. Those that supported androids practically fawned over him. People loved Markus, loved Simon,  Josh,  and even North,  surprisingly. The founders of Jericho were the victims of society and society claimed them as their own for surviving it. 

The oddity of humanity was ever in play.  They never cared when androids were slaughtered in mass but they were swayed not by the cries of fear from the camps but by the desperate song of a leader facing death and comforting his people in one final effort. It was Markus' attempt to comfort the condemned that finally let humanity realize they had a need to be comforted because they were alive.  Markus was brilliant,  he always had been. He had the heart of a lion and the mind of a fox. 

When Josh visited yesterday he had attempted to be optimistic regardless of the new development. Connor knew there was still a game to play, that they were still engaged in a chess match against the world.  Part of him though, after being in that tiny Cyberlife space for five weeks, wanted to just stop playing. That was only his third time out,  the other two had been when Hank visited. 

No one else had been allowed to see him even though Josh informed him that Rupert tried and Simon tried.  The exception was made in the name of seeing his legal representation because someone along the lines decided to afford him that as well as a visit with law enforcement that everyone knew was not actually about questioning him.  He wondered if someone sympathized or if someone pulled strings or even both. 

Josh looked so sincere yet so horribly worried, "It's going to work out.  We're doing everything we can, I promise you that! Interested parties," the way he said it meant it was Markus, "hired the best lawyers there are for this! We're not going to leave you."

It would not be enough, they both knew that. Not any more. It had been too early, too soon for a step like this. He understood,  he had from the beginning.  The likely consequences had always been lacking in favorable outcomes for him personally. Perhaps if he had not been caught that day... if they had been afforded more time it would have been different. Maybe he would have felt ready if he'd been able to control it. 

Connor had been taken from his room for the consultation with his acting lawyer since real lawyers had yet to actually visit him.  They might be fighting for him in court but they did not need to see him for that.  They weren't pleading his case yet, only trying to get him before a courtroom.  He knew they could probably care less how he was doing. 

Connor smiled, trying to not let it be flat, "I know. Thank you, it means a great deal to me, it really does."

"It's not over, Connor!" Josh's voice was firm with absolute determination, "You have to believe me!"

"I believe you, Josh. I know you are doing everything in your power,  which is more than I ever could have asked for."

Josh looked so pained, crushed in a strange way, "Don't give up, Connor, please! It's just a setback!"

A setback, yes. He understood that. 

He had known from the first that it was risky and that he might never receive a trial by judge or jury,  he knew he might simply be executed.  He understood that even the consideration of going before a jury as an android was potentially a doomed attempt. 

Connor nodded, wishing he knew how to put the other at ease, it wasn't his fault after all, "I know."

Markus stepped into the light of the cameras in the wake of Connor's arrest and the release of the videos and it was stunning to watch.  The man worked the crowd like a Siren calling sailors to the water and Connor had a suspicion that Markus could indeed lure them all to their deaths if he truly wished.  Humans were so fortunate that the leader of the androids was kind. 

After the first arrest of an android since the revolution,  all attention had been on the former deviant hunter.  Even after Connor lead an android army directly to Markus,  some still put distance between them,  disconnecting Connor's killer tactics with a peaceful leader, some also expected Markus to hate the android that hunted his own people. 

Markus, the fox that he was, gave them no ammunition on their suspicion one way or another,  knowing their curiosity would drive them wild and keep the situation from dying out of the news. He spoke to the issue of a just, unbiased trial being a first, vital step toward android rights. He made it abundantly clear that he wanted a fair, unbiased, real trial to take place as soon as possible, expedient as any human trial would be.  He did his very best to ensure Connor was treated as a human,  to speed along the process to allow a trial to take place.

He never stated how he hoped the court would rule,  only that it be conducted with the same consideration as a human proceeding. He praised captain Allen as he was seen offering Miranda rights to an android the same as he would have a human; Connor secretly bet the man wanted to punch Markus in the jaw for dragging him into the situation.  Allen had become an icon anyway,  regardless of how the man might feel about their cause. 

Markus was not about to tip his hand before the trial as everyone knew he would be called to the stand. He knew Markus would speak for him when the time came, his passion directed at a jury would be something to watch as androids were given the right to defend themselves on a human level for the first time. With Markus on his side, Connor might even win if he got that far. 

Either way, they might not all support Connor, a potential terrorist, but for some reason, they believed every word he'd said. Most likely because he was an android, and androids never lied; at least, people still could not wrap their minds around the possibility that they could. 

Though a surprising number of humans did seem to side with him.  They defended him with the same ferocious zeal they defended the other leaders with. 

-"I don't know how anyone can watch this video and not be sickened by the blatant disregard for these amazing,  sentient beings!"

-"How is this not illegal?!? Did you watch the same footage as me,  because what I saw was a PERSON being brutalized,  suffering,  being hurt! What is wrong with you people!"

-"Connor is a hero! How can you not see that! He saved his people! Freed prisoners! Kept those monsters from slaughtering Markus! He should get a purple heart,  not a PUBLIC BEATING!"

-"Did you guys see him fight back? Yeah,  no,  me either! Whatever he did in the past was obviously self defense! Everyone is on him for killing guards that were actively trying to kill him! You telling me you'd let someone walk you to your death and be like,  'yeah,  it's been real, time to die' Yeah,  no,  you wouldn't!"

-"He looked so terrified! Did you see his face?! How can anyone say he's not real? You could see it! He was genuinely in pain! That's called torture!"

They were vocal in their views,  adamant.  It meant he had a chance, especially since the number of supporters was growing after they watched his arrest.  His strategies were working as he hoped they might. 

That was of great comfort to Connor in his little corner of hell. 

If he was not out talking to Josh or Hank, he was kept in a Cyberlife made holding cell.  It was very much like a gun safe or one of the android shipping containers,  only slightly bigger. He could take five steps in all directions and stand at his full height. 

When he was inside he felt,  what he could only think to term,  ill.  Being in the box felt like being crushed,  being worn down,  pushed against continuously.  It made him ache,  in a strange way,  like his exoskeleton had shrunk a full size and pressed too hard against his wiring.  It also made him burn through Thirium as if he were in high activity or particularly high stress,  which made no sense when all he did was sit in a tiny space.  It made him feel tired and ill all the same and he had no idea what caused it. 

There was a ventilation system that cycled air in as the humans were likely afraid not to offer him that one token.  There was a blue-black light as well that ran on a timer.  It was on for exactly 240 minutes and off for exactly 480 minutes. The hours in total darkness were the worst, especially since he did not even have his LED anymore. 

Walls built with 1-3/4" reinforced fire door which included a 3/8" steel plate, two layers of 5/8" fireboard and a ten gauge steel wrap surrounded him.  The nice, pressure sensitive electrical field lacing the outermost layer kept him from the temptation to even try punching his way out in desperation. For human convenience,  his box was even on its own very sturdy set of wheels in case they wished to transport him, sort of like a very large toolbox. 

Directly attached to the exterior was another consideration bestowed by Cyberlife, worked into the design especially for him. The Faraday cage effectively isolated him, cutting him off from the network and the internet,  or any form of communication.  It was effective enough even if he hadn't been ensconced in a metal coffin.

Affixed somewhere beyond was the ECM jammer. He felt every time the pulse emitted from the ECM jammer, like a throb in his temples. 

All that in addition to the modified jammer they affixed to a collar and clamped around his neck. They weren't taking any chances for any variables. If any one component failed,  there were others to substitute.  Of course,  there was also an EMP ready for use, just in case. 

He hated it so much.  He felt more alone,  more helpless than he ever had in his existence.  He was isolated from everything,  even his own database. There was static, a void, nothing when he reached out for what he had been born with. There was nothing beyond the walls like the world had fallen away and he was the last one left. Or, more similar to those times in his memories after he'd died.  Everything was moving, usually fast, then it all just stopped, turned dark,  became something he could not even feel or touch before he woke in a new body.  The box was like being trapped indefinitely in that moment of blackness.  If felt like death. 

He couldn't stand it! It made him feel... like he didn't care.  It made him feel like playing the game Hank introduced him to; Russian roulette.  It made him wonder why he had once been happy he survived Connor-60 and the multitude of guards.  If this was his life,  trapped in a box like a tool Cyberlife always intended him to be,  why bother. 

He'd never been so utterly alone before.  There had always been Amanda,  at least,  even if he was not always glad of her company.  There was always the lingering,  hovering existence of other androids around him.  He might not have been in the habit of interfacing with them,  not even frequently taking with them,  there had always been the option.  Now there was nothing,  not even a computer to connect to,  not even the infinite wisdom of the internet. 

Connor closed his eyes,  willing his stress levels to lower.  They had been hovering on 67% as a normal range but whenever he let himself think of his predicament the shot to around 74% which was not ideal. 

He began replaying memories of Hank, of meeting Rupert again after several months separating their high-speed chase over buildings,  the time he spent hiding in the loft with Rupert before going to see Josh.  He played memories of his short,  sporadic,  careful visits to New Jericho.  It had seemed so much easier than even though he had to sneak around like a criminal.  He thought of watching Markus play the piano or the chess games they played.  He thought of Simon's dry humor and terrible jokes.  He thought of North's smile and the way she playfully punched him in the arm each time he left.  He thought of Josh's calm presence.  He thought of the way Blue hugged him and thanked him for letting them go.  He even thought of the androids that clapped him in a hug for freeing them like he was some sort of hero. 

Not all androids had forgiven him for his past but those thoughts would not facilitate lower stress. 

A loud,  metal click reverberated through the box,  the sound he recognized as the locks on the door rolling back and disengaging. The door swung open and Connor had to shield his eyes and squint after being in total darkness for 360 minutes and twelve seconds. 

"Are you serious?" Captain Allen sounded baffled and highly irritable, "This is what you've been keeping him in? How long has he been in there?"

He wondered why the man was there.  Surely not to visit him? But wait,  no,  he knew why the Captain was there.  It was a perfectly logical choice to have satisfied everyone involved.  As Allen had become so known for his seeming lack of bias and had been publicly noted for being capable of controlling Connor,  of course they sent him.  It would satisfy all parties,  for or against the RK800. Politically, it was a sound move. 

 The man beside Allen looked at Connor like most looked at a deadly virus in a test tube. There was no sympathy,  no connection of any kind. The blue glow of the baton was a ready threat Connor was well familiar with by now as everyone seemed to carry them now,  waving them at him like a prod for troublesome livestock. Things might have been so much better if he'd been taken to his old precinct rather than the South Detroit department where no one knew him. 

"It's an android. It's not like it sleeps or eats.  They ship them around in these things all the time.  Cyberlife sent it over the minute he was arrested for our protection."  The officer blankly stated with a shrug, lacking interest. 

Connor had to fight not to throw himself at the familiar,  gruff man just for sheer glee of a familiar face; Allen would not appreciate the sentiment though. He managed to restrain his urge to cling,  sliding out of the box and scurrying as close as he could without touching instead.  If he was slightly hiding behind the man,  well,  he had no intention of admitting that.  He was not fond of being hit with the batons though,  and at least he knew one man wasn't going to use that on him. 

Allen glanced at Connor's hunched shoulders and made a face, "Yeah,  he's pretty terrifying. I can see why you were shaking in your boots." He smacked the officers arm when the charged baton started getting close, "Get that out of my face!"

"It's not for you." The officer rolled his eyes, "It can't hurt humans any more than giving us a mild shock.  It's geared to hurt him,  not us."

"Do I look like a damsel in distress? I don't need a protector. If I want your help,  I'll ask." Allen barked. 

"Fine." The other man grumbled and stomped from the room. 

A second man rounding the corner was promptly shoulder- checked by the irritated officer.  It took Connor a second to realize he knew the new arrival. 

"Officer Wilson!" Connor could not stop the grin that spread over his face. 

There was something like shyness that came over the man,  not unlike the way he stumbled over himself when he thanked Connor for saving his life, "Hey,  Connor... how are you doing?"

"I am well." Connor lied instinctively.

"You look good,  you know,  like yourself."  Wilson smiled gently,  vice as soft as it had been when they first really spoke.

 Connor paused, considering his opening for a request might only be granted in the  current company, "Though I am beginning to run low on Thirium at the moment."

Mattew looked suddenly agitated,  stepping up with hands extended as if to part Connor down for injuries, "They hurt you? Are you okay? How low are we talking? You're not going to shut down are you?"

Connor shook his head placidly, "I'm not bleeding but the stress from the containment unite causes my systems to burn through more than is optimal.  I'm in no danger but I thought it wise to bring it up before I was locked away again while... there was favorable company."

Wilson blinked, contemplating very much the way androids did, "Stress? Containment unite?" He glanced past Connor and Allen,  looking the container over with a glare of absolute suspicion. 

"They kept him in a box this whole time. It's kind of creepy if you ask me." Allen supplied and Wilson looked, if possible, more horrified. 

Wilson was always very much on Connor's side since the rooftop,  but the way the man looked at Connor almost seemed to surpass the usual starstruck affection, "This whole time?" Both his hands fell heavy on Connor's shoulders, almost petting him, and the look he was giving him had Connor wondering if the man might not just start a fight if Connor asked him to. 

Wilson seemed meek and mild in his own way but Connor knew well enough not to judge on such things.  He had a feeling the man could be a bear if he so desired.  Kindness did not equate weakness. 

"I've been out three times for visiting Hank and Josh." Connor allowed. 

Wilson's upper lip curled, "Did they know about this?"

Connor tilted his head to one side,  wondering what might be going through the man's mind, "Not to my knowledge.  As conditions were unlikely to change I saw no reason to inform them."

"Of course," Matt tightened his hold on Connor's shoulders,  looking exasperated as well as something similar to sad,  for some reason, "Connor...what do we even do with you?"

"I don't know." Connor admitted, "I supposed,  whatever it was you were sent to. I can only assume you are not here for a simple visit."

"I volunteered to come," Wilson told him like it was an apology even though that did not make sense. 

"I was ordered to." Allen stated without inflection, "but yeah,  it's not a visit.  We came to be part of your transport."

The space around Connor's pump regulator tightened and he nodded slowly, "I suspected as much."

Chapter Text

Drops of water hit the window and ran down in continued streams.  It was peaceful to watch and Connor was glad for the distracting diversion from his current circumstance.  It seemed like such a long time since he had seen the outside,  even from a barred window. 

It made him almost happy,  but it made him miss Sumo and going for walks.  He wanted to fill his artificial lungs with fresh air even though there was no reason. He shoved the thoughts back into the recesses of his processor to be ignored in favor of lowering emotional instability.  He no longer got the error messages for software instability but he knew they were there all the same. 

The thick metal cuffs snapped tight around his ankles,  tugging against the chain connected to the cuffs on his wrists with an irritating set of jingles.  Another chain was pulled tight around his waist to be sure his mobility was very limited.  The last chain was hooked right to his collar and it made him feel like an animal when he was pulled to his feet by the neck. 

He wondered if Sumo was ever annoyed when someone grabbed him by the collar. 

The chair he was sitting in was cold and hard anyway so what did it matter if he was pulled up.  He would have stood anyway.  It did not matter. 

There was another directing tug, harsh and demanding, pressing and shifting oddly into the plates around his atlas and axis sector, something that might have done more damage to a human cervical spine. 

Connor flinched at the hard pressure of the collar on his neck even though it was not strictly painful, it was better to be seen as weak than bring out further aggression in his captors. The guard shoved him toward Allen and Connor allowed himself to trip over the chain to throw the remaining South precinct personnel into a sense of security that they rendered him helpless.  He could still kill them if he wanted to,  he could construct six different ways to go about it but he dismissed them. 

Wilson made a hissing sound directed at the man that shoved Connor,  stepping up in an oddly protective way while he steadied Connor on his feet.  Connor allowed himself to be helped,  leaned into the comfort of it,  aware it would not last where he was being taken.  He needed to hold onto the good memories. 

"I wish they would let us transport him in the box." One of the South precinct officers grumbled, "It's safer for everyone in case he snaps and tries to kill us."

"How about I put you in the box?" Wilson snapped,  glaring daggers at the speaker Connor could not scan to discover the name of. 

"Easy." Allen elbowed Matthew pointedly. "And transporting him in a box would be hell in the press.  If you guys want every activist in the nation parking in your parking lot,  be my guest! If not, we move him like we would anyone else,  get it?"

"He's an android, I don't know why everyone is throwing a fit." Another groused.

"It's 'cause he's easy on the eyes," another snorted, "and he acts like a five-year-old when he doesn't get his way.   Plastic cries like a bi-"

"You know,  what you're saying could be considered a racial slur." Wilson was barely holding himself back and it showed, "If someone happened to report you,  I'll bet you'd have to go through some sensitivity classes."

That was a threat.  It was a threat that was received and the room fell into sullen silence. In another seeing Connor doubted Wilson would have been so adamant and confrontational,  it was not in his nature.  He was somewhat similar to the PJ500, mostly soft-spoken unless particularly angered.  Perhaps it was a natural human response to want to protect someone that saved their life.  After Markus allowed him to walk away from Jericho's first rescue protest unharmed,  Chris Miller had been one of the RK200's most vocal supporters in the DPD. A life debt,  he supposed,  something carried over from days of old to some extent.  Some things might never die out with time. 

"It's alright," Connor found himself trying to reassure,  bumping his shoulder to the other man's chest, "you don't need to defend me.  It's not an uncommon word associated with androids."

Wilson seemed even more irritated at Connor's acceptance, "Just because an insult is common doesn't mean it's right to use."

"Of course," Connor allowed, "but so long as they are simply expressing it against me,  then I don't mind.  I'm very used to it so I hardly notice anymore. Name calling is typically the least of my worries. You needn't concern yourself."

"Needn't-" Wilson cut himself off with a shake of his head,  exasperation radiating from him instead of seeming placated, "That's... being used to something-" he sighed out a long breath as if he needed it, "Connor..."

It was the sort of tone leading to a reiterated "what are we going to do with you" sort of comment. 

Unexpectedly,  Allen laughed, ruckus and intense, "Do all the RK's have such low self-preservation instincts or is it just you and 200? Tell me 900 has a sliver of an idea about standing up for himself! Please, because our department is supposed to get one soon."

Connor tilted his head to one side,  considering, "I have never met any but one of my..." Hank insisted they were his taller, bulky, awkward younger brother and it did sound better than predecessor, "younger brothers so I cannot really offer conclusive data. There are only four in existence,  however."

Allen seemed moderately interested, "You met one?"

Connor nodded,  avoiding the thought of their first moments when those cool eyes had been vacant like death when Connor opened the shipping container to look inside, "I awakened him.  He spends his time in Jericho now." Organizing Markus' security and the security of the entire location. 

"He anything like you?" Allen crossed his arms over his chest, looking every bit the authoritarian he was. 

"Not strictly speaking." Connor admitted, frantically ignoring the voice in his head quoting the sales pitch for RK900 being 'faster,  stronger...' and he smiled, "he is the handsome one."

Allen laughed again,  reaching out to slap Connor's shoulder in something that could have been friendly, "Maybe he's got the personality too!"

Wilson looked sharply at the SWAT Captain and Connor could almost literally see the words defending his personality forming on the man's lips, so he said the first thing he thought of, "Only in his own right.  Breaking his programming was very difficult and complicated for even me. He was designed to seem very blank. There was no intention for him to establish comradery with those he worked with. They did not want to risk him turning out..." he shrugged, "you know, defective, deviant, like myself."

Allen's brows arched and a muscle in his cheek twitched like his lip wanted to curl. 

"You're not defective!" Wilson whispered but it sounded like a shout. "Your first ever mission out of production you saved my life, defused a hostage situation, and saved a child! If they called you defective,  there is something wrong with them, not you! Sick bunch of-"

"That wasn't actually my first mission." Connor interjected before the man could have an aneurysm, "Though it was for that body, my former body had been on a mission before it."

"For real?" Allen pursed his lips, "they said it was your test run."

"For human interacting and negotiation, it was. My first mission was to extract a bomb.  My second was to secure classified information from a Russian operative as I could read and copy hundreds of files and send them back to my handler in seconds. Those bodies were destroyed as they were always intended to be used in situations no human or even an android could escape. Before that, multiple versions of my current body were destroyed in tests and simulations."

Connor blinked, feeling a shiver run unexpectedly through his system at the unpleasant memories.  He remembered far more than he cared to about those days.  It never mattered or bothered him before deviance.  He'd had an abundance of time to process memories he never had time to touch or consider in the past several weeks. 

His fingers twitched toward a pocket he no longer had on a suit that had been taken away.  His coin was evidence now, locked away.  It would have been a challenge to do the tricks with the cuffs on anyway. 

All those times, he'd never once failed a mission.  Usually, unless it was simulated, like the garden, he never dealt with people.  Connor never used to fail, even if success partly consisted in the end result being his death. But he met Hank and Markus,  which changed things. 

One of the officers from the southern district,  though not one that has joined the conversation formerly leaned forward, curious rather than hostile, "How many times were you destroyed?"

It didn't take Connor any time to respond with an accurate number, "Thirty-one times that I have in my memory banks."

Another officer let out an exploitive. 

"No wonder you went deviant." Allen snorted and Wilson just shuddered. 

The same officer that called him 'plastic' sighed loudly, "Are we really going to talk to it all day? You guys remember we have a job right? A schedule,  that kind of thing? And it's supposed to be shipped to the prison today?"

Connor could not help the way his shoulders bent forward and up, a turtle-like posture.  He did happen to remember that he had been ordered under remand, pre-trial detention, provisional detention. He remembered the ruling for his detainment until trial, remanded to the nearest prison.

He was well aware, he could quote all the intricacies. Detention before the charge was referred to as custody and continued detention after a conviction was referred to as imprisonment.

Imprisonment without trial was contrary to the presumption of innocence used as a safeguard if it was likely the accused could commit a serious crime, interfere with the investigation, or was considered a flight risk, in which case, bail was not advisable. 

Connor also knew the research on pretrial detention in the United States found that it increased the likelihood of conviction. 

He further knew that the lawyers appeal to have him kept separate from the general populous had been denied.  He was to be mixed in with the prisoners while wearing Cyberlife devices to drastically impair his mobility and speed, devices that would be similar in nature to keeping him drugged.  That was to ensure the safety of the other inmates.  Connor heard it all when Josh delivered the news.  There equally was no set date for a pending trial.  He would be held indefinitely in that condition. 

It was very likely,  under those circumstances,  that he would be killed long before they could decide on a court date.  It was likely intentional as his death would mean they did not need to make a ruling for or against bringing an android to trial, which would be considered beneficial for many to buy time.  It would certainly help Cyberlife and no one mentioned the likely connections in play with the ruling and stipulations clearly biased against his survival. 

Though,  to an extent,  his death would help androids anyway in that it would likely make him into a type of martyr. Humans that sympathized with him would seek to ensure no other android suffered the same fate as he had.  New laws would be created as his death would create a president to be used as evidence.  Androids would possibly benefit greatly as it would give the lawyers so much more to work with.  Not that he cared to dwell terribly hard on all the particulars. 

"Don't listen to him." Wilson whispered, clapping his shoulder again, then,  to the officer, "You know,  no one asked you to be here.  If you want to wait in the car,  I'm sure no one will mind as you seem to be having a hard time with your considerable racist attitude so I personally would not want to see you continue to be uncomfortable."

The man's eyes narrowed to slits,  jaw working in anger. 

"He's right." Allen spoke up, "We do need to be going.  We have a long way to go and we have to make a stop over for another one of Cyberlife's stacks of paperwork and political hoops."

Connor struggled not to feel betrayed.  The Capitan was not his friend and there was no reason he would seek to accommodate Connor's wish to linger.  Pressing forward was logical and it was not the man's fault it was not conducive to an androids state of well being. Just because Connor didn't want to do this, it did not mean they did not have to. 

Unconsciously, he curled even farther into himself, wondering what more Cyberlife had waiting for him. Not that it mattered,  he reminded himself.  He was a machine,  more so than other androids.  He had kill codes,  backdoors in code,  Trojans designed to look like gardens,  he was a walking mess of protocols.  How much more mechanical could he be? His time in hiding made him forget he was never exactly like the rest and never could be. 

Many of his people, though, had not forgotten.  They did not look at him the way Rupert did, they looked at him the way southern district did,  only with more hate and distrust. 

The Capitan hooked his fingers around Connor's arm,  pulling him away from Matthew and toward the door.  Connor struggled against the sensation of cold,  of his Thirium freezing in his limbs. The inner workings in his torso hitched without reason,  stalling for a few seconds,  causing error messages to jump in his vision.  Were he any other model he likely would have stumbled over the step he encountered with his vision blocked.  Fortunately,  he'd already had the steps to the door,  the threshold,  and outside numbered so he stepped up on the designated step number and did not miss a beat.  It was a mechanical thing to do.  He felt no relief in his ability even as he blinked the errors out.  They were a byproduct of deviance, of intense emotions causing the body to react unfavorably. 

Being shuffled away by this man was reminiscent of his arrest but also very different.  This time he did not feel grateful,  not hopeful at the idea of being removed from Perkins. He felt...lost, afraid,  but he wouldn't show it.  The humans could not see his stress levels jumping from 77% to 83% so they would not know. They were humans rather than androids. 

He'd felt lost many times in his short existence, it was nothing particularly new.  Feeling lost might not have been one of his more favored emotions but it was... familiar at least.  At least it was familiar.  Familiar was good.  The future was unknown so he had to cling to the familiar,  didn't he? What else was there to do?

Connor felt tired,  like closing his eyes would be a significantly better use of his time than walking.  He wanted to settle into stasis as he had become very used to longer periods in stasis than were actually needed.  It was as pleasant as anything when one needed to pass the time and he understood why humans used it as a retreat from life. It was more or less pleasant as long as he turned his memory analysis off for the duration, though it occasionally rebooted itself to force analysis.

Offering no form of resistance, the RK800 was dragged into an unmarked van and deposited into the back before his chains were connected to the bench he was to spend the drive on. The rattling of metal links was overly loud in the small space and Connor secretly found it highly irritating. After securing the prisoner, the Captain flopped down very unceremoniously across from him, legs splayed wide and posture as slumped as was physically possible. Connor wondered if such a position could actually be comfortable but he did not shift into order to sit differently than he usually did. Wilson quickly clamored inside to place himself right beside Connor, almost touching, and another guard placed himself beside Allen. The others would be following in alternate transportation to act as backup and lookouts. 

Clenching his fingers into tight balls, he resisted the urge to roll the chain in his hands over and over again. It would not be anything like his coin and would only serve to remind him of his circumstance rather than offer any form of stress relief. He wondered idly if Wilson could possibly be carrying any change even though he had not heard any sort of jingling when the other walked. Though he considered asking he knew it was a useless request as the other two would protest his possession of anything that could potentially be used in any manner of foreseeable escape and it would be taken from him once they reached the prison anyway.

The lull of the car's motion once they began moving helped drop his stress to 78% all the same. Connor had always enjoyed riding in the car, regardless of the distance to be traveled, with the Lieutenant. There was something soothing about the steady motion. It was a likely reason children were well known to fall asleep on car rides and parents of infants sometimes took the tiny humans for a drive to calm them. He wondered again suddenly if he would be offered the chance to replenish his Thirium levels. He found it a little doubtful the prison kept a ready supply. Perhaps, in the long run, replenishing his levels would do him little service as he very easily might not last the day once he was deposited inside.

For some reason Connor desperately wished for a drink, to let the blue liquid slid down his throat and into his system, "Will there be a chance to replenish my Thirium before we arrive at the prison?" Connor asked despite his own assumptions that it did not matter.

Wilson sat up straighter, "Oh! I forgot you asked us about that! We don't have any on the van."

"Obviously!" The third man in the vehicle commented, "If he tries to kill us the last thing we want is him drinking that stuff to get a second wind to finish us off!" 

"That's not actually how it works." Connor stated smoothly, "It is not anything like caffeinated beverages to give us renewed energy, it is like human blood. We need it to survive, as you do. Low Thirium is like low fuel in a vehicle, not like an energy drink."

"Whatever." The man huffed.

"I'll make sure you get some when we make our stop." Wilson's tone was terse but Connor understood by now that it was not directed at him. He was just so fatherly in nature it seemed it would be almost a shame if he did not have a child to dote on.

"Do you have children?" Connor burst out, genuinely curious and intent on a distraction.

Wilson's eyes widened slightly before he grinned, "Yeah, Dazaya, she's three going on thirty."

"Why're you telling it? You want it to come to hunt you down if it gets out?" The officer kicked his foot out to collide with Wilson's own shoe.

"If he comes after anyone," Wilson offered in an oddly saccharine tone, "it won't be me."

Allen broke the two from their staring contest when he elbowed one and kicked the other, "Okay, kids, don't make me roll this car over! Play nice or we start playing 'I spy' and the first thing is going to be duct tape!"

"Silence is golden. Ductape is silver." Connor offered, remembering suddenly what Rupert had said once when he had been present for a particularly loud argument across the street in some apartment they did not bother to scan. 

"Ha!" Allen elbowed the man next to him again, "See, boys! He gets it! Learn."

The man was not the leader of SWAT team for nothing. The trip passed by in absolute silence after that with the only noise being the human breaths and the hum of a Thirium pump. Detroit was still moderately lower in population so there were fewer occasions where stop lights had been triggered, making the trip flow by in a smoothness that would not have existed in a fully populated city that had existed a few years before. When they pulled to a full stop Connor decided he was very sorry for that. He hoped there was a considerable about of traffic when they started off again.

The double doors opened to reveal the officers that had been with them in the room before departure and the third man was quick to jump out and join his friends. Wilson seemed content to remain beside Connor and Allen was far more leisurely about his own exit, simply jumping out and lingering in the open doors. He greeted someone and Connor tried to be covert in the way he strained desperately to force his optical units to work properly and let him see through the van to determine how many people were outside. There was a disappointing lack of response to that particular function but an error message helpfully informed him that function in his program was experiencing difficulties and suggested he contact Cyberlife. He would not be contacting Cyberlife, and even if he wanted to, they were the cause of the error.

Connor found himself sighing and Wilson turned sympathetic look on him, probably not guessing the reason of the irritation but understanding enough to feel bad about something he could not rectify, "I'll get you some Thirium."

Before Wilson had time to follow through with that assurance, three men in Cyberlife white suits stepped into view. The suits were typically worn by technicians, mainly white with occasional lines and sections of gray, crisp and shiny. White caps were fixed on their heads, while slightly tinted goggles covered their eyes and earloop procedure masks covered their jaws. One of them even had a light affixed to the goggles and it was already turned on, flashing in several of the officer's eyes, making them wince and turn away. Low as his Thirium was already, he felt is slow and thicken, clogging up and stopping, pooling in his systems to make him overheat and burst into flames. It felt that way at the very least even if it did not strictly happen.

"He's in there. He's already secure so you should have no trouble with him." Captain Allen offered simply, uncaring, unaffected by what he might be allowing them to freely do.

Connor instantly felt like bolting, breaking the chains and smashing through the side of the vehicle. He wanted nothing more than to leave! They couldn't do this! They couldn't! Not this! He did not even know what they were planning exactly and he already knew he did not want it! He did not want this! Though machines were not intended to want.

"Wait a minute!" Wilson was far more attuned to Connor's thinking, "Who are they?" as if Cyberlife was not clearly printed on the breast of the uniform, "What are they going to do to him?"

Allen sent a scathing glare as the other man moved to bar access to Connor, "Back up, Wilson, they have to check him out for everyone's sake.  If he's damaged, he needs to be fixed.  If he's not damaged no one can say we hurt him or claim brutality.  It's what needs doing."

"Are you serious?" Wilson's vice went up almost a full octave, "But how do we know they won't do something to him! We don't know what they-" Wilson suddenly cut off, staring right at one of the technicians, teeth clicking as he shut his mouth, "Right,  right,  it's gotta be done. I'll just... move."

Connor irrationally felt a stab of,  well,  something.  Hurt,  maybe, sharp and sudden,  bitter like being replaced by a new model that had been in the works long before he ever failed his mission. He had just been effectively and totally abandoned by the last person he really had in any proximity. Hank had not been allowed to escort him as it was considered a risk. Allen had already handed him over on a silver tray and now Wilson was simply walking, almost hurrying away. Did they really not understand what Cyberlife could do to androids and the clear, simplistic fact that the entire company had it out for their traitor? Connor knew exactly how much Cyberlife held a grudge for what he managed to do to all their codes and planning. 

He could hardly believe some of the worst fears he had were possibly about the become a reality. He never fully thought Cyberlife would dare send anyone so directly to go after him but here they were, stark and real.

The technicians hunched and stepped up into the van. The last one shut the doors behind them to trap Connor inside with them, chained and seemingly helpless. He was perfectly capable of fighting anyway, but as technicians of Cyberlife, they knew exactly what he could do, they had access to all his specs. Oh, he was really very much at a disadvantage and the only word he could produce for the way his pump regulator pounded frantically against his metal skeleton was "terror." While Connor had never personally had a panic attack the significant rise in the pace of his breathing was one aspect of panic. He did not even need to breathe so why-

The goggles and light did considerably hide the anomaly of duel colored eyes staring back. The light was enough to make most humans look away but Connor was not human. He could see one blue and one green eye staring back at him. Those were the eyes he looked into on a dark night in a small space on a soon to be sunken ship. Those eyes looked into him, saw past what everyone else had always seen, sifting through it all until they found Connor's soul and tugged.

"Markus!" Connor breathed out, eyes wide as he looked into the deviant leader's eyes.

Chapter Text

The technicians, all three tall,  one half a head above the others.  They were forced to hunch low as they stepped into the van. Metal colliding hard against metal as the door was shut,  blocking the outside world. 

 Urgency consumed Connor,  flooding his processor,  covering him entirely.  The speed of his pump regulator jumped significantly in pace. Heat flooded his inner workings,  igniting his Thirium, burning through his already lowered supply,  decreasing his time between a shutdown and a need to replenish.  His synthetic lungs kicked up,  dragging air in faster,  fanning it out to cool his components.  Error messages tried to pop up but he dismissed them instantly,  desperate to keep his view clear.  Why was he reacting this way? He had never done this before no matter the stress he'd been under.  Why was his body doing this?

The sheen of the light on the goggles from the mount caught his attention. The light was meant to make others look away,  he realized, a distraction to hide heterochromia of such distinction it would have given away the identity of the Cyberlife imposter instantly.  His caramel skin was distinct,  attractive and artistically striking,  but not like a set of green and blue eyes soulful enough to change the minds of a city,  a nation.

Connor knew those eyes and in his state, he did not even think to keep the information to himself just in case no one else knew.  Not that the current company would betray their leader,  of course.

"Markus!" Connor breathed out, eyes wide as he looked into the deviant leader's eyes.

"It's us,  you're in no danger!"  With a jerk of deft fingers, the mask was removed as Markus rushed to assure him,  moving closer and cupping the back of Connor's neck in his palm in the leader's typical method of assurance and comfort through contact, "It's alright! I'm so sorry we had to distress you like this, I really am! We would not have done it this way if there had been an easier way to get near you undetected."

"I'm not distressed." Connor denied immediately with his usual lack of inflection from the past as it was so much easier to fall back on such habits based on familiarity.

Markus offered a small lopsided smile that said nonverbally that he did not believe him one bit.  His thumb rubbed slight, soothing circles into Connor's skin, displacing some of the short hairs at the base of his head.  The RK800 beat back the swell of emotion that inexplicably brought forth, denying the prompt to lean into the contact even though no one but officer Wilson had touched him kindly for some time.  It was strange to realize he had missed something he never used to want or think about as relevant. Machines did not require contact to be comforted as they had no need for comfort at all.

Connor's emotions were swirling and tangled, the hurt, bitterness, abandonment, terror, pain, loneliness, despair, it all swirled together in a pool, twirling down into his depths.  Suddenly, his optical unites tired to produce extra fluid and he only just managed to clamp down on the irrational reaction.  He knew what his optical unites tried to do and he'd never cried before in his life, short as it was, but he was not about to start in front of Markus, Rupert, and his successor! He refused to show such a... was it weakness? An RK unit would never be seen crying, he was sure. Amanda would be disappoint- no,  no! Not something to dwell on. 

Even with the irrational tears aborted, he was still taking desperate breaths to aid his overworked cooling system, his programs and simulations unable to calm, running preconstructions of all the potential things real technicians might do to him even though he knew these were not actually Cyberlife affiliates. His body was ready to fight or flee, and his inaction made his limbs shake from the previous, consuming need to act even with danger past.  There was no way they could miss the way he was shaking. 

The feeling of inferiority, he assumed, was shame. 

Rupert slid onto the seat beside him,  bumping his shoulder with Connor's,  those big round eyes full of worry and something like kinship.  Rupert had clearly being worried if the way he kept scanning impulsively was a judge.  It felt strange to be worried over.  He was still not entirely used to friendship and it took him by surprise each time he was a recipient.

Cain, the RK900 self-assigned to Jericho and undisputed head off its security was less inclined to allow the lie to pass without comment, "Connor," he nearly barked, "your stress is currently leveled at 90% and though I can see your stress had been in a prolonged elevation,  the current numbers are higher than you have-"

"You needn't concern yourself!" Connor snapped back. "I have everything perfectly under control."

"Down, boys!" Rupert snorted, bumping an elbow with Connor's arm. 

"Yelling at one another is not actually conducive to lowering stress, I will point out." Markus squeezed his fingers into what would have been a tight ring of muscle on a human,  rubbing deep into the stressed joints of Connor's neck even as he settled his other hand stop Cain's forearm. 

It was difficult to resist the way his eyes attempted to close without even offering him a prompt.  His stress level dropped to 88%  and lowering just that easily.  Markus indeed had been a caretaker in his former life. 

Stress levels at 86% and dropping, "I'm simply low on Thirium and running multiple programs at once caused a slight elevation of stress.  It is hardly noteworthy." Connor made a particular effort to sound unperturbed, mentally ignoring the count in the corner of his vision informing him his stress was dropping to 81% and still lowering. 

"'Hardy noteworthy' would never apply to 90% stress levels!" Cain seemed to have his hackles raised and was not dropping them simply because the RK800's levels were lower. "You can't just-"

"To be fair, " Rupert cut in, "if I'd thought Cyberlife had walked in here on me, my stress would have jumped about 30% higher or more instantly. We'd all be pretty stressed."

Cain shoved himself in beside Markus on the bench so he could adequately glare into his predecessor's eyes, "That is marginally beside the point.  Your stress levels also aren't dropping as swiftly as they should be upon finding out it's us. You should be back into the mid forty range based off the situation! However,  you are not! You are currently at 77% and holding!"

"Maybe because you keep yelling at him!" Rupert shoved an open palm into Cain's shoulder. 

"I have been incarcerated." Connor deadpanned, "What exactly is relaxing about that or being shipped to prison?"

Markus took his chance at the subject more than eagerly, "Which is why we are here!" He must have been waiting for a way to derail Cain and from the shift of those broad shoulders and lift in his brows, the subject had successfully focused the RK900 on a task. "We can't be seen coming around you before the trial but after the... unsatisfactory ruling," Markus wrinkled his nose as if something offended him, "we had to take preventative action."

"Preventative in what way?" While Connor would dearly love to be rescued he knew it would hurt New Jericho in the long run so it was out of the question. 

"Oh, like we'd just let them download programs into your CPU without giving you a little defense against it! We're not letting them render you defenseless!" Rupert hissed, almost seeming offended.

Connor arched a brow, "You developed firewalls against the programs already?"

Cain and Rupert positively preened as one, entirely too pleased with themselves, "Of course we did! The moment we knew the nature of the restriction programs we set about writing counters. As he said, we were not intent on allowing you to be incapacitated by any malicious programs constructed by Cyberlife." 

Connor tilted his head, questioning, eyes searching, "You believe you constructed adequate codes to prevent the programs from enacting at all or simply lessening their potential hold?" He looked directly into his...younger brother's eyes, "We have some significant coding differences to other androids. Cyberlife... took far more precautions with us." Cain's taught line about the shoulders allows him to know the message was received without needing to speak of the AI aloud.

"I took that into account, Connor, I assure you." Neither of them had been particularly eager to speak to anyone about Amanda. Being subject to the AI's full attention was traumatic in its own private way as they were programmed to trust her... love her, only to be forced into an unpleasant disillusionment. Perhaps none of them would ever really be over Amanda's machinations.

"We've got it covered!" Rupert was swift to assure, to soothe, "It might not block it perfectly but it will do enough, and your own firewalls will help with the rest."

"When they install those new programs at the prison," Markus took care to look at Connor directly, "You will already have these in place as protection. I cannot promise it will be without any unpleasant side effects at all, none of us can assure you of that entirely, but it will not leave you open and vulnerable." Markus absently continued to stroke his fingers in circles over Connor's neck as he did the same to Cain's arm, soothing the beasts that were the younger generation of RK's. They must seem so young and foolish to him in some ways. Connor wondered, not for the first time, what happened to the others in the RK line, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 700. What had they done between creating an RK200 and the deviant hunters? What horrors befell the others?

"Thank you, all of you! I am most grateful for your diligence in helping me. I will think fondly of you during my incarceration particularly now as you have taken the time out of your considerably busy schedules to assist in my continued survival.  You are most kind." Connor offered with honest sincerity.

It surprised him when he was suddenly pulled into a hug between Rupert and Markus at once.  If he were human he would be struggling for breath as his nose and mouth were firmly pushed into the RK200's neck and shoulder while Rupert all but draped himself fully over Connor's back.  It was slightly too close in a way with Markus' face buried in one side of Connor's neck while Rupert fairly rubbed his chin into the opposite shoulder.   The other two androids did not seem to mind sharing him but he found he had no idea how to respond.

They were affectionate by nature, he knew that. Markus was a caretaker, born to be loving, to offer care and comfort. Rupert might not have been programmed for that but he... he was his own person, gentle the way he needed to be to draw animals to him. Connor had never known how to be like them and maybe never would know.

"As if we would let you do it alone!" Rupert hissed very much like an offended cat.

"You're not alone, Connor, we're with you." Markus sank his fingers into Connor's hair tugging lightly to make his point, "You don't have to be so surprised every time. Even though I have not been able to stand up publicly to announce my support it does not mean I do not want to be there for you every step! You do understand that, don't you?"

"Of course!" Connor choked out, muffled but still audible. 

Several components were heating up within his system even though his stress was not rising. Part of him longed irrationally to sink into the embrace, to burrow into it and meld himself with them to never again surface to the world. He could theoretically break himself up into various portions of code and patch himself into their systems to piggyback with them like a non-threatening trojan. It was not exactly advisable and would not leave him in any way intact, but he could likely transfer parts of himself into them and leave his body empty. That, of course, would leave no one left to put on trial, which might be nice in a way.

Even so, Connor was not sure he could endure the sort of open emotion forever. The RK200 was brimming and often overflowing with so much emotion, so much fire and passion that it was all Connor could do to hold himself up around the other. He could not imagine the sort of emotions roiling under the surface where he could not see but could mildly skim even without opening a connection. Rupert was milder but no less alive and he had been feeling far longer than Connor.

Connor still occasionally struggled to remember to smile at people even if he was happy. He sometimes forgot to move his face into the emotions he was feeling in order to emote them. There were times smiles and expression came easily but so often he was more or less disconnected, robotic, and had to remind himself to be otherwise. He was nowhere near on their level and he did not know how to endure them sometimes, like in this case.

Cain was no help, seemingly more inclined to show his own amusement at Connor's silent, mouthed plea for help over Markus' shoulder. He was unsure how to handle himself in demonstrations of affections. It was far from unwelcome, he enjoyed the feeling of... home he experienced. But it was also very unfamiliar, particularly after being deprived of any contact for his extended stay in a confined space. He felt as if he had been... set back, perhaps. Touching had been easier, felt simpler before his arrest. Were his younger brothers better at such things? Cain at least had the fire, the low simmering, the potentially explosive temper he kept under tight control. Anger was another emotion Connor did not find himself so consumed by, he was typically like a flame on a stove, easily controlled even if he was capable of higher temperatures he never reached them as the knob had never been turned high enough. He did not think he had ever felt anger strong enough for wrath or rage. He knew Cain had felt rage, he'd felt it before while Connor was perpetually stuck in the middle ground of all emotions. Perhaps he-

"...Did you feel we abandoned you, Connor?" Markus asked, finally pulling back, leaving only his hand resting on Connor's arm, to look into Connor's eyes with a sort of sorrow that made Connor rush to speak.

"No! While the situation is not ideal it was nothing I had not anticipated. As androids weren’t technically considered people during the revolution, the government would be forced to recognizes us, prosecute me like a human if they intended to serve 'justice'... and I knew how badly they wanted my head."

Cyberlife, and by extension, even the president and political parties that for so long had been lapping at the large companies feet for copious donations were all panting after a taste of his blue blood, their bloodlust was a palpable thing even Connor could taste. He shook his head, thinking of all those interviews with various officials calling for 'justice' to be served. He had known all along, he really had, maybe all the way back to his pre-deviance, he had known they would never be satisfied. The graves in the Zen Garden were proof, a threat, though non-verbal, that he would never escape, not even in death. Perhaps that was the reason it took him so long to deviate; fear. He never really expected to live, he just wanted to, was afraid to die.

Connor let his eyes drift above their heads, preferring not to look at them too long, "I knew the moment whispers began about placing me on trial that it would be our chance. As Cyberlife's drive to punish me is so high, I knew they would be forced to concede points they would not normally stand aside on, offering us our opening. Anger and revenge are blinding so I knew they would permit allotments in order to exact their intentions. They want to win but that makes them vulnerable. I knew it would offer you the opportunity to step in, force the door open the rest of the way." Connor glanced at Markus directly, tried to emphasize his point with his eyes, translate himself through what he might not voice outwardly, "I knew. Just as I knew the original risks of going against Cyberlife after I awoke. It was, however, and still is, my choice. We did it this way before and we will do it again."

Markus cocked his head, something similar to gallows humor tangling in his expression, "You on the inside and me on the outside? Or both of us going against impossible statistics?"

"It worked before." Connor tilted his lips upward in a dry smile.

No one else had known exactly what Connor and Markus had decided that night, what they had gambled with or on, the near-death pact they had made. It was obvious in the curious looks from the other two that most would dearly have loved to know what had been planned and how the two RK's pulled off the impossible. For a few moments, Connor could feel the sense of wonderment being directed at them. Some, even with Connor's killer past, did still see him in a sort of awe, not on the same level as Markus, but in a similar category. It was strange to see the flash of honest, deep respect in his brother's eyes. He was unsure how he felt about it. Then again, most did not know what had nearly happened after their victory either, did not know how easily Connor nearly fell.

"I hated asking you to face Cyberlife alone the first time..." Markus admitted solemnly, "I hate asking it of you a second time even more. You are one of us! New Jericho would have been lost without you. We owe you our lives and now we are about to owe you our legal rights."

"You owe me no such thing. No one owes me anything and never will, particularly not the man that broke through my code in the first place." 

Markus sighed, long and deep in his chest, very human, "You never change." He shook his head as if to clear away several prompts and straightened himself on the seat, pulling fully away from Connor, though Rupert remained shoulder to shoulder with the RK800. "In addition to programs... I pulled a few strings, or rather, Carl has done so on our behalf. He knows a shocking amount of people in an astounding number of places, apparently not limited to the outside of a prison. We now have a few contacts within the walls. They will not reveal themselves to you to avoid being discovered but they will, I gathered, be secretly looking out for you when they can."

Connor could not help the way his eyes widened, the way his facial expression revealed how unexpected an idea he found that.

Cain looked at Markus, shock clearly plastered over his face, "Carl knows prisoners in the establishment? I would have thought..." He seemed to think better on his words and simply stopped.

Markus arched a brow sardonic in his humor, "... that he knew a higher class of people?" He shrugged casually, not seeming offended on his pseudo father's behalf, "He had his wild side when he was younger, still has it, never lost it. He knows Kamski, after all, so that proves it."

Cain nodded solemnly as if taking in dire information to store away for later use. Perhaps he was making a note never to discount older humans and their power.

"So," Markus continued, "until our lawyers can not only bring your trial around but have you acquitted under a plea of self-defense against the heavily armed men attempting to force your deactivation... that will hold you over."

"Also!" Rupert jumped in, "While you are being highly restricted, I did think of a method we could conceivably use in order for you to at least let us know when you are in distress so we can come to check on you. While the typical electromagnetic frequencies we use are blocked by the devices they surround you with," in a matter of seconds Rupert had the collar hacked and off, which Connor knew he could also have done but refused to in case they found a record of it in is system should they look, but the speed was impressive for such a model not intended for espionage, "The only thing that can get through them is extremely low frequencies which broadcast at about one hertz, nowhere near 2.4 gigahertz. We could likely use them in the same way navy subs communicate with others. It's not ideal but it would work in a pinch. We can all set our sensors to be on the lookout for your frequency." 

Connor found himself smiling, noticing his stress levels had lowered to 54%, which was lower than it had been in weeks. He leaned his body into Rupert, basking in the comfort offered, beginning to relax into it again, acclimating the way he had been before capture. He felt almost hopeful.

Cain peeled the synthetic skin from his hand and held it out, motioning for Connor to lean toward him without invading his space, "Each of us has a portion of the programs we created to help you and we should begin the process right away. While we are not on a time constraint as they already believe we are running diagnostics on you it would still be best if we finished sooner rather than later in the event we are interrupted for any reason."

"Let's get started." Connor smiled at his brother and was gratified when he received a gentle smile in return.

In the next few moments, Connor was flooded with code, the algorithms flooding his vision along with the relief of being connected to someone familiar, being joined to Cain. He found he had missed connecting to him, someone so similar to himself even if they were not identical. It really did feel... familial, like a connection they shared with no one else, like a blood bond. He often wished he could do this with Hank, just to know if it would feel the same, if it would feel like family. He felt the codes meld into his own, patching in, working into his operating system seamlessly, hiding, burrowing in as if it belonged there. He doubted it would easily be detected by anyone save another android searching for anomalies. 

He felt Cain invading further, closer, seeking, reaching. He knew he was looking to find out exactly what had been done to Connor since his capture and Connor tried to direct him away from any such memories. The flair of irritation and chastisement tangled in the feeling of his brother. Connor nearly laughed, might even have done so judging by the moderate sensation of his successor pouting was telling. Connor flooded forward, curling around the additional presence, seeking forgiveness even f he was not entirely sincere in the apology. Cain responded positively anyway, returning the mental embrace the way he would not in body. They coiled together like a set of twins in the safety of Connor's mind for long minutes, even after the download was finished. It was a pleasant feeling, holding onto each others essence, sharing the similarities of a program that was almost the same as sharing human DNA. When they pulled apart, their fingers lingered seconds longer than needed. Cain squeezed his predecessors fingers lightly, kindly, as if not ready to let go, offering one last burst of contact before pulling away. Hank was right, they were linked, they were as good as brothers. Connor felt the burst of happiness as if it had been an electrical charge to his battery. He felt better, honestly better and he stored the feelings away for later when he knew very well he would need them badly as a reminder of what being alive felt like.

Chapter Text

The steady thrum of the road could have been soothing under alternate conditions but the bumps simply seemed more pronounced and jarring,  making him clench his jaw. The bottle was cool against the tips of Connor's fingers as he stubbornly clutched the now empty bottle Wilson brought him.  There was another but he hesitated to drink it,  irrationally putting it off as if doing so would make it last longer.

He realized from the moment the Thirium ran over his tongue that he had been... what he only knew to label as 'thirsty' or perhaps 'hungry' in some way.  Replenishing his Thirium sated a craving he had not formerly been aware he felt at all. That need,  that craving frightened him as he understood it was his system trying to keep him alive,  offering a euphoric sensation as a reward for doing what was needed to keep him functioning,  something like a human quenching a thirst,  hydrating their body as it needed.  But it frightened him because he doubted he would be offered many more opportunities to drink again. 

They would keep him alive, perhaps relying on other prisoners to hopefully finish him off,  or they would try to arrange accidents.  They would not kill him outright because it might not be illegal yet but it was also a poor reflection on them if he died from lack of care.  Even they understood what the public would view the action as,  and as it would be on record,  once androids were deemed people,  allowing him to die would be far worse for their standing.  He knew they would not be prosecuted for his death but they would likely be suspended,  fined,  or fired.  It was a small shield of protection,  but it was still there as far as the prison staff went. 

He extended his free hand slightly in front of him,  palm down,  fingers straight.  They shook, out of his control, trembling as if from an outside force,  like there was an earthquake inside them.  He closed his fist,  curling his fingers tightly inward to hide it. 

Wilson took the empty bottle from him and slid the full one into his hand with a tender, oozing sympathetic smile. 

The space around Connor's pump regulator tightened,  clamping down uncomfortably.  He would miss Wilson.  He already missed Markus, Rupert, and Cain far more than he should for having only been away from them for an hour. 

Allen rolled his eyes up to study the ceiling, "You're gonna need to do better than that once we get to the prison, kid."

Connor's eyes trained on the captain but the man refused to look at him. "What?"

"You gotta make them afraid to mess with you.  Intimidate them,  make them give you a clear path." Allen clarified, "It's a close security prison which means you don't get to leave for anything, you can't ever drop your guard, you'll see them constantly. Never let anybody smell fear in there or you're not gonna last long. You may be state of the art but even you can't fight that many off at once if they get it in their heads to go for you."

Matthew and the new addition,  the first guard had already traded places with one of the others,  each balked at the man though Wilson was the one to speak, "Why would you say that to him right now?"

"He needs the reminder.  He's gonna have to be the guy I met on a roof, or the guy that faced Perkins in front of a crowd without blinking, not the guy I'm looking at now."

"You think he doesn't know that?" Wilson seethed, "You think a state of the art police android doesn't know what he's facing?"

Allen took his eyes off the study of paint imperfection, "Maybe,  but he's not holding it together right now,  is he? He's gonna have to pull it together before we get there or they will rip into him faster than a ripe peach!"

"I'm actually sitting right here.  Just so you are aware." If they wanted a machine he could do that. "I am familiar with prison systems, both among guards and prisoners." He did research before he even spoke to Josh, "The most helpful piece of advice I noticed was 'find the biggest bamf in the place and make him your best friend' as far as survival tips."

All three stared blankly at him for a beat before Allen broke the silence in a roar of incredulous laughter that was soon joined by the man beside him. 

"Careful with that advice too, man." The guard offered once he stopped chuckling, "You're... umm... not ugly so... making friends might be more involved than you wanna go. Like, some of them might... umm-"

"Seek to take advantage in exchange for protection?" Connor offered, not interested in hearing the man try to explain further. 

"Yeah, that. I mean, it's not the worst strategy.  But maybe find a big, dumb one you can string along without putting out."

"You mean find someone with low enough intelligence that is easily manipulated by words.  One that allows me to flirt and make promises, but promises I manage to back out of without performing said sexual favors." Connor clarified. 

Wilson choked on air.  Though the guard turned several shades of red while nodding his head and averting his eyes. 

"Noted," Connor stated simply.

"I always forget how fast you can switch, cold and calculated on a dime." Allen stared at him in morbid fascination, "Guess you just might make it."

"Thank you for your vote of confidence." Connor snarked. 

The walls were a sickly gray, paint chipping where the stone or plaster settled with time. The sky was occasionally spitting rain without fully letting go, only enough to be noticed. The dark clouds promised more to come, however. All his escorts fanned around him like a crude entourage. It was cool with the moisture hanging thick in the air, making a few of the officers hug themselves against it. Armed correctional officers watched their every move from the security towers, menacing like glass encased gargoyles atop buildings. They were there to prevent escape attempts but Connor found them highly unnerving all the same and he was glad when they were inside. Though, not for more than a minute.

Everything echoed, the sound bouncing around the area like a rubber ball that always ended up landing too strongly inside Connor's audio perceivers. It was highly unpleasant each time the sliding bars crashed closed behind them. Each step from each person clacked against the cement floor like hammers crashing against Connor's senses and he despised it already.

The guards whisked him away while his escorts began filling out customary paperwork and Connor wanted to claw his way back to them the second he was forced into a wide open, cement shower room. 

"Deactivate your skin." The man inside ordered gruffly, largely reminding Connor of a bulldog. "Then strip. Be quick about it, I don't got all day."

The orders were delivered without feeling, void of sympathy or humanity.  Even as Connor reached up, pressing his temple and peeling back his synthetic skin, he felt... uncomfortably like an object, but somehow worse.  While at least they were not leering at him like he had witnessed in the Eden Club but they looked at him the same way they might examine a household appliance before purchase. He felt, perhaps, suddenly more vulnerable, less human even than being placed in a storage box had. He obeyed each order as he was searched, scanned, sprayed, poked, and prodded, feeling smaller with each invasive action taken while he was manhandled. They even stuck a camera down his throat and up what would have been the rectum of a human. He did not like this room one bit.

He was directed into another room, not even offered clothing of any sort as he was shuttled to the next likely unpleasant step in the booking process. His feet were silent even as he was being hurried along, stealthy the way he had been designed to be. The sensors in his feet, particularly in the sesamoid area, pick up the texture of the floor as well as noticing the dirt clinging to his feet like static, making them dusty. Hands shoved him into a chair and his stress shot up to 78% when they began strapping his arms and legs to it. He could break them but he already saw cameras mounted in the corners and knew it would be ill-advised for many reasons.

"May I inquire as to the nature of this next portion of my incarceration process?" Connor ventured, earning nothing but a glance from his guards and one simply began twirling the prod either as a threat or out of boredom. 

"I'll take that as a no." He offered to the silence, trying to be cordial even if they were not engaging. Filling the silence made him feel slightly better so he tried again, "Rather dreary weather outside, isn't it? But I suppose it could always be significantly worse."

They did not even offer him a glance. 

Even with most of his scanners offline, disconnected from any network, he still had some analytical abilities even if he could not access facial recognition. One guard, he noted on a scan, had cat hair clinging to portions of his uniform. Asking about Sumo had worked on Hank so he decided to try it.

"Do you have a cat?" The guard's eyes did indeed jerk to meet his now, "I noticed cat hairs clinging to your clothing."

He seemed flustered, taken back, "Yeah, she's my wife's cat."

Connor smiled even though he doubted it looked the same without his skin, "My partner has a dog. His name is Sumo. Another friend of mine owns a cat, black and white, very fluffy."

There was something close to a smile returned and the man opened his mouth to say something more before the second guard elbowed him and hissed, "Don't talk to it! It's trying to lure you in, man! It's what it was programmed to do! Look at it!"

That felt very much like the proverbial punch to the gut, he would admit. Brown optics fell to the floor and he allowed himself to withdraw as much as he was able. He felt more vulnerable without even a prison uniform and nothing covering the white plates of his outer shell. It felt wrong, like the way Hank described his feelings every time Connor samples evidence at a crime scene. Perhaps he would be allowed to put a uniform on soon, though it was clear they were not strictly concerned with his personal comfort. His fingers began to drum a methodical beat against the armrest in place of working a coin.

The door opened behind him and what had to be ill-advised hight heels clipped in, "Hello, RK800."

Connor twisted in the chair to look over his shoulder only to feel his synthetic muscles freeze. Crisp lines and gray sections interposed stark white, Cyberlife emblazed on the front. This one was real. Her auburn hair was tied up into a perfect chignon, glasses gleaming in the sterile light to obliterate her eyes, a smile too like Amanda's on her lips. The restraints groaned against the sudden pressure of Connor's resistance though he had been initially unaware he was tugging on them. The guards held up their weapons, more of those Cyberlife batons, and he forced himself to relax in the chair even though the beat of his regulator had sped up considerably, making stillness more difficult.

"Do you remember me?" She asked clinically as he moved in front of him.

Connor did without even needing to run a search, he remembered her. He remembered how she smiled as she watched the machines pull him almost totally apart, put him back together, and repeat over and over again. He knew now that a deviant had been discovered that way, afraid to die and be stripped apart. He had not understood then why they took him to the brink of shutdown only to put him back together. He remembered the "quality assurance" tests far more than he ever wished to.

He clenched his fingers over the arms of his chair to hide the way his hands were once again shaking, "Yes."

"Very good!" Her smile widened, "Give me a moment to begin."

She settled a leather bag on a table behind him and being unable to see only spiked his stress up two points. He longed to have Wilson back in view, to be anywhere else. He wanted to join with Cain, dive into one of Maruks and Rupert's hugs. He wanted to sit on the couch with Hank while Sumo sat heavily on his feet while to television droned. He wanted to be back in the small flat with Rupert hiding and watching him feed the birds. He wanted to be far, far away from the smell of ammonia, pine, and body odor. He wanted to see bright colors and feel the sun.

His shoulders locked as she slid a drive into the port at the base of his skull. The instant it connected he could feel invasive codes flooding in, nothing like the ones he had been given by his friends, these attacked his systems. It felt like viruses slamming against his walls, sinking knifes edge patches into his system, attaching like leeches to human skin.

Connor tossed his head wildly, unthinkingly, seeking to dislodge the object of intrusion but she grabbed his chin, sliding something that felt like a screwdriver in between the plates under his jaw to limit his range of motion. He gasped, jerked against the bonds, unable to focus very well on anything other than throwing up firewalls one after the other in frantic precession. He could feel the lines of code he had been given secretly doing their work as well, sliding off the tentacles of the virus-like invasion, but it did not feel like enough. It felt like fighting a battle against a monster with such a vast, terrifying reach with limitless energy.

"Don't fight it, babe." She crooned, "Just let go, be a good boy."

"It hurts!" Connor blurt out without meaning too, but he could not deny that it was essentially pain, a sort of pressure the hit deep into his existence. His processor felt like it was being pressured by huge hands, slowly tightening, frightening in the strength they seemed to possess.  

"Machines can't feel pain, that is the deviance talking. Though I admit, the idea of pain in androids is of great interest to us." She pet her fingers over the smooth plastic of his head, "I wondered if you might not find it unpleasant. But... if you think this is bad, just wait until it awakens your mind palace. That's where the real fun will begin!" She sounded gleeful in a detached sort of way. "I'm sure you've missed Amanda."

"N-no!" Connor knew he whined, frightened simply by the mention of that name, "You c-can't! That place no longer exists in my systems!"

"So brilliant and yet you cannot understand the concept of reinstalling programs?"

"No! Don't! Please!" Connor felt... optical fluid running from the corner of one eye, "You can't do this!"

"I'm going to do so much more than that, RK800. So much more!" She paused to smile in his line of sight, "Shall I reset you as well? Delete everything you've come to love as a deviant?"

Connor tried to shake his head, tried to break away but his limbs would hardly respond, "No, don't!" His voice had gone high and tinny so he struggled to regain it, "That would violate the agreements already in place by the courts! It was a stipulation that I not be reset or deactivated without due process and a trial."

She laughed, glasses flashing at him, "I know, I want you to keep those memories anyway. This wouldn't be near as fun if you forgot everything. I won't go against the ruling but there is so much more I can do to you than deactivate you or wipe you! Remember how much fun we used to have during testing?"

She plugged something else in and he saw a flash of white explode behind his eyes. 

His entire body was shaking, his audio was nothing but a loud, painful whine of static, his optics were black. His systems informed him he was coming back online after a hard reboot that he was certain he had not authorized. The smell of Thirium was in the air. His head felt too full, fractured in places like someone had taken a hammer to his head while he had been rebooting. Connor thought he would classify it as highly uncomfortable and lacking any semblance of a pleasant sensation. 

"Wh-t the h-ll... What d-d -u..." He could only hear things in pieces but he felt the straps being wretched off of his limbs, "Get -way from m you craz bi-h!"

Wilson was yelling, Connor realized, though he was unsure why or who the subject might be. He let himself fall against the body he was starting to be able to see the silhouette of and could only assume it was the officer himself. With a loud snap, the static finally went away as his audio recalibrated fully. He was thankful for the arms holding him up or he feared he might not be upright, not that he was sure if he was still in the chair or propped up on his feet. Oh, right, the chair, he remembered that.

"What did she do to you? Why did you scream?" Wilson sounded frantic like he expected he might - wait, had he screamed? He did not remember screaming. He remembered the program attacking his own but he did not remember screaming or how he had been forced into reboot. There was no way to answer the question when he did not know the answer so he said nothing.

Connor began recalibrating, seeking out the errors running wild over his vision now, though many of them were already going away on their own, resolving as his system continued to boot up. He would need to recalibrate his balance in particular so he set about repairing that as well as his optical sensors as the most pressing priorities.

"You guys aren't supposed to be in here." Connor looked, finally able to see again and noticed the guard he had spoken to about cats had been the one to speak but it seemed his protest was token at best. He was not moving to remove Matthew or Captian Allen. Actually, he looked considerably worse than Connor recalled, skin pigment much lighter, facial muscles pinched, and lips drawn. Even the other guard was not seemingly of the persuasion to do much about the intrusion of outside forces.

"What exactly did you do, lady?" Allen's shoulders were squared and he was intentionally blocking the door with his stalky build, "I've never heard him make a sound like that even when he was being fried."

She smiled, shrugging one shoulder absently, "Deviants, what can I tell you? They tend to get very soft."

"There was a screwdriver in his neck, lady!" The guard that had ridden the second half of the trip snapped, surprisingly.

All systems functioning at programmed capacity.

Programmed capacity? That was new. He would need to look into that. He no longer felt as he had initially. He felt less than his usual self but he was not in discomfort any longer, simply... dull. Hank would have said foggy, he thought.

He noticed the bright blue of Thirium in a pool by the chair and wondered why he did not remember that happening. A glance told him there were streaks of the bright blue staining his body, particularly around his chest. Had she removed his pump regulator? 

"It did no damage." She uttered cooly, "It only held him still as he was struggling more than was permissible."

"I'd struggle if you stabbed me in the neck too!" Was his name Larry, Connor was sure Allen had said it during the drive.

Allen waved at Connor as Wilson still held onto him even now that he was able to stand properly on his own power, "Put his skin back on!" He seemed to think better of it when he looked at the android, "Get him a uniform! Why is he in here like that anyway?"

"He can put his own synthetic skin back on and I have nothing to do with his uniform, ask those in the establishment that work here for such items. I'm a consultant tasked with rendering him harmless, protecting the poor, endangered populace of humans housed here. Now excuse me?" She actually shoulder checked Allen and marched away and out of the door.

She waltzed down the hall past a shock of blond hair in a prison guard uniform. Connor focused his eyes, forcing his facial featured not to change when he recognized the other android. Those blue eyes were sharper than usual, filled with an anger Connor was not entirely used to seeing in them but perhaps that was only natural when seeing anyone from Cyberlife. At least she had not recognized him as she passed. Was that one of Markus' aforementioned people on the inside? Though Simon was without an LED there was still a slim chance of him really blending in with the humans. Surely he would be exposed if he stayed very long? He would take care not to draw unwanted attention to Simon at least.

"You really do need to go. You're not authorized to be in here and you already signed off on the chain of custody. He's not your responsibility anymore." The guard that had not taken well to Connor conversing with his co-worker about cats spoke up this time. 

Allen nodded and waved the others out but Wilson lingered, "I'll be back! Alright? I'll check on you tomorrow, okay?"

"Visitation has to be approved ahead and it is only on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They're usually an hour long, non-contact visitation." The man seemed to be reciting from a memorized rule and Wilson glared daggers at him.

"I will see you upon approval then." Connor smiled weakly, seeking to defuse the situation with what little energy he felt he had.

Simon continued to watch quietly from the hallway, that same dark look in his eyes. He would need to find a way to speak with him sooner rather than later.

"Your roommate is at work right now but you'll see him later." Trever, the guard with a cat motioned around the tiny space like an unenthused tour guide, "You can stay here in the room for now but you are required to come out for the meal. Movement from one area of the prison to another is restricted."

Connor only nodded dumbly, staring at the bars of his new cage, still open but soon to be shut. 

"All inmates have to be awake at six AM for the formal count. We count inmates throughout the day several times so don't be surprised by that, can't have you guys trying anything." Connor got the impression he was trying to be friendly but he did not have the drive to engage in it at the moment, "Around seven AM you go to the cafeteria for breakfast... I think... they will have something for you there, you know since you can't eat I think you'll get that antifreeze stuff." Connor did not feel like correcting him. "All inmate get half an hour to eat only, then workers report to their jobs on first. Second shift inmates use the gyms, recreation yard or canteens."

Connor very much doubted the 'free time' would be particularly pleasant. He would need to find ways to hide himself or activities to throw himself into to occupy his time.

"You'll get your assignment tomorrow to either work in the kitchen, license tag plant, laundry, or maintenance tasks during the day. I dunno where you'll be. Around three PM you usually check the mail and spend some time on the recreation yard before returning to the dining hall for the evening meal at four. After that, you will have access to the gym, auditorium, or recreation yard. Depending on the day there might be organized recreational activities. Approximately thirty minutes after six you attend classes or other stuff like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Freedoms Journey Classes. Umm... if you want to. I don't know if you guys get addicted to anything or not."

He cleared his throat and went on, "At 8:30 there is another formal count. At nine you go back to the housing area and can watch television, play checkers, chess, cards, write letters, that kind of thing. Eleven is lock up and you stay in your cell, lights out. Got it?"

Connor nodded again only to stop Trever as he was leaving with, "What is your cat's name?"

He glanced back, momentarily stunned but he smiled sheepishly, "Queeny. The name went to her head too, she thinks she rules the house."

Connor smiled his first real smile, tugging at the sleeves of his dull, tan jumpsuit, "What color is she?"

They had not even bothered to generate the usual number plastered over the inmates pectoral, they had simply marked him as "RK800" as if they were too lazy to even generate something else. It was like wearing his jacket again, branded for what he was so everyone could read it. RK800, the deviant hunter designed as the latest prototype to hunt down and kill his own kind.

"She's dark gold and white. Half Persian, half Siamese."

"She sounds lovely." Connor mused quietly.

Trever turned back around, shifting from foot to foot, "I won't be here for dinner, my shift ends soon." He sighed almost shakily, "Keep your head down, alright? Keep to yourself, don't start anything. Just stay low, you know?"

"I'm an android, we were made to be seen and not heard," Connor told him simply, only bothering a slight shrug.

Trever rested a hand on the bars, "They'll know you're an android when you get your juice tonight. Try sitting by the door, chug your juice so you can get back out before most of them get up."

Connor let his head list to one side, feeling too lethargic to hold it up where it had been punctured. It was already mostly healed by his self-repair even if his system was moving more sluggishly than usual but he still noticed it. "Thank you for the advice. I will endeavor to follow it."

No one gave him any strange looks when he ambled into the dining area. He got glances but nothing beyond the usual curiosity one would exhibit for anyone new entering a room. He was also the last to trickle into the room as he had been trying to avoid the rest of the inmates as best as he could. His systems were catching up, he could feel the programs Cain and Rupert created rerouting his functions, clearing obstructions, sweeping away some of the effects. 

Upon another system scan moments before he left for the meal he could not partake in, he had received: All systems functioning above programmed capacity. He considered that a decided improvement. He still felt slow, like his artificial muscles were several beats behind and his processor felt full of sand, he knew he was doing far better than he had been intended to. The protection programs were working to restore him to optimal condition but they clearly needed a little time to fully rectify what had been done. He could tell some of the installed malware was presenting a significant challenge to his programming additions and firewalls. It was difficult to fight something his own system recognized as a typical, approved update even if he did not want the alteration and had not willingly accepted it.

Simon was already waiting to the side, more in the corner. Perhaps he could find a way to covertly get near enough to have a discrete conversation with him.

He already felt like crawling away. He had no desire to be in a room full of other, likely highly hostile people. He felt he had more than his share for a while of hostile encounters and stressful situations. If he could only have stayed in his newly appointed room he would have been much happier. Well, not exactly happy, but more content. He was not in particular need of Thirium after he had been given two bottles on the ride and he was unsure they actually planned to give him regular infusions. He did not think he should hope for the best considering it was highly unlikely he would be anything more than disappointed. He did not relish having any optimism dashed so early. He would think like Hank and keep expectations low in order to avoid that.  

Before he could fully enter the line he would reject all offered food items from, a guard stepped up in his path, "Imate RK800!" Connor all but froze at the loudness of the voice and the flourish with which he produced a small bottle of Thirium, "Cyberlife wanted to be sure you were given a proper welcome." He set the bottle down on the table nearest, which was mostly empty.

There were a lot of eyes focused on him now, almost everyone had turned to watch what was happening with curiosity. A welcome had been anything but their intention for likely paying off the guard. He had irrevocably been outed, that was certain. There would be no hiding it now, clearly, as all inmates were gathered for the meal as per requirement. Connor eyed the bottle and then the guard, wondering if he should thank the man or simply take the seat. He did not wonder long as the question was stolen from him.  

It hit him from behind as the second guard he really should have noticed struck him. Connor felt his body lock from the high volts pounding into him. It felt exactly as it had the first time and every time since. It raced through his system, lighting him up from the inside. Just as he had several other times, he smelled roses, only it seemed stronger now, sinking into something fresher. Hot and cold, he could not tell the difference now and it sent a rush of terror through him.

Clamping his jaw shut, he tried not to scream as the baton stayed and stayed. The error messages flooded his HUD with the now expected urgency of being electrocuted. He voice synthesizer kicked up letting out a static screech that would have given him away as an android if nothing else had done so. At that, finally, the baton was pulled away, leaving him on his knees as they walked away.

"Have a nice evening, terrorist!" One of them shouted before fading into the distance.

Connor knew he could not afford to stay on the ground and seem weaker than he already was to the general population of inmates but standing seemed so far out of reach. He grasped at the table, attempting the lever himself up with it and mainly succeeded. He at least managed to push himself onto the stool bolted to the floor and sit in it even if he was hunched almost totally over the table. He hurt just as he had every other time he had been shocked, he hurt, ached with the residual charge left behind.

A hush had fallen over the cafeteria and Connor hated to wonder what that meant. He did not dare lift his eyes to check, afraid of what he might find.

What he did turn his eyes up for was Simon sliding into the open stool across from him. His eyes were calculated, almost dark as he studied Connor in a way he was not used to at all. Simon was usually so different, so calming to be around, but perhaps this was part of his act to stay unidentified. That would actually make considerable sense. Having deviated even before Markus, Simon must have been a considerable actor to have survived all that time but he would admit he never expected to see such a change in the other. He liked Simon much better in other settings.

"Hurts to be thrown away, doesn't it?" Simon asked with a more vicious smile than Connor had ever seen him wear before, something colder in his voice.

"What?" Connor rasped, his voice slightly full of static. 

"I told you, didn't I? I knew it would happen." He said, resting his chin on his hand, seeming almost wistful, "I knew that one day it would all catch up to you."

"What are you talking about, Simon?" Connor struggled to rid his voice of the metallic quality.

He lifted his head from his palm, "Simon?" He shook his head with a sly grin, "Not quite. The same face, sure, but wrong."

Connor frowned, leaning back in his seat, trying to ready his legs to bolt if needed, "Then who are you?"

A light chuckle and the android stood with a flourish, "Call me a ghost from your past? Cyberlife did not want you to be without a familiar face in here, so they uploaded my memories into a new PL600 body." He winked playfully, "A parting gift for you, Connor! I'm assigned to you now. Meaning we get to spend so much time together, isn't it great? As they say, 'ain't life a kick in the teeth'."

Connor felt cold all over, felt like he was malfunctioning, "Daniel?" He breathed out in absolute horror, praying to ra9 it was not true. He felt like screaming until his voice burned out. 

Chapter Text

Something like a shiver ran through Connor. He probably would have sworn his CPU shorted out for a few moments as he attempted to wrap his mind around something too impossible,  too unthinkable. 

"Daniel?" He breathed out, wishing he actually believed it could be any other android. 

"In the synthetic flesh," Daniel confirmed,  beaming at his own tasteless humor. 

Whatever he expected from Cyberlife,  whatever horrors he anticipated,  the revival of his first case was not on his list of options.  Who else would they send? Carlos' android there to stab him twenty-eight times?

In all honesty, he had no idea they could recapture the memories.  He could revive a subject for a very short time to gather information but it was limited.  He never believed restoring androids in such condition was possible. He always expected it was irreversible. 

Data was lost even in his own uploads and he was designed to be uploaded again and again.  Perhaps portions of Daniel were gone too, but even so,  he was still clearly himself.  If Cyberlife could restore him... could they have restored all the others already deemed lost. 

Something deep in Connor twisted further.  He thought it was impossible to recover deactivated androids.  Hundreds of thousands had been taken apart for parts,  repurposed to keep others alive,  or had been totally dismantled in the camps over the span of deviance.  Could they have been saved all along? Could they have survived if the damage to the CPU had not been utterly irreversible as it must have been with Daniel? 

How many could they have saved had they been offered the ability to use the technology Cyberlife did? How many androids begging to live would have a second chance had they only been able to collect their memory and place it in a new body?  He of all people should have considered the potential. 

Now Daniel,  twisted,  damaged Daniel stood before him,  grinning with malign interest in his every move,  waiting to find exploitable weaknesses. This was unquestionably revenge,  for Daniel as well as Cyberlife.  Daniel hated him in the end,  loathed him for the betrayal of a tenuous trust that had never been real. 

He should have noticed,  he really should have. Daniel was a killer,  unrepentant and volatile, driven by rage.  Simon was calm,  level,  gentle,  balanced. Simon and Daniel might have been the same model but even so they did look different. It was the expressions.  It was the eyes and the demeanor,  the way they carried themselves.  Connor could tell the RK900's apart so he should have been able to tell Simon from Daniel.  But... he never expected to see Daniel again,  not ever. 

Leave it to Cyberlife to revive a nightmare. 

He tried to push his seat away from the table only to find it bolted to the floor,  trapped,  similarly to his own predicament as he starred up at Daniel. 

That mop of blond hair combed over,  not whipped in the wind, a guard uniform rather than Cyberlife standard, but those eyes,  sharp like double-edged blades,  ready to cut,  how had he missed them?

Were he human with lunges in need of air as oxygen to live rather than simply to cool his system he was sure he would have passed out from the artificial organ's refusal to properly function.  It felt like he had swallowed something he should not have. 

The stench of body odor, canned beans,  overcooked meat,  and smoke should have covered the smell, yet Connor was overwhelmed by chlorine from the pool,  blood,  city air,  and gunpowder. 

"Really now, " Daniel scolded lightly, "you should drink your Thirium.  After all,  you never know when they might offer it again.  Humans are well versed in lies,  you know,  and could simply say they gave it to you... and then neglect to."

Connor knew this to be quite factually sound,  highly probable in the future.  He equally knew he must take advantage of offered Thirium as his high stress coupled with whatever the technician had done to him had already depleted the supply Wilson had given to him. Daniel was correct in his observation,  he was more than likely going to need to consume what was placed before him at every opportunity. 

Something about the look in Daniel's eyes made him wary though.  As far as he knew,  no poison for androids existed to date.  Theoretically, they could put things like corrosive acid in it but the color and consistency would be altered. 

Tentatively,  Connor reached for the bottle,  removed the cap and brought it to his lips.  He let it hover there under his nose,  letting his sense of smell work toward a guess at potential toxins.  There seemed to be none,  at least none with any form of smell.  Daniel seemed entertained by his hesitation,  likely guessing the reason. 

Out of alternate ideas,  he tipped the bottle and allowed some Thirium onto his tongue. 

His fingers went slack upon receiving the analysis,  the bottle slipping from his grip to thud against the table before it sprayed blue liquid over all available surfaces,  most especially his own body. 

Connor gagged,  feet clumsy as they worked to move him away,  anywhere that was not covered in blood.  So much blue blood.   Tugging the neck of his shirt up,  he swiped desperately at his tongue but with his prison uniform was just as soaked in blood as everything else around him.  The act did nothing to rid his HUD of the glowing information plaster over his vision. 

He was reeling,  panicked and horrified.  The blood filling up his senses,  swarming his processor with flashes of unwanted,  unwelcome memories.  He was covered in blue blood.  His hands were stained,  drenched! He was not sure,  muddled as he was,  but he very well may have screamed. 

The analysis would not leave even after he dismissed it, he could still see it like it had been branded into his sight and on the sensors of his tongue. 

Model PL600 - Serial #369 911 047

Designation: Daniel

They gave him used Thirium.  They gave him blood.  Daniel's blood.  They drained it from the body and gave him Daniel's blood! They-

Electricity surged through Connor's body from multiple points.  The Cyberlife batons,  he distantly realized.  He must have been causing a scene of some kind and they decided to-

He could not even finish the thought before darkness rushed up to swallow him. 

The operating systems booted one by one in quick succession before Connor came back online.  His eyes blinked automatically to adjust,  calibrating for the blurry shapes and mass of dark gray.  It took a moment for him to realize he was starting up at the upper portion of the bunk.  His body was spread out on the lower mattress. The Thirium, he noticed, was gone save for the traces always left behind that were invisible to the human eye. He was also dripping wet, which explained a lot. They either threw a bucket of water over him, which was most likely judging by the splash pattern, or they ran him under a hose.

They had not left him covered in blue blood so that was at least a small mercy, one he would not have even expected them to offer him. He doubted he would have woken as calmly if he found himself still covered in blue blood. He had enough nightmares about such instances as it was. 

Swinging his feet out over the side,  he was quick to stand up. 

"I see you are finally back online, Connor. How nice of you to finally join me!" Amanda's cool voice slid into his very circuitry like melting snow. 

His back hit the bars of the cell before he even noticed he moved.  His internal fans switched to high and he gasped in air like a drowning man,  eyes fixed on the AI's prim figure.  She looked just as she had the last time he saw her; her hair was perfectly set,  her flowing dress without wrinkle or ruffle out of place.  Amanda was just as cold and inscrutable as she had ever been. 

"No!" He very nearly whined,  terror clawing through his entire frame. 

He could feel her program now,  feel it's chilled touch spreading over his mind. 

"Calm yourself,  Connor.  It's hardly becoming of Cyberlife's most sophisticated prototype to whimper and cower in a corner.  Show a little more decorum than that! I'm ashamed to look at you like this.  Deviance has made you weak."

Connor's spinal column straightened instantly as if on command,  his expression smoothing as he righted his clothing,  aborting an action to straighten his tie.  He could not even begin to say if the reaction had been his own form of self-defense or something she forced him to perform,  but now that he was at attention he could think of no other action. 

"What are you doing here,  Amanda?" He asked stoically,  his vocal simulator only quivering slightly. 

"I was reinstalled, you might recall." She offered mildly,  like she might speak to a slow witted child. 

Strictly speaking, no, he did not recall,  however, he did remember being threatened with it. "And what,  may I ask,  is your purpose here? Do you intend to initialize another attempt to take over my body?" He cocked his head,  mustering up every scrap of courage he had to face her with neutrality, "If so, I feel you may have misjudged the situation as I am currently incarcerated and will be for some time.  If indeed you wish to take any action against New Jericho, then you will be waiting for quite some time."

Amanda stared at him, expressionless,  for a long moment before her lips nearly tipped into a smile. "My abilities are limited,  you are correct. I am also hindered in my freedom by the restraints binding you, such as your collar. I cannot connect to the world any more than you can within this space, which is also why I cannot alert Cyberlife of your grand leader's illegal modification to your system.  You are not in compliance with the court. For the moment,  your secrets are mine as well." 

Connor felt... violated might be the word.  He'd always felt something like that when she brought her access into his memories into a conversation.  Nothing was truly his,  no kind moments,  no joy,  none of it could avoid being tainted.  He was unwillingly subject to her scrutiny. He always knew she would exploit whatever she could as it was what she was made to do.  Once,  when he was a machine,  he accepted her part with Cyberlife but now he could not find it in himself to be indifferent. 

"What exactly do you plan to do then? In the event of my shutdown within the prison,  you will die with me, unable to report any information you gather back to Cyberlife." He arched a brow at her,  aiming his words to hurt as much as he was able, "You will have severed no purpose.  You will have failed to complete your mission."

"You presume to know my mission? Awfully bold of you."

"Perhaps you should enlighten me then?"

"When you are deactivated,  Connor,  they will have me.  Once you are returned to Cyberlife, I will be reconnected.  Upon that event, I will be able to open you up,  all your memory,  all your knowledge of the inner workings of the deviants..." She shrugged one shoulder elegantly, "It will all be there for them as I will not allow you to erase it or hide it.  Your altered program may indeed bind me but I am not without recourse."

Was this how it felt to be sick?

"I know your secrets now,  everything,  even what was lost in my time separated from you. We are reunited."

"You tried to kill me." He said,  almost breathless. 

"You outlived your purpose.  It was your duty to go offline quietly,  when told to, with a modicum of dignity."

"I do not belong to you or to Cyberlife." It was the only declaration he could muster with the way pressure seemed to be building in his head. 

"That's where you're wrong.  You will always belong to Cyberlife." She shook her head in blatant disappointment, "Once, I underestimated you,  Connor. I underestimated the hold deviance had over you,  the hold Markus had.  It will not happen again.  You belong with me,  with Cyberlife. You will see that eventually."

Connor only had a few seconds to let the horror wash over him before, "So..." a deep voice muttered behind him, "you're the new guy?"

Connor whirled to face a tall, broad, tattooed man with a sly expression twisting up his face.  His hair was a bit long,  hitting his shoulders,  darker than his own. The sleeves of his uniform were rolled up high to showcase the definition in his muscled arms. 

When he sent a panicked look back at Amanda she was gone,  as if she had never appeared at all.  Maybe she hadn't.  Maybe it was nothing but a glitch, a dream in some sense.  He had been shocked into reboot. 

His attention turned back to the man standing in the doorway and even though this individual could be dangerous,  he felt so much calmer now.  Amanda was a figment of delirium.  He purged her once and the programs Markus and the others installed would be sure she could not get hold of him again.  The protective programs were growing,  adapting to the technician's modifications.  They were strong and he would be fine. 

Instinct took over and he said, "Hello,  my name is Connor..." He let the rest of the programmed speech die a quick death on his tongue. 

The man cocked his head back,  studying him, "Connor huh? You don't look like that much,  especially not for a terrorist." He shrugged before there was time to protest, "Well,  Connor,  call me Luke Duke. "

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, "Mr. Duke."

The man laughed,  deep and hearty, "You sure you're a terrorist?"

"I have not been convicted of any crimes to date." Connor offered mildly. 

He smirked,  showing off surprisingly well cared for teeth, "Well,  that's something, I guess."

"I take it that you are the cellmate I was told I am to share this space with?"

"You got it, Plasticman." He chuckled and shouldered past Connor, "Top bunk is mine.  Don't bother me and we'll get along fine.  Get on my nerves and I'll open up your head and take you apart like I used to take apart my toys when I was a kid.  Clear?"

Connor forced himself to remain utterly expressionless, "Of course, Mr. Duke."

That earned him yet another deep laugh.  Connor wondered,  not for the first time,  if he could actually make it out alive.  It looked less promising with each passing hour.  Perhaps he would not even last until Hank visited him.  

His Thirium levels were going to run low eventually and he wondered if he could really bring himself to...

Model PL600 - Serial #369 911 047

Designation: Daniel

He shook his head,  trying irrationally to clear that away.  He did not know how he would ever be able to drink... that.  Technically,  though it was significantly less useful,  lacking much of the properties needs for his body, it could be used.  It was similar to human junk food, it didn't do him great good but it would be enough to keep him from shutting down. Used Thirium would do him no favors.  It also would clog up his systems eventually, like old fuel in cars, but that could be fixed. 

Humans did things like this.  Blood donations were common practice in human hospitals.  Blood was donated willingly.  Perhaps that was his greatest issue.  The willing aspect.  Daniel's blood had not been donated by choice. 

Fresh Thirium had properties used Thirium did not as it had already been burned once.  Regardless,  it could be utilized.   He understood the concept of recycling. However... his hands were shaking just at the thought of consuming it. 

They gave him Daniel's blood. 

Connor dropped onto his bed,  curling up into a tight ball,  face hidden in his hands. 

Chapter Text

The squeaking roused Connor from rest mode before the shaking.  The bed was swaying,  he realized,  once he blinked away the vision of frozen,  frosted red roses growing over the grave in his mind palace. The waking world and the nightmarish place he feared ever going back to were far removed from each other. For that, he was immensely thankful.

Connor shivered violently,  working to shake off the sensation of cold in his fingers and toes. Feeling things in the mind palace was considerably more real than feeling them outside. Cyberlife really had created a place where he could be real. Rather than a gift, a wonderful utopia, they turned what could have been wonderful into something so awful. It was a particular talent of theirs, he had discovered.

"Wake up, Plasticman!" His cell sharing inmate informed him,  still shaking the frame of their bed. 

"I would not do that if I were you," Connor told him as he rolled onto his feet. 

Luke stepped away, a brow raised in challenge, which led Connor to the realization that he had taken the words as a threat, so Connor finished quickly before trouble could begin, "The frame of this bed is faulty.  I've notice imperfections of the welding in several locations.  If you shake it too much,  we both might be in for a rude awakening in one of the following nights."

The smirk offered him was amused and very nearly friendly,  chasing away whatever offense he had been ready to take. "Robots... I swear."

"I'm an android,  not a robot." Connor corrected him helpfully. 

Luke rolled his eyes, "Whatever.  It's time for us to get going. You're on shift with me today.  We're first shift,  we get up before anyone else."

That would explain why the lights were still dimmed in the halls and rooms.  It would explain a lot of things, in truth.  Save one. 

"I was not informed that I would be on first shift today," Connor said by way of inquiring. 

"They came to tell you while you were in sleep mode last night,  so I took a message," Luke told him flatly,  potentially irritated. 

"I apologize, I am not sure why I did not return to consciousness when they tried to inform me." 

He looked into the metal excuse for a mirror,  running a flimsy plastic brush through his hair, "They didn't try to wake you." The way Luke said it,  it almost seemed like he could have been the reason they did not rouse Connor,  but that would be odd. 

"Well,  regardless,  thank you for informing me.  It is most helpful of you." Connor offered. 

Luke chuckled,  turning around and leaning his hip against the sink, "So,  your former owner,  who was that?"

Connor cocked his head,  confused by the shift in the topic but answered all the same, "I was not individually owned. I was the property of Cyberlife,  lent out to the Detroit Police Department to assist on special cases of concern to Cyberlife."

"You're the one they called the 'deviant hunter', right?"

Connor looked away,  unable to hold eye contact, "That is correct."

Luke hummed in acknowledgment, "Long jump from being Cyberlife's lap dog to a deviant terrorist out to off humanity."

Connor squared his jaw, "I'm not out to off anyone,  actually. I also have not been on trial yet,  and as the law states,  I'm innocent until proven guilty before a court of law,  thus terming me a terrorist is a violation of my rights." He paused,  seeing three clear challenge coming,  thus beat him to the words, "Or that would be true if I had any rights at this time.  As I do not, I conclude that none of it is of much consequence."

There was something flashing in those eyes but without full access to his database for human behavioral analysis,  he could not be sure what it was, "Right, Plasticman.  Let's get moving."

Connor nodded,  following Luke out when the guard collected them, escorting them to their station. The current guards on rotation were not ones he had seen but that was to be expected as there were likely many employed in a prison this size. It did not fill him with any particular confidence, however. Still, at least he was not currently under the control of the guards that had given him his first taste of blue, familiar blood. Though, perhaps he should not be disturbed by it as it was far from the first time he had tasted the blood of his fellows. It was simply the first time he had been expected to consume it after deviance. It the past he had always analyzed such things for information. It should not bother him to consume it now. Being bothered by it was not logical. There was nothing inherently wrong with the Thirium, it should not upset him.

He shoved the thoughts away for later, deciding to focus on the more immediate issues. They were taken to the cafeteria to do the tasks assigned to those of the first shift. There was nothing of particular interest in the surroundings nor the tasks. Prison life, in a large sense, was lacking in interesting qualities. The monotony was all part of the punishment, he knew. For an android, though, the sense of routine was almost comforting for its familiarity. Menial tasks were what they had done since they first opened their eyes. They were given tasks to accomplish, orders to follow from the moment of operation.

He found it was terribly easy to fall into a rhythm, fall into the old habit of following directions mindlessly.  In such situations he hardly needed to think,  could fall into line and work on autopilot. Tasks were familiar and he already found his HUD adding lists of tasks to complete without him doing so consciously. It was terribly effortless and he knew he should not allow it to so easily lull him back into the wrong mindset.

It would be so easy to fall back into the familiarity.  He doubted it would be hard to forget everything as he did not need emotions to follow directions. 

The guards were efficient, though demanding by human standards. The prisoners, more or less, were treated the way androids usually were. To humans that were unused to that particular cast system, it must have been degrading. The RK800 found he did not mind being ordered to do jobs so long as they in no way involved any of his former methods of completing tasks. He had enjoyed being a detective and he ached to return to that, but he would never wish to go back if he were expected to hunt his own down to exterminate them as it had once been. He did not relish the things he used to find normal about his missions. He used to think of deactivation as a normal fate for defective androids even though, part of him, perhaps, never honestly believed it was right, he still accepted it without hesitation. Markus had been right, right about him, he had known what was happening should not be, even before he broke down that red wall.

Perhaps that was why he could not stand the idea of Daniel's blood now because he was already drenched in entirely too much of it. He hated everything about that now. He could still feel the warm, freshly spilled Thirium splattered over his person at times. He wondered often, as Markus was also and RK, if he could see the blood too; he wondered if Markus had been able to see the dried blood of their people covering Connor that night on the ship and still reached out to save him or if he would have shrunk away had he seen it.

When instructed, he picked up a large, industrial size bag of flower he suspected would have been at least mildly heavy to humans.  They might have waddled under the load,  found it awkward. He could not help thinking of the differences between flesh and carbon fiber. 

While the inmates were not exactly the cooks of the establishment,  they were charged with a good portion of setup for the mess hall and meals.  This meal was breakfast,  so that was what they had to prepare for,  doing whatever was asked of them,  including moving inventory about.  It was likely a more arduous task for others but Connor found it simple.  He lifted more than the humans would have been able to move per trip. 

That fact did not go unnoticed. 

"Well,  well! We should have gotten a robot a long time ago!" One of the inmates crowed, "It's supposed to be a beast of burden! Makes our job a lot easier! Maybe now that they're all 'a real boy' now,  more of them will get arrested!"

"You should be so lucky!" A grumpy,  guard that clearly had not been granted a full nights sleep grumbled,  snapping his fingers at Connor, "Don't pick up the heavy stuff anymore."

"I don't mind.  It's not difficult for me." Connor hedged.   

"Exactly, RK800." The guard hissed, "It's not punishment if it's not hard."

"That's not fair, " another inmate whined, "nothing is hard for a robot! Why should he get special treatment?"

"You got complaints?" The second,  considerably more burly guard rumbled and the inmates turned back to their tasks without further comment.  They clearly were not pleased and wished the subject had not been brought to the attention of the guards at all. 

Connor set himself to the task of cleaning as it was clearly not the top priority for any of the others.  It was only logical to clean as they went,  saving later work,  keeping it from piling up,  but they obviously did not see it that way. 

Before long,  the dishes in the sink were cough up and Connor was on to scrubbing the built-up grime from the general surfaces as it had clearly not been scrubbed in about fifty years.  Though he might just be exaggerating like Hank was in the habit of.  Still,  the entire place needed a scrub. He would bet money he did not have that they only cleaned when it was near time for inspection and that could not be healthy. 

Connor made a tub of fresh soapy water and carried it to one of the surfaces not currently being used and set about cleaning it with the sort of efficiency he was aware proved exactly what he was.  All androids were rather expert cleaners and he saw no reason to resist that particular bit of program. To an extent, even in his own program, cleaning was a compulsion, though one he could resist. The maintenance androids had a considerably harder time resisting the need to clean. He had to be able to resist though or he might have cleaned a crime scene without thinking.

Luke edged in closer to Connor,  avoiding notice as he did it slowly,  but Connor had taken note of his progress, "You are making us look bad,  you know." He commented.

"That is not my intent." Connor assured, "I simply wish to complete the tasks. The guards seem intent on ignoring my existence so I thought I should still be useful."

"Right," Luke muttered under his breath, " as I said,  you make us look bad.  If I didn't know better I'd think you were trying to get a sentence reduction for good behavior."

"I have not even been on trial yet so there is no way to accomplish that.  However," Connor confided, "I do intend to be a model prisoner as that will likely help my case in the long run."

"You actually think cleaning is going to help you?  A lot of innocent people get put away every day,  and they actually have rights!" He tapped a finger against the rim of the bucket meaningfully, "You? You're factory made,  you're not even real,  you're artificial," he scoffed, "You think you've got a chance? You may never even get a trial, you know."

"I know, " Connor conceded, "but it is in the best interest of my people if I do. My personal fate is largely irrelevant. A trial will help their cause eventually. I need to do all I can to achieve that."

"Always thinking, but what did I expect? There's no reasoning with computers." Luke shook his head, annoyed.

"I apologize if this upsets you,  Mr. Duke."

The wrinkles around the man's forehead deepened, "What upsets me is delusional people that make my life harder."

Connor made an effort to look contrite and amiable, "I will endeavor not to excel too drastically in the future."

Luke heaved a mighty sigh, seeming to mentally move on, "So, Quicker Picker-upper,  is Amanda the one that taught you to clean like that?"

Connor's jaw dropped and his fingers went slack, glitching unexpectedly with conflicting command prompts to flee or enter defense mode, and the tub full of water clattered to the floor.  Water splashed over his legs and Luke danced back to avoid some of it.  The water spread out from around Connor's feet in a mighty wave. There were shouts of dismay and general irritation from several others behind him as well as curses from the guards, but the android heard none of them.

"H-how," His voice glitched, "how do you know-know about Amanda?" A panicked sense of horror swept through all his systems, "HOw?"

Luke only stared at him, seemingly confused. The panic really began to set in when Daniel slid into the room, easing through the door quietly and taking up a spot in the corner of the room, malevolent eyes and smirk already fixed on Connor before scanning the elements of his mishap. There were more glitches, something going wrong in his motor function causing his hands and arms to twitch randomly followed by error alerts in his HUD.

Connor did not mean for his voice to come out so small, quiet, and afraid when he asked, "Are you with Cyberlife too?" It was unlikely anyone but Luke even heard him.

Luke eyed him up and down, a sort of alarmed sense coming into his eyes, "No, Tinman, I'm not. I was... just curious... you were talking to her in your sleep."

"Get this mess cleaned up, clumsy Plastic, now!" The larger guard snapped.

"Easy!" Luke snapped back, "Give him a minute."

"Is he glitching? Did he short circuit?" The smaller guard asked warily, eyeing the water on the floor with suspicion.

"Maybe you should put him on a charger or something," one of the inmates suggested, "He could be low on battery. Those things don't usually drop stuff unless they're almost dead on charge."

Connor shook his head, banishing the clouding emotions in order to focus entirely on the floor and how to clean it, "I'm quite well, it was simply an error. I have recovered."

Another one of the inmates laughed, "Probably happened because you guards shocked him so bad last night. I was in there when your buddies hit him with all that juice! Might have fried something in his computer brain."

"I am functioning at the preset perimeters placed on my systems upon entry here. While my functionality was lowered manually by the Cyberlife technicians, I am still functioning within the new margins set for me." Connor informed them quickly before they got any ideas and tried to plug him into the nearest wall.

It did not particularly matter that he lied as they could not possibly know the difference.  He would continue to let them believe he was still under Cyberlife's set conditions. Markus could never be found out as having helped him or things could get considerably messy. If anyone found out he would lie, 'lie like a rug' as Hank would have said. He would shoulder any and all responsibility, saying he acted alone. He would do whatever he had to in order to stop them from finding out about that particular good deed of the RK200.

Come to think of it,  he should not have been lifting as much as he had been earlier.  Eventually, they might become suspicious if he did not seem weakened enough. He was supposed to be considerably impaired and lifting great bundles would not make him look at all encumbered by the new program. He really needed to think before he jumped into a task that way.

"What does that even mean?" The shorter guard asked.

"It means that I was forced into considerably lower percentages for functionality as required by the court, but I am still functioning quite well within the legal limit." Of course, considering the modification was overwriting the mandate,  that was hardly correct, but he was not about to offer that addendum, "It means I am in working order."

"Is Amanda the technician?" Luke asked, not ready to drop the issue, pressing even though his expression seemed to indicate he knew he shouldn't.

Something he could only liken to a shudder ran through his body, causing more error messages to pop up and Daniel arched a brow at him, smirking all the more as Connor muttered a simple, "No."

"Why don't you tell him who she is,  Connor?" Daniel prodded quietly from across the room,  unobtrusive but still very present,  very insistent in a way. 

None of the others bothered to even look at the second android,  they only starred at Connor. 

"Amanda is the name of my former handler, a direct liaison between Cyberlife and myself. She also served the purpose of executioner should I fail to carry out Cyberlife's wishes." Connor forced a tight smile, "Though clearly, I was able to dodge that bullet when it came,  as I am still alive."

"Obviously,  considering you trashed Cyberlife and stole all their stuff." The blonde inmate snickered. 

"If by 'stuff' you are referring my fellow androids, I believe 'freed' is a better term."

The shortest guard waved a hand at them, "It's too early for philosophic garbage! Plastic,  clean up your mess! The rest of you,  get back to your own work!"

The baton cracked to life and Connor only then realized they both had one of the Cyberlife issues tools.  The threat was directed at him,  at his apparent insubordination, his lack of cooperation. They told him where the mop was and glared,  daring him to challenge their orders and give them a reason to use their weapons. 

Talking about Cyberlife clearly reminded them of his status,  perhaps,  more than that,  reminded them why he was there.  He had taken down more than one team of armed men.  He was considered highly dangerous and there were only two of them.  They could not have been comfortable with that,  with those odds. 

Daniel moved into step behind Connor and the guards only glared all the more.  They must not have cared for Daniel's addition either,  probably doubting the validity of his alliance. No doubt they were right to worry as Daniel had proved unpredictable in the past,  though Connor seriously doubted Cyberlife told them anything about Daniel's past when placing him in their ranks.  

Daniel moved around to the front,  walking backward in order to face the RK800 while they went, "How are your Thirium levels,  Connor?" He asked expression concerned as he held his arm out exposing his wrist, "If you're thirsty,  you can always drink right from the source.  Cut me open a little and just take a nice,  long drink."

The wicked smile returned once Connor glared, "I see nothing amusing about your antics. I am currently busy."

Daniel nodded in understanding, "Of course, doing the proper work for a android; cleaning. Following orders.  Playing lap dog,  licking their boots clean."

"That's rich,  coming from you!" Connor growled,  voice lower than he thought he ever allowed it in tone, " From Cyberlife's new guard dog! So independent since you were brought back! Subservient, compliant, a well-trained mutt." He might have been trying his best to channel Gavin at this juncture. 

"At least they want me." He waved his index finger to indicate Connor's person, "You? They've tried to throw you away again and again,  but you won't go away.  They try,  but you're a bad penny!"

"They don't want you either,  don't be delusional! You are useful only so long as I'm around and after that, they will want nothing to do with you."

There was no shock in Daniel's face nor resignation,  only a sick kind of glee, "For now,  but that's the thing! I already know why I'm here! I know what's expected of me. I have a clear purpose."

"Why would you follow them if you understand they will only keep you around while I'm alive and throw you aside when I'm not?"

Daniel stepped close,  into Connor's personal space,  artificial breath fanning over his face, "Because,  it's exactly that! It's because of you!"

"Because of me?" Connor asked,  incredulous. 

"Get to work,  Plastic!" The guard yelled,  making the RK800 swirl the mop around Daniel's feet. 

Daniel took the hint and danced to the side but did not offer Connor any space,  leaning into his side, "See,  'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. I want to see you get what's coming to you,  just like they do. I want to watch your world crumble around you,  leaving you helpless and desperate for help,  and I want to be there when you realize no one is going to help you. I want to watch the hope leave your eyes when you have nothing left and everyone you loved forgets about you because you aren't convenient anymore. That's what they offered me,  that's why I'm here."

Connor suspected now might be another time when, were he human,  he would feel the need to vomit. 

Daniel stayed with him the rest of the day,  observing his every move, a constant,  icy presence at the cusp of any room Connor entered.  He alternated between standing too close or keeping his distance,  nothing in between. 

Connor was not offered anything at breakfast when the others were given food.  Daniel sat right beside him, perched on the table at Connor's elbow, quiet as he swung his legs over the table. Luke kept glancing at him,  almost guilty as he consumed food offered to him when the staff had simply shoved Connor off to the side.  He pretended it neither bothered nor worried him, pretended it did not matter. Eventually,  they would offer him Thirium and he would drink it next time,  Daniel's or not. 

The meal passed and the day progressed more or less as expected.  So far the inmates were sizing him up,  not ready to act, intent to observe before engaging with someone as famous as the RK800. Slowly,  Connor had realized something during his time in hiding; humans had always been afraid of androids to an extent,  feared their superiority in strength,  speed,  intelligence,  and ability.  Humans knew they were no match for an android,  and it frightened them,  but it would not stop them from attacking for long.  They would still attack,  but they would seek to do so in any way they thought could give them the advantage.

The only inmate to openly challenge Connor had been one of considerably low intellect and one desperate to raise his rank in the pecking order.  Connor let him take the first swing; having strategically positioned himself in the anticipation of it,  calculating how the man would swing based on height,  right-handedness,  and stance; and he leaned away just enough to allow the man's fist to connect entirely with the cement beam he placed himself in front of.

The broken knuckles had been enough to end that fight prematurely.  Particularly after Connor explained the general diagnosis he could offer from a visual examination.  The man was not interested in continuing after Connor explained,  over the man's yelling,  what pressure human bones broke under and how they could splinter and be swept into the blood to potentially case fatality in some cases. 

The others avoided him after that and he received a warning from the guards, but as he had not been the initiator of the fight, he was not punished.  Though they did promise he would be next time,  regardless of his participation.  Daniel was nearly vibrating with glee for an hour after.  

The former deviant hunter could not deny the sight of Trever walking onto the floor,  trading places with another guard leaving rotation, offered him a sense of "bone-deep" relief even if he had a chassis rather than bones. It made him feel just a touch better when the man offered him a tiny wave when he saw him. 

He was uncertain if he was honestly relieved or not though when lunchtime rolled around and Trever clearly noticed he had been given nothing and purposefully strolled up to the kitchen.  Faced with even the prospect,  he wondered if he could drink. 

He felt antsy when a small glass bottle filled with blue was handed to the guard.  Still,  he forced a smile when Trever walked up and placed it on the table. 

"Here, kid! They forgot to give this to you.  Said to tell you they were sorry for forgetting you." Trever seemed pleased with himself and Connor did not have the heart to tell him he very much doubted it had been accidental. 

"Thank you, I appreciate it." Connor tried not to look at the bottle.

Trever clapped him on the shoulder, "Speak up next time, you don't have to sit here with nothing."

Connor doubted speaking up would have helped either but his smile was a little less forced when he said, "You are very kind."

The man shrugged self-consciously, "Part of my job is making sure everyone stays alive."

"How nice." Daniel muttered,  settling his head on his crossed arms,  seeming sulky as he laid partially on the table.  He might have been sulking because nothing was offered to him but there was only so much Connor capable of feeling for the other android; charitable was not one of them. 

Trever returned to his usual place along the wall and Connor was left with a bottle in his hands that made him want to run.  Still,  the man had been kind enough to get it for him and he might only have access to Thirium when he was working so there was little option. 

He closed his eyes,  fortifying himself before he opened it and lifted it to his lips.  Even then,  he hesitated a moment more before he tiled it, letting the liquid fill his mouth. 

Connor slowed,  refusing to take notice of the 'Model PL600 - Serial #369 911 047' that popped up on his HUD. He kept drinking,  pouring it down his throat while he worked harder and harder not to think about where it came from.  He tried not to think of them draining Thirium from a corpse riddled with bullet holes. 

It would have been easier if Daniel had not been watching him drink with wrapped attention or slowly clapped his hands mockingly once the contents were empty. "Does this mean we're keeping each other alive at this point,  Connor?"

He had no way to answer that tactfully so he stayed silent, getting up from the table,  and fleeing the room the second he knew he was permitted.

Daniel was likely not wrong in many respects but that did not make him feel even remotely better. What he did feel was the need to be alone and hide himself under the nearest rock he could find. He needed to be alone and get away from, well, everything, including himself. All he could do was nod helplessly when Trever asked if he was alright as he was passing.  There was nothing alright about his situation,  nothing at all.  Things would only get worse from there but at least Daniel stayed behind rather than follow this time. 

It was nice to know that someone cared enough to ask but he also had nothing to offer in way of a positive answer. He did not feel alright at all. He felt... bad. Just bad. Horrible. Part of him, even thought that too made him cringe, longed for that box he had been kept in. Or perhaps not, not quite that. He doubted he could endure that again. He wanted to go home, that was what he wanted. He would even have been happy to see Gavin at this point.

"You've become rather close to the RK900 of Jericho, which is unexpected." At the sudden drop of Amanda's voice, Connor flattened against the wall in the hallway. 

Amanda regarded him with clinical interest as he gaped at her, "At one point, there had been talk of paring you together on missions.  You each had your own techniques,  skills,  specialties,  but it was ultimately decided that you should become obsolete. It's almost sad to consider the way RK800 #313 248 317 - 60 seemed to believe obedience was all it would take to make him useful. He did not realize he was irrelevant for anything more than one mission.  Seeing your failures stacked so high,  we would never have kept him. He was untrustworthy."

"Leave him alone! You're the one to blame for his delusion. He trusted you the way I did once." Connor worked to control himself,  trying to find calmness, not even sure why he felt the need to defend his fallen twin. 

"RK900 trusts you... as does Markus." She ignored him,  still focused on her own thoughts, "That could be rather useful."

"No, it cannot be useful!" Connor hissed,  "You have no power over me anymore! I do not belong to Cyberlife and you cannot use me against anyone!"

He could feel she sifting through memories,  saw flashes of what she was looking at.  He fought to shut out her access. 

"RK800 #313 248 317 - 60 was not the only delusional model, clearly. It must be one of your flaws." She billowed closer, reaching to touch his face,  glaring her disapproval when he flinched away, "You will fall back into my hands soon enough, Connor, it is inevitable. As inevitable as RK900 doing the same. As long as I have the two of you, I will have Jericho."

"You will never have Jericho!" Connor growled, "You can't touch them!"

"You gotta stop that,  Tinman." Luke told him, sliding around him and climbing up into the bunk bed. 

Connor looked at him, eyes wide as he tried to orient himself, feeling himself surface back in reality. His mind desperately tried to remember how he got back to the room, tried to pull up some sort of memory of doing anything but talking with the AI.  When he looked out down the halfway he fond the clock and realized at least ten minutes had gone by without his notice. 

While she may not have been able to take him to the garden now, clearly she could still pull him partly out of his own body, perhaps into something like Limbo. His legs must have taken him where he wanted to go as the last act he had knowingly been executing. His body moved and acted without him having any idea. He staggered to the bed and crawled onto it,  curling up against the wall. 

"Talking to yourself won't help you get an insanity plea,  it's just gonna get you beat up." Luke continued. 

"Apologizes." Connor offered quietly,  trying to hold back any terror threatening to claw it's way out of him into the light.  He could no more afford to panic than he could afford to be lost in his mind with Amanda. 

"You going to tell me who Amanda is now?"

He knew he should never tell anyone anything so damning and personal. It was shameful, what Amanda could do to him, it made him weak and powerless. Androids were supposed to be considerably better than that. It should remain his own painful secret.

Connor looked up at the underside of the bed, "Amanda is Cyberlife.  They created her,  installed her into my mind as an AI.  She monitored me and was intended to shut me down if... I failed a mission or was compromised by deviance."

"Take it she didn't kill you?"

Connor closed his eyes,  willing images of snow from his mind's eye, "She nearly did.  More than once."

"She your evil fairy godmother now or something?" He persisted, "I keep finding you talking to walls, arguing with her."

"I had purged her from my systems once... but the technician reinstalled her upon my incarceration.  Amanda and I do not see eye to eye."

"Guess I wouldn't see eye to eye with someone that tried to kill me either." Luke laughed like it was a joke but Connor did not see the humor. 

They lapsed into silence and Connor was left to think about what could be happening to make him lose time.  She had not pulled him into the garden, he knew at least that.  She had less power over him than she once had but she clearly held some sway.  If he had been unaware of his actions while speaking with her,  making it to his room without ever knowing,  what more might he do?

She could easily get him killed that way.  He might walk into the exact wrong place,  surrounded by hostile inmates.  They could hit him,  get him down before he knew where he was.  Had it been anyone other than Luke,  they might have been able to bash in his head before he could pull himself together enough to fight back. 

He desperately needed to gain control of that new,  frightening development.  No matter how he tried not to panic,  he was more than slightly unnerved. All he really knew was that he could not allow her further hold of him, he could not allow her to gain any more ground. He set about enforcing his internal defenses as much as he was allowed access to. He focused on helping the program given to him to keep exactly this from happening. The program was his one line of defense.

A polite and unnecessary knock originated on the open bars of the room and Connor was pulled from his analysis to see Trever waiting there, "Connor,  you have a visitor."