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Thirium soaks through the fabric of Connor's CyberLife-issued jacket, the blue tones a sharp contrast to the blacks and greys. Snow peppers their hair and their outfits as it falls from the sky, a flurry of cold, white flakes that Connor, if he possessed the ability to express emotion or thought, would've considered peaceful if not for the given situation. The temperature of the metal against their backs is dangerously freezing; not that he can feel it, his various sensors detect and report the information to him, and his eyes meet Hank's for a brief second as he considers the effect this temperature might have on the lieutenant's body.

"You have to stop them," Connor urges over the gunfire, directing his attention towards Hank, "If they destroy it, we won't learn anything!"

Hank, his chest heaving, regards Connor incredulously, lips parted both with disbelief and the sharp intakes of breath. "We can't save it, it's too late!" the lieutenant argues as Connor turns his head back over his shoulder, "We'll just get ourselves killed!"

This may be an issue for Hank, Connor thinks, considering the fact that the probability of Hank's survival should the situation not be diffused was already dangerously low. However, he was an Android, and though he'd been successful in avoiding the machine-equivalent of death for the entirety of his current mission, he acknowledged and recognized the fact that CyberLife could simply send out another RK800 model should he be unsuccessful. He turns his head back to Hank, his mind throwing out various scenarios and their outcomes before he takes to his feet, scrambling out from behind the frozen metal carpeted with thirium and frost.

The lieutenant's hand brushes against the tail's end of his coat in a futile attempt to keep him in place as he pushes his figure forward. His internal workings are already plotting the trajectory of three bullets, dictating their projected paths with bright red lines that contrast heavily against the muted blues and greys of his programming. Connor dodges each of the bullets successfully, vaulting himself over a rooftop metal unit before pressing the deviant against the frigid steel wall behind them. The deviant's LED is rapidly flashing a dangerous, angry red as Connor wills the synthetic skin of his right hand to recede, exposing the thick, white plastic that made up Androids. His hand is gripped tightly around the forearm of the deviant and an unfamiliar, new scene splays before his eyes.

Through the mess of static and diluted audio, Connor is able to make out a painted, white word; JERICHO, its letters spread out across a large sheet of blue, rusted metal. The visual pans like a camera, exposing the entirety of the cleanly printed word; then there's the singular firing of a gun, a heavy, suctioning feeling that pulls him out of his body and into a large, dark expanse of emotions gone haywire. Something akin to fear is the most prominent one, though desperation, anger, panic, and anguish all linger in this empty location. The suctioning doesn't let up: it pulls, and pulls, and pulls, until Connor can't feel the grounding of his shoes on the roof, until he's unsure of whether or not he's actually still within the confines of his own artificial body.

His eyes remain locked with the body of the destroyed deviant, his optics taking in too much detail, the way the thirium is covering the jaw, chin, neck, and collarbone of the deviant. His circuits feel overloaded, sending fragmented signals to the wrong places, his central processing unit struggling to handle the upkeep of all of the errors in his coding. His knees are bent, uneven and not on level with each other as he grips the backing of the metal behind him; he can feel the trembling of his figure, but all he can process is how wrong it is. His memory banks repeatedly fire fragments of the experience into his consciousness, and the pulling feeling is constantly there, a heavyweight within the heels of his feet, threatening to pull him into whatever kind of oblivion he just witnessed.

"Connor. Connor, you alright? Connor!"

Hank appears within his field of vision, his facial features expressing a variety of emotions that he scans and detects as concern, worry, the smallest fraction of fear. Connor cannot bring himself to make eye contact with the lieutenant; his expression remains glassy and distant as he continually relives the shards of memory he gained from the deviant. It takes the briefest of moments for him to realize the lieutenant is expecting an answer, and even then it takes a minute for Connor to even begin the act of speaking.

"Okay..." he whispers, though it falls through his lips like something more akin to a whimper, too high-pitched and uncollected for comfort.

"Are you hurt?" Hank questions, voice containing the tiniest bit of what Connor identifies as panic.

Connor isn't sure he has the answer to that question, but he disregards the gunshot wound in his right shoulder and makes an attempt to focus himself. "I'm okay..." It's only a half-lie.

"Jesus..." The lieutenant pulls away from the Android, then, "You scared the shit outta me."

Connor rubs his lips against each other, still not raising his gaze from the ground, though he makes an effort to divert it from the corpse—body, he reminds himself, of the deviant. He has nothing to say to this, despite his normally held-together composure and ability to integrate into a variety of social and emotional situations. His LED is cycling a heavy red, though he can't bring himself to worry about whether or not Hank notices this.

"For fucks sake, I told you not to move!" Hank is turning back around to face Connor now, "Why do you never do what I say?"

This is another thing Connor doesn't have the answer to, and he hates not having the answer; he wasn't programmed to not have the answer, and all he can give is the slightest twitch of his head as he keeps his vision trained on the snowy rooftop of the tower. His hands are still clinging to the metal out back of him, tightly, tight enough that Connor thinks he might damage the steel if he grips it any harder. His programming guides him through a variety of dialogue options that he could return to the lieutenant but he completely disregards them, pressing himself back against the steel unit as he struggles to articulate his words properly.

"I was connected to its memory," he says, his voice still unsettled, reflecting what Connor could almost identify as emotion (but it wasn't, because he wasn't programmed to possess or feel emotions). "When it fired, I... I felt it dying. Like I was dying."

Hank's expression becomes unreadable, inflicting the smallest twinge of panic—no, not panic, he's a machine—into Connor. It comes off as almost concern, but entirely calculating and judging, and it takes a moment for Connor to gather himself, because oh god—he saw that Android die, felt it die, felt the flurry of emotions that had engulfed the deviant in its final moments. This was throwing Connor off, overloading his circuitry, almost, because he wasn't supposed to feel

He finally makes eye contact with the lieutenant, his LED still a violent red as he speaks again, voice so insignificant and small: "I was scared..."

Hank shifts his weight, expression remaining in its guarded state as Connor pulls himself away from the metal cube, finally. "I saw something," Connor says, because talking will get his mind off of what he just experienced, "In its memory. A word, painted on a piece of rusty metal." He falters, closes his eyes against the memory fragments that assault his consciousness briefly before he wills them open again. "Jericho."


They're in Hank's car now, on the way to visit Elijah Kamski, inventor of Androids and former CyberLife CEO. Connor's LED has calmed to a slowly cycling yellow as he stares out of the passenger window, knees pulled to his chest, head resting on his knees. He feels fidgety, despite himself, and has the fleeting notion to request his coin from the lieutenant, yet decides against it out of fear of offending his partner. Connor replays the memory from the Stratford tower repeatedly within his head, as if exposing himself to it continually would will away the lingering fear that plagued his coding.

"Lieutenant...?" Connor finally breaks the tense, uncomfortable silence, though his voice still retains the high-pitched uncertainty he's come to despise (because this was not what he was programmed for).

"Hank," his partner corrects, not breaking his gaze off of the street. "Call me Hank, Connor."

Connor pauses, fingers the cuff of his jeans between his forefinger and his thumb to give his nervous circuitry a distraction. "Right. Hank. I... I realize that this may come as a hindrance to our investigation, but I do believe my programming has become faulty."

The lieutenant—Hank, Connor corrects himself—lets his eyes dart between Connor and the road for a few moments before he comes to the decision to speak. "Faulty? Do you mean deviant?"

"No!" Connor almost shouts, the action jerking his knees up into his chin as his LED flashes red for a brief second before returning to its yellow state. "No. I am not suggesting that I have become deviant, but rather I am experiencing some... unusual setbacks."

"Setbacks?" Hank scoffs, "Connor, are you talking about emotion?"

"I—" Connor feels the need to argue (he doesn't feel it, he tells himself, rather his programming dictates that it would be appropriate in this circumstance), but he finds what the lieutenant is suggesting to be true, despite the consequences. "I am afraid so," he settles for, forces his gaze to focus on the scenery outside the passenger window. "I apologize for any inconveniences this might cause, I'm having troubles figuring it out myself. If you wish to have me replaced—"

This jerks something similar to a chuckle from Hank, though it is quickly silenced. "I'm not going to replace you, Connor."

Connor shakes his head, brows furrowing as his processors work to figure out why this would be the case. "I'm confused. My programming is obviously malfunctioning, it would be in the best interest of the investigation—"

"I don't give a shit about the investigation," Hank scoffs, causing something his processors determine to be akin to frustration to rise within Connor because he's been cut off twice in a row now. "Maybe Androids aren't as different from humans as we thought."

It's reminiscent of a statement Hank had made what felt like months ago. "I do not believe I was programmed to experience emotions, lieute—Hank. Allowing this to continue... unhindered may bring on critical consequences."

"I don't give a shit about your programming, either, Connor. Feeling emotion doesn't make you deviant, if that's what you're afraid of. Hell, I'd be more worried if you weren't a bit fucked up right now."

Connor pauses, his CPU throwing out possible scenarios; if Amanda finds out about this... coding error, then he's certain he'll be replaced with a new RK800 model, which wouldn't have bothered him beforehand but now? Now it terrifies him, makes his pupils blow wide and his fingers tense into a strained fist. "For what purpose? Why would you rather my program to be malfunctioning right now?"

"You were traumatized, Connor," Hank says, incredulous, as if it were obvious. "Of course you're going to be fucked up."

Connor ponders this for a while, wondering if Androids even remotely possessed the ability to become traumatized. The memory is pushed to the front of his consciousness once again and his muscles seize up, breathing algorithm faltering; it's like experiencing this all over again, the relentless pulling feeling returning as Connor squeezes his eyes shut in a futile attempt to block out the replay. There's so much, too much, it overloads his processors and circuitry, his LED flashing a violent red color, spinning tirelessly. There's so much panic, so much fear and anguish and hurt and desperation—

And then nothing. A cold, black oblivion not even similar to his stasis mode because even then he could still sense things.

"Connor."

The word yanks him back into the present, and it's like being thrust back into his own body; suddenly he's back in the car next to Hank, away from the void of nothingness.

"What's gotten into you?" Hank asks, even though Connor calculates that he likely knows the answer to this question.

Connor exhales despite not needing to (he's equipped with breathing algorithms in order to integrate with humans more successfully) and dips his head, rests his forehead on his knees. "I'm scared, lieutenant." It's not a lie; he is scared, of so many things, things like being replaced, being found out, of dying—

A sigh makes its way out of Hank's lips and for a moment, Connor worries he's offended the lieutenant in some way before the man's hand finds its way to Connor's shoulder. "You'll be okay, Connor," he says, soft and reassuring as he keeps his gaze on the road.

Connor feels the need to object, because the lieutenant has no way of calculating the probability of Connor's stability, but he nods anyway because he recognizes it as a warm gesture. His eyes burn with the sensation of not-yet-spilled tears despite himself, despite there being no obvious reason to cry. "I'm scared to die, or shutdown," he finally admits, and like the crumbling of a dam it sets free the tears he'd been protesting. "I know they'll send out a new Connor but they'll delete the stuff that isn't important."

He didn't want to call himself alive, didn't want to say he possessed a personality because he'd been born from coding and plastic circuitry, but he didn't know how else to explain his experiences and memories. The prospect of being alive almost scared him more than dying did, and for a fleeting moment he wished for the time he was simply a machine following orders, because then it wouldn't be so overwhelming—

"C'mere," Hank says, extending his arm outward. Connor watches him with big, watery brown eyes before slumping over into Hank's shoulder, burying his face in the man's jacket. "You'll be okay, Connor."

"I'm so scared," he whimpers, this high-pitched voice of uncertainty making its third return of the day. He clutches some of the fabric in one of his hands, hiding his face from view. His LED cycles an anxious yellow. "I'm so scared."

"I know, Connor."

"What happens if I die?" his lower lip is trembling, unseen and hidden by the fabric of Hank's jacket. "I know I'll be uploaded into a new Connor but what will happen to me? It was so dark there, Hank."

"You won't die."

"You don't know that," Connor protests, sniffling as he pulls away to rub at his nose despite the lack of reason.

"I do," Hank argues, giving Connor a hard look, "Because you're smart. You know how to keep yourself from getting killed."

They pull up in front of Kamski's house just then. Connor hadn't even realized they'd finished the trip there, and something equivalent to shame burns hot through his circuitry. Hank gives Connor a small smile before leaving the car and Connor inhales shakily, wiping at his eyes. His LED has calmed into a tentative blue, and he wills himself to focus. Mission now, emotions later. Somehow, he makes it.