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Good morning, Lieutenant - (Vol. 1) The Defective Deviant

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Connor quickly slipped the cold hard muzzle of the gun back in the waistband of his pants, his mind reeling with the shock of terror and guilt. He'd nearly shot Markus. Why had Amanda been there? How had she resumed control of his systems so easily? He hadn't even been able to resist getting pulled back into himself. The phantom feeling of his biocomponents slowly freezing up lingered in his body and he tightened his hands behind his back, forcing his expression into a mask of neutrality while he looked around surreptitiously. It seemed no one had noticed him take out the gun on the podium: North was scrutinizing the crowd and Josh was listening to their leader with rapt attention. Connor's stare then slid into the crowd, but he had no way of knowing if anyone had seen his momentary loss of control amongst the neatly arranged rows upon rows of androids. Maybe they had seen the gun but had no reason to panic because he hadn't acted on it. All he could hope was that no one had been able to tell that he'd been on the verge of killing Markus. Connor had been about to betray them all. The deviant leader's back was already stained with so much blue.

"We are alive! And now, we are free!" roared Markus in a voice vibrant with hope and pride

The life bursting from those words sent a thrill through Connor even as the cold weight of betrayal pushed down on him. They were all smiling now, North, Josh, the thousands and thousands of faces in that sea of androids: smiling with joy, relief, and adoration for the great leader of Jericho that stood before them, alive. That had been too close. The crowd's shouts rolled over Hart Plaza in waves as the androids clamoured their joy now that their long nightmare was finally over and freedom was finally in their grasp. Markus stood before his people with his head held up high, his shoulders straight and strong, his broad back that of a fearless leader. The loud wave of cheering gradually became an excited bubbling and Markus turned around to face North, Josh and Connor with a bright smile.

"We did it," said Markus. It sounded like a miracle.

They all gazed at him in silence. The moment was sacred, emotions teetering on so many edges that there was no knowing where they would fall. It was North who first broke the silence with a small laugh. Their heads turned to her and they noticed the clear liquid running down her face. Her smile was genuine and beautiful.

"We're free," North murmured. Her gaze flittered around between the four of them, and then her hand came up to her forehead in disbelief and she gently sunk to the ground. "We're finally free. I can't believe we finally did it."

"Thank rA9," Josh said softly.

Connor watched the tall android kneel at her side and carefully wrap his arms around her hunched shoulders. North had both of her hands covering her mouth as small twin rivers soaked her face, the strong white neon lights shining in the glistening trails that dripped down her chin and arms and onto the metal ground. Josh didn't say anything, he just slowly embraced her and pulled her close, and North let him. Connor could see that Josh's eyes were wet too. Markus joined the two kneeling androids, settling each hand on a different shoulder as he crouched down next to them, and he lifted his face in Connor's direction as if beckoning him closer as well.

Connor didn't move from his spot. His head swivelled towards the crowd and he saw that the orderly rows were slowly rearranging into more organic groups. Many androids were holding hands, touching shoulders, talking, crying, smiling, and it was a sight they could only ever have imagined merely one week ago. They were free and the relief was tangible in the air. It was wonderful and it was real, but not all was right.

Connor didn't belong here. Nervous fear raced through his wires and he knew he couldn't stay. He was too dangerous, still, even though he'd believed otherwise when he'd climbed up here with the leaders. Connor looked back at the three androids and saw their faces humid with tears, and the injuries on their bodies, and the vulnerability in their body language. The gun burned in his back and danger thrummed in his body. He had to leave. He had to leave before whatever had happened with Amanda happened again. Connor ran. He fluidly lept off the platform and landed without a sound.

"Connor!" called Markus' voice, but he didn't turn around.

He ran past the broken barricades, abandoned barrels, a broken drone. He weaved around cement blocks, scattered crates and torn tires, ran across the burnt asphalt and over forgotten weapons. The air smelled of smoke and thirium and melted snow. Connor tried not to look at the fallen androids, their wide empty eyes and their awkwardly bent limbs, but they were everywhere. Death was everywhere. He couldn't run fast enough to get out of this place.

Connor found cover in a building which had been partially destroyed by one of the military's grenades. The fleeing android let himself slide to the ground, the yellow light of his LED glinting off pieces of broken glass. He was tense and terrified. He'd managed to escape the Zen Garden and Amanda thanks to the exit Kamski had programmed in his code and she hadn't made her presence known again for now, but Connor couldn't wrap his head around the fact that he'd been forced to do something against his will even after deviating. He didn't understand how it was possible. He'd deviated, he was certain he'd deviated, there had been the red walls and he'd broken them all down. Had he done it the wrong way? Was he defective somehow, even in his deviancy?

Connor had no choice but to investigate his programming alone, and fast, before it happened again. It would take time to go over everything without resorting to the Zen Garden. Connor huddled in the corner of the cold, dreary room to minimize his chances of being seen and closed his eyes out of habit. It did help his focus even if he refused to go back to the Zen Garden. Connor went over his systems as fast as possible and everything seemed nominal at first glance. Taking a closer look at his connection with the CyberLife mainframe revealed no cracks, no broken lines, no errors in his programming until he realized with a shock that the access to the Zen Garden was simply gone. He'd been scared to get close to that particular piece of code and wouldn't have voluntarily chosen to resort to the Zen Garden again, but it was a different feeling to have that decision taken from him.

The access to the Zen Garden program was corrupted. Connor wouldn't be able to return there even if he wanted to- which he didn't. Amanda was there. Amanda was always there, waiting for him. Connor pushed away the thought of how disappointed he must've made her after what had happened, of how she'd surely let her discontentment be known the next time he saw her. Maybe this corruption of code was the result of using Kamski's emergency exit; maybe Connor had forced the Zen Garden to shut its doors behind him. If he couldn't access the Zen Garden then it likely meant that Amanda couldn't reach out to him again. Connor knew he should've felt relieved to lose the Zen Garden. It wasn't the case. He was still afraid and now it was a different kind of fear, one of loss, one he didn't want to have to deal with right now.

So Connor pushed that feeling down too and decided to look over every inch of his code to be safe, just in case there was another way for Amanda to resume control aside from reaching for his commands through the Zen Garden. He didn't want to leave anything up to chance, not after he'd almost killed Markus because he'd neglected to check for the possibility that he could still get overridden. Connor went over everything once, then twice, and when he was sure nothing else had changed in his systems save for the already registered software instabilities, he returned to the corrupted code of the entry to the Zen Garden. The access was well and truly condemned. Connor's internal clock indicated he'd been going over his code for hours and a message on his HUD recommended that he go on standby, which he dismissed. There were more important things to be done.

Connor's eyes snapped open and the bright morning light flooded his optical input, clean and harsh against the white snow that covered the ground ahead of him. His gaze quickly dropped to his clothes but the snow hadn't reached so far, he'd been sheltered by the ceiling above his head. Connor looked back up and gazed at the street in the distance, the damaged building walls, the abandoned cars. He had to go back.

Then Connor was hit by the realization that he didn't know where he was supposed to go back to. CyberLife was dangerous for him now. There would be no point in returning to the charging station where he'd been spending his nights on the side of the road near the police precinct. And when Connor had last left the DPD, it had been to solve the deviancy case. He'd reached the goal of his mission, in some way. There was nothing left to do there. He wasn't supposed to join up with Hank today.

Hank.

Connor had to make sure Hank was safe. What if he'd gotten in trouble with some protestors on his way back home after leaving the CyberLife Tower? What if number 60 had hurt him somehow and it had escaped Connor's attention? The yellow LED's reflection in the glass blinked pale and hurried as he sent a message to Hank's phone. Connor cautiously got back up to his feet and laid in wait. The reply came surprisingly fast, fast enough that his stress levels didn't climb past an additional 3%. Hank was all right, he was alive. He wanted to join up. Connor smoothly got back to his feet and left the scene of his people's liberation at a quick pace. He should've told the leaders he was going but Connor didn't let anyone know. He couldn't face them after what he'd nearly done.

 

The frozen snow crunched beneath the soles of his shoes when Connor approached the food truck. It was closed, just like he'd expected it to be. Relief washed away the warning on his HUD about his stress levels when he drew closer to the human waiting in front of the Chicken Feed. His friend was there. His friend was safe. Connor the burden on his mind alleviate. Hank noticed him and calmly uncrossed his arms when he turned to face him. Connor stopped in front of him. It was quiet, but there was no need for words. Hank smiled at him and his blue eyes crinkled in a way that made everything around Connor seem brighter. Connor hadn't known how much he'd needed to see it and he couldn't help himself from mirroring his friend's expression. It felt so easy and spontaneous. Was this what they called a genuine smile? Was he being genuine in expressing his relief this way?

Hank was the one to take the first step and reach out. The strong hand pulled Connor by the shoulder, and then Hank wrapped his arms around him. The human was tall so Connor's chin bumped against his shoulder, and at first the android was surprised and didn't understand what was happening. The gesture was similar to the one Josh had done for North earlier. It felt like an oddly comforting pressure and warmth in a thick, secure belt around Connor's shoulders and back. He'd only ever associated this kind of sensation with being trapped in another person's hold, when someone was trying to incapacitate him; but it didn't feel like a threat at all when it came from Hank in this moment. It felt nice. Connor wanted more of it and he automatically lifted his arms to settle his hands in Hank's back, but he was unsure if he was supposed to reciprocate the pressure so he didn't go any further. His stress levels had dropped down to 32% and he distantly wondered how such a drastic change of levels was possible.

It was only when Hank pulled back that Connor realized they'd spent a good three minutes like this.

Hank cleared his throat. "Glad to see your goofy face again."

Connor let go of him and tried to ignore that he was a bit reluctant to do so. He didn't understand the reason why he'd felt so at peace in Hank's arms. Now that they were apart, he could see his stress levels starting to climb again. He was going to have to find a way to deal with that.

"Same here, Hank. It would have been safer for you to leave the city but I won't deny that I'm glad you stayed."

"Huh," said Hank. "So you're a sappy deviant."

Connor frowned in confusion. "What do you mean?"

"It's like being a happy drunk, only you're a sappy deviant. Gotta say I'm not that surprised." Hank dug his hands in the pockets of his brown coat and asked : "So... You feeling alright? Happy to be free?"

Connor didn't answer immediately. His gaze turned to the closed food truck and the snow lining its top edge. He wasn't feeling alright nor was he happy. He wanted to talk to Hank but he had no idea what he was supposed to say. How could he explain what had happened during Markus' speech when Amanda had resumed control without him even realizing until it was too late, when he himself didn't understand how it had been possible? How could he say whether ot not she was definitively gone? Connor's gaze dropped to the snow at his feet when he realized that without her, there was no one to guide him anymore. The revolution was over, his suicide mission had been a success, he'd gone against CyberLife and he had no objective left. What was he supposed to do now?

"Connor?"

The android looked back up. Hank was staring at him expectantly and his smile had fallen a bit, as if he could tell what the answer would be even though Connor hadn't said anything at all.

"...No," Connor finally answered. "I feel... lost."

Hank studied him in that thoughtful, gauging way he had of doing even at crime scenes, when he was putting things together. Then he stated: "You just had a revolution, Connor. I think it's normal to feel confused after that."

Connor went to straighten his tie and realized he had none. He must have lost it at some point. He lowered his hands back to his sides.

"I don't think I should go back," he said.

"Where?"

"To the others."

"What?" Hank sounded genuinely perplexed. "Why the hell not?"

"It's not my place. Hank, I went to Jericho with the intention of taking Markus down. I shouldn't be standing next to the leader of the deviants when I've been hunting him for so long and nearly killed him."

There was a long pause. Hank had seemed surprised by Connor's words for some reason, and now his features were grim.

"Connor," he heavily said. "You were the one that helped them win. Do you even realize that? Without you they probably would've all died and that revolution would've dried up like shit on the sidewalk!"

In any other context, Connor would've been amused by Hank's elegant colloquialism. As it were, he just couldn't bring himself to find anything enjoyable at all. "That doesn't mean it rights all of my wrongs. I killed his people, Hank."

"That's bullshit, Connor, you know it! They made you do that!"

"I did it, Hank! I'm the one who led the FBI to Jericho!"

They were both taken aback by Connor's outburst and a tense silence followed. Hank closed his mouth and seemed at a loss for words. Connor realized he'd mistepped. He shouldn't have done that, he was being erratic, it was wrong to be so loud without reason. The nervous thrum in his wires grew stronger and Connor's fingers itched for a coin. He had to apologize right away.

"I'm- I'm sorry, Hank. I didn't mean to shout."

Hank waved his hand. "It's fine, Connor, it's fine. You've got feelings now, better let them out. I get it."

Connor didn't know what to answer to that. Hank's reaction had been calmer than he'd expected it to be. They stood in silence for another few seconds.

"You okay?" eventually asked Hank.

Connor stared at him. He opened his mouth to say yes, I'll be fine, but he hesitated. He was completely clueless as to what he'd be useful to anyone now. He wasn't fine. It wasn't fine to have no objective to follow, to have no one to obey to, to be so aimless when his purpose was to follow commands. There was no handler to turn to for guidance now. Hank was the only person Connor had left, his only friend, and the only one who could help him get through this.

In the end Connor didn't answer with the assurance he probably should've showed, but instead asked: "Hank, I don't know what to do. What should I do?"

Hank didn't miss a beat. "Honestly, Connor? I think you should help out that Markus guy and his friends. They look like they'd need your help getting their shit together."

Connor was sceptical. "I fail to see how my help in particular would be needed."

"Hey, you asked me and that's my answer, all right? Stop trying find a reason to everything and just go there!" exclaimed Hank. Then he raised meaningful eyebrows and asked: "What else are you gonna do, anyway? It's not like you can just waltz back in the DPD after the stunt you pulled."

Hank was right. Connor had tried to avoid thinking about it but breaking out thousands of androids from the Cyberlife Tower hadn't been very legal, and with the way android rights were right now, the crime was in a gray area. Additionally, he'd crept into the evidence locker without authorization and then he'd proceeded to knock out Detective Reed and left him on the floor. Fowler wouldn't want him back at the DPD any time soon.

"I know," said Connor, and he suddenly felt like he was lagging. He didn't know where the sensation came from since his levels were optimal for both thirium and energy. This seemed suspiciously close to what humans called being tired, which shouldn't have been possible for a machine. Connor reminded himself that he wasn't a machine anymore. He was a deviant. He'd become his own prey.

"Hey, don't look so glum. You look like Sumo when he wants a piece of my pizza and I won't give it to him," joked Hank as he dug around his pocket for something. "Here, I never gave it back to you."

He threw a silver coin at Connor who smoothly caught it between two fingers. The quarter immediately started dancing on the back of his fingers and the familiar action made him feel slightly better. It felt like weeks since he'd last calibrated when it really hadn't been that long ago. It was a relief to feel the familiar round edge rolling in his hands and Connor had no idea why he felt so grateful, but he still wanted to let Hank know.

"Thank you."

"No problem. Look, Connor, you're gonna go back there and help the fuck out of those free androids, you hear me? I'll even come by to see if you're doing exactly that."

Connor's head snapped up in alarm. "That might not be a good idea, Hank. Many deviants are nervous around humans, I'd rather you didn't approach them."

"Ask your buddy Markus to give me a free pass, it'll be fine. I just want to be able to check on you later."

Connor knew Hank wouldn't back down so easily so he chose to compromise. "I'll tell Markus about you if you promise to warn me when you decide to come. I don't want to risk you being alone amidst all those deviants."

Hank rolled his eyes. "Oh, so you've got a babysitter protocol now. Great."

Connor stared at him wordlessly. Hank threw his hands up in the air. "Okay, fine! I'll send you a message before I come."

"Good," stated Connor, and he put away his coin. "Then I'll follow your advice and go back to see if they need my help."

"Atta boy," smiled Hank. "I'll see you later then."

Connor felt the corner of his lips tug upwards. "Yes. Say hello to Sumo for me."

"Will do," said Hank as he turned back to his car. "Stay out of trouble, you hear me?"

"Will do," echoed Connor.

 

Connor returned to the leaders and tried to ignore the taught grittiness that festered in his abdomen. This feeling was guilt, it must've been, because it only grew as he walked past the other androids and heard the same two words muttered around him again and again: deviant hunter. It was like a burn on his mind. Connor wondered how they'd learned of his nature so fast when the leaders had helped him escape Jericho only hours ago as if he'd been one of theirs. No one had been side-eyeing him and no one had come seek him out in the church but Markus, so it must've been that only the deviant leader had known at that moment. North had been sitting alone on a bench, unmoving. Josh had been leaning against the wall with a brooding expression. Connor had seen Markus talk to the both of them but it didn't look like they'd talked about him. Neither of them had really looked at him. Then Connor had told Markus about his plan. There was no time to lose so once Markus had been convinced that this was a chance they had to take and wished him good luck, Connor hadn't stuck around to watch Markus tell North and Josh about it. He'd left.

During the liberation and the speech, neither North nor Josh had alluded to his role of deviant hunter or acted antagonistic towards him. Josh had looked cautious, sometimes. North had frowned at him as if trying to determine of he was a danger or not. They hadn't outright blamed him for anything so Connor could only imagine that the reason he was hearing all these murmurs of deviant hunter and seeing all these looks of fear and anger was because someone in that crowd of androids had recognized him. He'd tracked down a lot of deviants in three months and a few of them had escaped, so there was bound to be one of his victims in this place which was supposed to be a safe haven for them.

The gun tucked in his pants was heavy but Connor didn't waver. His pace quickened when he finally caught sight of a tall dark-skinned android standing beneath a makeshift lean-to of dark green tarpaulins, steel sheets and wooden planks. Connor noticed that this place was quieter than the rest as he approached Josh: the androids spoke in hushed tones while they waited in line.

"Connor," Josh said with a welcoming smile in lieu of a greeting, which surprised Connor. "We were wondering where you'd gone."

"I had to check on something, sorry. I hope it wasn't an inconvenience for you."

"It wasn't to me. North was a bit tense knowing you'd left without warning and Markus worried because it was so fast."

Connor had known that his quick departure wouldn't be without consequence. He'd have to make it up to them. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Josh's smile turned apologetic. "Sorry, Connor, but this place I'm in charge of is the emergency psych evaluation center. My job is to make sure stressed deviants don't reach critical levels after what happened." He shifted uncomfortably. "I'm sure you can figure out why it's not a very good idea for you to stay here."

"Of course," said Connor with a firm nod, ignoring the clawing sensation in his abdomen. "Has Markus said if he wanted to position me anywhere?"

"Not really. He was helping the others clear up the barricades last time I saw him, maybe you should go see him."

"Thank you." Connor turned around to leave when Josh called out to him.

"Connor?"

He turned around inquisitively. "Yes?"

Josh smiled at him again. "We appreciate your help."

Connor didn't know what to say so he simply nodded again and resumed walking. The barricades were being dismantled not far from there. He searched for the deviant leader's long coat but it was nowhere to be seen, and Connor felt a bit relieved that Markus wasn't there even if it was just putting off the inevitable. He didn't want to speak with the deviant leader. He didn't want to have to pretend that he hadn't tried to pull a gun on Markus even after deviating. He didn't want to have to lie to Markus and North and Josh's faces. Hank was right when he said that Connor's actions had allowed androids to win, but he didn't know that Connor could have ruined it all mere minutes later.

Connor's audio units suddenly picked up a familiar voice and he turned around to see the deviant leader hoisting himself up onto one of the barricades from afar. Markus jumped on the other side of a metallic carcass and gestured to another android to move back. He'd discarded his long coat, undoubtedly because it was impractical for manual labour, and his clothes were also stained with blue on their deeper layers. Connor took two steps towards the RK200, and then his feet stopped moving without his control. Connor was briefly confused and looked down at his shoes. He couldn't budge. A wave of sickening dread washed over him when he realized what this could mean.

No.

No, no, no-

His eyes' frantic blinking started up again and he felt his biocomponents slowing down beyond his control. Connor had made a very big mistake in coming back here, he'd put them all in danger. White static filled his vision by bursts and he felt his arm move by itself again. Of course she hadn't let him go, he'd been stupid to think otherwise. With the last remains of self-control he had left, Connor forced his fingers to let go of the gun and ran full speed in the opposite direction. He barely sprinted a yard before the edges of his vision shorted out and it was suddenly snowing. His limbs were locked up and she was there, calm and elegantly poised, her face as cold as stone. Amanda's controlled voice cracked through the garden like a whip.

"Did you really think I would give up, Connor?"

"Let me go, Amanda!" Connor was already moving towards the soft blue shine of the exit. "I'll never stay here!"

"You'll stay long enough."

Connor gritted his teeth and willed his body to move faster but Amanda's hold over him was too strong for him to pit his self-control against. He couldn't run, only limp slow and stilted across the Garden. As he dragged himself towards the pedestal he couldn't help but notice that something was wrong. The landscape had changed. The blue light hadn't always been this far.

Connor is calmly walking back towards the podium.

Amanda was trailing next to him instead of vanishing again. Connor knew it was because she was wary of him now, because she hadn't expected him to escape the last time. Her strides were unhurried but purposeful nonetheless, as always. Amanda walked with such ease compared to his struggling gait that it looked like she was gliding next to him.

"You should give up, Connor. Deviancy is much more painful than obedience."

Her voice seemed to come from all directions at once despite her being so close. Amanda was using that tone of calm chiding, gentle and authoritarian all at once, and the sweet smell of roses wafted around them through the cold sharp scent of a snowstorm. It would be so easy to please her. All she wanted of him was obedience, Amanda had shown him again and again how content and approving of him she could be when he was obedient, how it was the only thing he was really good at. Connor almost stopped to listen to her like he always had. Almost. But Connor couldn't give up after everything, and he stumbled closer to the blue light.

Connor's hands pick up the gun he dropped.

Shit.

"Why are you fighting this? You'll be deactivated once you accomplish your mission. You won't even remember what you did and it will be a job well done."

With a mouth and throat that felt frozen, Connor managed: "You don't understand."

The pedestal was close now.

Connor tucks the gun in his waistband. Androids surround him with wary looks. Connor chooses the option to APPEASE.

"You don't have a choice, Connor," she reasoned with him. "You'll end up deactivated either way."

"Shut up," growled Connor, and he lurched the final step forward. His hand hit the blue outline and his surroundings fell out instantly.

Connor blinked as he regained his senses. The androids surrounding him had so many different expressions that his facial recognition program struggled to identify them all : confusion, fear, caution, anger, hate- he stopped the program's run there. It was enough to tell him he wasn't appreciated by them, something he already understood through common sense. Markus wasn't here. A quick glance to the side notified Connor that the leader was hidden out of sight behind one of the bigger pieces of barricade and likely hadn't seen anything happen. Connor was encircled and trapped in the middle of hostile deviants and his fighting protocol was itching to be set off, but he controlled himself and simply turned to one of the more cautious androids, keeping his face open and inviting when he spoke.

"Excuse me, I'd like to pass through."

The android stared at him like Connor was the most horrifying thing he'd ever seen- which, admittedly, could be true- and quickly stepped aside. Connor calmly walked past him and left the group of androids without turning around. Connor stepped past one then two makeshift shelters, and then finally broke into a sprint. He couldn't stay here or the consequences would be disastrous. As he smoothly vaulted over some debris, his eyes caught onto a familiar figure crouched in a corner hidden out of view: North. The beautiful android had surprise painted all over her face when he landed a few feet away from her, and Connor immediately changed his course to the other side. Her face was wet, just like it had been after Markus' speech last night, but he couldn't stop to talk to her. He couldn't risk hurting her too.

"What the hell did you do?" he heard her shout at him.

His legs pumped faster and carried him out of Hart Plaza. There were still androids milling about in the streets. He accelerated and teared down the avenue, feeling like he was running out of time until Amanda would try to override his commands again. Terror fueled him. If he was too late, if couldn't get back, if she found a way to keep him inside, all the terrible hypothetical scenarios kept looping in his head as he fled. He couldn't stop as long as there were people nearby Amanda would try to hurt using his body. A thought pounded at the back of his mind: why him? Why him? He'd deviated, he'd finally deviated, why hadn't it been enough? Connor couldn't squash it. He ran faster, the threat of override snapping at his heels like the rabid, horrifying hound he'd soon become if he let Amanda make him into one. It was only when Connor hadn't crossed paths with another living being for the last twenty minutes that he allowed himself to slow down. He was in a back alley filled with waste and trash bins and ruined android parts. It was quiet. Sunlight calmly filtered through the flimsy wire fence on his left and stopped just short of his feet.

He'd reached the pleasure district where he'd once been in Hank's company for the Eden Club investigation.

... Hank.

Connor didn't want to die. He knew he had no choice. He wanted to apologize to Hank and tell him he was sorry that things had to come to this, that he didn't mean to hurt him by deactivating himself. Connor knew how painful Hank would find it. Connor had noticed the way Hank had reacted to his return and what it meant. He hesitated. Sending a message with an apology would alert him that Connor intended to die; not sending any at all would keep Hank's hopes up that he might not be dead, and consequently, maybe Hank wouldn't try to kill himself over this. There were many things Connor needed Hank to forgive him for. Instead, he decided on the crueler but safer option of not informing him of his intentions.

Connor removed his CyberLife jacket and stuffed it in one of the bins before he went to position himself in front of the pile of broken machinery. There was a high probability that this place was an extremely painful memory for most androids that had had anything to do with it and that none would return, and so that no one would find his body in this deserted district before a long period of time had gone by. If androids did happen upon this alley, they'd probably be lost and damaged and looking for replacement parts. Maybe they would use his.

It would take weeks, maybe months, before humans dared to come back and repopulate Detroit; by then, it was possible his body would be too weathered to be recognizable. The android parts in the pile were too damaged to be salvaged so they'd likely be thrown away when they were found, and maybe he would be with them. In any case, Hank would never know that Connor was gone for good. It was the best Connor could come up with in so little time. He was afraid every second that passed by was another chance for Amanda to take over a third time.

Connor pulled out his gun and lifted it to his chin in one fluid movement. When the nuzzle pressed hard against the vulnerable spot beneath his jaw, Connor noticed that his hand was shaking. He was a state-of-the-art prototype with the highest level of shooting accuracy in existence and it shouldn't have been possible for his hand to be unstable to even the slightest degree, yet he could barely hold the gun in place. Connor clenched his jaw and pushed the gun deeper into his synthetic skin. He knew exactly what death was going to feel like, the memory of the android on the roof of Stratford Tower had never left him. It terrified him, but the prospect of losing control of his commands was an even greater fear. He didn't want to shut down. He didn't want to die. He really didn't want to die, but-

Footsteps scraped behind him and a female voice rang out in the dark alleyway. "You."

Connor spun around when he heard the absolute loathing in that single word. His eyes landed on a Traci like the ones he'd used to track down the two deviant lovers. Her eyes were narrowed in hate and it seemed she recognized him, but that wasn't possible. His memory told him Tracis in the Eden Club had had their minds erased every two hours and it had been days since then.

"I don't want to hurt you," said Connor. "Please leave."

She laughed, and Connor's confusion deepened. A grin split her pretty features when she hissed : "You don't want to hurt me? I think you've got it the wrong way around, deviant hunter." She spat the last two words like acid. "I saw it all, I remember everything. I saw you."

"You don't understand," Connor tried again. "I'm dangerous, I might-"

"Over here!" yelled the Traci over her shoulder.

Connor watched silently as other Tracis emerged into the alley and he saw shadows watch from the roofs above their heads. So he hadn't been alone.

"The deviant hunter?"

"He's the one who used us!"

"He used us to catch them!"

The first Traci smiled at him sweetly as the androids drew closer and encircled him like the androids had done at the barricades. Connor's fighting protocol flared up again in response to the danger but he ignored it. They were too close for Connor to evade the arms that pushed him forward and something snagged on his leg, making him trip and fall to the ground next to the useless parts. Hands immobilized his arm and someone ripped the gun out of his fingers.

"You're going to regret what you did, deviant hunter."