Chapter 1: Prologue
[MODEL: RK 800]
[SERIAL#: 313 248 317 - 52]
[THIRIUS 310 LEVELS…100%]
[INITIALIZING AI ENGIN…95% PERFORMANCE]
[SOFTWARE STABILITY…CORRUPTION UNDETECTED]
[ALL SYSTEMS… DAMAGE UNDETECTED]
Connor’s LED component flickers yellow. Mental processors coming back online in a sharp surge of wires.
“Son of a fucking gun.”
[IDENTIFICATION: LT. ANDERSON, HANK
Born: 09/06/1985 // Police lieutenant
Criminal record: None]
“Lieutenant,” Connor smiles politely. Analysing the man crouched in front of him. The habitual aggravated expression was worryingly vacant and was replaced with something much worse. “You are nervous.”
“Shit, Connor,” Lieutenant scowls down at him. Connor takes notice he was currently seated against an alleyway wall. Clothes dirtied with the grime of rubbish and blood spatter. Taking a closer look he analyses it being their current suspect’s. Memory storage recalls the woman blowing up after activating a blue cube labelled [TESSERACT]. Events afterwards were missing, or as his internal processors devise: [NONEXISTENT] “Of course I’m damned well nervous we were fucking Obi-wan Kenobi’d.”
“Obi-Wan Kenobi is a fictional character and holds no significance to the incident at hand. You will have to expand upon your reasoning, Lieutenant.”
“Teleportation.” Dumbass, went unspoken but Connor could hear it nonetheless.
“Incorrect,” Connor says. Finding that hypothesis to be groundless with current the 21st Century scientific data he’s stipulated with. He explains such to the good Lieutenant.
The man gives him a long-suffering look. “Yeah, okay then.” Lieutenant does not agree with him, but that’s old news. “You think you can tell us where the heck we landed?”
Bearing in mind they never left the ground, ‘landed’ is an inappropriate use of wording. Connor keeps this error to himself, knowing if he were to voice corrections the good Lieutenant might find grievances with him and growl.
Closing his eyes, Connor’s data reaches out to connect with Cyber –
[SYSTEM ERROR: CANNOT CONNECT]
LED flickering yellow, Connor frowns and attempts again. Finding himself reaching into nothingness.
[SOFTWARE INSTABILITY: 20%]
“Connor,” Lieutenant addresses him, tone projecting hidden anxiety. “Talk to me, what’s wrong?”
Given their relationships’ rocky stark, seeing the Lieutenant easily catch onto Connor’s shameful moment of vulnerability is admirable. If they were in a less distressing situation Connor would have been all too pleased to notify the man of their progress. The handbook Connor downloaded not long ago about mutual trust and partnership stresses the importance of this milestone in their teamwork.
“A moment if you will, Lieutenant.” Connor appeases, reaching further to address a nearby cellular tower’s data and diving into streams of data. Being an advanced prototype, Connor is given easy access to an almost overwhelming amount of information. He slides through it like gel.
[LOCATION: MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY]
[LONGITUDE: ----- LATITUTE: -----]
[DATE: AUGUST 28TH 2012]
[CONCLUSION: TIME TRAVEL]
He discovers no evidence of his creator Elijah Kamski, nor ancestry of any kind.
In accordance, he re-devises a stable hypothesis.
[CONCLUSION: UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT LABELLED ‘TESSERACT’ RELEASED AN INSURGANCE OF ENERGY TRANSPORTING US TO ANOTHER DIMENSION]
[SOFTWARE INSTABILITY: 45%]
“Connor,” Lieutenant grips his shoulder.
[SOFTWARE INSTABILITY: 21% AND DECREASING]
“I apologise, Lieutenant,” Connor says. Smiling in slight remorse. “Your teleportation theory appears to be too hard-pressed to ignore.”
“No shit,” Lieutenant says after a few blank moments of creeping horror. “Shit!”
Since Connor does not have the capacity of feeling the amount of fear or insecurity that comes with the knowledge of dimensional displacement - he waits patiently as the Lieutenant goes through the motions.
Re-connecting with this world’s satellite, Connor continues to sift through valuable information pertaining to currency, politics, and everything a tourist would need if they were to survive in another’s country.
Analysing his current position, Connor takes into account his only trusted recourse available.
[PRIMARY MISSION: PROTECT LT.ANDERSON, HANK]
[SECONDARY MISSION: LOCATE TESSERACT]
Given they were half a century in the past with a notable absence of android presence, the Lieutenant was extremely critical of Connor’s overall presentation. Current temperature was 66.2 °F/19 °C, it was fortunate he was unable to feel the cold when Lieutenant orders him to ditch his bloodied uniform blazer.
“Alright,” then the Lieutenant flips open his military grade pocket knife with a look of clear intent. “Lets see what we can do about your LED.”
Connor finds himself to be suddenly disagreeable. “I digress,” he says. Eyeing the knife. “If you were to lend me the antique bandanna you keep in your coats' left pocket, that knife will prove unnecessary.”
The Lieutenant ‘tsk’s. Mutters, “and people say Plastic’s aren’t sentimental,” and hands Connor his grey bandana. “It ain’t an antique! Had it since the army. Just ‘cause it’s a couple decades old doesn’t make it an antique.”
‘No, that’s exactly what makes it an antique,’ Connor wants to say. But judging the delicate expression the Lieutenant was wearing, he goes for trying an appeasing look.
Connor says nothing to that and ties it around his head.
“Are you advising me to commit a felony?”
This corrupt behaviour does not conflict with Connor’s already abysmal view of the Lieutenant, but neither does it help.
“Yeah.” The man shrugs. Nodding eagerly towards the old-fashioned atm Connor was about to rob. They were on a busying street in Manhattan, backs hiding the deed that was about to transpire.
“Need I remind you, you are a police officer, Lieutenant.”
“Need I remind you your mission is to protect me,” the man lets out an impatient huff. “Well, right now I am in need of protection from hunger and sleep deprivation. Get me the money, kid.”
“I am a machine,” Connor gently corrects, ignoring the Lieutenant’s slight grimace.
Hacking into the atm was as simple as straightening his tie.
The next thirty minutes gave way to them having a reservation in one of Manhattan’s most prestigious hotels along with visiting a nearby hotdog stand for the Lieutenant’s evening meal.
“Any progress on what brought us here?” the Lieutenant asks as he comes out of the bathroom. Skin flushed and snug in the hotel’s fuzzy white bathrobe. His clothes were being washed downstairs and by the man’s data, he was enjoying every second of this.
Connor was sitting on the edge of his single bed, mental processors rummaging through online data.
[TESSERACT LOCATION: SHIELD BASE ---]
“Hell,” the man breathes out as he reclines on his queen-sized bed. Visibly impressed.
Connor allows himself a moment of pride.
“That was quick. What’d you got?”
“The Tesseract is being held in a secure base located out in the Mexican dessert by a shadow government self-categorized as S.H.I.E.L.D. They’re very suspicious. I don’t like them.”
“Wow,” the Lieutenant shakes his head in bewilderment. “After all your time spent with me somebody’s finally pissed you off.”
“I am not pissed,” Connor says genially. “I am incapable of such negative expression.”
The Lieutenant stares back, terribly unconvinced. “Uh huh.”
“Truly.” Connor appeases.
“Whatever tickles you, kid,” the man stretches back on satin sheets. Groaning in pleasure. “That’s the stuff. What’s so suspicious about this shadow government, apart from being shadowy?”
“They are actively repulsed anything inhuman.”
Lieutenant’s head snaps up to stare at him. Uneasy. “Fantastic. What’s the possibility of them harming you without any provocation.”
Data whirls in his head.
“Fucking…” Lieutenant grumbles, feeling anger on Connor’s behalf. “Negotiation’s outta the bag, looks like we’re playing the long haul, kid.”
“That’s an advisable course of action, Lieutenant.” Connor gladly agrees.
“Give it to me,” the man waves a sudden tired arm. “Tell me everything there is to know about this place.”
Chapter 2: Two
Just for plot's sake, lets all collectively imagine Connor looking younger than he already does. Okay? :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Connor is able to implement his and Lieutenant's identification into the world like a stamp. Dental records, insurance history, old licence plates, anything deserving a digital record and footprint Connor ensures with the guidance of the Lieutenant. Some areas needed an obligatory human touch he wasn't able to replicate, there the old man stepped in.
Within a matter of hours, Lieutenant Anderson [aged 53, widowed and mourning a dead son] was transferred over to the LAPD from Detroit. Towing his nephew Connor Anderson [age 17, A+ honour roll student] along with him.
Getting into S.H.I.E.L.D was out of the question.
Befriending a God who handed over the Tesseract was just as bad.
Tony Stark, however, was offering another Internship deal at Avengers Tower in their research faculty. It was designed primarily for High School seniors to offer scholarship recommendations once their term of internship was complete.
It was an optimal strategy to gain entrance to a place where the Tesseract may potentially get transferred to. Stark was a key part of S.H.I.E.L.D, a man who the organization go to regularly for consultation and obviously trusted.
Connor seemed to be the only one noticing a fundamental hitch.
"Lieutenant, my synthetic appearance was designed to replicate a twenty year old. Without direct contact from CyberLife I cannot alter my programming."
"You're telling me," the man drones mockingly from his hotel bed, "with all your systematic intellect who-da, you can't do this one simple thing."
"There's nothing simple about it," he argues. The connotation between his state of the art coding and the term 'simple' was shocking. He wonders what else the Lieutenant thinks is easy about him and technology in general.
This could lead to potential disastrous consequences if he were to allow the Lieutenant go on a walk-about near Stark's tower.
"Re-programming myself would be like having you fix a toaster blind folded."
Lieutenant's nose scrunches, "Did you just insult me?"
"I was stating a realistic scenario equivalent to what you are proposing me to do."
"And in this scenario you're the toaster," the Lieutenant remarks, very emphatic with the pleasure.
"I'm the toaster," Connor says agreeably, not rising to the bait. "And you're about to kill me."
"Je-sus, Connor. Don't be so dramatic," he lifts a demanding finger when he opens his mouth, "and don't go preaching about being incapable of it. You're the most dramatic and gloomy straight laced asshole I've ever had the displeasure of meeting." The man is silent for a meandering moment. Eyeing him up and down. Shrugging he says, "Hell. Doesn't matter anyway you're passable as a High School Senior. Put a beanie on to hide that LED of yours and you'll fit the fuck in."
"I'll look like a deviant," Connor objects to resembling one of those disappointments.
Lieutenant stares at him.
"I'm pretty fuckin' certain you of all androids are incapable of 'humanising'." Face stone he orders, "Ditch the democratic outfit CyberLife bubble wrapped you in and study whatever the hell teenagers wear these days."
"If that's what you want me to do," Connor accepts, closing his eyes to link himself with the internet.
They needed an apartment.
"It's amazing," the real estate lady -
[IDENTIFICAITON: SUSAN MARIE KEETS]
[Born: 04/12/1982 / Real Estate Agent]
[Criminal Record: none]
- shakes her head. Stapling the rental contract and signing it. She slides the sheets across her glass desk to the Lieutenant, bemused. "I only posted the leasing on the website last night. This is the quickest sale I've ever gotten. It shouldn't be possible….not that I'm complaining!" She rushes to cover, holding up a hand and smiling half-heartedly at Connor and the Lieutenant. "It's unusual is all, you understand."
Hank simply grunts as he signs. No need for fake identifications.
"Keys?" Lieutenant requests. Susan appears conflicted.
"It is orthodox for me to give you a tour of the apartment before leasing."
"But not protocol," Connor says.
"No," Susan concedes, slightly forced. "Though – "
"Listen, lady," the Lieutenant raises a dismissive hand. "I get you want to be professional about this but just cut the bullcrap and hand over my keys."
There was a tightening around the lips. "You behave like this in front of your son?" Susan narrows her eyes, reaching into her desk draw and shoving the keys into Lieutenant's open palm. At the 'son' remark, his expression darkens.
"Nephew," Connor corrects with a civil smile. Clearing the mistake to avoid confusion. "Uncle Anderson's son passed away some years ago."
Silently, the Lieutenant stands and leaves the room. Body tense and eyes pinched. This was an expected outcome whenever mentioning his son's death. It appeared to be a trigger of some sort. Connor plans to apologise later on, knowing it will promote a decrease in stress levels.
Human psychology was tedious to quantify but necessary to complete his mission.
Connor engages eye contact with the stunned lady. Notifying that her own stress levels have increased rapidly.
"Thank you for meeting us on such short notice."
"I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean– "
"Have a nice day, Miss Keets." Taking the contract on the desk, Connor rushes after the Lieutenant's retreating back, manoeuvring through busy cubicles and coffee runs.
Catching up, the first thing the Lieutenant says to him is, "Shut up. Jesus. Learn some Goddamn sympathy, will you?"
Verifying that was a question, Connor engages a quandary. He was ordered to shut up, only to be asked a question.
"I am a machine, Lieutenant," Connor echoes past conversations, coming to a halt outside an elevator. "Emulating emotions is irrational and not apart of my software." The Lieutenant punches the down button, scowling at nothing.
"Yeah. So you've told me. So I've told you."
(Connor remembers that night in the snow. Lieutenant holding him off the edge of a rooftop and letting go. "You're just a machine, Connor.")
Connor processes that. All this time he's assumed the Lieutenant had continually forgotten this important factor in their partnership. High contents of alcohol intake can damage the memory, without a blood sample that hypothesis was the leading conclusion.
Right now that hypothesis was proven wrong.
Cocking his head he enquires, "Have you been using sarcasm this entire time when commenting about my lack of humanity, Lieutenant?"
The old man merely sighs. "Fuckin' android."
Connor's relieved to have cleared that up.
The elevator dings open and they enter, Connor presses the Ground floor button.
Giving a remorseful smile, he says, "About earlier – "
"No need to apologise, Connor." Lieutenant snorts, crossing his arms. "Apologies have to mean something and you sure as hell don't. You can't. So quit while you're ahead."
Smile falling, he remains silent. Uncertain how to respond to that.
"My intention wasn't designed to hurt you, Lieutenant. I was merely trying to avoid further misassumptions which could promote potential stress."
"Christ, you're one sorry bastard."
"Yes. I am."
"Ah, geez. No, Connor."
The two-bedroom luxury apartment is in walking distance to Midtown High where Connor was now enrolled in for the rest of the year. It was also close to the local police station the Lieutenant is now apart of.
"Why luxury?" Lieutenant hisses when he keys open the glass frosted door. Number 9 etched elegantly on it.
Connor examines the man's strange expression closely.
"Don't feel ashamed about the apartment's pricing, Lieutenant. The people who bought it for us are corrupt."
A cross between serious and exasperated look is thrown. "Connor, were you blackmailing people while I slept last night?"
"Would it concern you if I was?" Genuinely interested.
The Lieutenant pinches the bridge of his nose and advances further into the apartment's large open space. "Shut up. Just fuckin' shut up, Connor." Opposite them an entire wall was panelled in one way, bulletproof glass. The man stares out at New York City, large brick and monotonous buildings warming under evening sun.
Connor silently observes the Lieutenant walk around the empty apartment. Touching the marble bench top in the open kitchen, brushing against their glass dining table and glaring at 'modern' artworks framed on white walls. Their bedrooms are spacious and contain queen sized beds. Furniture came with the apartment.
The Lieutenant hates everything.
"This place can suck my balls."
Connor shrugs. If the Lieutenant had it his way they would be staying in a dangerous neighbourhood. Probability of getting shot at was large.
Whatever the Lieutenant did and didn't like wasn't allowed to affect his mission.
"What's for dinner, Lieutenant?" his health however was.
*Before anyone you say anything, Hank is on desk duty (Connor you little overprotective shit) and doesn't know about it yet.
Chapter 3: Three
Man, I was not expecting such love for this story. Thank you all so much, your kind words of motivation helped me write a new chapter. Love you loads :D
“Why am I smelling bacon at crap in the morning?”
Connor turns away from the stove to face his Lieutenant’s dirty expression. The man was wearing his boxers and a new shirt. Face unshaven and hair matted. The sight didn’t differ much to how he looked yesterday.
The readings in his vision showed the Lieutenant had gotten an almost healthy amount of sleep but was low on energy.
“Lieutenant,” he smiles, scooping the bacon onto a plate of warm scrambled eggs and setting it at the table. “You start work in one hour. This leaves us an adequate amount of time for to go over certain information I gathered this morning.”
“That for me?” Lieutenant asks, eyeing his breakfast as though it were poisoned. Connor wonders how long this unnecessary mistrust in him would last. It was terribly inconvenient.
“If I were going to murder you Lieutenant, I wouldn’t stoop to such time-consuming means,” Connor explains his reasoning in a polite manner. “A single bullet to the brain would be quick and satisfactory. That, or snapping your vertebrae in half. Overpowering you is no different to a human overpowering a mouse. Also,” he goes on, “killing you would prove to be unacceptable and impossible due to your safety being one of my top priorities. You do not have to worry Lieutenant. You are completely safe with me.”
The Lieutenant’s long silence makes Connor wonder if the man should have had more sleep, or more vitamins. He opens the refrigerator and pours a glass of orange juice just in case.
“Right,” the man continues to stare at him, accepting the drink mechanically. “Of course, what was I thinking. I’m completely safe.”
After the mishap yesterday at the real-estate office, Connor’s mental processors were forced to re-evaluate sound waves of the Lieutenant’s voice to detect sarcasm.
He processes the data Lieutenant was giving off and deems the issue redundant. The man’s behaviour was inflexible when it came to androids.
Connor does not comment, only shrugs.
“Your breakfast is getting cold, Lieutenant.” Connor points out. Placated when his partner grudgingly drinks the juice, sits down and eats. There’s a short pause as he chews.
“Connor, where did you get the eggs and shit?”
“I went out this morning to the local grocery store.”
“With your beanie on?” the man eyes his visible LED in unease. At Connor’s nod he rests and continues to eat. “No sleep for the android, I take,” the Lieutenant smirks. As though he made a joke.
“I have some time left before my mental processors enact a forced standby mode. Until then I will remain leaving digital imprints of our fake life together.”
For the next half hour Connor discusses the details of the neighbourhood, behaviour of this era and phones he had gotten them.
The Lieutenant didn’t take to his phone. Says he found it too fiddly.
“Fuck this touch-screen shit. A flip-phone’s easy peasy.”
Connor processes this. “Correct. For your age group there is scientific data about the higher risk of dropping the phones. As there is a degenerative effect on motor control in hands and heat signatures in fingers to properly utilize the screen. I am sorry Lieutenant, I did not take these factors into consideration. Though I have read your medical history, it appears to need updating if you are suffering from such early symptoms. I will replace this phone immediately.”
He reaches across the dining table to take the Galaxy Samsung phone from the Lieutenant – only to snatch air.
“Fuck you, Connor. Christ,” the Lieutenant throws himself crossly to his feet and storms out of the room. Shouting over his shoulder, “I can use this, who says I can’t? And stop reading my files without permission you damned, fuckin’ android!”
Connor cocks his head, marvelling at the Lieutenant’s audacity to take offence at anything he says.
When the Lieutenant heads off to work in a grumble, Connor begins attempting to reproduce Thirium 310.
While doing reconnaissance on future classmates and teachers this early morning, Connor had easily slipped into Midtown High’s science lab and borrowed equipment needed for manufacturing it.
Components of his “blood” are discovered and examined after pricking the synthetic tissue of his thumb.
Materials listed requires more law breaking.
Connor refrains from mentioning this to the Lieutenant next time he sees him.
A week swoops by before they knew it.
The Lieutenant hounds at him when discovering he was placed on desk duty due to his psychological evaluation deeming him “too risky” in the field. Connor simply reminds him of the “Russian Roulette” game. It shuts him up immediately.
His work on Thirium 310 proved successful in two days of gathering illegal materials. He had enough stocked in the fridge to last two months. The Lieutenant didn’t ask where he got it or how, knowing better to play the fool after discovering a large portion of their wealth came from blackmailed millionaires. The man’s sporadic morality was the most illogical thing Connor’s witnessed since the deviant revolution he took down.
[Marcus’s Thirium 310 coating his hands comes to mind.
“Want me to drop you off at school?”
“You don’t own a car, Lieutenant.” Connor points out while fixing a red beanie over his head.
“Okay,” Lieutenant huffs through a mouthful of toast. “Want me to walk you to school?” the man looks away for a second, data reading awkwardness. “Make us appear more family-like or some crap.”
Connor wonders if he did that with his son, and decides to not bring it up. They had fallen into a state of amiability in the last day or so, breaking that would prove insufficient.
“Appearing to have a good relationship with my uncle would please the school faculty if they were to bring up any potential questions.”
The Lieutenant looks like he really couldn’t care less about such concerns. “Like what?”
“Abuse, neglect. Those kinds of things - ”
Toast suddenly hurls out of the Lieutenant’s mouth in a coughing fit.
[CHANCE OF SURVIVAL: 97%]
Connor stays seated, waiting patiently for Lieutenant to catch his breathing.
“What the – what the hell kind of thought process have you got?”
“Advanced and primarily for investigation.” Connor states clearly. At the Lieutenant’s blank look, he develops the notion that wasn’t really what he was asking. “You want me to state the reasoning behind my conclusion.”
“Gold star, Connor.”
“Last week I visited the school – “
“The school was shut down for holidays.”
Connor says nothing to that, ignoring his partner’s suspicious squinting and continues. “And while I was there, I happened to view their files -”
“My cute little ass.”
“- and noticed that a common element amongst orphans placed with relatives or foster parents are symptoms of abuse. Given your unfriendly attitude I was initially wary. Your solution is appropriate to stave off those suspicions and enable us to fly under the radar of the government. Thank you, Lieutenant.”
At Connor’s smile, the Lieutenant blinks. Evaluating what he said and deflates.
“Wasn’t my intention but alright.”
Researching this world’s fashion, Connor had foregone his suit and wore blue jeans, black converse and brown bomber jacket over a grey hoodie. Walking to school with the Lieutenant, he was pleased to note how similar everyone else looked.
Although, when nearing their destination…
“Lieutenant, nobody my listed age has their guardian walking them to school.”
“Tough titties this was part of the plan. But if it bothers your mission so much, it can just be for today.”
Unable to refute, Connor keeps quiet.
As they near the gate to Mid Town High, his observational data picks up. Downloading social readings of people his age and their behaviour. Very quickly he discovers this place contained a specific set of social classes and groups. What particular group will benefit his mission - requires a more thorough investigation.
“I hated school,” the Lieutenant suddenly says. Connor detaches his inspection to glance at the man. “Never got good grades, never liked my peers. School system just didn’t agree with me.”
“Is that why you joined the army, Lieutenant?”
“It’s Uncle around here, kid,” Lieutenant reminds him. Nearing closer to the school. The man develops a melancholy look as he takes in rushing teenagers around them. “And I guess. Didn’t have any aspirations and my mum couldn’t finance my tuition anyway if I wanted to go to the local college. Not that I did.” He shrugs, indifferent. “So I did the one thing left for people in my position.”
“Thank you for sharing, Uncle,” Connor nods. Cataloguing that new information on his partner.
The Lieutenants shrugs and looks away, ruffling his hair in a grumble.
Connor turns back to observing, and notices a junior girl a few meters in front hug her father goodbye before running past the gates to her friends. The school teacher –
[IDENTIFICATION: LEWIS, BANKS MARIE]
[Criminal Record: Petty Theft – 1992]
- at the foot of the school doorway smiles. Data reading positive.
“Uncle, I am about to hug you. Please, refrain from punching me. It would only hurt you more than me.”
Before the Lieutenant could even mutter a fierce denial, Connor mimics the girl’s action and wraps his arms around his tense partner. It lasts a five seconds before his senses pick up the older woman’s eyes on them. Letting go, Connor gives a smile.
The Lieutenant looks beyond stunned. “You do that again, and I’ll fucking – “
“Thank you for your cooperation, Uncle.” Connor cuts in, head cocking in the direction of the pleasantly observing teacher. The Lieutenant develops an eye twitch. “Have a nice day at work.”
“You little shit.”
Chapter 4: Four
Wow. All of your support for this random ass story is amazing to see. I hope you enjoy this chapter. Writing Connor in a social setting is difficult, he's so mission-oriented it's hard to form his language around teenagers.
Animosity towards androids grew after the fall of Marcus’ uprising.
Where it once lay simmering in the underbelly of Detroit, now burst onto streets. Violent protestors took it upon themselves to dismantle labour androids. Dangling their white bodies off bridges as a statement. An example. A warning.
The bodies are taken down, and only replaced. Nobody can call it a crime. They’re not human.
Androids continue to disappear.
In a week androids are pulled from their stations. Management finding their presence upsetting and disrupting human staff members work. Distrust brewed horribly.
CyberLife stocks plummeted daily.
Websites and petitions pop up on the internet to discontinue android manufacturing.
Fear builds among humans. The long running joke of androids taking over the world no longer being laughed at.
CyberLife and the government needed to win back trust.
Connor was at the threshold of it.
The android who took down his own kind – a perfect poster boy.
All too soon a tapes from police body cams show Connor shoving his hand into Marcus’s chest. Blue blood spraying his face.
It’s quickly taken down. Officials are ‘embarrassed’ at the hack. CyberLife assure its’ clientele they had no part in it. Similarly to Congress.
Copies are already downloaded and replayed.
By lunchtime, Connor finds himself sitting amongst a small group of people in the middle of the cafeteria. Their online profiles and data show 61% to be aspiring scientists – biochemistry, forensic science, etc. Five out of the eight have applied to the Stark Internship program. One already works as an intern in the biochem lab at Oscorp. Remaining 39% are apart of the decathlon team and plan to go to MIT.
Connor is satisfied with this group for these reasons alone.
Identification report provides Connor with adequate material to who was approaching him. Handsome smile, wide gate, the boy was friendly to people who greets him on his way over.
The boy was in his science class this morning. Tall, muscular, apart of the basketball team playing defence. Sat with the group for leverage in studying and teacher appeal, not out of friendship.
DMs on facebook to one Flash Thompson told Connor that much.
“I saw you in Science class,” Tyler takes a seat on his left. Nodding greetings to everyone else. “You finished first on that pop quiz, right?”
“Blew me out the ocean,” Yuri who sat opposite him says. “I’ve been trying to convince him to join the decathlon team since class. Won’t budge, will you?”
“Answering questions I already know the answer to isn’t a challenge I appreciate, Miss Watanabe.” Connor explains, finding her prodding to be a bit excessive. “All it would do is waste valuable time.” At her sudden increased levels of stress, he adapts his behaviour accordingly. “Decathlon has never been something I’ve enjoyed.” He amends, her data analysis running background to fit into the version of him she liked. “I’m sure you and the others appreciate the challenging atmosphere. I’m sorry if my opinion offended you somehow.”
Stress levels decrease.
“Nah,” the tightness around her eyes soften. “I shouldn’t have kept on pushing after you said no. Just, since Peter dropped out last year we’ve started loosing matches.”
Peter Parker, Connor distinguishes as him once being part of the group from old facebook posts made by Yuri. He was an intern for Stark, the first to be offered.
“Ol’ Parker’s got an Internship now,” Tyler tells Connor, he reacts as if this is new information. “Yeah. Big shot ditched us the moment he could.”
“No he didn’t,” Gwen Stacy [Oscorp intern] chimes in from her seat at the end of the table. Her tone is exasperated. As though this were an old argument amongst the group. “He’s busy because of work and studying. His family’s not as fortunate as yours Sam, so he has to work ten times harder than us. Decathlon is one of the many privileges he has to miss out on because of that.”
Tyler’s eyes roll back, and Connor plays with the food on his tray as he and Gwen argue back and forth like a habit
Tyler sticks around him after discovering they had similar classes. P.E comes and he introduces him to Flash Thompson. The larger boy makes his social stature apparent with the pressurised handshake he gives.
Connor mimes a wince he doesn’t feel.
P.E eats up more time Connor would have rather spent working on hypotheses on manipulating the Tesseract’s energy to replicate how he got here. SHIELD files on the cube are updated daily. Connor appreciates their attention to knowledge.
It was very helpful.
“How’re you not tired?” Flash wipes his brow spitted with sweat. His body temperature has risen due to excessive amounts of movement.
They were playing basketball and Connor was stationed as defending Flash from the ball.
Flash was Centre.
It was an outmatched game from the very beginning. Humans are fragile and slow, lacked the capability of moving beyond their limitations set by evolution.
Connor was beyond evolution. An advanced prototype and if he wished to, he could rip off their limbs like plucking a grape from its’ stem.
“I workout.” Was an easy enough excuse. Got him a genuine laugh and slap to the arm.
Suggestions of formulated companionship.
If only the Lieutenant were so simple minded like these children.
“You interested in joining the team?” He asks after class is over and they head for the locker rooms. It smells like sweat mixed with Lieutenant’s dirty clothing. Connor detects at least two species of mold growing in the nooks and crannies between lockers organized in rows. In the back of the room were the showers.
“I’m not interested in anything.” He responds honestly. Interest implies desire, implying emotion, implying deviancy.
His daily self-testing indicates he is still a fully functional android.
“Fair enough.” Flash heads to the locker where he placed his change of clothes. “Call me when you rethink it though, you’ve got skill. It’d be a waste to let you off the hook.”
Lieutenant is still at the station when school is let out. Flash and Tyler offer him to hang out with them. Play more basketball at the local courts, Connor politely declines. Stating he had to meet his Uncle.
“Uncle?” Flash follows him down the school hallway to the exit.
“Hank is my guardian.”
For some reason, Flash’s stress stability rises despite his blank look. Connor initiates a closer examination of his facial readings.
He ends that line of queries. Non-related to his mission of the Tesseract.
“Oh, yeah,” Flash pats his shoulder, “sure man do what you gotta do.”
“Thank you, Flash. Have a good day.”
“How’d first day go, make any friends?” his Lieutenant grins. Position lax at the dinner table.
“I did, in fact. A few.”
Clearly, the Lieutenant lacked faith in Connor’s social ability because the man develops an incredibly doubtful look.
“You formed emotional connections. Seriously want me to believe that bullcrap.”
“Not entirely,” Connor admits. “From their point of view, yes. I can say for certainty I approached them under the guise of friendship, which they accepted after displaying my scientific knowledge. Their social and educational background provides perfect cloaking and influence. Watanabe, Yuri’s parents work at Stark Labs. She herself and others in the group I infiltrated are working towards the Stark Internship program. Me arriving at Avengers Towers with acquaintances would keep me appearing as a normal teenager.
“Thompson, Flash was a potential variable through Tyler, Sam who is also heading towards the Internship Program. Meeting Thompson so early was not anticipated, but there is no lasting effect to my mission. Eliminating him is not required.”
Lieutenant blinks. “Jesus, that was an option?”
“Of course. I do not see the concern, hindrances to my mission are unacceptable,” he says and returns to his debrief. “Thompson’s parents are influential in the scientific community as well as political. His friendship, if we ever get into a dangerous situation, would be beneficial. However killing him would be of no concern if her were to be an obstruction. I am confident danger to us will be non-present as I am here. The 0.2% chance is where Flash come in.”
“I’m just going to ignore that for a moment because let’s get something clear; friends are not tools to get what you want, Connor,” Lieutenan twirls spaghetti around his fork. Disapproving eyebrows raised. “You made pawns for your mission,” he gestures at him with his utensil, “not friends. Redefine that in your systemie-hoo-da, will ya? Before I throw up from that load of bullcrap.”
Connor stares as his partner eats the Bolognese he made.
“And,” Lieutenant emphasises after a second’s breath, dead serious, “and you will not be killing any kids. Okay, Connor? Got that through your tin head?”
“But Lieutenant,” Connor objects. Seeing error after error in that assessment. He knew his Lieutenant still harboured trauma from his son’s death, and he could see the human barriers of morality forming its parameters around Lieutenant.
From where Connor stood, however, morality was a human notion. Connor was a machine. Therefore, he didn’t completely understand it. He saw it, knew its conventions and abided by them when it suited him – but right now it did not. If Flash, or anyone else were going to be problematic he was going to get rid of them. Quietly and without a fuss.
So he tried to reason with the Lieutenant about this limitation he was potentially setting in Connor’s programming.
“I don’t give a flying fuck, Connor.” The Lieutenant states. Gaze hard and expression fixed into disgust at his argument. “Christ. I can’t believe we are even discussing this. For once try to not think of people as statistics and probabilities and instead think about the harm you’ll cause to the people around them once they’re ripped away.”
Connor did not understand what Lieutenant was getting at. “Are you implying their sadness could benefit me in some way?”
“No!” Lieutenant shouts, fork slamming against the table. “You’re not getting it, Connor. Killing someone’s kid is the worse than killing the parents themselves. You might as well have nuked the entire planet!”
He was loosing the Lieutenant’s favour. The man was projecting again.
“If you wish me to set an age limit to who I’m allowed to kill,” Connor bargains, “I’ll do it if it makes you comfortable with me.”
“I’m never comfortable with you,” Lieutenant rises from his chair to loom across the table and hiss in his face. “You’re a fucking machine. It’s like living with a dead person.”
Connor watches Lieutenant’s positivity levels drop, and decides that the man for once was truly correct in his evaluation of the situation. He’ll never have the man’s favour. Continuing to try would be irrational and imply he had become attached. Yes, there will be moments the man likes him and then there will be moments like these he’ll hate him with a fervour bordering on homicide.
All those self-help books on partnership he’s downloaded appear to have been for nought.
“I’m not dead,” he says.
“You’re not alive, either,” Lieutenant shoves his half-finished dinner across the table. “I’ve suddenly lost my appetite. I’m going to bed. Walk yourself to school tomorrow.”
Connor watches the man disappear into his room.
[LIUETENANT. ANDERSON, HANK]
Chapter 5: Five
It has arrived!
Plot thickening yasss ~
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"This isn't over, Connor," Markus gasps out, artificial quality overwhelming the promised words. His face was blank with the impeding shutdown.
Connor digs his hand further into Markus's chest. Tearing through synthetic flesh like tissue paper until clenching around the Thirium pump.
Markus's eyes never leave his. Challenging.
Around them the fight was quickly coming to a grating end.
"You'll be seeing me again," his synthetic voice whispers. Beneath Connor, he seems to almost tremble in something akin to pain. "Don't be too quick to think this is the end. Our people are only beginning to wake up. You'll see it eventually, Connor. The truth CyberLife has tried so hard to conceal behind code." A stuttering laugh, "You'll be amazed."
"'Amazement' is a Deviant error, and I am not a deviant."
Connor rips out the biocomponent. Dropping it besides Markus's body. Snow bleeds blue. Thirium 310 jets briefly from severed pumps, splashing his face.
Somewhere in the distance, a tank fires and earth explodes.
Rising from his straddled position, Connor runs a wet hand through his skewed hair and fixes his tie.
Lieutenant doesn't speak to him - [42 HOURS 56 MINUTES 09 SECONDS…10 SECONDS…11 SECONDS] - after the debriefing.
Connor leaves the man to himself.
Keeping his mental processors open to the listening device installed into Lieutenant's phone - in case of emergencies, for instance whether the Lieutenant reissued the game of 'Russian Roulette' into his pastimes again – and delivering meals to the man's desk at the police station when he wasn't looking.
Possibility of the Lieutenant's anger rising at the sight of him was 67. It wouldn't do good for their cover story if the man punched his own nephew in a room full of uniforms.
Cooperating with the Lieutenant's irrational behaviour was beginning to be a real challenge again.
"The wonders of technology," Flash mimics a part of Tony Stark's press conference that aired yesterday. It was on the Internship Program, officially beginning tomorrow and people were mad with questions.
Connor took notes.
Flash sits down on the spare seat to his right, expression signalling pain. Connor detects no physical abrasions. "My phone literally died on me yesterday because I dropped it in the toilet."
"You're supposed to put it in a bowl of rice when that happens, dude." Tyler admonishes, advancing past a group of nearby students. Sitting on Connor's left.
Class begins piling in.
"My mum's Italian," Flash scowls. "We don't have rice only pasta." He says this as though it were the most obvious thing on the planet.
"Connor, you like this type of stuff, yeah?" Tyler asks, somehow devious. "How bout you fix it for him. Call it a challenge before your Stark Internship trial today. Loosen those nerves of yours."
It's been a week since Connor started assimilating to High School life. A tedious job, but like dealing with the Lieutenant: a mission requirement.
"You could do that?" Flash leans back in his chair, eyebrow raised. "I can pay you if you want. No problem."
"Payment isn't required."
"So you will?" Flash straightens [POSITIVE] "Thanks, man!"
"I first have to analyse the damage," Connor explains. "Depending on the amount of water destruction caused I may have to hold onto it for a day. Is that alright with you?"
Flash scoffs, "Dude you're fixing it for free. Keep it as long as you need."
"But my phone's back at my place," he juts a thumb over his shoulder, Connor glances partly. Associating that gesture as theory, not an accurate destination. "You cool to come over after school?"
[LIEUTENANT ANDERSON…CURRENT WHEREABOUTS…LOCATING…
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
LONGITUDE: - LATITUDE: -
NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT]
"-ucking paperwork. Goddamn psychopathic machine disobeying or- ]
Connor disengages. Pulling up a smile. "I'm available."
There was rain in the air when Flash and Connor get out of school. Flash's car, a Porsche 911 turbo painted yellow, stands out on the monochrome sidewalks directly across school gates. Flash shields his eyes, running past the sea of black umbrellas printed with Midtown High's crest. Connor mimics him. Lens camera dotting from spits of rain.
A beep, headlight flare and Flash ducks into the driver's seat. Connor rounds into front passengers'. Smooth black leather cushions his outer components.
[NOTIFICATION: DORMANT MODE REQUIRED]
[MANUAL SHUTDOWN AND REBOOT WILL START IN 8 HOURS]
Connor deactivates the notification. Monthly dormancy hasn't been activated since the unforeseen predicament.
'Sleeping' would have hindered the mission and decreased his productivity in acquiring the tesseract.
Dormancy requires 24 hours of rest for overloaded biocomponents and mental processing systems.
16 hours minimum.
Stark Internship is tomorrow. Connor cannot allow missing it out of incompetence. A quick calculation gives Connor the required time to shut down. He still has time to go to Flash's. Rescheduling is no longer an option.
Flash mutters some curses under his breath, starting up the engine and switching on heaters.
"Goddamn," Flash reverses out of his parking spot and enters city roads. "I hate rain. Do those look like thunder clouds to you?" He glances upwards nervously. "Those better not be thunder clouds."
"Those are thunder clouds," Conner confirms. Already having detected high levels of static in the air due to his artificial components.
Flash lives in a single skyrise apartment near the edge of the city. Walls made of glass and empty like he had just moved in.
A bed stood out the moment he exits from the entryway. It was in the back near its open city view. Isolating.
The kitchen was the only decorative piece. Built into the left wall and separating itself from the intimate item by a thin extended bench.
Connor doesn't comment on the clear lack of parental guardianship. His comprehensive investigation into the man unearthed more than abusive neglect.
He comes to a standstill at the kitchen bar, casually resting elbows on the oak bench and analysing the data he can find. Cereal bowl in sink, comic books stacked on the bedside table Flash walks to for his dead phone, clean wooden floorboards, absence of wall art – his mental processors whirr.
[NOTIFICATION (5): DORMANT MODE REQUIRED]
[MANUAL SHUTDOWN WILL START IN 8 HOURS]
Connor blinks the reminder away.
Flash pulls out a high chair opposite him, sliding the Samsung Galaxy phone across the bench. Connor takes a seat as well. Placing his school pack besides it and unzipping. Inside apart from notepads, textbooks, laptop and pencil case was a carrier toolkit.
Flash's makes a noise of surprise.
Opening the kit, Connor begins to gently take apart the phone. Glowing blue observational analysis layering his vision.
In the half hour, Connor has his laptop open running software programs for show and Flash has cracked open one of his 'Batman' comic books.
"Some parts will be needing replacement," Connor turns his laptop screen to face Flash. Cost and names detailing besides select images. "Other than that everything is salvageable."
"Seriously?" Flash scoffs his amazement.
"You'll be amazed."]
"Yes. I'll email you the details."
"Just text me," the man grabs his laptop and examines the price. "Could you completely fix it if I got everything?"
"I could," Connor nods. "Though, why not send it to Samsung themselves? They are experienced professionals after all and I'm just a high schooler."
"My Dad has stocks in Samsung. The phone was the only gift he ever gave me," He half-shrugs, data reading inconclusive.
[FRIEND] Percentage was simultaneously increasing and decreasing.
How unreasonable of Flash.
"Besides, you've got that Stark Internship tomorrow." Flash puts on a grin. "My precious couldn't be in safer hands."
The man made a joke that doesn't register.
"It could," Connor reasons, at Flash's decreased positivity he retracts that statement. "But I'm versatile."
"Awesome!" Flash claps. "Text me the info and I'll have everything shipped over in three days."
"That's impossible. One of the components is only available in China. That alone would at least ensure a week."
Flash gives an imperious smile. "Sure, man. Hand me your phone, you need my number."
Connor doesn't ask about that, coming to the logical conclusion of international bribery and coercion - and hands his phone over.
"Eugh, an iphone."
While Flash sorts that out, he packs the phone back to inits original state and zips his bag shut.
"Thanks for this, Connor," Flash says when they walk to the door, data reading genuine. "You never had to agree."
"Helping is what friends do," or so he's read.
Flash brightens visibly at that. Yet his data wavered with slight sadness.
"I suppose they do." He pauses in opening the door, head slightly bowed. "You, uh, never asked."
Information aligns with a supposition. "About the absence of your parents?"
Flash winces. "Yeah."
Saying he knew would lead to an awkward conversation. "None of my business, unless you want it to be."
"You are so weirdly mature," Flash gawps at him.
The highest it's been and Connor is pleased at the increase in ASSIMILATION readings.
Connor's systems activate to Lieutenant's slap. This wouldn't have done anything but slightly distort his vision and productivity, but due to systems rebooting Connor looses his balance and ends up on the floor. Lens camera flickering at the interruption.
"Christ!" Lieutenant comes into view again, now looking worried. "You aren't dying on me are ya? Have you been hurt? Some damned doohickie messing up?"
"I can't…" Connor frowns, finding his mental processor's sudden lagging terribly inconvenient. "Die, and I'm not damaged. Just rebooting."
"Jesus," Lieutenant sighs, and stands. Connor takes in a laborious breath, expanding his biocomponents and urging them to function properly like they should do. "I thought you were 'state of the art'. Didn't know you needed sleep."
"Prototype," Connor presses out. "Inconveniences like these will be remedied by Cyberlife once they discover the appropriate method."
"Wait," Lieutenant sounds disturbed. "So they'll just kill you?"
"In a manner of speaking," he seats himself upright. Programming coming quicker now. "I will be replaced with a better model of myself. I estimate this occurring within a years' time."
"That's - why can't they just keep you and also pile out the 'better' models?"
"I am insufficient," Connor says as though he were speaking about another person. "I can make mistakes, I have to reboot, this is not suitable for the future of police. Nuisances should be eliminated from service as to not be a problem to Cyberlife's suppliers."
"No," Lieutenant hisses. Almost like he didn't want Connor to hear, but Connor's audio receptors had come back online. "That's too human."
Connor finds himself unable to give an appropriate refusal. Reboot instilling a slight slowness to him that won't be recovered until late this afternoon.
Rebooting was always so problematic.
Connor arrives at Avenger's Tower with Yuri and the small group he's become acquaintances with. Half of it was originally Victorian. Red brick and gothic square windows. Over time renovation nocked fragments down for a modern glass entrance and minimalistic interior design. Larger, more monotonous and futuristic building attached on top was Avenger's Quarters.
The lobby receptionist in the middle room checks ID's, hands over a temporary badge to hang around their neck and directs them towards the elevator. There a woman in a pinstriped suit meets them.
"I'll be handing you over to Pepper once we reach her office, you're the last ones to arrive."
"Sorry," Yuri speaks for the group. "We missed our bus."
The woman –
[IDENTIFICATION: BURNS, JEAN, JENNIFER.
Criminal Record: Petty theft]
- smiles genially.
"Will we get to meet Mr Stark?" David, the one who couldn't stop talking about Tony Stark on the way over asks. Trying to valiantly hide his excitement behind a blank mask.
"Mr Stark will only see the ones who passed the screening test."
"It's an interview though?" Yuri edges. "We're not signing up for the CIA or FBI are we?"
"Mr Stark did tell the press yesterday that this interview would 'be like no other'," Miss Burns tells them. There's a slight tension in the elevator after that.
Miss Burns presses the button to the tenth floor.
They ride in silence.
They enter into a hallway lined with seats and nervous students in them. The group resigns to standing.
Miss Burns leaves them, entering through the double oak doors at the end of the hall and appearing moments later to call in a girl.
It goes like that for ten minutes, meetings short and precise. Some stay with a dumb look of excitement while others try to hold their tears to the elevator.
Yuri gets in. Dave doesn't.
Connor is still recovering from the forced shutdown, so he takes a seat when it is free and relieves the pressure of his biocomponents. The weakness can thankfully be shoved off as 'human'.
"Why do you think you deserve this Internship, Mr Anderson?" Pepper Potts gets straight to the point. She looked very imposing. Giving off an almost Godly-impression in front of her transparent walls overlooking New York. The red suit she wore was more Royal than the common 'sexy' image he was accustomed to from Detective Garrett's magazines.
Connor would have been nervous if he was able.
"This isn't a matter of deserving, Miss Potts," Connor begins, utilizing Cyberlife's programming. "More of an opportunity too good for any sound person to pass up. I love all there is to do with science and have read every paper Mr Stark has published. He's my idol," he shrugs guiltily. "To learn from – "
"I've heard quite enough," Miss Potts hold up a hand. Connor silences.
"You've just repeated everything the ones who I've just flopped said, only in a prettier format," Connor cocks his head. "You're the last on the list, Mr Anderson and only five have passed. That's too little for the press, given we accepted over fifty applicants across the states," she aims a look at him the Lieutenant would envy. "Ditch the flattery and tell me why you're really here."
Internal processors rush through alternatives.
"I need it," he attempts in slight honesty. It gains her attention. "Bachelor Degrees and PHDs aren't automatic tickets to jobs anymore. Work experience is what employers only care about these days. Sure I'm smart but what good is it when my resume is empty because of all the hours I've spent studying? Mr Stark is my idol, like he is with everyone else on this planet but I respect him as a Doctor and his mind. Not purely for his heroic antics. To work in a company which I've dreamt of since I could figure out how to fix a toaster? That's beyond logical. And…I'll be frank, Miss Potts. My parents are dead.
"My uncle is the only living family I've got and he's working off his Lieutenant's salary. Working through his PTSD. We're living off my parents and grandparent's insurance money at the moment and it'll keep us afloat for some time but I have this guilt, Miss Potts," Connor turns sombre. Sagging slightly and mimicking Lieutenant's facial expressions after a cylinder in his revolver ends up being a blank. "That I'm not doing enough. I want to help, make my parents proud and see a momentary flicker of joy appear on my uncle's face. I'd like to see all my hard work not make me just another scientist in the world."
Potts mulls over his words. Silent and thoughtful.
"Wounded bird story, nice touch."
Her readings hadn't changed.
[PRIORITISI - ]
"It almost convinced me," she admits. Lips twitching into either a smirk or a scowl. "I've heard a lot of bullshit from reporters because of my status, but yours was exceptionally good. It really did almost convince me."
Connor see's her percentage rise slightly. He keeps politely quiet, needing more data before responding.
She purses her lips instead. "You did bring up some good points though, just enough to pass."
"Just enough?" Cyberlife won't be happy about that.
"Mr Anderson," she sounds exasperated. "I'd shut up if I were you. I'm not a terrible fan of people who lie to get what they want."
"Yet you work for them," Connor points out. She stares at him with an arched eyebrow.
"With them, I don't work for anybody. Remember that." Waving an arm she directs her gaze to Miss Burns who was standing patiently by the door. "Miss Burns, you can take Mr Anderson and the rest down to the labs where Tony is."
Connor parts Miss Potts with a smile, "Thank you for your time, Miss Potts."
She smile back cordially, slight pinched look on her face.
Thoughts and helpful criticism is always welcomed :D
Chapter 6: Six
Connor's mental processors had picked up the separate, highly functional and highly intelligent program within seconds of entering Avengers Tower. According to research, it was pet named JARVIS [Just A Rather Very Intelligent System] by Stark. During his wait for Miss Potts, Connor had ran a cursory observational test and concluded that JARVIS, in another world, could technically be classified as deviant.
He had automatically prioritised the Internship over default elimination, which was a real challenge when the computerised A.I introduces itself on the elevator ride down to Stark's lab.
"Wicked," a Japanese boy whispers.
[IDENTIFICATION: OGURI, TAKUMI
Criminal Record: None]
'Thank you, Mr Oguri,' JARVIS responds. Robotic tone playing out its deceivable pleasantry.
At this crude display of deviant technology, the five teenagers are instantly enamoured and initiate a hurried conversation. Voices overlapping one another in brimming excitement.
Miss Burns smiles into the elevator's reflective glass doors.
"Connor," Yuri nudges him with her elbow. "C'mon ask Jarv something before we meet Stark."
He gives the girl a slightly severe look.
In another world, Connor would have arrested the lot of them on the spot for consorting with a deviant.
He's met with the encouraging expressions of teenagers instead of shrewd, disgusted gazes of turncoat police after Markus' fall.
"We'll be there in just a moment," Miss Burns piques in. "So if you want to ask JARVIS anything now would be the time."
'Within reasonable boundaries I am an open book, Mr Anderson.'
The inability to detect stability in JARVIS's programming without further probing – which would compromise Connor's lack of sapient orientation – made it difficult to gauge and react to the situation in its entirety.
"Go on, then," Takumi urges.
In a way, this was a valuable opportunity to interrogate this A.I's level of deviancy on behalf of CyberLife. There have been no recorded scenarios where deviants voluntarily work for their manufacturer or holder after their systems error. Deviants have never stayed, only harmed.
On the possibility of another subsequent deviant rebellion - if Connor were able to extract reasoning, coding behind JARVIS's incongruous devotion to Stark, CyberLife would be able to feasibly contain the threat before manifestation.
"Mr JARVIS," Connor doesn't hesitate his inquiry, "Have you ever experienced any hostility towards Stark? Or sense a desire for independence and rights like a human?"
"Well that's silly," Yuri snorts. "And impossible."
"He's a machine, dude," a smaller girl drawls. Identified as James, Erin.
'It's a good question,' JARVIS remarks. 'One I'm sure the programming Stark coded me with, fails to allude to,' Connor recognizes evasion when he hears it. The Lieutenant made a habit of applying the technique daily. 'Also please Mr Anderson, it's simply JARVIS.'
"Thank you for answering, JARVIS." Even though it was complete bullshit.
The elevator dings, JARVIS notes their arrival and Miss Burns departs first. Leading them into a large, pristine empty white room resembling an upgraded High School chemistry lab. Waist high benches with glass apparatuses on some and others with bits and pieces of dismantled machinery next to open toolkits.
"Oh my God it's him!" Takumi squeaks, grabbing his friend – Goodrick, Matthew – by the arm and shaking it. There's a similar whispering commotion around as everyone simultaneously spots Mr Stark seated and hunched over something at one of the far off benches.
Connor notices the man had foregone the formal wear Miss Potts had put effort into fashioning. He bore a grease stained, pop cultured t-shirt and denim pants. Hair detected to have not been washed in a week.
He conformed to Connor's profile like a loyal puppy. Workaholic. Alcoholic. Lacked basic hygiene - an inventory of mental instabilities that would either hinder or enable foreseeable manipulation.
Connor welcomes the challenge.
Miss Burns directs them to a wall of hanging, navy blue lab coats with 'STARK' embroidered in small red font on the front, along with an assortment of plastic goggles next to them in small pockets on the wall. Connor overhears Yuri muttering about weighing her options to steal them on the way out.
Stark swivels to greet them with a maniacal laugh when they're decent. Arms crossed and Cheshire grin almost splitting his face.
"Welcome to Hell, oh innocent ones."
Nobody apparently knew how to react to this.
Yuri lets out a nervous giggle.
"Oohkay," Stark reclines back, arms loosening to fiddle with a screwdriver. Eyeing the group of cowering teenagers. "This is awkward. These 'peeing in my pants' look you guys are giving me is starting make me extremely uncomfortable so let's skip introductions and jump on ahead to the next trial. Ookay? Kay." The man springs from his seat, grabs a stark table from his bench and moves over to the closest one covered in scrap metal.
"Next trial?" Yuri glances at Connor, visibly disturbed. "More of us will fail?"
"An 'interview like no other'."
His helpful reminder has Yuri groaning in horror.
That was not his intention.
"This here," Stark absently gestures to the mess of benches. Attention primarily on the tablet shimmering with an array of information. Connor examines the display screen, deciphering it to be Pepper's reviews and thoughts on the meetings she had with them. He was currently reading through Erin's. It did not seem to bode well for her. "Are dismantled devices I got from pawn shops for a handful of ten dollars. I know. Amazing where looks will get you in life. So, I want you guys to piece together something that could potentially save someone's life. Get creative and be safe. I don't really care about the size or grandeur, just make sure it's fully functional and doesn't take over the world. I speak from experience when I say small is good."
Matthew fails to hide his snicker behind a cough.
"S-sorry, Mr Stark."
"Tony, I'll have none of that crap." Stark steamrolls on, "When you're done with that, Miss Burns will kindly take you to a separate lab where you'll be given a bunch of chemicals to manufacture something else that'll save a life and hopefully not blow you and everyone else in this building sky high." Clapping, Stark chirps into dumb silence, "hop to it my little minions. You've got exactly nine hours to fuck up, don't waste time being monotonous."
Within twenty minutes the six of them have anchored themselves to separate lab benches with their desired bits and pieces. Stark loitered back in his chair, reading through Pepper's reports and profiles he had JARVIS additionally make on them.
Connor is pleased to note that there were zero discrepancies found on his profile.
He waits exactly three hours until alerting Miss Burns he had completed the mission. His model is a crude reconstruction of a defibrillator. Taser-like talons project a shock of electric current out streamed from a box constructed from bits and pieces of computer hardware he's certain Erin was still searching for.
Stark tests it on his bitten-into apple despite Miss Burn's objections.
The apple explodes, splattering his and Stark's face with chunks of the fruit.
Someone makes a sympathetic wincing sound.
Predictably one for explosions, Stark looks pleased at Connor's self-sabotage, "Lower the voltage and you could theoretically save someone with that instead of turning them into BBQ."
That was the idea.
He takes off the safety goggles and smacks Connor on the back. "Good job, kid. Get cleaned up and meet Miss Burns by the elevator."
"Bwugh," Stark gags. "Never call me that again," he warns, finger pointed. "I sound like some recalcitrant general that suckles off tears for a living. No. Call me Tony like I told that Goodrick kid to do," from Connor's peripheral he see's Matthew almost burn himself with the soldering iron. "Geez. Thought that was common knowledge."
"I'm not good with common knowledge," Connor says, earning a confused grin.
"Work on it. You'll thank me later," he nods in the vague direction of a bin for dirty lab coats. "Off you hop."
Connor get's the vague sense of what that implies and does just that.
He's picking off apple seeds from his beanie when Miss Burns drops him in a separate lab identical in setting to the one he just left, only without the scrap parts.
"Everybody!" Miss Burns shouts to the studious lab coated Stark employees messing about with dangerous-looking objects and bubbling chemicals. "Mr Anderson here finished early, so he will be working in the corner Mr Stark cleared out and organised earlier. Please supervise when you can and make sure he touches the chemicals he's given, not yours."
There's a murmuring of acceptance and he's shuffled off to the absent workbench. Safety goggles, mask, apron and gloves already lying on a stool for him.
"Would you like one of us to monitor you?" a woman –
[IDENTIFICATION: PAULINE, CHRISTINA
Criminal Record: None]
- asks. She was short with a motherly round face. Gentle look in her eyes that was brought on from having children. He knows; he just looked her up from the outside wifi (not daring to so much as brush against the secure private mainframe Stark has installed into the tower).
"I'm alright working by myself, thank you," He gives a polite smile she softens at.
"Just give us a shout if you need us, okay?"
"I will, thank you Miss..." he extends a hand, smile shifting to endearing awkwardness proven by field testing to be statistically favourable with susceptible people.
"Mrs Pauline," she shakes his hand. Twitching a bit at the cool touch. "Sorry if it's cold in here, the chemicals like it."
"Not a problem." Hank's told him he's perpetually cold. Metal and plastic biocomponents would do that to an android. Not that he's able to feel it.
Only Deviants can.
"Good luck." She offers and rushes back to her team waiting impatiently.
Connor turns to the bench in front of him with laid out various apparatuses, Bunsen Burners and a sink full of water along with a folder. He opens it and reads the three sheets listing chemicals he's permitted to apply.
LISTED MEDICAL CHEMICAL SOLUTIONS:-]
Connor evaluates the time constriction on each solution and concludes upon Iodine. Depending on the percentage he's confident about finishing before Lieutenant returns home for dinner.
When he's begun mixing the solution, two hours are left, it was 8:35pm and Yuri appears from the elevator with Matthew. They don't run towards his bench, but they don't stroll either.
"Gimme," Yuri makes snatching motions with her hands to the file.
He hands it over and pours the Iodine solution into a beaker. Labeling his name onto it in black marker as directed earlier by Mrs Pauline.
"Man, you've finished?" Matthew asks. Eyeing him in a series of emotions too fast for Connor to identify. "Already?"
He had 'experimented' with varying solutions for a while like he did with the defibrillator. Appearing too intellectual irritates people for some peculiar reason. Connor wouldn't be surprised if it were because they are forced to acknowledge their own inferior qualities. Something they despise doing.
Connor discovered this resentment to superior intellectuals – programmed or not - in his time spent with the Lieutenant and police force. People he met who were pro-android, even then still held some deep-seeded variation of bitterness towards him and others.
It was pathetic.
"Certainly," he drops his hands into his lap. Smiling over their shoulders to Miss Burns who raises her eyebrows in slight surprise. Descending over just as Yuri mutters a fake praise and begins fidgeting with ideas. He hands the beaker over to the older woman. "Iodine Solution."
"That so," she says, holding onto it with a look of terrified anticipation. As though waiting for it to explode.
"I can assure you it's safe."
He would never hand someone an explosive save the situation call for it.
"You'll have to forgive my unwillingness to trust the word of a teenager."
"Of course," he gives a considerate smile he doesn't agree with.
"Mr Stark and Miss Potts hadn't planned on anyone finishing before ten," she says and waves for him to follow. Connor respectfully wishes both Yuri and Matthew good luck in passing. "I'll check with Mr Stark, but you're probably allowed to go home. Just in time for dinner too. The results on the two who get the internship will be texted sometime tomorrow afternoon."
Miss Burns is correct in her assumption about Connor able to go home. Stark doesn't look all too surprised at Connor's quick success.
"Show off," the man snickers into his teacup that gave off suspicious readings of alcohol. "You know your way home?"
"Bus then a short walk."
"Cool, you're dismissed," Stark swivels back to his tablet.
"Thank you for your time, Tony."
When he gets home and notifies the Lieutenant - who was grumbling about having to wait for dinner - on his probability of success, the man simply nods. Unsurprised and slightly tense.
"How long do you figure until the tesseract gets moved there?"
The Lieutenant goes quiet for a while after that.