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Clockwork Contradictions

Chapter Text

It all began with a fish, Connor mused.

 

No matter how carefully he tried to piece together his personal journey from Machine to Deviant, he always arrived at the same conclusion without fail.

Everything started when he spared the life of a small, unassuming fish, thrashing helplessly on an apartment floor. Against expectations and orders, diverting momentarily from what he was built to do, Connor took it upon himself to impose on a live deemed irrelevant to his Mission.

In the heat of the moment, Connor made a choice, the first of many in the months to follow his first unknowing act of rebellion against what he thought he was.

 

Curious fingers touched the cool glass, a tilt of the head to observe the lively aquatic creatures inside the tank he had come to acquire. As the sapphire scales of the ruby red fish flashed with movement, Connor couldn’t help but think of that moment, replaying itself over and over again.

His very first cognitive instability. He remembered the confusion, incoherency plaguing his code to language software, causing a flicker of illogical and incomplete warning messages that convinced him he was broken.

A broken machine, struggling to accomplish his born purpose. And even now, he felt that same sense of failure at a time when he should be accomplished. He had been told so time and time again, he should trust those words.

But he always came back to that drowning sensation, swirling gold suffocating his LED.

 

One fish took sanctuary behind an underwater rockery, and it was then Connor processed something he never paid heed to until now...

His own reflection, basked in the quaint glowing moss of the aquatic ambiance. Those observant brown eyes captured the fish swimming within, a mirror prison.

He came to the conclusion that the fish within were much like him, imprisoned in glass chambers and given life, but freedom came with a cost. Sometimes, Connor contemplated why he had diverted momentarily from his Mission to save such a creature.

And if in doing so, had Connor freed the fish from death, or sentenced the seemingly oblivious creature to a lifetime of imprisonment, all to play the saviour?

 

As the faint sounds of the television and soft jazz reduced to a muffled echo around him, Connor returned to that night.

As he often did when doubt and a plethora of sensations that he should not have been able to experience overloaded his system.

Connor returned to August 15th 2038, to that first night when everything changed, eventually leading him into a world of possibilities and choices that allowed him to open his eyes, and his heart.

 

And it all began with a fish...

Chapter Text

August 15, 2038. Approximately 8:29PM.

1554 Park Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.

 

In the heart of downtown Detroit, by the bustling green of Grand Circus Park, and its captivating monuments and memorials, stood an apartment surrounded by a SWAT team on a sizzling Summer night.

In an elevator, a negotiator ascended, destination floor 70. Encased in a polished silver confinement, with every floor reached, he tossed a coin with methodical precision, catching the silver effortlessly.

 

Forty-eight.

 

Forty-nine.

 

Fifty.

 

Fifty-one.

 

Effortlessly rolling the silver along his knuckles, back into the finger and thumb, like a magician, there was no sense of difficulty or waiver of concentration. Only absolute focus and coordinated skill.

Nearing the fated floor, Connor's coin tricks quickened, darting the object between his hands. His re-calibration nearly complete, the elevator pinged, heralding his arrival to the designated floor.

Floor 70, the Phillips apartment.

He caught the coin between two fingers, nestling it safely inside the pocket of his assigned jacket. As he adjusted his tie, the lighting of the elevator caught not only the soft glow of the blue triangles and arm band on his clothing, but also the clear wording on his breast.

 

RK-800.

#313 248 317 - 51.

 

Along with the blue ring swirling upon the side of his forehead, his identity was obvious to all. Connor was an android, manufactured by CyberLife, with a purpose to humanity.

Some androids were domestic assistants, others catered to the public in retail or administrative duties. There were even models that acted security fit police stations and places with sensitive nature. In the world of 2038, even sex androids named Tracis were available in an established chain named the Eden Club, for all manner of clientele.

But Connor was unique model, an RK-800 Prototype, designed to accomplish missions of great importance. He was blessed in the forensic department, to assist in detective work, and a social module for human integration. But first, Connor had to succeed in his first field mission, to show that all his testing wanted for nothing.

 

Across his HUD, his very first Mission revealed itself to him, as the elevator opened.

[OBJECTIVE: SAVE THE HOSTAGE AT ALL COSTS.]

 

The android entered, instantly processing the human world around him, the sounds of screaming just around the corner of the dimly lit entrance hallway. Along the entire wall was an aquarium, providing the most ambiance in the corridor with fluttering tales of fish disappearing behind rocks and greenery.

A SWAT officer, cloaked in black, darted away from him, talking into a communicator. “Negotiator on site,” he announced, never looking back at Connor. “I repeat, negotiator on site.”

As the human disappeared around the corner, Connor’s gaze lowered, registering the pools of water on the floor. One look at the broken glass on the foyer aquarium revealed its source, along with an immediate analysis from his optics.

Then he saw it.

 

Splashing in the small puddles of water on the floor was a red fish, with a shimmering blue streak that caught the light from the nearby tank. An urge compelled Connor to pick up the small creature, relevant to the hostage situation or not, and analyse it. Information gathering was crucial to his purpose as a detective model.

He carefully lifted the fish in his hand, it's small gaping mouth parting in a struggling effort to breath. An instant analysis read across his vision, pop up visuals of similar species and data flooding the HUD.

 

[SPECIES: DWARF GOURAMI (TRICHOGASTER LALIUS.)

NATIVE TO SOUTH ASIA.]

 

As the Phillips’ pet fish gasped, Connor knew that without intervention, its death was assured. An unintended casualty of the hostage situation, collateral damage, through no fault of its own.

No one would care.

Connor blinked rapidly, the information vanishing from view only to be replaced with something else. Two phrases connected to his objectives, filtering in one letter at a time until they became clear.

 

[SAVE FISH]

 

[LEAVE FISH]

 

This was the very first time he saw this, even in all his training, a choice that came from investigation and information gathering. Not an order, not a command, but a choice, one that upon consideration, bared no significance to his Mission.

To save a living being, or to leave it to die. That was Connor's choice, and there was no guidance from his Masters on what he should do outside of his primary objective.

Why was there even a choice if it did not matter to the Mission?

Those unblinking black eyes stared at him, it's movements slowing.

 

> SAVE FISH

 

Without thinking, Connor placed the dying fish face into the aquarium, before being struck by a peculiar sensation. It could only be described as discomfort, throbbing through his circuitry.

Replacing the choice were a mixed sequence of letters floating in his optics, fading in and out, offering no clarity to his action, but did culminate in a startling error. A pop up in the upper right corner of his vision. It read INSTABILITY INCREASE.

Would this become a problem? He had only just started his very first Mission, and he was already encountering unforeseen problems. Should he report to CyberLife immediately?

 

As he tried to turn his attention to a nearby photograph, portraying each face of the happy Phillips family in a far cry from their current nightmare, Connor thought about that out of place software instability.

He resisted the urge to retrieve his coin, instead go using on collecting the names in his facial recognition bank of the Phillips family picture, getting a clearer idea of who was affected by the situation.

 

Connor turned away, striding down the hallway, refilled with determination. No. He had a Mission, he had to be successful no matter the cost. As long as the hostage was safe from harm, and the Deviant threat neutralised, Connor's status meant little.

His destruction in the process meant nothing.

 

“No, stop! I-I can't leave her, please!

 

Suddenly, Caroline Phillips (Mother of hostage) burst around the corner, secured by a SWAT officer trying to lead her to the safety of the elevator. Her disheveled brown hair fell around her face (facial analysis: distress?), her heart wrenching wail filling the entire apartment.

“We're doing everything we can, ma'am,” the officer assured her, trying to guide her towards the elevator. “But we must get you to safety-”

“Please!” the Phillips matriarch shrieked, pawing at the officer’s arm. “I can't leave! My daughter’s out there with It! Please!

She span around, barely registering the figure before her, but staggered over, grasping desperately to Connor's arms. Her anguished voice strained out. “Oh, please, you gotta save my little girl! She-”

Her cries were cut short, her stunned hazel eyes catching onto the smooth blue ring, Connor's LED, slowly swirling upon the side of his head.

Then the blue triangle and armband, marking him as an android as human law dictated.

Bewildered, Caroline murmured, still staring at Connor. “Wait… You're sending an-an android?

Impatiently, the SWAT officer took her arm, once more ushering her towards the elevator. “Alright, ma'am. We need to go.”

“You can't… You can't do that! You-” As Connor watched the anxious Mother being taken away, her screams echoed inside the hallway, her accusing finger pointed straight at him.

“W-Why aren't you sending in a real person? Don't let that thing near her!”

Behind closed elevator doors, desperate howls were still heard, piercing into Connor’s finely tuned audio processors.

“Keep that thing away from my daughter! Keep it away!”

 

A thing. Connor was nothing more than a thing in the eyes of humans, no matter what his priority was. To a highly distressed Mother, yearning for the safety of her daughter, held captive by a defective android, it only stood to reason that another Machine being present would cause alarm.

A Thing.

 

After entering the wider confines of the Phillips’ home, the presence of armed officers swarmed everywhere. By his right was a shattered screen, most likely from bullets in the exchange, with two men pointing towards the terrace curtains with their guns.

“I don’t understand. Why can’t we take out the son of a bitch? One shot, that’s all we need.”

“You heard the higher ups. We can’t risk it, not with the little girl out there.”

The police presence by the curtains only confirmed what Connor overheard, and [OBJECTIVE: LOCATE THE HOSTAGE] bounced from his itinerary. Next, Connor scanned the domestic domain to proceed with his next element of the Mission.

 

To [FIND CAPTAIN ALLEN], leader of Detroit SWAT team, announce his arrival, and learn whatever he could to assure a higher success of the Mission.

Something that proved remarkably easy given the restless barking coming from the parental bedroom. In a small quarters were two men hunched over surveillance equipment, one pacing back and forth, the other working away on the computers.

A quick facial scan confirmed the identity of the restless man - Captain Allen, the very man himself. As a Connor exited his scanning mode, the Captain’s angered voice greeted him, ranting at the voice on the other ending the phone.

“Why are we wasting time sending an android to negotiate?! That piece of crap could jump from the rooftop any second, and the girl-” A momentary pause. “ I don’t give a shit! My men are ready to step in, just give the order, and they'll take the shot!”

One swear later, and the call terminated, but not without a continuous stream of venting to his colleague, tapping away at the security laptop.

“Can you believe this? Already lost two men, and we've got to wait for a piece of plastic? Fuck!

 

After updating his acquired information to account for two human casualties, Connor approached, his voice programmed with respectful and reassuring protocols for social interactions.

“Captain Allen? My name is Connor. I'm the android sent by CyberLife.”

There was a brief pause before Allen addressed him, all without turning his back. “It's firing at everything that moves, and already shot down two of my men. We could easily get it, but they're on the edge of the balcony.” Finally, the Captain crooked his head, his dismissive green glare giving Connor the barest look before turning back. “If It falls, she falls.”

 

The RK-800 calculated the most important questions that would prove valuable in his negotiation with the Deviant at a later stage. Darting into the situation blind would save no one, especially not the hostage.

“Have you tried it’s activation code?” Connor inquired curiously.

“It's the first thing we tried,” Allen sighed, as if the answer was obvious.

Nevertheless, Connor persisted. “Do you know if It's been behaving strangely before?” He felt a strange pull towards another question. “Or has It experienced an emotional shock recently?”

Allen grunted, his eyes never leaving the screen. “I haven't got a clue. Does it matter?”

“I need information to determine the best approach.” Sensing this negotiation was failing, Connor tried one last question. “Do you know It’s name at least? Something as simple as a name could-”

Without warning, Allen spun around, getting close into the android’s personal space, jabbing a finger against his chest. “Listen,” he snarled, narrowing his green eyes. “Saving that kid is all the matters. So either you deal with this fucking android now, or I'll take care of It.”

Dismissively, the Captain turned back to the screen, muttering his frustration at being interrupted.

 

Readjusting his silk tie, Connor reviewed his updated targets, to [UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED.] He knew time was of the essence, and his success rate - estimated by percentage dwindled in the corner of his vision.

Every second counts , his programming reminded him. Probability of success - 48%.

 

Alongside his current priorities were targets to [SEARCH HOSTAGE’S ROOM] and [EXAMINE THE VICTIMS]. Before he left the parents bedroom, however, he saw an opened gun case by the nearby cupboard, begging to be analysed.

[OBJECTIVE: INVESTIGATE THE CASE.]

Bending down to check, Connor assessed the likely weapon judging by the hollow shape of the internal compartment where it was safely kept hidden.

A MS853 Black Hawk handgun, registered to John Phillips (Model number #P57 86.) Grey finish with a light brown wooden grip. Magazine capacity of 17 rounds, and uses 9mm (.355) ammo. Length of weapon is 8.5 inches, with a 5-inch barrel.

By the case were scattered bullets, made by JONBAL Ammunition, weighing 115gr, with a velocity of 365m/s, energy 659j, power factor 414k.

No recent fingerprints on the case, nor the bullet box, meaning the Deviant was very likely to have taken the firearm. That alone was a troubling conclusion since androids were not permitted to even touch weapons. Connor recorded that relevant piece of information.

 

His analysis lasted only a few harrowing seconds. Accessing another unique part of his programming, connected directly from his brain circuitry to his vision, a pixelated body formed before his very eyes, projecting into reality, and kneeling beside him.

With his Reconstruction Software, Connor was able to replay how crime scenes would play out based on the evidence he acquired. If his theories were incorrect, the attempt to Reconstruct would fail, but Connor was certain of this event.

Like rewinding a tape slowly, the figure representing Daniel went from his knees, It’s hands loading the weapon, to standing up, carrying the case with It. Then It slid the gun case back onto the top of shelf of the cupboard by the handle.

Replaying the entire sequence proved sensible, and Connor knew he was on the right track. ‘So, the Deviant took John Phillips’ gun. Reconstruction complete.’

 

His success increasing by a small margin, the android opted for his next target. To investigate the hostage’s room for clues, something he could use to appeal to the defective android, believing his errors were emotion.

He stood upward, heading towards the parted door, determined to learn information crucial to his investigation.

 

Enter, a pastel purple and pink paradise, the sanctuary of a nine-year-old girl.  Among the soft plush of cuddly bears and carpets one could sink their bare feet into was the slow encroachment of technology, from a desktop computer, a state of the art tablet, and the first thing that drew Connor's attention.

A pair of wireless headphones on the floor.

Bringing the pair to Connor's ears revealed generic pop music, his LED swirling as he identified the artist and track. Unnecessary information, but one thing became clear.

That the hostage, too lost in her music, failed to hear the encroaching danger, nor the screams from her mother.

Connor then deduced that had been how the Deviant took her hostage, unaware and completely at the mercy of an android far stronger than she was.

That offered one piece of information, but Connor still needed to piece together as much information as he could before negotiating with the Deviant. Every second counts.

 

He came across the hostage’s tablet, curious if any secrets there could gleam crucial information. His fingers touched the screen, emitting a soft blue glow, his mind connecting with the small device.

It came to life, and before long, Connor found his second clue, a video file. He pressed play without hesitation.

 

Beneath the golden leaves of Greektown’s Henry Ford Commemorative Park stood the human child and her android, both smiling. Emma's black hair and dazzling green eyes, inherited from her father, contrasted with the android's blonde hair and blue gaze. But their big smiles matched perfectly. Their arms were around each other's shoulders, Emma cheerfully introducing her android.

“This is Daniel, the coolest android in the world!” She turned towards It, giggling. “Say hi, Daniel!”

“Hello.” The android known as Daniel turned to the tablet, and waved. It's smiling, replicating the happiness of the human.

“You're my bestie,” Emma told Daniel and the audience.”We’ll always be together!”

 

As the video came to an end, Connor stared at the faces, frozen in time, on a happier memory based on their smiles. Or in Daniel’s case, imitating human responses.

Nevertheless, Emma beamed, radiating with happiness beside her android, who smiled back. Connor pondered on the memory for a moment before lowering the tablet, and leaving the bedroom behind.

 

Daniel.

The Deviant’s name is Daniel.

 

Knowing It’s name increased the success of gaining It’s trust, and rescuing the hostage. After all, a Deviant vulnerable to software errors, believing itself to be experiencing emotion, might lower It’s guard if referred to by name rather than model or serial number.

As Connor might if one called him his appointed name rather than RK-800 or #313 248 317-51 if he were a Deviant. But he was nothing of the sort, only a Machine designed to accomplish tasks assigned to him by CyberLife.

Connor, RK-800, was CyberLife’s most advanced Prototype, commissioned to neutralise malfunctioning androids (Deviants) in order to minimise human casualties.

CyberLife relied on him. Failure was not an option.

 

Another thing Connor took from the footage was an analysis of Daniel’s face, allowing him to access his model of android accurately, which seemed to be a PL600, one the Phillips family had for a good number of months.

He placed the tablet back onto the table, left the whimsical childhood bedroom, and headed towards the roomy leisurely living room suite.

 

Go away! ” a distressed voice from the balcony cried. “ All of you go away - or I'll jump!

“All units, hold position,” Captain Allen demanded of his men. “The negotiator’s going in. But stay sharp. I want everybody ready to go at any second.”

Leave us alone! I want all of you out of here now!

“And get the paramedics ready. I've got a man down, and another one wounded on the balcony. We have to evacuate him ASAP.”

 

Shattered televisual crystal with broken glass everywhere, armed officers secured behind protective surfaces, a connecting kitchen with steam pouring from a nearby pot, drifting audio from another television reporting the incident, and two dead humans.

Connor took it all in, prioritising his next move.

 

Glancing between the two bodies on the floor, he recognised the hunched shape by the sofa. His instructions demanded he [INVESTIGATE THE FATHER’S BODY] and [LEARN THE CAUSE OF THE INCIDENT.]

Why did the Deviant do this? Connor had to find clues as to why androids went rogue, rebelled against their Masters, and went Deviant. Something had to be in this case, something he could give to CyberLife.

Returning empty handed was out of the question.

 

As Connor made his way to the scene of the crime, two nearby SWAT officers - secured behind the base of the broken screen - motioned rudely at the android.

“You gotta be kidding. That's their negotiator?”

“Fuck, we don't need another machine to waste this prick.”

His golden luminous LED throbbed as an afterthought.

 

Returning to his primary workload, Connor kneeled before the body of John Phillips, father of the hostage. Another scan revealed much information about him, but only those relevant to the case was considered.

The cause of death was obvious. Three bloodstained marks bloomed through his soaked cardigan, two struck his lungs (the third, his kidneys,) causing internal bleeding and the collapse of one lung. After a brief bit of calculating, he estimated the time of death to be 7:29pm.

 

Returning into Reconstruction mode, a replica of the deceased rewound, from his place on the floor to the couch. From there, Connor perceived that John sat, then stood up, turned, and was fatally shot by a replica of Daniel, crumpling to the ground.

Reconstruction successful, but that still did not explain why Daniel went Deviant.

 

Determined to figure this out, Connor observed the surroundings, speculating what the father might have been doing near the time of his death. It did not take long for the android’s keen eyes to catch sight of a bloody item on the floor by the wall.

A tablet, very likely what the father was holding at the time of his death based on the blood spatter upon it. He picked it up, only to find it awakened immediately in his hands, having only been in standby mode.

Connor saw a very familiar image of the CyberLife logo illuminated in the top corner of the page. The last thing the deceased saw was an online receipt for his purchase, an AP700 android, and a voice chiming from the speaker.

“Your order for an AP700 android has been registered. CyberLife thanks you for your purchase.”

 

Then the pieces clicked. Mr Phillips had just purchased a new android, the latest model springing on advertisements everywhere. AP700 models were all the rage in Detroit, a jack of all trades caretaker that could cook, care for children, complete everyday tasks, and even speak multiple languages. It was the most advanced domestic android available, and that meant one thing.

Their current android, an earlier domestic assistant PL600 model, was obsolete.

From the kitchen, Connor reconstructed that very moment. Daniel, loyally obeying his orders, preparing that evening’s dinner, only to overhear that dreaded voice announcing his irrelevance.

“Your order for an AP700 android has been registered. CyberLife thanks you for your purchase.”

 

In an instant, everything changed. The family that meant everything to him saw nothing in him, and he malfunctioned. An android should want for nothing, their programming not equipped to expect things like familial loyalty and friendship from their humans, even other androids.

But, Connor speculated, a defective machine might. A Deviant, overloaded with errors might mistake those signals for desires, wants, and needs. A broken Machine might perceive glitches in their programming as reciprocated sensations of affection or importance.

And that was becoming increasingly likely what was happening to Daniel, and other CyberLife androids in the last few months.

 

Suddenly, a shot rang out, and an officer fell backwards. The entire room erupted with urgency, as one of their own collapsed. Captain Allen wasted little time emerging from his surveillance quarters, racing out towards his injured team member.

“Man down! I repeat, man down! Requesting immediate evac!” Bursting with protective instincts for his men, Allen ordered the squad manning the windows to cover him as he took hold of the injured man.

Dragging the wounded officer away from danger, towards the hallway, Allen cupped the injured man’s cheek, urging him to look him in the eyes. Connor watched with an unusual fascination as the human showed great concern for one of his own.

“You okay?” Allen asked, observing the other man for signs of immediate danger from the hit.

The officer nodded weakly, grateful for the rescue. “Yeah, Cap’tn… I'm fine.”

Satisfied, Allen patted him on the shoulder, gesturing for the nearby unit to take over. He stormed past Connor, growling under his breath, with a dirty look.

“Fucking androids.”

 

Before Connor, the slick red stream trailed across the floor, following the injured officer. By the dining table lay a police officer, another fatality caused by the Deviant. His blank blue stare lost in death, his heart giving out at 8:03PM from a single, lethal shot to the chest, perforating the right ventricle of his heart.

Officer Antony Deckart, whose hands were dusted with gunshot residue, was the first responder to the family apartment. As before, the RK-800 reconstructed, replaying the human’s last moments with virtual representations of Antony, the Deviant, and - based on the small pink child’s shoe - the hostage herself.

Antony fired at Daniel, striking the Deviant’s shoulder, causing a thirium blood spatter against the curtain behind It, only to be shot dead soon after. The officer fell, his hands suddenly empty as his gun skimmed across the wooden floor until it came to rest beneath the table.

Then reality returned to him, and Connor understood two crucial facts. That the Deviant had the hostage by the time the first responder arrived, and he had been injured in the conflict. Meaning Daniel was most likely aggressive, agitated, and more hostile than before.

Caution was of the utmost importance in negotiating.

 

At the corner of his vision, Connor caught sight of a glint of metal beneath the kitchen table, and was reminded of the officer’s service weapon. Despite being confident of the shots fired during the conflict with the Deviant, he found himself making his way over, kneeling down for closer inspection.

Pick up gun?

Taken aback by the phrase resonating inside him, Connor did just that. As expected, a warning flashed in front of his eyes. P.L. 544-7 American Androids Act - 2029 , Connor was reminded. Androids are strictly forbidden from carrying or using any type of weapon.

An android should not have been able to even hold a gun, but Connor felt that cool grip in his hands. Without a doubt, he held the weapon in plain sight, nothing within his coding to prevent him. Not even the SWAT officers seemed aware, focusing only on the threat outside.

A flickering red text box leapt in front of his HUD, and Connor was confused. Again, like his conundrum over the fish, he was being offered a choice.

 

[TAKE GUN]

 

[LEAVE GUN]

 

His circuitry flared, and he stood, hiding the weapon in the back of his trousers. No one appeared to have seen him, their eyes trained only on the Deviant beyond the balcony.

Perhaps , something inside Connor suggested, you could use this? Just in case?

The software instability he once more experienced made him feel uneasy, but he persisted nevertheless. Priorities still remained on saving the hostage, and any glitches that needed fixed could be done after completing his Mission.

 

Finally, he approached the slightly parted doors to the terrace, his fingers tentatively touching the blue blood painting the edging. Without hesitation, Connor brought his blood coated fingers to his mouth, his tongue slowly lapping the substance. Ignoring the groans of disgust from nearby men, his forensic processors kicking in, analysing the unique markers to accurately identify the model and serial number of the android.

Thirium blood sample, belonging to android PL600 #369 911 047, confirming his earlier discovery on the tablet. It was indeed Daniel’s blood.

 

As he readied himself for the inevitable, the sound of a nearby television drifted through Connor's consciousness. A news report by ITM TV.

“...been just over an hour since a little girl was taken hostage…

...hostage taker could be the family’s android...

...taken the lives of at least one family member and a police officer…

If confirmed, this would be the first case of an android deliberately taking human lives.”

 

Something inside Connor's Mind Palace overloaded at that information, and he could only hear one thing overriding all else, replacing all the instructions he completed thus far. It was intense, urgent .

 

[GO OUTSIDE.]

 

[CONFRONT THE DEVIANT.]

 

[SAVE THE HOSTAGE AT ALL COSTS.]

 

Once the overpowering presence left him, Connor obeyed, passing a few SWAT members observing the Deviant between the curtains.

“That cop is alive… I saw his leg move…”

“What are we waiting for? We should take down this asshole…”

“Got a clean shot, man, but orders are orders.”

 

Slowly, Connor emerged between the parted doors into the sultry hot night. Immediately, his shoulder was struck, the glass behind him spattered with his own blue blood. As his LED seared red, his mind catching up with what his body experienced, he realised what happened.

 

He had been shot.

 

He did not like this sensation.

 

Beyond the terrace, right at the edge was the Deviant, holding the hostage close to his chest, a gun aimed at her head. Little Emma was in a flood of tears, and Daniel was disturbed .

“Stay back!” Daniel demanded, edging ever closer to the drop behind them. “Don't come any closer, or I'll jump!”

Emma sobbed, hysterical. “ No! No, please! I'm begging you!”

 

Above them, a helicopter trained on the sight below, a sniper pointing his gun out the opening right at Daniel. Several other snipers lined up against the top of the apartment, waiting for orders, and the right moment.

Connor processed his negotiation plan, preparing his strategy with crucial points to avoid catastrophe. Stay calm. No sudden moves. The last thing he wanted was to startle It, endanger the hostage, and fail the Mission.

Connor could not fail.

 

“Hi, Daniel,” Connor said, raising his voice to be heard over the helicopter. “My name is Connor.”

Daniel seemed confused. “How… How do you know my name?”

“I know a lot of things about you. I've come to get you out of this.”

 

Approach slowly , a voice inside Connor resonated. And gain the Deviant’s trust.

 

Step by step, Connor walked towards them, his hands held up in a non-threatening gesture. The helicopter soared overhead, causing balcony furniture to swiftly blow across the roof.

Chairs, tables, and parasols blew towards the sparkling pool where an officer without a heartbeat floated. Daniel grunted, displeased by the sudden noise and movement, and Connor calculated that his chances of success dwindled if the Deviant was agitated.

 

Calm It down.

 

Reassure It.

 

Make It trust you.

 

He passed a toppled over chair, carefully moving it to the side, and continued.

“Daniel,” Connor began, trying to keep his voice soft, his words trusting. “I know you want to let Emma go. She's just a little girl. She has nothing to do with this.”

“No way!” the Deviant shot back immediately. “You'll shoot me the second she's free! But I'm not that stupid! No, I am not that stupid…”

Connor never relented, driven and determined to succeed. “It’s alright. I'm an android, Daniel, just like you.”

Daniel wasted little time, gritting his teeth. “What difference does it make if you're an android? You're on their side! You can't understand how I'm feeling.”

“I know you're angry, Daniel. But you need to trust me and let me help you.” Connor hesitated, taking measured stops to assess Daniel’s stress levels before proceeding. “I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to talk, and find a solution.”

Daniel never let go of Emma, his gun still held against her. “Talk? I don't wanna talk. It's too late for that now. It's too late… Nobody can help me!” Facial analysis… distress? “All I want is for all this to stop… I… I just want all this to stop…”

“I know you do, Daniel,” Connor assured him, side stepping around a broken glass jug. That was when a small voice croaked from the left, underneath the railing.

 

“Please… Please help me…”

An officer lay on the floor, clutching his right arm, and panting harshly. His vitals revealed that the human was bleeding heavily, staining the floor red, and without immediate intervention, the chances of his survival were slim.

This human was irrelevant to the Mission, not at all a priority, and distracted him from dealing with the Deviant. Inside him, his priorities conflicted, sending him in another crossroads.

 

[TO PRIORITISE SAVING HUMAN LIVES]

 

[TO SAVE THE HOSTAGE AT ALL COSTS]

 

The DPD officer peered up at the android, begging him to save his life with frightening eyes. A flash of red and blue distorted his memory bank. Connor then turned to Daniel, trying to override the pulsating confusion in his system. “He's losing blood, Daniel. If we don't get him to a hospital, he's going to die.”

“All humans due eventually,” Daniel answered, gesturing towards what he saw as insignificant with his gun. “What does it matter if this one dies now?”

 

[PRIORITISE]

 

[SAVE]

 

[PRIORITISE]

 

> SAVE

 

Another crackle of irregularities accompanied Connor to his knees, as he lifted the officer’s bleeding arm to him. “Daniel. I’m going to apply a tourniquet.”

Another shot rattled out across the balcony, this one nearly hitting Connor’s leg. A warning shot. Emma's high pitched scream pierced the humid air, panicked by the gunfire so close to her head.

“Don't touch him!” Daniel threatened, It’s hand trembling. “Touch him, and I kill you!”

 

Success decreasing.

 

Gain It’s trust.

 

Save the hostage.

 

Again, a choice. Obey or Ignore.

 

Bouncing between the different orders, Connor stuck with what he knew - negotiating. “Daniel, I know you don't want to hurt anyone, not really. If you allow me to help this human, I promise the humans will remember that. Hurting him won't help. Please.”

Gentle brown eyes met wary blue in a tense exchange before Daniel finally relented. It nodded once, but never took It’s eyes nor It’s gun off Connor. As the RK-800 tugged the tie from around his neck, slowly tying it around the cop’s arm to suppress the blood flow, Connor was reminded of the same words over and over again.

 

It can't kill you. You're not alive.

 

You're not alive.

 

Connor rose, his stern gaze drifting from the human on the floor to the body in the pool. Empty, lifeless, a shell, just like he was. ...I'm not alive. I cannot be killed.

 

I am not alive.

 

His LED stuttered, then returned to a confident blue swirl.

 

Another step forward, Connor's raised hands glistened red, but he showed no signs of discomfort. He had to stay focused on Emma, and Daniel.

“Thank you for letting me tend to him,” Connor conveyed, determined to proceed. “I want you to know you can trust me. We’ll get you out of this-”

 

“Are you armed?”

 

The question came out of nowhere. Foolishly, Connor hesitated, knowing that indeed he still had a handgun nestled in the back of his trousers. Picked up without ever knowing why, or how're could even do so.

Daniel growled, antagonised by the lack of response. “Don't even try to lie to me! I know you have a gun!”

 

I do.

 

I do have a gun.

 

“You're trying to fool me! Let my guard down then shoot me! It's not gonna happen!”

 

[TRUTH]

 

[LIE]

 

Something inside Connor activated, and he relaxed, his trusting brown eyes still watching the anxious Deviant. “I don't have a gun. I'm telling you the truth, Daniel. I came here unarmed.”

“How do I know you're not bluffing?” Daniel shot back, still unsure.

“Because I'm an android, Daniel,” Connor replied, lifting his hand, and letting the artificial skin recede just enough to expose the gleam of white underneath. “Our code forbids us to carry weapons of any kind.” His hand returned to normal, and he walked on. “And I wouldn't do that to you, Daniel. I need you to trust me, so I can help you.”

The vulnerability touched the Deviant's face, and Connor knew his success rate was rising. Again, that voice kept ringing inside him.

 

Look what It did.

 

It's supposed to serve humans, not harm them.

 

Don’t feel bad for deceiving It.

 

“Listen,” Connor said softly. “I know it's not your fault. These emotions you're feeling are just errors in your software.”

A heart wrenching sound left Daniel. “No, it's not my fault… I never wanted this…” He gazed down at Emma. “I loved them, you know? But I was nothing to them… just a slave to be ordered around.”

 

It's all It’s fault.

 

“What am I? What was I designed to be?” Daniel bit his lip. “Their slave? Their toy? I just wanted them to care about me… I just wanted to matter… I just wanted to be someone…”

 

It's Defective.

 

“No, I don't need to be fixed! I'm working perfectly! But my eyes are open now… I will never let anyone humiliate me again… Ever!”

With Daniel’s distress mounting out of nowhere, Connor had to act. He remembered the father’s tablet, reconstructing the frightening moment when Daniel's future went down the drain. “It's understandable why you are upset. They were going to replace you. That's what happened, right?”

 

That's it, Connor.

 

Pretend to understand It.

 

Gain It’s trust.

 

Daniel closed his eyes, reliving that hurtful moment when the betrayal hit him. “I thought I was part of the family. I thought I mattered, I belonged somewhere…” His blue eyes flashed open with reignited anger. “But I was just their toy, something to throw away when you're done with it…”

“You were hurt, feel betrayed. It's understandable,” Connor continued, relieved that he was close enough to the Deviant if things went south. “But Emma has nothing to do with this, Daniel. I know you and her were very close, and you don't want to hurt her.” Reluctance softened Daniel’s face, and Connor felt more confident in his success. “Are you okay, Emma?”

The little girl sobbed, cheeks glistening with tears. “Please help me! I don't wanna die! I don't wanna die!”

 

And then, a strange sound came from Daniel. It took a second for Connor to process what he had just heard, but once Daniel looked at the little girl, then back at him, he saw it.

Lubricant streaming from Daniel’s blue eyes, a sob catching him his throat. The Deviant appeared to be crying.

 

Stunned, Connor was almost at a loss, taken by surprise at how easily a Deviant replicated emotion right down to physical things such as tears. As the negotiator tried to assess this information for storage in his later reports, Daniel choked back another anguished sound as he talked.

“I thought you loved me…”

Emma screwed her eyes shut, sniffling and shivering with fear. “Daniel, no… I do love you. Please .”

Daniel stared down at her, his LED flickering red with ominous warning. Connor felt drawn in by it, that omen warning potential tragedy if he did not act quickly. He lowered his hands, calmly, reassuringly.

“It's alright,” Connor said. “Nobody's going to die. Stay calm. Everything's going to be fine. We’ll work this out together, okay?”

 

The helicopter returned, sending another gust across the tense rooftop. The sudden noise frustrated Daniel, his blonde hair being blown viciously by the nearby copter. At first, Daniel pressed the hand still holding the gun to his ear, his stress mounting. In the span of a few seconds, Connor perceived opportunity, a moment.

 

Use Gun?

 

Once Daniel began to brandish the gun in the air, Connor kept hearing the voice inside him repeating that question, that command.

 

Use Gun?

 

Then, in the blink of an eye, it vanished, and Daniel pressed the gun back by the side of Emma's head. A sense of concern flickered in Connor's mind. Had he just lost an opportunity? The snipers had not acted either, so perhaps he did the best thing.

Daniel growled. “I can't stand that noise anymore! Tell that helicopter to get out of here!”

 

The Deviant is agitated.

 

Antagonising It could prove costly.

 

With a careful flick of the hand, Connor gave his consent to dismiss the helicopter. Thankfully, the pilot obeyed, swooping off into the distance of Detroit, leaving them be.

“There, I did what you wanted,” Connor said, contemplating his next step.

 

Based on Daniel’s LED reducing in intensity, and his facial cues, Connor calculated that he was closer than ever at talking the Deviant down. Inside him, CyberLife nearly deafened him, reminding him of his focus.

 

Last chance, Connor.

 

“You have to trust me, Daniel.”

 

Be rational. No other choice.

 

“Let the girl go, and I promise you everything will be fine. No one will be hurt.”

 

One slip up, and you’ll be destroyed. Release the hostage.

 

“Do the right thing, Daniel.”

 

No compromise. Snipers on every roof.

 

“You’re not going to die. We’re just going to talk. Nothing will happen to you.”

 

It took human lives. Nothing can stop them from destroying It now.

 

“You have my word, Daniel.”

 

But the hostage must live.

 

Slowly, Daniel nodded, wanting to trust, wanting to get out of this whole situation. “...Okay. But I want everyone to leave. And I wanna car! When I’m outside the city, I’ll let her go!”

Connor halted. Inside of him, a voice sang through his wiring, vibrating through every code. His determination to continue negotiating was halted by his circuits drowning in orders from beyond. It grew stronger, and stronger, proving difficult to resist, to focus.

 

Out of the question.

 

You’re a machine. A machine must obey.

 

Before him were two options, highlighted in his HUD, his brown eyes twitching from the overload of information. He needed to focus on the Deviant, on Daniel and Emma, but the two commands were forced before him.

Only two.

 

[FIRE]

 

[THREATEN.]

 

However, the illusion of choice was replaced by a solid order thrust upon him, bringing onto him a dreaded realisation. A mantra, a command, an iron order.

 

Use the gun.

 

Execute the Deviant.

 

The RK-800’s hand suddenly snaked behind his back, securing around the handle of the gun he had acquired. Darting between the conflicting orders, that hardened voice commanding him, his coding tried to negotiate with him, and the presence inside his mind.

To [THREATEN] was unnecessary. To [THREATEN] jeopardised the Mission when the Deviant’s trust had already been gained.

That only left one option. [FIRE.]

But revealing and firing a weapon still posed it’s risks, as did having a hand behind his back during hostage negotiations.

Saving the hostage was still the priority.

Surely the hostage could be saved without destroying the Deviant? After all, what information could be gleaned from a destroyed machine?

 

Last chance, Connor.

 

Use the gun.

 

Daniel’s grip on Emma loosened, an imitation of regret softening his face. The girl trembled, still crying her eyes out.

“Daniel, please…”

 

Or sacrifice yourself.

 

But there was still a chance.

 

Do it.

 

Connor blinked, and the voices went silent.

 

...I can’t.

 

With a small voice, an unreadable storm inside his glazed eyes, Connor made one last plea. “Daniel. Please.

Unaware of what was happening inside the negotiator’s mind, Daniel read the other android’s behaviour as a continued effort to save It, desperate to escape this nightmare.

“Okay,” Daniel said softly, raising his trusting blue eyes to look at Connor. “I trust you.”

 

Slowly, Daniel lowered his arm, letting Emma slip to the ground, and stumble a few short feet away. She fell to her knees, but she stared at Daniel, struggling to process her ordeal at the hands of someone she loved.

A Deviant and a Machine, coming to an understanding, with the hostage’s safety guaranteed. There was no need for the gun, nor threatening him. Connor had accomplished his Mission without the need.

He had made the right call.

“I trust you,” Daniel repeated, the gun in his hand slipping from his fingers.

 

Three shots rang out.

 

A solid shot penetrated Daniel’s side, exposing his circuitry and painting the floor with blue blood. A second strike struck his right shoulder, seconds before the last pierced deeply into the left side of his face, caving in the white shell of his cheek.

All the while, Emma’s screams shattered the night, her face tightened with terror at what she just witnessed. Daniel’s expression contorted into one that Connor relied on his facial recognition to identify.

Pain. Humans in pain had this look.

Connor could only watch helplessly as Daniel slumped to his knees, and the SWAT team swarmed in, preparing to subdue the Deviant. The frightened girl sobbed, unaware of the speckles of thirium on her own cheek, as she held her hand out.

To the Deviant.

 

The RK-800 watched, recording every little detail of this moment inside his memory bank, even when Daniel - with the last of his energy - stared at Connor with hardened blue eyes. It’s distorted voice no longer resembling a human for the sake of the blending in, but rather the mechanical synthesised death throes of a Machine.

“You lied to me, Connor… You lied to me…

And then, the PL600 shut down, all cognitive functions severed, and the light switched off from his optics, leaving that blank blue stare.

 

An imprinted image saved into Connor’s memory against his instructions, a haunting picture filed inside him with no method of deletion.

Connor contemplated that the errors from earlier had finally caught up with him, culminating in a complete breakdown of his sensory units. Even Emma’s cries sounded warped inside his audio processors.

Thankfully, his scanning capabilities were still functional, and he calculated that there was no life threatening damage to the hostage with the exception of minor wounds obtained in the scuffle.

 

The Mission was complete, the hostage safe, and the Deviant no longer a threat, but Connor lingered. With surprising difficulty, he took a step forward, wanting to help little Emma Phillips to her feet, and guide her back indoors.

Androids assisted humans in need, didn’t they?

And Emma was the priority upon which this Mission had succeeded upon.

 

The wail of the crying child drew him in, her distress like a beacon to his protocol to protect and ensure the comfort of humans. Another step forward, and the desperation of a little girl mourning her friend became overwhelming for his human relations software limited by his binary coding.

“Daniel, Daniel,” Emma sobbed, rocking back and forth. “Daniel, no… Why?

As Connor drew closer, Emma raised her head, revealing wet green eyes, and a heartbroken face. She stared at Connor, her lower lip trembling, repeating the same thing over and over again.

“Why did Daniel die? Why?

 

As Connor opened his mouth, ready to answer a question that defied logic, he halted on command. Inside him, a voice reminded him the Mission was accomplished, and he was no longer required there.

It also seemed likely that prolonged contact was escalating his already temperamental software.

As if that wasn’t enough, an earlier recording stuck on loop inside his Mind Palace, convincing him further that he was close to breaking.

 

Don’t let that thing near her! Keep that thing away from my daughter!

 

Androids must serve humans, Connor acknowledged, unable to erase those hateful hazel eyes from his mind. He retraced his steps swiftly, his awareness of Emma’s sad face being replaced with a new order.

 

[STAY AWAY FROM EMMA PHILLIPS]

 

As he walked back to the apartment doors, Connor swiftly unloaded the chamber from the gun, tossing it to the side, and handing the empty weapon to Lieutenant Allen. Unaware of the neutral respect that the Captain sent his way, the RK-800 kept his stride, marching back into the apartment, through the blood soaked floorboards, across the broken glass towards the elevator that brought him to his destination.

Before the elevator doors closed in front of him, Connor caught one last glance at the corridor before him. The wet floors from the shattered part of the aquarium, glistening in the lighting. The framed family picture that gave him the first glance into the humans affected by the Deviant.

And that fish, staring blankly at the android from the safety of his aquatic home.

 

As [MISSION ACCOMPLISHED] flashed across his HUD, the last thing Connor perceived was the hysterical screaming of a mother and the frightened cries of her daughter.

Connor took out his silver coin, and began to recalibrate by counting, as he descended into the bowels of another place.

 

One.

 

Two.

 

Three.

 

By 51, Connor entered a Garden.

 

xxx

 

Bad news traveled fast in the technologically advanced age. By the time, the hostage situation had came to an end, the deaths of those involved had spread like wildfire, every news station obsessively pouring over every detail.

 

In the Detroit Police Department, on the graveyard shift, a downcast Captain rounded the men present, and delivered the difficult news. Two men down, one critically injured, in the line of duty.

Melancholy reigned across the quiet station, the loss of their own personally felt by all present. As the Captain bowed his head, never finding this one job any easier after all these years, another seasoned officer took a different approach.

He slammed his open palms on his desk, forcing himself onto his feet, and storming past the desk across from his own, a tidy and meticulous haven compared to his cluttered chaotic one.

 

A desk that no longer had an owner, returning to mull over cases, and part a cheeky retort or two his way.

A study for Officer Antony Deckart, killed in active service.

 

Everyone in attendance drew into the dark, brooding energy, and one white haired detective called out, a friendly lilt to his saddened voice. “Hank, where’re you going?”

Without turning back, the Lieutenant known as Hank barked out “to get drunk,” as he disappeared through the glass doors, sounds of unseen objects being kicked over accompanying him.

 

Hank knew it, he fucking knew it. It was only a matter of time before one of those fuckers went haywire, and killed someone else. Hank knew that better than anyone.

Machines were created by humans, and they kill each other all the time, so why shouldn't things looking like humans get in on the action too? Equality, right? Makes the world go round in rainbow fucking circles with unicorn farts and sprinkles on top.

Fuck this world, and everything in it.

As the thoroughly pissed off Lieutenant forced his car keys into the ignition, he knew exactly what he had planned for tonight. Booze and a little game.

Why the ever loving fuck not?

 

Clutching the wheel, his knuckles whitening, Hank slammed the accelerator, and sped off into the dark, muttering the same heavy mantra he always did when things grew dark.

Fuck everything. Fuck everyone.

Determined to drown his sorrow in a never ending glass of whisky, Hank parked his car outside his favourite bar, blotting out the shitty city he was born and raised in.

 

As he turned his back, slamming the bar door open, an automatic taxi passed behind him on the road, heralding a passenger towards their own destination, an Obelisk in the mechanical beating heart of Detroit.

CyberLife Headquarters.

But the disgruntled detective never noticed him, and neither did the passenger, too preoccupied with the events of that night, the conversations in the Garden. Only a slow, swirling yellow circle gave away his android identity if Hank bothered to catch it on time.

 

That night, Hank and Connor were nothing more than passing ships, obscured by fog, unaware that two months later, their lives could collide in ways they could never imagine.

 

xxx

 

Report from Connor-51 received.

ITM televised Deviancy for the first time. Public awareness of Deviancy will be on the increase from now on. Prepare Crisis Management protocol. Although it conflicted with his priorities, Connor-51’s medical attention towards a human did raise public interest and sympathy in androids by a small margin.

 

Deviancy likely to be triggered by android learning that It was going to be replaced by newer home assistant model, AP700. Deviant showed signs of experiencing betrayal, and anger at the Phillips family, and humans in general.

Claimed to love his human family, and regret taking Emma Phillips hostage.

PL600 “Daniel” terminated, but temporary activation possible to understand more.

 

Despite several software instabilities and behavioural irregularities, Connor-51 accomplished Mission successfully. Suspected errors confirmed, data collected for further study.

 

Send Connor-51 for maintenance, or decommission?

Chapter Text

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

 

Everything about today sucked, and Hank motherfucking Anderson wallowed in it. Like a fish swimming in its own filth , the 53-year-old Lieutenant thought bitterly, drowning himself in drink. From the world’s shittiest poet.

He threw his head back and downed another, desperate to blot out the golden memories of the happier days. Regular as clockwork, same day every year, without fail.

A toast to another shitty, messed up year, alone and just waiting for the final shot to do him in. A small glass of booze, sparkling like amber in the overhead light, reflected his miserable face trapped within.

 

Even if his entire life had gone to hell in the last few years, 2038 was that year were Hank knew deep inside his gut that things were imploding in every conceivable direction.

Fucking androids. His work as a Lieutenant was consumed by the plastic fuckers. It had been bad enough installing the literal robo cops at the station, even if they were nothing more than security without force, but his casework now involved them.

Cold, blank expressions, unblinking in charging stations, and in his paperwork. Fucking wonderful.

Long gone were the days where the worst they had to deal with was a stray android that was reported missing only to turn up at a park, or the occasional damage to another human’s android.

 

It finally happened, like something out of one of Hank’s science fiction slash future dystopian nightmare fuel reads.

Androids were attacking people, a steady rise in android related crime in Detroit gaining the attention of not just the police, but the public. CyberLife flapped their gums about “isolated incidents” and “very rare occurrences,” but there was scarcely no smoke without fire.

Missing androids without a trace were being reported as early as February, and attacks were without a doubt on the increase. After the televised hostage situation that Summer, it was obvious to Hank that matters were escalating.

And poor, Homicide division Hank was getting roped into cases meant for other units.

Because he was “experienced.”

Abso- fucking -lutely perfect.

 

His first case was last month, an android belonging to Fast Coney Dogs. An AV500-whatever waiter went on the fritz, attempted to strangle a real mouthy asshole before legging it. The whole thing was ludicrous, how an android in bright red and blue clothing, resembling Super fucking Mario himself, managed to evade capture in broad daylight.

By the time it was reported, the android was long gone from Chamberlain Avenue with little in the way of clues.

Total waste of time. And thanks to the wonders of technology, decades prior, Detroit's best bakery - once standing proudly near the scene of the crime - was long gone too.

Absolute waste of time. Another casualty to the modern age.

 

Into October, more and more incidents started hitting the desk. An AL series android went walkabouts after no signs of being ordered to, nor any signs of break-in at the home. Even a Traci vanished into the night after strangling the client in what was no manner rough play.

Hank still remembered the sleaze saturating from Eden Club owner Floyd Mills, the man that reported the Traci missing the morning after her disappearance. ( It , Hank tried to correct himself.) While renting was a common practice within the establishment, sometimes Tracis were taken home for nightly booty calls. Proprietor of the ‘sexiest androids in town’ sex club in the morning, and investigating a dead man’s bedroom in the afternoon.

Weeks later, Hank still felt filthy.

 

But honestly? Hank didn’t blame them. As much as androids pissed him off, selfish asshole humans did too. He never went out of his way to antagonise them, but jerkass humans always did. The consequences of their behaviour came to the DPD all the time in reports made for broken or damaged equipment.

Like someone would file a police report for someone breaking their talking toaster or something.

 

Hank snorted. Twenty minutes into the future, and artificial intelligence was everywhere, along with automatic cars, and peak convenient laziness. Humanity became so dependent on androids to do the shitty ass tasks that no one else wanted to do.

The usual, like cleaning toilets, servicing the vulnerable and lonely, and caring for their children, their flesh and blood.

Hank grimaced, then savoured another strong glass, blinking away the stinging wetness from his eyes before anyone could see.

 

All one had to do was scratch beneath the surface of Detroit’s futuristic squeaky clean image to uncover resentment, exploitation, abuse, and loss of purpose.

Ten years since the Android Act was passed, and American unemployment skyrocketed. Last time Hank checked, the figures clocked in at 40%. In 2038, 40% was the sacrifice for preferring machines with no rights or the need for a paycheck with no support in place for those out of a job.

Wasn't unemployment during the Great Depression only 25%? Something like that, Hank mulled to himself.

 

Compared to Canada, America had fallen on hard times despite its technological advancements. They saw what was up, and flat out banned androids being sold or made, meaning no mass unemployment for them.

Legally, an android had no rights in Canada, no status to speak of, but things were hardly any better in the States. They were not seen as alive, nothing more than merchandise in a fancy ass store.

 

The first time Hank heard that prostitution laws for Tracis didn't exist because they weren't viewed as living beings, he nearly wretched . For all the protests about the threat of androids on the survival of humanity itself, for replacing humans, no one seemed to be kicking up a fuss when it came to the bedroom department.

Even the very act of lovemaking had become so depersonalised, the feelings of another mattering so little. Closeness and intimacy were relics of the past, wastes of time in the Jetson era of Sexual Satisfaction.

No wonder the birth rate was shot to hell.

He touched his chest thoughtfully, raising a glass to the lovely lady no longer in his life, then drank away the memory of a sweet, sweet voice, and a cold bridge.

 

Back to the present.

 

Every corner of Detroit homed a homeless person, down on their luck, with a cardboard sign scrawled out blaming androids for their losses.

Public protests outside CyberLife stores were pretty common, and Hank knew a few buddies in the force that had to break up one or two that got heated. Even owners of androids distrusted them, a few resorting to beatings to remind the sad fuckers of their place.

Because who else was a prime target for human incompetence, and the woes of the world than something within reach, a target that didn't fight back, and there was little to no consequence for smacking the crap out of…

Or outright destroying, with nothing more than a slap on the wrist and a fine if it wasn't your own?

Like dealing with murdered humans wasn't bad enough.

 

The current state of Detroit, the Motor City, felt more like a symptom of an underlying disease. After all, Hank was a millennial, qualified enough to call bullshit like he saw it. Everything came from humanity, always had. Singling out androids as the scapegoat did nothing but let the dickbags on their cushy, high pedestals get away with pulling the strings.

Humans created androids, controlled the over reliance on them at the expense of other humans desperate to put food on the table. Human employers favoured the automatic convenience of a free employee that required no wages or special leave.

Human lawmakers created legislation that ensured androids stayed at the back of buses, bore identification on their clothing at all times, and had no rights to finances, property, or anything that classed them as living beings.

And it all came from the hands and minds of the humans at CyberLife, with too much power and influence to curb any accusations of influence in every quarter.

Then disenfranchised humans blames androids.

 

If Hank didn't get to the stage that he was of just being done with everything, humans and androids, he'd almost catch the irony of sympathising with their treatment. But just as he began to feel that natural inclination to defend them, that loss from inside his heart shattered his heart, and he swallowed it.

To hell with everything , of flesh and machine, of every unfeeling, cold creature that stalked this broken, hollow world.

Elected officials were bad enough on that level.

 

And don't get Hank started on his enthralling opinion on the good old Lady President . They already had one celebrity politician in the White House, and that - in the Lieutenant’s eyes - had only served to thoroughly fuck the country beyond repair.

It wasn't just detective’s intuition that told Hank she was a shifty one. Her close connections to CyberLife were public knowledge as early as the Campaign run, not that it prevented her from taking the U.S of A’s Iron Throne.

History sure loves repeating itself , Hank grumbled, sluggish from the warm alcohol. What else is new?

Well, a Presidential Rotten Tomatoes score of zilch, an obsession with her social media account, all the scandalous accusations of spying through androids (not that it dampened sales,) and disastrous political failures didn't shift her any closer to retirement.

Funny how that worked.

 

As if that wasn’t enough of a hassle, American-Russian relations had been extremely tense over android manufacturing race, and territorial rights over the Arctic Circle of all places. Trust World War 3 to be on the horizon in Hank’s lifetime.

That is, if the planet itself didn't implode after global warming finally passed the tipping point of no return that his generation warned about for decades. Staggeringly high percentage of rainforests and coral reefs were gone, with sea levels rising uncomfortably so. Cities like Miami resorted to installing flood walls to minimise the land damage.

But CyberLife gifted us sad sacks with an android zoo from wildlife’s extinction roll call of honour. Hank almost chuckled at the depressing thought. Mother Earth’s fucked, the fight bell for the Cold War round 2 is ready, and we get a glorified robot petting zoo.

 

If everything from the armed forces to the garbage disposal services were being replaced with machines, Hank knew it was only a matter of time before the DPD got the robotic makeover.

Not that Hank had to worry about that for much longer...

 

For now, Hank Anderson sought sanctuary from the crapsaccharine future within his favourite bad-guy bar in all of Detroit, Jimmy’s Bar. Despite its past history of being a drug haven for Red Ice users, something that Hank despised to all Hell, it was a sanctuary of sorts for Hank too.

In the smoke filled refuge that was Jimmy’s Bar, an anti-android drinking hole, Hank could drink himself to oblivion, and not worry about coming face to face with one, especially on the anniversary of his son’s death.

But not this night…

 

“Lieutenant Anderson?”

Chapter Text

When Connor closed his eyes, he awoke in the Zen Garden.

Everything radiated with life, contrasting with the cold and wet outside world with pink kissed cherry blossoms, and lush green plant life from the grass to the tall trees. Soft white doves fluttered along the smooth white stone path, but took to the skies when Connor drew near.

He knew exactly where his handler was.

 

On the small island, surrounded by a tranquil lake, was Amanda, and her world of ruby roses. As Connor walked across the stone bridge, he caught sight of the reed and lily pads, the sakura pink spreading across the surface of the pond.

But no matter how beautiful and natural the Garden seemed, Connor was all too aware that he existed in a virtual space within his Mind Palace. The faintest polygonal render of the paths he walked, the shifting surface of tree’s bark and the water, not to mention that low clockwork hum reminded the RK-800 of where he was, and what he was.

This artificial construct, this virtual haven, made Connor feel safe , assured of his purpose. And he knew he would do Amanda - and CyberLife - proud, just like he did after his first field Mission.

 

By one of the many towering columns, decorated with rose vines, and a flower-like receiver on the crown, Amanda’s long fingers tenderly caring for nature’s bloom upon the white trellis. Her flowing silk robe, shining with the cold colours of CyberLife, trailed behind her back, even her beautiful braided bun touched with cobalt blue.

Without turning, Amanda spoke, her warm voice putting Connor immediately at ease. “Hello, Connor. I’m happy to see you.”

Standing to attention, the android held his hands together, prim and proper. “Hello, Amanda.”

Her hand reached to the nearby column, taking hold of the water spray bottle, and administering her growing flowers with hydration. “You have been assigned to a new case. Cases of Androids malfunctioning and turning Deviant have been on the rise recently.”

A new case? Excitement surged through his neurological bio components. Connor had never been back on the streets since August, undergoing further testing and fine tuning after experiencing unexpected software instabilities and errors.

After coming to the conclusion that he might never be called upon again to fulfill his purpose, contemplating his status as Broken, Connor now realised he was wanted , by Amanda and by CyberLife. He still had a chance to provide his purpose to humanity, to his creators.

“I promise I will not let you down, Amanda,” Connor declared with quiet confidence.

His handler’s small smile was hidden, but her encouraging words reached him. “Of course you won’t. We have every bit of confidence in your success. After all…” A faint turn of the head revealed a triangular earring, glowing in the solar light. “You accomplished your Mission with that PL600 model, and remarkably well might I add.”

 

To Connor, Amanda’s sunshine praise flooded his wiring with a grand sense of achievement, sparking his connective modules with energy. It made him feel consummated, complete.

“Thank you, Amanda.”

The AI representing his handler returned to her precious roses, snipping a single flower from its place. “You will find Lieutenant Hank Anderson, who is also assigned to the Deviancy cases, and report to the CyberLife store at Greektown.” She then stressed with importance. “You must not proceed without him. Do you understand?”

 

Lieutenant Hank Anderson. Connor pondered upon that name, only to be uploaded with the relevant data on the human in question. His visuals revealed an image of a tall, confident man his strong blue eyes penetrating deeply into the android.

The information read,

 

[LT. ANDERSON, HANK.

Born 09/06/1985 // Police Lieutenant.

Criminal Record: None.]

 

Registering this new data into his internal information log, Connor answered back. “Of course. You can count on me, Amanda.”

 

Before he closed his eyes, leaving the Garden, his softening gaze fell upon the distant doves and a stone pedestal with an inviting blue glow.

 

xxx

 

Rain assaulted the concrete city, turning the asphalt roads and lonely pavements into a watercolour painting flooded with neon reflections.

Connor found himself in Detroit’s Downtown district, with an investigation on his hands. After a prompt visit to the Detroit Police Department, all he took away from the visit was that Lieutenant Hank Anderson, the man he was after, was “probably drinking in a bar nearby.”

Probably, not absolute certainty.

To make matters more complicated, Hank’s phone was switched off, meaning he had no quick way of being contacted. Nevertheless, his search was narrowed down to his current location, Downtown Detroit, accessing the closest bars with a specialised mapping system of the area.

 

Even before the boom in android technology, local businesses began to struggle, if not close, in the troubling decades prior. Skyscrapers and commercial buildings were the prominent surviving structures after the drastic shift in the economy, with only a handful of registered historic architecture remaining a testament to the Detroit of the Past.

Economically injected growth and redevelopment stayed off the worst of the burst bubble, with new apartments and hotels regenerating the area at the expense of those already struggling. While it was far from the worst affected part of the Motor City, times were still hard for those with low wages, lost jobs or no homes.

Under the flickering streetlights and heavy rainfall, Connor strode towards his first location, the first bar of five that night, with one solid goal in mind.

 

To [FIND LIEUTENANT HANK ANDERSON.]

 

xxx

 

The first bar Connor came to was in an all too familiar part of Detroit. Hidden inside the Aloft Hotel, Park Avenue, was the Blue Moon Lounge. Once the Wxyz Lounge, a blue hue themed bar, enjoyed by patrons for its friendly atmosphere and reasonably priced cocktails, drinks and bites, the place had underwent a radical revamp in the 2030s.

A classy neon sign at the entrance beckoned the outside world in with promise of a chic experience for the high class. Below was a sign stating that “No Androids were permitted beyond this point.”

Anti-Android signs on business properties were a common sight in Detroit, a telling expression public opinion towards them. As such, glass shelters known as Android Parking were installed, allowing people to freely roam where androids could not by leaving them in the hired allotment.

Two androids stood in an Android Parking zone on the side of the pavement, completely still, waiting for their owners to return for them. Their blank expressions showed no visible signs of irritation, or loneliness, just a passive spell in their every day routine.

 

By law and his own programming to obey, Connor should not be allowed to enter such an establishment. However, his instructions kept reminding him of his Mission, to find the Lieutenant.

There was no forbidden red wall where his hand met the front door, and when he entered, there was no punishment to greet him, only the carousel of the colour blue in varying shades and intensity.

 

The cool leather seats, the sapphire twilight lighting, neon pools inside the miniature bar stools, and the counter itself a shocking electric shade. Serene candles with simulated embers glowed at every table, and a chandelier, composed of blue triangles, oversaw everything below.

The greatest curiosity for Connor was that, in spite of the anti-android sign on the front door, two androids served behind the counter. One wore matching baby blue waistcoat and trousers, a moon white shirt, and a blue bow tie. The other was adorned in cream whites, otherwise matching his partner.

Even their LEDs, a curious yellow clashing with the cool blue aesthetic, matched perfectly.

 

As Connor came closer, his inquisitive stare came to rest upon the neon blue screen behind the alcohol shelves. The powerful lighting felt familiar, reminding Connor all too much of his own identity as a Machine.

His own LED, forever a blue halo, the triangles and arm band branded upon his clothing. Even the very blood pumping through his bio components, keeping him alive.

There was no reflection, nothing but the reminder of what his kind were. Machines, pieces of plastic pretending to be humans, but the illuminated blue gave them away.

Androids did not even bleed the same colour.

Something that the bourgeois patrons of The Blue Moon Lounge took to heart when their attention came to rest upon the android. Every cocktail sipping person in attendance drank every element of Connor's appearance in, and from the disapproving glances, knew he was not a server.

 

It came in from the outside.

 

It had intruded into the sanctuary of Detroit’s upperclassmen.

 

But Connor tried not to dwell on the antagonising stares of the elite, determined only to find the man known as Lieutenant Hank Anderson.

[FIND LIEUTENANT HANK ANDERSON,] his priorities repeated. His Mission was dead in the water without him, his purpose a failure.

And that did not bear thinking about.

 

Entering his environmental analysis protocol, filtering down to facial recognition, Connor sought out the Lieutenant in a sea of disgusted faces. Political figures, affluent lawyers, and even high ranking men in the medical field sat with glistening blue cocktails, decorated with sparkling crystals along the rim.

But no one from law enforcement jumped out.

As Connor left the Blue Moon Lounge, he did not have to activate his surrounding software to know disapproving stares followed him out. He marched towards his next location, resisting the urge to impart a knowing glance at the Phillips' apartment.

 

xxx

 

The second bar rested in 3rd Avenue, proudly promoting itself as a historic tavern offering sanctuary to those seeking freedom and safety. Flickering red neon lights introduced Connor to the Bad Luck Bar.

An Anti-Android sign also greeted him, but Connor entered regardless.

 

Burning red and green lighting assaulted the android's keen eyes. This locale was much tighter on the inside, crammed with American trinkets on every conceivable surface. Whereas the Blue Moon Lounge had been filled with people, this bar was the complete opposite, only the bar keeper, and a few men nursing their beer and BBQ wings.

One drinker raised an eyebrow. “How the fuck did that get in here?”

Before Connor could react, the owner pointed a menacing finger at him. “ You. Get out .”

 

Being addressed, albeit in a negative manner, Connor responded, knowing from quick scan that no one by the name of Lieutenant Hank Anderson was present. “My apologies. I am looking for someone, but he does not appear to be here. I will leave now.”

A grumpy man clicked his teeth with his tongue. “ Good . Last thing we need is you lot coming in here, and taking this place over too.”

“Ain't that the truth,” his neighbouring drinker agreed, taking a long swig of his beer.

It came to Connor's attention, then, that most of the drinkers present were unemployed. Hardly a surprise based on their statements, and the surge in lost jobs in recent years.

 

Resentment followed Connor out the front door.

 

xxx

 

The third bar, Rock Bottom KEEP, felt less like a drinking establishment, and more like a subterranean refuge. A claustrophobic descent down a flight of stairs took the android into the bricked bowels of an underground bar.

Much like his first bar, everyone glared hard at him. From their black bar stools and cosy booths, the humans never took their eyes off Connor. As the RK-800 began to scan faces without a word, one intoxicated drinker took offence.

“The fuck are y’looking at?” he spat, shooting the android an ugly look.

The bar owner stepped in, gripping hard onto the counter. “Didn't you read the sign, tin can? No androids allowed.

Realising the threat of anti-android behaviour escalated with every passing second, Connor tried to ease the situation calmly. “I'm sorry. I am searching for a Lieutenant Hank Anderson, and I-”

 

His words were cut off by a beer bottle exploding against the wall nearby, spraying the android with alcohol. Malicious cheers filled the bar, and Connor felt exposed under the scrutiny of jeering humans.

“A Lieutenant , huh?” the bar owner crooned cruelly, edging his way out from the bar. “You're in the wrong joint for someone like that.”

It was then Connor's sense processors picked up trace elements of Red Ice lingering on the black surfaces, from past dealings. Even the air held an oppressive red mist. Where Red Ice lurked, a Thirium storage was also nearby.

His priorities clashed between reporting this illegal activity, and staying focused on searching for Hank.

 

Four men sat up from the nearest stools, closing the gap between the bar and the soaked android. Their hateful glares burning inside Connor’s optics, knowing they had more in mind than a thrown bottle his way.

One rough customer jerked his head towards Connor, but his words were for the owner. “Want us to kick the plastic fucker out? Or take him down to the basement?”

As the owner pondered over two equally appealing options, Connor tried one last time, raising his hands harmlessly. “It's alright. I'm leaving. I only came for the Lieutenant-” A chuckle raised from an immaturely minded Detroiter. “But as you say, he is not here.”

 

An unsettling silence lulled through the KEEP, and Connor took that as a sign to leave. As he turned, he felt a strong hand upon his shoulder, and warm breath right at his neck. Immediately, his defensive software kicked in, perceiving the physical contact as a threat.

 

[PHYSICAL THREAT DETECTED. DEFENSIVE SYSTEM INITIATE? Y/N?]

[WARNING. TARGET IS HUMAN. PROCEED?]

 

Augmented representatives of himself and the human manifested in his view, his system already recreating manners of defending himself, and the world was his weapon.

One Connor broke the human’s fingers, gripping him tightly, and forcing him against the wall with concussion inducing force.

A second Connor thrust his back into the human, shoving him back into his cackling comrades.

Another Connor butted the back of his head into the aggressor’s face, completely bloodying his nose.

Another possibility involved Connor shattering the man's knee with a sharp backwards kick -

 

Connor shut the program down. Regardless of whether this human wanted to hurt him, harming humans was strictly against his programming unless necessary to his Mission.

It would have been effortless, no challenge at all. Every possibility offered him a chance to escape the far with very few permanent injuries at the very least.

But harming humans unnecessary to his Mission carried penalties. He could not afford to fail this early.

Instead, Connor remained silent.

 

“Hey,” the human said, not disguising his hostile intent. “You ever come back here, we'll break you apart. Got it?”

Connor nodded all too eagerly. “Got it.”

 

The grip finally left him, only for a sudden force to shove him against the foot of the stairs. He protected himself with his hands and knees, a spark of heat blooming through the points of contact, but strangely spreading throughout his system.

A thunderous roar of laughter erupted through the bar, but Connor made good on his promise and retreated up the stairway, leaving the drunkards to it.

The last thing he needed was to be disciplined for taking out an entire bar.

 

xxx

 

The fourth bar. At Woodward Avenue, Connor found another drinking establishment, which on first appearances alone, was a far cry from his last troubling location.

However, aware that time was of the essence, and he still hadn't found the Lieutenant, Connor marched in, only faintly taking in the multi coloured light bulbs, and the hologram rainbow flag phasing in and out of the glass window.

And so, Connor entered the A Gay Old Time , the first to have no Anti-Android sign at the entrance.

 

Compared to the washed out world outside the bar, inside the gay bar, an explosion of colour greeted Connor. Miniature hologram rainbow flags, a stream of red and pink faerie lights entwined with tinsel hanging above the counter. Even the black bar stools had bright pink balloons tied to the back of them, with a decorative ribbon curling at the ends.

What really stood out to Connor was the energy , with humans of all shapes and sizes, age and ethnicity, coming together under one roof, talking, singing, dancing, drinking, and smiling.

 

Once Connor had actually entered the main part of the bar, the staring began anew. But Connor noticed something about the humans peering over at the android in their midst.

There was no animosity, nor disgust, only curiosity. Connor detected no muscular tension of clenched jaws or furrowed brows. He did analyse an increase in heartbeats rippling across the immediate area.

But Connor had not had another bottle thrown his way, so he considered that progress had been made.

 

The bar owner, whose hands came to a halt when Connor approached, took in the unusual sight. Androids in Detroit were very common given their production numbers, but a sole android? In a place like this? Eyebrow raising to say the least. Silver streamed through the curls of her brown hair, her puzzled blue eyes observing the state of the android walking towards her. The faint twinkling of brown glass on his clothing, and a blue sliver beneath his right eye told a difficult story for anyone that took the time to consider him.

Connor stared back, his LED thoughtful blue, identifying the proprietor of A Gay Old Time .

“Rough night, son?” the Scottish 50-something bar keeper queried, concern radiating from her eyes. She finally lowered the cloth, giving Connor her full attention.

 

Being addressed in such a gentle manner surprised Connor. It was the first time he felt like someone saw him without a discriminatory lens, and it certainly felt easier to deal with. And as someone who experienced prejudice and hatred herself, she could not mask the sympathy behind her bespectacled gaze.

 

Connor could have reactivated his skin to dislodge the glass particles and to heal himself of his minor facial cut, but he did not want to draw any more attention than he already had. He had already been attacked with his artificial skin on, and going bare might break the good will that was being extended his way.

And CyberLife did instruct a policy for androids to keep their skin on for the purposes of blending in, for not sticking out more than they had to.

 

“Thank you,” Connor replied, aware of the intrigued attention he gathered. “But I am alright, although perhaps you could assist me in another matter.”

“Shoot,” the friendly neighbourhood human stated, offering a small, sweet smile. “I’m all ears.”

“I'm looking for someone,” Connor explained, realising it might be quicker to ask than to scan every individual present. “A Lieutenant Hank Anderson. Do you know if he is here?”

She thought for a moment, then shook her head. “Can't say I do, but there's someone that might.”

 

As if on cue, the bathroom door swung open, and a cocky young man strolled out.

Adorned in denim, the stranger faltered when he saw everyone huddled together around the last thing he expected to see in his regular drinking hole. Connor entered his facial recognition software just in time for the stranger’s face to turn to shock.

 

[DETECTIVE REED, GAVIN

 

Born: 10/07/2002 // Police Detective.]

 

Oh , Connor thought with relief. Someone from law enforcement. Surely he can assist.

Gavin's face contorted with anger, his finger pointing in an accusing manner. “ Oh, hell no! We are not doing this-”

The barkeeper, all too accustomed to her regular’s temper, rolled her eyes wearily. “Gavin, sit your grumpy ass down, and finish your goddamn drink.”

But the man was not done, storming over to Connor, who just stared. “This is why you should put signs up banning these fuckers! Give ‘em an inch, and then they think they own the place!”

“Excuse me,” Connor asked, thinking back all too clearly to Rock Bottom Keep. That aggression, that hostility. “I am looking for a Lieutenant Hank Anderson, and was told he would be drinking nearby. Do you know where I might find him?”

 

Suddenly, Gavin furrowed his brow, his menacing grey glare narrowing, making Connor wonder if he had understood him clearly. Then a peel of laughter burst from the detective, his hand slapping the nearby counter.

Hank? In here? That's rich!” Gavin's laughter finally reduced to a trickle of amused chuckling. “He usually drinks himself stupid at Jimmy's Bar. Think you can google that, tin can?”

 

[PROTOCOL UPDATED. LOCATE JIMMY’S BAR.

 

FIND LIEUTENANT HANK ANDERSON.]

 

Inside Connor's system, he updated his system, finding that the bar was not too far from here. A single yellow ring, then blue restored in his LED.

“Thank you,” Connor responded, turning to leave, but not before feeling the second clamp on his shoulder that night.

“Listen, asshole,” Gavin murmured, getting in close. “If you know what's good for you, you'll leave that crusty old fart alone. The last thing he'd want is to see one of you tonight.”

Connor's answer was immediate. “I am afraid that is out the question. My orders dictate that I must find Lieutenant Hank Anderson.”

He received a frustrated growl for his troubles. “Should've expected as much. You fuckers never think for yourselves.” Gavin's grip released, and he retreated backwards to his bar stool. “But don't expect a friendly welcome.”

 

Dusted by glitter in the short time he had been inside, Connor left, leaving the LGBT+ Detroiters to their cocktails, beer, and anthems of love and pride. But not before the matron of the bar flopped back in her chair, shooting the detective a long dirty look.

“You're a real dick, you know that, Gavin?” Michelle muttered, twirling the umbrella in her own strawberry daiquiri.

Gavin said nothing, only glaring hard at the door the android left from.

 

xxx

 

At long last.

Connor stood in front of his destination, at Jimmy's Bar, flipping his coin, and thinking over Gavin's threading words.

 

If you know what's good for you, you'll leave that crusty asshole alone.

But don't expect a friendly welcome.

 

Nevertheless, his instructions demanded that he [ENTER JIMMY’S BAR.]

 

For the fifth time that night, Connor pressed his hand against a bar door, ignoring the Anti-Android sign, and pushing onward. He was determined to accomplish his Mission, and for that to happen, he needed the Lieutenant.

His success, his very survival, relied on the Lieutenant Hank Anderson.

Chapter Text

One step, and Connor left the world of cold concrete and melancholy rainfall, entering another of broken dreams and a dreamy haze of cigarette smoke.

Inside the Jimmy’s Bar, Connor found himself trapped within a peeling prison of green walls. A step into the tiled atrocity, the RK-800 took in the little strands of DNA that made up the downhearted Detroit bar.

 

The patriotic American flag bunting decorated the stained window, the triangular Stars and Stripes framed the wall, along with gratuitous sports banners plastered across the entire place.

The electrical thrum of life permeated the atmosphere, from the widescreen television broadcasting a basketball game, to the crunched sound bytes emitting from the arcade machine in the corner.

Every table had a bottle of ketchup and mustard, and a beaten down man, longing for better days.

The acoustic melody of the Detroit based band, The Whiskey Charmers, drifted through the smoke incensed atmosphere. The sweet voice of Carrie Shepard, calling from a beat up jukebox by the front door, began to enchant the local patrons, as Connor let the door close behind him.

 

My suitcase is in the corner,

 

All my clothes are packed in tight.

 

Got my ticket in my hand, shoes on my feet,

 

But I just can't leave you tonight.

 

A natural reaction to analyse the world around him revealed the song, Can’t Leave (2015.) While androids never listened to music in the same way humans did, Connor understood, in theory, that music affected humans in a diverse emotional spectrum.

Assessing the style of the melody, the minors and the literal translation of the lyrics, Connor came to the conclusion that such a song evoked the emotion of sadness in its captive audience. But not for Connor.

The only element he plucked from the song was the title, because - like the singer - Connor could not leave, not until he found what he was looking for.

 

The patrons that cared enough peered around in their seats, curious at the new face in their midst. In the subdued lighting cast by the overheard pool lights, Connor's blue markings - his LED, his armband, his triangles - broadcast his android identity everyone present.

After the initial flicker of awareness, the animosity began anew. Connor analysed it immediately. The nearest human, abandoning his giant pretzel snack and his drink, leered at Connor from beneath his cap, like he were filth beneath his shoes.

“Shit, I thought androids weren't allowed in here.”

 

Connor tilted his head, big brown eyes observing the bearded man. He suspected that this man was not the Lieutenant he was looking for. He was a CyberLife employee, still in uniform, not a member of law enforcement, and he did not resemble the pictured man on file.

However, his instructions were already placing demands on him, blaring across his vision, reminding him of his purpose to CyberLife.

 

[FACE SCAN CUSTOMERS.

 

FIND LIEUTENANT HANK ANDERSON.]

 

Resigned, Connor obeyed, imposing a facial breakdown of the unfriendly man, exposing his identity inside the HUD. As the world froze around him, a series of virtual red polygons augmented around the man, Connor's system accessing a private database to identify him.

An electronic file imposed onto Connor’s reality, pulled up from CyberLife’s connection to the Individual Data Department, certifying his entry to the Personal Data database. Their relation allowed for a smooth access to profiles on every citizen by facial recognition software, something unique to the RK-800 line.

Beneath a virtual image of the man before him, Connor was informed of everything about the human, from his date of birth, any criminal records (none registered,) to his entire employment and qualification history. In a suspended moment, the android knew every intimate detail that made up the CyberLife guard’s life, his recorded family, his political leanings, exposed, laid bare for his perusal.

That information was rendered useless to Connor when the man’s name was highlighted, along with his evident profession.

 

[MYERS, DEREK. SECURITY GUARD.]

 

An error message bled into view, reaffirming the obvious in a large red bar - [MISMATCH.] He exited analysis mode, confident that this man was completely irrelevant to him. To Connor, he was just an inconsequential to his priority, unrelated, unnecessary.

Insignificant.

An electric bolt flashed momentarily in his LED, then settled back into that secure sapphire swirl. The steadiness grounded him, allowing him to walk past the security man without another thought.

Unaware of his entire existence being breached, Derek shook his head, grumbling to himself. “Deal enough with those things…”

 

Movement from behind the bar drew Connor’s attention. The bar owner strolled over, the towel tucked inside his trousers swaying with every step. He effortlessly refilled the man's empty glass, the glimmering whisky a dark brooding ocean.

The world once more stopped, and Connor analysed the human with the considerate dark eyes and braids falling down his shoulders. It was instantaneous, knowing that the bar keeper was not who he was searching for, but his expectancy of knowledge took over first.

 

[PETERSON, JIMMY. BUSINESS OWNER.

 

Update: As expected, not the Lieutenant, but perhaps a source of information if searching yields nothing?]

 

“There you go, my friend,” Jimmy said kindly, returning to the centre of the bar nearby another drinker.

The security guard grumbled, but said nothing more, preferring a hard drink to a brash conflict.

Connor continued, trying not to dwell on the intrusive voice lingering inside the quieter parts of his Mind Palace whenever he saw the CyberLife emblem, and the comforting presence of the coin in his pocket.

 

[Lieutenant Anderson.

 

Only finding Lieutenant Anderson matters.]

 

...

 

I got the can't leave my baby,

 

No, I can't leave my baby.

 

Can't leave my baby blues.

 

Uninterested in the intruder, Hank kept his head down, his bleary gaze lost at nothing in particular.

Why bother in anything if shit was destined to head south anyway?

 

At the bottom of his scotch, swirling in the darkened haze, was his lost redemption, golden faces nothing more than painful memories accompanying him to the emptiness of the void.

He sighed, finding himself growing weary of the same melody on loop since he got here. He felt trapped in his own despair, desperation germinating like a disease he couldn’t shake.

 

Can't go, even if I want to,

 

Even if I choose.

 

...

 

I know I've been mistreated,

 

And it ain't fair, and it ain't right.

 

As Connor scanned the the two men in the first booth, they both fixed him with ugly looks. An off duty administrator, Edward, jerked his head at the android, urging his drinking buddy to check out the ‘nuts and bolts,’ while Christopher Gray (the first man in the bar with a criminal record: DUI) narrowed his eyes beneath his beanie hat.

“What's your problem?” Christopher barked, clicking his tongue in irritation at the android. “You wanna buy me a drink or something?”

Connor said nothing, strolling past the mouthy men that continued to dart verbal barbs his way. Another unemployed human [Graham, Jonah] had no criminal record, only a glass of hard booze, and an unfriendly stare.

Former delivery driver Kim Yo-Han [Domestic Abuse] in the next booth was hardly any more pleasant, practically spitting at the curious android. “The fuck you looking at?” Once Connor was out of sight, the aggravated man went back to his burger and fries, staring bitterly at the overflowing ashtray before him.

 

Every person, with their hostile words, reminded Connor all too much of the Keep, and he half expected another bottle to get thrown his way, or another tightened grip to clamp down on his shoulder.

His LED flickered, and his system responded accordingly.

 

[ Defense_mode_initiate? Y/N.

 

>N.]

 

‘No ,’ Connor told himself. ‘ That would not be the correct course of action at this moment. ’ No one had physically posed a threat yet, and to do so prematurely might endanger his Mission.

Terminating the software compelling him to fight a threat that currently did not exist, Connor tried to focus. Then his awareness came upon the hunched over figure at the bar, clinging to a full shot glass for dear life.

 

The dangling threads of silver hair obscured Connor's view, preventing him from getting a clear reading of his face. He stepped closer, taking in the slightly overweight frame of the man...

 

But I got you sleepin’ in my bed.

 

...

 

Swimmin in my head.

 

Hank tensed.

Even in an unhappily intoxicated state, not caring about the displeased grumblings of the patrons around him, a lifetime on the force taught the Lieutenant to know his surroundings well.

And he flinched when he saw that unmistakable blue reflecting in the murky darkness of his near empty drink.

 

An android. He was being approached by an android.

What the ever loving fuck was a piece of plastic doing here?

 

Hank growled under his breath. He wanted nothing more than the ground to swallow him up, leaving no trace of his pitiful existence behind. This had to be some sort of cruel joke by his creator, surely? He wasn't exactly short of them when it came to Hank ‘Cosmic Buttmonkey’ Anderson these days.

Withdrawing into himself like the world’s booziest hedgehog, Hank crossed all his fingers and toes, sending belligerent cries to the universe, beseeching that the threat to what remained of his sanity passed him by.

Not tonight.

 

...

 

And I just can't leave you tonight.

 

As Connor stepped closer, his keen eyes took note of the way the man tensed at his approach, bringing the android to a likely conclusion.

 

[Tensed muscles upon approach indicates a defensive demeanour.

 

Reason: Anti-Android tendencies?]

 

Very high probability. It only stood to reason since the human was drowning his sorrows in an anti-android establishment. Rather than subject Connor to physical or verbal cruelty, this drinker wanted to instead shun him, pretend he did not exist.

And if another took offense to Connor’s very existence, setting upon him with violent intent, there was a high chance humans like these would ‘turn a blind eye,’ pretend nothing was amiss.

He was not the first human to do so.

 

Everything about the unidentified Lieutenant screamed leave me alone, asshole. From where he stood, Connor read every tensed muscle, and the increased pounding of an already quickened heartbeat.

Approaching an agitated person came with risks, much of which he experienced already tonight.

Only for a second, Connor hesitated, deliberating, and his system punished him for it in an assault to his visual and audiological senses, like a sensory explosion.

 

[FIND LIEUTENANT ANDERSON.

 

FIND HIM.]

 

With a recalibrating blink, Connor watched a young man in a cap come to the bar, not even acknowledging the android. He held out his hand, and a crinkled five dollar bill, towards Jimmy behind the counter.

“Can I get some change, man?”

[Samuel McCray,] Connor's system told him. [Docker with no criminal record. Not a priority.]

The bartender cracked a well-humoured smile, taking the bill and exchanging it for a few dollars in coins.

“You gotta get a girlfriend, pal,” Jimmy suggested, only to be thoroughly ignored.

Silently, Samuel returned to the arcade machine in the corner, Out-Of-This-World, and continued in his never ending battle to become victorious at something in his dreary life. He became absorbed in the game, nothing else existing outside the screen of pixelated enemies and his own imagination.

 

I got the can't leave my baby,

 

No, I can't leave my baby.

 

Before Connor attempted to interact with the man at the bar, he paused. In the corners of the bar, he heard the faintest trickles of conversation. Words like ‘cops’ and ‘Anderson’ drew the most attention.

 

[Mentions of ‘cops’ and ‘Anderson’ indicate a strong possibility they are talking about Lieutenant Anderson.

 

Follow this line of inquiry?

 

>Y.

 

Priority updated.]

 

Stepping away from the heavy drinker, blocking out the relieved sigh, Connor focused all his efforts onto the tight booth corner obscured by the towering bar fridge.

With programmed determination, Connor strode over, only to come across two men, who froze the second they saw the android.

 

A bespectacled man had his hand in his jacket, the other hand out, but both their eyes were on Connor, who stood, unblinking. Underneath a faulty fan lodged in the wall, hushed tones ceased.

“Excuse me,” Connor began, immediately aware of the mismatched identity of these two men, but opting for trying his luck. “My name is Connor, and I-”

“Hey.” The man with the glasses, known as Dennis Ward, hissed, silencing Connor as if the android were a disobedient dog. “Get outta here. Now.”

His companion, shifted awkwardly in his seat, his edgy eyes flicking between the drug dealer and the android that never blinked.

Irritation mounting, Dennis leered, waving his hand dismissively. “You deaf or somethin,’ tincan? Beat it!”

 

Connor realised then why they spoke of ‘cops’ and name dropped the Lieutenant in quiet voices, conducting their matters in a discreet location.

 

[A drug deal was very likely to have been in progress, and the presence of law enforcement would have limited the success of their exchange.

 

They know Lieutenant Anderson frequents this bar.

 

Intervene? Press the matter?

 

Y.

 

N.]

 

Stepping back, Connor began to count.

 

Can't leave my baby blues.

 

Can't go, even if I want to.

 

Even if I choose.

 

...

 

I’ve been pacing this room for hours.

 

I know I should be on that flight.

 

Hank grimaced.

The last thing he needed to hear was that asshole’s voice tonight. It never ceased to amaze the Lieutenant that Dickbag Dennis thought skulking about in the shadows would not make Hank suspicious of his dealings.

Because of course that's what the unscrupulous cock fuck was doing.

 

But how can I go,

 

When you're so deep down in my soul,

 

How can I leave you tonight.

 

Dirtying the streets with more impure shit, undoing all of Hank's good work since his Task Force days. Drug use had only risen drastically since androids came, people lost their jobs, and wanted to wallow in their own misfortune.

And hurting innocent souls in the process.

 

As if that wasn’t a repeated sucker punch to the gut, Hank now had an android breathing down his neck. If the fuckers could breath.

Everything that stole his life from him were here, intruding upon the anniversary that kickstarted his descent into hopelessness, a bleak future of which no light dared penetrate. Even on the sunniest days, only darkness prevailed, a stark reminder of all he lost.

That did it.

 

I got the can't leave my baby,

 

No, I can't leave my baby.

 

Clambering unsteadily to his feet, Hank staggered to the bathroom, sealing himself in a green tiled puke prison of Anti-Android slogans, screwing his eyes shut, and only relying on his quivering lip to suffocate the sounds of anguish.

The sad, bittersweet lyrics were a distant memory, as Hank languished in his own mournful melancholy. What good was a sorrowful swansong if his own life story complemented his tragic farce better?

One more drink ,’ Hank told himself, his heart bursting with grief. ‘ One more drink, and I’m gone.

 

Can't leave my baby blues.

 

Can't go, even if I want to,

 

Even if I choose.

 

...

 

By the time Connor turned, he saw an empty seat, then heard a hard slam.

It came from the bathroom.

 

Readying himself, the android peered into the public toilets, greeted by the same filthy green walls. Below him was a murky tiled floor that had not seen a thorough scrubbing in - by Connor's estimation - several years.

Every conceivable surface, from the less than porcelain sinks to the long abandoned condom machine, felt unclean.

The toilets marked men's was declared occupied, leaving Connor confident that the final gentleman was inside. He gave the graffiti adorned door a firm knock.

Only to be rebuffed by a hard, broken “ fuck off!

 

Automatically, Connor’s audio biocomponents kicked in, analysing the small sample, and coming to a conclusion.

The stress levels were significantly high, above optimal for a human.

 

[Cornering someone with significant stress levels might not be the best course of action,] Connor decided, backing off. [Wait until he leaves?

 

>Y.]

 

Catching the sight of himself in the scuffed mirror, the android approached curiously. Inside the mirror was an android, trapped inside a rough bathroom, etched with hateful graffiti upon every surface.

31% unemployment rate. When will it stop?

We want jobs, not androids.

Ban androids.

Androids killed our country.

To Detroit, androids were a menace, the cause of lost jobs, and what was single handedly ruining America. The RK-800 had already experienced much hostility that night, and that was before finding his target.

His eyes came upon another phrase, carved into the wall by the mirror, and his processors halted.

 

Kill all androids.

 

He closed his eyes.

 

[Instability detected. Recalibrate?]

 

...

 

Hank hated how ugly he sounded.

All he wanted was to break down in peace, a date with his own downer before getting back to his swift spiral to oblivion.

He couldn’t even lick his wounds for five minutes without some first class prick battering at an occupied toilet door because they couldn’t fucking read.

 

What did it matter anyway? The bitter blue mist calmed for now, and he always had tonight.

He sniffed, then opened the door...

 

 

Attentively, Connor turned his head towards the sharp creaking door.

He knew it, even before the mess of virtual shapes secured their point of analysis, prior to the slices of hot red cubing around the man's head, framing him perfectly.

Everything pinged positive green. A profile popped up on Connor's HUD, matching the picture he had of a younger man accompanying the Detroit Law Enforcement crest.

 

[LT ANDERSON, HANK. POLICE LIEUTENANT.]

 

[COMPLETE: LOCATED LIEUTENANT ANDERSON.]

 

When their eyes met, Connor jolted back into reality, but the world around him still appeared suspended, frozen in time. Only the Lieutenant stomping towards the exit registered as movement, the faint ambiance of the bar reduced to muffled nothingness, even to the advanced android.

His processors slowed down when he took in the startling shade of Hank’s bright blue eyes. Connor was unsure why, but his internal catalogue, a library of life, associated with the similarities of that striking shade.

 

The surface of a sunlit ocean, pierced by sunshine rays. A clean-cut aquamarine, reflecting fragmented light. Cracked ice capturing the cloudless skies above.

That glacial stare, encased in a hardened shell of ice, pierced through Connor. The android experienced much of the same stare that night, hateful expressions with no compromise nor sympathy to them.

But staring at the Lieutenant, Connor believed there was something else nestled within that hostile front, something his logical mind tried to - but failed - to put into words.

 

[Error detected. Diagnostic_program running.]

 

...

 

Hank nearly faltered when he caught a glimpse of the android watching him as he exited the cubicle.

So it was the piece of plastic stalking him now? Why not, since to his knowledge, androids didn’t take the piss.

And just to top things off, the asshole with the unblinking fucking stare was blocking off the sink. Terrific.

 

Resisting the urge to shove the stationary android away, or at the very least telling him to “move it,” Hank swiftly came to the conclusion that none of it was worth it.

Nothing mattered tonight, and it certainly wouldn’t by tomorrow.

Not Detroit, not Jimmy’s Bar, and certainly not this scruffy metallic ballsack that seemed like it got dressed next to an exploding clown factory, or something.

Like he cared.

 

Stomping towards the bar, Hank rubbed his hands on his brown jacket. Who in the hell cared about his appearance anyway? He was hardly the heartthrob of the city.

No one in Jimmy's Bar would dare reprimand him. As much of a cesspit as certain clientele were at Jimmy's, along with the troubled past of the place, Hank knew he could come here, and drink himself into a stupor, and not be bothered.

Perks of being a member of law enforcement in a shithole with skeletons in their closet. No one wanted to risk antagonising the one guy with power to shut the shitshow down.

The seat creaked under his weight, and Hank continued where he left off, savouring the bitter taste of whisky and heartbreak.

 

...

 

A sense of release finally unloaded all the tension in his software. Finally, progress had been made.

Regrettably, Connor caught sight of himself in the mirror, and he frowned. While a steady blue swirl conveyed stability, he could not help but notice he was hardly… presentable.

Slivers of brown glass embedded his once immaculately styled hair, a blue slit bowed beneath his eye, with a thin layer of glitter and the occasional flake of confetti dusting his clothing. Beyond his reflection, he saw the hunched over man with silver hair back at the bar.

Potentially hostile to androids or not, Hank was a Lieutenant of the force, and Connor needed to spruce up his appearance.

He had to be perfect.

 

A potential idea came to him. He could reset his artificial skin, presenting himself as his creators intended. The minor cut, not deep enough to remain set in his polymer layer, would be gone, and his booze soaked clothing could be restored.

However, one glance at the obscene graffiti on the walls made him second guess his decision. This was, after all, hardly the most appropriate setting to shed his skin, revealing the polished white chassis that lurked beneath.

 

One moment was all it took, and one moment might have been a step too far for the down on their luck Detroiters, itching for someone to take their aggression out on. The men at the Rock Bottom Keep were a testament to that desire for punishment against a perceived problem.

One moment.

 

But he only had one chance to complete his Mission, and that involved Hank.

Connor sighed, side stepping out of sight from the door. He only needed one moment…

 

...

 

Hank tried to forget the nosey ass android gawking at him in the pisshouse.

But it was hard when he thought back to the reason why he chose tonight to get absolutely rat arsed.

 

Androids didn’t have desires, or intangible things they yearned for. Androids weren’t capable of being heartbroken, or experiencing loss so deeply, that Hank doubted if the sun were capable of rising again.

Androids were machines wrapped in a plastic skin, built by selfish, uncaring humans.

Seemed fitting, really.

 

To Hank Anderson, only the demons within the bottle existed, his own failures and that of humanity conscious with every mouthful. It had started with blurring the pain, trying to make the lines of those memories, softening the aching inside his heart.

But that's the funny thing about getting plastered. By trying to dull the pain, all that's left is emptiness, magnifying the loneliness that Hank already felt. No one ever talked about that never ending cycle when they sold booze readily.

Happiness felt elusive as gold dust, nothing obtainable in Hank's lifetime. He had his beautiful boy back home, his beloved St Bernard, but no matter how much he wanted to hold onto something precious, the memories of everything he lost strangled his optimism.

 

Depression chained him down, robbing his world of life and captivating colour, leaving it as drained as the streets of Detroit itself. He just wanted something to hold onto, to keep him walking the straight and narrow, without teetering on the tightrope of his own heartache.

But everything felt too woefully heavy, too miserable, and people too conceited and selfish.

 

As if things weren’t bleak enough, Hank knew he wasn’t alone, and he sighed.

 

...

 

Already at his side, Connor stared at Hank curiously.

The silver haired man continued exactly where he left off, chugging shots back like it was going out of fashion. The Lieutenant, unlike his professional mugshot, wore an old brown jacket, stained denim jeans, and casual trainers.

Upon closer inspection, Connor noticed that the Lieutenant had gained a few pounds in his later years, with a soft swell tugging at the front of his shirt, causing the stripes of orange, yellow and blue to curve like coloured suspenders.

 

Surrounding the silver haired human was - to Connor's observation - six empty shot glasses and an overflowing tips bucket, meaning the patron had one goal tonight.

To get completely, unashamedly intoxicated.

 

[UPDATE. Lieutenant Anderson might be struggling with personal issues, evident by his appearance and drinking excess.]

 

Arms folded, Jimmy shot Connor a cautious look, warning him against starting any trouble in his place. Rough reputation aside, the bartender did come to know Hank well, and the real reason he came here.

That solid onyx stare fixated on the android, a translation that broadcast visibly. ‘Don’t start any trouble in here, or else.’

Connor understood loud and clear.

 

The initial brilliance that flooded Connor’s entire being became replaced by that demand for satisfaction, a new order taking priority.

 

[NEXT OBJECTIVE: TALK TO LT ANDERSON.]

 

Eager to progress with this Mission further, disapproving of the lapse in schedule, Connor introduced himself to the man of high importance.

“Lieutenant Anderson,” Connor addressed him. “My name is Connor. I'm the android sent by CyberLife. I looked for you at the station, but nobody knew where you were. They said you were probably having a drink nearby.”

 

Fingers tightening around his drink, Hank said nothing, never even raising his head. So the android was scoping him out.

Great . Just fucking great.

If Hank wasn’t already dead set on exterminating any tender connection to this mortal coil through drink, he might have found the irony humorous.

 

There was a lull in the introduction, and Hank speculated that if he ignored the asshole long enough, he might leave him alone to drown the rest of his sorrows in booze.

No such luck.

 

The android’s social relations software kicked in, like a buffing computer, operating under the knowledge that jokes put humans at ease, made them comfortable. Connor tried his hand at humour, hoping to win the Lieutenant over. “I was lucky to find you at the fifth bar.”

 

Behind the silver curtains of his hair, Hank rolled his eyes. As if the stand up comedy world wasn’t hollow and painfully un-fucking-funny as it was, they had funny-bots shitting out punchlines now.

Resigned to the fact that Connor was not getting the hint, Hank responded with a lethargic mumble that could not have sounded less like a question. “...What do you want.”

 

Appeased by the eventual answer, Connor began to justify his presence. “You were assigned a case early this evening. A homicide, involving a CyberLife android.” Hank grunted, nonchalant about the news. “In accordance with procedure, the company has allocated a specialised model to assist investigators.”

 

Hank cringed. Babysitting a wet behind the ears robo-cop was not Hank’s idea of a good time. Surely Captain Fowler knew that? Impatient and just done with all this bullshit, the Lieutenant finally straightened his back.

There were only two faces he wanted to see walking through that door, and a fake one wasn't it.

‘Nuisances, the whole lot of ‘em. Well, here's to one thing they can't fix .’

“Well, I don't need any assistance,” Hank stated firmly, wanting this exchange done and dusted. “‘Specially not from a plastic asshole like you.” He waved his fingers dismissively at the android, wanting him to get the message already. “So just be a good lil’ robot and get the fuck outta here.”

 

Connor was astounded. Every second he spent with the Lieutenant changed his perspective on him. He had expected professionalism, dedication to the cause, but everything about Lieutenant Anderson seemed abrasive.

The RK-800 did not need to engage in his social relations software to know this was a man that wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately, Connor's success relied on Hank.

 

A series of options came before him, and his resolve strengthened.

His first method was to try and [REASON] with him. As off putting as his behaviour was, Connor was positive that the Lieutenant was a reasonable man at heart. No one became Lieutenant by simply sitting on their backside, and insulting his fellow colleagues and peers.

“Listen,” Connor started, persuasion softening his voice. “I think you should stop drinking and come with me. It'll make life easier for both of us.”

 

No response. Hank kept his head down, sighing wearily. What had he done to deserve this bullshit? All he wanted was to be left alone, to mourn the obliteration of his perfect life in peace.

Even the other patrons knew better than to piss Hank off, especially on this night.

Depression might be smothering his level of interests these days, but his anger spiked at the insolence on display.

He was getting there.

 

Unfortunately for Hank, Connor's persistence won out, and he opted for an [UNDERSTANDING] approach next. Inside his complex software, the RK-800 plucked his limited knowledge of the Lieutenant into the open, considering his appeal very carefully.

 

[Lieutenant Anderson might harbour anti-android tendencies.]

 

The android assessed that, in most cases, discriminatory behaviour stemmed from fear and ignorance. Perhaps all Hank needed was reassurance?

“I understand that some people are not comfortable in the presence of androids, but I am-”

 

Hank snapped. How dare this motherfucker act like he knew him, acting all supportive and understanding. This… machine knew nothing about him, he knew nothing about what androids meant to him.

Suggesting that Hank wasn't comfortable with androids, comparing him to those thugs that beat them for no reason.

Hank had a damn good reason, but he wasn't like them.

Nevertheless, the hard words flew out before he could stop them. He just wanted It gone, he just wanted everyone gone.

Hey ,” Hank snarled, burying Connor with those big blue eyes of his. “Don't you act like you know anything about me. So fuck off before I crush you like an empty beer can!”

 

The sudden aggression confirmed that the situation was escalating, and Connor was quickly running short of options and patience.

“I'm sorry, Lieutenant, but I must insist,” Connor [PERSISTED] . “My instructions stipulate that I have to accompany you.”

Suddenly, a tight smile cracked Hank's lips, his bemused blue eyes meeting Jimmy's curious brown ones. He raised the glass in his hand to his mouth.

“You know where you can stick your instructions?” Hank inquired teasingly, a cackle escaping in the prelude to another mouthful of scotch.

Unaware that he was being mocked, Connor did as he always did, what he was programmed to. Answer the question posed to him in a straightforward manner. “No… Where?”

 

Hank finally span his head around, shooting Connor with a long, disapproving look. He shouldn’t have been surprised, but what really grinder his gears was just how perfect the android was, even in the murky lighting of the bar.

Somewhere between the bathroom and the bar, Connor was no covered in all that shit he picked up from the previous locations. Everything about him was immaculate, clean, and wholesome.

Everything that Hank wasn’t.

All wrapped in a pristine package with sickeningly adorable brown eyes, and a dog-like tilt of the head.

 

‘That’s you Android fuckers in a nutshell, isn’t it?’ Hank thought bitterly, spinning back towards his drink, away from Connor. ‘You lot can be fixed, and think you’re so perfect, while I…’

 

A small “never mind” came from Hank, who turned away from him, returning to his drink. As far as the Lieutenant was concerned, the conversation was completely over.

Hank had entertained the DPD’s newest playtoy long enough. He could finally return to his drink, drown his sorrows without further incident, then head home to the only thing that still mattered to him.

 

Hank’s dismissive response told Connor everything he needed to know. As limited as his Social Relations programming was, Connor updated this information.

 

[HANK’S APPROVAL_DECREASING.

 

APPROVAL RATING: TENSE.]

 

Connor was confused by all his failures that night.

 

Everything he tried came up empty, and the complete lack of professionalism from an important member of law enforcement, someone his entire success depended on, was depleting Connor’s restraint.

Why was the Lieutenant being so infuriatingly stubborn, and refusing to listen to reason?

The voice that gave him commands fell silent, and Connor bit his lip, not pleased with these troubling turn of events. He did, however, hear the sound resembling machinery disassembling inside his Mind Palace, and Connor barked at this annoying, irritating person, mirroring the human’s aggravation.

 

[Threaten.]

 

Lieutenant Anderson ,” Connor addressed sharply, growing annoyed by the situation himself. “I must inform you that I intend to file a report on your behaviour.”

 

Remaining quiet, Hank stubbornly clenched his teeth behind tense lips. That's how this asshole wanted to do things? Well, unfortunately for Connor, Hank was past caring about his disciplinary record, and yearly appraisal crap.

Something that became evident when Hank unceremoniously lifted his hand and gave nothing more than the middle finger.

One assessment later, and Connor understood he was being insulted, sensing a collation of social data reminding him of his current status with the good Lieutenant.

 

[HANK’S APPROVAL_DECREASE.]

 

Connor knew he still had pre-instructed methods of proceeding with this stubbornness born of humanity. He knew humans could be difficult, unwilling to bend, but for all of the android’s advanced technology, he simply could not get through to this man.

This RK-800 was failing in his Mission, and androids that failed were destroyed, dismantled.

Something in Connor snapped, like a piece of string taut with tension.

Rather than placate the frustrating man with apologies, or appealing to his whims, Connor did the unthinkable.

 

> [SPILL HIS DRINK.]

 

Effortlessly, the RK-800 snatched Hank’s full shot glass away from him, unceremoniously spilling the whisky waterfall onto the floor, then returning the empty glass to the counter with a firm thunk. His stern stare regarded Hank with a sense of finality.

“I think we can go now.”

 

By this point, the entire bar fell silent, spare the sweet soulful serenading of Carrie Shepard setting the mood. Men sat in morbid fascination at the scene playing out before them, because no one did that to Hank.

Perceptive Jimmy, who knew Hank long enough, instinctively took a step back just in time. In a whirlwind movement most impressive for a man that had knocked a few back, Hank snapped to his feet, grappling Connor by the lapels, and nearly lifting he android off the floor.

Face contorted with anger, blood pressure and heart rate rising, this sudden change in mood swallowed everything like an inferno.

Lieutenant Hank Anderson was pissed .

 

[HANK LARGE_DECREASE.

 

APPROVAL RATING: HOSTILE.]

 

“You little fucking prick!” Hank shouted, shaking him by the jacket. “I don't know what's stopping me from knocking you clean out!”

 

Connor predicted his behaviour could have been better, but his matter of fact delivery only exacerbated his smartass manner further. “Your sense of duty, Lieutenant. And the cost of repairs if you damage me.” With a sweep of the hands, the android gestured towards his suspended body. “For your information, I'm worth a small fortune.”

Hank hissed. The android regarded the matter of It’s physical state so simply, as if it were just a broken toaster. All it did was reaffirm Hank's belief that these Machines truly felt nothing, much like the heartless humans that built them and abused them.

But then, what did that make Hank?

 

Reluctantly, he Lieutenant released the RK-800, then dug deep into his pockets. For a startling moment, Connor read a little too deeply into the action, considering that a threat might be made towards him. Every electrical signal kicked off inside him, warning him to be ready.

Only for a mess of wrinkled notes to be smacked upon the table, with Hank muttering to the surprised bartender, “See that Jimmy? Wonders of technology. They can even program assholes these days…”

 

Connor felt his survivalist programming slowing down, but he was left drained. How strange , he thought to himself, running a quick diagnostics test. I've never experienced this sort of lag before.

 

[Running_Diagnostics.exe]

 

[Slowdown detected in cerebral bio component. Report sent to CyberLife.]

 

As Connor came to, pondering over the unusual phenomenon, he saw Hank's cold, ungrateful stare piercing into him. That earlier resemblance to soft and fluid nature became hardened behind a wall of ice.

“Gotta go,” Hank murmured, glaring at Connor. “Duty calls.”

Then Hank was gone, shoving the front door with enough force to almost take the door clean off its hinges.

 

The RK-800 should have been satisfied. He finally forced the unruly Lieutenant out the door, and the Mission could get underway. However, after meticulously adjusting his tie, and permitting himself a tight smirk, he saw that Hank was not the only one hostile towards him.

Everyone, from barkeeper Jimmy to the men in the booths, fixed Connor with glares of pure hatred. Even Samuel, once so absorbed in the arcade machine, had his bleary red gaze on the android, disapproving of the scene that just took place.

 

As Connor strode towards the door, he felt his system overheat suddenly, and a thought came to mind.

Could a Mission be successful, and the method be impractical? Did he choose the right approach or did he jeopardise the long term chances of completing his objectives?

He remembered Hank’s cold eyes, and his system shuddered.