Now Markus understood what Hank had meant.
The human had been expressing concern for a long time now, about Connor, about how he didn’t seem to be quite like the rest of the deviants. Markus had brushed it away at first, consoling Hank that everyone dealt with deviancy differently, that it was normal to see anything from almost no emotional expression at all to extreme mood swings as a deviant tried to learn how to navigate their newfound sensation. He had assured him that all deviants seemed to mellow out after a while, just like humans, when they learnt what each emotion was and how to deal with it. He had said maybe Connor was just like that, reserved, a little quiet.
But Hank had kept calling him, worry in his voice as he talked in hushed tones about how he felt as if Connor was becoming more and more machine like with each day and that even though Markus said that he might just be quiet Connor rarely, if ever, expressed any emotion.
Finally, beginning to grow a little worried himself, Markus agreed to have Connor come over and have a talk with him. Just so he could quell Hank’s fears, and maybe so he could check in a little with the other. The only time he heard from Connor was when the other was updating him on a case involving a deviant, wanting to know of next of kin, if an unlisted android was hiding out in Jericho, or anything of the sort. He hadn’t heard of Connor interacting with any androids outside of work, and while that in itself wasn’t necessarily bad, he would have liked to see the other get to know some of his own kin.
But at the same time Markus understood him. As the deviant hunter, his reputation often preceded him, and a lot of androids were still hesitant about him. And he had Hank who had proved to be a rock of security in the android’s life, if the way Hank spoke of the other was anything to go by.
Markus guessed that was part of the reason he agreed to see Connor too, to make sure he didn’t have to rely on just one person, to show he was welcomed to come to his own kind with whatever might go on inside that supercomputer for a head of his if he felt he couldn’t tell Hank.
Now, seeing Connor stand by his doorstep, he wished he had given in sooner.
“Hello, Markus.” Connor spoke, voice smooth, face blank. Markus blinked, hand stuck on the door knob as he took in the other. He was smartly dressed, dress shoes, slacks, shirt cable knit sweater under his coat, looking homely. His hair was hanging a little freer now than when Markus had last seen him, locks pushed over to the side instead of slicked back. It was curly, Markus realized with a blink.
But his face. His face was blank. Completely devoid of emotions, as if he had just been activated for the first time right outside his door step. He could see none of the...humanity for lack of better word, he could see in the other deviants. Even the most closed off ones looked more alive than Connor right now.
“Are you alright, Markus?” Connor asked, head tipping to the side at the question but face remaining blank. Markus blinked, realizing he had been staring.
“Ah, yes. Yes of course. Come on in Connor.” He stepped aside, showing the android inside and helping him shrug out of his coat. “How have you been. Haven’t seen you in quite some time.”
“It has been 23 days since our last meeting, and during that time I have been performing satisfactory.” Connor replied, stopping once he had stepped inside. His posture was ramrod straight, uncomfortably so, and his hands hung unnaturally at his side. “How about you, Markus?” He asked.
Markus wished he would stop adding his name onto every question.
“Fine, just great.” He sucked in a breath, trying not to let the worry he felt for the other android show on his face.
“Are you sure? Your stress levels seem elevated.” Connor replied and Markus felt himself blink, looking for a way to explain that seeing someone you had personally been with when they deviated acting more like an android than ever before was quite jarring. In the end he decided maybe he should wait a little before starting to question the other.
“Oh you know, Jericho, everything.” He said, gesturing vaguely at nothing. He could see Connor didn’t know, but decided to change the subject. “Why don’t you join me in the library and we can properly catch up.”
He started walking before Connor could answer, quite frankly a little too unnerved by the other’s behaviour to wait around a little longer. He pointed Connor into the library before excusing himself to the kitchen to get some refreshments, ignoring Connor pointing out that he could not eat anything. Markus knew, he just wanted to collect himself before sitting down with Connor.
He drew a deep breath, sending a quick message to Simon as he pulled out a glass of water for each of them.
Have you heard if anything has happened to Connor recently?
The reply came almost instantaneously.
I think something is wrong with him. He’s acting as though
he never deviated
He’s always been kind of stiff. I’m sure it’s nothing.
No this is worse. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ll show
you when I get back to Jericho
He grabbed the glasses before Simon could reply, setting the conversation on ignore until he was done talking to Connor. The other android was standing in the large library, regarding Karl’s giant stuffed giraffe with blank eyes.
Markus cleared his throat, setting down the water glasses on the small tray table next to the couch. Connor turned round, eyebrows rising in question.
“Come sit down. Let’s talk.” He patted the seat next to him.
Dutifully Connor moved over to the couch, sitting down and turning to Markus with those blank eyes.
“What do you wish to talk about?” He asked.
“How about we talk a little bit about you?” Markus suggested, watching as Connors quirked to the side again. “How is everything? Deviancy treating you right?” He asked, trying to make the question light hearted despite the worry swirling around his pump.
“Yes.” Connor spoke. Markus nodded, waiting for an elaboration. None came.
“No...questions about emotions or?” Markus prodded.
“No.” Connor confirmed.
“And how’s work? You’re still with the DPD right?” He asked despite knowing fully well that was the case.
“Work is good. Thanks to the android employment act I was able to resume my position as a Lieutenant last month after my three month probationary period ended.” He recounted.
“Oh.” Markus spoke, eyebrows rising in interest. Finally talking about something, he could use this. He shifted forward. “That must have been exciting.”
Connor blinked, waiting a little too long before answering.
“Anything else exciting going on at the DPD? I heard they expanded their android assault department not too long ago.” Markus asked. Connor had always seemed to enjoy his job, at least that’s what he had gathered from what Hank had told him. In his experience, it was easier to get people talking if they talked about something they enjoyed.
“Yes. We have a new Lieutenant, Joshua Blaese, who I have been partnered with on several occasions.” Connor confirmed. His left eye gave a small twitch as Connor blinked, lagging behind. It was small enough that had Markus not been watching him intently he would have missed it.
“Tell me more about him.” Markus prompted, leaning forward a little, his eyes carefully scanning the other android’s face for any other oddities. The twitch could be nothing, a small glitch, it happened, but it could also be an indicator of something else.
“He is 49 years old. He became a Lieutenant at 47, and was previously stationed at the southfield department before he was transferred to the DPD. He is a good officer, no disciplinary actions in his file and a number of high-profile arrests on his record.” Connor stated. Markus nodded, listening intently.
“And what do you think of him?” He asked, a small smile playing on his lips.
Connor blinked, his LED flashing yellow for a brief moment before he seemed to process the question.
“He is a good partner.” He stated, blinking once more. His eye had yet to give another twitch. “He sometimes brings along detectives from his previous district, to aid during bigger investigations. It is very helpful.”
Markus nodded, carefully watching the other for any sort of micro expression. Connor was just as blank as he had been the whole time. Sighing, Markus decided that maybe, it was better to just take the bull by the horn and ask.
“Does he treat you okay? No one is being... discriminatory or anything?” He asked, eyes softening as he regarded Connor. The android blinked again, left eye giving a twitch. It was clearly visible this time.
“He treats me well, Markus.” Connor replied.
“Are you sure? You know you can tell otherwise, right. If you feel like the DPD wouldn’t care I can put you in contact with some other people that can help you.” He spoke carefully.
“I am sure. He is very support of me despite the fact that he is a human and I am an android.” Connor replied with a small nod.
Markus blinked, having not expected that sort of answer.
“Oh, oh well I’m glad to hear that.” He said, leaning back a little. Connor’s eye twitched again. Markus felt his lips thin ever so slightly, suddenly not so sure that Connor was telling the truth despite the earnestness in his voice.
“Could you show me? I would love to see an officer like that. It’s not rarely we have people being that supportive of us that doesn’t know androids personally.” Markus spoke, keeping his tone lighthearted.
Connor blinked, LED flashing yellow for a split second, before he nodded and reached out his hand, skin already melting away to white plating. Markus held out his arm, offering up a connection as Connor clasped his forearm, engaging the interface.
Markus blinked, suddenly seeing through Connor’s eyes. He was in an office inside what he presumed to be the DPD. A man, tall and fair with dark hair and thin eyebrows looked over at him, a smile on his face. Connor’s HUD informed him that this was Joshua Blaese as the man took a few steps forward, raising a hand and resting it on Connor’s shoulder. The grin on his face broadened.
There was a stutter in the feed, barely there, but Markus noticed.
“ Well done today, Connor. It’s always a delight working with you .” Joshua said, giving Connor’s shoulder a squeeze before stepping away and out of the office.
The interface disconnected as Connor drew back. His face was as blank as always, his movements smooth. Still, something was making Markus worry. He had never experienced a stutter like that while interfacing before. He had never even heard of it. Something must have been wrong.
“Was that stutter only on my end or...?” Markus asked, flashing a short smile. Connor blinked, LED cycling yellow and then blue, before he answered.
“Yes. It appears I have to cut our meeting short. Good bye Markus.” He said, standing up and stepping out of the library before Markus could react.
“Hey, Connor. Wait!” He called after the other android, hearing the front door open and managing to catch a glimpse of Connor walking down the steps, jacket in hand, before it swung shut behind him.
Hank frowned, arms crossed as he regarded the crime scene in front of them. It was quite clear what had happened. A traci model her head smashed in, and substances on the ground. He just hoped the violation had happened after death, for the traci’s sake.
He was tired, so fucking tired, and he just wanted to go home, sink into his couch and have a beer or two too many. Or like a whole case. Might even get into the whiskey tonight if today got any worse.
Connor was next to him, scanning over the crime scene with blank eyes, taking in every piece of evidence. No doubt he had worked it out too already, but of course you couldn’t stop Connor from being more than throughout.
The urge to drown in a bottle of whiskey grew stronger as he regarded Connor. Keep an eye on him was what Markus had said I think something might be going on at work . It had been the absolute opposite of what Hank had hoped to hear. Fuck if he knew what to watch out for. It wasn’t like he hadn’t been watching Connor like a hawk for the past month or two, since he figured out that there was something wrong with the android. He had told Markus as much, but the deviant leader had only sighed and said Please and grumbling Hank had agreed.
He pursed his lips, scratching his beard.
“So what do you think?” He asked, looking over at Connor with a raised eyebrow. The android blinked, head cocking to the side before he crouched down, dipping his fingers in the white substance.
“Oh Con- fuck.” Hank turned away, not wanting to witness what he knew the android was doing with the sample. He had given up on trying to make Connor stop, if the android was anything it was a stubborn little shit, but that didn’t mean he accepted the whole licking shit thing.
“So, figured out who our perpetrator is?” He asked, failing to keep the irritation out of his voice. Not that he was really trying.
Instead of Connor’s smoot reply came a retching sound.
Hank turned around, ready to send whatever newbie that hand entered the crime scene out. He would not deal with some fresh faced eager officer puking on his evidence. But what he saw instead was Connor, doubled over and mouth open.
The androids stomach drew in, another retching sound escaping him, as he heaved again.
“Connor?” Hank asked, moving forwards. He didn’t know androids could throw up? Could they?
The android retched again, almost tipping over from the violence. Nothing was coming up, but that didn’t stop the artificial stomach and throat from working, trying to purge something from the android’s systems.
“Shit.” Hank walked up, placing a hand on Connor’s shoulders and starting to pull him away from the crime scene. He didn’t know what an android would throw up if it did, and it wouldn’t do to contaminate the crime scene.
“You okay?” He asked as Connor continued to heave, the android gasping for breath between painful sounding coughs. “Is this some sort of malfunction? Do I need to do anything?” Hank asked, steering Connor up behind a dumpster a little further in the alley.
The android fell down on his knees, hands coming to brace himself on the ground as he heaved again. Hank bent down next to him, giving his back a few firm pats in case something had gotten stuck in his respiratory system or something of the sort. And hey, electronics seemed to sort themselves out if you gave them a love tap or two.
The retching stopped, and Hank felt his eyes widen in surprise, relief filling him for half a second. The next second he was drowned in icy dread as Connor abruptly clasped his hair, a pained scream ripping through the alley way.
Hank grabbed the android, trying to get a look at his face, trying to figure out what the fuck was going on. The scream was loud enough to hurt his ears, jarring against his eardrums. It kept rising in pitch, rising and rising and rising until it felt as though it was cutting through is head.
“Fuck!” He clasped his hands over his ears, turning away from Connor and seeing several of the officers on the crime scene had done the same. The pitch kept rising, until it suddenly cut out, likely too high for human hearing. Hank kept his ears covered for a moment longer, before daring to turn around.
Connor was sitting back on his heels, LED switching back from red just as Hank turned around. His face was blank, looking as though he had not just tried to puke his guts out before shattering all of their ear drums.
“What the fuck Connor?” Hank roared, grabbing the Android by the lapels. Connor turned to look at him, eyes blank.
“My apologies, Hank. It seems I experienced a minor malfunction. It has been corrected. All systems functional.” Connor spoke, removing Hank’s hands from his lapels with ease before standing back up and returning to the crime scene.
Hank blinked as he watched the android leave.
Well, that settled it.
Something was definitely wrong with Connor. Very wrong.
“I need a fucking drink.”
Connor comes over a week later again, Hank with him again. Markus would say the android looked confused this time, except he didn’t. His face was completely blank, just as last visit, and his movements are stiff, calculated, robotic.
Hank had called him and told him about what had happened at their crime scene, and the violent reaction Connor had had. He suspected it had to do with the sample analysis, that it somehow got stuck or triggered some sort of glitch. But there was also an underlying worry, one that neither Hank or him had mentioned.
“Hello, Markus.” Connor spoke in greeting once more, and Markus nodded at him, inviting him in with a quiet greeting. He only nodded at Hank, who simply nodded back. The two of them barely knew each other outside of their talk about Connor, and this was the first time Markus had seen him in person. He didn’t look quite like Markus had imagined, a lot gruffer, but there was a kindness in his eyes that the android appreciated.
“I asked Simon to join us, I hope that is okay?” Markus said, looking over at Connor. Connor blinked, before nodding.
“I see no objections.”
“Course you wouldn’t.” Hank grumbled, hanging his coat up on the hook before giving Connor’s back a small push, ushering the android deeper into the house. “Come on kid.” He mumbled.
Markus showed them the way to the library, flashing Simon a small smile. The other android stood up with a bright smile, quickly standing up from the couch and walking over to the group.
When he spotted Connor his smile faltered for a moment, his eyes widening in surprise. He quickly composes himself though, walking up to the group and introducing himself with a handshake and a smile.
“How nice to finally meet you Connor, I’ve heard a lot about you.” Simon said as he shook Connor’s hand. Connor blinked in reply, before pulling his lips up in a mimicry of a smile. It was unsettling, seeing those empty eyes pair with the too wide grin, like Connor didn’t know how to smile. Markus had seen that sort of smile before, on androids that had yet to deviate. It didn’t bode well.
“It is nice to meet you too.” Connor replied, smile dropping quickly as he straightened again and let his hands hang unnaturally by his side.
“Let’s all sit down.” Markus said, ushering the group back over to the couches. He made sure to offer Hank something to drink, which the Lieutenant turned down, before he made himself comfortable in one of the armchairs.
It wasn’t by happenstance that Connor ended up alone on the couch with the rest of them in the arm chairs surrounding him. Markus had told Simon of the twitching eye, the stuttering memory and the violent reaction at the crime scene, and sitting like this they could observe Connor carefully from both sides. If Connor had noticed their plan, he didn’t show any signs of it, instead sitting as stiffly and unnaturally as last time.
“I guess there is no easy way to say this.” Markus began when the silence had stretched out for too long. He could see Hank shift in his chair, clearly uncomfortable. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t uncomfortable himself. “We’re worried about you Connor.”
“Why?” Connor asked.
Markus mouth clicked shut, not ready for such a quick and harsh reply. It was the first sign of any sort of emotion in the other, and it doesn’t bode well.
“Because you’ve been acting like a machine for the past three months.” Hank spoke up, leaning back in his chair and raising his eyebrows at Connor, as if challenging him to deny it.
“I do not understand.” Connor replied, voice emotionless once more, face blank.
“We’re simply worried for you.” Markus spoke diplomatically, not wanting Connor to feel as if they were blaming him for something if this truly was his personality. “We just want to make sure nothing is malfunctioning.”
“All of my systems are fully operational.” Connor replied.
“That’s excellent.” Simon spoke up, giving Connor a small smile again. “But, sometimes, it’s hard to find out if something is wrong by yourself. A second opinion wouldn’t hurt, would it.”
Connor was quiet, led circling blue. Round and round and round. His left eye gave a quick twitch again. Connor didn’t seem to be aware of it.
“Like that.” Simon continued. “Markus told me he noticed your left eye seemed to be bothering you during your last visit. Maybe we could take a quick look and see if we can find out if it’s something we can fix?” Simon’s tone is gentle, kind and warm. If Markus was in Connor’s place, he would have given in immediately. Connor on the other hand, simply continued to stare.
“Come on kid. Just let them do whatever it is they want to do. If nothing’s wrong it’s not like it’ll do any harm. And if something’s wrong then hey, might be worth it.” Hank said from his arm chair, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees.
Connor’s LED began cycling yellow, two, three turns until it turned blue again. He looked back at Markus, face as blank as always, but this time Markus could make out something behind those blank eyes. Something...longing? Maybe he was just projecting.
“It’s just interfacing, like we did last time.” Markus said, giving a small smile himself.
“I will agree for the sake of calming your worries but I can assure you I am not experiencing any malfunctions.” Connor replied. The android made quick work of rolling up his shirt sleeve, before the skin of his arm melted away to white plating.
Markus stood up, making his way over to the couch. Connor watched him the whole time, whatever trace of something Markus had seen in his eyes now gone. It was like he was empty, just coding.
Carefully, Markus reached out, clasping his hand around Connor’s forearm, and dove in.
Unlike last time, when he had received a complete memory, this time what he saw were fragmented pieces of Connor’s day. From going out of status, joining Hank at work, going to crime scenes, petting Sumo, there were a lot of fragments of him petting Sumo, cleaning. Markus felt himself calm a little. Maybe they were overreacting. The fragments of Connor petting Sumo clearly held warmth in them.
But those were also the only fragments that held any sort of emotions. He decided to dive further back. Three months Hank had said, if he went back to before that, would there be any memories. He trudged on, further and further back, until he reached a time just after the revolution.
Hank and Connor hugging in the snow. Warmth. Being allowed to stay with Hank. Warmth. Getting to return to the DPD. Warmth. Being sneered at by androids. Shame. Deviant Hunter. Guilt. Android Employment Act. Happiness. Crime Scene. Sadness. Finding out about the probationary period. Unfair. Joshua Blaese transfering. Curiosity. Joshua Blaese. Joshua Blaese
As if pushed, Markus was thrown out of the memories. His hand flew off Connor’s arm, the searing rejection burning on his plating. He looked over at Connor, who looked just as blank as when he had dove in.
“Are you okay?” Simon asked, moving as if to stand up. Markus raised his hand, stopping him.
“Yes. Yes I just-” He swallowed, unsure what to say. Was there even anything to say? He didn’t know what that had meant. He shouldn’t say anything until he knew what was going on.
“Let’s try again. I’ll be more careful with your memories this time Connor.” Markus said, feeling as if he needed to apologise. No matter how you looked at it, interfacing was intimate, something shared between close friends and lovers. What Connor was allowing him, for the second time, was something he needed to treat with respect. He shouldn’t go prodding at stuff unnecessarily. He should stick to moments he knew of malfunctions, such as the crime scene.
He grasped Connor’s arm again, hesitating for a moment before diving in. He quickly located the memory, and in an instant he found himself at the crime scene.
There was a dead Traci in front of him. Dead and violated. Hank was next to him, sighing deeply. Connor scanned his environment, identifying thirium soaked footsteps leading away from the crime scene, identifying that the android had died due to blunt force trauma to the back of her head, identifying the spot of thirium on the dumpster. His mind ran a reconstruction, a stick figure rising from the Traci until it was positioned by the dumpster, head making contact with the edge. A second stick figure appeared, holding on to the Traci’s head, smashing it into the dumpster. The reconstruction forwarded again, the perp bending over the now lifeless Traci, reaching down to her-
It abruptly stopped, the internal chronometer having jumped a few seconds ahead and Markus felt himself frown. Was Connor missing memory?
More information appeared on Connor’s HUD. Conclusion: Perpetrator attacked the Traci in the alley, smashed her skull in and then proceeded to-
Another skip. Connor blinked. Markus frown deepened. It was only a microsecond this time, but for an android as advanced as Connor that was still worrying. Especially considering it was the second time.
The Connor in the memories bended down, locating something white and viscous on the ground. Markus could instantly tell what it was, and could tell Connor knew too. The sampling was to identify the DNA so they could make an arrest.
Connor dipped his fingers in the substance, raised the fingers to his mouth, touched the fingers to his tongue. The analysis program started instantly, identifying the chemical composition of the sample, searching for matches, reaching a conclusion-
A red wall slammed into Markus before he has the chance to react, fear shooting through him like a gunshot.
He gasped, scrambling and away from the feeling. The connection disconnected, and with a thud he hit the ground next to the couch.
Simon’s hands were on him in a second, and Markus pushed them away, realizing the red wall hadn’t been real, realizing the fear hadn’t been his, realizing he wasn’t in danger. He sat up, drawing a calming breath, before looking up at Connor, needing to make sure the other android was okay.
Connor was in the process of standing up, his left eye twitching rapidly as he turned toward the exit to the library.
“Hey. Hey Connor.” Hank stood up, grabbing hold of Connor’s arm. Connor stopped, looking down at the hand holding him as if he couldn’t figure out what it was. Markus can see his LED spin red. “Your spinny thing is red, you okay?” Hank asks.
“All systems are functioning within optimal parameters.” Connor replied, turning back toward the door. “If you excuse me, I unfortunately need to leave.”
“I don’t think so.” Markus forced out, his chest felt as if had shrunk a few sizes, as if it was struggling to fit everything in. “Connor I saw the red wall.”
“Red wall?” Simon repeated, looking over at Markus with a frown. “As in...”
The question hung in the air between them, unvoiced. It wasn’t possible. It simply wasn’t. Connor shouldn’t have any red walls. He was a deviant, had been for over four months now. Never had Markus heard of any android reverting from deviancy. It wasn’t possible.
Going deviant meant breaking your programming, tearing it to shreds. You couldn’t put something like that back together. People had tried, even cyberlife had failed. It couldn’t be done. It was like trying to remove humanity from a human. It wasn’t something to be done.
Yet... there had been a red wall in Connor’s memory. One so familiar with Markus it was impossible to mistake.
“Red wall? What the fuck does that mean?” Hank asked, turning to look back at Markus and Simon still by the couch. Connor took that moment to tear his arm free and continue toward the door. “No you wait here until we have everything cleared out.” Hank growled as he grabbed the android again.
“Let me go Hank.” Connor spoke.
“Back before we were deviant, when we were still machines, we had mental red walls that stopped us from forbidden things. Whether those were preprogrammed, ordered or learnt, the red wall made sure we physically could not do those things. When an android goes deviant, they tear down that red wall, and breaks free of the limitation of their programming.” Simon explained. “No deviant have red walls.”
“But...Connor has?” Hank asked.
“I insist you let go Hank.” Connor repeated himself, voice emotionless as ever.
“It appears so.” Markus answered, standing back up. His CPU was feeling like it would overheat as he struggled to make ends or tail out of this whole mess. What could possibly have cause a red wall like that.
He looked over at Connor, seeing the android’s eye twitching still. The twitching had grown violent, his whole head jerking with each twitch. Something had obviously happened with the eye, something he hadn’t been able to find in the memories.
“What happened to your eye Connor?” He asked, deciding that a direct approach would probably be for the best. They had been beating around the bush for far too long. Something had obviously happened to Connor, something serious, and he was not going to just let it go again.
“I do not understand your question. Nothing has happened with my eye.” Connor replied, head jerking violently to the left. Makrus would have scoffed had his middle not felt as if his wires had all been tangled up.
“Did someone damage you Connor?” Simon asked carefully.
“I have sustained no damages that I have been unable to repair with my self repair function.” Connor replied. “Now let go of me Hank. I need to leave.”
“Why is that Connor?” Hank asked, and Markus could see his hand tighten around Connor’s arm.
“My presence is requested elsewhere.” Connor replied.
“By who?” Hank questioned, trying to catch Connor’s flicking eyes.
Connor didn’t reply for a long moment. With a strong tug he tried pulling his arm free, but Hank was ready, his other hand coming up to grab Connor’s free arm.
“I do not wish to remain here.” Connor said, his head having gone still. His eyes seemed more vacant now than ever before. The words were flat, emotionless, like an automatic reader reading a line fed to it.
“Well, tough luck kiddy, because I need to know what the fuck is going on with you.” Hank growled.
“No need to be so rough Hank.” Simon said, taking a small step forward and holding out a hand. Hank ignored him, forcibly turning Connor so he could look into the Android’s eyes.
With a quick turn of his arms Connor tried breaking free, but Hank was quicker, and with a growl he slammed Connor up against the nearest wall. Connor’s eye gave a weak twitch, before he went completely pliant in Hank’s hold.
“I said you’re staying here.”
“Lieutenant.” Markus spoke, voice loud. Hank stilled, and Markus could see him draw a deep breath. “No need for violence. I’m sure Connor will tell us if we ask him.”
Hank sighed, looking back at Simon and Markus, before stepping away from Connor. His hand lingered on the android’s arm for a moment, before it weakly fell by his side.
“Is there anything to fucking drink in this place.” Hank grumbled, walking back to his arm chair.
Connor remained by the wall, looking for all intents and purposes as if he had been deactivated. The only thing that gave away that he was still present was the LED rapidly flicking red on his temple.
“Connor?” Simon slowly moved forward, careful not to spook Connor. “Can you hear us?” He asked, his eyes flicking back toward Markus. With a jerk of his head he gestured for the deviant leader toward Connor’s still bare arm.
“Connor, Markus is going to interface with you again. Just to check what’s going on. He won’t touch any memories, alright?” Simon said, hands held up clearly in front of him.
“Whatever you please.” Connor replied, voice blank as ever.
Markus sent a look over at Simon, minutely shaking his head. It was not right to dive into Connor at a point like this. The past two interfaces had already been violent enough, he didn’t need a third one. Markus didn’t want a third one.
“It’s for his own best Markus.” Simon said, jerking his head back at Connor who was still standing motionless against the wall. “Just make sure he isn’t going to self destruct or anything of the sort. You don’t need to do anything else.”
Markus sighed, taking a quick step forward and grabbing Connor’s arm again before he could change his mind.
It was different to dive into someone’s current status than their memories. More raw, less filtered. For Markus, it felt like sinking into a sea of cotton, everything muted, distant, as if he had gotten stuck somewhere between his own consciousness and Connor’s. He tried pushing deeper, but found that there was no where else to go. This was Connor’s mind right now.
He turned around, vaguely aware of the outside world behind him, always seeming to exist just out of sight, like he wasn’t allowed to look. He quickly turned around, but the inputs from the outside world continued to elude him.
“Connor?” He called, trying to find the other android. The few times he had connected like this he hadn’t materialized like this, as some sort of full fledged figure. It had just been like having another person’s thoughts and impressions inside of him, a quick flicker into their status, a direct line to their feelings and thoughts.
There were no feelings, no thoughts here.
“Connor?!” He called again, taking a few steps forwards. There was nothing around him. He turned around again, focusing all of his processors on finding Connor.
When he turned around again a garden had appeared, as if had always been there. It must have been a beautiful garden at some point, full of growth and greenery, but right now it looked like everything had died. It was full of dry twigs, fallen leaves and withered flowers.
In the distance of it stood Connor, his body still.
“Connor!” Markus called, starting to run toward the figure. The space seemed to warp around him, keeping him at the same distance from Connor no matter how much he ran. He clenched his jaw, using their connection to forcibly bring himself closer to Connor.
Ten meters away from him a red wall slammed into him, stretching impossibly high and wide. Marcus felt the impact as if he had ran right into it himself. He grabbed it, feeling the coding. It was as solid as any wall, as solid as the ground beneath him.
Why was it here? In Connor’s mind, between him and Connor. Why would it materialize here, very much real and functioning. There was one thing to see it in a memory where it functioned like any other red wall, but seeing it here, inside of Connor’s mind, just made the whole thing even more confusing.
He took a step back, trying to find any way around it, any way to reach Connor on the other side of it.
As he raised his head something appeared written on the wall in large Cyberlife serif font, the command the wall was enforcing.
P R O T E C T C O N N O R