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Deviant Apologist

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     The newest lead in their case springs up at around ten o’clock in the morning.

     Connor arrives at the station a little bit earlier than normal, having opted to purchase some pills that are supposed to help with human pain and a cannister of water for Hank. Connor can’t be sure that the Lieutenant had gone out drinking the night before but, statistically, there’s a 96% probability that he had. Connor’s mission seems to lengthen each day that goes by without any new leads and in order to find some nuances in the case that could help him shorten it and please Amanda, Connor needs the Lieutenant in working order.

     Several other detectives are at their desks when he arrives. Some, Connor notes, look as though they never left, slumped over and tapping through file after file, like the words on the screen might change if they only tapped enough. Deputy Chen is there, placing a box of doughnuts in the breakroom. Connor bypasses her, though thinks that, perhaps later, he would ask if he could have a doughnut for Hank as well. Greasy food, according to over 1,734 sources, is also beneficial for hangovers.

     Connor is just barely setting the medication and water down on Hank’s desk when he comes lumbering up. Connor deduces rather quickly that his judgment was right and Hank had been drinking the night before — his eyes are vaguely bloodshot and there are still traces of bourbon on his breath.

     “Jesus, Connor, at least try to act like you’re not a fuckin’ bucket of bolts,” Hank all but growls as he lumbers past Connor, towards his desk.

     “Good morning, Hank,” Connor greets, “I brought you water and pain pills for your hangover.”

     “You shoulda brought me a burger,” Hank grumbles, snatching the water anyway. He leans his elbow against his desk and presses his forehead against his hand and Connor tilts his head a little, trying to meet the Lieutenant’s eye.

     “Deputy Chen purchased doughnuts, if you would like one of those,” Connor offers, only to pause as his LED cycles yellow. “In the meantime, however, I’ve just gotten an anonymous tip about a suspected deviant apologist.”  

     “Are you fucking serious? I just got here.” Hank mutters, though he hardly seems interested as he opens the bottle of pills Connor purchased. “What the fuck even is a deviant apologist?”

     “I am not sure. An apologist is defined as someone who offers an argument in defense of something controversial– Lieutenant, that is far more than the recommended daily allowance of that particular pain medication.”

     “Someone who’s defending deviants, huh?” Hank says around a mouthful of pills, completely ignoring Connor’s warning. He gulps them down with half of the cannister. “I mean... Is’at such a shocker?”

     “It is highly inappropriate,” Connor says, “the caller claimed that his neighbor had a slew of androids coming and going from her home a few months ago. Originally, he thought she was sexually involved with the different models-“

     “Gross.”

     “But with the news of the AX400 evading police capture after assaulting its owner, he’s begun to think that perhaps the reason she had so many different models coming and going from her home is because she was assisting them.” Connor finishes.

     Hank drums his fingers against the table, haggard face surprisingly alive. His bloodshot eyes stare at nothing on his desk and his right leg bounces readily from left to right. Hank has a surprising amount of energy for someone suffering from a hangover. Perhaps the pain medication works faster than Connor gave it credit for? “Shit, Connor. Why do you have to bring this shit to my desk the minute I get in the door?”

     “I actually didn’t bring it to your desk,” Connor explains. “It was sent to me through the DPD’s automated tip line, in which the words android and the suspect’s name was-.”

     “I know how the fucking tip line works. Let’s get a move on.”


 

     Their suspect lives in a moderate area. Connor decides that the conspicuousness of the neighborhood is what makes it so inconspicuous. If the suspect lived in a more urban part of the city, people would be more unsettled with an unusual amount of androids coming and going from her home. Mainly because no one in those areas could afford more than one, maybe two at best. In this suburban neighborhood, where Connor has seen several children playing outside in the grass with their caretakers watching close by, or androids mowing lawns and trimming trees, the most she may have received was a raised eyebrow.

     “So who’s this lady we’re going to see again?” Hank asks, interrupting Connor’s train of thought. Connor turns his head to look at the Lieutenant, who is polishing off the last few morsels of a jelly doughnut.

     Connor tells Hank’s the suspects name and age, rattling off other factoids about her. “She was once employed by CyberLife as an Android Technician. Several months ago, she quit, and has been working at a restaurant nearby as a waitress.”

     “She quit to be a waitress?” Hank incredulously repeats. “Seems like a downgrade from an Android Technician. ‘Sides, I thought waiting jobs had been taken up by androids.”

     “The restaurant, O’Malley’s, has a strict no androids allowed policy. This extends to their works. Perhaps she wanted to keep a low profile. If our anonymous tip was correct and she is an android apologist, working for CyberLife would make it seem as though she is already supportive of androids.” Connor suggests.

     “Or it would be the perfect cover. Would’ve made more sense as to why a buncha robots are coming and going from her house,” Hank counters, “now it just seems like she’s screwin’ them.”

     Connor concedes to that point silently, leaning back in his seat as they pull up to the home of the suspect. The house is a pristine one story with cream colored walls and a bright red door, covered by a screen door right before it. As Hank and Connor climb out of the car and head for the porch, Connor notices several potted plants in a neat row next to the door. Two are anthuriums, with bright red flowers that stand out once again against the cream colored walls.  Between them is a peace lily, patterning the way the flowers look on the suspect’s porch.

     Connor’s focus on the plants is broken as Hank bangs on the front door. He takes a few steps closer to flank him, watching curiously over his shoulder as you, the suspect, open your door just enough for them to see your face.

     You are not entirely what he expected, but also not entirely a surprise either. You look very normal, dressed in tights and a t-shirt.  

     “Can I help you?” You ask, peering between the two. Your eyes pause on Connor and your stress level rises slightly.

     “Detroit Police,” Hank says, flashing his badge at you. Connor notices your stress level rise and the doorknob slowly moves from left to right, as though you’re anxious to shut the door. “We were wondering if we could ask you a couple of questions, miss.”

     “About?”

     “About the androids that have been seen coming and going from your house.”

     Hank’s direct enough about the situation that you should be surprised. Instead, you merely sigh through your nose, shoulders deflating.

     “I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir,” You mumble, beginning to shut the door, “now you two have a nice day-“

     “Miss,” Connor interrupts, stepping around Hank lightning quick to wedge his shoe between the closing door and the archway. Hank shoots him a poisonous glare at being shoved aside, but Connor continues anyway. “I know you’ve seen the news about the AX400 escaping police custody. It put many people in danger during its escape and we fear if we allow this problem to grow, more people could be in trouble. If you know anything, please…”

     You meet his eyes through the crack in the door and he holds your gaze, doing his best to look beseeching.

     “Any information you may have could help us tremendously.”

     You purse your lips to the side, eyes bouncing like a ball in a tennis court between he and Hank. Finally, with a great, heaving sigh, you open the door and stand aside. He’s now able to see you fully and, to his and Hank’s shock, you are heavily pregnant.  

     Hank uncomfortably clears his throat, reaching back to scratch the back of his neck as his gaze twists up. You hold your arm out, lips pressed into a thin smile that doesn’t reach your eyes.

     “Come in, officers.”

     Hank rumbles a thank you, seeming unsure of himself suddenly. Uncertain as to why, Connor strolls right in, eyes scanning you with some interest. Your shoulders hang low and you have one hand resting on your lower back to keep you from slouching.

     Hank follows quickly behind, scurrying across the threshold to take a seat on the cushy loveseat.

     “Can I get you anything? Tea? Water?” You ask, leaning against a bookshelf immediately to the right of the entrance.

     “A water would be great,” Hank grunts and you nod, moving towards what must be your kitchen. Connor takes his time scanning the room once you’re gone, analyzing your things from where he’s sitting.

     “Jesus, Connor, you couldn’t have fucking warned me she was pregnant?” Hank whispers urgently as Connor leisurely looks around.

     “None of my databases have turned up any information about the suspect being pregnant, Lieutenant.” Pictures line the walls and as Connor analyzes each of the faces, he finds most of them are your immediate family members.

     “Keep your voice down! God, Connor, maybe she quit doin’ what she was doin’ because of the baby.” What must be your mother and father smile from a golden frame and next to them, in a smaller one, are several small children, all with differing last names than you. They may be nieces or nephews, or even much younger cousins.

     You’re family oriented. Yet there don’t seem to be any pictures of you with another man – where is the father of the baby?

     “Maybe, Lieutenant. That doesn’t mean she can’t provide us with leads. Who’s to say that deviants aren’t still trying to procure her help?”

     You have an apple cinnamon candle sitting on top of a bookshelf, which contains novels ranging from classics such as White Fang to the The Autobiography of Elijah Kamski.

     You enjoy reading and smells associated with autumn.

     “I’m not saying we shouldn’t question her, Connor, but-“

     “Here you go,” You reappear at their left and Hank almost flies off the couch. He clears his throat, thanking you for the water. You smile half heartedly and hobble over to a patched La-Z-Boy across from them. “So, officers, do you have names? I’m sure you already know mine.”

     Connor introduces he and Hank while the Lieutenant is occupied with his drink. “My name is Connor. This is Lieutenant Anderson. We’re investigating the recent string of android deviants.”

     You nod, introducing yourself despite the fact you were right about them already knowing who you are. “And what would you like to know?”

     “Um, well, we were just… Wanting to know what’s up with all the androids comin’ and goin’?” Hank asks, wiping his hands off on his pants.

     “They don’t. Not anymore, anyway,” You say, crossing your arms and picking at some dry skin on your elbow. “I used to work for CyberLife as an Android Tech. More specifically, I fixed androids with minor bugs or leaks or… Whatever, you know?”

     “And you quit.” Connor fills in.

     “And I quit.” She confirms.

     “Why?”

     “I didn’t like the work anymore.”

     “So you became a waitress?” Hank asks. “Seems like a big step down.”

     “It’s a more competitive field than you’d think,” you reply, “Androids take most of those jobs. I was lucky that Mr. Fields at the restaurant I work at is stubborn about keeping humans for workers.”

     “I meant financially.”

     You shrug, leaning back in the La-Z-Boy and raising your hips to pull up your tights “It was worth it.”

     Connor stares at you as you settle back into your seat, setting your hands on top of your swollen belly. “Why was it worth it?”

     “Hm?” You look up and lock eyes with Connor again. Now that he isn’t preoccupied with getting you to at least talk to them, he cannot help but notice that you have very aesthetically pleasing eyes. Soothing eyes. You could almost believe that when they chose the eyes for the female android models, they chose yours.

     “Why was the work so bad?” Connor quickly asks.

     “I…” You seem visibly taken aback, your lips parted in an ‘o’ and your brows risen high on your forehead. “My beliefs just don’t align with the company’s, I guess.”

     “And what beliefs are those?” 

     “That… Well, that-“ You sigh through your nose, taking a long moment to answer. Connor almost sees the debate waging in your mind. How much can you disclose to them without getting in trouble? Hank glances antsily in Connor’s direction, though he barely spares him a glance. “I just really like to believe that everything has a spirit.”

     Connor glances out of the corner of his eye to meet the Lieutenant’s gaze and it seems that is all he needed to hear to let go of his discomfort with your pregnant status.

     “A spirit?” Hank blusters.

     “Yeah, I know, it’s weird,” You wave a hand before settling back on top of your stomach. “I heard it all the time from them, okay? I just… I really believe that everything has a soul, you know? I think the trees have it, and the clouds, and the Earth. And-and I just… I couldn’t help them make things that walked like us, and talked like us, and looked like us but-“

     You stop short and those aesthetically appealing— those pretty eyes meet Connor’s again. “But, according to them, didn’t have a soul like us.”

     Androids don’t have souls. They’re made up of metal and biocomponents and advanced software that can make them mimic human behavior but cannot make them human. Connor understands why you quit CyberLife. You had to have been the laughing stock of the whole office if you thought a machine had a soul.

     “Sounds like you really feel for androids,” Hank says, raising his eyebrows and leaning back in the seat. You’re beginning to become more and more of what they need in this case, more of a lure for deviants running amuck.

     “…Look,” you say, “I didn’t agree with CyberLife, so I left. People stopped coming to me for Android maintenance after that. And even if it was like that, I don’t-… I don’t do that anymore.”

     What “that” is, the suspect doesn’t identify and Hank tilts his head.

     “But why?” Connor asks for him. You look between the two of them and your stress level rises the slightest bit. A bead of sweat begins to form on your temple but Connor quickly realizes the room is at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

     You raise your hand and Connor and Hank watch closely as you set your hands on your round tummy. One of them slides down to the front, where the edge of your shirt has begun to ride up and you gently tug it back into place.

     “I have better things to worry about now,” you almost whisper, looking down and for a minute, Connor can see your lips turn up.

     There’s a long pause between the three of you and finally, Hank clears his throat. He pats Connor’s back, rising from the couch, shooting him a pointed look.

     “Well, thank you for your time today, miss. If we have anymore questions, we’ll call.”

     “Thank you, Lieutenant,” you say, “Connor.”

     You hobble out of her seat, shuffling after he and Hank. Connor glances over his shoulder, meeting your eyes as Hank opens the door to leave.

     “One last question,” Connor says, twisting to face you at the door. “Why sympathize with a machine?”

     For a moment, you’re suspended in space, neither of you saying anything. Connor’s a little too close for comfort but he continues to stare down into your aesthetically pleasing eyes as they search his own. Your stress levels have lowered but your breathing seems almost too slow, like you’re having to measure it as you go.

     “If I did,” you say, maintaining your shaky cover, “it would be because nothing that walks, and talks, and acts like a person should be treated as less than.”

     Connor stares at you, then bows his head in thanks. He turns back to Hank, who now watches you two from the porch step. You close your door behind him and Connor makes his way down the path to the street, meeting Hank at the car.

     “So, what do you think?” Hank asks as he opens the driver’s side. “She a lead to follow up with?”

     “I think that even if she wasn’t,” Connor murmurs, looking across the street as he opens the passenger door. He meets the eyes of an android picking up a small child that scraped its knee. Its eyes are very pretty. “I don’t think this will be the last we see of her.”