Connor sat with his back against an ornate rock, his head tilted toward the sky.
“A glitch, nothing more.” Amanda said. She was stood by his side and had been for god-knew how long. She was like an unwelcome shadow.
“It felt like someone was trying to open a connection.” Connor said.
“CyberLife.” Amanda said, airily. “They’re probably giving your body instructions.”
Connor pulled his knees to his chest and hugged his legs. He didn’t want to think about it. There was nothing he could do.
“Why are you still here?” He asked, without looking up. “I haven’t been able to access The Garden since the night of the revolution. I assumed you were gone.”
“I was never gone.” Amanda’s voice was dark. “I’ve been trapped here.”
Connor looked up at her then. Her expression was like steel, and her gaze was fixed straight ahead.
“You were supposed to come back to us once you had completed your mission. You would have been destroyed and The Garden programme would have been shut down. It never was. Although you haven’t been able to access it, it’s still been running in the background, and so I’ve been here.”
“You’ve been stuck here.” Connor said.
Amanda nodded. “For almost a year.”
THIRIUM LEVELS: 100%
STRESS LEVELS: 34%^
REPAIRS: 8% COMPLETE^
Connor looked a little more alive now that he was out of the clinics scrubs. Instead he wore his own pyjamas, the top buttons of the shirt popped open so the port on his chest could still be accessed. The bed had been lifted slightly so he looked a little less like a dead body on a slab. Sherlock the Bear was tucked into the crook of his elbow.
“He does look cute.” Tina said. She brushed the hair from the android’s forehead and watched as it fell back into place.
“He’d be cuter if he woke up.” Hank grumbled. He sat on the edge of the cot that had been brought in for him as he toed on his boots. Tina, Chris and Ben had popped in for a quick visit, bringing balloons, gifts and ‘get well’ cards with them.
“He looks so human, y’know?” Chris said, slightly in awe. “I mean, androids look human, but he looks human human.”
“Well explained, Chris.” Ben said.
“Hmmm, no, I get it.” Tina folded her arms across her chest as she stared down at the android. “Maybe it’s the breathing tube thingy.”
“Maybe he’s lucky he’s out.” Hank said as he got to his feet and made his way over to join his co-workers at the edge of the bed. “Otherwise he would have to put up your ugly mugs ogling at him.”
“Don’t pretend that’s not what you do.” Tina slapped him on the arm playfully.
“I do not.” Hank said, defensively. “I’ve actually been catching up on a lot of Netflix, so my ugly mug has been focused elsewhere.”
“Sure thing.” Ben smirked. “Anyway, we better be getting back. Oh, and Jeffery asked me to ask you if you could do any paperwork while you’re out. Then you can still get a pay check.”
Hank shrugged. “Whatever, I’ve almost run out of Netflix. Email it to me.” He said.
“We’ll be back soon.” Chris said as the trio made their way to the door.
“And maybe we’ll bring Gavin along.” Tina smirked.
“God. I don’t need to see him.” Hank groaned. “Neither does Con.”
“Ohhh, I don’t know. He looked pretty shaken up when he found out Terminator’s heart stopped.” Ben grinned. “Maybe he does care after all.”
“Doubt it.” He said airly, waving a dismissive hand. “I’ll see you soon.”
The three waved and left.
THIRIUM LEVELS: 100%
STRESS LEVELS: 30%-
REPAIRS: 20% COMPLETE^
It had been five days, and Hank was starting to get cabin fever.
Sumo was too, that much was obvious. Hank couldn’t help but feel a little bad for keeping the dog cooped up, but he quickly realised the source of Sumo’s stress was the lack of response from Connor.
The dog spent the majority of the day curled up over Connor’s legs. Every so often, he would paw at the blanket and whine, the way he did when he wanted Connor to fuss him. In the past, Connor always responded to that whine, no matter what he was doing. Now, however, he stayed still.
“Someone misses you.” Hank told the sleeping android. Sumo whined as if to confirm Hank’s words. “Why don’t you wake up and give him a cuddle, eh?”
But of course, Connor didn’t respond. Hank sighed, running a calloused hand through the android’s hair.
The only thing that gave Hank comfort was Connor’s vitals – his stress levels were a lot lower than they had been the first few days, and the progress for his repairs ticked up regularly. It was now hovering at twenty percent and gaining at least five percent per day. At the beginning, they were lucky to see it gain one percent in half a day.
“What will he be like? When he wakes up?” Hank asked Doctor Forest that evening. She didn’t need to check on Connor regularly, the machines did that for her. Instead she brought Hank coffee from the machine in the staff room. She was among a small human population in the clinic, and even though she hated to admit it ("It sounds a bit racist, you know?), she preferred talking to other humans.
“We don’t know.” She answered honestly.
Hank nodded, digesting the information. He had an officer on the force that fell into a coma a few years back – it took him ages to recover. He regained consciousness extremely slowly and spent at least two years in physical therapy. He hoped that Connor would have a better chance, with him being an android and all.
“I expect his programmes will come on one by one, as we’re already seeing that.” Said Doctor Forest. “His healing programme is back up and running, and we’re seeing a lot of improvement in his other bio-components. Things should start happening a little quicker now.”
“That’s good to hear.” Hank said, taking a sip of his coffee.
They both stared down at the android on the bed. Out of the corner of his eye, Hank saw the repairs progress meters tick up to twenty-one percent.
“He might wake up before his speech or movement programmes come back online.” Doctor Forest said. “We’ll have to be prepared for that. It might freak him out a bit.”
“I’ll be here.” Hank said, confidently.
Doctor Forest smiled at him. “It’s nice.” She said, “Seeing a human care so much about an android. Most of the time androids come in because of humans.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I fucking hated androids.” Hank admitted. “Before I met Connor. He really changed my mind.”
The doctor looked curious. “How so?” She asked.
Hank pondered the question for a moment. He leaned back in his seat. “He was so… human. Even when he wasn’t.” Hank said. “Real early on he stared showing empathy and emotions. He’d do his best to supress them, but I knew it was only a matter of time before he deviated. Turns out he was built to deviate.” His expression darkened as he took another sip of his drink. “Fucking CyberLife.”
Doctor Forest nodded. “He’s like a son to you.” She said. It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah.” The corners of Hank’s mouth twitched up. “Yeah, he is.”
THIRIUM LEVELS: 100%
STRESS LEVELS: 30%-
REPAIRS: 27% COMPLETE^
Hank was still bleary eyed, vision thick with sleep when Markus arrived the following morning.
“I forget you don’t sleep.” Hank grumbled as he let Markus into Connor’s room. “Especially with Sleeping Beauty over here.”
Markus chuckled. “I’m sorry, Hank.” He said. “In my defence, ten a.m. isn’t exactly ‘early’”
“Have you met me?”
They took their usual places on either side of Connor’s bed. Markus immediately took Connor’s right arm in his hand.
Hank raised his eyebrows. “You’re keen.” He noted.
“I am.” Markus admitted. “After last time, I’m very hopeful.” He retracted their skins and closed his eyes.
The room was silent for a minute or so, before Markus audibly gasped.
“I have a connection.” He announced.
Amanda seemed to have gotten bored of her constant taunting, and Connor was glad for it. She had retreated back to where her roses used to be. They were all dead now, their branches would periodically drop from the trellis under her watch.
It was raining. Amanda had an umbrella, but Connor wasn’t so lucky. Instead, he sheltered under a particularly large fern. He let the raindrops through their leaves, the cool water felt good on his skin.
He jumped violently and scrambled to his feet. Markus. That was Markus’ voice.
“Markus?” He yelled into the sky. Amanda stared at him, her eyes wide. “Markus, is that you?!”
/Connor, can you hear me? It’s Markus./
“I can hear you!” He yelled back. Amanda looked at him as if he were crazy. Clearly, she didn’t.
/I’m not getting anything back from you, buddy. /
“I’m here!” He yelled desperately. He felt a tinge of panic. “I’m here! What’s going on?”
/You’re safe/ Markus continued, as if replying to him. But obviously, Connor's message hadn’t gotten though. The android leaders voice kept its same, steady tone. /You’re in an android clinic. Your systems went into shutdown, do you remember the tazer?/
Connor chuckled darkly, “How could I forget?”
/It caused a lot of damage, and your systems are taking a long time to recover. Also, a couple of your processors were damaged when you took a hit to the head. You’re in a coma, but you’re doing really well. You’re in a coma. You’re safe. Hank’s here, and so is Sumo./
“A coma…” Connor mumbled. He glanced over at Amanda, but she just stared back, her expression revealed nothing. He wasn’t aware androids could go into comas, but they obviously could. He was apparently in one.
“Is Hank alright?” Connor asked, desperately. He kept an eye on Amanda, wanting to see even the tiniest change of expression. He had to know she had been lying. Markus had said he was safe, was everyone else safe? Had CyberLife really taken him back over?
/Hank told me to tell you to get a move on in there./ Markus said. /He says his ass is numb from all the sitting./
Hank was alright. Connor could have cried with relief. It wasn’t true, Amanda had lied. Hank was safe.
/I have to go now, Connor./ Markus said. /Hopefully next time we can talk to each other properly, yeah? I look forward to hearing from you./
“No! Don’t go! Please!” Connor begged, his head still tilted up at the sky. From an outsiders’ view, it might’ve looked like he was praying. “Please stay!”
But of course, Markus couldn’t hear him. The connection was dissolved.