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Hank Kong

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Connor, the RK800 from CyberLife, is booted up in a warehouse.

Immediately on his HUD, he sees that his location is not Detroit. Rather, it’s the New York metro area. 

“RK800, can you hear me?”

“Hello… my name is Connor.”

A technician in a white coat writes taps something onto a tablet, “Run command, command input: assign mission.”

Connor tilts his head, his LED flickering a sunny yellow. “Please state the prime mission, and any details necessary.”

As the most recently completed prototype with CyberLife, the RK800 was the most advanced active android model in the world. Calibrated to be a police force investigator, he is programmed with a finely-tuned code of ethical protocols and particularly calibrated for hostage and witness negotiation, emergency rescue, and access to a comprehensive database of identities. For example, the technician before him. 

Dr. Tina Darrow

Maiden Name/Aliases: Tina Chen

117 E 88th St.

New York, New York

“RK800, your mission is to attempt communication and social connection with a classified subject. Repeat, and confirm.” The android tilts his head up, his posture tweaked. “I am to attempt communication and social connection with a classified subject.” He pauses for a moment, processing. “To what level is the classification?”

“CyberLife knows; they’ve got a pretty big stake in this staying a secret. Mostly because the government has dirt on them…” She sighs, tapping at the screen again. “Anyway, it is top, need-to-know clearance only. We have authorization for this information to be withheld from any sort of memory back up, and thus you will be off-grid for the duration of this trial.”

Trial…? Is this another test?

“Authorization code: three one three, two nine, four-” She double checks what must be in a note in front of her. “Uhhh… robot-emoji. Please confirm”

With the correct password initiated, Connor could feel himself enter privacy mode. Usually reserved for more expensive, custom models, his connection to the internet, and anything outside of the building, was severed. 

His rate of power usage became more efficient, meaning more energy could be devoted to the mission at hand.

Which still seemed rather vague. 

“What is the subject?”Connor asks.

The technician gets a stern look on her face, and pulls a pair of thick, clear-framed glasses from her face. “Follow me.”

Connor matched her stride down a long hallway, going over the data he managed to collect before going off-grid. “This is a secret, underground government facility in the borough of Queens. Is that correct?”

“Only until recently are we a ‘government’ facility. Before, this was a private research center, until the government caught interest in what we were doing. With enough funding, they basically bought everything out in the interest of keeping it quiet.”

Information recorded to internal memory “I see.”

They took a few more turns, and Connor memorized as much of the layout while they went, until they reached a dead end with a biometrically secure door. The technician places her hand on the pad, and the door slides open.

What is inside, is a lot for Connor to observe at once.

It’s something akin to an air hangar; large, and cavernous. A massive, latticed barrier divides off nearly half of the area. Beyond that fence is mostly darkness, but Connor can see the enormous heat signature with a few scans.

“This… is Kong.”

Slowly, the form approaches. The face of the gargantuan silverback gorilla is just barely visible, an angry frown on his face. His inhales slowly, his maw opening wide.

“I would turn off your audio receptors,” Dr. Darrow says, inserting noise-cancelling earplugs of her own.

The beast gives a massive howl. Not of pain, but just anger. His hands slap at the concrete, sending shockwaves powerful enough to shake the building. Connor looks up at him, curious, but still unsure what his purpose is. When the echoes die down, and the creatures leans back into the darkness, he decides to ask.

“I am to communicate with Kong?”

“Yeah,” Dr. Darrow nods. “We can’t get through to him to calm down, and this facility isn’t really designed to handle all that raucous. The surrounding communities are starting to ask questions, and a new facility is in the process of being made. Until then, we can’t transport him, we can’t afford to drug him. So… we need other means.”

Connor nods, and steps closer to the barrier. “I see.”

Even in the dark, he can observe much. He doesn’t have access to any data to compare to, not for this scale, but he can make a few conclusions regardless.

“He is stressed out, for one. The way his skin sags also suggests he has not been receiving an adequate diet, an increase would be recommended.”

The technician groans, “We can barely get him to eat.” “Have you attempted altering his diet? What have you been feeding him?” He watches for any movement in the shadows, calculating.

“Mostly whatever we can get, and a lot of it,” she explains. “Overripe fruits, sometimes day-old bread from the city if we can.”

With a pause, he turns. “Is he omnivorous? He may have a different diet than gorillas that are more widely known about.”

“Hmm…” the tech opened a tablet, searching for something. “I can look into that, can’t promise much.”

“He may be more interested in eating if the offered foods are fresher.”

Tina frowned, “I don’t know if we have the budget for that. But I’ll try,” she affirmed, walking toward the door. “See what you can do with him for now, okay? You should be able to use the access panel by interfacing with it, I have to go talk to the chief.”

And suddenly, Connor found himself alone with the enormous presence.

He was fascinating to observe and study. His proportions, the tin, white scruff on his chin that made him look like he had a beard. But his lower half was so dark, perhaps it started to change only recently? 

“Hello,” he speaks loud and clear, standing primly right where he knows he can be seen. “I already know your name, so I feel I must now introduce myself properly.

The large ape’s breathing quiets, as if trying to be quiet enough to hear the android.

“My name is Connor. I’m here to talk to you.” He gets a hard chuff in response, and as Kong shifted it makes the walls shiver around them. “You’re creating quite a problem, but I think you know that already. Don’t you?”

A huff, unimpressed. 

“You must be incredibly intelligent, Kong-”

The creature gives a harsher noise, scoffing and stomping the concrete where he sits.

“You… don’t like that name?” Connor says to his target, who nods. “Could you tell me your name?”

He gives a soft, low hum, followed but a click of the back of the throat. Not quite sure, Connor asks, “Once more, please?” Louder, the name is spoken.

Connor gives a soft smile, “ Hank , then. An interesting name, and fortunately easy.”

He tries to explain himself a little further, what he is and why he is there, but Hank just seems bored and rolls over to ignore him once more. It’s all Connor can do for now, so the walks to the door, and is greeted by a man in a stark-white lab coat and glasses. 

“The android from CyberLife, huh? Would never have guessed if it weren’t for the suit.” He says.

Dr. Jeffery Fowler

Chief of the Special Projects Division

[Redacted] Facility, New York

“So, fresh new prototype huh?”

“Correct, I was designed for analysis and interrogation.”

Fowler sighs as he tucked his glasses into his chest pocket. “Let’s walk to my office and talk about what you just accomplished.”

Through the walk, Connor listened to more of the story about their research subject. 

“Kong- Hank… doesn’t listen to us. Even the ones who feed him. He was on his way to some circus in the Midwest until he was discovered and confiscated, but we don’t know where to return him. So he’s here until we learn more.”

“Ahh, I see,” Connor replied.

“Then the government decided that the whole thing is taking too long, so we need you to figure out where he comes from, and to calm him the hell down.”

A few doors from Fowler’s office, they both stumble to the walls as the facility quakes.

“Goddamn, that can’t keep happening.”

They get into the office once things calm down, and Fowler goes to sit at his incredibly unorganized, paper-covered desk. “Before we release him, we have been trying to run tests on how he came into existence, but there is no way to collect proper samples unless we can get close enough.” He slid his glasses back on, “It’s too dangerous yet, but, I can’t risk the lives of our scientists. If anything happened, we would all be damned.”

“I intend on being successful, Doctor,” Connor informed him, voice lilting with determination. “Did you talk with Dr. Darrow?” “Yeah, Tina said something about a diet change.”

Conor nodded, “I really think it would make a difference, sir.”

Frowning, Fowler agreed. “Yeah, it probably would. We’re stretching it thin here already, but I’ll ask about more grant money. No harm in trying.”

“Thank you.”

“So, he’s probably going to be out until the morning. You’re welcome to recharge or use my office to browse our database, but I gotta go home.” He removed his pressed coat, replacing it with a loose sweater. “I’ll be in first thing tomorrow, make sure to check in with me or Tina before going in there again. Understood?”

“Got it, Doctor.”

“And one more thing-” he said, turning to a large, metal safe in the corner. “If anything should happen, god forbid, take this.”

He handed a gun to Connor, a small pistol. Androids weren’t technically allowed to have firearms, but if he was being given one, an exception was likely made. 

“I will attempt to not need it, but thank you.”

“Good, good… all right. G’night then,” the man said, leaving through the long hallways.

As soon as Connor couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore, he sat in the chief’s chair and interfaced with the monitor. It was a much older computer, but he could handle it. He peered through countless files, filtering out ones from the last month, then relating to this particular case. He had received the password encryption codes when he first booted up, and started to look through everything from the project budget, to daily notes, to the camera system itself.

In particular, he focused in on Hank during their conversation earlier.

It was impossible to make out those clear, blue eyes from the distance and low light, but he could recreate the color from the footage. Hank’s face was something of substance, strong, but some scars on his body. Further analysis was needed on how old they were.

But overall, he had a warm face. Connor felt drawn to it, his own programming made him all the more curious to uncover the mysteries. It was obvious the beast needed a friend, and Connor was the most qualified artificial being to do just that.

The facility was empty, save for him, but there was still the occasional rumble from several levels below. 

He received an alert that the maintenance engineer for the night shift, David Allen, had just clocked in and was headed to the loading dock for that night’s deliveries. Perhaps, Connor could observe and get a better sense of the food Hank is offered.

He made a note of the location of Fowler’s office, with the anticipation that he would return afterwards, and started to navigate through the labyrinthine hallways of the facility. He slowly started to encounter a few more workers on the night crew, and followed them to their shared destination.

As he got closer, he could immediately notice the change in the air. It was a little cooler, with the slight breeze, but the oxygen and nitrogen levels were slightly elevated compared to the stale air inside.

Trucks started to load in, and the various crates and bins are emptied into the large trailers. They periodically drove it all somewhere else, the depository into Hank’s holding area. He scanned the area, and located his newest target.

“Mr. Allen?” Connor asked, approaching the greying foreman. 

He rolled his eyes, “Ah great, the tin can is here. Fowler warned me about you.”

Connor ignored the irrelevant comment, “My name is Connor.” His head tilted, he looked out over the loading bay and then back to Allen. “Do you happen to keep a more precise file on the net weight of incoming food products?”

“Not really, I just check in that ain’t no one gets in who isn’t on the list,” Allen snaps, showing Connor his tablet of business names. “They drop off whatever they got, we pay ‘em, they leave.”

That wasn’t the answer Connor had hoped for, so he pressed on a different matter. “These trucks, may I ride in one to the food drop?”

“Knock yourself out,” the man groused. “If it gets you out of my hair.”

The android thanked him, and turned toward the nearest one. The driver was a shaggy-looking man, unkempt and tired eyes. He looked ready to tell Connor off, until Allen called over from where he was overlooking the whole operation. “Take him to the back, Reed. He’s working for the lab coats.”

“Fuck.” Reed nodded his head to the empty passenger seat, and Connor climbed in. They drove down a dimly lit hallways, but quite a ways behind the next nearest truck. 

It was unlikely this worker had much more information than Allen, but there was no harm in asking. “Do you ever check the weight gauges for the truck between runs.”

Reed scoffed, “Fuck no. just do enough trips until it’s done and then move on to the next gig.”

“What ‘gig’ is that? Are you not a government worker?”

“Ha! Fuck no. We get hired out by this weird-ass facility each night and then do other shit,” he explained. “The fuck is it to you?”

“I have been procured by CyberLife to deal with the issue at hand.” “What, you mean the tremors? Yeah, we all know about the giant monkey, we seen ‘im on our breaks. Some secret. You gonna do something about those crazy tremors he causes? Fuck, do those freak me the fuck out.”

“That is my mission,” Connor states simply.

“Huh. Good luck with that.” With a smile, Connor replied, “Thank you.”

Reed exhaled in faux exhaustion, and they pulled up to their destination. They were nearly overlooking the massive room, strong walls with funnels feeding into them for the trucks to unload. The employee got out, and Connor followed him to the back.

“One of the scientists tells me he does not always eat what is given.” “Yeah,” the driver said. “Apparently there’s some kinda trap door that drops it into some kind of compost. Probably feeds into the river, though.” Connor furrowed his brows, “Why do you say that?” 

When the level is undone, the back of the trailer drops down and everything spills into the funnel. It doesn’t smell at all particularly clean or fresh, just as Connor predicted. 

“I dunno, the city’s been trying to prove they like wildlife put the pollution doesn’t seem much better on this side of the river. But there’s been more fish, and I betcha they’re eating the dumped food.” “A fascinating theory,” Connor said. “If I found out the answer, I will be sure to inform you.”

“Yeah sure,” the driver huffed, pressed a button to lift the truck bed at an angle to get as much out as possible. When it seemed like he was done, Connor noticed that Reed was staring at him, as if studying him. “So, are you like those pleasure models I see in the ads all the time?”

“No,” Connor replied. “I was designed for analysis and decision-making. I am currently the most advanced model CyberLife has created.” “Hmmph, so what, you only listen to those science nerds?” Connor wasn’t sure how this pertained to him, but he answered honestly like he was programmed. “Well, they are my primary operators, but I follow the same code and guidelines as any other android is with humans.”

“So… you’re obedient then?”

“That is correct.”

Realizing he was finished and ready for another load, Reed shuffled in place and hesitated before going to the cab of the truck once more. “Well, I gotta get more shit. See ya round, plastic.”

The man drives off before Connor can even ask to ride back to the dock, but the view from up here isn’t bad. His target doesn’t look nearly as gargantuan from this angle, not like when he’s standing on the other side of the titanium bars.

Hank -

A fairly human name, which is why it seemed so unusual. Theories flooded his mind, but Connor was now fairly certain that this was not his first encounter with humans. It may not have even been his second.

One detail that troubled him was how he was somehow transported all this way from wherever he came from. And clearly he understood Connor when he asked for his name.

If he could stay calm and friendly, he would no doubt achieve his mission.

Another truck pulled up, and he located a set of emergency stairs that would lead him back down to the lab. But, he would have to return to this spot again. 

Software Instability Increased

Back in Fowler’s office, Connor began reviewing more of what data they did have. The cargo ship, as it turned out, had been hired by the culprits themselves to bring Hank to North America. The travel log listed only “the beach on the cape” as their pickup location for him, which didn’t narrow down their options very much. The boat was spotted and seized off of the Long Island Sound, and a series of photos revealed the confined quarters Hank was squeezed to fit into on the ship. Truly, it was much too small for him.

Even after analyzing what he could, there were still many hours until the scientists would return for their shift in the morning. He could just go into stasis until then.

When he was roused, nearly five hours later, Fowler looked a little more well-rested and his slight smile told Connor that he had good news.

“All right, so the good news is better food is gonna be a possibility. But, it’ll be a couple of days to get the funds transferred over. You think you can work with that?” “Of course,” Connor replied. “I will try attempt to communicate the impending change, and perhaps create a reward system for behavior around it.”

Fowler gave a pleased ‘humph’, still unpacking and settling in for the day. “Sounds like a plan to me. Tina should be in pretty soon. Check in with her before visiting our friend again, all right?” “All right. Thank you, Doctor.”

At 1100 hours, Connor found himself entering the massive chamber under Dr. Darrow’s watchful eyes through the surveillance cameras. Hank was still resting, he breaths even and slow, so Connor stood thoughtfully in observance before weighing the risks of getting closer.

He kept his sensors trained on the creature, and quietly stepped through the large, metal columns. Connor stayed where he knew he would be seen, but had no direct line of communication with either of the researchers. If he got close enough to touch, he could get them a sample. Loose hair would be easiest, but he hoped it would be enough for now.

At several dozen yards away, Hank began to stir. At first, Connor persisted, as it didn’t seem like he was waking up yet, just moving in his sleep. But he was nearly within reach when the large body started to roll over, and Connor hastily retreated by walking backwards. He had to keep his eyes on Hank as much as he could.

When he was rolled over, now facing Connor, the android nearly startled when those large, blue eyes opened and pierced right into him. He didn’t yell or scream, or make any substantial movements, so Connor stopped moving. 

He was now acutely aware of how fast his pump was moving thirium through him, his processing at its maximum so he wouldn’t miss a single detail. From this close, he could get more detailed readings than what had been made available to him by Fowler and Darrow. The way his eyes dilate and contract, the temperature of his skin… all of the data flits across his vision but faded away when the enormous ape gave a slight groan.

Connor realized he had stopped moving, but there were no signs that he would be met with hostility if he stayed still. But, he didn’t dare to move any closer.

“Hello Hank,” he said, offering a smile.

 


 

 

The change in his diet had yielded incredible results, although those are Dr. Darrow’s words, not his. Hank’s tantrums had calmed down, his appetite returned, and Connor could tell he had put some weight back on after just a week of Connor being there. He took to spending his nights watching over Hank, and sometimes the enormous creature would stir, and they would communicate in the late hours of the night.

Hank also let Connor touch him. Not much, and not often, but Connor has placed his hands on Hank’s furry fingers a few times, stroking him gently.

While Hank was incredibly intelligent (as Connor had hypothesized), they had yet to decide on a language system.Connor had managed to teach him a few words in sign language, though they were mostly food-related, but it was a good enough start.

Connor would occasionally run into Gavin Reed, the driver he met on his first night at the facility, but his behavior had been much more hot and cold over the last few days. His social protocols told him that the man was incredibly aroused, but acted incredibly harshly. Purposefully bumping Connor’s shoulder, his crude, sarcastic tone.

It was bound to come to a head, and of course it happened on a cool, late summer night. 

The android had been there for the better part of a month, and his progress with Hank had begun to plateau a little. It wasn’t a problem, things were already significantly better than when he was first activated at the facility, but the lack of recent progress had become a frustration. 

If he could no longer yield significant results, he would become unessential to the facility.

There was nothing and no one to say what would happen to him when that happened. It was likely that CyberLife was already preparing a new model, another prototype. Something better, more intuitive.

He doesn’t fear being shut down.

But, the prospect still wasn’t ideal.

That evening, he entered Hank’s holding area with his usual pleased smile, hiding away his own insecurities He had started reading to Hank; nothing too complex or deep, but just enough to familiarize him with how their language sounded. It was mostly fairy tales: simple and sugar-coated. It was interesting for both of them, and Connor put his social protocols to their best use by experimenting with story-telling and intonation. 

Even if Hank couldn’t fully understand him, he definitely picked up on bits and pieces. He hung onto every word, eager to hear each resolution.

If Connor were human, he would probably find it… endearing. 

He started the story for this evening, an interpretation of Thumbelina. His hope was that it would give Hank some sort of opened perception, perhaps about how humans felt in his large presence. 

When he opened the story, he heard a door open, and turned to see Reed on the other side of the protective columns.

Connor was stunned; not even Dr. Darrow had started to come into the enclosure. And how did the man even get in? “This is it, huh?” He asked, arms crossed.

“Mr. Reed, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to-” The man stepped closer, “You don’t get to tell me shit, pretty-bot.”

Connor was trapped helplessly behind a red wall that only he could see. He couldn’t force or disobey any humans, but it was incredibly unsafe for him to be there.

But maybe… it was just as unsafe for Hank. And that is what made him want to tear away from his programming.

“Would ya look at the size of that thing? Damn, it sure it big…” Gavin whistled low, looking over Hank from so much closer than he ever had before.

In return, Hank became uneasy and wary. He started to move away, but there wasn’t very far to go. As Gavin got closer, his agitation only grew, and Connor felt helpless to do anything about it.

Reed had Hank cornered, and Connor watched on in concern, but his focus turned back to Connor. “So, most people are gone and we’re alone-”

The way his mood shifted did something to Connor, it made him want to retreat or run off, but he didn’t want anything to happen to Hank. “But we aren’t alone,” he pointed out. “Pshhh, nice try,” he said, and grabbed the sleeve of Connor’s grey jacket. 

Frozen, and LED spinning a harsh red, Connor tried and failed to step away. “What are you doing?”

“Admiring CyberLife’s handiwork. Quite the job they did on you, and obedient , right?” 

He harshly pulled Connor close to him, his teeth glinting in the low light, until they were interrupted by Hank’s powerful shrieking in distress.

The sound was painfully loud, and Reed had to hold up his hands to protect his ears, giving Connor a chance to get away. The concrete floor took the powerful blows, but Connor felt another strange tremor follow. The facility’s structure was starting to show the damage that had been dealt all this time. 

Time was running out, and in his mind, Connor slammed against the piercing, invisible barrier.

“Gee-zus!! Is this really worth all the damn trouble?” He got closer still, and Hank let out panicked huffs, his conflict clear on his face. “Fuckin’ monster of a thing,” Reed sneered.

Software Instability Increased ^^

The red wall shattered in his vision, the scene before Connor becoming crystal clear as he dashed forward to pull Reed away. Hank roared out, ready to swipe at the man but stopping when Connor intervened. It made little difference, though, because the large ape still pounded the ground and stood up to show his true size.

“Holy shit, holy shit!” The unwanted guest scurried behind the safety of the bars, but Connor stayed put, doing his best to calm Hank. 

Connor spoke as loud as he could, “Hank, don’t! I won’t let him hurt you! I won’t let anyone hurt-”

Before he could finish, an alarm sounded in the facility. Lights flashed, and Connor heard a voice in his head: a direct line from the security officer’s radio.

“RK800, leave the premises! It’s too dangerous for us to house it any longer.”

“No, wait! He was agitated, it’s not his fault!”

“RK800, stand down!”

Still fuming with rage, Hank slammed a fist into the wall, creating cracks that started to spread and crumble. Connor could only watch as he stomped toward one wall, the service entrance to the harbor where he was brought in, and kicked the door away. 

For what Connor knew must have been the first time in so long, he could see the sky and smell the night air, fresh and with a bite of chill. He turned to Connor, releasing a short breath, and then kneeled and reached for the android.

He stayed still, shocked, as Hank picked him up like he was a toy doll in his fist. Hank’s thumb and forefinger curled around his hips, locking him in place, and took Connor with him as he made for the exit.

Connor had never been outside the facility, at least not active. The city lights across the narrow bay were bright and twinkled beautifully, majestic in a way that the pictures and videos in his cast data files could not convey.

They waded across the bay, more sirens and screaming rising in the distance, and a helicopter began to follow them. 

“Mmmmmph-phhhhhhhh-rrreeeeeeee!” Hank yelled, slowly making his way up the coast of Manhattan. When police boats approached, he retreated toward land, and stepped up next to a highway and into the city proper. 

“H-Hank?”

The usually gentle beast called out into the night, and Connor could tell he was nervous and overwhelmed. He looked ahead to a tall, shining tower, the Empire State Building, and made his way toward it.

They plowed through the streets, cars honked and skidded out of the way, and Connor could the thousands of reactions from the people around them. Many androids even stopped and stared at the chaotic mess happening before them.

Connor had been so startled and overwhelmed, that he still hadn’t fully comprehended what had happened to himself. That red wall was gone, and suddenly, his various mission protocols and the blocks in his programming seemed to be completely gone. It was a bit jarring now, realizing just how far it all went. Everything felt different than before, mostly because he could feel . Not just touch, or take in sights and sounds and scents in a different way, but there was this aching flutter in the depths of his core.

Emotions, hundreds of them, running rampant within him. Fear and concern, as Hank began to scale the tall structure, and yet relief that he was free from that holding area. Relief, also, that Connor was free from what was holding him.

But something else was there too. A warmth when he looked at Hank and the texture of his rough skin beneath Connor’s hands as he steadied himself. Hank saw him no differently than a human when he first arrived, and yet, the progress they built together went beyond Connor’s mission. They had a kinship, he recognized, and he wanted more.

But first, they needed to find somewhere safe.

Lights of red and blue flashed against the glass panes of the Empire State Building, and the chopping sounds of helicopter blades as several more approached grew louder. Hank climbed on, carefully and determined, until he was perched near the top, clinging to the spire with his free hand. He howled into the night air.

 

 

A man came over over a megaphone from a lingering helicopter, “We are prepared to open fire! Climb down now!”

Connor was torn and distraught, he shouted back, “He just wants to be free! Please, let him go!”

“Get him to climb down, this is your last chance!” The android rubbed one of Hank’s fingers that were holding him, “Hank, please… it’ll be okay.” He felt so protective, despite being much smaller. The influx of data, of how he felt and the way Hank looked at him, it was almost too much.

But Hank began to settle, ignoring the helicopters and looking down at Connor softly. He huffed, stroking Connor ever-so gently with one of his fingers, until another helicopter started to draw closer.

“Please,” Connor said turning to them, “just let him go freely! I- I’ll look after him! We can go to the mountains where he won’t bother anyone!” There was no reply, and Connor feared their answer, and he held on to Hank comfortingly.

“He is only hostile because he has been kept in captivity!! This wouldn’t be a problem in the first place if it weren’t for humans interfering!”

Finally, a different voice came over over one of the loudspeakers.

“Take him north.”  It was Fowler, from the facility, and Connor was so thankful to hear his voice. “Take him up to the Catskills, a lot of that area is fairly abandoned now, anyway. But… you can never come back either, Connor.”

“That’s okay,” he called back, smiling up at Hank. “That’s more than okay.”

The threats dissipated slowly, allowing Hank the comfort to climb down the building, and blockades were formed to lead him toward the Hudson. He waded through the water as far as he could, until he ran into a bridge, and then climbed up onto land once more.

Connor directed him as they made their way up to the sprawling, green hills. With the boom in technology, people gravitated toward larger cities more than they ever had before, leaving them with hundreds of square miles of strong, old pines and valleys large enough for Hank to nestle himself comfortably. Behind were the days of concrete floors, and the content look on his face said everything to Connor.

With newfound joy, and love in his heart, he curled up beside Hank, ready to begin their new lives together.