Chapter 1: The Negotiator
August 15 th , 2038
Katherine Holloway closed her eyes in the backseat of the autonomous taxi escorting her to her next case across town. Usually, she would drive herself, but tonight she needed to focus. If she failed, a child could die. She fingered the gold starfish charm on her bracelet and took a deep breath.
You see, Katherine, or Katie as she liked to be called, was no ordinary member of the Detroit Police Department. She was the lone social worker of her precinct, a job that came with a lot of heartbreak, but was rewarding as well. However, she had a special skill that not many could claim. She could empathize with anyone and could lead someone trapped in darkness back towards the light. This skill could come in handy in her current situation.
The taxi pulled in front of the expensive apartment building and Katie stepped out. Reporters instantly shoved microphones and cameras in her face, but Katie ignored them, instead slipping a black Kevlar vest with Social Worker written on the back over her pale blue dress shirt. She couldn't allow anything to distract her. As she walked across the lobby towards the elevator, an officer stopped her.
"Sorry, ma'am, only law enforcement are allowed past the lobby."
Katie showed the officer her badge. "Katherine Holloway, social worker. I was asked to come help support the victims."
"Right, of course. The Phillips' apartment is on the 70th floor." The officer waved her on and Katie got inside the elevator, ruminating on the facts of the case. She pulled her mass of auburn curls back into a ponytail, one of her tricks to stay focused.
Only an hour prior, dispatch had been notified of an android housekeeper showing signs of "deviancy," a term Katie had never heard of previously. Apparently, the android had somehow broke free of its programming, killed the head of the household, and took the family's only child, Emma, hostage when law enforcement arrived.
Katie was unfamiliar with androids. She personally could not afford one on a public servant's salary, but she had certainly seen several during her daily activities. Why would it suddenly attack the family it worked for? Katie mused. The elevator arrived at its destination and Katie stepped out into the lavish apartment. She strolled past a large aquarium towards the living room. Her superior was waiting for her. "Captain Allen," Katie greeted with respect. "Katherine Holloway. I'm the social worker you requested."
The captain merely rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever. Higher ups ordered it to 'calm the victims,' whatever that means."
"I was told I may need to negotiate with the android?" Katie asked. Normally, she wouldn't be the one negotiating, but the department's regular negotiator was on vacation and his backup was home sick with the flu. In the police department's hierarchy, a social worker with mental health experience was the next best choice. Katie had specialized training in mental health first aid and de-escalation tactics as part of her job description.
"No, they made another call." Captain Allen grimaced. "CyberLife is sending…an android to deal with it. Now, beat it. I'm busy."
Katie was confused. They're trusting an android to negotiate? How can it possibly manage the amount of tact needed to talk down a suspect? However, that wasn't her decision to make. "I understand, sir. I'll go talk to Mrs. Phillips."
"Just stay out of my way."
The young woman nodded and went to an adjoining bedroom that clearly belonged to a child. Caroline Phillips, mother of Emma and wife to the victim, was sitting on the bed with her head in her hands. "Mrs. Phillips?" Katie asked gently. "My name is Katie. I'm a social worker with the Detroit Police Department. I'm here to help." She sat down beside Caroline and put a reassuring hand on the woman's shoulder. "You should know that everyone is doing the best they can to rescue Emma."
"I…I don't know what happened," Caroline choked. She raised her tear-streaked face towards Katie. "One minute, I was sitting in the living room with John, the next…" Caroline began to sob again.
Katie rubbed Caroline's shoulder. "It wasn't your fault, Mrs. Phillips. It sounds as if your android had a major software malfunction."
"But Daniel was fine! He was making us dinner…I don't know why he panicked. Next thing I knew, John was…he was…" Caroline put her head back in her hands.
An officer leaned into the bedroom. "We have to go," he ordered. "Captain's clearing everyone out."
"No!" Caroline cried. "I can't leave her! Please, just let me stay."
"The negotiator has just arrived, Mrs. Phillips," the officer explained. "The situation is too dangerous for civilians."
Caroline continued to protest as the officer and Katie gently but firmly escorted her from Emma's room. As they neared the private elevator again, the doors opened and there was the android who had suddenly replaced Katie. She was stunned to see how normal it looked. Unlike the other androids who wore uniforms befitting their position, this android was sharply dressed in a gray suit jacket with CyberLife insignia, a white dress shirt with black tie, dark jeans, and black dress shoes. It had been given the appearance of a young man probably the same age or a little older than Katie. Its wide brown eyes examined everything in the environment. If it wasn't for the CyberLife branding and the blue LED on its temple, Katie would have mistaken it for any other human on the street. Katie couldn't help staring, but Caroline ran up to it.
"Please, you've got to save my little girl!" she begged. "Wait…they're sending an android?" Caroline began to panic. "You can't do that!" she shouted to the officer leading her to the elevator. "Why aren't you sending a real person?" Katie went to follow the distraught woman, but the SWAT member standing guard stopped her.
"Captain Allen wants you to stay up here," he explained. "In case that thing goes haywire too."
Katie nodded. "Okay, I will." As she turned around, she noticed the android kneeling next to the aquarium. It was holding a brightly colored blue and orange fish in its hand. Katie hadn't even noticed it. The fish must have fallen out during the earlier conflict. She was stunned to see the android slip the fish safely back in the water. "Huh," Katie commented. I might as well introduce myself instead of staring. She walked up to the android and cleared her throat. "Um, hi," Katie said awkwardly. "I'm Katherine, I mean Katie. I'm the social worker assigned to this case." She held out her hand without thinking. Oh crap, do androids shake hands? Thankfully, the android smiled and shook her hand.
"My name is Connor," the android replied with a smooth voice. "I'm the android sent by CyberLife." His LED cycled yellow for a moment. "You are Katherine Holloway, correct?"
"How did you know my last name…oh, wait! You have a computer in your head, that's right." Katie wasn't sure what else to say. "Um…I'd better let you get to work. I'm here if you need any help."
"Thank you, Ms. Holloway, but I believe I will not need any assistance." Connor began to head towards the makeshift headquarters in the living room. Unsure what else to do, Katie decided to follow him. Once she arrived in the living room, Captain Allen waved her over. Connor was kneeling beside the body of John Phillips.
"Keep an eye on that thing," Captain Allen hissed. "If this goes south, you'll need to step in. I don't give a damn what CyberLife says."
"Yes, sir." Katie swiped a pair of latex gloves from the kitchen counter and decided to look around as well. If I have to negotiate, I need to figure out what exactly happened.
Across the room, Connor watched as the social worker slipped on a pair of gloves. Her brief profile had not shown him much, just her experience as a mental health professional and demographics. She was young, only twenty-four, however, she had made a name for herself quickly. Katherine leaned down beside the couch and picked up a discarded tablet. "Have you seen this yet?" she asked. "Might give you some information."
"No, but thank you." Connor pressed down on the tablet and found a notification for the purchase of a new AP700. "It was going to be replaced," Connor realized.
"Makes sense," Katie replied. She looked at John Phillips' body sadly. "Three gunshots. I'm not an investigator, but in my experience, I'd say that's a crime of passion. Somebody was very upset."
"Something," Connor corrected. "Androids aren't alive." He stood up to scan the other victim's body. Connor knew Katie was observing him, watching for any mistakes. It was his first mission out in the field, but he was certain he wouldn't fail. He couldn't fail. Connor made his final assessment and saw the fallen officer's gun lying beneath the dining room table. Although he knew it was illegal, he pocketed it for himself. He was ready. Connor approached the terrace doors with an 80% chance of success.
"Be careful," Katie cautioned from behind him. She stepped by the captain to await further orders. She took a shaky breath as she watched Connor slide the door open. The deviant-Daniel, according to Mrs. Phillips-was standing on the edge of the balcony holding a gun to Emma's head. "Holy shit," Katie swore.
"You're telling me," the captain agreed. Suddenly, Daniel fired a shot, barely grazing Connor's arm. Everyone jumped and Captain Allen pushed Katie to the floor. "Everyone hold your fire!" he ordered.
"Stay back!" Daniel demanded. "Come any closer and I'll jump!"
"No, no, please, I'm begging you!" Emma cried. Katie wanted to run out and pull the little girl to safety, but knew she needed to stay put.
Meanwhile, Connor seemed unfazed. "Hi, Daniel!" he shouted to the deviant. "My name is Connor!"
"How do you know my name?" Daniel asked in confusion.
"I know a lot of things about you!"
Katie watched in shock as Connor did everything by the book. He appealed to Daniel's love for Emma and how the situation wasn't his fault, just a software error. He even managed to convince Daniel to allow him to apply a tourniquet to a fallen officer. "He's actually doing it," Katie commented.
Now, it was getting close to the end. "Come on, you can do it," Katie encouraged Connor quietly. "Get the demands and save her."
"I want everyone to leave!" Daniel yelled. "And I want a car. When I'm outside the city, I'll let her go."
Not going to happen, Katie thought to herself. Connor seemed to have read her mind.
"That's impossible, Daniel. Let the girl go and I promise you won't be hurt."
"I don't want to die," the deviant pleaded.
"No one's going to die, we're just going to talk," Connor reassured him. "Nothing will happen, you have my word."
"Okay," Daniel agreed. "I trust you." He cautiously put Emma down and she ran a short distance away.
"Now," Captain Allen ordered. From an adjoining roof, a sniper fired three rapid shots and the android fell to its knees, dead. Katie let out a breath she didn't even know she was holding. Without thinking, Katie stood and ran out to the balcony. "Holloway!" Captain Allen shouted. "Get your ass back here, now!"
"What are you going to do, just leave that little girl?" Katie snapped back. She rushed past Connor and knelt beside Emma, who was covered with a mix of blue and red blood. Despite her morbid appearance, she seemed to be unharmed except for some bruises and scrapes. "Hi, sweetie," Katie said softly. "My name is Katie. I'm going to take you to your mom, okay?"
Emma nodded with a sniffle. Katie helped the little girl to her feet and ushered her towards the apartment. As they passed Connor, Emma stopped and looked up at the android. "Thank you," she whispered. Katie smiled.
"Good job, Connor," she stated.
The negotiator seemed as if he wanted to say something, but instead pushed his way past them and the other officers before heading to the elevator. Katie took Emma's hand and led her to the apartment, where Caroline had been allowed back inside. "Emma!" Caroline cried.
"Mommy!" The mother and daughter hugged tightly. Katie turned to take one final look at Connor stepping inside the elevator.
I guess I have more to learn about androids than I thought.
Chapter 2: An Interesting Proposition
Katie meets a new coworker that she knows from before. Connor finds Katie fascinating. Gavin gets intimidated by a 5'4" social worker. ;)
Hey everyone, thanks for continuing to read my story! Fun fact, I wrote part of this chapter while watching Bryan and Amelia Dechart stream on Twitch. It's great that they are creating such a positive community on the Internet. I hope you enjoy this chapter and feel free to leave a review!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
November 6th , 2038
Katie opened her eyes and found herself standing on a bridge over a river. "No, no, not this again," she pleaded. She looked over and sure enough, saw a young man on the other side of the railing, prepared to jump and end his life. "You don't want to do this," Katie said calmly, approaching the weeping stranger slowly.
"Stay back! You don't know me! You don't know my life!"
"No, I don't," Katie replied. "Why don't you tell me how you got here?" She was right at the railing, close enough to see the desperation on the man's face. His clothing began to change into a police officer's uniform.
"I…I lost someone."
"That's hard. It's horrible when you lose someone. But would the person you lost want you to take your own life?" Katie stepped over the edge of the railing to the gasps of onlookers. She gripped the young man's arm tightly. "Listen, you may want to take your own life, but will you take another with you? If you go down, I'm coming with you, okay? You're not alone."
The stranger twisted his face in grief. "I'm sorry, but I can't live with this pain anymore." He let go of the railing and Katie didn't have time to react. As he slipped from the icy bridge, Katie lost her footing and fell also. Her mouth opened, but no words came out. She was about to hit the frozen river-
"No!" Katie cried as she sat up straight in bed. Her heart pounded as she tried to catch her breath. You know that didn't happen. You saved Thomas. He's okay. Katie clutched her comforter and took a few gasping breaths.
"Mrow?" Her cat, Leia, jumped onto the bed. Seeing her owner's distress, the black and orange cat nuzzled Katie's cheek.
"Hey, baby girl," Katie greeted, her voice still choked with emotion. "Ready for today?" She scratched under Leia's chin and checked the clock. "Six am. Right on time." Katie got out of bed and headed towards the kitchen of her small apartment. The coffee maker had already brewed a fresh pot. Katie poured herself a mug, added a generous amount of creamer, and took a few sips. She turned on the news while she drank her coffee.
"In today's headlines, the Detroit Police Department has selected a new prototype android to assist investigators on the growing deviancy cases. This prototype, known only as the 'RK800', has already made great strides by finding and interrogating a deviant who had murdered his owner. Who knows how this will affect the future of police work?"
"New android, huh?" Katie commented. "Gavin's going to be thrilled." She polished off her coffee and went to finish getting ready.
Katie arrived at the precinct on time and pulled into her designated parking spot. She walked inside, working on her second cup of coffee. After that nightmare, it was a two cup of coffee kind of morning. "Hey, Chris," Katie greeted as she passed by Officer Chris Miller's desk.
"Morning, Katie. Did you hear the news?"
Katie paused, taking another sip from her travel mug. "About the android? Yeah, it was all over Channel 16."
"That thing is no joke, Katie. I watched him interrogate that deviant last night. He broke it down quicker than I've ever seen before. I think you might know him, too."
"The android? I highly doubt it. It's a prototype, Chris. Probably fresh off the assembly line."
"Just wait and see."
"Okay, I'd better get to my office and read about the twenty consults I probably have already." She waved to the officer. "Stay safe out there, all right?"
"I'll try my best."
Katie stepped inside her office that was located right off the bullpen. Given the confidential nature of her work, the DPD had allocated a private office. The walls were glass, similar to the other cubicles and Captain Fowler's office, however, one press of a button could turn the walls opaque, protecting any potential client seeking anonymity. Another button could make the office soundproof. It gave Katie's consults a sense of security during trying times. Katie had also attempted to make her office more homey, unlike the rest of the precinct, which could seem cold and sterile at times. She hung encouraging art on the walls and put bright pillows in the comfy chairs positioned in front of her desk. She wanted to do whatever she could to make her guests comfortable.
She logged onto her email account and sure enough, two consults had already been assigned. One was a domestic violence victim looking for shelter and the other was a family member of a homicide victim. "Here we go," Katie murmured. She connected to the front desk, where a receptionist android was awaiting her call. "Please send Miss Andrews back to my office," she told the android politely.
"Of course, Ms. Holloway."
"It's Katie, Anne. You don't have to be formal with me."
"I'm sorry, but my programming does not allow for informal greetings."
"I understand." Katie sighed as she hung up. She hated how the androids had to follow their programming so closely. She wished they were able to call her by her first name.
Later on in the morning, Katie approached the break room, needing her third coffee of the day. I should probably cut back. This much caffeine can't be good for me. However, on a day like today, it's either coffee or screaming at my computer, so I guess coffee is the better option. As Katie walked inside the break room, she could hear her coworker, Detective Gavin Reed, yelling at someone. That someone turned out to be an android in a gray suit. An android that Katie knew. "Holy shit, Connor?"
Connor ignored the error warnings flashing across his vision from Detective Reed's punch to his abdomen. He would be all right, despite the wound to his pride. However, he wasn't expecting to hear a familiar voice behind him.
"Holy shit, Connor?" He turned and saw a young woman standing in the break room entrance. She had dark auburn curls and brown eyes that stared at him in shock. He ran his scanner over her quickly.
Holloway, Katherine Elaine
DOB: 02/14/2014 / Social Worker
Criminal Record: None
A quick recording played as well: There was the same girl kneeling beside the child he had saved back in August. Katherine stood and ushered the girl past him. "Good job, Connor," she stated.
"Ms. Holloway, it's good to see you again."
"Katie, you know this plastic asshole?" Gavin asked.
"Yes, I do," Katherine replied, smiling at Connor. "This is Connor. He saved that little girl a few months ago. Remember, the one where I was supposed to negotiate?" She turned towards Gavin. "And why were you fighting with him anyway, Gavin? What could an android possibly do to aggravate you?"
"He refused to take a direct order!"
Katherine crossed her arms. "So you sucker punched him in the stomach? Gavin, do I have to recommend more anger management sessions to the captain? I'm sure he would be thrilled to hear you are taking out your frustration on your other colleagues."
"It's not even really human, Katie! It's just a machine!"
"Fine, then damaging department property. Still could cause you to sit with me for two hours a day and go over why you think you need to solve your problems with your fists." Connor was surprised to see the social worker firmly glare at the detective.
"No, no, that's not necessary, Katie."
"I thought so." Katherine watched as Gavin walked away from the break room. "Are you okay?" she asked with concern.
"You did not need to come to my defense, Ms. Holloway. I had the situation handled."
"Katie, please. Ms. Holloway is my mother." The young woman looked Connor over. "You haven't changed a bit since I saw you. CyberLife assigned you to us, huh?"
"I have been assigned to pursue the deviant investigation. Captain Fowler has put Lieutenant Anderson in charge of all deviant cases and I will assist him."
"Ah, so they paired you up with Hank? Interesting choice."
Connor's curiosity was triggered. "What do you mean?"
The social worker headed towards her office and Connor followed. As soon as they entered, Katherine pushed a button by the door that turned the glass walls opaque. "Sorry, I don't want anyone else to hear. Hank is a wonderful officer, truly. However, ever since…the accident, Hank has been struggling personally. I keep trying to get him to talk to me, but he's a hard nut to crack. Who knows, maybe you can get through to him?"
Connor nodded, his scanners examining the items in Katherine's office. Two diplomas were proudly displayed by her desk, stating she had received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from the University of Michigan. A small piece of paper was framed on her desk. He zoomed in and could see it was a license allowing Katherine to practice social work in the state of Michigan. Finally, he looked up and saw a newspaper article framed on the top of her bookshelf.
Off Duty Social Worker Rescues Suicidal Officer
Flipping through the article, Connor was stunned to read about Katherine's successful de-escalation of a police officer threatening suicide. Katherine had been driving by on her way home from work at a community mental health center. Seeing the officer in distress, she jumped out of her car and attempted to save the man's life. In an act of pure bravery, Katie climbed over the railing herself and took the officer's arm, telling him if he jumped, she would be coming with him. She managed to convince the officer to save himself and the story made front page news. One quote stuck out to Connor in particular.
"Katherine Holloway's actions are a prime example of why law enforcement and mental health professionals should work together more often."
"I see you found my story," Katie said softly. Connor blushed, not realizing he had been caught staring.
"That was extremely brave of you to do…Katie," Connor replied.
The social worker smiled. "The department offered me a job after I saved Thomas. His family also took up a collection to pay for my schooling. I walked away from my master's debt free." She put a hand on the news article. "However, don't think you know me just because you have a computer in your head. If you have any questions, just ask, okay?" Katie peeked out her office door. "Looks like Hank decided to show up for work. Good luck and feel free to come find me if you need anything."
"I will. Thank you, Katie." Connor straightened his jacket and headed towards the bullpen.
Katie watched Connor leave her office with a strange sense of peace. She had been wondering what had happened to the android after the chaotic night at the Phillips' apartment. Now, she got to work with him again. Well, technically Hank was working with him. Katie was just in the same office.
She sat down at her terminal to review her next consult. One of the rookie officers had been ordered to see her after a traumatizing experience in the field. Katie would be responsible for helping him process the event and coming up with techniques to reduce further trauma. As she scrolled down the chart, her office phone suddenly rang.
"Ms. Holloway?" It was Anne. "There's a call on line one for you."
"Thank you, Anne." Katie transferred the call. "You've reached the social worker. How may I help you?"
"Hello, Ms. Holloway. My name is Howard Sanders. I work with CyberLife."
"CyberLife? Um…are you sure you have the right department? I can transfer you to Lieutenant Anderson-"
"No, Katherine, I'm speaking to the right person. I understand you have worked with the RK800 before, correct?"
Katie's stomach dropped. "How do you know that?"
"We can access the RK800's memories remotely. You appeared…prominently during its last mission."
"I was just present as support, Mr. Sanders. There were other officers at the scene."
"Yes, but you are different from the other officers, aren't you? I've seen your file, Katherine. You're…special. You can read people, which has come in handy for your career."
Katie tightened her grip on the phone. "What does that have to do with Connor?"
"Everything, my dear. You see, the RK800 is a prototype and is still adapting to its surroundings. We need someone to monitor it. Someone who is experienced in reading between the lines and can watch for weaknesses."
"You want me to spy on him? Why?"
"We need to know if the RK800 is still able to complete his mission. With the rise in deviancy, we cannot risk our greatest asset. If you notice any signs of emotion or rebellion, you can report them to me. We are willing to reimburse you handsomely for your cooperation."
Katie felt her head spinning. CyberLife thought Connor could go deviant. If the most advanced prototype could go deviant, what did that mean for the rest of the android population? "I don't understand. I'm a social worker. I don't work with technology. I mean, can't you access his programming and see if he is working properly?"
"Katherine, the RK800 is a highly advanced prototype. It can hide things from its creators if it wanted to. We need someone on the inside to watch it. Someone who is experienced with behavior analysis. Someone like you."
Her fingers rubbed her starfish charm nervously. "Um…I'll have to think on it. This is a big decision."
"Don't even think of mentioning this conversation to the RK800 or Lieutenant Anderson. We can…replace the RK800 if needed."
"I won't," Katie replied, biting her lip. "I'll watch him for you, all right? But don't expect anything perfect. I was trained to work with humans, not androids."
"Excellent, Katherine. I have sent a secure link to your email. You will find access to a live chat with me. I will expect daily reports on the RK800's progress."
"I…I understand," Katie stammered.
"You are doing a great thing. This will help shape the future of technology. Goodbye, Katherine. I will expect your first report this evening." The call ended suddenly.
Katie sat in stunned silence at her desk, still staring at the phone. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
Uh-oh, Katie's gotten herself into some trouble! And how will this impact her relationship with Connor and Hank? Tune in next time!
Chapter 3: Androids Aren't Alive, Right?
Hank and Katie clash on their view on androids. Connor tries to keep the peace. Katie spots something unsettling in the deviant investigation. CyberLife is still lurking.
It's so crazy that this game takes place only over a few days. I'm following the continuity the best I can, but also attempting to flesh out Connor and Hank's story so it makes sense.
I hope you all are enjoying Katie thus far. I work in mental health and felt that Hank and Connor needed someone to support them while watching a playthrough of DBH. Hank needs someone to support him after Cole's death and Connor needs someone to help him understand his new emotions. Katie is meant to help them bridge the gap...and also give some common sense at times. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
November 6th. 2038
Katie led the rookie officer out of her office towards the bullpen. “I’ll plan on seeing you next week, okay Rob?”
“Works for me. Thanks, Katie.”
“Don’t mention it.” As soon as the policeman was out of sight, Katie let out a deep breath. I am so screwed. Why did I even agree to be CyberLife’s fly on the wall? She knew she couldn’t warn Connor and Hank. CyberLife could access Connor’s memories. Anything she said or did was being recorded by the android himself. She couldn’t even risk passing him a note. Katie walked down the hall towards the holding cells, still pondering her next move. She approached the second cell and saw Connor standing in front of it, speaking to the prisoner inside. She was surprised to see it was a fellow android, completely covered in red blood and dirt. Looking closer at the android, she could see markings she recognized as cigarette burns. It was being abused. Katie paused, listening to Connor’s conversation.
“I’m sorry,” Connor said sincerely. “It’s not what I wanted, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Not what he wanted? Katie wondered, leaning against the wall casually. Oh crap, this is the android he interrogated last night.
“I know there’s something you didn’t tell me,” Connor continued. “I need to know, before they take you away…the sculpture you made, tell me more about it.”
The android stared at Connor blankly, but Katie could see fear in his eyes. “I’m going to die,” he replied softly. Connor silently looked down at his shoes before finally turning and noticing Katie standing nearby.
“Katherine,” he greeted with surprise. “I didn’t see you there.” Katie opened her mouth to respond before hearing a loud banging come from the holding cell. Connor and Katie whipped around to see the android hitting his head against the glass wall, blue blood spattering with each hit. Detective Ben Collins and Chris Miller came running to respond.
“Shit!” Katie exclaimed. She rushed to assist the officers, but Connor held her back. “Let me go!” Katie shouted.
“It’s too late,” Connor explained numbly as the android collapsed, blue blood pulsing from his wound. “It self-destructed.”
Katie yanked herself from Connor’s grasp and hurried to the holding cell. Ben and Chris were standing over the android’s body. “I’ll call CyberLife,” Ben told Chris. “Clean this mess up.” Chris went to shut the door, but Katie pushed him aside gently.
“Katie?” Chris stated in confusion.
“Just give me a minute.” Katie knelt beside the body, tears growing in the corner of her eyes as she took in the multiple wounds. “I knew it,” Katie whispered. She looked up at Chris and Connor, who were watching her from the doorway. “He was being abused, damn it. And you were going to destroy him? What kind of monsters are you?”
“Katie, androids aren’t alive…” Connor tried to reply.
“Bullshit!” Katie yelled. She reached down and carefully shut the android’s eyes, giving it at least some respect. She stood and glared at Connor. “Picture yourself in his shoes for just one second. Every day, you’re being beaten for something you didn’t do. Not days or weeks, but months. Finally, your ‘owner’ comes at you with a bat. What are you supposed to do? Just take it?”
“Katie, it had a major software malfunction. It only thought it was experiencing fear. Besides, it killed a human. There was no going back.”
The social worker shook her head in pure disbelief. “This is beyond me.” She threw her hands up in the air and stalked out of the cell, running into Lieutenant Hank Anderson in the process.
“What the hell’s going on?” the senior detective ordered. “I could hear Katie screaming from Jeffrey’s office.”
“I had nothing to do with it,” Chris answered before backing away from the trio.
“Why are you even over here?” Hank asked Katie accusingly. “Androids don’t feel anything. They don’t need your touchy feely shit.”
“It’s a free country, Hank. I can walk around the office if I want to.”
“Don’t even start. I’ve already had a hell of a day and I don’t need to hear any more complaining from you.”
Connor’s eyes were wide as he watched Katie and Hank stare at each other, daring the other to make a move. “Lieutenant…Katherine…I believe we should-“
“Don’t worry, Hank. I’m not planning on getting involved in your investigation,” Katie interrupted. She turned on her heel and walked briskly towards her office.
Hank looked at Connor. “All right, what’d she start?”
“What do you mean, Lieutenant?”
“I’ve worked with Katherine Holloway for over a year, Connor. She always has to stick her nose into our cases, whether we like it or not. So, what did she want?”
Connor knew he needed to tread with caution, given Hank’s clear opinion on both androids and Katie. “She…expressed concern that Carlos Ortiz’s android was punished unfairly.”
Hank shrugged. “It murdered its owner. That’s not something to be taken lightly.”
“She believed a self-defense perspective should be taken into account.”
The detective laughed. “As if any attorney would take that case. And if what you said is true, its actions were driven by a software malfunction, not by any real choices. Right?”
Connor nodded. “Correct.”
“All right, forget about her. Chris got a lead on that missing AX400. It was spotted in the Ravendale district. Let’s head out.”
“Excellent idea, Lieutenant.”
“Yeah, yeah.” As Connor and Hank passed Katie’s office, Connor glanced inside to see Katie leaning her head in her hands, emotion clear in her expression. Katie gazed upward and saw Connor staring at her. She blushed and pressed a button on her desk. The walls instantly turned white and Connor couldn’t see the social worker anymore. He shook his head and followed Hank out of the precinct.
She isn’t part of the mission, he reminded himself. I need to stay focused.
Katie wiped away a few tears and turned her attention to her terminal. Thankfully, after the incident with the android, she had remained steadily busy throughout the afternoon. She hadn’t even had time to think about her encounter with Connor and Hank. Even though that whole situation was horribly wrong.
However, she wasn’t assigned to the deviant investigation. Hank was right. They didn’t need a social worker because androids “didn’t feel emotions.” Which is a load of crap, Katie thought. She had seen Connor show compassion towards the android and true fear in the “criminal’s” eyes. She had also witnessed Connor show emotion during the hostage situation in August. He’s either a really good actor or he feels…something. I just need to figure him out.
Speaking of figuring Connor out, Katie was expected to submit her first report on the prototype’s behavior to CyberLife that evening. The secure chat was front and center on her terminal, but she had no clue what to tell Mr. Sanders, if that was even his real name. Her fingers hesitated over the keyboard before she finally typed a quick sentence: RK800 is still on target for his mission. She paused before writing another. No signs of deviancy witnessed by writer. She quickly hit “enter” and sent the message hurtling through cyberspace. Even if she was still mad at Connor, she wouldn’t give CyberLife any reason to hurt him.
Katie looked out at the bullpen and saw Hank and Connor enter. Both were soaking wet and Connor seemed frustrated. Katie noted that they didn’t have a prisoner with them. Apparently they didn’t catch the deviant they were after. She stood and left her office, knowing she was due for a stretch break. As she walked by Hank’s desk, Connor waved her over.
“Hi, Katie,” he acknowledged. “I apologize for earlier.”
“Using his brown nosing apology program again,” Hank muttered.
Katie ignored Hank and nodded at Connor. “It’s all right. How is your investigation going?”
“We almost caught the AX400,” Connor replied. “However, it managed to get away, along with a little girl.”
“Ran onto the automated freeway,” Hank added. “Somehow it got across and didn’t get splattered.” Hank frowned at the android. “Connor almost went after them.”
“Really?” Katie raised an eyebrow. “What stopped you?”
“Hank gave me an order and I obeyed,” Connor answered.
“Even though it conflicted with your mission? Interesting.” Katie glanced at the terminal on Connor’s temporary desk that was displaying the AX400’s case file. “Kara,” she read. “That’s a pretty name.” She continued to read the file. “She attacked her owner, huh? Any idea why?”
“The victim said it just attacked him out of nowhere,” Hank explained. “Why does it matter?”
“Just curious,” Katie stated. “There’s no mention of a little girl in the report. Where did she come from?”
“Wait, that can’t be right,” Connor argued.
“I’m telling you, there’s nothing written. Was she the victim’s child?” Katie felt concern for the unknown girl rising in her chest. She could be in danger. What if the android kidnapped her?
“He didn’t tell us about a kid.” Hank was starting to seem worried too. “That’s really weird.”
Katie peered at the file closer. “Victim’s name was Todd Williams…oh, shit.”
“What?” Connor asked.
“I know this guy. He’s bad news.”
Connor’s LED flickered yellow. “Todd Williams: criminal record includes arrests for drug trafficking, assault, and battery.” The android ran his hand through his hair. “He does have a daughter.”
Hank sat up straighter in his chair. “Katie, what do you know about him?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Well, tell it quick,” Hank ordered.
“Okay, I got involved in the case about a year ago. It was one of my first consults…”
Katie smiled reassuringly at the woman seated in front of her desk. “Mrs. Williams, I appreciate you being willing to talk to me. Tell me what happened.”
The woman raised her head, a bruise clear on her cheek. She pushed a strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “He was using red ice again. He…he always gets so mad when he’s high. Usually I try to avoid him, just stay out of his way. But…I didn’t cook what he wanted for dinner. He hit me and I’ve gotten used to that. But then Alicia started crying and Todd went after her…” Mrs. Williams started to sob. “I couldn’t let him hurt my daughter. I grabbed Alicia and we ran to the bus stop. I didn’t know what else to do.”
Katie put her hand on top of the distraught woman’s. “It’s okay, Emily. You did the right thing. Now, we can file a report against your husband. Our officers can arrest him and he’ll never hurt you again.”
“No!” Emily cried. “I can’t. Even if he gets arrested, there’s no chance he’ll stay in jail for long. I just want to get somewhere safe. Somewhere he can’t find us.”
The social worker nodded and reached for a pamphlet in her desk drawer. “I can refer you to Patterson Haven outside of Detroit. It’s in an undisclosed location and the staff are wonderful. They can help you and Alicia get a fresh start.” Katie gestured to the blond haired little girl talking with Officer Chen outside her office. “The staff offers a great program for children, too. Alicia will have plenty of other kids to play with.”
Emily sighed in relief. “Yes, that sounds perfect. I just want to get away from him.”
“Don’t worry,” Katie replied. “He won’t be able to hurt you.” Emily stood and hugged Katie tightly.
“Thank you,” she choked. “You’re an angel.”
“It’s no problem, Emily. Just let me call the director and I’ll get a taxi to take you there.” Katie reached for her office phone while Emily left to sit with Alicia. “Hello? Debra, it’s Katie. I have a referral for you…”
“So you helped his wife and daughter escape,” Hank realized. “That bastard.”
Connor was ruminating over Katie’s story. Something didn’t make sense. “You said Alicia was blond?”
“Yes, she had beautiful curls. She liked that I had curly hair, too.” Katie shook her auburn curls for effect. “Why?”
“The girl with the AX400 had brown hair.” Connor raised his hand so Katie could see an image of the child he chased earlier.
“That’s not Alicia,” Katie replied. “Oh crap, what if she’s some foster kid?”
“How could he possibly foster a kid?” Hank disagreed.
“There’s a few…disreputable ways to get a child in Detroit,” Katie explained. “And Todd was none too happy when Emily and Alicia left.” She looked away, remembering the day after she helped the mother and daughter.
“You nosy bitch!” Todd Williams stalked towards Katie, rage in his eyes. “Where are they? I know you had something to do with it!”
Katie crossed her arms and stood firm, even though her heart pounded. Captain Fowler exited his office and headed her way. “Mr. Williams, I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Todd shook his finger at Katie. “You took them from me! Emily stopped by the house to get her things. I found your card on the table!” He raised his hand to strike the social worker. “I’m going to teach you to keep your nose out of other people’s business!” He went to hit Katie, but a hand grabbed Todd’s arm.
“That’s enough,” Hank said in a warning tone. “Todd Williams, you’re under arrest for threatening a Detroit PD employee.” He slapped a pair of handcuffs on the man’s wrists. Katie stumbled to a chair as Hank led Todd away, her knees threatening to give way.
“That’s right,” Hank commented. “He didn’t stay in jail long. Damn census.”
“Who is that little girl, though?” Katie insisted. “The file says that android has been repaired numerous times in the past. I’d bet money that Todd was abusing her in place of Emily. And I bet Kara rescued the child from him, too.”
“Could be why he didn’t mention a kid in the report,” Hank agreed. “Good eye, Katie. Connor and I will follow up.”
Connor was confused by the whole situation, but he knew Katie had made a good point. Plus, Hank and Katie weren’t fighting, which was a positive. “We should bring Todd back in for questioning. See if he’ll talk about the girl.”
“Good idea. I’ll go pick him up,” Hank replied. “We gotta figure out who that kid is. Given Williams’ history, she could be a victim, too.”
“I’ll do some research, too,” Katie added. “Maybe there’s record of her somewhere in the child welfare system.”
“All right, we’ll check back in a couple hours. We may have a possible child abuse situation on our hands.” Hank grabbed his car keys. “Come on, Connor, we’ve got to get this asshole.”
“Right behind you, Lieutenant.”
“Be careful!” Katie called after them. She headed back to her office and saw that Sanders had sent her a reply.
Continue to monitor. Beginning to see minor instances of software instability in RK800. Cannot allow any deviation from mission.
Katie sighed and typed a response. I understand. Will continue to observe. She pushed her hair back while blowing out a breath. This is going to be a long week, she mused.
Was I the only one questioning why Todd never mentioned Alice? I mean, we know that *spoilers* she's an android, too, but wouldn't someone at the DPD wonder why Kara is dragging this kid around with her? Maybe it's just my social worker brain.
Also, Alicia...Alice. I thought it was clever.
Reviews feed the starving author! ;)
Chapter 4: Not So Simple
Katie, Connor, and Hank continue the deviant investigation. Connor is forced to confront his beliefs. Katie has a late night visitor. And Katie's cat makes a cameo. :)
Welcome back, friends! Enjoy this next chapter of Bring Me To Life.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
November 6th, 2038
Katie leaned back from her terminal, running a hand through her curls in frustration. She had searched the databases, but there was no record of the child seen with Kara, the AX400 android who “assaulted” her owner. Who is she?
Hank and Connor had located Todd Williams, Kara’s owner and possibly the father of the unknown little girl. Todd had been high on red ice when the two detectives entered his home, so at the very least he would be arrested for drug possession. They had also uncovered a child’s bedroom upstairs, putting the whole precinct on red alert.
Katie couldn’t sit any longer. She headed down the hallway towards interrogation and slipped inside the observation room. Captain Fowler was standing at the one way window, watching Connor and Hank interrogate Todd. “Good catch, Katie,” the captain said. “No one else had paid any attention to that little girl.”
“It’s my job to spot details,” Katie replied. “I just hope we’re not too late.”
“I sent out an alert to the other precincts to keep an eye out for both the AX400 and the child. However, we haven’t had any leads yet.”
The social worker nodded and turned her attention to the interrogation. Todd seemed to be winding down from his red ice high, but still appeared agitated. Hank and Connor would have to be careful not to rile him or else Todd could fly into a rage. Just like Emily and Kara probably witnessed, Katie thought angrily.
“So, why didn’t you tell us you had a daughter?” Hank asked.
Todd looked down at his shoes. “That’s Alicia’s bedroom. She and her mother left last year.”
“Mr. Williams, we know that isn’t the whole truth,” Connor stated. “I found evidence of a child recently staying in that bedroom. And the dining room table was set for two.” Connor pushed the picture of the little girl in front of Todd. “Just tell us who she is. She could be in danger.”
Todd shook his head. “I’ve never seen that kid before in my life.”
“He’s lying,” Katie muttered.
“They’ll break him,” Captain Fowler replied. “That android is the best interrogator I’ve ever seen. We all might be out of a job if CyberLife comes out with a regular model.”
“I’m sure they’ll still need human police officers,” Katie said. “Victims need to be empathized with.”
“What happened, Todd?” Hank asked. “Did you get high one night and get upset? Maybe roughed up your android?”
“No!” Todd shouted. “It attacked me, remember? I’m the victim here!”
“Easy,” Katie murmured.
“Why did you lie about the little girl?” Connor pressed. “Don’t you want your daughter back?”
“She’s not my kid!” Todd exclaimed. Everyone in the observation room froze, leaning in closer.
“Explain,” Connor said simply.
“Alice…isn’t real. She’s an android.”
Katie’s eyes grew wide. “Holy crap. He got an android to replace his daughter.”
“I was a good father, I swear,” Todd continued. “My wife took my real daughter, Alicia, with her when she left. I…I wanted a chance to prove to Emily that I could be a good dad. So I got Alice to show her.”
“But why not tell us about her?” Hank implored. “If Alice was an android, why not tell us the truth?”
Todd shuffled in his seat. “People don’t know about Alice. I didn’t want anyone to know I failed as a father again.”
“Why did Kara take Alice with her?” Connor replied gently. “What happened, Mr. Williams?”
“I…I don’t know, really. Everything about that night is a blur.”
“Bullshit,” Hank disagreed. “You remembered enough to file a report against Kara the next morning. Tell us the truth.”
“I…I got upset at Alice. She reminds me so much of Alicia sometimes. I guess the technicians programmed some of Alicia’s personality into her, I don’t know. Next thing I know, Kara’s running out the door with Alice. They got on the bus and that’s it, I swear.”
Captain Fowler headed out the door. “I’ll cancel the alert.”
“What?” Katie protested.
“Katie, it’s an android, not a real kid. I can’t waste department resources on it. Hank and Connor will stay on the case.”
Katie wanted to argue, but knew it was a lost cause. In society’s eyes, Kara and Alice were just someone’s property, not human beings. She looked in the interrogation room and saw Connor and Hank leaving. Katie went out into the hallway to greet them.
“Book him for red ice possession,” Hank said to Chris. “We’re done here.”
“Great work in there,” Katie told the two detectives. “I guess that’s one case closed.”
“For now,” Connor replied. “At least we don’t have to look for a lost child.”
Hank seemed bothered by the situation. “That android…she was looking after that kid, like it was her own. She was almost a better parent than that loser.”
“I didn’t even know child androids existed,” Katie agreed.
“AX models are designed to care for children,” Connor explained. “It can only simulate emotions, but it is unable to truly love its charge.”
“Then what do you call that?” Hank argued. “Kara and Alice fled an abusive situation, Connor. I saw the way Kara treated Alice on the freeway. She cares about that kid, even if she’s just an android.”
“They’re deviants, Lieutenant,” Connor answered. “They only think they care for one another. It’s a software error, that’s all.” Connor paused and his LED flickered yellow. “I just got a report about a possible deviant near the Urban Farms. We should check it out.”
“Fine,” Hank stated gruffly. “But we’re getting something to eat on the way. I’m starving.” He headed for the door and Connor went to follow him, pausing to turn towards Katie.
“That was still a good lead, Katie,” Connor reassured. “I’ll see you later.”
“Okay,” Katie said with a small smile. “Be safe out there, all right? Hank hates filling out paperwork for damaged property.” She winked at the android, who nodded.
“I will, trust me.” Connor left Katie standing in the hall. She sighed and went back to her office.
It’s been a long day. I think I might cut out early. Katie had finished her consults for the day and the on call social worker could handle any emergencies. I hate working Saturdays.
Katie quietly packed her things and left the precinct, being sure to tell Anne, the receptionist android, that she was leaving early. She stopped to pick up Chinese food on her way home and carted everything to her apartment. Leia, her cat, greeted her at the door.
“Hi, sweetie,” Katie said as she put her bag and the takeout down. She scratched the tortoiseshell cat between her ears. “Anything exciting happen while I was gone?”
“Oh, really? Sounds interesting.” Katie checked Leia’s food and water before sitting down at her kitchen table with her food. Leia hopped on the table, wanting a bite of her owner’s dinner. “No! Down,” Katie scolded, putting the cat on the floor. “You know better.”
Leia huffed and went to scratch her cat tree in frustration. Katie took a bite of orange chicken and searched child androids on her phone. Instantly, a CyberLife ad for the YK500 popped up. Katie was shocked to see the model looked just like Alice.
“The perfect child you’ve always dreamed of, huh?” Katie read. “Wasn’t the case for poor Alice.” Why haven’t I heard of these androids before? Perhaps she had, but she simply wasn’t paying attention at the time. Katie threw away her garbage and yawned. It wasn’t that late, but she was exhausted. She picked up Leia, who was reclining on the couch. “Come on, little, let’s see what’s on tonight.” Katie sat down and stroked the purring cat while half watching a reality show. Before she knew it, she was fast asleep.
November 7th, 2038
Connor shifted his balance back and forth as he looked at the intercom system. His hands were still shaking after his encounter with Hank at the bridge. “But what are you really?” Hank’s words continued to echo in his head. Somehow, he had managed to placate the police lieutenant, but didn’t feel it was a good idea to get back in the car with him. So, he had ended up wandering the streets of Detroit. Technically, he could go back to CyberLife Tower and be put in stasis for the night, but that didn’t feel right either. Now, he was standing in front of an apartment building, his finger hovering over the buzzer for K. Holloway. He wasn’t even sure how he had gotten there in the first place. Connor pressed the buzzer quickly before he could change his mind. Amanda is going to love this, he thought sarcastically.
There was a pause, then a voice answered sleepily. “Hello?”
“Hi, Katie. It’s me, Connor.”
“Connor? What the hell are you doing out there? It’s three o’ clock in the morning!”
“Oh.” Connor hadn’t realized it was so late. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Well, I’m awake now.” The social worker sighed. “Do you have anywhere to go?”
“Um…not really.” Connor wasn’t sure why he lied.
“Come on, get up here. It’s freezing outside.” Katie hit the buzzer and the front door unlocked.
“I don’t feel cold, Katie…” She had already hung up. Connor pulled the door opened and walked across the lobby towards the elevator. The manager on duty looked at his CyberLife uniform and LED curiously.
“Androids aren’t allowed in here,” the manager announced.
“One of your tenants let me in,” Connor explained. “I work with her at the Detroit Police Department.”
“Katie let you in, huh? Fine, go on up there.” As Connor entered the elevator, his enhanced hearing heard the manager say, “Wouldn’t have pegged her for an android booty call.” Connor blushed blue as the elevator doors closed.
He found Katie’s apartment with ease and knocked on her door. The young woman answered promptly, rubbing sleep from her eyes. She was still wearing the same clothes from earlier, although they were mussed. “Hey,” she greeted. “Come on in.”
“I’m sorry to wake you, Katherine. I can go elsewhere if you’d like.”
Katie frowned. “You’re not sleeping on some bench like a homeless man. Besides, it’s my day off. I don’t have anything better to do.” Katie crossed the small living room to her kitchen. She poured herself a cup of coffee and added a large amount of creamer.
“That creamer has an alarming number of calories and grams of sugar in it. You shouldn’t drink that.”
Katie glared at him, still only about half awake. “You woke me up at three in the morning. I think I deserve a little treat.” Katie poured more creamer into the mug out of spite. “You want any?” she asked with a yawn.
Connor smiled politely. “Thank you, but I cannot consume anything meant for humans.”
“You’re missing out.” Katie took a large dreg of her coffee. “So why is an android showing up on my doorstep like a lost puppy? Hank get mad at you? Don’t worry, he’s done that to every one of his partners since…” The social worker paused, stopping herself from continuing. “Never mind.”
“What do you mean?”
Katie shook her head. “It’s not my story to tell. So, what happened? Sit down, by the way, you’re making me nervous by how stiff you are.” She sat down on the couch next to a black and orange cat that eyed Connor curiously. “Don’t mind Leia, she doesn’t bite…usually.” Connor chose a light brown easy chair and sat down awkwardly. “All right, spill,” Katie ordered, taking another sip.
“Hank and I lost the deviant at the Urban Farms. I almost caught him, but then he pushed Hank off the roof. I managed to save him, but the deviant got away.”
“And that’s a bad thing why?” Katie asked.
“I didn’t follow my instructions. I was assigned to hunt deviants, but I failed.”
Katie shrugged. “You saved your partner’s life. That kind of trumps stopping the deviant.”
“I shouldn’t have done it. My handler didn’t approve.”
The social worker seemed to perk up. “You have a handler?”
Connor tapped on his temple. “Technically, she’s just in my head. I call her Amanda. She helps monitor my software.”
“So she keeps you on track?”
“Yes. After every mission, I check in with her within my ‘mind palace.’ She lets me know what I should have done better.”
“Interesting…but that can’t be all. Hank got upset with you over something, right? That’s why you’re here instead of gallivanting with him.”
Connor sighed. “We were called to the Eden Club tonight. A ‘client’ was murdered by an android. We almost captured her and her lover, but they…escaped.”
“You let them get away,” Katie realized.
“I…I had my gun pointed at them, but I couldn’t shoot. I don’t know why. Then Hank confronted me about it on the bridge. He asked me if I was afraid to die and put his gun to my head.”
Katie gasped. “What the hell?” She leaned forward. “What did you say?”
“I told him I didn’t want to be…interrupted before the investigation was complete. I guess that was enough since he put the gun away and left.”
Katie chewed on her lip. “So you couldn’t go with Hank. Wait, do you even have anywhere to stay?”
“I have a room assigned to me at CyberLife Tower. Nothing much, just a bed.” Connor watched as Katie gave him a small smile.
“But you didn’t want to go back there, either,” she replied. Katie stood from the couch. “Come on, you can bunk with me for the night.”
Connor blushed. “Katherine, I don’t think that would be proper…”
“Ew, not like that!” Katie rubbed her forehead. “I have a guest bedroom. It’s meant for my parents when they come to town. They’re not currently using it, so you can.”
“I don’t actually have to sleep-”
“Hush. It’s fine. Hank’s probably sleeping off whatever he drank last night. He won’t go to the precinct today. You can hang out here instead of wandering around the city.” Katie went to the hallway off the living room and opened a door. A decent sized room holding a bed with colorful linens, a nightstand, and a comfy chair was behind it. Katie turned on the lamp beside the bed. “Feel free to stay as long as you like. I’m going to crash because unlike you, I have to sleep in order to function.” The young woman picked up Leia, who had wandered in behind them. “I’ll take Leia with me so she won’t bother you.” Katie turned to leave the guest room.
“Yeah?” The social worker paused to look back at him.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to do this.”
She grinned. “Just part of the job, Connor.” Katie left the room and headed for her bedroom. “Good night. Please don’t wake me up unless the apartment is on fire, okay?”
“Okay. Good night, Katie.” Connor sat down on the side of the bed, sinking into the mattress. He had never felt something so soft. His own bed at CyberLife was practically a board and just wide enough for him to lay on. He leaned down to take off his shoes and laid back against the pillows. Connor folded his hands over his chest and stared at the ceiling. Everything used to be so clear, but now…I’m not so sure. He thought of the kind social worker just one room away. Why does she care? I’m just a machine…right? Connor blew out a breath and closed his eyes, setting an internal reminder to wake up in a few hours. Before he knew it, he had slipped into a well-deserved stasis mode.
Aw, aren't Connor and Katie just precious? Poor Connor needed a pep talk after that conversation with Hank. Plus, I wanted to write some fluff. If you like what you're reading, please leave a review!
Chapter 5: Getting to Know You
Katie and Connor start to open up. Connor makes a tough decision. CyberLife knows.
This is a short chapter, sorry! I wanted to get something out though. I wrote this with my new rescue kitten, Mera, who I saved from a client who was an animal hoarder. She would like everyone to know about her contributions to this chapter, including walking across the keyboard, batting the mouse, and falling asleep on her new mama's lap. She says hello to all our new friends and to please leave a review!
Also, props to anyone who can guess the inspiration behind Mera's name! My other cat is named Leia (who has been featured in Bring Me to Life because I can lol) so you may see a theme... Enjoy the feels!
November 7th, 2038
Katie opened her eyes blearily, looking around her bedroom. She could have sworn she had just been talking to Connor, who had shown up unannounced at her apartment in the middle of the night. Was it all a dream? Her cat Leia nuzzled her arm, purring. “I think your mother is going crazy, Leia,” Katie muttered as she stroked the cat. She stood and stretched, reaching for her well-worn terry cloth robe. The hairs stood up on the back of her neck as she realized she was smelling smoke.
“Shit!” Katie rushed from her bedroom towards the main living area. She was stunned to see Connor spraying her mini fire extinguisher at a smoldering mess on the stove. “Damn it Connor, I told you to wake me up if the apartment was on fire!” Katie cried.
The android looked up sheepishly from the burnt cooking attempt. “Good morning, Katie. I apologize for the mess.”
Katie sighed. “It’s okay,” she replied. “What are you doing?”
“I was going to make you breakfast to say thank you for letting me stay. However, I do not have a cooking program installed, so I looked up traditional recipes online…”
Katie snickered. “Oh, Connor,” she said wearily. “Thank you, but you don’t have to do that.” She picked up the still smoking skillet using a pot holder. “What were you trying to make?”
“Eggs,” Connor answered nervously.
“Remind me to have my mom stop by sometime. She could teach you a thing or two about cooking.” Katie dumped the skillet into the sink. “Now, I’m no professional, but I do know how to at least make pancakes.” She opened one of her kitchen cabinets and pulled out a box of pancake mix. “For those of us who are not culinary geniuses,” she joked.
“I guess I missed that…” Connor said, slightly blushing.
“No problem. Here, let me show you.” Katie patiently guided Connor through the steps of gathering ingredients, mixing the batter, and watching the pancakes carefully. “My dad used to make these every Sunday,” she explained. “But where I’m from, we call them ‘flapjacks.’” Katie slowed her voice on the last word, sounding like she was from the American South.
“You’re not from Michigan?” Connor asked as he cautiously flipped one of the “flapjacks” over.
“Good job! And no, I’m from a little hick town in Indiana.” She smiled. “I thought your computer brain or whatever would have told you that.”
“You did tell me to ask and not rely on the ‘computer in my head,’” Connor reminded her. “What brought you to Detroit?”
“My dad worked for the auto industry most of his life,” Katie replied, taking out a plate and silverware from a drawer. “I’d always wanted to see ‘Motor City’ for myself, especially once the android craze happened. And the University of Michigan has one of the best social work programs in the country, so the move made sense. Drives my parents nuts, though. I’m their only kid and you would have thought I was moving across the country, not four hours away.”
Connor smiled. “Do you miss them?”
“I do.” Katie walked to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of maple syrup. “This is sugar free before you complain about my eating habits,” she teased. “But they visit pretty often. Dad is asked to visit the factories in Detroit for work and Mom will tag along. We’ll have some fun in the city in between Dad’s meetings.” Katie went to a shelf in her living room and picked up a picture frame. “This is my family,” she stated, handing the frame to Connor. It was a picture of Katie and her parents at what appeared to be her college graduation. “That’s my mom, Vivian. Everyone says we look like twins.”
Connor nodded, scanning the photo discreetly with his software. Instantly, a brief profile on both of Katie’s parents popped up in his visual processors.
Holloway, Mark Aaron
DOB: 01/09/1990 // Robotics Operator
Criminal Record: None
Holloway, Vivian Elizabeth
DOB: 02/24/1994 // Caterer
Criminal Record: None
“They look very proud of you,” Connor replied, giving the frame back to Katie. She smiled before putting it back on the shelf.
“They were,” Katie agreed. “They weren’t too thrilled at first when I told them I wanted to be a social worker, but they’ve grown to support me.”
Connor gingerly slid the two pancakes onto a plate and handed it to Katie, who beamed with pride. “These look great,” she said. “And smell wonderful, too.” She took the plate to the table. “Sit down, master chef,” she teased. “Take a load off.” Connor sat down carefully into a chair beside Katie. She put a small amount of syrup on the pancakes before taking a bite. Connor realized he was holding his breath. Katie noticed and winked at him. “They’re really good!” she exclaimed. “Nice job for your second cooking attempt.”
“I…I’m glad, Katie.”
“My parents should be coming up around Thanksgiving. You’ll have to come over. Mom will be turning you into the next android Gordon Ramsey in no time.”
Connor looked down at his lap. “Katie…I may not be around during Thanksgiving.”
The social worker put her fork down. “What do you mean?” she asked softly.
“I’m just a prototype. CyberLife assigned me to hunt down deviants, but that’s not going to be a permanent assignment. One day, I’ll be declared obsolete and brought back to be deactivated.”
Katie put a hand to her mouth. “You mean…they’ll kill you?” Connor was stunned to see tears forming in the corner of the young woman’s eyes.
“I…I’m not alive, Katie. It won’t hurt.”
“That’s just…messed up!” Katie cried. “They can’t just kill you for doing your job! What the hell is wrong with them?” She stood from the table, anger clear in her expression.
“Katherine…why do you care? I’m just a machine,” Connor tried to reply.
“You’re my friend, damn it!” Katie shouted. “I don’t care if you’re an android. You’re more human than most people I’ve met.” She put her head in her hands and began to cry quietly. “It…it’s just not right.”
Connor watched the social worker cry, wanting to do something to help. Finally, he stood, fighting everything in his programming telling him not to. He crossed the room and gently put his arms around Katie. She continued to sob into his dress shirt. “I’m sorry I had to tell you,” he said sorrowfully.
“…not fair,” Katie choked. “…didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I know,” Connor managed to say. “I know.” The two companions stood in the awkward embrace in Katie’s living room. Snow continued to quietly fall outside, but Katie and Connor didn’t notice. The only sound was Katie crying for her friend.
Finally, Katie lifted her head from Connor’s chest. “You…you hugged me,” she whispered hoarsely. “Why?”
“It…it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Connor answered. “You were struggling emotionally. Humans hug their companions when they’re upset.”
Katie slightly smiled. “It was nice,” she replied. “I still want to kick CyberLife’s ass, but I feel a little better.” She slowly pulled away from Connor. “I…I better get ready,” she said. “I can’t just hang out in my pajamas all day.” Katie began to walk towards her bedroom, leaving Connor still standing in the middle of the living room. As she put her hand on the door handle, her phone buzzed in her pocket. Katie pulled it out. On the screen was a text that filled her heart with dread.
We know. What have you done?
Chapter 6: On Thin Ice
Katie is in big, big trouble y'all. And this conspiracy is bigger than she ever imagined.
Sorry, another short chapter! Just trying to lengthen the suspense. In case you were curious from last chapter, my cats are both named after feisty female characters. Mera is named after Princess Y'Mera Xebella Challa from the movie Aquaman (she's a ginger so it fit nicely haha) and Leia is named after, of course, Princess Leia Organa. My Leia has a lot of sass, so I think Carrie Fisher would be proud. The kitties say hello to everyone and continue to contribute to the story through trying to eat my laptop charger.
Have a wonderful day, friends, and enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Katie stared at the ominous text message, her heart pounding rapidly. She had quickly escaped to her room to come up with a response without alarming Connor. “Shit,” she whispered. She had forgotten CyberLife could access Connor’s memories. He had probably been recording everything, including her emotional outburst about Connor’s revelation about being deactivated after his mission was finished. What am I supposed to do? Katie ran her hand through her tangled curls. I can’t lie. They can review everything I’ve said to Connor. She put her phone back in her pocket. She could deal with CyberLife later.
The young woman threw on a lavender tunic and a pair of jeans before pulling her hair back into a ponytail. As she went towards the bathroom to finish her morning routine, she noticed her android friend was missing. “Connor?” Katie called. No answer. Katie’s breath hitched. “Oh, no,” she cried. “Connor!” Katie rushed towards the living room. The kitchen was entirely spotless with no sign of Connor’s earlier mess. The table had been cleared and the dishes were drying in the rack beside the sink. Even the air smelled like the android had sprayed freshener to eliminate the remaining burnt smell. She saw a note propped on her kitchen table and picked it up with dread. A few lines were written in perfect script that could only be made by an android.
Thank you for your hospitality. I enjoyed learning more about you and your family. CyberLife has called me back to headquarters to discuss my progress in the investigation thus far. I apologize for not saying goodbye in person, but the message was urgent.
“Holy crap, I killed him,” Katie realized in horror. “I freaking killed him.” She collapsed onto her couch, the note crumpling in her tight fist. “Shit.” Tears began to gather in her eyes again. I have to stop him.
However, she was lucid enough to know she couldn’t take on a multimillion corporation on her own. Katie reached for her phone with a trembling hand and dialed Hank Anderson’s number with clumsy fingers. “Please don’t be too drunk,” she begged. “We have to save him.” She pressed the “dial” button, but could only hear static. What? Katie dialed Hank’s number again, but could only hear static once more.
“Now, let’s not be rash, Katherine.” Katie sat up straight at the strange voice. She knew exactly who it was.
“Sanders,” Katie hissed through gritted teeth. Her smart television turned on automatically and there was a silhouette of a man seated behind a desk. Katie couldn’t make out any identifying features. She stood, her fear quickly growing to rage. “Where is Connor?” she asked firmly.
“The RK800 is currently on his way back to CyberLife Tower. However, its location is none of your concern, Katherine. We need to talk about your behavior.”
“Screw you!” Katie stalked towards her front door, grabbing a jacket along the way. She tried to turn the knob, but found the electronic lock deployed. Katie tried scanning her fingerprint, but the biometric scanner refused to let her pass. “What the hell?”
“Wonders of technology. Makes life so much easier, doesn’t it? But it is also so easy to hack when you know what you’re doing.”
Katie’s stomach turned, threatening to unleash the few bites of pancakes she had eaten. She wanted to unleash every profanity laced insult she had learned during two years of working in inner-city Detroit, but knew that was not the best approach. She took a deep breath and walked back to the couch. “Why are you holding me hostage in my own home?”
“To keep you from doing anything impulsive, of course. We will release the locks of your apartment soon enough, but first we must discuss your actions.”
“You cannot do this,” Katie replied evenly. “I am an employee of the Detroit Police Department. This is illegal imprisonment.”
“We have a failsafe in place, Katherine. You are going to do exactly what I say.”
“Or what?” Katie demanded. “You’ll kill me?”
The enigmatic stranger chuckled. “No, we’re not going to kill you, Katherine. However, I can make your life much more difficult.”
Katie tightened her fists at her side. “What are you going to do to Connor?”
“The RK800 project is classified, however, I can let you know we are not going to deactivate it.”
She let out a small sigh of relief. “Then what is going to happen to him?”
“Its handler is going to erase the RK800’s memory of last night. It will believe it was in stasis until Monday. That should also delete any software instability you managed to cause.”
So he won’t remember coming to my apartment…or confessing his doubts to me. “If my research is correct, Connor was designed to adapt to human unpredictability. That is what he has been doing all along.” Katie knew she needed to word her response carefully. “I have been testing him, sir. My ‘emotional outbursts’ have been meant to see if he would deviate or not. As you have seen, most of the time, Connor has reacted as he was programmed. He believes he is a machine and not alive.” This was an outright lie, but Katie couldn’t risk Connor.
“Then what about this morning, Katherine? You seemed very…convincing when it told you about being deactivated.” The profile leaned forward, but remained in the shadows. “I believe you care too much for this android, Miss Holloway. And my company does not need any kinks in the system. The city is already falling apart at the seams.”
Katie stood firm. “Are you afraid of a social worker, Mr. Sanders? Your company must be very weak if one woman is throwing a wrench in your plan.”
“Oh, Katherine, such fire.” Sanders clapped sarcastically. “But you are not in control, my dear.” A hidden drawer popped out from Katie’s entertainment system. She was shocked to see a hidden automated syringe inside.
“What is that?” Katie ordered.
“It is a new substance from one of our sister companies. It completely erases short term memories from the past twelve hours. You are going to inject yourself with it.”
“No way,” Katie argued. “You could be poisoning me.”
Sanders sighed. “We’re not going to kill you. That’s too messy. However, if you refuse, there will be consequences.”
“For starters, we’ll deactivate the android.” Katie bit her lip. “Lieutenant Anderson is already days away from being fired and you know his job is the only thing holding him together. I know your father is in line for a promotion. I can make his employer fire him. Your mother has an appointment with the health inspector for her business next week. We can plant some…unsavory evidence in her kitchen. And as for you…” Sanders folded his hands. “How about an anonymous report to the licensure board about inappropriate behavior with a consult? Face it, Katherine. We own you.”
Katie was frozen and her head was spinning. Now it wasn’t only Connor’s safety on the line, it was her own family, too, along with her career. I’m so screwed. Katie reached for the syringe silently, her hand only slightly shaking.
“Good girl, Katherine. You’ll wake up tomorrow with no memory of today. The RK800 and Lieutenant Anderson will continue the deviant investigation and you will monitor them. Consider this a fresh start.”
“You’re a monster,” Katie replied with venom. She gripped the syringe and pressed it against her forearm. She winced as the needle entered her skin and a burning sensation rapidly followed. She immediately felt unsteady.
“I’ve been called worse. Sleep well, Katherine.” The smart TV turned off. Katie stumbled towards her bedroom, dark spots blurring her vision. However, she still had a plan. Katie clutched onto the notebook she kept by her bed, barely managing to hold onto the pen. She scrawled a few words quickly.
Katie, find Connor. Turn off his recorder. Get out of Detroit. CyberLife watching. She tore the page out of the notebook and shoved it in her pillowcase. She somehow fell onto her bed, darkness quickly enveloping her. Leia pawed at her mistress, distressed at Katie’s behavior.
“I-I’m okay, baby,” Katie whispered. She closed her eyes and began falling into a deep, dark hole. Connor, please be okay, Katie pleaded before everything faded away.
Aw, poor Katie and Connor. This is why we can't have nice things, like hugs and stuff. How are our protagonists supposed to get out of this mess? Well, spoilers, my friends! Tune in next time!