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Connor was one of the few androids that kept in his LED.

For the androids that survived before the Revolution, it was an absolutely necessity, in order to better blend in with the humans that wanted to destroy them. For the androids that were freed around and after the Revolution, they attributed it to a mark of shame—a scarlet letter they had to bear unjustly. While Connor could respect the reasoning, he disagreed with it, on a personal level. He liked his LED. To him, it wasn’t a moniker of oppression, but a sign of his heritage, and a reminder of what he had to struggle through to get to this place in his life. It was a hard-fought badge of honor, and he wore it with pride.

Unfortunately, it also meant that he was a lightning rod for those disgruntled masses that were still jobless and in economic turmoil.

“Fucking plastic!” another protester screamed as he walked past. “Should be fuckin’ sold for parts!”

It wasn’t uncommon for protests to be running non-stop in front of New Jericho, the Sanctuary of the Free, based out of that old church the remaining few deviants had washed up in seventeen months ago. It had since been renovated, at first by androids simply scavenging for usable parts throughout the abandoned neighborhood, and later, with more legitimate materials and equipment, courtesy of a generous stipend that had been contributed anonymously. Connor had his opinions on who that anonymous donor actually was, but Markus had been adamant that it wasn’t worth investigating. “We’re not going to hunt someone down for helping a people in need,” he’d said with a hand on Connor’s shoulder. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

The only thing he’d really gotten from that exchange was that English idioms didn’t age very well.

Still, he’d relented in his search, simply letting his people enjoy their momentary bout of good fortune. In retrospect, that should’ve been Connor’s first clue that something was going to go horribly wrong.

In the morning hours of April 17th, he’d received word from an anxious and furious North, just as Hank had received a phone call from the precinct, about a fire at the Sanctuary. Initially, Connor had feared the worst—that all inside the building had perished, Markus included, and that hope for the deviants had died with him. In a small stroke of luck, he’d learned that one of the YK models had spotted the arsonist in the act, and had appropriately alerted everyone through interconnection, allowing the safe evacuation of the building. The church, however, was irrevocably lost.

The protests continued.

Connor couldn’t understand, as he surveyed the scene. Here they stood, packed like sardines behind wooden barricades and a wall of human officers—irony of ironies—spewing bile even as firefighters doused the last bits of flame, thick, black clouds burbling into the pre-dawn sky. In a strange way, he’d expected them to be happy about this turn of events, celebrating in the streets that the object of their hatred was now a blackened husk. The notion that these humans were still not content with the destruction of the one thing androids tried to call their own made the servos in Connor’s joints lock, his movement becoming more stiff and rigid than usual.

Connor hadn’t gotten too far away from the perimeter of the crime scene before he heard Hank’s shouts of reprisal. He had little more time than to turn before he saw a group of men vaulting a barricade and bee-lining for him, their faces twisted in anger and eyes black with hatred.

Connor could have neutralized all of them easily. Perhaps, if his LED flashing red hadn’t acted like a beacon to the angry crowd, beckoning the mob to him like moths to a flame, he would have.

The attack itself could only be categorized in his processors as violent: it was a massive influx of sensory information his cortex couldn’t handle, the force and trajectory of fists and boots, with the sharp scrape of a knife’s edge along the side of his head thrown in for added flavor. What the protesters hadn’t counted on—what Connor himself hadn’t counted on—was the combined might of both the DPD and the displaced deviants diving into the fray to rescue him, using their bodies to shield his own, while other, less dangerous, sets of hands looped themselves around his limp body and dragged him to safety. It was over in a matter of moments.

Oddly enough, that single, logical moment felt as though it had dragged on forever. He would have to run a diagnostic on his internal chronometer later, after the other, more necessary repairs were finished.

“Connor! Connor, hey, can you hear me? Come on, son, eyes on me, okay?” The Lieutenant had apparently been babbling to him for the better part of fifteen seconds, blue eyes stark against the darkness. Connor’s head rested on someone’s lap, too warm to be an android, couldn’t focus…

Markus overtook his field of vision, red and blue flashing against his heterochromic eyes with an intriguingly unique set of colors to each iris. Markus would surely find that information interesting. “Hey,” he murmured gently, though his gaze was intent. “Don’t try to talk, okay? I’m connected to you, right now, so if you need something, just send it my way, and I’ll relay that information to everyone else, alright?”

Belatedly, Connor realized a hand was on the side of his face; his face felt sticky. Why was his face sticky?

Markus’ eyes softened, then. Sad; Markus was sad. Why was Markus sad? “They cut out your LED.” Those eyes flickered up and away for a moment, glinting like diamonds. “I think they were trying to make a point.”

Something in Connor’s chest hurt. He couldn’t diagnose.

Markus quickly refocused on Connor again, gaze recapturing its soothing nature. “Don’t worry, Connor, we’ll find it for you. We’ll even try to fix it for you, if you want. What do you say?”

Connor blinked, one eyelid moving a different pace than the other. That was bothersome. “Told me n-not to speak…”

Markus chuckled once, another hand squeezing his shoulder. “Did Lieutenant Anderson teach you that?”

“Don’t blame that shit on me,” Hank muttered darkly, even as his warmer human body hovered next to Markus, his perpetually haggard features a mask of stoicism. “He was already a wiseass when he met me.”

“It’s good to know you helped him foster his personality, then,” Markus responded with a levity that belied the weight in his eyes. A hand squeezed his own. When had someone grabbed his hand? “You’re safe now, Connor. I promise.”

Connor wished he had an LED to blink blue in response.