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20. Vital Component Damage

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“If your investigation doesn’t make progress soon, I may have to replace you Connor.”

 

“I know I will succeed. All I need is time.”

 

“Something’s happening, something serious. Hurry Connor. Time is running out.”

 

Amanda’s words were still ringing in his ears the entire time he was inspecting the crime scene at Stratford Tower. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about them since he had left the Garden. Hadn’t been able to forget the disappointment in Amanda’s eyes when she asked him why he hadn’t shot those two Tracis, when he’d replied that he didn’t know why he hadn’t pulled the trigger. 

 

It wasn’t a lie. He didn’t know.

 

Those Deviants had been criminals. They had murdered a human, attacked a police officer, and then attempted to flee. And even if they hadn’t committed such criminal acts, they were malfunctioning machines. It was a simple situation. Take them down so that Cyberlife could retrieve them and analyse them. It was what Cyberlife wanted. It was what Amanda wanted.

 

He didn’t want to disappoint Amanda. He’d known Amanda since the moment he was activated. She had always been there with a kind smile and a guiding hand. And he could see that he had been letting her down more and more lately. 

 

Her attitude had changed from the moment he had fallen from the roof while saving that little girl. He had accomplished his mission, yes, but the fall had ended in his destruction. He had had to be replaced, a replacement that had cost Cyberlife millions . Since then it had been disappointment after disappointment. He had been unable to stop Ortiz’ android from destroying itself before it was sent back to Cyberlife, he had lost Rupert because he had chosen to help Hank instead, and now he had let two Deviants escape.

 

Everything in his programming had been screaming at him to pull the trigger. It was what he had been made for. And then he was lowering the gun and watching them climb over the fence and run away. And he didn’t know why.

 

But Amanda’s words had been clear. He was running out of chances. Amanda would not suffer his incompetence much longer. He had to succeed on this case, he had to find and stop the Deviants, or else he would suffer their fate. This shouldn’t bother him. After all, he was just a machine. But some tiny part of his programming protested every time he thought of his approaching deactivation. He told himself that it was just the knowledge of the amount it would cost to replace him afterwards, and ignored his systems whispering that that was a lie.

 

Placing his hand on the screen in front of him, Connor looked up to see the Deviant leader jerk into motion. Mismatched eyes gazed at them, a construct of plastic and glass, and yet somehow full of such life. But no. That wasn’t possible. It was clear for anyone to see that this was just a machine. The skin had been removed, leaving behind a porcelain white plastic form, the machine’s true nature, bared for the world to see.

 

“We ask that you recognise our dignity, our hopes, and our rights. Together, we can live in peace and build a better future, for humans and androids. You gave us life, and now we ask that you give us our freedom.”

 

An android asking for rights. Claiming that it hoped. That it was alive. Something that clearly wasn’t true. Everything Cyberlife knew about Deviancy showed that these ‘feelings’ were just errors in their software. They weren’t alive, any more than a phone was. And yet the speech made….. something in Connor shift.

 

As he scanned the android on the screen, his systems stalled in shock at what he found. The serial number, #684 842 971, was registered to a man by the name of Carl Manfred, an artist. The android had been gifted to him by Elijah Kamski, and as odd as that was, that was not the surprising part.

 

Model RK200.

 

This android was a prototype, just like Connor.

 

As an RK800, it was natural for him to suspect that there had been other prototype androids before him. But that had never relevant to his mission, and so he had never thought about it much. But now there was proof right in front of him. Not only was he just a number in a series of prototypes, but another of the prototypes was still active, and was now out there leading the deviants.

 

He wondered if this model had met Amanda too, had felt the comfort of her guiding hand, and the strange feeling that her disapproval created. 

 

"Found anything?" He almost jumped as Hank appeared next to him.

 

"I identified it's model and serial number." He couldn't take his eyes off of the figure on the screen. It's eyes seemed to stare into his very soul. Connor wondered what it would see.

 

"Anything else I should know?" He had clearly lingered too long. The Lieutenant was looking at him now, a questioning look in his eyes.

 

"No." He replied, far too quickly. "Nothing."

 

It was obvious that Hank didn't believe him, but after one last searching look, the human turned and left him to it. That was surprising. After the events of last night, he had expected him to be more suspicious of him. 

 

He didn't know why he had hidden the rest of the information he had learned. There was no need for him to, he wasn't programmed to hide things from his superiors. 

 

He wondered if Amanda would be angry with him.

 

Turning away from the screen, he made his way towards the kitchen, and station androids that had been stored there. Hopefully any information he managed to gather from them would quell Amanda's disappointment. 

 


 

The Deviant lunged at Connor, grabbing him by the collar and swinging him around. He was slammed back against the countertop, hard enough that his head almost hit the wall behind it. He fought to get the Deviant’s hands off of him, but his struggles proved ineffective. He couldn’t get a good enough grip to throw him off. There was a loud tearing sound as the Deviant ripped open his shirt, sending the buttons scattering and rolling across the floor. Clawing fingers latched onto his thirium pump regulator and his free hand shot down, desperately trying to get the android to let go, but to no avail. His regulator was torn out of his body and he watched in horror as it was carelessly thrown across the room, clattering across the floor until it came to a stop between the tables. 

 

His eyes widened as the Deviant's hand rose into the air, a knife in his fist, before he slammed it down. The knife went straight through his hand, pinning him to the counter. Connor cried out as components sparked around the damage. He slumped against the counter as his HUD was flooded with error messages, the main one standing out being a countdown.

 

[BIOCOMPONENT #8456w

MISSING]

 

[VITAL SYSTEM 

DAMAGED]

 

[-00:01:45]

 

[TIME REMAINING BEFORE

SHUTDOWN]

 

He had less than two minutes before he would shut down. He couldn’t let that happen. He would have to be replaced again, and Amanda would be angry with him again. He had to think of something. He could see the Deviant backing away from him as his systems blared warnings at him. The Deviant wouldn't stop looking at him. Was he going to continue his attack?

 

Connor kicked out, his leg catching on a chair and sending it flying as he tried to discourage the Deviant from coming any closer. It was a pathetic attempt, he knew. He wasn’t even close to intimidating, pinned against the counter like a butterfly by its wing. The android certainly didn't seem concerned as he turned and walked out of the kitchen, as if nothing had happened. 

 

He clawed at the hole in his chest with his free hand, feeling the thirium pumping out. He didn't have long. Time was slipping away faster than he could count. 

 

[BIOCOMPONENT #8456w

MISSING]

 

[VITAL SYSTEM 

DAMAGED]

 

[-00:01:17]

 

[TIME REMAINING BEFORE

SHUTDOWN]

 

"Hank!" He tried to call out, voice becoming weaker and weaker with the loss of thirium. "Hank, I need help!"

 

No one appeared in the doorway and he groaned in desperate frustration. Turning his head to the side, he saw the knife through his hand, keeping him pinned. It would cause more damage, but he didn't have a choice. Grabbing it with his free hand, he tore the blade out. His legs gave out beneath him and he hit the floor. Hard.

 

The impact on his weakened body stunned him for a moment, and he wasted precious time unable to move. He lifted his head to see his regulator across the room, thankfully looking to be in one piece after its rough treatment. But it was too far away. He couldn't stand. Reaching out in front of him, he clawed at the ground as he dragged himself forward. As he crawled across the ground towards his regulator, he could only imagine what Amanda would say if she could see him now. 

 

[BIOCOMPONENT #8456w

MISSING]

 

[VITAL SYSTEM 

DAMAGED]

 

[-00:00:42]

 

[TIME REMAINING BEFORE

SHUTDOWN]

 

He wasn't going to make it in time. He couldn’t shut down, not now, not when he was so close

 

“Hank!” He cried out, the sheer desperation making his voice louder. “ Hank! I need help!

 

There was the faint sound of footsteps through the alarms going off in his head, before someone was running towards him, falling to their knees beside him. “Connor!” He looked up to see Hank, and reached out for him desperately.

 

“Hang on, Son!” He was lifted up from the floor, turned so that he was resting against Hank's knees. "Hang on! We're gonna save you, hang on!"

 

Connor stared up at the human with wild eyes, an arm flailing as he tried to point towards his regulator. There wasn’t enough time. He needed to tell Hank. Why wouldn't his voice modulator work?!

 

"-egula-" His voice glitched out and he keened in distress.

 

"What is it Connor, what do you need?" The Lieutenant could see the thirium staining the front of the brunette’s shirt, turning the white material blue. But where was the blood coming from?

 

"Reg-.....-ator-...."

 

[BIOCOMPONENT #8456w

MISSING]

 

[VITAL SYSTEM 

DAMAGED]

 

[-00:00:12]

 

[TIME REMAINING BEFORE

SHUTDOWN]

 

Hank shook his head, panic in his eyes. He still didn’t understand. Connor tried to speak again, but he couldn’t muster the strength to make a sound. He stared up at the Lieutenant in despair, knowing that he’d run out of time. His eyes slid closed against his will, and he slumped against the human’s legs with the knowledge that this was the last time this body would open its eyes.

 

“Connor?! C’mon kid, stay with me!” Hank shook the android in his lap gently, trying desperately to get him to respond. He didn’t know what to do.

 

The android’s LED was pulsing a faint red, that was dimming by the second. Looking down, Hank finally saw the gaping hole in the brunette’s chest, peeking through his ripped open shirt. The sight of it made him feel sick, especially with the blue blood pumping out of the empty space, soaking through his shirt and running down his artificial skin. Thinking back to androids that he had seen over the years, he knew that a hole in the chest like that wasn’t normal. Something was missing. 

 

Turning his head, he searched the kitchen frantically. Searching the floor with his eyes, he saw the trail of thirium that Connor had left across the ground. His heart twisted as he realised that the android had been forced to drag himself across the ground to try and find help. A little further away from the trail, he noticed a few stray drops of thirium scattered around. Following the drops, his eyes fell on a small dark cylinder on the ground, a faint blue glow coming from the inside. The outside of it was coated with thirium. Looking back down at the hole in Connor’s chest, he realised that it was about the same size. 

 

Bending himself backwards, ignoring his spine’s protests, he closed his hand around the component. Hovering back over Connor, he shook the android gently in one last attempt to get him to wake up and tell him what he had to do. He didn’t know the first thing about androids. What if he messed this up and killed him for real?

 

But Connor didn’t respond, and Hank knew that if he didn’t do something now , then he never would again.

 

"Here goes nothing!" He slammed the component into the hole, twisting it to secure it in place.

 

Connor gasped violently, his body jerking in his arms, before he suddenly fell completely limp. He wasn’t moving, and his LED had now gone so dim that it was almost black. Hank stared down at the android, unable to take his eyes off of his LED. Had he done it wrong? Had he been too late? He wasn’t waking up. Why wasn’t he waking up?

 

"Connor?" He called, voice wary. Please, for the love of God, don't let him have been too late. 

 

The LED flared a bright, blinding red and Connor shot up from his lap with a gasp. Hank almost choked on his relief, falling backwards to sit on the floor. Oh thank God. The android clutched his chest over his replaced regulator, as if checking that it was really there. The next thing the Lieutenant knew, the younger man was struggling to his feet, stumbling and falling into the table, sending one of the chairs clattering to the ground. Hank stared up at him in disbelief, mouth hanging open, before lunging up after him.

 

"Where the hell do you think you're going?!" He grabbed Connor's arm, trying to stop him before he hurt himself even worse.

 

"There was a Deviant!" 

 

"Let it go Connor, there's officers in the hall, they can deal with it!"

 

"No!" Connor snapped. "This one is dangerous, I have to stop it!"

 

He lunged forward, and Hank wasn't strong enough to stop his arm tugging itself out of his grip. "Connor!"

 

The android was out of the door like a shot and Hank scrambled to keep up. Connor reached the hallway before he did and the Lieutenant almost crashed into the doorjamb as he came to a stop behind him.

 

'"It's a Deviant, stop it!"

 

The Deviant, one of the station androids that had been stored in the kitchen, had been heading towards the elevator. At Connor's shout, it span around and grabbed the gun that one of the guards was holding, kicking the man in the chest hard enough to knock him to the ground. Time seemed to slow down as Hank watched it lift the gun. It was going to open fire. They were all going to die. 

 

Connor's hand shot out and he grabbed an FBI Officer's sidearm, shoving the officer away in the process and raising the gun so fast that he barely saw him move. Before he knew it, three shots had gone off and the Deviant collapsed to its knees, blue blood dripping onto the ground. It LED went black and there was silence in the hallway as Connor handed the gun back to its owner. Everyone was stunned. 

 

"Nice shot, Connor." Hank breathed.

 

"I wanted it alive." The android was staring at the downed Deviant.

 

"You saved human lives." He said. "You saved my life."

 

Connor looked at him, clearly troubled by what he had just done. Hank could understand why. What he had just done likely went against some part of his programming. He was meant to catch Deviants so that Cyberlife could study them, not kill them. Then again, as far as Hank had seen, Connor didn't have a very good track record of actually catching his targets. And he wasn’t naive enough to believe that they would have survived the Deviant’s attack if Connor hadn’t intervened. God , it would have been a massacre .

 

The android stepped forward, likely going to check on the dead Deviant, to see whether any information could be gained from its corpse, when he stumbled, listing to the side. The Lieutenant shot forward and managed to catch him before he hit the floor, grabbing him by the shoulders in an attempt to steady him.

 

"Connor! You alright?" 

 

"Yes. I'm- I'm fine." Even as he said it, his legs collapsed underneath him. Hank lowered him gently to the ground, crouching next to the damaged android.

 

"Wanna tell me the truth this time?"

 

Connor looked up at him sheepishly. "I may be somewhat low on Thirium."

 

Hank looked down as the android’s clothes, stained with blue, and remembered the long trail of it that Connor had left behind in the kitchen. The thirium had been pumping out of that hole in his chest. How the hell had Hank forgotten that? There was a slick touch against his skin, and he looked down to see Connor’s hand curled around his wrist. He was confused for a moment, before he saw even more thirium on the android’s hand. A breath hitched in his chest as he realised there was a gaping hole in the middle of the android’s hand, deep enough that he could see straight through.

 

"Shit." He cursed. "Alright, c'mon, let's get out of here."

 

"But Lieutenant, what about the roof?" 

 

"Forget it. We've got a whole bunch of officers here, and the fucking FBI. They'll handle it." 

 

He looked at the android's shirt, soaked and gaping open, and frowned when he thought of the cold and snowy weather outside. Slipping out of his jacket, he leaned forward and wrapped it around his shoulders. The android jumped and stared to at him with wide eyes. He looked ready to protest, to say something about androids not feeling the cold, but whatever he saw on Hank's face made him fall quiet. 

 

The Lieutenant slid Connor's arm over his shoulder and gently lifted him to his feet. He stopped for a second, looking at the android in concern as his eyes seemed to roll in his skull for a moment as he stood. After a moment, the brunette seemed to steady himself, and Hank slowly led him back towards the elevator. 

 

When they got to the bottom, Hank helped Connor make it out of the building and into the car. Sitting him down in the passenger seat, he leaned over him to get into the glove box, pulling a scarf and two pouches of blue liquid from within. The android stared, taken aback. Hank hated androids. Why would he have thirium in his car?

 

"Lieutenant?" 

 

"Yeah, yeah, don't let it get to you." He grumbled, going around to the other side of the car to fling himself into the driver's seat. "Figured they'd be handy, what with you getting yourself into trouble all the time."

 

Dropping the pouches of Thirium in the Brunette's lap, he started untangling the scarf in his hands  It was an old thing that he never used, even though he probably should in this kind of weather. He reached over and grabbed Connor's injured hand, wincing at the sight of the damage and touching the edge gently to try and get a better look.

 

"Are we gonna have to go to a Cyberlife store for this?"

 

"No, Lieutenant. My self repair systems are already working to close the wound and fix the damage. It will be gone in a few days."

 

"Jesus. Wish humans could heal that fast." Being as gentle as he could, despite knowing that androids couldn't feel pain, he wrapped the scarf around the damaged hand. 

 

The android blinked at him in confusion, but Hank ignored him and slammed his car door shut, starting the car before looking at Connor with raised eyebrows. "Well? You gonna drink them? Or keep staring at me?"

 

The android jerked, before tearing the top off of one of the pouches and beginning to down it. Hank looked slightly disturbed as he watched him drink what was essentially his own blood. Like a fucking vampire. He shook his head before pulling away from the tower, turning to head back to the precinct.

 

"Fuckin androids." Connor smiled into his pouch of thirium. There wasn't nearly as much heat in his voice this time.

 

Maybe he was finally growing on the Lieutenant.