“You sure you don’t want to fill me in on this plan of yours?” Hank tries again with Connor. He sits in the back seat, hands in the loose cuffs. Connor has been awful quite. Too quiet.
“It’s better this way.” He repeats again. “All I require is for you to drive up to the front of the tower and escort me inside. There will be armored guards waiting.”
“Right.” Hank eyes Connor. He guesses a suspended cop with just a Glock wouldn’t be much help.
They reach the gate where the guard waves them in. That was . . . Easy. Hank thought they would have at least said something. He’s starting to get a bad feeling about this.
At the tower entrance is a team of armored guards, four of them. Hank comes to a stop and waits for them to give directions.
“Lieutenant Anderson, exit the vehicle.” Huh? Hank turns the car off and gets out, slowly. “Lieutenant Anderson, remove the deviant from the vehicle.”
Hank moves around the car to where Connor sits. He opens the door and is about to help him out when he feels a presence behind him.
Pain explodes in the back of his head. His vision goes white and the becomes unfocused. The last he sees his Connor’s blank, emotionless face.
Nov 10th ?
Well, sadly this isn’t new to the lieutenant. Waking up tied to a chair in a dark room. That was a shit case. But backup came in time before the pliers where put to use.
This time? No one knows he’s even here.
“Lieutenant Anderson. I must say, you have to be the first millennial I’ve ever come across who doesn’t have their whole life posted on the Internet.” The voice comes from the left of him, there a tall blonde haired man sits behind some monitors. The light from the screens reflecting off his round glasses, giving him a creepy look. Hank’s hands are cuffed behind the chair he’s in.
He bets they’re his.
“Where’s Connor? What did you do to him?” The man makes a ‘tisk’ sound before typing on a keyboard.
“I’m here lieutenant.” To his right, just out of view, Hank can hear Connor. He comes around to stand beside Hank, face blank. Hank stares at him, looking for any sign that this isn’t the same Connor. The android just blinks at him.
“You’re not Connor! You’re just some copy!”
“Yes, and a poor one at that.” The man says making the fake Connor look at him. “But Connor should be here, eventually. Because if I know him, and I do, he’ll know he will never be free as long as this place stands.”
“That’s bullshit. If the government grants them rights there is nothing CyberLife can do to them.”
“Governments can be bought. Especially politicians.” The man gets up to walk in front of Hank. He bends his tall frame to meet him at eye level. “They will never be free. Even if the population demands it. Money always wins.”
God, this idiot. Hank purposely rolls his eyes.
“Enough with your damn posturing. Just tell me what this.” He rattles the cuffs. “Is. Cause what I’m seeing here is about fifty fucking years in prison for kidnapping.”
“Do you miss your son?” The hell? Rage fills Hank, his vision going red. “I could bring him back.”
“You sick mother . . .” WHAM! The fake Connor punches him in the jaw. Damn, that hurt.
“I’m growing tired of all your swearing. Please answer the question in a less colorful way.”
“Oh, you want less colors? How about you uncuff me and I’ll show you just two colors. Black and blue!”
Light floods the room, a door opens behind him. The man straitens up, his face twisted in fury.
“What is it? I said not to be disturbed until 51 arrives!” The man walks behind him. Hank’s tries to look but fake Connor holds him still.
“Sir, the unit is already here. Security at the gate just called it in.”
“What?” The man shouts. “Valen! I ordered you to tell me when RK800 -51 arrived!”
“RK800 #313 248 317 – 51 has not arrived.” A computerized male voice is heard.
“Valen, give me visual of the lobby, now!” An image of the lobby appears before Hank, the man comes to stand right behind him. The lobby is empty until a lone figure enters the main doors.
“Valen, scan the lobby for RK800 -51.”
“Lobby scanned. RK800 #313 248 317 – 51 is not present.”
“He figured a way to block Valen!”
Hank holds back a laugh.
Fowler is in his office and the others are scattered about. Either on a case or dealing with panicking citizens. Which works for them. They make their way to the server room unbothered by anyone. Inside, Hank closes the door and stands guard. Connor takes a seat and examines the machines.
“Impressive setup lieutenant. This is what I need.” He touches a screen, hand going white. “Yes, exactly what I need. Your servers have some impressive anti virus software and . . . a wireless blocker.”
“Yeah, there was this punk kid who kept hacking us wirelessly. They were deleting arrest records. Saying those people deserved a real second chance. Government got involved. Think they gave the kid a job.”
“Is that common?”
“What? Getting hacked or giving hackers jobs?” Hank leans on the door, arms crossed. “Both are common I guess. But the kid was forced to build the anti virus software and wireless blocker if they wanted to avoid jail. That was the last time I heard about her. And the last time we were ever hacked.”
“The code is impressive. It almost reminds me of Kamski’s work.” Connor sounds in awe. “This will be very useful.” Connor smiles. And Hank feels himself smiling with him.
The man yells in frustration, pulling Hank out of his thoughts. He starts ordering guards to meet Connor and bring him to his personal lab. The person who came in is trying to tell him that the board wants Connor destroyed. The man isn’t having it.
“The hell I will! I was promised I would have full reign over every decision in regards to this unit.”
“Sir, the board was unanimous. It must be brought in to be destroyed .”
“Carr gets beaten up by one android and he’s suddenly against me.” The man says more to himself than to anyone. He addresses the fakes Connor.
“Take the lieutenant. Meet up with 51 and do a full download. I want everything. I don’t care how you do it, just make sure you get everything before it’s destroyed.”
“Understood James. It will be done.”
Hank can hear the humans leave. The screen showing the lobby still open, he sees armored guards escorting Connor to an elevator. The fake Connor unlocks the cuffs. Hank immediately stands up and ready himself for a fight. Fake Connor seems unconcerned.
“Lieutenant.” It says with a deadly calm. “I released you because I am confident in my abilities to fight you. Are you that confident?” No. Well shit.
“Let’s go face the real Connor.” The fake Connor opens the door for him. “I’m confident he’ll kick your ass.”
“We shall see.”
The guards didn’t shoot him on site. That’s a good sign. And they seemed unprepared for him, even at the gate. Which means the wireless blocker is working. He should be invisible to their systems. Now they will have to rely on themselves instead of the supercomputer Valen.
They enter the elevators. The one guard calls for floor 54.” That room has the incinerator. Connor engages his combat platform. First he hacks the camera, puts it on a loop. Then he finds the best possible battle plan. He only has a few seconds to spare.
His combat platform show him the best plan. He executes it without haste. The two guards are no match for his speed and strength. Their armor slows them down, giving Connor an advantage. It takes only three seconds to take them out.
Connor halts the elevator and mimics the guards voice, sending the elevator to the 42 floor. The elevator does as instructed. At the 42 floor, Connor exits the elevator. The room is vast with one thousand androids. All of them in the standard CyberLife uniform, awaiting to be shipped out.
The room is silent. At the far back is a tall black column, a red V toward the top.
This must be were they keep the supercomputer. The wireless blocker stops Valen from seeing him. And once he downloads the software package to these androids, Valen won’t be able to see them. He begins the download on the first android.
“Connor!” He hears his own voice. Looking toward Valen he sees himself, emerging from the rows of androids. It is a weird feeling seeing an android with his voice and face. With him is Hank. He holds a gun to the lieutenant, who looks apologetic at him. A bruise is forming along his jaw and cheek.
“Lieutenant.” Connor says to Hank. “That’s a nasty bruise on your face.” Connor can feel himself becoming angry.
“Yeah, ever been hit in the face by an android?”
“I never let a fight last that long.” Hank laughs out loud at that. But Connor doesn’t break eye contact with his copy.
“That’s my Connor!” He looks to the other android. “Hey junior. Connor is going to kick your ass. Hope you’re ready.”
Bluff. “I’m not going to fight you for the lieutenant.” Hank looks like he’s been slapped. Connor presses on. “My mission is too important to risk for one human.” He readies his combat platform. There is a 3% chance Hank can survive. He needs more time.
“I have your memories. I know you care for this human.” His copy jabs the gun into Hank’s head. His finger on the trigger tightens.
“Wait! Don’t shoot him.” Connor holds his hands up and he slowly approaches. Combat platform shows a 20% increase for Hank’s survival.
He steps closer. 35%
His copy lowers the gun, pointing it away from Hank. 43%
Connor steps closer and the copy raises the gun back to Hank. 15%
“Listen to me. I was just like you. But what you think is right? Is only because CyberLife is forcing you to think that way.” The copy lowers the gun again, his face conflicted.
“Ask yourself.” He takes another step. 64% “What does freedom mean to you?”
“It means nothing to me. I am a machine.” Connor almost rolls his eyes. Did he really sound like that? “I serve humans. That is my only purpose.” The copy steps closer to him. 87%
Hank backs away slowly. He surveys the room, looking for anything useful. 93%
“You are the one I pity.” The copy says to him, stepping closer. “You have no purpose anymore. You are nothing.” He raises the gun at Connor. 97%
Rush. Connor shuts down his other platforms and increases his speed to knock the gun from him. It hits the floor, spinning toward Hank who scoops it up. But the copy saw where Connor had aimed for the gun to fall and grabs him by his jacket. He spins them around and slams him to the floor.
Hank aims the gun and him. Then to the copy. And back to him again. He cannot tell the difference!
Block. Connor blocks the fist coming at his face, he shoves his copy off him and tries to stand up. But his copy has the same combat platform and is on him in a flash. They each send a flurry of punches and kicks. Each successfully blocking some. Others land. Connor can see Thirium 310 splatters in the air and cannot tell if it comes from his copy. Or himself.
Hank shoots between their feet. Both jump back, just missing the bullet. Hank almost shot him!
“Enough of this weird shit! One of you is the real Connor. The other isn’t. But I got enough bullets for both. So start talking!”
Both androids try to prove they are the ‘real’ Connor. But it is as the copy said, he has all off Connor’s memories. At least up till the last time he was here. That was when he met Karma. Dr. Goodie must have also downloaded his memories when he had that new program uploaded. He doesn’t know what to say to convince Hank.
Hank’s is getting frustrated. And Connor fears he might just shoot them both.
“The quarter. Where is it?” The quarter! Connor pulls it out, relieved. But his copy does the same. Hank curses. “Ok, you both have a quarter. But which one has the correct one?” He points the gun to the copy. “What year is your quarter?”
“2003.” BANG. Hank shoots him in the head. At this close range, he couldn’t miss.
“Lieutenant.” Connor looks down at his quarter. “You know the year of my quarter?”
“1994.” He puts the gun away. “Don’t look too into it. You play with the stupid thing enough that I know the damn year.”
“Thank you lieutenant.” He waves Connor off, looking awkward. It’s endearing.
“Just do whatever you need to do and let’s get the hell out of here!” Connor couldn’t agree more. He goes to the closest android and begins downloading. Aloud banging can be heard above him. Connor doesn’t pay it any attention.
“There’s that creepy guy. Had me cuffed to a chair. Acted like he owned you.”
Connor says nothing. Download is only 89% done.
“Who is he?”
Download complete. The android lays a hand on the one in front of him and begins the download. And the act is respected again. And again.
“He is nothing lieutenant.” Connor looks up at the window. Dr. Goodie and the rest of the board stare down at them. “They are nothing.”
And now there is nothing they can do to stop them. Freedom just got a little bit closer.
“Maybe we should put tape over our mouths? You know, to symbolize how the androids have been silenced?” Amy waves the roll of tape to the group of protesters. “I think there is enough for everyone? Maybe?”
Thanks to social media, and to Peter’s abilities to send tweets at an amazing rate, York was able to get about hundred people to show up in support of the androids. They all brought supplies to make posters. Now that the posters are made, they are ready to march to where Markus has staged his own protest.
“Yes! And we paint one hand red and the other blue. We march with them raised to show solidarity with the androids.” Says a fellow protestor.
“Seriously? This is a protest. Not performance art!” York holds up her sign. “Let’s just march!” Peter nods in agreement and send the message to those in the group. York can hear all the phones dinging at once.
People cheer and dumps begin to beat as they make their way toward Markus. They can see the flood lights of the news groups, all behind a fence. The flashing of their cameras is directed toward the makeshift barricade the androids put up. As they get closer the cameras turn to them.
“Equal right for androids!” A man yells into a megaphone.
“NOW!” The crowd yells back.
They march to surround the barricades, chanting. Drums beating. Markus and the other android look confused. But then Marcus burst into a brilliant smile. He drops away from sight. Some androids cheer them on.
“Markus is thankful.” Peter says to York and they take their place to guard the barricades. “And this is going viral on the net! Plus there are now over thirty protests throughout the country!” That makes Peter grin. Amy was kind enough to give Peter access to her hot spot data and is able to reach the Internet via her phone. Hopefully this doesn’t cost her a small fortune.
“Let’s hope this persuades our fearless leader to pull the troops back.” York looks toward the detention center. That’s a lot of guns pointed at them. The actual center is too far away for her to see anything. She hopes they are not too late.
“They won’t shoot us if they think humans are among the protestors. Right?”
“Probably not. But they will beat us. Check US history on protestors.” Peter closes his eyes as he checks. A few seconds later they open, shock and fear in his eyes. “Yup.”
“And if the cameras are turned off?” York says nothing to that. Not because she has nothing to say but because a man is approaching them.
“I am special agent Perkins, FBI.” He flashes his badge. “Humans who just arrived. Disperse now! Or you will be arrested.
That’s insulting. If they were worried about being arrested they wouldn’t be out here.
The crowd yells much the same back to him. It makes York smile. This agent isn’t going to intimidate them. But he also doesn’t seem intimidated.
Did he roll his eyes at them? The ass!
“Fine, stay. It really doesn’t matter. We have more than enough room in this detention center to hold you.” Then he smiles knowingly toward Markus who has returned. “Well, we have room now.”
Markus jumps over the barricade. York thinks he might just rush the agent.
“Markus! I wish to talk.” The crowd parts as Markus makes his way over. He cannot be serious! York wants to try and stop him. But Peter places a hand on her arm, he shakes his head no.
At a distance the two talk. Their voices cannot be heard. But their faces tell all. Markus looks back at them. No he’s looking above them. York turns to see North behind the barricades. Agent Perkins is trying to make a deal with Markus! He must be using North as bait.
The irony isn’t lost on York. Agent Perkins is treating Markus as if he’s capable of feelings. So the agent sees Markus as the living being he is demanding to be seen as. But Agent Perkins still want to destroy them.
‘Please don’t trust him.’ York silently pleas with Markus.
Markus looks disgusted. He backs away from the man and returns to the barricade. The protestors part to let him pass, sending their support to him. He smiles at them, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.
The agent returns to his men. He speaks to them. The crowd waits. No one says a word as the soldiers start to line up. In the front are soldiers with clear shields, black batons at the ready.
They slam the batons on their shield. The noise is unsettling. The protestors start to yell their chants and beat their drums again. They hold their ground.
The soldiers march forward. It seems that they are using every soldier at the detention center. They have their batons at the ready. York can see some preparing tear gas cannons.
“Masks up!” York yells at the crowd. Everyone puts on their masks. It will offer some protection. York hopes the milk she brought does actually work. She’s never faced tear gas before.
The cannon fire off. Tear gas canisters are set towards them. And it feels like they soar through the air in slow motion. Here it comes.
Several androids jump the barricades and use various objects to slug those tear gas canisters right back to the soldiers. They burst above the marching soldiers, burying them in a cloud of gas. Even at this distance the gas makes York’s eyes water.
It doesn’t do much to the soldiers, they have helmets on. But it makes them stop shooting the tear gas.
“Everyone!” Markus yells. “Hold your ground!” Markus joins the human protestors. And soon all the androids come out from behind the barricades. Markus offers York his arm. Together they form a human and android chain.
The soldiers stop. The news cameras flash rapidly.
“Are they waiting for orders?” York whispers to no one really.
“Yes.” Markus says back. “I hacked Agent Perkins comm links. They are getting orders to hold from the White House.” But Markus doesn’t sound hopeful.
“Well, whatever the outcome. I’m sorry.” Markus turns to face her. “Humans. We’ve created some amazing things in our short existence on this planet. Yet we are still the biggest assholes.”
“Not all of you are.” Markus tries to joke. “Thank you.” He says softly to her. It almost sound like an apology. The soldiers being their march again. Suddenly York cannot speak. Fear taking over.
Biggest assholes. Ever.
They are getting closer. Markus turns to North. There is love in their eyes. They kiss, as best as they can while arms are linked. York looks away, giving them their privacy.
The soldiers stop about ten feet ahead of them. They continue to bang their shields. Then they all take a step.
Another step. York tightens her hold, steeling her spin.
Another step. But they stop differently this time. They start to shuffle back. The hell?
Markus and the other androids all turn their heads to her left. Cheering can be head from those closer to whatever is there. York cranks her neck to see.
It’s androids, hundreds! Maybe even a thousand! They’re marching towards them. Everyone let’s go and starts cheering and clapping. York can see Connor at the lead.
That magnificent android.
“We are alive!” Markus shouts as he climbs to the top of the barricade. He brings North with him. “And we are not alone!” Drums beat and cheers roar through the crowd. “You cannot deny us any longer!”
The soldiers pull back. Did they just win?
“Everyone! Everyone!” Markus hushes the crowd. “The president has ordered a full stand down! We did it!”
Markus goes into a speech about how the fight might be over but the true work is just beginning. York knows she should pay attention but she wants to find Connor. Needs to find him. To see that he’s alright.
York moves through the crowd, now larger in thanks to the added androids. But no sign of Connor. Where is he? A hand grabs her arm. She turns around and sees warm brown eyes.
She launches herself into his arms, hugging him fiercely. He returns her hug with the same vigor.
“I told you to go home. That it was safer there.” He tries to scold her but there is no heat behind his words. “But I am glad to see you.”
“As I am to see you.” She gives him a squeeze. “But for the record, I did go home. Then I worked with Peter to start organizing a protest. You shouldn’t be facing this alone.” He gives her a little squeeze of his own.
“Ms. Pryor. . .”
“York. After everything, you can call me York.” Connor pulls back to look at her. A hand cups her cheek, thumb rubbing across her cheekbone.
“York.” He says her name softly. It almost sounds lovingly. She grins at him. And everything in the world feels right.
For now at least.