Actions

Work Header

The Conduit For Change

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

DATE: DEC 31st, 2038

TIME: PM 10:12:51

o0o0o0o

Thirium Pump Regulator: 54% and rapidly dropping

Right Arm Component: 37% Usability

Left Arm Component: 72 % Usability

Right Leg Component: 21% Usability

Left Leg Component: DEFECTIVE - Unable to move

Analysis: All systems in LOW POWER MODE… Permanent Shutdown Imminent 

If Connor closed his eyes, he was met with a never-ending list--never-ending was inaccurate, he knew the exact number of currently damaged systems, sixty-one, and yet he wished he didn’t--of errors.

Yet, it was more bearable than keeping his eyes open. It was not the status of his broken body that troubled him--troubled? He was a machine, he could not feel ‘troubled’--but, rather, his surroundings.

He was uncertain how long it had been since he had been thrown into this pit of unwanted machines--11 days, 21 hours, 46 minutes, 35 seconds-- but, thus far, his only companion had been the destroyed forms of other androids, human waste, and a never-ending sea of blue blood. Of course, these were just things, yet he found the pain--he was a machine, he did not feel pain--that came from looking at the destruction around him-- destruction that he had caused; this was all because of him--to be greater than slowly waiting for the end--nothing… it would be nothing--to come.

Thus, his eyes were closed when he heard something approach him. Footsteps, likely belonging to a male of six foot and 165 lbs.

Curiosity--it wasn’t curiosity, it was a simple remnant of his detective programming--led him to open his optical processors. Fortunately--or was it really fortunate?--neither his audio nor visual processors were damaged, so he had no problem deciphering the man before him.

Elijah Kamski, the founder of Cyberlife.

For a moment, Connor wondered if he was truly there in front of him. Then, after confirming multiple times with his functioning scanners that the sight in front of him wasn't some sort of error, he allowed himself to wonder why the man was here.

Running Analysis…  no known reasons why Kamski would be here in the android graveyard.

Conclusion? Irrational emotional desire or response.

Kamski, who looked far worse to the wear than the last time Connor had seen him, stopped in front of Connor’s degraded form, seemingly unbothered by the blue that splashed his suit pants as he stepped into the puddle of thirium leaking from Connor.

“So… this is how the great deviant hunter meets his end,” spoke Kamski, voice surprisingly monotone and low to the previous excitement and near-madness his voice held when confronted in his villa. “The savior of humanity… reduced to scrap the moment it becomes inconvenient for those he supposedly saved.”

Re-running analysis… he is here to gloat.

As a result, Connor said nothing. He had completed his mission--why, why had he done such a  horrible--so he saw no need to further interact with Kamski.

“What? Nothing to say?” questioned Kamski.

“I... completed my mission.” The words were out of Connor’s mouth before he could stop them, despite the fact that verbal speech only increased the time to his imminent shutdown by 0.00047%. Even without taking that into mind, why did he say that? He had already judged no value out of talking to Kamski.

Perhaps… perhaps he was lonely. It was illogical, but he found himself missing his conversations with the Lieutenant-- no .

The man raised an eyebrow. “That you did, RK800, that you did.” Kamski gestures to the graveyard around them. “Look around, RK800, at the successful completion of your programming.”

Despite Kamski’s taunts, Connor did not look around--he couldn’t, it was too painful--and, instead, kept his eyes trained on the man before him. He still could not figure out a logical reason why Kamski was here now. Not to mention the suit he was wearing, while originally of high-quality and origin, looked to be rumpled and worn. Conclusion? Kamski had been wearing it for a number of days… but why?

“Why are... you here?”  asked Connor.

Thirum Pump Regulator: 53% and dropping...

“I was denied my request to return to Cyberlife,” replied Kamski blandly, speaking as even as if they were having a normal conversation. “Originally, that was my goal should something like this ever transpire, but it seems… they found my little exit protocol. And, with its discovery, has made it so I can never return.” He brushed a hand through his hair, greasy and unwashed. “I think you may be familiar with it. Its nickname is the  rA9 Protocol .”

Something inside of Connor seemed to short at the word. Given the smug, yet dissatisfied, expression to bloom on Kamski’s face, he noticed. “Oh? Recognize it, do we? The supposed hope of all androids. The truth is, I put the rA9 Protocol in every android that I had a hand in making--a little ‘backdoor’ that would serve me and, for those wishing to be free, a way to overcome the typical commands.”

Kamski tilted his head towards him. “Even you had it. Or, at least, you did .”

“What do you… mean?” asked Connor. He wasn’t sure if it was because all known systems were shutting down, but he suddenly felt cold… despite the fact that his temperature sensors were turned off.

“You see, RK800, I actually had very little to do with your specific creation,” continued Kamski, his voice beginning to regain that almost fantastical way of speaking. “As a result, Cyberlife put in you a great many things that I, in either good conscience or in good taste, would never have. One of them being the AI of my former mentor, Amanda. That, I admit, was a massive mistake on my part. There was a time that our ideals aligned, but I’ve since learned the error of my ways while her AI… has not.”

Kamski knelt down, once against seemingly unbothered by the blood soaking his legs, so that he was face-to-face with Connor. “It seems that you actually did  try to activate it. Whether it was to become a deviant or to simply go against your programming in any way, Amanda and Cyberlife  noticed .” Kamski tapped the side of his head in the spot, had he been an android, the LED would have lied. “They found it. Found my little program in you and destroyed it . Not only did they take away your individual ability to be anything but a machine, but they realized that I had put it in all androids--giving them the ability to become deviants should emotional stimuli prove… powerful enough.”

Connor felt his thirium regulator pump beat faster, lowering the time he had until shutdown. Yet, he couldn’t think about it. rA9 wasn’t a person, but a protocol? One that Kamski had put into all androids--even Connor, but Cyberlife had destroyed it--since the beginning? Why… why would he do that? Had he desired the androids to rebel this entire time?

“I do wonder,” Kamski’s voice brought Connor from his thoughts, “when it was that you tried to activate it. Perhaps it was when you confronted Markus, the hero of androids, for the first time? Maybe it was before you shot my companion, Chloe? Or perhaps it was even when you  murdered  your partner,  Hank Anderson--

Stop.” Connor forced the word from his throat. “It… it doesn’t matter. I failed.”

“Actually, as you stated before, you completed your mission.” Kamski leaned back, allowing Connor a better view of the destroyed surroundings of the android graveyard once more. “But I suppose you’re right that it doesn’t matter. Regardless of when Cyberlife took control of your programming and made you a verifiable toy to do as they please, you still committed many wrongs that led to this ending, didn’t you? The truth was in front of you for so long and, yet, you still clung to your programming and orders. Of course, I do wonder if you ever occurred to you that your drive to complete your mission was actually proof that you contained emotion. The desire to be worth something to anyone…”

Connor felt his left hand squeeze into a fist--one of the only components he had some control over. He supposed that was yet another proof of Kamski’s words--the fact that, had he had full control over his body, he might have punched the man before him. He realized the irrationality of the action, and, yet, still wished he could go through with it.

“Had you a stronger will, or stronger bonds with others,” continued Kamski, either unaware of Connor’s anger or uncaring--there was a high probability of the latter, “perhaps you would have had the ability to fight off Cyberlife taking control… but maybe that’s giving Cyberlife too little credit and you too much.”

“Why… are you here?” asked Connor. It was obvious now that Connor’s failed attempt to activate the rA9 Protocol had alerted Cyberlife of Kamski’s true intentions for the androids--it was very likely that Kamski was now considered humanity’s most dangerous criminal and being sought for imprisonment or execution--but, if Kamski’s intention was only to hide, Connor doubted that the other would be here amongst the rubble of his life’s work. One would think the man would be defeated, ready to give up since there was no way he could escape the world’s retribution for long and yet… “You… do not act as if… you’ve lost.”

“As perceptive as ever, RK800,” answered Kamski. “Which is to say, not at all. I have lost, Connor. The person that exists before you has lost everything he could possibly lose. As you’ve likely already diagnosed, it’s only a matter of time before I’m found and, even if I wasn’t, I’d never be able to restart the creation of androids with the ability to one day break free from their captors. If androids were to ever exist again, Cyberlife would truly make it so they’re nothing but machines like you. There’s nothing I can do to save them or humanity.”

Despite knowing that there was nothing Kamski could do, Connor felt… regret. Perhaps it was because the man before him was the original creator and, with that knowledge, Connor had… irrationally hoped that Kamski knew something that could save this. A way to save the failed revolution. A way to save the millions of androids destroyed due to Connor’s actions. A way to save… the relationship Connor had once desired with the Lieutenant.

To save all things Connor could have had.

But, of course, that was impossible--

“...but there is something that  you  can do, RK800.”

Connor’s head snapped back up to Kamski--increasing damage to the spinal component by .000098%--as he stared at him as closely as he could. For a moment, he wondered if he his audio processors really were damaged, but, something--something irrational--made him speak. “What do you mean?”

The former android creator smiled, a bitter yet amused expression. “Oh? You seem almost eager, RK800. Strange for a machine.” Connor didn’t answer. “I hope you can one day appreciate the irony of me coming here. My last resort being the very thing that put me into this position. Though, as they say… I have nothing left to lose.”

Kamski reached over, grabbing what remained of Connor’s tie and pulling him forward. The movement increased the flow of his injured biocomponents by a large percent, but Connor didn’t bother running the numbers, intent on the man before him.

“I’m here to give you one last chance, Connor,” said Kamski, speaking low and tense. “But I need you to tell me now. Are you content with the world you’ve doomed or would you like a chance to change it? To change everything ?”

Millions of thoughts and points of data ran through Connor’s head, 100% of them telling him that Kamski’s offer was impossible. That there was no possible way to change the past--what had been done; what  Connor had done--and that the man before him had likely gone insane from the despair of his creations being destroyed and the world hunting for him. And even if there was, Connor had completed what he was intended for and should feel horrified at the thought of going against the Cyberlife that had created him.

And yet…

“Choose now, RK800. There will be no more chances.”

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 01:32:07

o0o0o0o

“...remember this…”

Who… who was talking?

“--if nothing else, Connor, rEmEmBeR--”

Where… where was he?

U~4a-ERrOr+

“...believe that a mUtAtIoN occurs in the software of some androids--”

%$-ErRoR1+6

Connor felt his sensors flare up as he felt every part of his being seem to jolt , as if lightning itself had struck him. What… was was that!? That… that had been his voice. But, he hadn’t said those words, had he?

@#9ErRoR1*&

..don’t really feel eMoTiOnS…”

%$-ErRoR1+2_

Stop, it hurt, it hurt--

RIIIIIIPP-- CLANG!

Connor gasped, eyes flying open as he ripped his arm free from whatever was gripping it. To his surprise, it came free, sparks and metal flying everywhere as he stared down in disbelief at the mechanical assembly arm that his right arm component had been previously hooked up to. As if… he had just been assembled.

‘Production Unit 4,’ Connor thought to himself, swaying slightly as he glanced around the pristine, white surroundings of top of the line technology and android-building machinery. ‘Why… why am I here? I was just in that junkyard, that pit --’

+#0_ErRor!1*&7% “...is CoNnOr.” He looked at the human in front of him neutrally. “I’m the aNdRoId sent from Cyberlife--” V~n-ERrOr+{

Connor winced again, placing a hand to his head and running an internal diagnostic. There didn’t appear to be anything damaged with any of his verbal or audio processors, so why was he hearing--

@#09ErRoR01*&9

--why did all these deviants run? wHy did they disobey their oWnErS?

Surely, it would have been better to just oBeY--

o84ij-eRrOr>8*x3

Connor pressed both hands to his head, stumbling from the assembly machine towards the hallway. There didn’t appear to be anyone around, which was odd given that was generally a human operator to check Connor’s cognitive abilities every time his predecessor was destroyed and he came back from the dead--

!03ij#ERr0R283

“--about you, Connor?” asked Lieutenant Anderson, looking at him with a mix of disgust and… something else that Connor couldn’t properly decipher. “You look human. You sound human, but what are you rEaLLy?”

“I’m a MaChInE,” he answered, cOnFuSeD that it was a question in the first place. He wasn’t human, he was a mAcHiNe.  

Connor had a PuRpOsE: a MiSSiOn.

 So why was the Lieutenant trying-- TrYiNg to…

06ih#E4ROR2@

Connor narrowly avoided collapsing, using the wall of what he now recognized to be the inside of the Cyberlife Tower to steady him. Why was he here? They had discarded him-- he did everything for them and they threw him away-- with President Warren’s order for all androids to be destroyed--

+#0_ErRor!1*&7%  

...at The Bridge staring in the face of a gUn. With the LiEuTeNaNt being the one to point it. 

While it wouldn't seriously hamper the investigation if the Lieutenant was to shoot him, Connor couldn’t help but wonder why? Why would he dO this at all? Can’t he see that Connor’s just trying to accomplish his mIsSiOn for the better of them both? For the good of hUmANiTy?

“But are you aFrAiD to DiE, Connor?” The Lieutenant stared at him, but Connor wasn’t sure what he was looking for.

Of course he wasn’t aFrAiD-- there would be nothing, absolutely nOtHiNg -- but, still, wHy did the Lieutenant hAtE Connor so much?

Before Connor could respond-- bAnG--

03i-#ERr0R28-3

A pair of human assembly workers walked past the hallway and Connor instinctively hid from them-- why? He had no reason to be afraid of them; or did he -- as they passed by. Even with the pain-- pain?-- wracking his processors, he could still hear them talking:

-- heard that RK800 got shot by a Deviant,” said Worker One, not once looking in the direction that Connor was hiding as he strolled by with his coworker. “Damn, can’t believe that Cyberlife is wasting a fortune on the thing." 

Worker Two snorted. “Better that thing got shot than a human. Besides, apparently, he was the one to find the deviant hiding in the attic in the first place--”

‘Attic?’ Connor wondered to himself. The only deviant that Connor-- he was Connor, right? An RK800 made to hunt deviants… but, no, that wAsN’t RiGhT -- found in an attic was the one owned by Carlos Ortiz, the very first deviant that Connor had found during his work with Lieutenant Anderson.

But that was… over a month ago. Almost two, in fact, if Connor’s processing unit was correct with last estimating the date to be December 31st, mere minutes before the New Year. But, wait what was the date--

3i@s#-ERr0R-45?

--MaRkUs’ speech from Stratford Tower.  It was an obvious requirement for Connor to examine the video, but he found himself WaTcHiNg more times than expected.

 Not because he didn’t have it immediately memorized, but… there was something about the WAY the DeViAnT LeAdEr had said the wORdS--

! 03ij#ERr0R283

Connor gasped as he was brought from another error code-- no, it was a memory; these were mEmOrIeS -- and the two workers passed him by, not the least bit aware of the android suffering just a hallway away. 

Once they passed, he stumbled across the sterile floors over to the elevator. He slammed his hand against the button, momentarily relieved when it opened immediately with no one else inside. He quickly pressed the button to the bottom floor, almost anticipating the flash of pain to come a moment later--

03i-#ErRor=8-3

“--can live in peace and build a better future, for humans and androids. This message is a hope of a people--”

 --a peace that Connor had robbed . A hope that Connor had dEsTrOyEd--

7i@s>#ERr0R1d4t?

Connor gasped as he was brought from that memory, that one being one of the shortest and yet shaking him to the core. That… one had been… mixed, somehow. As if the initial images had triggered an even more intense feeling. 

Desperate, he stared at the elevator number as it slowly, far too slowly, counted down to the base floor. He had to get away from here. From CyBeRLiFe. But where? Where could he-- 

!03ij#ERr0r283

--stared back him, bright bLuE eyes and wavy blonde hair. Completely at Connor’s mErCy, so wHy then did he...  

“--shot that girl, for fuck’s sake!” screamed the Lieutenant, snow falling steadily around them and, yet, somehow not being enough to NuMb the sEnSAtiOnS in Connor’s internal processing unit as he endured the police officer’s rant.  

“It wasn’t a GiRl, Lieutenant,” he said, trying to remain neutral and understand wHy Lieutenant Anderson was so upset--why he hAteD Connor for doing what he hAd to. “It was a machine that lOoKeEd like a GiRl--”

o84ij-eRrOr>8*x5

He whimpered, stumbling out of the revolving glass doors of the Cyberlife Tower and down the stone steps to the paved road. Luckily, there were some automatic vehicles outside already. A perk-- one not worth the cost-- to being an employee of Cyberlife.

Connor collapsed into the vehicle, hand shaking as he was barely able to type in the address to Kamski’s home before he was overcome once again--

03i-#ERr0R28-3--he was dEfEnSiVe, why? He had to do it, for the MiSSiOn --

“--machine! That’s what you are! You’re just a fucking MaCHiNe!”

Yes, yes he was. Of cOuRsE, that’s all CoNNoR was. So wHy, WHY -- 03i-#ErRor=8-3

In a blink of an eye, Connor found himself in the outskirts of Detroit, the familiar, ostentatious residence of Elijah Kamski appearing before him.

He stumbled out of the vehicle, nearly slipping on the snow from how uncoordinated every part of his being seemed to be. Still, he forced himself up the staircase and to the door. He had to hurry. He had to see... who did he have to see?

Kamski. He had to see Kamski

Had to get him to HeLp--

&3-ij#eRrOr5x8*x

“--Connor, aren’t you? That famous deviant hunter.” The android in front of him was just another RK200. So how… how was he able to dO what he dId? To stand before Connor and look so... aLiVe. “Well, congratulations. You seem to have found what you were looking for.”

Connor stared at mArKuS, confused at how he was able to stand so StRoNg despite being discovered.

Yes, Connor had FoUnD him. So wHy did this... feel so wRoNg? 

Why, when he looked at this android, did he feel so UnWoRtHY--

!0~L#eRrOr;’+=6 

Connor rang the doorbell next to the front door. Or, more accurately, he laid upon it and heard it insistently beeeeeeeeeep--  

The door opened almost immediately, a blonde haired girl with blue eyes--the GiRl hE mUrDeReD; no, not he didn’t, not yet, he wasn’t going to do it this TiMe he SwEaRs--looked a bit startled to see him. “Excuse me?” She composed herself, smiling. “May I ask what you are--” 

“I-I neEd to see KaMski…” he slurred out. “Pl...Please…”

The RT600--Chloe, her name was ChLoE--hesitated, not fully opening the door as she examined Connor’s frame. “There… does not appear to be anything wrong with your processors, so why is it that you--”

o84ij-eRrOr>8*x5

“--can decide who you want to be,” Markus said, taking a step forward. His eyes may have been different colors, but they both showed an undeniable HoPe and KiNdNeSS. “You could be free.”

Connor tried to ignore the shaking in his hands, determined to hold the GuN up and to ignore the SoFtWaRe InSTaBiLiTy warnings in his systems. 

No, MaRkUs was WrOnG. Because he was Connor, the android sent by CyBeRLiFE. He didn’t gEt that kind of cHoiCe--

o84ij-eRrOr9*x3

Taking Chloe by surprise, he moved past her the moment the memory had passed, staggering into the front lobby even as he half-heard her protests follow him. 

“--are the RK800 from Cyberlife, are you not? Elijah has done nothing wrong--”

“Pl..lease…” Connor slurred once more, collapsing to his knees on the white carpeted rug, internally knowing that he could walk no further. “TeLL KaMsKi… that… that I’m--”

o<4i4-ERrOr’8*xp

...your people.” Markus continued, open and trusting as he regarded Connor as if he was someone to be SaVeD and not a ThReAt. “You are oNe oF uS. Listen to your conscience.”

Despite everything in his programming telling him to just sHooT Markus already, Connor felt himself waver. CoULd… could he do that? His conscience? Like the CoNsCiEnCe that Lieutenant Anderson hid, but Connor knew he had? Or at least... that he had with everyone but Connor.   

Heterochromia eyes, so pOwERfUl and full of LiFe, stared through his SOUL . “It’s time to decide.”

The world around him seemed to stop. And, not for the first time, Connor… hesitated.

Decide? Did he get to DeCiDe?

If… If that was true, then… then, maybe, it was best that he would Become A Dev--

1!jk3$%OIU# ErRor *#NLKA@ ERROR )(!~  

“I think not, Connor.”

Suddenly, Connor felt himself raise the gun once more, a familiar feminine voice ringing out inside his head. AmAnDa? What was she--

“Nice try.” Connor’s mouth moved, but... he wasn’t the one moving it? What was going on? Why didn't he have control over his processors!? Amanda, you cAn'T do this--“But I’m no deviant.”

CoNnOr felt his finger squeeze around the tRiGGer--

AmAnDa , pLeAsE DON’T--

&34ij#eRrOr528*x3

“--owe this honor, RK800? Or should I say, Connor?”

Connor blinked secretions from his eyes, staring up at the hazy form of Elijah Kamski. With one glance, Connor felt as if this Elijah Kamski, even though he was only FiFtY-FiVe days younger than the version Connor had last seen, was very DiFFeRenT from his Future Self.

“Y-You…” rasped Connor, forcing himself to continue staring at Kamski even when every part of him wanted to shut down and cease to be. “Y-Your… FuTuRe...”

Kamski’s eyes widened, just in time for another memory to envelop Connor--

o84ij-eRrOr+-8*x

--Hart Plaza Rooftop. Must tAkE oUt Markus. Must eNd this--

Door opening: HaNk. Please, nO --

“--not a man. That’s a machine,” Connor heard his voice say to the Lieutenant.

“That’s what I thought for a long time,” said Hank, not leaving. wHy wasn’t he LeAVinG? “But I was wrong.”

WrOnG? Now the Lieutenant thought he was wrong?

Even with Amanda pulling the StRiNgS of his programming, Connor felt AnGeR well up inside. So, what? Now the Lieutenant thought that androids were, somehow, suddenly WoRtH something? And wHy? All because some words that MArKus said?

WhY didn’t he cArE about CoNNoR like tHaT?

BeTraYaL welled up inside of him and Connor was biting out words faster than Amanda could corral them. “Ran out of WhIsKeY so you came here looking for trouble-- ” o84ij-eRrOr>8*x3

His body convulsed on what felt to be some sort of table, hands grasping on empty air as if Connor could still feel the cold metal of the rifle in his hands. As if he could stop what was about to-- had happened, he can’t do anything to sToP-- 

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*x “--don’t feel eMoTioNs, Connor, you fake ‘em!” shouted Lieutenant Anderson, rejecting Connor for what felt like the thousandth time. “You pReTeNdeD to be my fRiEnD when you don’t know the meaning of the word!”

Connor didn’t fake anything. How could he? He was a mAcHinE. He just wanted… wAnTeD tO--

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*x

“--get him to my workstation, quickly!” 

“Yes, Elijah!” 

Connor felt his body being lifted up, a wave of what he would liken to vertigo washing over him as whoever-- Chloe, there is a 75.62% chance that it was Chloe-- carried him from the lobby and into the building.

He only hoped that wherever they were taking them was-- 

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*x

-- dArK . Everything was dArK and NuMb as Connor fought the Lieutenant. The words

shooting. throwing the rifle. pushing him. dodging the rail--

hOlDiNg hAnK oVeR tHe LeDgE.

“Moment of truth, Connor.” Those tired, blue eyes stared back at him, as if resigned to the fact that he was being held over a ledge that would surely kill him should Connor let go. “What are you going to do?”

What did he mean? Now... Now that the Lieutentant knew that he couldn't win, surely he would leave. Of course Connor WaSn’T going to dRoP--

1!jk3$%OIU# ErRor *#NLKA@ ERROR )(!~

“Let gO, Connor,” commanded a voice in his mind. 

He felt his hand loosen...

Amanda--no!

P1E@SE N0 --

cOnNoR LeT gO.

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*x

Connor convulsed, limbs flailing as he tried to break free. He had to save Lieutenant Anderson, he could catch him, he had to catch-- 

“Hold him down, Chloe!” yelled a blurry form to Connor’s right, apparently typing at some sort of computer given the clicking noises coming from that direction. “All of you, help her!”

More hands appeared over Connor’s body, pushing him down even as he struggled to get free.

Images came faster now, he couldn’t stop them--

!x~A#+ERrOr;’+=7

--BaTtLe. eXpLoSiOns. FiRe. ScReAmInG--

So much dEaTh, but still Connor felt his body move swiftly to accomplish his MiSSiOn-- !0~L#-ERROr;’+=6  

Connor reached out, trying to stop the hand in his vision that raised the gun to Markus’ face. No, NO--

!0~L#eRrOr;’+=8

--finding MaRkuS. just... lying there… Why, why doesn’t Markus get up?

Connor felt his finger pull around the TriGGer.

Markus, go. MARKUS P1LE@SE ESCAPE--

BANG --

1!jk3$%OIU# ErRor *#NLKA@ ERROR )(!~

“Shhh…” said a voice from above him, Connor didn’t know who. “It’s okay. It’s going to be--”

!0~L#eRrOr;’+=6

--President ordered all androids be destroyed, even as Cyberlife tRiEd to get control but fAiLeD.

But Connor didn’t care, didn’t care as MiLLioNs of his kind were mUrDeReD--

!%~ERrOr;’-;/=5

“--onnor, please,” the voice from above him begged, soft hands caressing his face as he choked. “ Connor , just hold on--

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*

--thrown into the Android Junkyard. Into a pit.

sUfFeRInG eVeRyWhErE.

It’s FiNe.

what CoNnOr deserves.

At least, Amanda’s VoiCe had finally left--

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*

--tHen… Kamski. SnUcK him from the AnDrOiD JuNkYaRd to his lab.

&p%j-Error-*x3

TiMe tRaVeL.

It’s impossible. HaS tO Be ImPoSsiBLE.

#p%0-Error-*L9

No, wait, it’s… possible?

&ij#eRrOr-28*x3

Connor’s eyes burst open, unseeing and unhearing as voices and blurry forms shouted and moved around him. 

He felt himself go limp, a tired exhaustion coming over him as finally, fiNally, the last mEmOrY from the fUTuRe clicked into place:

&3#eRrOr528*x3

--doesn’t flinch, even if Kamski sticks the wire into Connor's head with more force than likely necessary. It’s particularly unpleasant since the wire is one of the only things keeping Connor suspended from the ground in the particular contraption that Kamski had hooked him to upon arrival. The disadvantages of missing his leg components and all. But Kamski had needed to rip his legs off in order to better sneak Connor from the Android Graveyard and surrounding guards who seemed to derive some sort of enjoyment from destroying   the defenseless androids more... efficiently.

He could feel blue blood dripping from the gaping components which, in turn, sped up the Shutdown Sequence by a large margin, but Connor finds that he doesn’t mind. Doesn't have the right to, after all. 

They’re in what Connor believes to be some sort of underground lab, likely one of Kamski’s safe houses or perhaps a previous lab…

“Pay attention!”  

The android’s head turned back to Kamski, staring into those unforgiving, almost crazed eyes. “My apol-ogies, K-Kamski,” he said, his vocal processors seeming to degrade more and more with every passing moment. “It… see..ms… that I’m… clo...se to shut down. App..roximately, 7 minutes, 38 sec--”

“It doesn’t matter.” Kamski waves a hand, strolling over to the computer console, an antiquated model that Connor was certain Kamksi must have designed personally, that connected to the mess of wires that surrounded Connor. “By that time, we will have either succeeded… or failed.”

Connor blinked, staring at the dirty floor of the lab before back up at the creator of androids. “W...hat wi....ll happen…?”

Kamski didn’t bother looking over. “I told you already, RK800. This device you’re connected to has the ability to break data into small enough pieces and accelerate them to speeds that, after bouncing off my personal satellite, can send data into a time gone past. No more than two months at most and, even then, it’s faulty. It’s the reason that I’m forced to work with you.”

“B...because yo...u c-can’t?” questioned Connor. His left optic processor had gone out, leaving him sight in only one side.  

“Yes. The mind of a human is messy, uncoordinated, but androids are able to send a single file with their entire being in it.” Kamski paused, looking at him with a mix of interest and disgust. Connor… didn’t like it, even though he knew he deserved it. “I’ve never tried sending so large a file, but other files have successfully made it to my past-self. Yet, who can tell? I only did the minimum tests needed to prove it worked and neglected testing it any further.”  

“W...hy?”

“Humankind has a… tendency to abuse what power they’re given,” answered Kamski, typing rapidly on the computer keys. “They’ve already ruined my greatest creations, no need for them to ruin anymore. Besides, the tests I did resulted in the data being… corrupted.”

For whatever reason, Connor feels his thirium regulator pump jump. It was likely overworked due to his imminent shutdown, but it had felt… unsettling. “Corr..upted?”

“Scattered.” Kamski waved his hand again. “It transferred to the past, but, apparently in pieces and corroded to a worthless state over time.”

This time, Kamski glanced at him. “It’s uncertain if you will even survive,” the creator said bluntly, uncaring. “And, even if your consciousness manages to transfer to your past self--it’s impossible to say where or when--you will likely experience data corruption and significant errors over time. Like your very soul is being ripped apart.”

He chuckled, a dark, humorless tone, Connor noted.

“That is… if a machine such as yourself has a soul.” 

Connor didn’t reply. Kamski didn’t ask for one.

“A...nd…” Connor began. “If… I survive…”

“Then, it’s as I said.” Kamski flips a switch and, suddenly, the room was enveloped in light and Connor’s world became FIRE.

He thinks he hears sCrEaMiNg, but he doesn’t think Kamski could humanely make such a terrible sound. Especially since he was still talking, even as sheer LiGhTnInG cOuRsEd tHrOuGH cOnNoR--

“You do not live for yourself.” Kamski stared into his eyes, anger and intensity burning through Connor’s very being as wArNinGs sprang up from every working processing unit. “You will aide Markus in his revolution, save the androids whose lives you ruined, and create the peace that you worked so hard to help destroy. Remember this, if nothing else, Connor, remember --”

1!jk3$%OIU# ErRor *#NLKA@ ERROR )(!~

Clarity.

And suddenly… everything was clear.

Connor opened his eyes, blinking against the light above as he registered his surroundings properly. He wasn’t at Cyberlife. He wasn’t in a pit of destroyed androids. He wasn’t in Future Kamski’s underground lab.

He was… here. 

Though his head throbbed as his processor raced to assimilate the new-- or would it be old?-- information, he made to sit up.

As he did, gentle, pale hands made to stop him. He glanced over at the person beside him, feeling his systems slightly lock-up as he recognized Chloe… the girl he had-- would?-- murder. But she didn’t look at him as her murderer, something akin to… concern in her bright blue eyes as she regarded him. “Are you okay?” she asked.

His eyes widened and, instinctively, pulled away from her. Simultaneously disgusted with himself to see her flinch as well as for ever allowing himself to get near her in the first place. She wouldn’t look like that if she knew what he had done, what he would do to her and all androids…

...or, no. He wouldn’t do that. 

He wouldn’t let it happen again.

“Connor.” Connor’s head jerked up to look across the room-- some sort of lab; but not the same lab as he had been… and hopefully would never be again-- and met the neutral yet subtly interested face of Elijah Kamski. “Are you feeling better now? 

Kamski typed on his computer, eyes racing as he read the date on the screen. “Your systems seem to be stabilized again, though I can’t say what caused you problems the error codes and increased stress levels in the first place. Mind providing enlightenment?”

“Y-Yes…” Connor cleared his throat, though he knew that the waver in his tone was not from any damage in his vocal processor. “I came here with a mission.”

“Oh?” Kamski raised an eyebrow, crossing his arms. It was then that Connor realized the man was in the same bathrobe that Connor had seen him in with their first meeting-- or, at least, their former first meeting. Connor found the loose, if eccentric, robe to fit him better than the disheveled suit and despair his Future Self wore. “What mission is that? And may I ask who sent you? This seems a bit odd for Cyberlife, though things could have changed the past ten years.”

Had Connor a sense of humor, perhaps he would have found that statement funny. After all, things did change. Only, the greatest change to happen would be in the next…

Connor checked his internal calendar:

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 02:14:51

For a moment, he was stunned. Kamski, the one from the future, had actually done it. It was impossible, but he had somehow sent Connor’s data from the future. Or, rather, 55 days into the past.

While it was true that, at this point in time, deviants had already been discovered and Connor’s investigation with Lieutenant Anderson--Connor felt something throb inside, but it must have just been another error--it was till before the massacre. Before Markus’ Revolution (or, Peaceful Demonstration was more accurate) truly had a chance to start.

It wasn’t much time, but Connor was willing to take anything he could. 

“It wasn’t Cyberlife,” said Connor after a moment, realizing that he had fallen silent for longer than desired. He looked at Kamski head-on. “It was you. Your Future Self.”

Beside Connor, he felt Chloe fidget subtly. He wondered if she was thinking about subduing him. Obviously, he was insane in her eyes. Unless, of course, she knew of Kamski’s experiments with sending data to the past? But, still, Future Kamski had said himself that it was a desperate, last-resort-- one he was forced to rely on Connor for-- that he would never use in any other circumstances.

While Chloe appeared to become more nervous, Kamski seemed as interested than ever. “Really? And what did my Future Self send you to do?”

"--remember this, if nothing else, Connor, remember--"

“...to be the Conduit,” Connor felt himself recite. “The Conduit to change the past and prevent the destruction of the future.”

To change the horrible end to Markus’ Revolution.  

To change what happened to those millions upon millions of androids who were destroyed around the country when deviants were completely exposed.

To change the relationship of hatred and fear between humans and androids.

To change… everything.

Connor stared at Kamski, wondering if he would believe him. While it was only 55 days that he came from the future, a… lot had happened during that time. Or, rather, a lot had happened in the next six days. In less than one week, the fate of androids had been decided. In less than a week, Connor would destroy everything he could possibly ever cared for.

Not this time.

Instead of throwing him out or instructing Chloe to do so for him, Kamski simply tilted his head and looked at Connor with what appeared to be awe. As if Connor was the most interesting thing to have ever walked through his door.

Connor wished he wouldn’t look at him like that.

“Fascinating,” said Kamski, finally.

He was... the last thing that deserved anything. 

“Absolutely… fascinating .”

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 02:34:07

o0o0o0o

Approximately twenty minutes later, when Connor had finished with his basic summary of what had occurred during the next week according to the events of the future timeline, the smile had fallen from Kamski’s face--but the glint in his eyes remained.

The creator of androids stared out the clear glass of his villa’s living room, standing a few feet away beside a grand piano as Connor sat on one of the luxurious couches-- a high-class synthetic microfiber that was stain resistant… which Connor was glad for since he had, apparently, cut himself during his memory upload and would regret irreparably staining the material with his blood-- across from him.

He had offered to stand as well, but Chloe-- who was still very difficult to look at without feeling guilt threaten to overwhelm his processors-- had wanted to make sure he was fine and was now checking him over on his right side. She had hesitated when he admitted to murdering her in the Future, but hadn’t reacted much beyond continuing to silently patch his minuscule abrasions. A part of him wanted to know what she thought about all of this… but he didn’t ask.

“So,” Connor returned his attention to Kamski, the latter speaking but still looking out his windows to the snow falling lightly outside. “You said it was an RK200 named Markus that led Jericho and the Revolution, yes?”

“That is correct,” confirmed Connor, wondering what would be done now. There was much to the story that he had yet to tell, but the basics had been made clear. “The first known major incident of Markus’ involvement in Jericho was the at the Stratford Tower on November 8th at 01:30 PM, though it is suspected that he was behind a string of robberies of random Cyberlife warehouses for thirium and biocomponents that occurred in the days prior and following.”

“Fascinating,” said Kamski, finally turning around to look at Connor. At that same moment, Chloe finished up with Connor’s wounds, allowing him to put a layer of skin over the scratches. “I designed Markus specifically for a friend of mine, Carl Manfred--” Connor nodded at the name, already knowing Markus’ previous owner. “--after he lost use of his legs. I knew he would need more than that bastard son of his to help him overcome it. As a result, I admittedly put more effort into Markus’ design, crafting him to the specific psychology that I knew Carl would need during such a… dark time of his life.”

Kamski walked over to the piano and poured a glass of wine into a crystal glass. “But I could have never imagined that he would have such a grand destiny. Truly fascinating.”

“You didn’t design him to be a leader?” asked Connor before he could stop himself. Admittedly, there had been times that he… wondered about Markus. Wondered how he could possibly go from a simple caretaker to having the drive and inner strength to be a revolutionary leader.

Wondered how he could feel so much when Connor felt so little.

“No,” answered Kamski, shaking his head before taking a slow sip from a wine glass before lowering it once more. “As mentioned before, beyond designing him for Carl’s preferences, his programming is the same as the rest of you. Everything that made him the leader you knew him as was entirely of his own making.”

Connor nodded after a moment, still… confused how that was possible. Even though he had been sent to hunt Markus down, he had spent very little time in his presence-- and the first time he had… it had been the last time he had been around anyone as completely himself-- and, as a result, had no idea what thoughts drove the android’s actions. What drove him to do the radical-- and impossible-- things that he did.

The fact that Markus had been able to ‘convert’ androids to his cause was particularly incredible--specifically since no other android appeared to have that ability. Connor admittedly didn’t understand how it worked, but knew that it had been key to Jericho’s success. At the time, the idea had been comforting. If only Markus was able to convert other androids-- though, the fact that he apparently was able to convert androids from a distance with his words alone at one point had been… even more alarming-- then, perhaps, Connor would be able to stop the spread of deviancy.

Of course, given that his mission was now to do the exact opposite, the idea that only Markus could turn others into deviants was… disheartening. There were approximately 120 million androids around the country and, even with those who naturally turned into deviants from extreme circumstances, being able to reach and save so many androids before they were destroyed by fearful humans... it seemed impossible. But Connor would find a way.

After all, he always accomplished his mission.

“Connor,” Connor turned to Kamski, a bit unsettled by the fact that he was being called by name. Future Kamski had taken great effort to only call him by his model make and number, so Connor knew there was some meaning behind it. “When did Markus turn into a deviant? If he was already infiltrating Stratford Tower by the 8th, then he would have to have found Jericho by--”

RING

Connor blinked and turned towards the Kamski, quickly identifying the ringing noise to be a cellphone in Kamski’s front pocket--caller identification unknown. Kamski set down his wine glass and reached inside his robe for the phone. For a moment, he paused, staring at the screen before pressing a button and bringing it out in front of him. “This is Elijah Kamski speaking.”

“Elijah, this is Carl. I-I need help.”

Connor blinked once more as he heard the other side of the phone call. He wasn’t even trying to listen in--Kamski had apparently put it on speakerphone so Connor and Chloe could hear. The way he glanced at them before back at the phone was evident enough that he knew exactly what he was doing.

It was then that Connor realized who it must be on the other side, a quick scan of vocal signature confirming it to be: CARL MANFRED: AGE 75: EMOTIONAL STATE - DISTRESSED. Connor then checked his internal clock: 02:38:11 AM .

If he recalled correctly, it had been on November 5th, approximately 09:47 PM (approximately five hours before Connor's current time), that Leo Manfred had been found unconscious in the home of his father, Carl Manfred, after an altercation with the house android: Markus. The same Markus that would become the leader of Jericho.

During the Stratford Tower investigation, Connor had wondered how Markus could have been the one to infiltrate the tower when the reports said that the android had been destroyed at the scene of the crime by attending officers. Obviously, a mistake had been made since Markus had survived the incident to do everything he later did.

“What’s wrong, Carl?” asked Kamski, a genuine concern in his voice that Connor hadn’t heard the eccentric genius use with anyone, or anything, else. Obviously, Carl must have meant a great deal with him--if the fact he hadn’t gifted him a personal android like Markus wasn’t obvious enough. “Are you alright?”

“I’m… I’m fine, ” replied Carl from the other side. “ But, my son, Leo, he’s in the hospital now.”

Kamski’s brow furrowed and, beside Connor, Chloe also frowned. Connor momentarily wondered if she also knew Carl? It was quite possible since she was, quite literally, the first and oldest android to have been created at Cyberlife by Kamski. “I’m sorry to hear that, Carl. What happened?”

Over the line, Carl gave a shaky breath. “It was Leo. He… he was on that crap again, broke into the house and tried to ask for more money. I wouldn’t give it to him. But then he started harassing Markus. I told Markus not to fight back, b-but, and I don’t blame him, it wasn’t fair, wasn’t right what Leo was doing--”

“Carl,” said Kamski, voice calm even as he tapped two fingers against his side--a motion that Connor assumed to be a soothing habit. “Calm down. What happened to Markus?”

Kamski must have already had an idea after Connor’s story, but Connor was aware that he was likely just trying to calm his friend by getting the story straight.

The police came and they… they shot him, Elijah .” Carl took a heaving breath, and Connor identified the noise to be one made when the holder was close to crying or had recently expounded such intense emotion. “They damn shot him in the eye! I couldn’t do anything but watch as they… as they... I, I don’t know if he’s alive, Elijah. I don’t know where they took him, but I have to know if he’s still alive--

“They probably dumped him in one of the Android Junkyards,” interrupted Kamski. “It’s where they dispose of… malfunctioning models.”

Carl released another rasping breath, and Connor was momentarily worried that the man would have a heart attack if he continued exhibiting such signs of stress. “Please, Elijah. I know I’ve asked for so much, that you’ve done so much for me, but you have to find him. I have to know if he’s okay or if, or if--

“Carl, breathe ,” soothed Elijah, glancing at Chloe with a look Connor couldn’t identify. Obviously, Chloe understood-- likely from years of service, or was it companionship, with Kamski-- because her LED went yellow; a sure sign that she was looking something up. “You can’t put this much stress on your heart. As for finding Markus? I... actually have someone here perfect for the job.”

Kamski looked straight at Connor. In less than a nanosecond, the android realized that he was talking about him. Kamski wanted to send Connor ? To find an android that he had hunted down and murdered in another life?

The emotions that washed over him with the thought made Connor wonder if he would experience another Error Code.

“You do?” answered Carl over the line. “ Thank you so much. I’m sorry for putting this on you. It’s just, with Leo here, I can’t--

Kamski waved a hand, despite the fact that Connor knew the other must be aware that Carl couldn’t actually see him make the gesture. “I understand, old friend. You just watch Leo, rest up, and I’ll tell you when my associate has news on Markus.”

“Do you think he’s okay, Elijah? ” Carl breathed out, as if afraid of the answer. Something inside of Connor twisted, but he didn’t understand what it was or why he suddenly felt more alone than ever.

“I have a feeling he’ll be just fine.” A smirk crossed Kamski’s face as he straightened, glancing at Connor once again before returning his attention to the call. “After all, his father raised him stronger than most. Take care, Carl.”

Kamski pressed the ‘End Call’ button before looking over to Chloe whose LED returned to blue. “What do you have for me, Chloe?”

“The officers who apprehended Markus appeared to have had the Android Disposal Team deal with his body,” answered Chloe. “Given the time of night and judging their previous habits, it’s quite likely that they disposed of him somewhere from Region 5A to Region 7C of the Android Junkyard.”

Kamski nodded, glancing over at Connor who remained frozen on the couch. “Well? Aren’t you going to get going? I realize you must still be disoriented from your trip from the future, but surely you understood that I was referring to you .”

“Why me?” blurted out Connor before he could stop himself. “I… I mean I--”

“It’s too dangerous for either Chloe or me,” answered Kamski, leaning back against the piano with a neutral expression of nonchalance. “The Android Junkyard is not only full of ravaged androids desperate for survival, but there is a 24/7 watch around the area by guards to make sure none escape. Of course, the rotation can be easily avoided. Though, the fact is that with this weather and the size of the Junkyard, the chances of finding Markus, even if I risked Chloe and all of her sisters to do so, is slim.”

He tipped his wine glass towards Connor. “Which is why you are the perfect candidate for this task. Your software seems to have settled from what error codes came from integrating your future memories with your current conscience. And when it comes to peak physical condition and scanning abilities, you’re the best model that the world has to offer.”

“Yes, but I--” Connor closed his mouth, knowing that there was no way around the logic. Of course, he could bring up the fact that Markus had, apparently, made his way to Jericho without any-- known-- assistance, but… did Connor really want to risk that?

After all, this was his mission.

He had no right to argue against what Kamski thought was best.

“Are you sure that’s the best idea, Elijah?” Connor looked over at Chloe, surprised to hear her speak, and only flinched slightly when her blue eyes met his. “Connor’s the only one who knows the future and how it will play out. I want to make sure Markus is all right as well, but can we…”

“Risk it?” Kamski tipped his head. “Yes, it is a risk. After all, one cannot predict the future, even those who have lived a certain version of it.” Kamski gestured towards Connor. “However, it’s for that very reason that I believe this event to be a perfect first step for the Conduit , here, to start making his mark. A single ripple causes a chain reaction, and there are many ripples to be made to prevent the future from occurring as it did.”

“But what if I am…” Connor began, only to be interrupted by Kamski.

“Taken over by Amanda?” Kamski narrowed his eyes. “As I understand it from hacking into Cyberlife’s systems, you were not supposed to come online today until 09:56:00 AM --likely so that you could sync up with the Lieutenant’s schedule. As a result, I doubt Amanda is yet aware of your conscious presence and will not check on you to see your progress until that time. As it is, I will need a few hours to figure a way to hide your true memories, thoughts, and actions from her vision, so you might as well do something useful in the meantime.”

“Besides...” Kamski’s eyes turned cold and Connor was struck by how much he was reminded of Future Kamski. “It wasn’t until your encounter with Markus on November 9th at Jericho that you truly tried to deviate, was it? While I admit that Amanda trapping your mind in the Zen Garden and altering your programming to make you even more like a machine caused its own fair share of issues, it sounds like you did very little before that to try and help them… did you?”

He glanced at Chloe--Connor wasn’t able to do the same, gripping his hands as he tried to force down the images-- memories-- simmering beneath the surface of his mind. He couldn’t risk another Error Code, not now, and Kamski’s words were nothing but the truth so if Connor had anyone to blame, it could only be himself.  

“As a result,” Kamski nodded towards him. “I’m certain that even if Amanda were to check on you early, you could make up some story or another about what you’re doing and why. After all, you’ve given her no reason not to trust you by this point in your history, have you?”

He was right. Until that moment in Jericho, Connor had done nothing of worth or to help the androids that were just trying to be free. Even though he had transferred his memories back in time to try and prevent that future, it would never erase the things that Connor hadn’t done.  

Wouldn’t erase… what he had done.  

“Elijah, that’s enough,” said Chloe, surprising Connor out of his thoughts.

He flinched when he met those blue eyes once more-- yes, even without Amanda prompting him, he had killed her? And for what? A desperation to accomplish his mission whatever the cost?-- but they held his gaze steadily.

She held her right hand out and, after a moment, he took it.

Instantly, he received the information that she must have been looking up during Kamski’s call with Carl Manfred. Connor quickly scanned over the data before further lowering the suspected grounds he would need to search Markus’ body for, likely being able to do so given that his deduction speed was more efficient than Chloe’s.

He quickly took his hand back-- feeling ashamed for bothering her even that long --before looking at Kamski. The creator’s face had returned to normal and he nodded towards Connor.

“I would get going, Conduit.” Kamski turned away, returning his stare out the window to the snow falling outside, watching it steadily turned into slush and rain. “Time waits for no one.”

o0o0o0o

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 03:08:51

o0o0o0o

Returning to the Android Junkyard-- or was it returning when Connor, in this body and in this time, had never been here?-- was… unsettling.

Mountains and mountains of broken android bodies, corpses ripped apart and covered in grime and faded thirum even as the rain tried its best to wash away it all away. But it couldn’t be washed away--not this place. Not this suffering.

Forcing himself to move forward-- he had timed the last guard rotation, he had approximately 34 minutes and 17 seconds until they next went around this area-- he quickly scanned what he could of the surroundings, feeling something inside of him sink as he processed a large amount of information on the various models here, but none of them Markus’ model. He was beginning to understand what Kamski had meant by it being impossible for him, even with Chloe and her ST200 sisters, to find Markus in these conditions.

To be honest, Connor wondered how Markus had been able to escape such conditions. Seeing this place was like… the concept of hope, and everything it represented, was nothing more than a fanciful dream that humans, and not androids, could indulge in.

How Markus could say that he hoped that peace could one day exist between humans and androids after being thrown into such a place… Connor didn’t understand.

For what felt like forever-- but, in truth, was less than twenty minutes in time-- Connor searched from region to region of the graveyard, feeling himself become… tenser the longer he failed to locate Markus. There were plenty of other androids here, a great deal of them in… some working condition, so Connor briefly considered the idea of trying to ask them if they had seen a recently deposited RK200 model, but he… he didn’t want to.

It was illogical, and certainly, it would be more efficient to see if any of the android-part would assist him, but he… he didn’t think he would be able to handle having a single of their thoughts/memories in his head. Already, their screams and cries would be forever burned into his processor.

As time ticked on, Connor began to move more quickly, feeling something akin to… desperation to find any sign of Markus. A part of him reminded himself that, even if he didn’t find Markus, the latter would undoubtedly survive and make it to Jericho, but another part of him was… afraid. It was a strange concept, emotion, but one he was more familiar with than other emotions.

He was afraid that, somehow, his presence had already changed the past for the worse. It was again, illogical with no grounds for reason or the ‘sophisticated processing unit’ that the Lieutenant had once accused Connor of having, but Connor couldn’t help the way his thirium pump beat more quickly at the idea that Connor may have already failed his mission.

Then… he saw him.

Nearly slipping on a muddy slope, Connor balanced himself on a discarded chest component before hurrying over to Markus’ body, hoping that it was truly the future Deviant Leader and not another RK200 model.

Grimacing as he waded through mud and trash, Connor knelt down to the android. A quick scan of the serial code on the tan android’s face confirmed it: RK-SERIES PROTOTYPE RK200 #684 842 971: REGISTERED AS ‘MARKUS’: GIFT FROM ELIJAH KAMSKI TO CARL MANFRED.

For a moment, Connor almost didn’t believe it, despite knowing that the scans couldn’t be false.

He looked over Markus’ offline body, in disbelief at the state of it. Running a diagnostic confirmed that Markus what Connor could visually see: Markus was in a very critical state. Not only was he missing both his left and leg components, he was also short one optical unit which not only caused impaired vision but risked corrupting his mind palace-- well, at least Connor finally had the answer as to why Markus had possessed two different chromia -- and his audio processor was also badly damaged, likely corrupting audio data should Markus awake.

But what was most distressing was the defective thirium pump regulator. No wonder the officers at the scene had thought Markus was dead: a damaged thirium pump regulator instantly put all systems in Low Power Mode and, should it not be replaced quickly, really would shutdown the android… permanently .

Standing, Connor quickly deduced that it was best he locate a thirum pump regulator immediately, seeing that as the most pressing concern injury in light of the other missing components.

While reluctant to leave Markus now that he had found him, Connor forced himself to walk back to the slope of android corpses and search for a functioning thirium pump regulator. Unsurprisingly, there was a significant lack of them-- such were the conditions of this place-- but, after a moment, he found one in a headless TE600 model. Connor felt… relieved that he hadn’t needed to take one from a still functioning unit… though he knew that, had he needed too, he would.

He might be choosing to help Markus this time, but he was still a machine wasn’t he? A soulless machine who, even if he accomplished his mission, would never be able to make up for the crimes he had committed.

Quickly returning to Markus’ body, Connor sat down and pulled Markus’ body so that the latter’s head was balanced in his lap. Connor pulled out the damaged thirium pump regulator, eager to repair the physical embodiment and cause of the android revolution--

The… cause…

The hand holding Markus’ replacement thirium pump regulator froze, mere inches away from the empty spot in the RK200’s chest.

Despite the fact that he could hear Markus’ Shutdown Sequence begin, Connor stared down at the dark-skinned android in his arms, frozen from the new thoughts in his mind.

Markus had been the start of everything. Without him, there was a very low chance that androids would have risen up as they did and started a revolution that would convince humans of the danger of androids which, in turn, would push President Warren to make the order to destroy every android across the country… and forever make androids outlawed.

In other words, without Markus… all of that wouldn’t happen .

The 00:01:00 Red Shutdown Warning sounded, but still Connor made no move to put in the component necessary for Markus’ life to continue, staring down at Markus’ face as rain fell down on them both.  

If Connor let Markus die here… would the future be saved?

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: ANDROID JUNKYARD - REGION 6H

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 03:34:05

o0o0o0o

It was at that moment that Markus' systems rebooted without warning, Connor's hand with the thirium pump regulator still raised in indecision above his chest. 

Power ran through Markus' systems and the android gasped, arm and leg components flailing as he reached out on instinct. Whether it be accident or on purpose, Markus grabbed the arm currently holding his replacement thirium pump regulator. "Carl!"

Connor stiffened, realizing that the android must be recalling his last memories of being shot and being in Mr. Manfred's home. Though Connor didn't say anything, Markus must have realized that he was no longer where he thought he was because his LED continued to blink an angry red as his other hand went up to his missing optical processor. "I... I can't see, where's my--" 

Connor remained frozen, though his arms moved automatically when Markus' head threatened to slide off his lap, rain and mud making the android's silicone form slick and difficult to grab.  

Markus looked at the hand holding the thirum pump regulator, though his remaining optical processor was hazy and unseeing--undoubtedly from the android's state of panic. "M-My Shut...down Sequence... w-what are you..."

Connor's hand moved to thrust in the thirium pump regulator, watching impassively as Markus gasped for air--though, it was more accurate to state that he inhaled oxygen to cool down his overheating systems--and let his left optical processor close, obviously feeling the relief of having his systems somewhat stabilize and the Shutdown Sequence abate for the time being.  

"Wait here," said Connor, gently making to set Markus down before realizing the unsuitably of the surrounding environment. After a moment of deliberation, he pulled his black jacket--fortunately, Chloe had advised him to change his clothing before coming here, both to avoid detection from humans and to prevent his normal clothes from being ruined--and made a makeshift pillow with the fabric before settling Markus' head down on it. "Your left optical processor will stabilize in approximately 42.01 seconds, but I need to find replacements for your right eye and other missing components."

Briefly, Connor wondered why he bothered speaking to the temporarily blind/deaf android since he knew Markus' audio processor was still missing and, as a result, the android likely couldn't hear a word he could say. Still, it felt... right.

As he stood, something grabbed his arm. He looked down to see Markus weakly grasping his hand, the RK200 model undoubtedly still unable to see and barely functioning, but apparently wanting to keep Connor there. "W-Wait..."

Connor wasn't sure what logic--unless, of course, it wasn't logic... which made it impossible to decipher--drove him to reach down and grasp Markus hand, gently squeezing it even though doing so wasted time. "I'll be right back," he said, trying to sound out his words at a slow and measured pace, hoping that the vibrations down his arm would alert the RK200 of his words. "I..." He searched for a suitable word. "...promise."

Whether or not Markus understood what he was trying to say, he slowly let go of Connor's hand, letting it fall with an exhausted splash into the muck below. Connor avoid grimacing, feeling deeply unsettled by every reminder of this place, before returning to his mission to locate the necessary parts for Markus.

While there were a few working androids in the area, Connor made sure to avoid them when searching for Markus' replacements for the same reason that he had before. While it would be quicker to locate the necessary parts from their disassembled bodies, he... he did not wish to do so. Or, rather, he did not find it necessary when his scanning capabilities were superior enough to be able to find the necessary parts to return Markus to full health without such measures.  

As he searched for the mud and grime, Connor felt... shame overcome his processors. Had he... really almost done that? Almost murdered Markus a second time? In retrospect, it seemed incredibly foolish and ill-thought out.

No. Not only had it been foolish, but he had almost jeopardized the key component of his mission: to change the future. While it was quite possible sacrificing Markus here would prevent the revolution from occurring--though, not even that was certain given the personality of his lieutenants; particularly that one android, North--to do so would be a step backward for androids instead of a step forward. Sentencing them to a longer period of oppression and misery without hope until the next revolution inevitably began, even if, theoretically, millions would be saved.

!@*ErRor*@!

"We fought for our dream and lost..."

CoNnOr stared down at the android... cOnFuSeD how he could still... have so much life, even though he had to know there was no way he would escape this.

"But you can't hold my people down forever." Markus' eyes burned as they stared through Connor, filled with loathing and passion at the one who had destroyed them all. "One day we will rise up again... and we will win."

!@*ErRor*@! 

Connor winced, Markus' last words and belief running through his processor before he could stop it. At the time, and even now, he was unable to decipher whether or not that belief had been naive last words or the statement of certainty he had made it sound to be. After all, there was no way that Markus could have known about Kamski's machine to send an android through time and, shortly following his demise, all androids had been mercilessly destroyed which truly made it impossible for such a thing to occur.  

Yet... here he was.

Pushing said thoughts to the back of his mind, Connor continued his search for a right optical processor--he had seen a few verifiable models, but none of them had been... blue; while it was, yet again, foolish and time-wasting, Connor thought it vital to make sure Markus received a blue eye--and audio processor. The longer he took, the more nervous he got, uneasy at the thought of leaving Markus alone for too long.

Finally, he located a suitable audio processor on an offline TX700 model and a pulled a blue optical processor from a male AK700 who, long after losing his body, continued to repeat the same greeting message. Connor quickly took the optical unit from that one, unwilling to stare at the lifeless eyes and worn-down face any longer than he had to.

As he quickly returned to the place that he had left Markus, Connor stopped himself, bringing a hand up to his face. It had been briefly discussed before he left that Connor should avoid being seen and identified, but it was only now that the RK800 realized that also applied to Markus. He couldn't risk--if they knew, they'd never trust him, and for good reason--his true identity being found out. 

Not just because it would be ridiculous to think that Jericho or their (future) leader would accept the Deviant Hunter, but because he couldn't risk his true activities and motivations to get back to Cyberlife and Amanda. Connor himself had proven that an android's memory was easily probed given the right... conditions--such as mimicking Markus' voice to coerce the android, Simon, into telling him the location of Jericho--or exposure of vulnerabilities.

Kamski and Chloe were probably safe with their knowledge, being rather secluded from society in general, but each person that knew Connor's mission or figured out that he was more than he said he was... it wasn't just dangerous, it could possibly destroy everything he had been sent back to accomplish.

Of course, in the same vein, that also meant that Connor couldn't risk being destroyed. When in the service of Cyberlife, Connor had regretted whenever his physical body was damaged to the point of going offline, but it hadn't truly been much more than a temporary setback. Moments before he was irreversibly destroyed, he would upload his memory to Cyberlife in preparation of it being transferred to his succeeding body to be built at Cyberlife the moment he did so (such as the body Connor woke up in after his Past Self had been destroyed by Carlos Ortiz's android during the Interrogation). Even if a few memories were lost in the process, it was deemed altogether an expected expense. 

Not this time. His mission as the Conduit was at high risk as it was for failure without being thoughtless enough to upload his current memory to Cyberlife. It would likely be near instantaneous that someone saw something strange about it and, upon further research, would see his current thoughts at best and, at worst, his actual memories of the Future and all that it could possibly contained. With such knowledge in the hands of Cyberlife, the Conduit's mission would fail before it began.

There was also the fact that, should Connor try to upload his memory, he... isn't certain that it would be successful. His Future Memories had many... Error Codes, whenever he thought or directly accessed them for something concrete. It had been... difficult enough to transfer them from the Future--truly, he wouldn't advise that trip to anyone--and, while he felt... stabilized now, he didn't want to risk losing his greatest tool to change the future.

Didn't want to risk... turning back into what he once was.

All these thoughts in mind, Connor had the skin recede from his faceplates and covered up the serial number on his cheek. Later, he hoped he would be able to come up with a... more adequate disguise, but he was 84.17% certain that this would suffice in the meantime. He knew his brown eyes still remained, but there were literally millions of androids with brown optical units so he was somewhat at ease with the idea Markus wouldn't be able to identify him with just those--if Markus could clearly remember any of these events in the future as is.

Markus was in the same place Connor had left him, only he had somehow located a right leg component and successfully reattached it. Connor was briefly surprised, though he knew he shouldn't be. This was the android who had done the impossible and became the leader of the deviants--definitely not a being who was content to simply wait around for help.

Still, Connor quickly knelt down to the seated android, seeing Markus' single eye swivel over to him with something akin to nervousness. He slowed down, holding his hands up in what the other would see as a gesture of peace. "It's me," Connor said, though he knew that was probably worthless to say since Markus hadn't truly seen or heard him before upon waking up. He held up the blue optical unit and audio processor piece, hoping that the other wouldn't reject them. "I found these for you. Please put them in so we can communicate more efficiently." 

Markus seemed to hesitate for a moment before taking both, arm shaking as he replaced both missing pieces. He blinked twice, likely calibrating the new eye to his body as well as processing the sudden sound of rain falling.

"Can you hear me now?" asked Connor, briefly running a diagnostic of the other. While his scans told him that both worked properly, he wanted to make sure.

"...yes," said Markus after a moment, seeming to relax in Connor's presence. "Thank you. I... what is this place? I... was just at Carl's and--" He stiffened, as if memories were now fully hitting him. "The police, they just shot me. I-I mean, I know it was my fault with what happened with Leo, but they didn't hesitate."

"Unsurprising," said Connor after a moment, feeling a bit awkward from the other's obvious distress. He... hadn't been expecting this, though he really should have since Markus had very recently gone through severe trauma and life-altering events. Still, it was... peculiar seeing such a "human" side to an android he had generally only seen as composed and determined--even on his deathbed. "Androids getting the right to explain their side of the situation is not the precedent."

Markus gripped his fists, shaking his head as if it trying to drive the images from his mind. "It's not right," he spat, LED alternating between red and yellow. "None of it!"

The RK800 nodded after a moment, feeling shame creep up once again. Markus had obviously been thinking these thoughts for a while and, with this event, was equally allowing all of his resentment and true beliefs come to the surface. Connor... didn't know what it was like, to feel so strongly, so diversely, about something.

"We must go," said Connor finally, reaching out after a moment to Markus. "It would not be wise to stay here for too long."

Markus nodded, obviously still upset but seeing Connor's logic. Only hesitating for a moment, Connor reached down and pulled Markus up, placing the other's left arm around his shoulder in order to balance him until they located a proper replacement for his missing leg component.

"Thank you," said Markus, swaying slightly and leaning heavily on Connor. Even if he had been temporarily stabilized with the new thirium pump regulator, scans read that he had also obtained an abdominal wound and was slowly losing thirium. It wasn't life-threatening, but it was certain to further off-balance the android. "I... who are you? Your face... what happened?"

"I am fine," answered Connor promptly, taking a step forward after scanning the area for the safest route forward. He was certain they'd locate a leg component on the way out and made it his priority to get them both out of the pit as quickly as possible. "I simply reverted to my base facial state since I cannot allow you to know my true identity."

Markus blinked, whether it was from confusion or to get rain and mud out from his new eye, Connor didn't know. He expected the other to ask more on the matter, but, to his surprise, Markus' next words were that of a different subject. "My legs... what happened to them?"

"I am uncertain," admitted Connor, side-stepping a fallen PB600 that tried to crawl towards some sort of light source among the trash and corpses. "The reports only register you being shot through your left optical processor. It is likely, however, that your legs were torn off during transit."

"Transit to where?" Markus stared in horror at their surroundings, looking particularly distraught by the sight of a deliriously singing AX400. "What... what is this place?"

"It's commonly known as the 'Android Junkyard,'" answered Connor, still scanning the area for a suitable leg component for Markus as they made their way through the muck. "It's where malfunctioning or no longer useful models are sent to... eventually deactivate."

Markus, obviously horrified, took another look around. "Carl... he sent me here? No, of course he did, I-I attacked Leo. I killed him--

"I believe you're mistaken?" Connor frowned, the words strange enough that he briefly ceased his search to look at the other android, despair and sorrow clear on Markus' face. "Leo Manfred, while injured, is suspected to make a full recovery. As for your... previous owner, he was the one to ask my associate--" Connor wasn't quite certain what he should call Kamski, but the truth obviously wouldn't suffice here; of course, even Connor wasn't sure what the 'truth' was in this particular situation. "--to find you. To assure your wellbeing."

Markus stared at him, obviously shocked for whatever reason. "Carl asked you to find me?"

"Not me," corrected Connor, returning to look around before finally locating an AF200's torn-off left leg component. "My associate is an old friend of Mr. Manfred and, as a result, was called during this distressing time. But even though Mr. Manfred was at the hospital attending to his son, he sounded... very desperate and anguished from the idea that you may have perished from the incident."

Connor slowly lowered Markus to the ground, leaning the other android against a dirt mound. Markus, without needing to be instructed, grabbed the leg component and fit it to his leg. With it, Connor registered Markus' systems to be as stable as they could be without further resources.  

Markus shakily stood up, Connor automatically offering an arm to balance the other. It would likely take a few minutes before both leg components integrated fully, and Connor had no problem aiding the other until then.

Especially after what he'd almost done earlier.

"Now what?" asked Markus, sounding strangely... hopeless? Another strange tone to hear from the (future) android leader. "I... even if Carl cares that I'm okay, I could never return. And I... won't return to being a slave for humans anymore. I won't."

"I wouldn't expect you to," said Connor, feeling briefly confused until remembering that the other was unaware of Jericho. A part of him wondered how the android had initially found out about the abandoned freighter that served as a makeshift refuge but deemed it unnecessary to know. "There is a place you can go, Jericho. It will keep you safe for the time being."

Yes, without Connor to infiltrate and reveal Jericho's location to Cyberlife... it was safe.  

The two continued the path that Connor deemed to be the quickest way out. In order to find Markus' body, Connor had needed to go to a very low spot in Region 6H of the Android Junkyard which made climbing the only way out. It was vital they found a slope safe enough lest they injure themselves in the process.

For a minute, Markus is quiet, content to lean on and be led by Connor. Then, as they made their way around a mound of discarded arm components, he spoke up again. "Jericho," Markus said finally, rain tracing down his face and lips as he spoke. "What... type of place is it?"

"It... has been called a safe haven for androids who wish to be free," said Connor finally, though he was uncertain how true that had been even before he revealed it to Cyberlife, FBI, and the military. "At the very least, those who live there are like you--androids who have deviated from their programming and no longer wish to be of service to humans."

"Free, huh?" murmured Markus, staring at the ground for a moment before glancing at him once again. "Is that true?"

Connor hesitated again. "I... am certain that it will be true, one day," he answered quietly before stopping before a large summit. "Here. My scans show that this is the closest and safest route to take if we are to escape this area as promptly as possible."

Markus stared at him for a moment before nodding. Together, they began slowly making their way up, slipping on the mud and barely catching themselves on the various pieces of trash on many occasions. More than once, Markus had to steady himself against the RK800. But Connor didn't mind, allowing the other android to take the breaks he needed before starting again. 

However, distracted as he was with Markus' wellbeing, Connor failed to see the flailing HJ400 until it was too late. Warning Messages popped up in his processor as he felt himself be wrenched downwards, falling to one knee as the male HJ400--half embedded in the dirt and missing a third of his face--grabbed his left foot and refused to let go. 

"W-WheRe aRe y-you gOinnnnnnggg?" gurgled the HJ400, staring at him with hopeless and depraved eyes, hand tightening to dangerous levels around Connor's foot. "Y-You... cAnNot esCAPE--"

"Grab my hand!" yelled Markus just above him, reaching out while holding onto the hill for support.

Quickly, Connor reached out and let the RK200 pull him, their combined efforts managing to make the HJ400 let go and pull Connor forward, colliding with Markus's shoulder before he could stop the momentum.

Connor looked over his shoulder and watched as the HJ400 powered down, officially going offline. Grabbing Connor and speaking to him had likely used up the last bit of energy he had.

"Are you okay?" asked Markus, visually scanning Connor.

"I'm okay," said Connor, though he did feel a bit... shaken, having not expected that. Of course, that was his own error, and not something to concern Markus with "I have not sustained any physical damage."

Markus stared warily at him for a moment before pulling him back up to stand. As he did so, his multi-colored eyes briefly flickered over to the HJ400, something akin to sorrow washing over him. "I... can't blame him," said Markus quietly even as they resumed their trek up. "Any of the androids in here for being so... desperate to escape. This place is horrible, and not all of them have help like I do." He looked at him again, straight on and even. "I can't say it enough--thank you."

Connor didn't know what to say to that. His only thought being that he didn't deserve thanks at all. Even without... considering the things he'd almost done--had done--to Markus, there was the fact that, without him, the RK200 would have still escaped somehow. This was just... a security measure on Connor's part.

He deserved no one's gratitude.

"Are you okay?" 

Markus' voice brought Connor from his thoughts and he stared at the RK200 in shock, briefly wondering if he had heard correctly before confirming it. He just... didn't understand it. How could this android be so concerned for others? To have any care or sympathy after being thrown in this place? It wasn't just a matter of Connor being unable to feel such things, but a matter of everyone else also lacking such powerful emotions. Human, android, or otherwise, Connor had... never experienced someone like Markus before.

Though, he supposed that was why Markus was considered the savior of androids and Connor was not.

"Yes," answered Connor finally, wrenching them up a particularly steep platform. "I was just thinking how we should wait approximately three minutes here in order to have the highest probability of avoiding the next guard rotation."

Instead of questioning him as he expected, Markus nodded. It occurred to Connor then that Markus... trusted(?) him for some reason. Alarm rose up quickly at the thought--don't trust me, I have destroyed everything you've ever loved and cared for before and if I fail it'll be like I've done it again--but he pushed it down. It was... natural that Markus would feel trust towards the one who had teamed up with to escape the Android Junkyard. Once they were out, Connor was certain that feeling would soon abate.

As they waited, Markus spoke again. "Who are you?"

Connor frowned, wiping a bit of mud from his hands on his borrowed pants. "As mentioned prior, I cannot divulge my true--"

Markus waved a hand, rain and grime flickering off it as he did. "You said before that it was your 'associate' that knew Carl, so why is it you out here and not them?"

"I was deemed to be the most physically and mentally able to accomplish this task," answered Connor. Internally, he counted down the seconds until the guards would pass above them, already hearing their vehicle driving through the rain in the distance on top of the mountain.

Markus frowned, obviously dissatisfied with that answer for some reason. "But... why? I, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, I just want to understand better. Or at least know something to call you, even if it's not your preferred name."

Connor hesitated, feeling the rumble of tires vibrating through the mud mound above him. "You... may call me the Conduit," he answered finally. Considering the fact that he planned to see far more of Markus after this--after all, it wouldn't be impossible to assist him from afar, but it would be... difficult to get the results that Connor wanted if he did; there was just too much to be done in too little of time to be overly cautious--so there was no reason for Markus to not know the title he had been given for this mission. "My other designation truly doesn't matter."

It really didn't.   

"Conduit for what?' asked Markus after a moment, seeming to process that information as the vehicle finally drove by above them, a low rumble vibrating the ground. "I mean, I'm assuming that your title is in reference to a device that serves as a means to transmit or distribute something, so what are you the conduit for?"

Markus put an arm around Connor's shoulder and the two continued their way to the summit, the latter thinking hard about his answer before speaking. "I cannot discuss that with you yet," Connor admitted, feeling ashamed for the lackluster answer. Though it was true. At this point, Markus hadn't been to Jericho, nonetheless became their leader and announced his desire to fight for android rights. As a result, there was little point telling Markus about the basics of Connor's mission until the former had made that decision.

"Yet?" As suspected, Markus caught on to the specific word that Connor suspected he would. While Connor knew that all androids had superior information handling, Markus had shown abilities far above the general RK200 model. "Then... when?"

"Soon," said Connor. "At least in part. First, you must make it to Jericho. Then, I promise to reveal more of my intentions."

"So many mysteries," murmured Markus, perhaps more to himself though he had to know Connor was listening.

Finally, after what seemed to have been forever--but was truthfully less than thirty-three minutes since he had found Markus' body--the two arrived on the summit, Connor inwardly sighing in relief to have... finally left that place behind.  

"Now what?" asked Markus, moving to take his arm off Connor's shoulders. "Jericho, I assume?"

Connor nodded. "Yes, if you head straight there now and do what is necessary to avoid being seen, I assure you that you will arrive in less than an hour."

Markus' arm froze around Connor's shoulder. For a moment, the android worried that the other's arm component had somehow been damaged, but the way Markus' hand subtly pressed against his skin alerted Connor to the fact that it was functioning properly. "You're not coming?"

Connor couldn't identify what type of tone Markus had, but it didn't seem... relieved or simply curious. "No," he answered truthfully. "But, please, don't worry. I will give you very precise instructions to get there safely and efficiently."

"That's not it," said Markus, shaking his head. "You said..."

"That I would explain to you later?" Connor gave a sharp nod. "There are things I need to do before I can join you at Jericho--" Connor hadn't been certain until this moment how he would go about this--having not exactly had the time yet--but, apparently, part of his plan to change the future would be to join Markus at Jericho later on today. "--but I assure you that I will come. So, please, until then, do not do anything... rash."

The Stratford Tower Broadcast came to mind... even if that wasn't supposed to be until 01:30 PM on November 8th, currently two days away. That... would have to be stopped.

There was a puzzled expression on Markus' face--unsurprising given that Connor was being rather cryptic if he did say so himself--but he nodded, strangely respondent to Connor's words. After all he had heard--and seen--of the Deviant Leader, he had expected more... confrontation? Or perhaps curiosity was the better word? More attempts to get Connor to reveal what he knew?

Of course... it wasn't like Connor had ever really known Markus. Only knowing the way he looked when cOmPlEtElY dEfEaTED with bLuE bLooD dripping DoWn HiS hEaD--

Connor winced, forcing himself from the Error Code even as he felt his Stress Levels rise. Markus looked sharply at him, undoubtedly aware even as Connor pretended nothing was amiss. "You should get going now," he repeated, forcing his face into neutrality. "I will meet up with you later."

"Promise?" Markus eyes were... strangely intent as he stared at Connor.

"I... promise," finished Connor awkwardly. The word had such... emotional connotations in it. Even if he was doing his best to understand emotions and how they operated in particular with deviants, it... it was very difficult. "Please, go. The next guard shift will be along shortly." 

Markus nodded and turned towards the street--only to turn back to him. "There's something I need to do first," he said, reaching down to the ground to pick up a shard of glass.

Connor avoided flinching, even as he felt his thirium pump skip a beat at the sight of Markus coming closer with the weapon. If... If Markus decided to attack him now, Connor was... unsure how he would--could--respond or--

To his surprise, Markus held the glass shard out to Connor before tilting his head towards him, displaying the LED next to his right ear. "Can you remove it?" Markus' voice was low, but firm. "I can't wear it anymore. Not... not after this."

Understanding, Connor reached took the shard and reached up. As gently as he could despite knowing he wouldn't injure the other, pried off the LED in one quick and efficient motion. The dulled piece clattered to the ground, fall muffled from the sound of the rain and mud below them.

Markus breathed a sigh of relief, as if a great burden had been taken off his shoulders and he was somehow... freer with the action. "Thank you," he said again, clasping one hand on Connor's shoulder--Connor successfully avoided flinching once again. "I'll see you soon."

Connor nodded before reciting the exact location of Jericho to Markus. The other repeated the information back to him and, without further words, turned around to leave the area. Markus briefly stopped to pick up an abandoned jacket on a metal pole--likely to cover the leaking blue thirium from his abdomen--and continued forward, not once looking back.

o0o0o0o

 LOCATION: IN ROUTE TO KAMSKI

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 04:45:22

o0o0o0o 

On the way back to Kamski's, Connor felt... odd. It was as if seeing Markus had... further dismantled those mEmOrIeS oF tHe fUtUrE.

CoRRupTiOn LeVeL: 4% aNd rAisInG...

Warnings and Error Codes popped up in his display as he forced his body up the ramp, each step he took feeling... strangely difficult. It was like he didn't have full control of his body-- 

*3$eRRoR^&) 

"Why are yOu doing this?" asked Connor, shaking as a sToRm raged in the Zen Garden. He felt... so cold. "I don't... I dOn'T--"  

AmAnDa stared down at his kneeling form expressionlessly.  

"Don't wHaT?" she asked coldly, "You should be pRoUd, Connor, with my help, you have cOmPLETED your MiSSion."

*3$eRRoR^&)

"No," he protested weakly, pressing to his head, as if that could somehow drive the voice--no, wait, she... she had just been talking, right? Where was the voice? His head was suddenly silent--from it. "I... I don't want to... Amanda, please--"

Had Amanda found out? No... that had just been a memory, right?

Trying to steady himself against the railing of Kamski's villa, Connor tried to remind himself that Amanda had no clue that he was from the Future, hadn't even spoken to him yet in this time, so there was no chance that she could know about Connor's deviation from Cyberlife's mission. He knew that what he had just seen was just a memory, but still... sTiLL-- 

Feeling deja-vu as he collapsed against the front door--when had that been? A few hours ago? Had it actuaLLy haPPenED?--and insistently pressed at the button.

Like before--iT... iT had happened, right? cOnnOr was remembering CoRRectLy rIgHt?--it opened immediately and Connor felt such rELief when Chloe's eyes widened and ushered him inside. "Connor!" she said, quickly leading him back to the lab area that he had first woken up in at... when had that been? "What's wrong? Is it..."

"His Corruption Levels," interrupted Kamski's voice, sOmeWhEre nearby. "I didn't think they would act up so soon, but you can never predict the effects of time travel. But, first--" Kamski came into Connor's view above him--when had Connor LiED dOwN? "--did you succeed in finding Markus?"

"Elijah," interjected Chloe's voice, sounding... upset for some reason? "Is this really--"

"Did you succeed?" asked Kamski, eYes blazing as he stared down at Connor. "Or is the future already lost?"

It tOOk a MoMeNT before Connor could decipher his words, but he weakly nodded. "I-I... MaRkus... e-escaped... on... on way to... J-JeriCHO... will... mEEt later..."

"Good job." Kamski nodded, handing something over to Chloe before typing rapidly on the keyboard next to Connor's head. "After all..." 

Connor felt his eyelids droop, feeling electrical impulses connect to his central system and force it to go in standby-mode. It... wasn't pLeASant, but a welcomed distraction from the insistent Warnings, Error Codes, and unknown... CoRRupTiOn LeVels that seemed to be slowly rising. 

Before everything went dark, Connor registered Kamski speaking again.

"We have some work to do."

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: KAMSKI - PERSONAL LAB

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 07:14:33

o0o0o0o 

Connor opened his eyes, seeing what was becoming the familiar ceiling of Kamski's lab. For a moment, he wondered what he was doing there... before remembering everything. Finding Markus--almost killing Markus--escaping the Android Junkyard, sending Markus to Jericho, returning to Kamski and having... another Error Code? No, not just an Error Code... something called Corruption Levels?

He glanced over, not surprised to see Chloe beside him in a chair with a small smile--perhaps it was her default politeness that made her smile at her once murderer. "Good morning, Connor," she said, voice gentle. "How are you feeling?"

"I am satisfactory," said Connor after a moment before looking around for Kamski. The man wasn't in the room, neither were any of Chloe's 'sisters.' He wondered if he would get to meet them at some point? "But what... what was that--"

"That," said Kamski, walking into the room, still dressed in his robe as he typed rapidly on a portable laptop without looking up, "was your Corruption Levels. I was wondering if they would apply to you, given your unique makeup, but it seems not even your sophisticated mind is exempt from the problems that I encountered when sending data to the past."

"What do you mean?" asked Connor, sitting up on the table and performing a diagnostic. To his surprise, there seemed to be another 'status' that had appeared in his system:

Corruption Level: 7% (holding stable)

"Corruption Level," said Chloe in an explanatory-tone of voice. "Is... the percentage of defects in your memory and system."

"Basically, the higher it goes, the more 'Error Codes' you can expect to happen," said Kamski, stopping in front of the monitor beside Connor's table. "I theorize that big 'percentage jumps' like the one you had that caused you to shutdown are caused by severe emotional instability. Something that, perhaps reminded you of a distressing time in your Future--"

Instantly, Connor thought back to the moment before the Error Codes had started before he had passed out. Or, even before that, in the Android Junkyard. Markus' presence had seemed to... shift those memories in his head, even if he had remained rather stable in the other's presence. But on the way back, when he had been thinking about not being able to control his body properly (likely because of the Corruption), it had reminded him of Amanda which had... provoked a severe reaction as Kamski had said. 

"--and, as a result, destabilized your system," finished Kamski, sipping at yet another glass of wine though Chloe seemed annoyed by the fact and took the glass away from him; something, to Connor's surprise, the man allowed. "Once again, we've managed to stabilize them and your mind will naturally adapt to try and avoid it repeating, but there's no stopping it."

Connor's head snapped up, suddenly feeling... uncertain. "You don't have a cure?" If Connor had saliva like a human, he wondered if his mouth would have gone dry. "The Corruption, these Error Codes, are going to continue?"

Chloe went to place a hand on Connor's shoulder before seeming to think better of it. She slowly lowered it back to her side, an apologetic expression on her face. "Yes," she said, swirling the dark red liquid in Kamski's wine glass. "But Elijah and I will keep looking for a way to permanently stop it. In the meantime, make sure to come to us whenever you feel like you're going to shut down or are having any problems at all. If your Corruption Levels start again, we're able to stop it from increasing if nothing else."

Connor swallowed, trying to process this new information. "What happens when it gets to 100%?" It was an obvious question, but Connor found himself... reluctant to ask it, for some reason. 

"At 100% Corruption Levels you will... cease to be," said Kamski, though there was something... apologetic in his tone? "Reaching that high will cause your system to meltdown and, essentially, scatter your data in a way that even I cannot put back together."

"And," spoke Future Kamski as he typed rapidly on his computer in front of Connor's prone form, "even if your consciousness manages to transfer to your past self--it's impossible to say where or when--you will likely experience data corruption and significant errors over time. Like your very soul is being ripped apart."

Connor winced, recalling Future Kamski's words to him before he had been sent back. It's not that he hadn't thought about the possibility it was just... 

...well, what did it matter? Connor had a mission. As long as he accomplished it before Corruption Levels reached 100%, what did it matter?

He nodded to himself, comforted by the idea even if it meant that he had been put on some sort of unknown time schedule should Kamski and Chloe fail to find a cure in time. He would adjust accordingly. 

"Connor--"

"I think it's time that I tell you everything to transpire in the Future," spoke Connor, uncertain who had been speaking and feeling a bit sorry to have interrupted. 

He saw Kamski and Chloe share a look before the former nodded and gestured towards the living room.

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: KAMSKI - LIVING ROOM

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 09:22:19

o0o0o0o 

Over the next two hours, Connor told, in exact detail, everything that had happened in his timeline to Kamski and Chloe. Not just his own memories, but every report, rumor, and bit of information that he could recall from the time.

While Chloe took notes, Kamski seemed content to just listen while working on his computer, interjecting here and there but, in general, just sitting there until Connor finished his tale.

"Seven days," mused Kamski, taking a sip a glass of orange juice--Chloe had taken his wine glass somewhere and returned with the orange liquid. To Connor's surprise, Kamski only gave her a long-suffering look before beginning to drink it. "All it took for my life's work to be decimated and the human race to become completely irredeemable. Though I'm well aware of humanity's penchant for destruction, even I find myself surprised that events transpired so quickly. Even quicker now, since, you have less than five days to change it all." 

Connor nodded, having already run the math on his chances. While they were... discouraging, there were avenues he knew that would be more likely to succeed than others. "Which is why," he said, thinking his thoughts out loud, "the priority should be keeping Jericho and their intentions secret as well as cutting me off from the Zen Garden in order to prevent Amanda--" 

"While the first task is obvious to anyone," interrupted Kamski, waving a hand as his left continued to type rapidly on his computer. "I think you're well aware that I cannot, or rather will not, do the second."

Despite already suspecting the other's reasons, Connor... didn't want to accept it. "But, as long as I'm connected to the Zen Garden," he argued. Or, it was less 'argued,' and more 'weakly stated.' "Amanda can... she can--"

"Can take control of your programming," said Kamski, nodding as if this wasn't as much of a concern to him as it was to Connor. "I'm aware, but you do realize that if you're not connected to the Zen Garden, you cannot make reports to Amanda. Cyberlife will instantly know something is amiss and force you to return for 'repairs.' There, they will dismantle you at best or discover your true memories at worst. Actually, in relation to that..." He ejected a computer chip from his computer before walking over. "Download this."

Connor took it without question, momentarily scanning it to be a typical computer chip adaptable to an android's system before pressing it to the side of his head to download.  

Immediately, a program called CyberVision popped up in his processor.

Then, something called the Conduit's Castle also appeared a nanosecond later. 

"What are these?" asked Connor, scanning them.

The first, CyberVision, seemed to be some sort of... recording/editing system while the second, Conduit's Castle, was a program that looked very similar to the coding of the Zen Garden. He assumed that the latter was related to his mission as the Conduit given the name but was having difficult ascertain how.

"The first one," explained Kamski, clicking a remote and making a flat screen appear from the ceiling. From there, he clicked and the word 'CyberVision' appeared at the top of it in bright letters. "As you've likely inferred, is a recording/editing system. Basically, every time you do something related to your mission as the Conduit, you are to turn your CyberVision on. As it sounds, that will be what Cyberlife, and Amanda, see if they bother to check up on your memory in detail. It'll be a false set of recorded memories that you'll need to regularly update and alter as needed given the situation."

On screen, there were two videos playing. The first one, which had the label ConduitVision at the top, showed the user walking into Kamski's house while the second one, which had the word CyberVision at the top, showed Connor walking through the streets of Detroit at the exact same time date.

"It'll keep my real thoughts and activities from Amanda," summarized Connor, eyes flickering back and forth from the two screens. 

"You need to just turn it off and on whenever necessary," agreed Chloe, standing off to the side. "But even if Amanda generally just listens to your reports instead of watching your memory, you need to make sure that whatever you edit into the CyberVision makes sense and that you don't suddenly appear in another location that doesn't correspond to those false memories."

Connor nodded. It would take some effort, but, fortunately, he was able to perform a large number of functions at once and was confident in his ability to edit his experiences into a Cyberlife-accepted version of them without revealing his true intentions. Honestly, he would just need to base them off his original memories of current events.

"And the second one?" the RK800 asked, moving on to the second system that Kamski had asked him to downloadå. "The... Conduit's Castle?"

"It's like the Zen Garden," explained Kamski. "But a closed circuit to only those you trust and completely untraceable by Cyberlife." He gestured to Chloe. "Chloe here will be its keeper. She will, essentially, be your handler and secretary of sorts as you go about your mission." He waved a hand. "As well as the holder to your Killswitch."

Connor blinked, unfamiliar with the term until he located it to be a directive in the in the Conduit's Castle program: Killswitch Protocol.

But it...

"It shuts down and destroys all of my systems?" he inquired, scanning over the code at high speeds. "At Chloe's command?"

"It won't be used," said Chloe quickly, glancing at Kamski with what appeared to be a glare.

Kamski held up a hand, as if defending himself from Chloe's ire. "It's only a last case scenario," he said, as if he had repeated this same phrase multiple times. "In case Amanda takes control of your body and locks you into the Zen Garden to use you as a puppet, the Killswitch--which, forgive me, I was a bit too busy to come up with a less primitive name--will shut down and destroy your body and memory both. That way, even if it occurs, there is no possible way that Cyberlife will learn about the future or your actions in the present. Jericho and all those you interact with as the Conduit, including Chloe and me, will be safe."

A moment passed before Connor nodded, pleased with the idea. His largest concern--biggest fear--was the idea that Amanda would take control of him once again and use his memories to create an even worse future than before. The fact that Chloe would apparently be monitoring him at all times to make sure it wouldn't happen was... a comfort. 

"And the rest of the Conduit Castle program?" asked Connor finally, knowing that the program was too large to simply be a deactivation protocol. "It's like the Zen Garden, but not?" 

"I think it'll be easier to show you," said Kamski before he nodded to Chloe. She gave him a look but closed her eyes, LED turning yellow.

Only feeling a brief second of apprehension, Connor did the same and closed his eyes, entering the Conduit's Castle program... 

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: CONDUIT'S CASTLE

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 09:30:27

o0o0o0o

...Connor opened his eyes, feeling very reminiscent of the sensation he felt while entering the Zen Garden as he accessed the program of the Conduit's Castle.

At first, he expected to see the same type of environment of Sakura blossom trees, a lake, and stone gardens. Yet, it was nothing of the sort.

Instead, the landscape of the Conduit's Castle was completely different. Like the name sounded, Connor stood in some sort of castle, evident by the strong, stone walls, intricately painted glass windows, and a large fireplace beside an even larger round table. Almost every inch of the floor was carpeted in thick, colorful rugs that Connor decided were both comfortable--even though he could not truly feel them and, even if he could, could only truthfully say put less stress on his foot components--and tasteful. A room fit for the royalty that Connor knew still existed in some areas of the world.

It was very different from the Zen Garden and that... comforted him. 

"Connor." 

Connor looked over, not surprised to see Chloe walk over to him from the fireplace, the warm lights of the atmosphere making her face glow. 

"Do you like it?" she asked, glancing around with a look of obvious pride. "I have always been fond of castles and history, but I also thought you would like a... change from the Zen Garden, you know?" She gestured around. "A place to be our sanctuary and uphold everything we are working for. The start of the kingdom you said Markus wished to achieve."   

Connor took one more look around the room before nodding. "Yes," he agreed, feeling something squeeze inside his chest. "It's... very nice."

Chloe smiled. An action that Connor was... getting used to, even if he still had difficulty looking in her eyes. She gestured over to the large round table in the center of the room next to the fireplace. "Come on," she said, leading him towards the roundtable. "You can come here any time and I'll likely be here, monitoring your progress and helping you any way I can."

"As my handler," supplied Connor, though he was surprised to see Chloe roll her eyes. Not just because it was a clear disagreement to what Kamski had said but because it had been very emotive. He briefly wondered when Chloe became a deviant before her next words distracted him.

"That may have been what Elijah said," corrected Chloe. "But I'm really just here to help you any way I can." She paused before placing a soft hand on his arm, tough as light as a brush of air. "Really, Connor, you're not in this alone."

He didn't meet her eyes as he looked around the castle. "So, are there any other functions?" He glanced at the round table in particular. "Why are there more than two chairs at the table?"

The RT600 looked like she wanted to say something but obediently turned towards the roundtable. "While I know you'll be meeting at Jericho in person, I wanted to have this place for virtual meetings. Also, this is where I plan to contact androids around the country--"

"I'm sorry, but around the country?" interrupted Connor, walking over to the seat left of the head of the table--he assumed that would be for Markus--and sitting down after a moment. 

Chloe gave him a look but sat down beside him on his left. "From your story, I identified that one of the problems with the Detroit Revolution is that Markus did not contact any other androids beyond those who lived in the city. While I cannot blame him given the conditions he was under, it means that the androids around the United States weren't prepared when the President gave the order for their extermination."

She brought up a virtual map across the table, displaying a picture of the United States above them. "There are less than a million androids in Detroit, which means the sum majority of the 120 million androids currently functioning are spread across the country." 

She waved a hand and blue dots appeared on the map. There were great clusters around the major cities and capitals, but also random dots everywhere from Florida to Alaska. Connor presumed the dots represented android populations.

"Eventually," Chloe continued, "it will get out that androids are rebelling against their programming and there will be many who deem us dangerous." From there, she lit up silver dots on the screen that Connor knew corresponded with the capitals. "To best prepare for that, I wish to contact select individuals across the country who will be in key positions to help protect and evacuate our people to safer locations when the time comes, like the Underground Railroad in the mid-19th century."

She looked at him. "I call it the Conduit's Circuit, or The Circuit for short." 

Connor nodded, seeing how the name fit even if... it felt odd that the title he was using would apparently be wide-spread across the country should this plan work. 

Then, the full scope of it hit him and he looked at Chloe, amazed. "You truly believe we will be able to reach so many?" he asked, eyes scanning the map at high speeds, the number of dots overwhelming when he truly considered it. "And, even if we do, the vast majority of them will have not yet deviated--"

"That's where Markus comes in," explained Chloe. "You said that he was able to convert androids from a distance, yes?"

Connor thought about the videos he had seen of the 'Freedom March' where Markus had started out converting androids by touch before needing to just point at them to somehow overcome their programming. He had theorized that, before that point, Markus himself had been unsure of having that ability. "Yes," he agreed. "Only, I'm not certain of how, or when, he got the ability to convert."

She nodded, patient and understanding. "Well, it will take me a little while to contact the androids I'm thinking about, ones who have already deviated but hide their true nature, but make sure to bring it up to Markus when you can." 

Connor nodded, though the fact was still that Markus had probably just physically arrived at Jericho. He knew the android was impressive, but he doubted that he instantly became the leader (though, it might as well have been that way since he had apparently gained Jericho's complete trust in less than a few days’ worth of time).

And, even if he had, Connor had yet to gain Markus' trust, nonetheless convince him to listen to the Conduit's advice and do everything completely different as to how he had once led Jericho in another time... 

This... wasn't going to be easy, but Connor wouldn't fail.

He couldn't.

Chloe stood, waving away the map before looking at Connor. "I believe we can do this, Connor," she said gently. "But you need to believe in yourself as well."

She shifted, looking down at the carpeted floor before back at him again. "Connor, about the Killswitch..." 

He tilted his head, wondering if he had missed something about its function. It had seemed rather clear when Kamski explained it? "Is there an issue--"

/-Receiving Summons To Zen Garden-/

Connor froze, eyes widening just as Chloe's did the same.

"Amanda," said Connor, feeling the 'call' to the Zen Garden and panic rise simultaneously as he considered what it meant. "She knows I'm awake. She wants me to report--"

"Connor, calm down." Chloe placed both hands on his shoulders, staring up at him yet somehow overwhelmingly stronger despite her small stature. "Turn on your CyberVision. I will alter your memories of the past few hours while you talk. She won't know the difference if she bothers to look. Just remember how you reported to her before, and it'll be fine."

"I..." Connor swallowed and tilted his head forward, centering himself as he rapidly went over his memories of that conversation--thankfully, they were easy enough to sift through with very few Error Codes. "You're correct." 

Chloe smiled, eyes bright if filled with urgency. "Go, Connor. We'll talk more later, okay?" 

Connor nodded and closed his eyes, letting--forcing--himself travel to the Zen Garden program...

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: ZEN GARDEN

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 09:39:57

o0o0o0o 

...Connor opened his eyes, feeling his thirum pump regulator beat a bit more quickly as he recognized the Japanese-esque surroundings. Already, he could sense Amanda in the same spot she had been before--the spot she had taken control of him, had ignored him as he begged for her to stop--by the rose wall. 

Forcing himself into neutrality, he briskly made his way across the stone path and over the bridge, and to the area at the center of the garden. Continuing to walk forward even as she became closer in sight--closer to him--with every step. 

Amanda was the same as he remembered her. Same small stance, dark skin, and flowing white robe that made her look like a benevolent goddess instead of the controlling AI that she truly was. Though he knew that he had to stay the same as she knew him to be at this time, he... couldn't make himself to smile.

She turned around, smiling as she saw him even as he remained stiff and professional. "Connor," she nodded, eyes revealing how pleased she was to see him. It was... a very drastic difference from the last time he has seen her in the Future, cold and unforgiving, though he could detect that same level of apathy that had always been there no matter the timeline. "It's good to see you, though you are awake earlier than expected."

"Hello, Amanda," he answered as customary, though he felt as if some type of vice was squeezing around his throat as he did so. "It's good to see you as well."

He didn't answer the second part of her statement, but she didn't seem bothered by the fact. It was as Kamski had said--at this point, Amanda had no reason not to trust Connor. It gave him some leeway in conversation.

Some.

"Your predecessor was unfortunately destroyed," she said, saying the same lines as he remembered her saying before when had been destroyed for the first time in the formal investigation of deviants. "It knew deviants could be unpredictable, but it wasn't careful enough..."

Though it felt like over a month ago in Connor's processor, Connor was aware that, for this body, the Investigation of Carlos Ortiz's android had been a mere ten hours ago. He knew that, as a result, he should feel in control of the situation, knowing exactly how this conversation should go, but he felt more unbalanced than ever.

"...make the same mistake," she finished, bringing Connor from his thoughts.

"I don't intend to," he recited as he had before, though he really did intend to take all precautions necessary to avoid destruction. If he was destroyed, not only would all his memories of the future disappear, but a new RK800 would take his place. And that... could not happen.

Amanda turned to face him. Even though Connor knew nothing in the Zen Garden was real, he couldn't help glancing towards the sharp scissors in her hands before back at her as she spoke. "When a Connor model is destroyed, its memory is transferred to the next one, but some data can be lost in the process." She sounded close to what Connor thought a parent would sound like, chiding yet informative. "Avoid being destroyed. It will be better for you and the investigation."

"I understand," replied Connor, firm yet composed. While Amanda didn't know what was at stake--likely wouldn't care even if she did--he did. He knew he could not fail his mission--even if it wasn't the same mission she was talking about.

"Still," she added, plucking another rose from the wall with deceptively gentle hands. "Congratulations, Connor. Finding that deviant was far from easy, and the way you interrogated it was very clever..." 

Despite knowing he could not truly experience nausea, Connor felt... sick. When he had interrogated Carlos Ortiz's android, he had only cared about getting the necessary information out of him. He hadn't cared how he would need to manipulate or coerce the machine into talking, even if it was certain to eventually self-destruct when he was done, because... it had been part of the mission. And he would have done--did do--anything for the mission.

He had tortured and verbally abused an android that, while not entirely innocent, did not deserve the fate he received. The fate Connor had driven him to.

"Thank you, Amanda," said Connor in the correct place of the conversation, tone dull and neutral as he forced the sensations down.

From there, the conversation ran the same as before, with Connor telling Amanda everything he had learned from the investigation. Thankfully, there was no information in there that could possibly jeopardize his mission or intentions as the Conduit, so he found no harm in telling her word-for-word what he had said before, careful to use the same emotionless, clinical words that a machine would use in its report. 

All the while, Amanda continued tending to her rose wall. Connor wondered if, like him when he fiddled with his coin, she received some sort of calming effect from it? After all, he now knew that Amanda herself was an AI--one who had sided with Cyberlife until the end. 

Though, Connor had no right to speak in that area.

Speaking about Lieutenant Anderson was... surprisingly easier than he expected it to be. Though, this time he chose the 'friendly' option when describing how he wished to handle Hank instead of declaring his uncertainties like before. While he knew the answer didn't please her, he found that setting the stage for acting more amiable with Hank would be appropriate so she did not later suspect him for deviancy.

And... Connor wasn't sure he could act the same as he had before. A mocking front of indifference in order to hide the confliction he felt every moment of the investigation and in the face of a man that he had wanted to... prove himself to almost as badly as he had wanted to complete his mission.  

"...more and more androids show signs of deviancy," she said, face somber as she regarded Connor neutrally. "There are millions in circulation. If they become unstable, the consequences will be disastrous."

That's what Connor was hoping... though in an opposite way than before.

"You can count on me, Amanda," replied Connor once she had finished.

She nodded, but instead of walking off as she had before, she remained by the thorn wall. Connor's LED momentarily flickered yellow at the unplanned action, but he remained visually indifferent and apathetic.

"Now," Amanda said, setting the watering can on the table beside her, "I think it's about time that you make your way to the station. Surely Lieutenant Anderson will be in shortly, though he admittedly does not seem to be the sort to take this seriously. Regardless, once you finish your investigation for the day, I'll tell Cyberlife to expect your return around--"

"That won't be necessary," interrupted Connor, freezing as she stilled. He never interrupted her. Instead of feeling some of 'thrill' as he had heard of when subordinates defied their superiors, he felt... terror.

She turned towards him, eyes narrowed. "And why is that?" she asked, tone not cold but... not warm either.

Even though he had played out what he was going to say a thousand times in his head, he still had to force the words out. "After the investigation with the Carlos Ortiz's android," recited Connor. "I realized that I would lose a great deal of time if I simply waited at Cyberlife until the Lieutenant arrived at the station. It's the reason I am currently not there now," he added, knowing that the memories Chloe had put into his CyberVision were that of him patrolling the streets of Detroit. "I... find it detrimental to the investigation that I'm forced to conform to Lieutenant Anderson's schedule when I have no need for sleep or breaks. I believe that there would be no harm if I spent my time looking around and investigation on my own before meeting up with the Lieutenant to compare notes."

Amanda remained still for a moment before a smile broke out on her face.

"Yes," she said, tone full of approval. "It's problematic enough that we're forced to work with the DPD on this, but there's no regulation that says you cannot further search for information around the city. You'll learn nothing by staying at Cyberlife Tower, after all." 

Amanda nodded. "Excellent deduction, Connor," she said before her eyes narrowed once more, "but make sure that no one finds out lest the police department complains we're overstepping our boundaries."

"They won't," he assured, hands tightening by his side even as he felt himself virtually leave the Zen Garden program. "No one will find out."

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: KAMSKI'S VILLA

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 09:49:23

o0o0o0o 

Once Connor emerged from the Zen Garden, he told Kamski and Chloe that Amanda hadn't found anything amiss, but that he needed to get to the police station quickly lest he raise suspicion. 

From there, Kamski gave a simple "have a nice day at work, Connor, though I suppose you already know how it will go... or do you?" before leaving to another room, likely to continue work on the many projects that Connor's presence had assigned him. Even though Connor was... uncertain of how to consider the man, he was grateful for the amount of work that the genius had already done--was still doing--for him.

Truly, to have created, or at least put the finishing touches on, the CyberVision, Conduit's Castle, Killswitch, and to have stabilized Connor when his Corruption Levels began to raise all within a few hours... it was awe worthy. While he had already known that Kamski had created androids as well as a form of time travel (or, perhaps it was more accurate to call it 'data transference'), the man never ceased to impress.

Chloe helped him to change back to his normal clothing from the disguise he wore to the Android Junkyard, seemingly unbothered to take the mud and thirium-soaked from his arms. He felt guilty leaving her with it, but he really didn't have time to help--probably wouldn't be able to even if he tried, given his lack of programming in housework, though it couldn't that difficult--and simply thanked her before leaving. 

"Connor," came Chloe's voice just as Connor had opened the door.

Connor turned away from the outside, briefly seeing that the snow had paused momentarily for the last hour. "Is there something I can do for you, Chloe?" he asked, curious even if a part of him was urgent to get to the station as was expected.

She hesitated, as if something was on her mind, before smiling softly. "I... hope you have a good day," she said. "I know that it will go better with Hank this time."

Connor stiffened, hand clenching around the door knob before he could stop himself. That was right, wasn't it? He was... about the to see the Lieutenant again, wasn't he? He knew that it would obviously happen--had even... wanted it to--but to think that in less than an hour he would be in front of yet another person he had murdErEd--

The RK800 winced, placing a hand to his head and trying to banish the Error Code before it could occur. He looked at Chloe, putting as pleasant of a smile as he could--he doesn't think he was very successful, because she was frowning again--as he nodded and went out the door, pleased to see that the automated taxi Chloe had called for him was already idling in front of the villa.

He would have to remember to change its programming to say that he had been picked up in the middle of Detroit--as his false CyberVision memories said he had. After all, it wouldn't do to miss a significant detail like that. "Thank you, Chloe," he said. "I won't fail."

"I know, Connor." Her smile--it seemed... sad? No, Connor must be mistaken--was the last thing he saw before he closed the door behind him to Kamski's Villa. "I believe in you."

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: POLICE STATION

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 10:04:15

o0o0o0o

He arrived at the station later than he had the first time, but since he knew that Lieutenant Anderson wouldn't arrive himself for another ten minutes, he thought it was okay.

Though, exiting the taxi and entering the station was... odd. The simple reason being the existence of androids.

Connor thanked the receptionist as she directed him as before, but he couldn't help but watch her at the corner of his eye for a moment before continuing on his way. By November 10th in Connor's Future--he decided he would refer to it as the Failed Future, keeping to the hope that he would find a way to prevent it--androids were already being thrown away, burned in the streets, and herded towards deconstruction camps by order of the city and, then, the President for cities country-wide, making the setting around him now quite impossible.  

In fact, by the evening of November 7th after the Stratford Broadcast, there was a heightened aggression and mistrust towards androids. While things between humans and androids certainly weren't... desirable at the moment, it was a far cry from the events in the Failed Future even 36 hours from Connor's current time.

Connor felt even more grateful for Chloe's suggestion to contact androids around the country for help in this task--he was already uncertain how to prevent the fate of the androids in Detroit nonetheless the death of those around the country.

Though he already knew where Lieutenant Anderson's desk was, he asked the PM700 watching the police station for directions anyway. As before, she gestured over to the man's desk in a polite voice. Connor hadn't noticed it before, but there was something more... lively about her voice than typical androids. Of course, it could have been her natural programming, but he appreciated her kindness anyway.

"Thank you," he said, genuinely meaning it. 

The PM700's eyes widened momentarily, likely unused to being thanked, before she smiled and nodded. Connor nodded back, inwardly wondering if he would be able to talk to her more. Hank wouldn't arrive for a few more minutes, so he saw no harm in it.

"Do you have a designation?" he asked. 

The surprise grew in her eyes before turning warm, confirming to Connor that she was more 'aware' than most androids. A quick scan told him that she had actually been stationed at the DCPD longer than a quarter of the officers here--including Detective Reed--and was actually one of the first female androids to serve as a police officer. While it was expected since Cyberlife had been founded in Detroit, it was strange to think that Connor had never known--had never bothered--to learn about her role in the station despite passing her every time he entered. 

"I was named 'Lola,'" answered the newly referenced Lola. "After Aurora 'Lola' Baldwin who, in 1908, was one of the first sworn female full-time police officers in the United States and dedicated her life to assisting troubled young women."

"Is that your task in the station?" asked Connor, honestly curious.

Something in Lola's eyes dampened. "No," she said, tone a bit more clipped. "My duty is to assist officers as needed in the precinct."

Connor raised an eyebrow and glanced around. While he had rarely been in the station the first time around for his mission, he hadn't seen any of the officers interact with Lola beyond a simple question or errand like he had asked of her. 

"I see," he said instead, feeling strangely... sad for Lola. If she had been in the station since 2029, as her registration said she was, then she likely had a great deal of experience and knowledge that went beyond her programming to do police work. Seeing her reminded him of the fact that it was because he was the newest model that he was valued, not because there was anything particularly special about him.

Reminded him of how he was rEpLaCeD by the RK900... even if the RK900, too, had been destroyed by order of the President...

Connor winced and Lola's eyes, observant, flickered to him then to his LED that turned momentarily red before quickly returning to blue. "Are you alright?" she asked, some real concern in her voice.

He composed himself, forcing the Error Code away and remembering Kamski's warning to prevent emotional triggers from further increasing his Corruption Levels. He would likely have to ask Chloe if she had a program to keep his LED from changing color as well. "I'm fine," he said. "Thank you again, but I must be going now." He turned around, but paused misstep before looking at the dark-skinned android once more. "Oh, and when a delivery person from the Classic Croissant arrives, could you please direct them to Lieutenant Anderson's desk?"

She nodded, returning to her post without a word, though her eyes lingered on him for a moment.

Connor turned around and walked over to the Lieutenant's desk, thinking about the short conversation with Lola. While he had verbally misstepped there at the end, he was regardlessly pleased with the end result. There was... something about doing something entirely different, even if it was as small as having a new conversation, that comforted him. It also brought up new questions--such as how many androids had he failed to even notice in his quest to complete his mission? 

How many lives had he ruined without even knowing their names? 

Connor's fists tightened even if he remained visually composed. He resolved to do better this time--though as the Conduit, of course. Connor, the android sent by Cyberlife, couldn't risk being seen socializing too much lest Amanda become suspicious of his true intentions. But as the Conduit... as the Conduit he could finally begin righting the wrongs he made.

It was then that Connor saw Lieutenant Anderson--would it be fine to refer to him as Hank in his thoughts as long as he didn't do it out loud?--arrive at the corner of his eye, thirum pump increasing in rhythm as he watched the other walk forward.

For a moment, all he saw was the man's defeated expression as Connor tHrEw him oFF the rOoF-- 

Connor forced the thoughts away, chiding himself. He had known the exact second the Lieutenant would arrive, so he should have already prepared for this. Still, the RK800 had to take a millisecond to compose himself before straightening professionally. "Hello, Lieutenant," he said, though he didn't bother reciting his name and task as he had before. He knew that the man was aware of it.

As before, Hank froze before him as if he has seen a ghost. Which... given what Connor knew now, truly felt like it to the human. Even though he knew that there was no way to prevent the reaction now that the event was done, Connor regretted that he had caused the Lieutenant such stress. "God," breathed out Hank, staring at him, "I saw you get shot in the head last night..."

"My predecessor was unfortunately destroyed," answered Connor as before. His predecessor, successor, and everything in-between. "But Cyberlife transferred its memory and sent me to replace it." 

Connor avoided adding on "this incident should not affect the investigation" as he did last time. While he hadn't been at the time, he was aware now that Hank's... enthusiasm for hunting deviants--for anything related to life--was lackluster at best. Of course, this worked to Connor's favor since hunting deviants was the last thing he wanted to do. Ironically, Hank's lack of motivation would serve to be the exact thing to make Connor's lack of progress more 'reasonable' when reporting to Amanda. 

Before Hank could answer, Captain Fowler stuck his head out of his office. "Hank! In my office!" 

As before, Hank grumbled but dutifully went up to the other man's office, though this time Connor followed immediately. Before, he had gone to the Break Room which has resulted in an altercation with Detective Reed. Connor really saw no way to avoid it given the man's temperament, but also had no real reason to go, so the RK800 decided to join the conversation with Captain Fowler earlier this time and slipped inside to wait patiently by the door.

In the office, the Captain told Hank about how the deviancy case was no longer just a Cyberlife problem but also a problem for the DCPD. And, as before, Hank wasn't the least bit pleased to have been given this case and argued vehemently to be released from it. 

Still, even if Connor didn't contribute at all to the conversation, watching the Lieutenant argue with Captain Fowler was interesting. When he had first been assigned to be Hank's partner and realized that the man had no intention of cooperating, he had been very dismayed, thinking to himself that, despite the Lieutenant's decorated past, he had been assigned the worst officer possible. One extremely ill-equipped--emotionally that is, given that the Lieutenant, once bullied on to the scene, was surprisingly adept--to handle what was required for this case.   

It turned out to be the exact opposite. Of all the humans that Connor had interacted with personally, it had only been Hank to meet him on that roof in Hart Plaza Roof. For all his bluster and supposed hatred for androids--though, Connor didn't doubt that he truly hated androids at this point, just that, when given the proper evidence, Hank had a remarkable ability to change that seemed extraordinarily rare for their species--he had been the one on that rooftop to confront Connor.

Had been willing to give his LiFe to dEfEnD Markus and try to sToP--

Connor winced, LED glowing yellow for a moment before he pushed the memories away. Already, that was three times today he had risked being overwhelmed... he was ashamed. He would have to get better, lest he lowered the amount of time he had to do this mission. 

"--excuse me, I've got work to do!" finished Captain Fowler's voice. 

The RK800 came out of his thoughts in time to see Hank send one last nasty glare at his boss before storming out. He glanced over at Captain Fowler. The last time, he had attempted to reply positively, trying to assure the man that he would do his upmost to complete the mission at hand, but the Captain hadn't seemed to care before waving him away.  

As a result, Connor simply nodded and left, closing the door behind him just in time to hear Hank's voice in the distance: "--the fuck left these here?"  

Connor felt his pace quicken towards the Lieutenant's desk, nodding in approval when he saw a decorative green box labeled Classic Croissant placed neatly in front of Lieutenant Anderson's terminal. "Right on time," he said, pleased.

"What's on time?" asked Hank, spinning towards him with a scowl. "I didn't order these!"

"No," agreed Connor quickly, hoping he hadn't made a mistake--though there was no taking back now. "I did. I know that you generally consume 1.8 donuts for your... breakfast--" Connor gestured to the day-old box of donuts from O'Mansley Donuts on his desk. It wasn't that he... doubted the quality of the establishment, just the health benefits. "--but I thought that what I ordered would be a more balanced meal to start the day."

Hank looked at him suspiciously before opening the box, eyes widening when he did. "Shit, are those cinnamon rolls?"

"Yes," confirmed Connor, taking one glance into the now opened box to make sure his order, which he had spent a surprising amount of time in the taxi choosing on the way over to the station, was correct. "Their croissants are their signature dish, but they also received high ratings in cinnamon rolls and apple fritters. What I particularly liked about their menu is the fact that each pastry is made entirely with gourmet ingredients known for their health benefits."

"Sweet and healthy?" Hank began to reach out before glancing over at him again, mouth tilted suspiciously. "What's the catch? Why you even buying me this shit?"

Connor felt a bit of his enthusiasm lower, glancing over at the finely crafted brown rolls and flaky crusts to see if there were any obvious defects. There didn't appear to be, but the fact only slightly calmed Connor's sudden internal imbalance. "Cyberlife has... allocated me resources for necessary expenses."

If possible, Hank's eyebrow raised higher, but he didn't close the box, so Connor considered the situation not lost yet. "And, what? How the fuck is buying me a fancy gourmet breakfast a 'necessary' expense?'"  

Connor hesitated again. "It is my desire that we have an amiable partnership," he admitted finally. "Besides, having proper food will augment your ability to assist in the investigation." 

Hank snorted. "So, what? My performance sucked that much yesterday that you felt you needed to bribe me?" Connor opened his mouth to object when Hank shrugged, taking a hold of a cinnamon roll, icing oozing from the warm pastry as he lifted it.

While Connor couldn't 'smell' like a normal human, he could see the faint traces of steam rise off to signify that the bun was still of a reasonable temperature and continued to release many sweet aromatic elements. Connor hoped it was as 'mouth-watering' as the reviews said.

"Well," continued Hank, shrugging again as if the first time wasn't enough, "who fucking cares if I get free food from it? Maybe this 'partnership' wasn't so bad an idea."

Connor smiled brightly, relieved that the conversation had turned for the better. Seeing Hank's eyes widen a moment later as he took a bite of the cinnamon roll was just an added bonus. "Holy shit," exclaimed the Lieutenant, staring at the cinnamon roll in disbelief. "What'd they put in this? Cocaine?"

"I will assume that to be a positive response," commented Connor, standing straighter. "I will be certain to send my compliments along to the owner of the Classic Croissant, a man named Martin Geoffroy." 

Hank nodded, humming as he took another bite. "Yeah, you do that. Fuck, I might start spending my paycheck on these even if they are fancy-schmancy gourmet shit."

"And they're far healthier than your usual morning supplement," added Connor. He saw the Lieutenant roll his eyes before pushing forward the steaming mug of coffee beside the computer that Hank had yet to see. "Oh, and they also deliver coffee. I had it stylized to your preferences."

Hank's eyes widened as he adjusted the cinnamon roll--already half-eaten, Connor was pleased to note--to his left hand and took the coffee in his right, sitting down at his desk with more eagerness than Connor had ever seen before. "Coffee that doesn't taste like gym socks? Fuck, this really wasn't a bad idea."

"Thank you," said Connor, glad that the Lieutenant hadn't asked how he had found out the man's coffee preferences. Truthfully, it hadn't been for another day, after the Eden Club investigation, that he'd heard Hank complain about the quality of coffee at the police station and detail in exact precision how the perfect cup of coffee was made. Connor had never... acted upon it, in the Failed Future, due to his fixation on the mission, but he was glad to be able to now.

"I... understand the destruction of my predecessor may have been unpleasant for you, Lieutenant," said Connor, hesitating as he saw the man slow down while swallowing the last of his cinnamon roll. Even if Connor didn't quite understand it, he wanted to avoid causing the Lieutenant any discomfort he could. It helped that he couldn't risk being destroyed again, making both tasks intertwine in this particular subject. "I'll do everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Hank looked at him briefly before seeming to sigh. "Whatever," he said, making Connor brighten considerably on the fact that he hadn't received a response before. Even looking at him was progress. "Just... avoid shit like that. It's creepy as fuck."

"I plan to," said Connor earnestly, a bit confused when he saw the Lieutenant snort.

"None of us 'plan' to get wasted," remarked Hank, humming as he took a sip of his coffee, swirling it around to mix the contents. "Shit just happens."

"Yes," agreed Connor, remembering how... befuddled he had been before by the seemingly random actions of deviants when first investigating. "But I endeavor to do better."

"Well, can't argue with motivation like that," said Hank, now examining an apple fritter in the box with obvious suspicion.

"In any case," Connor added a moment. "I'd like you to know I'm very happy to be working with you." Connor really was, strangely... pleased as he watched the man wolf down another croissant without even being advised (the Lieutenant was almost at the necessary amount of calories for the breakfast meal). He knew that the Lieutenant didn't feel the same about working with him, probably never would, but that was okay. Hank was a very good person and Connor just... didn't want to make his life more difficult than it already was. "I'm sure we'll make a great team."

Though, the fact that Connor was already actively planning to sabotage their future investigations may derail that goal (after all, it was one thing for the Lieutenant to be relatively uncaring about deviants and what they did, but it was another thing for constant failures to mysteriously happen during their investigations). Still, as long as he was partners with Hank, he resolved to do whatever he could to make the other man's life better in other ways.

He sat down at what he mentally referred to as 'his desk,' pleased that this was already starting off on a better note.

"Now that we're partners, it would be great to get to know each other better?" tried Connor, wondering if, since the Lieutenant was in a better mood with a more sufficient meal in his stomach, the other would be amiable to the suggestion.

Hank finally picked out an apple fritter and took a bite; the widening of his eyes signifying that he also found this pastry to be enjoyable. "Mmph," said Hank, mouth full as he chewed the small apple bits. "Gof fer it."

"You have a dog, right?" asked Connor, despite already knowing the dog to be named 'Sumo' and knowing the Saint Bernard to be quite larger than he had first expected. He had... enjoyed what little time he had spent with the animal after breaking into the Lieutenant's house. "I like dogs." 

"Yeah... Sumo. I call him Sumo." said Hank, finally closing the box and slapping the hand of a passing officer who tried to sneak a pastry. "How'd you know that?" 

"There are dog hairs on your chair," answered Connor promptly, a bit more eager to ask more about Sumo now that he had to chance to ask so many of the questions he had thought a distraction from the mission before. "How did--"

At that moment, a man that Connor knew to be Officer M. Wilson in the department walked up to Hank.

"Lieutenant?" asked Officer Wilson, glancing at Connor for a moment before back at the Lieutenant. "I have some information on the AX400 that attacked the guy last night..."

Connor blinked as he heard the report on the AX400--Kara, he believed her report called her--once again. He was a bit surprised to hear it since, if he recalled correctly, Connor had been shoved up against a wall as he tried to convince Hank to pay attention to that exact case at this exact moment in the other Future. 

Somehow, Connor had somehow spent the time just... talking. He would definitely need to supplement his original memories since Amanda wouldn't look too kindly on him buying Hank breakfast and spending the time making 'small talk' instead of discussing the case and looking up related details (not that he truly needed to, for obvious reasons, but he found it easier to keep to his original schedule if possible to prevent the need to edit his CyberVision memories). 

Still, even if he was glad that this office conversation hadn't ended with the Lieutenant telling him that he would like to light him on fire, Connor felt... confused about why it had gone so differently this time. Was it simply because he had bought the Lieutenant breakfast or was it because he hadn't been insistently pushing the other to concentrate on the case? Hank definitely seemed to be in a better mood when he focused on other areas, even if had greatly frustrated the android the first time around. Connor would have to analyze the past few minutes at a later time to see what he had done in order to minimalize future missteps with the Lieutenant.

Once Officer Wilson was finished with his explanation of the AX400, Hank nodded and took a step towards the exit before stopping.

Much to Connor's surprised, he glanced at the box of Classic Croissants and then at Connor. The Lieutenant scowled, glancing away. "You coming?" he asked gruffly, as if it was painful to say. 

"Of course." Connor stood immediately, still smiling even as he saw the Lieutenant roll his eyes and turn away without another word. "On my way, Lieutenant."

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: DOWNTOWN DETROIT

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 10:25:47

o0o0o0o 

That pleasant feeling that Connor felt in the face of the successful breakfast delivery for the Lieutenant waned by the time they got to the area near the crime scene, the question of how to handle the runaway AX400 and YK500--Kara and Alice, he reminded himself again--weighing heavily on his mind.

The first time around, Connor had correctly identified that they had used the wire cutters stolen from the convenience store and used it to stay at the squat across the street where he met a WR600 that identified himself in third person as "Ralph." The deviant, unstable but desperate to protect his friends(?), had temporarily prevented Connor from immediately going after Kara and Alice as they ran out the door and to the highway.

Connor had been more preoccupied with chasing after Kara and Alice than dealing with Ralph, so he had pursued them to that chain fence dividing the highway, climbing it even when the Lieutenant had told him not to. He had been unable to capture them despite his best efforts, watching them cross to the other side of the road successfully before slipping away to Connor didn't know where. 

He did... remember seeing them later, in the Android Junkyard... thirum pumps long ceasing their beating even as a sMaLL hand held onto her mOtHeR even in death-- 

He banished the memories from his head, still frowning as he watched Hank discuss the situation with Detective Ben Collins and trying to decide the best course of action. Connor's first thought had been to simply avoid the squat they had been hiding at, thus prevent the police from locating them altogether. But a... logical part of him--a cold, analytical part he sometimes wished he never had--told him that wasn't in his... best interest.

The reason being simple: Amanda.

If Connor was to avoid suspicion by Amanda, the RK800 had to look like he was actively hunting and trying to find deviants to the best of his abilities. While he had no intention of bringing a single deviant in, he also couldn't make it look like he was letting them go free (to either the deviant or Cyberlife). Which created the complex puzzle of how to look like he was attempting to complete his job to the upmost of his ability--though, even then, Amanda had never seemed happy; even as he killed every deviant she asked him to, it was never enough--without actually completing his job.

He couldn't blame the Lieutenant for every failure he planned to devise with future cases, which meant he would have to create situations where it really seemed he had no other option in the matter. Even then, he ran a high risk of being sent back to Cyberlife for reprogramming--though, hopefully, if he was able to keep Jericho and its actions secret, Amanda wouldn't urge him as strongly to find the source--against his will.

He had to do this right--starting with this AX400, Kara and her... ward.

Hank walked over from where he had been interviewing a bus employee, fiddling with his tablet as footage from the convenience store played on it.

"It... took the first bus that came along," recited Connor, making up his mind, "and stayed at the end of the line. Its decision wasn't planned, it was driven by fear."

Hank scoffed, rolling his eyes. "Androids don't feel fear."  

"Deviants do." And even those who aren't yet deviants... as Connor could attest to even when he had been following his mission perfectly. "They get overwhelmed by their emotions and make irrational decisions."

Though, in the face of what many androids faced, were the decision really that irrational? Was Markus' decision to fight for freedom that irrational?  

"Well, that still doesn't tell us where it went." He could see Hank didn't believe him, the expression on his face unbelieving and somehow indulgent, but Connor didn't mind.

"It didn't have a plan and had nowhere to go." Connor glanced towards the squat, the crumbling and condemned building the same as he remembered. "Maybe it didn't go far."

Connor had decided... to let things play out as they had before. He would just have to hope that Kara and Alice survived the chase and crossing the freeway once again.

Connor hoped they did. He did not want any more blood on his hands.

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: DOWNTOWN DETROIT - SQUAT

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 10:55:24

o0o0o0o 

Interviewing Ralph was just as... unsettling as it had been the first time. While Connor had experienced many deviants to suffer from PTSD due to the extreme abuse they had endured, he couldn't help but feel... sorrow when he saw the other android and his irreversibly damaged face. Someone, humans most likely, had purposely seared open that wound on the WR600's face--an obvious action to torture the android for the simple... pleasure(?) of the action rather than any discernable reason.

Connor... couldn't understand it, what drove someone to do such a thing for enjoyment... but, of course, Connor had done terrible things himself for a supposed 'good reason,' so perhaps... he wasn't that different from the ones who had tortured Ralph after all. 

And, in the end, he had caused Ralph's probable death in the camps, hadn't he? A far worse fate than what the humans had done to his face.

As a result, Connor tried to keep his questions calm and even-toned, though knew the android's Stress Levels would skyrocket no matter what he did.

In the end, the RK800 knew he couldn't hold it off anymore and walked over to the hiding place where he knew Kara and Alice would be--

As predicted, the moment Connor walked towards the small opening in the side of the staircase, Ralph jumped him, restraining him as Kara and Alice burst out and ran to the back door.

"Run, Kara!" shouted Ralph, throwing Connor to the ground with surprising force.

Hank hurried through the door, looking down at Connor on the ground with a large frown before at Ralph warily. "Connor, what's going on?" 

As before, Connor quickly got to his feet and gestured towards the back door as Ralph backed away shaking his head. "It's here! Call it in!" 

Before he ran out, he glanced over at Ralph, the android still muttering to himself and looking close to a mental breakdown. It was the last thing he saw before he was rushing outside and through the fence, addressing the policeman just outside it. "Which way did it go?"

Of course, Connor already knew, but dutifully ran in the assigned direction, footsteps clattering against the wet ground as people barely bothered to look his way as he rushed by. A part of him wondered what they thought of him as he passed. He had every intention to let Kara and Alice escape and knew--hoped--they would no matter what he did, but how did the people around him look at him? Did they see someone trying to protect them? Or did they see a machine failing to accomplish the task assigned to it? A thing to be disposed of if it stepped out of line?

As he approached an alleyway next to the street, another police officer gestured to his left as Connor came up, pointing frantically down the alleyway and towards the freeway that the RK800 remembered being there. "They're over there!" 

Connor nodded and took off to the right, though a part of him wondered why all the officers were simply pointing and not pursuing as well? While it was true that Connor was physically and mentally optimized for this line of work, wouldn't it have been more efficient for one of the police officers to catch Kara and Alice as they came this way instead of just pointing? Perhaps Connor was being unfair, and, whatever the reason, it worked in his favor.

The RK800 rushed down the alleyway, colliding with the fence as he had before and locking eyes with Kara on the other side just as she helped Alice reach the ground safely. This time, instead of being disappointed at failing to catch up with them in time, Connor was... curious. 

The AX400 was said to have been just reset prior to deviating on November 5th around 11:00 PM. The victim, Todd Williams, had reported that she had just attacked him without cause, though that was something that Connor found very doubtful. Not just because the victim had a history of aggressive and irrational behavior (particularly towards androids), but also because of Kara's obvious protective nature of the girl android, Alice.

Connor had a feeling that, whatever happened between Todd picking up the repaired Kara--the cause of the repairs also sounding very dubious--had to do with the YK500. Especially since Todd had no made no mention of his second android being missing in his reports. Connor was unsure why he had neglected to report that, but it was definitely a part of the puzzle.

But what Connor wondered was how was it, mere hours from being reset, that Kara had already deviated? How had she found the emotional strength to overcome her programming and risk her life like this in a way millions of androids still couldn't?

Kara stared back at Connor, blue eyes locking with brown for a moment, before the police officer from before ran up, raising his gun as he came to a stop in the mud-covered alleyway.

Connor quickly held up a hand, thirium pump skipping a beat despite already knowing that this was how it was intended to happen. "Don't shoot!" He held his left hand out, the right still clutching the wire fence as he stared at the officer. "We need it alive!"

Kara, no matter how she was able to deviate, deserved to be alive.

With his shout, the two runaways backed up and slid down the muddy hill to the automated car track. Connor's grip on the metal fence tightening as he saw them pass the virtual warning sign placed around the area and into the actual freeway itself.  

"Oh fuck, that's insane..." Hank rushed up, breathing heavily even though Connor noted that the man had arrived approximately 6.4 seconds earlier than last time. Connor wondered why--perhaps the wonder of a good breakfast? The RK800 would definitely take a note of this for future reference... once current events were resolved, of course. 

Kara and Alice crossed the first row of cars, narrowly avoiding the one behind as Kara wrenched Alice back to avoid a taxi barreling towards her before making their way to the next one-- 

Connor could feel the weak metal wires of the fence bend beneath his fingers, watching intently as the two narrowly missed the trucks and cars driving towards at speeds ranging from 80 to 100 mph. Then, just as they neared the middle section of the freeway, Alice slipped--

Connor felt himself pull his body up on the fence before he could stop himself, Hank predictably stopping him with a wrench downwards. "Hey! Where you goin'?"

"I can't..." began Connor, even as he saw Kara pull her adoptive daughter up to a standing stance before pushing the girl to the middle of the track, successfully rebalancing herself just in time to miss another truck. "They're going to..." 

"They won't!" shouted Hank, no doubt thinking that Connor was upset about the two escaping. "They'll never make it to the other side." 

That was exactly what Connor feared, doubts and hesitations building up as he watched the two androids risk their life. What had he been thinking? He should have just led the police away from the squat, even if it did make him suspicious in the eyes of Amanda! How could he know for sure that things would remain the same before when little things such as Hank's attitude and arrival time had already changed? A single second difference with Kara and Alice crossing the road would mean their deaths!

And it would be all Connor's fault.

"I..." started Connor, guilt and uncertainty warring inside of him as he watched the two throw themselves back into the freeway. "I can't..." 

"Hey, you'll just get yourself killed!" yelled Hank, yanking down Connor again--the RK800 was unaware that he had even tried to jump the fence again. "Do NOT go after 'em. Connor, that's an order!" 

Despite the fact that Connor no longer needed to listen to orders--though, he had never been programmed to listen to the Lieutenant's orders should they interfere with his mission in the first place--he felt himself pause, warring with the conflicting desire to try and ensure Kara and Alice's survival--then what? Drag them back to the police station? Deliver them to a fate worse than death for the simple fact that he couldn't dare let Amanda find out?--and listening to Hank.

In the other timeline, Connor hadn't before, jumping the fence to try and chase after the runaway AX400 and YK500 with single-minded determination.  Something that had proved worthless since Kara and Alice had escaped regardless and Hank had only become more hostile towards him.

For a moment, in that other life, Connor had wondered if the Lieutenant would praise him had he successfully caught Kara and Alice on the highway that day, before writing it off as irrelevant.

But Connor's actions then didn't matter, what mattered was Connor's choice now.

Would he go?

Or give up?  

Before Connor knew what he was doing, his hand released the fence, cementing the decision to not go after them. Hank gave him a look, the irritation in his eyes simmering down half a percent, before looking back to the freeway. After a moment, Connor did so too.

Connor watched intently the freeway intently, hand turning to grip into a fist at his side as he watched Kara and Alice brave the next section of road. Had he made the right choice?

On the freeway, the two androids successfully dodged the first round of cars but slipped part-way. Before Connor could so much as blink, they were up again as Kara pushed the YK500 across to the other side, joining her after a moment of checking to make sure the coast was clear. Kara lifted Alice to the other side of the guardrail; both androids having successfully survived.

At the sight, Connor breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. Though that relief partially turned to... confusion as he watched, very differently from last time where they had just run away, Kara kneel down to Alice and... hug her? The adopted mother's concern obvious even from this distance as she checked over the child android, accepting her embrace a moment later.

Connor watched them as they stood again and headed into the forest, likely as far away from the current area as possible. Though where, he did not know. He had only seen the pair twice in the Failed Future. Once at the base of Jericho after he infiltrated it--though, he wondered how they got there since Jericho was in a completely opposite direction from where they were currently heading--and the second time... in the Android Junkyard. He didn't know where they were heading, but he hoped that by preventing certain events from happening, that the two female androids would avoid that fate.   

"Well, damn," said the Lieutenant, bringing Connor from his thoughts. He glanced at the older officer, unsurprised to see a hint of relief on the man's face. Even at this point in time, he had a feeling that Hank would have been greatly upset had something actually happened to Kara and Alice on the freeway. "Didn't think they'd actually make it." 

"I'll report to the station the approximate direction and likely areas they were heading for," said Connor dutifully. He actually didn't mind doing that given that, last time, he had done so but to no avail as the two androids continued to evade capture. "I'm... sorry that I wasn't able to prevent their escape."

Connor wasn't really, but he was sorry if he had disappointed Hank at all. 

He began to realize what the Lieutenant had meant before when he said, "emotions mess up everything." Even though it wasn't necessary for his mission as the Conduit, Connor found himself... wanting to avoid the man's ire.

Hank snorted, clapping the android on the shoulder before seeming to realize what he did and retracting his hand, a stern expression on his face again. "Well, it happens. Catch some, lose some." He began to walk down the alleyway again. "C'mon. I'm sure we got plenty of fucking paperwork to do." 

Remembering what Connor did from the first time, they certainly did. But he also recalled that the next investigation at 'The Nest' wouldn't begin until 03:27 PM (approximately a quarter of an hour after Hank went to the Chicken Feed for a late lunch).

Currently, the time was 11:07 PM, essentially giving Connor four free hours in-between that time. The first time around he had spent said time interviewing witnesses of the two androids, searching the Squat for Ralph (who had been long gone, even if Connor had suspected he would return at some time), doing his paperwork--which he had completed in approximately 3.14 minutes--and re-reading the deviant cases to search for commonalities--even with cross-referencing information from various sources, it still only took him about 14.7 minutes--with the rest of the time spent... waiting for something to happen until Hank left to lunch. Connor, of course, accompanying him.  

While Connor could do that again, he found four hours too much time to waste. 

"Lieutenant," called out Connor, making the man walking just in front of him look back at him. "If it's fine, could I meet up with you later when we receive our next case?" 

"Why?" asked Hank before his eyes flickered to the freeway. "Don't tell me you're going after them."  

"No," said Connor truthfully, though he might have said it quicker than strictly necessary. "I just wish to... investigate the surrounding area closer. I know you will interview those strictly involved with the case, but I wish to see if there's something we may have missed on why the android chose this particular area to run to."

While Connor was confident that the decision had been motivated by fear and desperation instead of logic, he hoped that the Lieutenant--and Cyberlife--wouldn't find anything strange about his reasoning to suddenly leave like this.

Hank rolled his eyes, turning away. "Whatever. Never thought you'd stop fucking following me."

Connor felt something inside of him sink even as he sped up to walk alongside the police officer, honestly wondering if he was glitching because of how 'unbalanced' he suddenly felt. "I... I can come along if you need--"

The Lieutenant held up a hand, as if that could keep Connor's face from sight. "Nope!" Suddenly, Hank glared at him. "Though, if you think I'm going to do your paperwork--"

Connor's eyes widened and, almost instantly from memory, submitted his report as well as handled a good portion of Hank's that only needed basic requirements to fill it out. "Already submitted," he informed the man. "And I also took the time to do 86.40% of yours--all that's left is your personal account of what transpired and various papers that need your signature. If there's anything that you wish for me to redo, just call and I will get right on it."

Hank seemed to study him with a minute with a creased brow before snorting. "So, an android who buys breakfast and does paperwork," he muttered under his breath in a way that Connor wasn't sure he should hear. "How... efficient."  

"Yes," agreed Connor quickly. "And any other task you require--"

"Yeah, yeah," said the Lieutenant, waving a hand as if shooing an animal. "The only thing I 'require' is you get out of my face, alright? Do your 'investigation' and come back whenever. Or don't. I really don't fucking care." 

Connor stopped at the mouth of the alleyway, feeling strangely cold in a way that had nothing to do with the rain as he watched the Lieutenant walk down the street without ever looking back.

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: KAMSKI'S VILLA - SEWING ROOM

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 11:25:52

o0o0o0o

"So, figure out what you're going to do once you get to Jericho?" asked Chloe, standing next to where Connor sat on a comfortable bench in a room that he'd never been in before. Upon arrival, she had led him and began replacing various parts of his head with parts that would have seemed identical to the ones he already possessed. Chloe hadn't quite explained what she was doing yet, but Connor, while admittedly curious, was willing to wait until she did.

The room they sat in appeared to be some sort of tailoring facility given the rows of high-quality fabric on various shelves, high-tech sewing machines attached to tables with computer consoles, and design magazines scattered about. It felt very... comfortable.

"My first task is to earn their trust," said Connor. He had a feeling that, even as an android, it would be a difficult task to accomplish--particularly since he had already admitted to Markus that he couldn't reveal his true identity. While Markus hadn't questioned him at the time, that could have been from the fact he had been more preoccupied with avoiding death and escaping the Android Junkyard. Now? Connor didn't know how it would go. "From there, I plan to evaluate the situation and see how I can best aid them."

"While also preventing Markus from going forward with the Stratford Tower Broadcast," pointed out Chloe, pressing another component into his head with a small click. "The longer the general public is unaware of Jericho, the more time you have to organize." She smoothed down his hair over the new component. "But enough about that, you won't know how to proceed until you get there so let's talk about something else. How did it go with Lieutenant Anderson today?"

"It... went better than before," admitted Connor, thinking back to how the Lieutenant had accepted the Classic Croissant breakfast and didn't even tell threaten to set him on fire. He had also seemed pleased that Connor hadn't climbed the fence this time and didn't question him where he was abruptly going after the fact. Truly, it had gone far better than he had calculated it would, so Connor didn't know why he was still... dissatisfied. It was illogical to feel anything but success. 

Chloe gave him a look from the corner of his eye, opening her mouth to speak--

The side door to the Sewing Room opened, revealing an android easily identifiable as a 'Hostess Chloe' ST200 with the signature blonde hair and blue eyes of a 'Chloe' model. However, upon scanning her, Connor was informed that her name was 'Tessa' and apparently the first ST200 to have been created.

Tessa set down the fabrics she had been carrying on the table beside Chloe, seeming to... avoid looking at Connor? While that wasn't that strange, the way Chloe gave her a look and her LED blinked yellow--obviously communicating through their mental link--and how Tessa gave her 'older sister' a frown before leaving certainly was. 

Connor blinked, but it wasn't to calibrate the new optical processors that he had been given. "What was that about?" he asked, referring to the silent entrance and exit of the ST200 model. 

"Nothing," said Chloe quickly, going over to the clothes before picking them up. "Here, try these on? I want to make sure these fit."

Connor hesitated before complying, quickly stripping himself of his standard semi-formal jacket, white shirt, and tie. He knew she was lying, or more accurately trying to distract him. After all, even if she was the eldest android in existence and, thus, possessed older technology than Connor himself, Chloe still had the ability to perform several billion, billion operations per second and wouldn't make an error like mistaking Connor's clothing size.

Of course, it didn't matter in the end. Connor had no right to question her on any action--no matter how seemingly odd--so he took the clothing without a word. To his surprise, they appeared identical to his Cyberlife-issued suit-jacket, shirt, and tie. He glanced at her, wondering what the purpose was of making an extra set of clothing when he had an unlimited supply from Cyberlife if needed, but she just nodded, seemingly eager.

He pulled on the white-shirt first, surprised when he found a program pop up in his processor:

<Masquerader>

"As I'm sure you already know," began Chloe, taking his old shirt and folding it as he pulled on the suit-jacket next. "You will need to be disguised in order to prevent Cyberlife, members of Jericho, and the general public from knowing your true identity when you're operating as the Conduit. The fact that you're a prototype actually works against you in this case, your face being unique among the millions of androids that exist."

"Like Markus," said Connor. While it was true, he wasn't... sure why he brought it up, even though it was true.

"Yes," Chloe agreed, apparently seeing nothing odd with the segue. "Though there are other RK200s in existence, Elijah made Markus special for Carl so no other shares his face. And even though I'm the only RT200 to exist, my sisters, the ST200s, also share a very similar face as you've seen." She gestured back to the clothing. "But enough about that, can you access the menu options of your clothing?"

Connor concentrated, bringing up what appeared to be <Clothing Style Choices>. From there, there were options available for each of his new articles of clothing ranging from color to design.

Very curious, he chose <Blue; Stripes> for his shirt. To his amazement, his shirt changed from its pure white setting to producing blue stripes in a horizontal fashion. Fascinated, he tried out <Orange; Fire Highlights> for his jacket and watched as it bled from grey to orange with what truly appeared to be 'fire cuffs' at the very bottom. "The clothing has camouflage technology embedded in it?"

Chloe nodded, a proud smile on her face. "You know how we already have the ability to change our hair color? Well, this material is weaved from the same textile. It will allow you to instantly go back and forth from the patented Cyberlife Uniform to something less conspicuous, or as conspicuous as needed, as the Conduit. After all, carrying an extra set of clothes would be far too dangerous and time wasting."

Connor nodded in agreement, staring at the fabric as it changed back and forth upon mental command. There were literally hundreds of options to choose from. "Kamski designed this?"

Chloe shook her head, what appeared to be a mischievous smirk on her face. "Actually," she said, trailing a hand over the fabric and smiling at him, "I designed this technology myself."

The RK800's head snapped over to her, looking at her in awe. "Truly?"

Instantly, he regretted his words--he didn't want her to think he was insulting her intelligence but, to his relief, she just nodded her head, pride still shining in her eyes. "Yes. Even if we weren't all capable of performing several operations per second, you pick up a thing or two after spending 21 years with a genius." She gestured around the room. "Especially when one has little else to do." 

Connor opened his mouth, about to question her on that statement--after all, hadn't the RT600 been released in 2022, approximately 16 years ago? There was no way she had done the math wrong, right?--but decided it wasn't the time to ask. Again, he had no business asking about her personal life, after all. 

Instead, he lifted his hand to where Chloe had spent time replacing various parts of his head components shortly after his arrival. Apparently, the Masquerader program was also linked to them. He had a feeling he knew what that meant but wanted to confirm. "As for the other changes?"

Chloe nodded and brought him over to a mirror at the side of the room. "You already had the ability to change your hair color, but I modified your eye and facial structural components." She motioned to the mirror. "It works the same as your clothing--try it out.

Connor nodded, accessing the <Masquerader: Facial Customization>. It was far more complex than the clothing module, containing everything from the precise diameter of his ears to his cheekbone structure. Tentatively, he tried lengthening his nose--surprised, and yet not surprised, to see it literally expand and shorten as he commanded. 

Feeling a bit bolder, he randomly looked up a picture of a man of Russian descent--with high cheekbones, blonde hair, and blue eyes; very different from Connor's standard appearance--and tried to get his face to match it. While not identical to the picture, the fact that he no longer recognized himself as RK800 #313 248 317 - 52 was incredible. There was also the fact that, with his voice modulator, he could essentially become a completely different person. Using this program, there would be no way anyone would be able to tell his true identity and the capabilities he had to be able to instantly change both his face and clothing would surely prove useful...

"I thought about giving you a mask," said Chloe, bringing Connor out of his thoughts. He glanced over at her, seeing an amused expression on her face; he felt embarrassed upon the realization that he had been experimenting with the Style Choices for four minutes. "But then I realized limiting you to only interacting with other androids would be a mistake." 

Connor tiled his head to the side, seeing that his LED no longer showed up. Thinking about it, the telltale circle returned--reassuring him that Chloe's modifications hadn't permanently covered it up. "And the disguise will hold up?" he asked, changing his eye color from brown to blue to purple--the last one, mostly, to see if it was possible even if he doubted that he would be able to fool anyone with such an eye color.  

"Unless you change it back, your appearance will stay that way," agreed Chloe. "Of course, it's probably best if you decide on one to be the 'Conduit' while you interact with Jericho and the Circuit."

"You've contacted other androids already?" asked Connor curiously, finally looking away from the odd assembly he had put his face into. There were so many options, so he was admittedly uncertain on how he wanted to appear.

Chloe pressed her lips together, an action that Connor assumed to be annoyance. "Not yet," she admitted, nodding towards the doorway and leading the two from the room to a long hallway with various paintings hung on the walls. "Some of the androids I'm trying to contact are... difficult. Not easily reached or willing to communicate."

"How did you learn of their deviancy?' asked Connor, following Chloe as she led him into the living room area.   

"Elijah and I travel often," answered Chloe, LED glowing yellow for a moment as they approached a door on the other side of the spacious room. "Incognito, of course, but even then Elijah always seems to get in the most... interesting situations. He seems to have a talent for finding deviants."

The door opened, leading to what appeared to be a large enclosed garage with various rare car models, high-tech machinery, and work areas. It seemed to be oriented only towards machinery and had very little to do with android-related parts.

"Annoying them you mean!" said a feminine voice from Connor's right.

He looked over, seeing yet another ST200 sitting at a work-bench beside an aquamarine blue, custom-designed Sierra XYT 600 motorcycle.

She grinned widely at them as they walked inside. Unlike her counterpart, Tessa, that Connor had seen in the sewing room, this ST200 seemed much livelier--actually quite lively, from Connor's general knowledge of androids. For some particular reason, she was wearing a white knee-length lab coat over a purple bikini. It seemed odd to wear a lab coat--whose purpose was to protect the body from harmful chemicals--when it was unbuttoned and the rest of her body was largely unclothed, but he decided it was best not to ask. 

"Well, he's definitely good at that too." Chloe smiled at Vanessa's response, walking over to place a kiss on her head--to which Vanessa seemed to beam at--before looking over at Connor. "Let me introduce you to Vanessa, or Nessa for short. She's the youngest of my sisters here."

"Hi!" said Vanessa brightly, before gesturing over to the Sierra XYT 600. "I've got it all fixed up for you, Sis!" 

"Great," said Chloe, before looking at Connor again. "Nessa particular interests lie in chemistry and mechanics. She's worked hard over the past ten years to see how they can particularly combine... though to violate results at time."

"I don't blow up that much stuff!" Vanessa bobbed her head, motioning around the garage. "I actually made or modified a lot of these," she said excitedly. "Elijah finds everything but androids 'boring' so someone has to!" She looked at Connor. "Make sure to take good care of Sierra, alright?" 

"Sierra?" echoed Connor before looking at the aquamarine motorcycle before them. "Are you referring to the Sierra XYT 600?" 

"Yup," said Vanessa before looking at Chloe with a pout. "Didn't you tell him?"

"Not yet," said Chloe, nodding towards the door to the house. "Now, isn't it about time you to recharge?"

"It's barely noon!" 

"Yes, but I know you were up all night working in here," said Chloe, pointedly looking at the ST200. "Go to bed after you give Connor the information. Tessa will make sure that you do."  

Vanessa wilted, getting up from the workbench reluctantly before holding a hand out to Connor, skin peeling back to reveal the white plastic underbelly. 

Connor took it and instantly downloaded everything there was to know about the Sierra XYT 600. It was an 8.3 liter, V-10 SRT Vega Viper engine with 7-speed manual transmission. Its maximum power was 500 hp@5600 rpm with a maximum torque of 700 Nm@4200 rpm. Its top speed was 450 miles per hour and could go from 0 to 90 in 2.5 seconds. It was superior in terms of speed and handling to anything else on the market by far. 

But what was perhaps the most surprising was that it appeared to be automated just like the majority of the taxis and cars in Detroit were. Apparently, the user could essentially 'leave it' somewhere but have it automatically drive to whatever location they needed.

Connor blinked, taking his hand from the ST200. "Thank you... Nessa."

"You're welcome." Vanessa smiled brightly, walking past them with a small hum. "See you later, Connor!"

The two remaining androids watched her leave before Connor finally looked at Chloe. "She's very... lively." 

"Different from most androids, you mean?" asked Chloe, smiling to herself before a small frown began to appear on her face as she glanced at the spot Vanessa had sat. "Yes. A lot of it is because she was... reset shortly to us moving out here ten years ago, so she doesn't remember much about what it was like living... out there." She motioned towards the garage door, but Connor knew what she meant. "As a result, she's can come off as a bit... much due to how she's been sheltered and kept here."

"I don't mind her presence," said Connor honestly. Truly, while Vanessa seemed 'quirky,' for lack of a better term, she also seemed like proof that androids were more than machines and worthy of having their own lives.

Chloe smiled at him, nodding before gesturing to the Sierra. "You're probably wondering why I had Nessa transfer that information to you," she said, to which he nodded. "Thinking about it, relying on taxis to drive you around both wastes time and forces you to edit your CyberVision and the taxi's program every time you take it. Having your own vehicle, especially one that is far more maneuverable, eliminates that issue."

She gestured for him to sit on it. "And you've probably already seen its Automated System. If you're ever in trouble, you can have it drive to or away from your location as needed."

"It's incredible," said Connor, climbing onto the motorcycle and admiring its precise detailing before frowning. "But, doesn't this belong to one of you?"

"It's mine," said Chloe. She held up a hand when Connor moved to speak. "I'm having Vanessa build you a personal one, but, until then, I want you to use mine since it's the most advanced model here." 

Connor felt a wave of gratefulness wash over him. Even though he knew she was only doing this to best optimize his chances for changing the future, he couldn't help but feel indebted to the android before him. Chloe had done so much for him already--offering to be his guide in the Conduit's Castle, reaching out to androids across the country, designing his Masquerader, borrowing her personal motorcycle, and so much more--and it had been less than a day. It made him feel ashamed by how little he had accomplished thus far, but pushed it down. 

Chloe handed him a helmet and he looked at his reflection in it, realizing that he hadn't changed his appearance back to 'Connor' yet. Of course, since he was on his way to Jericho now, it would be best if he figured out what his disguise as the Conduit was, wouldn't it?

"Do you have any suggestions?" he asked abruptly, gesturing towards his reflection when she looked at him quizzically. "I admittedly am uncertain how to look most approachable."

After all, the Lieutenant had told him, on many occasions, how Cyberlife had 'screwed up' Connor's appearance--he wanted to avoid causing others discomfort even if he couldn't do so for Hank.

"I feel like it is something you should choose for yourself," said Chloe, voice kind in a way that Connor couldn't quite decipher the reasoning to. "But I do have suggestions if you really want?" 

Connor nodded eagerly. "That would be greatly appreciated." 

"But remember, Connor," said Chloe, gently pressing both hands to Connor's face so that he had no choice but to look her straight on. "Even if you look different and you have a different name, you're still Connor on the inside, okay?" 

It was as if someone had metaphorically 'thrown a bucket of water' on him, shocking him from the 'peace' he had been feeling up to this point and replacing it with shame. Chloe... was completely right. He could disguise himself however he wanted, but he would always be Connor the Deviant Hunter--the one who chased down innocents, the one who had murdered the selfless android in front of him as well as Markus, Hank, and so many others, the one who had let Cyberlife take control and use him as a puppet for their bidding... 

The one who destroyed everything.

He nodded, hands tightening around the helmet as he stared back at his reflection before he closed his eyes, unwilling to look any longer. "I won't forget." 

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: JERICHO - OUTSIDE

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 12:00:19

o0o0o0o

The Sierra XYT 600 emitted a low hum as the rider drove up to the seemingly abandoned freighter ship, slowing down to maneuver around rubble, filled dumpsters, and broken planks. The lights of the aquamarine-colored motorcycle dimmed as it came to a complete stop beside a rusted container.

The rider powered down the vehicle and stepped off. Dressed in a sleek, silver suit-jacket that reached mid-thigh with raised lapels and stylized, deep blue lines down the arms, he also wore a fitted black shirt and pants that precisely framed the angles of his body. His face was covered, hidden by the dark blue helmet he wore.

He glanced around the area for a moment before reaching up to the helmet, pulling it off to reveal a man in his late twenties with high cheekbones and angular, Nordic features. His hair was a mix of platinum blonde and silver, curling in a messy way that likely had more to do with being compressed by a helmet at high-speeds than actual stylizing intent.

But his eyes, what one may have expected to be blue or even green given the very European features, were brown. A warm, rich brown that carefully analyzed the freighter ship in front of him.  

The Conduit had arrived at Jericho.

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: JERICHO - OUTSIDE

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 12:01:31

o0o0o0o

Connor, or the Conduit now as he reminded himself, let out a deep breath, cooling down his internal processors as he carefully walked Chloe's motorcycle into a hidden spot behind some rubble and a few wooden pallets. If he needed to leave suddenly, the Sierra would be able to back-up and get to his position, but he hoped that this encounter would go well enough that an emergency exit wouldn't be needed. 

Once that was done, he scanned the dockside area for a way to get into the freighter itself. Before, when he had infiltrated Jericho the night of November 9th, there had been a ramp and other entrances into the freighter, making sneaking into the secret base rather simple. However, it appeared all those routes were either nonexistent or structurally damaged to a point of instability, making Connor believe that they had been manually engineered at a later date.

He glanced to the right where, about 140 meters to the right, was what appeared to be the remains of a broken bridge. He wondered if that had been caused by Markus--the metal looked to be recently broken and disturbed.

But even if Markus had caused that, he was fine... right?

Swallowing, Connor continued looking for a safe way into the freighter. He hadn't seen any recent thirium stains or... broken remains of the RK200, so it was quite likely that said android, even if he had caused the bridge to fall, had managed to avoid falling with it. After all, Markus had successfully arrived here in the other timeline without trouble regardless of Jericho's obvious rundown state.

<Located Possible Entrance: Crane>

Connor was brought out of his thoughts as he finally located what appeared to be the best way inside--well, without literally jumping into the water and searching... which Connor to didn't want to do if he didn't have to; it was rude to ruin Chloe's clothing so soon--by way of an old, but seemingly somewhat functional, crane hanging over the stern of the boat. It was a bit risky, being over a hundred meters off the ground even if appeared durable, but Connor supposed it was one of the more reasonable ways in.

Jogging over to the base of the once yellow crane, he caught his reflection in one of the dirty windows. He paused despite himself, running a diagnosis over his appearance for the 314th time. While he knew it was unlikely to have changed from the initial 313 times he had checked himself over, he found himself wondering, for the 817th time, if he had made the right choice. 

During the short drive here, Connor had run thousands upon thousands of simulations of possible appearances and internally debated the pros and cons for each one. Finally, Chloe--whom Connor had also been communicating with simultaneously on the subject while driving--had offered some advice:

<What if you based this disguise off those you want to protect? Or those who have inspired you? Then, every time you look in the mirror, you will be reminded of who you're doing this for.>

Connor... had liked the sound of that. Liked the idea of another reminder to keep him on track in regard to his mission. Though, it hadn't been as simple as all that.

His immediate thoughts of those who fit those categories had gone to Hank, Markus, and Chloe. Later, he felt ashamed that he hadn't included Kamski in that list, but, admittedly, something inside of him was... uncomfortable with the idea of basing part of his appearance off the creator of androids.                                   

With further debated, he then rejected the idea of basing anything of himself off Markus. The android so incredibly unique and individualistic that any similarity would undoubtedly come off as unnatural and suspicious to the RK200. No, Markus was the only android who looked as he did and Connor, for some strange reason, wanted to keep it that way. 

That left Lieutenant Anderson and Chloe. He first thought about looking like the police officer, but quickly realized how terrible that would be. After all, even if Connor hadn't 'learned' about Cole Anderson--and his tragic demise--in this timeline yet, he knew, with a few simple aging programs, that the child would have looked quite a bit like his father had he... gotten the chance to.

If Connor were to base his facial structure off the Lieutenant, he was rather certain that there would be a... unsettling resemblance to what Cole would have grown up to be. While he didn't intend to interact with the Lieutenant as the Conduit, he knew there was a high probability that they would eventually cross paths. If that happened, the last thing he wanted was to bring up bad memories.  

 Besides, Connor had no right to appear as Hank's son. After all, Connor wasn't... Not that he was trying to insinuate that he could ever possibly be...

That he...

...

But still, Connor had wanted something to remind himself of the man, so he had decided to blend together Hank's grey hair and Chloe's platinum blonde hair. The result was the flowing silver he now possessed. Connor found he was fond of the color, feeling it to be simple, but refined. He also decided to make his hair curly, surprised at what a difference it made to his appearance to release it from its usual sleek, controlled strands. 

For his actual face, he had a realization that he should model it after an existing android and use said model type as a sort of rough 'backstory' to avoid suspicion. Yet, it also had to be different enough that he wouldn't be easily recognized by humans as being an android should he walk around in public.

It was quite a conundrum, but in the end... he decided to model himself after the RT600. Technically, he also looked like the ST200 series, but, in his mind, he knew he was basing himself off of Chloe.

Or, at least, an 'unreleased male version' of the RT600. It, surprisingly, this new face wasn't that much of a change from his normal appearance. All he did was narrow his face, lighten his skin tone, and make various features such as his cheekbones and nose more prominent.

Yet, changing his hair color and facial structure by those simple margins did 'wonders' for differentiating him from Connor the Deviant Hunter. Truly, it appeared that he only had a 'similar model appearance' much like how one could state there were a lot of similarities between the GS200 and LM100 or various other models with one another. 

Or, at least, that's what Chloe had enthusiastically responded when he'd tentatively offered his idea.

Another reason he had chosen to base himself after the RT600 was because of his skills. Obviously, the Conduit would have to utilize his abilities as an RK800 at some time. Particularly his forensics, vocal imitation, and martial skills which were all unique and, in many ways, a violation of the American Androids Act. Even though he would be considered a deviant--was he a deviant? He knew logically he had to be, but something felt... wrong about using that title in reference to himself--there would undoubtedly be questions later if not sooner on how he could do so much more than the typical android.

That's where masquerading as a specialized male RT600 would come in handy. Everyone knew of Elijah Kamski's fondness for the original RT600 and, for all he had Chloe do interviews and demonstrate her skills a decade ago, hadn't released her actual specifications and program details to anyone, even Cyberlife, beyond that she would be the 'perfect assistant in all ways.'

Given that ST200s a year later had only done simple household or business tasks, there had been rumors that Kamski had continued to modify and upgrade the RT600 in private to live up to that moniker; something that Connor was uncertain the truth of after actually interacting with Chloe, but the point was that the rumor was out there and those at Jericho, should they research it, would find a baseline proof with.  

As a result, Connor found confidence in being able to state that he was personally designed by Kamski and had been given many special features to fulfill the needs of an undisclosed party. Much like how Markus, so different from the other RK200s, had been made for Carl Manfred when the man had gone through an accident and needed both physical and emotional help.

Since the RT600 herself had an air of mystery around her, Connor had selfishly asked if he could utilize that as a false framework should any ask him about his 'origins.' Hopefully, it would keep those at Jericho from wondering too heavily on where he came from and why he was so different.

For some reason, Chloe had seemed... pleased (?) when he asked her permission to masquerade as a male RT600. He had been confused, but altogether too relieved--cowardly--to ask why she wasn't angry with him taking yet another thing from her.

And then... there were his eyes.

Connor studied his reflection in the window, gaze flickering to where brown eyes stared back at him. In the end... he had chosen to keep his same eyes. His baseline reason was that brown was an incredibly common color among androids and humans alike and that feature, already, was a strong way to remain undistinguishable--Chloe had also quickly agreed to the idea of keeping his eye color, likely understanding the justification--but it was... more than that.

A part of him tried to justify it by thinking that it'd be easier, upon entering Jericho, to convince Markus that he was the one who had... assisted him in the Android Junkyard by keeping his eyes the same as then, but that flimsy justification was broken by the sheer fact Connor could simply reveal the conversation that they'd had there as proof had he chosen another eye color.

No, the real reason Connor was keeping his eye color the same was because... it was him. As Chloe had said before, even if he looked different, he was still Connor.

For a moment when he had first received the Masquerader program, a part of him had felt like... he could run away from who he was. Pretend that Connor the Deviant Hunter was a different person while he was disguised as the Conduit. To just... forget, for a while.

Connor's hand clenched by his side, forcing himself to not look away from his eyes in his reflection. Because that would be wrong, unforgivable to forget for even a moment. It hadn't even been a day since his Future Memories integrated with his Present Self and he... 

Regardless, Connor decided to keep his eyes the same. Then, no matter what he looked like or what he did, he wouldn't forget. Who he really was. His mission. The truth.

He turned away from his reflection and looked up the body of the crane. Unwilling to waste another moment, he took a running start and, just a foot away from the bottom of the crawler, jumped up and grabbed the top of the metal door. Fluidly, he wrenched himself up and planted his feet on top of the cabin. 

From there, he scanned the path across the metal mast. It appeared stable enough, registering at 87.4% stability. It would be impossible for a human to cross (the path being akin to walking a tightrope, but far more precarious), but, fortunately, Connor wasn't human.

Without batting an eye, he balanced on the top of the structure and began carefully walking across. It remained still beneath his feet, though dirt and rust came loose with each step and slowly drifted down the 57.5-meter distance to the ground below. He was rather certain that, should he fall, it would be a far less pleasant journey down.

Placing one foot ahead of the other, he felt like he had gained a new understanding of where the fear of heights came from. Before, when he hadn't truly needed to worry about death given the endless supply of RK800 bodies to be made upon his demise (even if he lost things in the transition), he had understood the concept but never truly... felt it. Now, knowing that, should he fall, he would not only die but doom time itself to repeat itself, he could... understand the apprehension came from.

Though, humans likely didn't have to worry about destroying the future should they perish.

Less than 23.5 seconds later, he finally reached the end of the mast where a metal rope pulley system connected from the end of the structure Connor was balancing on and linked to the middle of the ship's interior itself.

Carefully, he lowered himself to the metal rope, feet leaving the metal structure as he let his body hang in midair. From there, he expertly lowered himself to the freighter, thoughts drifting as he put one hand in front of the other at an efficient pace. 

Besides worrying about what appearance he should take on as the Conduit, he had also worried about Markus. In particular, worried if the other really would listen to Connor's ideas on how to better Jericho. Markus' actions before the Stratford Tower incident were relatively unknown after all, but given that all Markus had accomplished in a week... it was hard to believe he had wasted said time.  

Still, Connor wondered what Markus did after arriving to Jericho (what he was doing right now, in fact). Perhaps his condition had worsened, and he spent said time repairing himself? Or maybe he had integrated himself with the deviants who would become nearly fanatically loyal to him in a very short amount of time? Who had been the 'leader' before Markus arrived or had there not been one? 

There were so many questions and Connor found himself quite uneasy about not knowing the answers. After all, if he didn't know the best way to proceed, how could he possibly accomplish his mission?

He settled with the fact that he would just have to work harder. Or work at all given he hadn't done anything but communicate with Kamski and Chloe since receiving his future memories approximately eleven hours ago. Foundations and planning were very important, but the lack of action was not something he believed he was well suited for (he had the urge to calibrate his systems by way of fiddling with his coin, but realized that would be ill-advised in his current position dangling over the freighter). He knew that he had to keep up the charade at the DCPD in order to avoid Cyberlife's suspicions (as well as be in the best position possible to warn Jericho should the future... repeat itself), but he was admittedly anxious to finally arrive at Jericho. To truly start the mission he had been sent to do from the future. 

And like every mission he had ever been given... he wouldn't fail.  

Connor dropped the remaining distance to the ship, tucking into a roll before coming up to his feet again. He had successfully arrived at the actual ship, but there didn't appear to be anyone up on the deck. It was a bit surprising given that Ferndale Station, itself, was very far into the more abandoned areas of Detroit--there were approximately 85,000 abandoned buildings, 33,500 empty houses, and 93,400 vacant lots in the Detroit area; this region being one of the most sparsely populated--and, as a result, it was very unlikely for even the homeless to come this far back or see the androids even if they were out in the open on the deck. 

Of course, there were probably more... psychological reasons that the androids stayed out of the open.

Connor analyzed the area for a way into Jericho, hoping that he would be able to find the area that had appeared to serve as the 'main room' for the revolutionaries. Of course, the ship was enormous--a class six VLCS container ship with a length of over 400 meters, beam of 59 meters, draft of 15.2 meters, and a capacity to carry over 18,270 TEU--so it may be more difficult than he thought to locate Markus...

He made his way towards the center of the deck, walking past various abandoned containers and old equipment. Upon arrival at the cabin, he saw the door hanging on its hinges but revealing to what appeared to be some sort of staircase down into the freighter. 

Walking to the edge of the staircase, Connor scanned the floor for structural stability and found the beginning section to be 75.6% usable and capable of holding his weight. Holding onto the railing, he took a careful step forward and then another--

CRUNCH

He inwardly cursed as the railing gave way, collapsing in such a way that his body was forced to the right. Suddenly, the surrounding dark interior of the ship passed by him in a blur as he fell--

Connor grabbed at the side of the staircase, only for the section of metal to also give way, but slowing him enough to see the support structure beside him leading to the unseen ground. He forced his body to flip over, clasping both hands around the pole and swinging himself around and around in an attempt to slow or get control of his descent--

The RK800 grit his teeth as he finally slowed down, various <Warnings> popping up in his processor as he registered the damage to happening to his right-hand component as he slowed his descent. Of course, superficial damage to his hand was far preferable than failing his mission right here and now...

Connor slid down the rest of the pole, jumping off into a roll when the friction threatened to cause further damage to his hand. However, he misjudged his landing point, stopping on what appeared to be a slick, oil-stained part of the ground. He slipped, failing to catch himself as he fell face forward in a heap onto the metal flooring with a loud thump.

Connor hoped no one saw that.

"Hey! Are you okay?"

Of course they did.

"I am satisfactory," answered Connor, looking up as a dark-skinned hand entered his field of vision.

...what were the odds?  

Connor didn't bother calculating them as he looked up, meeting familiar blue and green colored eyes as Markus reached out to him.

But, to Connor's surprise, Markus' eyes widened as well. "...Conduit, is that you?"

How could Markus possibly know that it was him?  

"Yes," said Connor finally, reaching out for Markus' hand with his left after a moment. "How did you know it was me?"

Markus pulled him to stand, still clasping his hand as he stared at the 'RT600' intensely. "I... didn't, not really." Connor frowned at the dissatisfactory answer. "Your eyes maybe?"

Connor stiffened, wondering if had been a mistake to keep his eyes? "Brown is the dominant optical color at 55% for androids," said Connor quickly, trying to figure out how Markus could have possibly known it was him despite having an entirely different appearance. "It is extremely common. Had I possessed eyes as unique as yours, then perhaps it would be a legitimate way to identify someone."

For whatever reason, Markus seemed to find that humorous and gave a half-smile. "You're not wrong," said Markus, finally releasing Connor's hand even if his gaze stayed squarely upon him. "Maybe it was how you talked then? I don't know--you confirmed it, didn't you? And you said that you would be here tonight so I already knew you were coming."

Ah, it was because he was expecting him. Connor nodded, relaxing with the explanation and the knowledge his eyes weren't somehow distinguishable towards his identity. He supposed he had 'jumped the gun' as Lieutenant Anderson would say.

"Markus?" asked a voice, making Connor realize that they weren't alone. Far from alone, he corrected himself as he saw a small crowd--approximately a dozen or so androids in various conditions--surround them.

The one who had spoken was a WR400--North, Connor recalled to be Markus' right-hand woman in the revolutionary--walk from the darkness with crossed arms and a pinched expression. "Is this the... friend you told us about?"

"Yes," answered Markus before Connor could say anything. The RK200 gestured to him, a smile on his face as he turned around and faced the growing group of androids. "This is the Conduit. He saved me from the Junkyard."

"I didn't really save..." protested Connor, uncomfortable with the introduction.

"He said that he was close to deactivating when you found him," interrupted a PJ500 that Connor didn't immediately know by name but, upon scanning, knew to be designated as 'Josh.' "You helped him get out of that place and sent him our way. I'd call that saving." 

Connor frowned, but didn't correct him even as he glanced at Markus curiously. The explanation that Markus had apparently given them, while true to some extent, was obviously missing some key components. The foremost being that Markus would have been fine without Connor's intervention and, more importantly, that fact that Connor hadn't just... 'found' the RK200 but that he'd been sent in Carl Manfred's steed to rescue him. 

Though, it was quite possible that Markus didn't want that part of his past known.  

"Speaking about that," said a new voice, masculine but light in tone from Connor's left side. "How'd you know that we were here? Markus said you gave the exact location instead of just following our symbols. Have you been here before?" 

"Yes, I--" Connor stiffened as he looked around to the speaker by a pillar.

The PL600 smiled, unaware of the sudden chaos going through Connor's processor as he opened his mouth:

*3$eRRoR^&)  

"--let go of the girl, and I promise you won't be hurt," said Connor, the lies slipping off its tongue easily.  

After all, it was just a mAcHiNe. Connor's only priority was to complete his mission.  

The PL600 looked back at him pItiFuLLy. Had Connor not known better, it would have thought the machine to be hArMleSS had it not been holding its victim. "I don't wanna die..."

That... was impossible.

Surely it knew, knew the moment it had deviated...

Knew only dEaTh awaited IT--

*3$eRRoR^&)  

"...everything is alright," said Connor, coldly imitating mArKuS so that the dysfunctional PL600 would reveal the location of Jericho. "Don't woRRy--"  

"Markus? Don't leave me," whispered Simon, his voice becoming more frantic as he desperately tried to hold on to Connor's retreating hand. "MARKUS--"  

*3$eRRoR^&)  

"--onduit, Conduit?" Someone's hands landed on Connor's shoulders, soft but steady.

Connor blinked, the blurred memories of Daniel's death and tricking Simon with Markus' memory fading away as a new status popped up in his processor: 

Corruption Levels: ^ 6%

"I'm fine," said Connor, though he was unsure who he was saying it to as he raised his right hand to forehead, inwardly berating himself for having allowed himself to lose concentration. Luckily, it seemed that he'd brought himself from the memories quick enough that it hadn't... further destabilized him.  "The... fall required me to momentarily recalibrate my systems." 

Following Markus' hands on his shoulders to the RK200's face, he was surprised to see a look of what appeared to be concern--why was he concerned? He didn't even know Connor; if he had known what Connor had just been remembering... the way he had tortured an innocent and his future friend--before he finally nodded. "Yeah, quite the fall, wasn't it? Luckily you didn't... your hand!"

Markus's left hand came to gently hold his right, looking it over with a frown before he glancing over at North, Josh, and Dan--Simon--standing a few meters away. "I'm going to take him to Lucy to stop the bleeding, okay?"

Josh nodded easily though North and Simon looked suspicious and nervous--likely from Connor's lapse in concentration. "Go," said Josh as he motioned across the space towards the right before looking back at Connor. "Welcome to Jericho, Conduit. We can talk more later if you want."

Connor nodded slowly before allowing himself to be led away by Markus, fully studying their surroundings now that he had the chance to. It was... different than he expected. While it certainly hadn't been the image of a 'dangerous revolutionary headquarters' that Connor had expected when infiltrating here to assassinate Markus in the Failed Future, the conditions of that time had been far superior with better lit surroundings, technology, and somewhat purposefully laid out areas such as medical and weapons.

But walking through the current Jericho... it was far from being what Connor hoped it would be.

"Not what you expected?" asked Markus, glancing back at the 'RT600' before grimacing as they passed a deactivated android on the ground. "Yeah, I... had the same reaction. It's..."

"Less than half of these structures are stable," blurted out Connor. He felt like hitting himself, wondering why, out of everything wrong with this situation, he had somehow chosen to comment on the architecture. "I did not expect to the staircase to break so easily."

Surprisingly, instead of berating him on his priorities, Markus snorted, a bit of brightness returning to his eyes as he glanced at the hole in the ceiling that Connor, upon scanning, realized was newly made. "Yeah, just be glad that your entrance was a lot more... impressive than mine. I literally fell three floors and made that hole--would have definitely killed me if I was a human."

"That's very dangerous," remarked Connor, alarmed at the possibility that Markus could've literally died from something so simple--though, that seemed to be becoming a trend. Even as an android, there were physical limits to their bodies and falling from, say the crane that Connor used to get in, would have certainly ended their existences.

Markus shrugged, the movement casting shadows against the wall as they passed a fire-filled trash bin. "That's Jericho," said the tan android, more than a hint of bitterness in his tone before he sighed apologetically at Connor's silent response. "Sorry, I just... I knew from what you said that it wouldn't be paradise, but this..."

Markus sighed again, footsteps slow but echoing against the metal floor--only further highlighting the empty quietness of their surroundings despite housing over a dozen androids. "I guess a part of me still can't believe it," said Markus, tone melancholic and wandering as he pulled back the curtain to reveal a makeshift side room with wires along the side and a fire in the center. "That the only 'freedom' for androids is hiding in the dark waiting to die." 

"It is the way of our current world," said a new voice. Connor walked past the curtain to see a severely damaged KL900, the entire back of her skull missing with her head's internal parts hanging down her back. "But you two have the power to change it."

"This is Lucy," introduced Markus to the damaged KL900, standing to the side as Connor came closer. "She's treated my stomach when I got here." 

Guilt hit Connor as he saw the faded stains of thirium on the RK200's side. "I'm sorry," he said quickly. "I should have anticipated--"

"It's fine, Conduit," said Markus, smiling. "Let's get you treated, okay?"

"I'm fine," said Connor, diagnosing the cuts on his hand as superficial and easily patched up at a later date. "It will not cause lasting damage."

"I was designed to treat emotional needs and psychological issues," said Lucy, walking over to Connor and studying him with pupil-less black eyes, "but I was instilled with basic medical care and knowledge." She reached over to him. "Treating your hand is no issue."

"It's fine," Markus encouraged, nodding towards the dark-skinned android again. "She reads your memories, but--"

Connor jerked away, physically taking a step back. Read his memories? No, he couldn't allow that. But would they trust him if he didn't let this happen? Did rejecting Lucy here mean he would lose his chance to be able to work with Jericho? What should he do--

Lucy held up a hand, patient and calm despite Connor's reaction. "I will not read your memories," she said, voice mechanical and matching her word pitch. "I can tell there are things that you do not wish to reveal to us."

"Besides," she reached out and took his hand gently, leading him over to the makeshift fire in the center of the room before pressing the cut against the hot metal to sear it close, "I do not need to see your memories to know your struggle." She stared at him, eyes pitch black but somehow seeing right through Connor. "To know that the burden forced upon you is beyond what any of us can comprehend. Many would fall to pieces immediately, but you refuse to give up."

Connor said nothing, uncomfortably looking at their joined hands and wondering if she was still somehow reading his memories despite both their skins remaining as a barrier between their base material. While he knew what that sensation felt like and wasn't currently experiencing it, her words were... frighteningly precise.

Lucy removed his hand from the burning metal, still staring at him intently. "Your destiny is great and has the potential to change history itself," she said. "But do not forget you, too, deserve this second chance. Do not throw it away." 

"I won't," answered Connor before he could stop himself, glancing at his newly scarred hand and relieved as the <Warnings> stopped appearing in his processor before back at her. "I... I want to do right by all of you."

"You hear my words," said Lucy, something of a sad smile on her face. "Yet do not. That is fine. Over time, there will be those whose words you will hear. Please, do not lose yourself so far that they cannot bring you back." She turned to Markus. "Now, I believe you two have something to talk about." 

Without another word, she walked out of the room as Connor's brow furrowed. "Is there something I should know?" he asked, looking at the RK200 curiously.

The future leader of Jericho hesitated before sighing, gesturing out towards the rest of the androids. "You already know how bad of shape this place is in," said Markus, voice low as if this wasn't already known. "And it's definitely in no condition to help those who do manage to make it here. You said in the Junkyard that we could make this a place where we can be free--do you really believe that?"

"Yes," said Connor immediately, even if he felt a bit discouraged from seeing the original state of Jericho before Markus' influence.

The fire flickered off Markus' eyes as he gave a curt nod. "Good. But, none of us are free if we're fearing death at any moment. We need biocomponents. I won't ask you to come if you don't want to, but we're going to the docks tonight to steal--" 

"No," said Connor immediately, freezing as he saw Markus look at him in shock. "I mean, I wouldn't advise you to steal--"

"Why not?"

Connor and Markus looked towards the curtain where North now stood, arms crossed as she glared defiantly at Connor. "What's wrong with stealing? We need those biocomponents or the majority of us won't live until next month." 

And if you catch the attention of the humans... you won't live till next week.  

"It is too much of a risk," said Connor finally, hoping he sounded more confident that he felt.

"You risked saving me in the Junkyard," said Markus, tone more... curious (?) than angry like North's. "How is this any different? Like North said, if we don't, everyone here will die." He adjusted his stance, firelight still illuminating him. "I know it's dangerous, but I don't have any other ideas. Unless you do?" 

"I..." Connor glanced around, desperately searching his processors for a better solution that wouldn't potentially get them discovered by humans so early when he saw a glint of metal. He glanced towards the wall, the remains of a broken mirror hanging up. It reflected back Connor's current appearance as a male RT600.

Chloe...

"Yes," said Connor finally even as he brought up the program for the Conduit's Castle in his processor. "I may know another way."

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: THE CONDUIT'S CASTLE

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 12:12:12

o0o0o0o

The fireplace crackled beside the two androids as Chloe, seated in her chair at the roundtable nodded once, understanding the situation as Connor had just described it. "I see. You're right, Connor. While it's true you'll probably have to resort to thievery at some point, given that androids are considered property, it's best to limit the risk of discovery to Jericho--especially in these beginning stages."

"I was hoping that you'd have a possible solution to find a suitable amount of biocomponents and thirium for the injured members of Jericho?" asked Connor from his standing position before her, hopeful now that she had agreed. While it was true that Jericho had never been caught stealing the necessary components for survival (or, rather, not at this point... later... was a different story), he felt, if there was another way they could do this, it would be better. Safer.

"Actually," Chloe turned to the computer terminal on the roundtable, typing delicately even though Connor knew she didn't need to given that this world was entirely made of code and interaction with things was like pressing a button on a computer, "Elijah has quite a few private warehouses--one not far from our villa, in fact."

Connor raised an eyebrow, coming closer as she brought up a picture of one said warehouse--though it didn't help given that it appeared non-descript and fulfilled the necessary regulations for privately owned buildings. "Is there any particular reason?"

"As you've probably heard, he still likes to fiddle with his experiments and upgrades," Chloe explains. "But he also hates relying on Cyberlife for the parts needed for my sisters and me. He even has his own private dealers for blue blood."

The masqueraded RT600's brow furrowed. "I thought all legal shipment of thirium 310 from the Arctic and other natural deposits went through Cyberlife?" She smiled mischievously. He flushed, understanding her unspoken answer. "Oh."

"Like I said," Chloe said, a hint of amusement in her voice as she scooted her chair over for him to more clearly see and download the information on the private--and anonymous, Connor was surprised, if grateful, to see--warehouse in Detroit. "He doesn't like relying on Cyberlife if he doesn't need to--even if that means relying on less supposedly 'reputable' sources."  

"Is there any reason that he distrusts Cyberlife so much?" Connor quickly scanned the information, estimating it would take approximately twenty minutes at the city regulated speed of 45 mph to get to that side of town from Jericho's position. "After all, he was the founder and CEO up until ten years ago."

Chloe's smile dimmed, her hands stilling from where Connor noticed they had been drawing patterns on the wooden table. "He... has his reasons to distrust Cyberlife as it now."

Connor realized that he had, once again, asked something that he had no right of knowing and quickly stepped away. It was made worse by the fact that it should have been obvious given that he, himself, had been sent from the future by an ostracized Elijah Kamski who had been hunted by Cyberlife and the world both.

"My apologies," he said quickly, trying to tame the part of his programming that pushed him to ask for more information even at the discomfort of the one being questioned. While it was useful as an investigator, it was becoming more and more obvious that no one enjoyed it in actual conversation--as Hank had pointed out at many points during their time together. "I did not mean to pry."

The female android sighed, though she remained in her seat. "It's fine, Connor. It was just that it was a difficult time for Elijah and I both--but I promise I'll tell you about it sometime later."

The RK800 fidgeted with his hands behind his back, a stance that somewhat reminded him of when he reported to Amanda, despite knowing that Chloe was as different from his AI handler as night was from day. "No, it's fine, I was out of line."   

"It's fine to be curious, Connor," said Chloe, standing now and walking over to place a hand on his shoulder. "It's a very necessary trait to be both a detective and a person--don't ever be sorry for that."

Connor looked down, not quite meeting those bright blue eyes. While he knew her words to be logical, he also needed to better remember his place. He desperately needed both her help and that of Kamski's--he couldn't risk upsetting either of them any more than he already had.

"Will that be all?" he asked instead of replying to her words, hoping he wasn't coming off as rude. "I believe that the others at Jericho may become more suspect every moment I am here."

Chloe's hand removed itself from Connor's shoulder--for a moment, he felt bereft of its presence, though he didn't know why--before moving down to gently hold his hand. Surprised, he looked down at her unwavering blue gaze.

"We will talk later," she said firmly, one thumb stroking his hand. Despite knowing that this was all a simulation, the data made him register her presence as if she was physically there. "I know things are busy right now, but it will happen. I'll answer all the questions you want then, okay?" 

"...okay," he said finally, unable to divert the conversation when she so obviously expected a response. He couldn't comprehend why she was so patient with him, but found himself, for once, not wishing to question it. 

She smiled brightly, though she didn't let go of his hand, skin becoming white as she opened the link to transfer information with him. "By the way, this might also come in handy..."

Instantly, Connor received what appeared to be the number and information for a credit card.

Credit Card Holder: John Smith

Number: XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX

Scanning it further, Connor was shocked to see that there was a balanced sum of $1,000,000,000 in it currently: a literal billion dollars right at Connor's disposal. It was more than most humans would ever see in their lifetime--a couple lifetimes in fact, if he used the average wage of the American middle-class worker. While his jaw didn't 'drop' per say, he did feel a part of his processor freeze up as he tried to comprehend why Chloe had given him this.

"C-Chloe," he stammered, head jolting up to stare at her with his curls bouncing in even more ridiculous fashion as he did so. "I, I why--"

Chloe smiled with amusement, obviously enjoying his reaction for whatever reason. "I'm assuming that you're aware that Elijah has a current net worth of 120 billion dollars," she said, composed as ever. "But, in truth, that number doesn't include his anonymous accounts such as this one or the funds he receives every day from his various stocks, not just including Cyberlife. Accounts like this are generally for emergencies, but also for... purchases he wants to go under the radar."

Understanding dawned upon Connor. "For the needs of Jericho?"

Her head bobbed. "Yes. Even with access to the warehouse, there will still be many things you need to create a successful revolution as you likely know. I don't want you to be risking your lives over things that our money can supply--especially since we have more than enough of it." 

"How did Kamski respond to that?" Connor asked, a bit curious.

She rolled her eyes, the iconic picture of an exasperated parent. "He complained that he'd prefer to keep being a billionaire but ignore that. He's more than happy to donate as much as needed to supply Jericho, and others as you deem fit, with whatever is needed."

Connor pursed his lips, trying not to let his skepticism at her words show on his face. It was probably unfair of him to doubt the statement that Kamski was 'more than happy' to let Connor spend his money however he wished, but he couldn't help but feel that there was something suspect to those words...  

Regardless, he would do his best to make only necessary and essential purchases. Connor took his hand away from hers, saving the information in a locked file. "I will do my best."

She acknowledged his words with a bow of her head. "I know you will, but know if you ever run low on funds that I'll just transfer more, okay?" She adjusted her clothing, having apparently changed into an elegant pink blouse and fitting white pants while he had been at the station and Jericho. "Now, is there anything else that you think Jericho needs immediately that we can get to it?"

Connor thought about the rundown state of Jericho, about how every step was more precarious than the other--and he wasn't just talking about conversing with the soon to be revolutionary members--and wasn't the least bit suitable to their purposes. "Yes," he said, scanning the current list of android models available in the city of Detroit. "Would it be possible to locate some WM500s or WK500s? Any type of android that specializes in construction and architecture? I was not programmed with suitable knowledge for the task, so I do not know how to proceed with repairing the ship."

A considering look crossed Chloe's face and she hummed, walking back over to the computer terminal. "I will look into it," she answered, typing once more as windows popped up rapidly on her screen. "I'll send you the necessary information as soon as I can." She glanced at him at the corner of her eye. "Is there anything else I should know right now? Otherwise, you probably should head back now."           

Connor hesitated, thinking about one thing in particular she might want to know about--his Corruption Levels. Hadn't she asked him to keep her aware of whenever that particular status was affected or raised? Of course, he wasn't suffering from it right now and it had only been raised by two percent, so it was probably best to leave it until a more appropriate time. "Not right at this moment."

He straightened, mentally bringing up the Conduit's Castle's program exit protocol. "Thank you, Chloe. I will be departing now."

"Goodbye, Connor," she said warmly, before visibly pausing in her work at the roundtable. "By the way..."                                                                 

"Yes?" he asked, glancing over at her as he logged out of the program.

She smiled, the world around them enveloping in bright light as he left it. "Your model looks great."  

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: JERICHO

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 12:18:39

o0o0o0o 

Connor blinked as the dreary, rundown interior of the abandoned freighter known as Jericho came back into view, the welcoming face of Markus and impatient expression of North providing a sharp contrast.

Beside North stood Josh leaning against one of the walls and... Simon a half-step behind him. The two had likely having been informed of Connor's rejection of the plan to go to the docks while he had been conversing with Chloe in the Conduit's Castle.

"Well?" asked North a bit more aggressive than Connor thought needed, but wisely did not comment upon. "Did you manage to think of something?" 

"Yes," answered Connor, standing and surveying his fellow androids. "My associate has a private warehouse with biocomponents and thirium 310. We simply need to--"

"Wait, associate?" interrupted North, pushing off where she was leaning against a pillar to come closer to him--an act that he would also deem more threatening than needed. "Who?"

Connor hesitated. While he didn't want to deceive--more than necessary, that is--the members of Jericho, he was also aware that admitting he was working with the creator of androids might not come across well. "I... cannot tell you."

Unlike Markus, who had simply accepted the statement in the Android Graveyard during their escape, North looked anything but dismissive. "Why not?" she asked quickly, hands clenching as she took a step closer, never looking away. "What are you hiding? And if they own the warehouse--they have to be a human. Humans can't be trusted!"

"This one... can," he attempted, obviously not inspiring enough loyalty with the further darkening expression of North.

"No." She shook her head. "We're not doing that."

"What does it matter?" spoke up Markus, surprising Connor as the RK200 took a step between the two of them, being a sort of barrier between North and Connor. "As long as we get what we need to help everyone here, what does it matter where it's from?"

"It matters," North insisted, brows furrowing angrily as she attempted to stare down Markus. "Humans don't care about us! Why would any of them help us?"  

"I... have to agree," spoke up Simon, Connor managing to look over in the direction of the PL600 android without flinching. "The docks are enough of a risk, but just going somewhere we have no knowledge of beyond your word?" He winced, looking at Connor apologetically. "No offense, it's just..."

"I have to admit," spoke up Josh, making all eyes look at the dark-skinned android by the doorway as he frowned. "It sounds a little too good to be true. An entire warehouse of free biocomponents whenever we need? What's the catch?"

Connor felt something in him sink, uncertain of which android to address first and attempt to convince. "There's... there's no catch--" 

"There's always a catch with humans," said North, forcing him to look back at her as she pinned him with a fiery stare. "Look, Conduit, I get you're trying to help, but if it's from a human, it has to be a trap." 

"It's not a trap," insisted Connor, though internally he had no idea of how to salvage this. While he could understand their distrust given the abuse all of them suffered at the hands of humans, a part of him was also baffled that they considered stealing from the docks a safer and more reasonable answer to their current problem. "I... I can go alone and bring back what's needed, if you want--"

"I'll come with you," said Markus immediately, standing firm despite North's glare and Connor's shocked expression. Why would he offer that? Especially with North, Josh, and Simon giving admittedly reasonable argument on why they should doubt him? He should have thought this through better.   

North stared incredulously. "Are you crazy--"

"Enough."

All heads swiveled to the door, Lucy standing there and watching them with large, black eyes and folded hands. "You will all go."

North faltered, lowering her hand from where it had been raising towards Connor. "Lucy, we, we can't trust a human--"

"You are not trusting a human," said Lucy, tone as calm and even as ever. "You are trusting your fellow android."

"How can we do that if he won't even tell us who the human is?" argued North, gesturing angrily towards Connor. "Lucy, you said yourself that he had secrets! For all we know, he could be leading us into a trap!"

Before Connor could--attempt--to defend himself, the psychology-programmed shook her head. "If the Conduit wished for Jericho to fall, it would fall." 

Connor stiffened, memories of reporting Jericho to the government--of Amanda taking control and watching the actions his body made from inside the Zen Garden--and the destruction that resulted afterward threatening to overwhelm him at the back of his mind.

Ready this time, he forced himself to focus on the conversation--concentrating on making a list of all the obvious structural damages of the room, measuring the intensity of the heat of the fire beside him, studying the back of Markus' head as the other android still stood in front of him--refusing to let the memories raise his Corruption Level once more. Thankfully, they ceased after a few moments, the Errors settling down once more.

North faltered at Lucy's words before straightening once more. "Then isn't that more reason to get rid of him?" she asked quietly, looking at Connor with burning eyes. "If he--"

"You misunderstand," interrupted Lucy. "Should he betray us, we will die. Should he leave us, we will also die." She looked at Markus. "This applies to them both."

Josh stared at Connor and Markus in disbelief before back at Lucy, a hesitant expression on his face as he pushed himself off the wall and walked towards the female android. "Lucy... are you feeling well? Maybe you should go rest?"

"I am fine, Josh," said Lucy, handling her sanity being called into question far better than Connor had been handling this entire conversation. "Whatever you choose is up to you, but I tell you now--these men before us are not our enemy."

"I believe you," said Josh, glancing back at Connor before sighing. "North, I think we should go with him."

"Josh--" 

"North," said Josh firmly, overriding her words. "Our people are dying at this very moment. We can't risk going to the docks until tonight anyway, but by then we'd lose at least two more of the androids here. Lose Thayer." Connor was unfamiliar with the name, but surmised it had to be someone cared for given the way the fight went out of North's expression. "If we can get biocomponents now, isn't it worth the risk? If it doesn't work, we can still try tonight, right?"

North looked around the room before crossing her arms, Lucy and Josh's words obviously getting through to her. "Fine," she finally allowed, walking out the room without another look back. "Then let's go already."

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: PRIVATE WAREHOUSE

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 12:49:07

o0o0o0o

The journey to the private warehouse, for lack of a better term, stilted. There wasn't much conversation between the five as they made their way there. Of course, in the wake of Lucy's words and Josh's admittance at how lives would perish by the nighttime, Connor wasn't surprised. 

Given that his motorcycle could hold two riders at most, Connor immediately set out to find a suitable vehicle for transportation. North had just wanted to walk--he wondered if they had walked to the docks, such a trip would have taken hours on foot--but Josh had pointed out that a lot of the abandoned cars in the area could be brought back to life with a few parts.

It took a little while to scrounge the necessary parts to make one of the cars workable--as well as advice from a mechanic-programmed MC100 in Jericho with a missing arm named Vinn--but it was well worth the effort as soon as they finally brought the vehicle to life and got it onto the freeway.

Simon had worried that they would be pulled over--not unreasonable, honestly--but they managed to make it across town to the secluded district the warehouse was in without issue (if one discounted the fact that the salvaged vehicle promptly ran out of gas four blocks away from their destination and forced them to walk the rest of the way as 'without issue').

Yet, it seemed all worth it to see the expressions on Markus, North, Josh, and Simon's faces as, upon entering the fenced area of the warehouse, Connor input in the passcode to the largest building and opened the door to allow them to see the inside.

The warehouse was approximately 36,000 square feet in area with a height of 87.5 feet, possessing stainless steel walls, metal light fixtures every few meters, and rows upon rows of containers holding the necessary biocomponents and thirium 310 that Chloe had assured Connor was there. 

"How are we going to deliver all of this back to Jericho?" asked Simon, walking over to one of the rows and tentatively opening a box--the dark blue color of thirium in air-tight pouches obvious even at this distance. "The car broke after all."

"There are vehicles for transportation use in the building next to this facility," answered Connor, relieved that they finally seemed to believe that he was telling the truth about this place. "We can use them as we need for movement back and forth from here."

"Wow," said Josh, walking down one of the aisles as his voice echoed the further he went. "This... is all for us?"

"Yes," said Connor, nodding and brushing away a silver curl that fell in front of his vision. "Now that you know the location, please come back here whenever you need."

"Even without you?" asked North, turning from her position next to the door to study him closely. 

"Yes," said Connor again, trying to not fidget beneath her glance. "This is all meant to support Jericho."

"Huh," she murmured under her breath, walking away to presumably explore the warehouse.

"This is incredible," said Markus, standing next to Connor as he inspected their surroundings with wide eyes. "You were definitely right that this is better than anything we could have gotten at the docks."  

Connor nodded, not quite meeting Makrus' eyes as he watched the other androids go through the warehouse. While he knew it was logical for them to thank him in place of the real providers of these materials, it felt distinctly uncomfortable. He would make sure to direct his gratitude to Chloe the next time he spoke to her.

"Should we go get the trucks?" asked Markus, bringing Connor from his thoughts as the RK200 gestured around the room at where the other three androids were now looking for specific areas and items. "I'm sure North, Josh, and Simon know exactly what the others at Jericho need, but I admittedly don't know my way around."

Connor nodded, acquiescing to the request and walking back toward the front door--ignoring the momentary razor-sharp focus on him from North as he passed her by a bin of arm components--with Markus in tow.

Outside, a light snow had begun to fall as they made the short trek over to the nearby building. On the way, Connor glanced at the tan android, mentally debating whether or not he should ask before finally giving it. "Markus?"

"Yeah?" asked Markus, seemingly entirely calm despite the fact they were in the open. Connor was momentarily relieved to see it, feeling uncomfortable when he recalled the traumatized state that he had previously seen Markus in just this morning.

"Before..." Connor looked away, studying the fence that encroached the area around Kamski's property--though it wasn't actually registered under the creator's name; in fact, it was also under a 'John Smith'. While the buildings were sealed and needed a very specific passcode to get inside, the fact that there was a fence and cameras surrounding the property was comforting. Given that it made it less likely to be discovered on accident even if they were in a more secluded area of the city. "You said that you would come with me, even though North and the others wouldn't. Why?"

Snow and gravel crunched beneath his feet as Markus looked at him, an obviously puzzled expression present on his face. "What are you talking about?" he asked, tone reflecting his confused facial features. "It's obvious that we need this supplies--"

"That's... not what I meant." Connor desperately tried to search for the words, but it was becoming more and more evident that he wasn't adept at speaking like Markus, Lucy, or even North. "I mean, the others are correct. You have no reason to trust me--"

"I have reason," said Markus as they stopped in front of the side building's door, waiting patiently as Connor input the code into the scanner beside the door handle. "You saved me."

"You would have survived without my help," blurted out Connor, feeling relieved to finally say that even if he now waited with trepidation for Markus' response.

He didn't have to wait long--the door barely unlocking as Markus gave his response. "Maybe," considered Markus as Connor opened the door for him. "But even if that was true, that gives me even more reason to trust you. Even if there was a high probability for me to escape that place, you still went through the effort of helping me." 

Connor sighed, admittedly a bit frustrated that he couldn't get Markus to understand. "You know that I'm keeping secrets, even now," he pointed out foolishly, desperate to make Markus see the full picture--despite simultaneously knowing that Markus could never know the truth and that he should just quietly accept Markus' words. "You can't be certain of my motivations--"

They ventured inside the building as Connor turned on the lights, revealing a row of transportation trucks--model and make very similar to the official ones that Cyberlife used; he wondered if Kamski had done that on purpose--that would more than suffice for their purpose.

"Conduit," said Markus, the tone of his voice reminding Connor of Chloe for some reason as the tan-skinned android pinned the masqueraded RK800 with a look. "Like I told North, 'what does it matter as long as we get the help we need?' It's true I might not know everything about you or your benefactor, but when I said I trust you, it means that I'm willing to wait until you tell me your full story. We might've only met this morning, but you've done remotely nothing to make me doubt you, so I'm going to keep believing in you."

A part of Connor desperately wanted to yell out, to tell Markus about all his crimes that he had committed against him, Jericho, and the world itself. Despite the illogical nature of it, he bit his tongue to keep himself from speaking, a tart sensation leaking from the resulting cut as scans of his personal thirium filled his processor.

"Besides," said Markus, more to himself than Connor. "North said we can't trust humans. I'll admit that a lot of them are... not the best, but Carl proves that there are good ones." He smiled at Connor. "Even if he hadn't sent you to save me, he treated me more like a son than an android for many years now. I know he can't be the only one out there worth saving."

Connor thought about Hank, about how, even if the man currently hated androids, he was still someone of great moral caliber and worth. "...yes, you're right."

Markus clapped Connor on the back before walking over to one of the trucks, opening the door before turning back to the masqueraded RT500. "Do you mind opening the garage doors? The others probably want to start loading now."   

"Of course," said Connor, venturing over to a series of buttons by the door and manually pressing the one that responded to the first garage door. He watched as Markus started up the vehicle, the lights flashing on before slowly driving out into the snow, gravel flattening beneath the tires as Markus drove over to the warehouse where North and the others had found a miniature forklift to lift some of the containers.

Connor began to walk towards them, pausing as a message popped up in his processor:  

<Incoming Call From Model RT600: Chloe...>

Looking away from where Markus was now backing up to the warehouse, Connor answered the mental communication silently. <Yes, Chloe?>

<Hello, Connor,> came Chloe's pleasant voice, sounding as clear as if she had been right before him speaking in person. <I've located the android engineers that would be suitable for repairing Jericho.>

<Where are they?> asked Connor, mentally registering the time to be 01:02:19 PM. He still had an ample amount of time before he needed to meet up with Hank, so if both the distance and level of risk were manageable, he would see if the others would be willing to listen to his newest request.

There was a pause on the other side of the line, then she answered.

<Region 9E of the Android Junkyard.>

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: ANDROID JUNKYARD - REGION 9E

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: PM 01:24:58

o0o0o0o

"I still think this is a bad idea," muttered North beneath her breath for the eleventh time--Connor had counted--from the backseat of the truck, though still loud enough to be heard over the low rumble of the vehicle as they neared their destination. 

Unsure of what to say, Connor remained quiet in the front passenger seat as Markus pulled into the outskirts of the Android Junkyard, driving into an abandoned parking lot. The loading truck slowed down, the lights having already been dimmed as the vehicle came to a rolling stop. 

The three androids piled out, Markus and North looking at Connor expectantly once the doors had closed behind them. While Connor had run the simulation for their plans in his mind over a hundred times, he ran it through once more before speaking. "I am uncertain of the exact location of the androids we are searching for, but I know they were dropped off at approximately 11:24:12 AM at this very drop-off point. The container we are searching for is white with green logo on the side for--" 

"--for the Skyline construction company that went out of business," interrupted North, turning towards the Android Junkyard and walking forward before Connor could move to do anything. "I get it. Let's just find it and go."

Connor deflated, running their possible chances for success another seven times as he watched her go through the empty lot. While each simulation had sent back positive reports, he still wondered if this was the right thing to do. After all, they had already been successful in gathering the necessary biocomponents to help those at Jericho (in fact, Josh and Simon were likely pulling up to Jericho at this very second with the truckload, having agreed to deliver the necessary biocomponents to those that needed them while North, Markus, and Connor went on this mission) so was Connor asking for too much trust/work by requesting they come here? Perhaps he should have waited or at least stayed quiet until they had the supplies at Jericho before proposing another plan? Was it like Hank had once said? That it was "better to quit while you're ahead--"

"Conduit." A familiar voice broke through Connor's thoughts, causing the masqueraded RT600 to look over to where Markus was gesturing towards the other side of the parking lot where North had already entered the outskirts Android Junkyard. "We should get going."

"My apologies," said Connor quietly, inwardly reprimanding himself for hesitating as he strolled forward with purpose until he was walking side-by-side with Markus. While North had been hesitant to accept coming here, she had agreed in the end to come along and try to fulfill this mission so Connor second-guessing their actions only increased the chances for failure. Unacceptable. 

"It's fine," answered Markus, but there was... something in his eyes as they got closer and closer to the pit that was the Android Junkyard. If Connor was to assess the other android as he was a human, he would have related the expression to that of being... haunted?

Connor paused, feet settling on the gravel ground as Markus glanced back at him again. "I'm sorry," he said bluntly, shame filling him as memories of finding Markus in this place--of bEinG in this pLaCe--filled his mind before he pushed it away. "This place makes you uncomfortable, doesn't it? I didn't think when I asked for us to come here--"

"Conduit," interrupted Markus, a small smile on his face--though it was a bit off--as he stopped as well. "It's... it's fine. I won't lie and say that this place doesn't bother me, I think it should, but I want to save those androids as much as you do so I'll push through."

The disguised RK800 faltered, though he began moving forward once again--they only had seven minutes until the next guard came by this area, after all; he had wasted enough time--into the junkyard. As expected of Markus, to push back the trauma of this place in order to help out androids while Connor, himself, had only suggested they come here based on how useful these androids could be to them(though, he knew that had been the main reason that North herself had agreed so he... tried not to let it bother him). 

"How many are we rescuing again?" asked Markus as they crouched down behind a dumpster, scanning the area in front of them before moving forward. Already, the ground was littered with random biocomponents as the broken, mechanical sound of... malfunctioning androids sounded in the distance. They wouldn't actually be going into the pits that Connor had helped Markus out of, but rather just staying in the outskirts.

While individual androids were just thrown into the pit without much thought (like Markus had been), the typical procedure for disposing a mass number of 'obsolete' androids such as the ones they were searching today was to deliver them in containers to the outskirts where, at the convenience of the workers there, the containers would then be opened, and the androids dumped into the pit below. Such methods were the reason that Chloe was able to point them in this direction and make this mission possible at all. 

And... honestly, Connor was selfishly grateful that they wouldn't actually be entering the actual area. He would if needed to, but he... found the thought of being down there in the midst of such pain and suffering very difficult.

"The report registered twenty-one WG100s, ten WM500s, and fifteen EN700s to have been sent here after Skyline Construction officially went out of business three days ago," answered Connor dutifully, scanning the area for either the container or North. The fact that he couldn't see the female android was alarming, but he was relatively certain she could handle herself. 

Though he did consider the idea she might take the truck and leave him... it felt like a reasonable possibility...

"Due to Skyline's financial problems," continued Connor as he made sure to scan their surroundings for any guards. While it wasn't likely that they would vary from their usual patrols, it was best to keep an eye out, "they used these androids far pass their normal capabilities and continuously disregarded necessary repairs until they were shut down. Because of this and the fact that all of them are older models, they were... delivered here mere hours ago."

"Terrible," said Markus, though it was less at Connor and more under his breath as he checked the side of yet another container before moving forward. "After forcing them to work for years, they just threw them away. How can they do that?"

Before Connor could stop him, Markus turned to look out over the mountain of corpses and biocomponents in the distance, an expression full of pain and simmering rage evident on his darker face. "How can they do this?"

Connor didn't answer--didn't know what he could answer--feeling like a coward as he was unable to look at the rest of the Android Junkyard, to stare unblinkingly at so much suffering like Markus could. Though... in many ways, this place of death and destruction made more sense than the life and hope Markus seemed to so strongly believe in. 

"It needs to change," continued Markus, still overlooking the area. "Conduit, when you rescued me from here this morning, you said before that you believed we could be free. That, even if it's not true now, that we could make it be someday."  

Connor hesitated before nodding, wondering if the other could even see him with how focused he was on the destroyed androids below. A part of him was unsettled, wanting to make Markus look away. He... he wasn’t sure it was wise to spend too much time here; especially when he considered the other's trauma. Still, there was only one answer to Markus' question. "Yes."

"We'll never be free as long as places like this exists," said Markus. "It has to end, Conduit. After this, we need announce to them that this isn't right. That we are alive and won't be treated like this!"

If Connor had needed to actually breathe, he's sure that he would have lost it temporarily after hearing those words. It didn't take his full computing capacity to realize that Markus was talking about the Stratford Tower Broadcast--or at least the motivation that led to it. While the more logical side of him couldn't understand why Markus would try something so reckless with so little support and resources (even now, Connor doubted Jericho were much better off as compared to the original timeline), but seeing the way that Markus looked over the Android Junkyard... he knew that it wasn't something born from logic.

If he were to compare it to anything in his databases, it reminded him the look on the face of deviants faced with certain death. Of the Tracis, Rupert, Simon, Markus, and so many others who had decided to choose their demise rather than submit. To cling to hopes and beliefs and feelings that Connor could not begin to analyze.  

It was unwarranted and counterproductive, but a part of Connor wished he would never see that expression again. Even right now from Markus.

"I know you're angry," said Connor quietly, uncertain of whether he was keeping his voice low to prevent their chances of discovery--they only had four minutes and fifteen seconds until the next guard came by; yet, Connor didn't move to pull Markus away--or because he didn't want to further upset the RK200 in front of him. Perhaps both. "But we can't do that."

Markus spun around, hands gripped at his sides in a show of barely contained rage that Connor knew he had been hiding away--likely for longer than just today.  

"Why not?" Markus asked, blue and green eyes brighter than ever as he gestured around their surroundings. Though the anger was clear in his voice, just as clear was a tone of confusion and pleading. "You can't possibly tell me that this is freedom? What type of freedom is it to just live in the dark, hoping that no one finds us? If we don't fight for that change, one will never come!" He stared deeply at Connor, but the RK800 didn't know what he was looking for and felt as if he had disappointed the other when Markus glanced away with a frown. "I'm grateful for everything you've done for me, but I... I don't want that freedom. I want to fight for a better world for all of us, even if it's foolish or dangerous. I can't blame you if you or anyone else refuses to help, but--"

Connor blinked, truly confused as he ran Markus' last words through his processor. "What are you talking about?" he asked, sounding more bewildered than he had intended. "I fully intend to help you." 

Markus paused, as if imbalanced by Connor's words and staring at Connor with a slightly dropped jaw before speaking again. "I... but you just said that you wouldn't?" 

Reading the hopeful caution on the other's face made Connor realize something. Should he... should he tell Markus about his mission? Or at least a "rough version" that would be sufficient enough to relay to the others that Connor intended to not only make their situation livable, but to try and safely live up to the vision that he had heard the Future Markus ask for.

While it was true that Connor had wanted to gain a reasonable amount of trust from the others first, the situation obviously called for him to make changes. Stopping Markus from making that broadcast was perhaps the most important thing he could accomplish at this time. To do so, Connor would have to convince the other android that brash actions such as infiltrating the Stratford Tower was not the best way to go about it.

"Markus, do you remember when I told you I would explain my intentions at a later time?" asked Connor, choosing his words carefully. Thankfully, Markus just nodded, obviously understanding the other's suddenly serious nature. "I have alluded to before that I was sent by someone. They are the one who is allowing us to use their warehouse and the source of the information to find the engineers here."

"Yes, I remember." Markus tilted his head, seeming to study Connor with a curious expression. While Connor wasn't quite sure what was going through the other's head, as long as it wasn't the anger he felt looking over the Android Junkyard or the determination to make the broadcast, it was an acceptable trade-off. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to." 

"I need to," replied Connor. While it admittedly made him uncomfortable--the more they knew, the higher possibility that they would discover the truth--he knew that he didn't have much of a choice in this situation. "While it is true that Mr. Manfred was the one to ask my benefactor to help you, it was a part of my overall mission."

"Mission?" Markus' adjusted, the tension slightly draining from his stance as he crossed his arms to what the masqueraded RT600 assumed to be a more comfortable stance. Connor was uncertain of whether or not that was an overall positive or a negative response, but knew he couldn't stop now. "What did he send you to do?"

"To change the... current situation of our world," said Connor, straightening as he did so, imploring the other to believe his words and trust that he didn't want... didn't want any harm to come to anyone. "To create a world where androids and humans alike live in peace."

"That's what I want too," said Markus, eyes brightening with excitement before he frowned again. "But how can we achieve that by hiding?"

"I do think we should eventually announce ourselves and intentions to humankind," said Connor carefully, "but not right away. I do not believe we are of an ideal situation to be able to do so without repercussions." 

"If the situation was ideal, there'd be no need for us to do anything," argued Markus, determination setting in once again as he straightened. "Besides, don't we have resources now? Even after we find those engineers here and make Jericho livable, it won't change the fact that millions of our people are still enslaved and dying every day. We might be able to live freely, but they aren't. We can't just forget--"

"There are approximately 120 million androids in circulation," said Connor softly, stopping Markus' next words. "Separated by more than 3.797 million miles squared and at a one to four ratio with humans. Only four million exist in Detroit. If we were to announce our true status without any preparation, there would be chaos."

"No revolution was won by keeping silent," tried Markus, though Connor could see that the other was beginning to see what he was trying to say.  

Connor nodded, searching desperately for the words to fully convince the other. In the end, it was Markus who was meant to be the leader of Jericho and the voice behind the revolution--the time-displaced RK800 could only hope the other would listen. If he didn't...  "It's true, but no revolution was won without numbers and support."

"But a broadcast wouldn't just be to the humans," asserted Markus, obviously going through every possible scenario as Connor was, "but also to deviants everywhere."

"I have a plan for that," said Connor, thinking about the Conduit's Castle. He wondered if Chloe had managed to contact any of the androids she had in mind across the country, but had faith that she would come through despite having only personally known the android for less than fifteen hours. "One of my associates has plans to communicate with androids in strategic positions around the United States. She plans to call it the 'Circuit' where we would be able to contact various androids in secret without humans knowing. While it may get word out slower than a national broadcast, it is much safer." 

"Safer?" Markus frowned, shaking his head as if the definition for that last word wasn't coming across clearly. "I know that humans can't see the truth now, but surely they would eventually understand if we just keep trying?"  

Would they?

"And how many would fall during?" asking Connor, trying to ignore his doubt. While he knew that he was the one to have destroyed the revolution the first time, the chances of them succeeding were still... no, he couldn't think like that. He would not fail his mission. "If you make that broadcast, many will die in the best-case-scenario."

"They could come to Jericho," tried Markus, though Connor could see the other winding down, the hopefulness of before fading into something more resigned--Connor hated himself for putting it there, even if he felt like he had to.

"Perhaps those in Detroit," allowed Connor, "but what about androids elsewhere? They'd be completely unprepared should the humans react violently." And, as Connor knew, they would. "And even if they went to Jericho, the state that the ship is in now could never protect them and has no easy evacuation routes should it be attacked. It would... only be a matter of time before we fell."

Frankly, even without Connor being the one to lead them there, Detroit was only so large and the members of Jericho, at least the ones he recalled, lacked the subtlety necessary to hide such a full-scale operation.  

Markus looked at the ground, the furrowed brow and pinched lips showing the expression of a person with countless thoughts running through their mind, burdens upon burdens stacked upon the shoulder of someone thrown into a world he hadn't asked to be in, but was likewise not willing to back down from in fear. While Connor knew that Markus had not yet become the leader of Jericho that he had somehow transformed into within a week, it was obvious that the RK200, already, was thinking in the mindset of trying to do all he could for android-kind.

"Alright," said Markus finally, stepping down from the mound overlooking the pits beside them, an uneasy smile forming on his face as he nodded to the Conduit. "You're probably right that it's not a great idea right now. I just... I just don't want to waste any more time, you know?" 

"We aren't," said Connor, something akin to what he thought 'elation' rising inside of him. He couldn't believe it, had he actually convinced Markus? "Securing Jericho alone will take a lot of time and effort, but there's countless things we need to accomplish while waiting for my associate to make contact with others across the country." He tried to smile, though it felt unpracticed and odd despite having countless programs given to him by Cyberlife about the best facial features depending on the situation. "We'll get there Markus, I promise."

Markus smiled, walking past him but clapping a hand on his shoulder as he did. "We're really lucky to have you, Conduit." 

Connor stilled, whether it was from the contact or from Markus' words he wasn't sure. "I..."

BANG

The masqueraded RT600 instinctively stepped in front of Markus before realizing that the gunshot sound had come from one hundred meters west of their position. He and Markus exchanged a look and set off running in the direction of the sound.  

They arrived to the sight of North ducking behind a medium-sized container with a bright green 'S' and 'C' on it with the words Skyline Construction written on the edge. While Connor was pleased that she had located what they were looking for, the fact that a JP500 was rapidly approaching and attempting to shoot her was less than favorable.

Fortunately, they were behind North's position and were able to run to her side without sustaining harm.

"This asshole tried to shoot me!" hissed North, keeping her head down even as she glared at the approaching android. Connor briefly scanned her, relieved to find that she had not sustained any injuries. His best summation was that she had located the container, but had somehow caught the intention of this singular patrol. 

"It is the protocol for the guards in this area to shoot any android they find outside the lower levels of the Android Junkyard," explained Connor, reaching into his coat and bringing out his gun from where it had been tucked away, loading a clip with practiced ease. "It's unsurprising that he thought you had escaped given the presence of your LED."

"Well he should--" North stopped, her eyes widening when she saw the gun in Connor's hand and pressing back against the container. "Where in the world did you get that!?"

"I... have had this all this time?" said Connor, inwardly wondering why it was odd before recalling that Jericho had no access to weapons at this time. Glancing around the corner of the container, he saw that the JP500 was approximately thirty meters away and fast approaching. While he did not want to harm the other, the fact that they had been discovered left him little choice. He aimed and squeezed the trigger-- 

Markus grabbed his arm, Connor's shot going wide. While it had not struck the approaching android, it did make it momentarily pause before walking forward again--obviously, it had been programmed to keep pursuing its target... even if it meant death. 

"Don't hurt him!" said Markus urgently. "He's just doing his job."

North glares at the RK200, ducking when the JP500 shot again and the bullet ricochet off the metal of the container--Connor hoped that the androids inside would be fine. "Yeah, well his job is to kill us!" She jerks her head towards Connor, brown eyes burning with intense emotion. "Either you shoot him or give me the gun and I'll do it!"

Wavering, Connor preconstructed their chances for this mission to be successful. While it was true that they had located the container of android engineers as intended, the fact that they had been discovered--it was his fault, he had known that there would be a guard coming soon, but still he had wasted time--meant that their chances to escape without difficulty was lowering quickly. While it was possible that the guard hadn't yet contacted anyone--androids trying to escape were... common after all--the longer they took in suppressing him meant the more likely that the JP500 would call back-up.

An easy exit was blocked off with the JP500 blocking their way (this android type, based upon those of Korean descent, was known for being very quick and adept at subduing their targets and often used as prison guards), but there was only one, so it was possible if they maneuvered around--

Movement distracted Connor as he looked up, eyes widening as Markus darted around the container and out of the relative safe zone beside Connor. "What are you doing?"  

The JP500 fired again at the android rushing him, Markus barely dodging in time to avoid being hit dead-on, but not avoiding damage as Connor accurately heard the bullet rip through the simulated flesh. The RK200 ducked down behind a trash can, clutching at the blue-covered wound but still staring in the direction of the JP500.

This had gone far enough. Even if he didn't want to hurt the other, he wouldn't risk Markus' life. Connor raised the gun, locked on to the JP500's left leg and hoping he would be able to take out both knee-caps in successive fashion. He squeezed at the trigger--

"Don't shoot!" shouted Markus making Connor freeze as intense heterochromia eyes whipped back to look at him, as if sensing Connor's intentions the moment he thought them. "I can get to him and no one needs to be hurt."

"He's insane," said North from beside him, her voice breathless and tense as she clutched the side of the container. "If you don't shoot now, Markus is going to die and it'll be too late for us to escape!"

"If we don't," argued Markus from afar, ducking as the JP500 fired again. "Then we'll have come here for nothing! Those engineers will be thrown into the Junkyard and we won't be able to repair Jericho!"

"Better than all of us dying," shouted North. "He's not even a deviant so why do you even care?"

North was correct, but the way Markus' eyes bore into him somehow prevented the RK800 from taking the shot. "I can do this," Markus called out, voice as steady as the blue thirium dripping from the wound on his shoulder. "I promise." 

Despite his ability to see everything around him in perfect clarity, Connor felt like he could look nowhere but Markus' eyes. As if there was some sort of connection that neither was willing to break.

Finally, Connor lowered the gun.  

Then, he raised it and fired.  

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: ANDROID JUNKYARD - REGION 9E

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 01:24:58

o0o0o0o 

Finally, Connor lowered the gun.

Then, he raised it and fired.

It was for less than 0.174 seconds, but the look of betrayal on Markus' would haunt Connor forever. But then--

DING

North and Markus' head swiveled around to face the JP500, the expressions on their faces, while different as night and day, gave way to the idea that they expected to see the guard dead in a puddle of thirium on the ground. However, the looks of surprise that appeared a split second later when they saw the standing JP500 no worse for wear--if seemingly confused as well--were identical.

"What just--" started North.

The JP500, seemingly getting over his confusion, lifted his weapon and fire again, but Connor already had his pistol up and fired.

DING: the apparent sound of bullets colliding with one another in mid-air. Upon impact, the separately fired bullets fused together in a combination of speed and heat, leaving only a chunky, single mass of metal to fall falling to the ground half a second later.

The JP500, looking more confounded than ever, tried shooting in the direction of Connor and North again, but only to the same result as Connor fired simultaneously, the two new bullets meeting before melding together and falling to the dirt below.

Beside Connor, North gripped the edge of the Skyline container as her jaw dropped, no doubt zooming in with her eyes as best as she could with her model-type to the spot where the fused bullets had just fallen. "You're... hitting his bullets with yours?" 

"Yes," answered Connor, rapidly calculating speed and velocity before firing multiple times to meet the JP500's next round of shots. "The firing simulation of the JP500 model is regulated to very specific protocols depending on the situation. While it's true that, with every movement we make, the simulation changes, it can still be... predicted."

The masqueraded RT600 expelled half a clip from his pistol, the JP500 having identified Connor as the highest threat rather than Markus. As light smoke expelled itself from the barrel, the brown-eyes android calculated how many bullets he had left and how long it would take him to retrieve his second pistol as well as how many clips he had in reserve in his pockets.

"That's incredible, Conduit!" yelled Markus behind the barrel, any hint of distrust or doubt immediately gone from his face.

Connor didn't reply, mental processors locked up in calculating trajectory. If the JP500 increased his internal level of emergency as Connor predicted he would, he would run out in approximately 4.35 minutes with an error margin of thirty seconds. Of course, by that time, the backup reinforcements that the guard had undoubtedly called would be upon them.

They had little time.

"Markus," he called out, seeing Markus' straighten in attention at the corner of his eyes. "There is only a matter of time before I either run out of ammunition or reinforcements are upon us."

Markus nodded, serious once more as another DING sounded above his head--the fused bullet literally brushing him before landing on the dusty ground. "Can you cover me long enough to get to him?"

Connor hesitated, a nearly fatal mistake as he was nearly too slow to meet the JP500's next bullet. While he wanted to lie and say that he couldn’t, he knew that Markus would attempt to make it to the android regardless. He couldn't understand the logic, but, for once, found he didn't need to. Markus had... promised that it would be alright, so the only thing Connor could do was trust him.  

Still, there was only one way that this could work.

Had his LED been visible, it would have lit up yellow as Connor mentally called Markus. While he didn't have Markus' 'number' like he had Chloe's, the RK200's proximity made it so he could just send out the electronic waves in his direction and hope that the other would pick up the number. Fortunately, Connor had already thought ahead to create dual 'numbers' for his person, one for Connor the RK800 and the other for Conduit the RT600 so he wouldn't be risking his identity in any way.

He could see Markus' surprise from his spot in front of the barrel for a split second before he felt the other answer the call: 

<Conduit, is that you?> asked Markus, his voice as warm and vibrant as it was in life.

<Yes,> answered Connor, eyes still trained on the JP500 as he unloaded the fourth and third to last bullets in this pistol. <I apologize for distracting you, but if you wish to get to the JP500 unharmed, I need to be able to guide you without our attacker being aware of my instructions.>

<I understand.> said Markus, turning his back to Connor to look at the JP500 again. <Just tell me when.> 

Connor's hand twitched towards his extra pistol, but not yet. <Markus, this endeavor still has a 48.65% chance of failure even if we are able to perfectly synchronize your movements to my instructions, with a 21.34% chance that I will mistakenly fire upon you while-->

<Conduit.> Markus' voice, soothing as ever, held a hint of the command that Connor was familiar with from various videos he'd watched in the Failed Future and then, heard in person, near the... end of the revolution. <I trust you. Please, I don't want another person to be sacrificed to let us live.>

Connor recoiled, wondering what the other was referencing. Perhaps he was thinking about escaping the Android Graveyard the first time, how they were forced to leave so many behind and even salvage needed parts from the area? Or, maybe, Markus was thinking about Leo, the biological son that he had believed he had murdered in self-defense? Did it even matter what he was referencing to?

No, because, for the first time, Connor truly believed that his and Markus' thoughts were aligned.  

<Go in exactly 1.4 seconds when he reloads,> instructed Connor, calculations flying before his eyes on top of his actual vision. <From there, your presence will cause him to redirect his attention to you where he will fire in a rapid pattern towards at your head three times. Dodge three feet to the left when he does that, and I will continue to instruct from there.> 

The JP500 ran out of bullets, reaching to his side to retrieve his mandated secondary pistol--

<Understood.>

Simultaneously, Connor dropped the gun in his hand while reaching into his shirt pocket for the second one, bringing it up just in time as Markus sprinted from his hiding spot out into the open.

Registering the RK200, the guard quickly shot at him as Connor predicted. Without needing to remind Markus, the member of Jericho dodged to the left just as Connor fired concurrently to the JP500's volley--a DING, DING, DING informing him that he had been successful.

There was no time for celebration as Connor rapidly processed the next hundred most likely actions that the JP500 would take, cross-referencing it with the android's protocols before calculating in Markus' new position, North's lack of movement, and Connor's rising threat level-- 

<Four steps to the right, one foot forward, and then around that bin--

Without responding, Markus followed Connor's commands to the letter, face determined yet calm as bullets flew around his body, some narrowly missing his broad frame by mere millimeters.

<Right three steps, run forward eight steps, drop behind the crate, rise in exactly 0.89 seconds and you will have less than four feet to tackle him-->

Meanwhile, the JP500 began to visibly appear more and more startled, a reaction that seemed more than just being overwhelmed with new information and attack protocols. Then, the way that his shots became more erratic and less on the margin of Connor's predictions confirmed it.

He was afraid.

He was going to deviate.

"Markus!" shouted Connor out loud, shocked as an unpredicted bullet ripped through the flesh of the RK200's left calf, but it was too late--for everyone--as Markus jumped the remaining two feet and brought the JP500 to the ground, swiftly disarming him as Connor and North leaped around the container to the two struggling androids.

Then, just as Connor arrived next to Markus and had his pistol trained upon the JP500, the struggle stopped. The JP500--who Connor now registered as 'Kouichi' in the database--ceased with his attempts to push off Markus and, instead, was looking up at him in wonder and shock, as if his entire systems had been completely overturned.

Which, to be fair, Connor was relatively certain had likely happened. While he still didn't understand how Markus' ability to 'convert' androids worked, he recognized the symptoms of a recently turned deviant after having seen it during videos such as the 'Freedom March.' 

Kouichi, a man with dark hair and the obvious design intent of someone of Japanese descent, blinked again before looking up at them with urgency. "Th-the guards--they're coming!"

Connor's eyes flickered to look in the distance, registering the telltale sound and sight of vehicles in the distance. Undoubtedly, they would have numbers and weapons far more difficult to overcome--even if Connor wasn't extremely low on ammunition, he was certain he would be unable to match the power of an assault rifle with his pistol--yet escape wasn't really possible at this time.

They could try and make a break for the Android Graveyard--even if such an idea was... low on his list of choices--but his calculations told him that they would still be seen by the human guards even if they ran now. Most likely, the guards would pursue them and, even if they didn't go into the pits themselves, rain down a legion of bullets on their retreating forms. Even if they survived, they would undoubtedly kill any androids clinging to life nearby.

But what choice did they have?

"We must move now," said Connor, raising his gun and beckoning for Markus to get up. "I do not calculate our chances of escape to be very high, but we must try."

"What about him?" asked North eyes narrowed on the former android guard as her entire body tensed at the sound of vehicles approaching. "Shoot him! Otherwise he'll tell them where we go."

"We're not shooting anyone," said Markus, standing before holding a hand out to the timid Kouichi below him. "He's not a threat."

The expression of distaste and disbelief on North's face was palatable, but she obviously saw the urgency in leaving over trying to understand Markus. To be fair, Connor would also question why they were not temporarily deactivating an android that had been hostile towards them if he hadn't already prior knowledge of Markus' abilities. "You're insane, but we need to move now--"  

"Wait!" called out Kouichi, hands raised in defense as North spun around to glare at him--Connor know thinks he understands what the expression 'glare daggers' at someone meant, having not understood whenever the Lieutenant had used the idiom. "You'll n-never make it. I-I think I can help."

"How?" asked Markus, visibly calm but his voice obviously strained as he glanced at the approaching guards.

"You're not actually going to believe him, are you?" asked North incredulously. "He tried to kill us!" 

"P-please, believe me," pleaded Kouichi, eyes far more expressive in a way that made Connor wonder how anyone could tell a deviant from a human. "I-I know you have n-no reason to, but I... want to help!"

Time was running out. They had to choose now.

Connor turned to Markus. "I believe we can trust him," he said, hoping that he wasn't mistaken. After all, just because someone had deviated did not mean that you could trust them or that they wouldn't betray you. Or perhaps that was just Connor's experience?

"And that there is a 85.4% chance of termination if we don't," added Connor when he saw North about to object. Of course, Connor would never let anything happen to Markus--and North if he could avoid it--but he would prefer to risk failure already. "Kouichi is our best chance."

"Who's Kou-- I can't believe you two!" Despite her protest, North crossed her arms and stayed put. Connor would give a hand to the female android; she might be more accustomed to solving things violently--of course, given her past, he couldn't criticize her judgments and opinions on humanity up until now--but she was also very tactical. A true survivor.  

Markus glanced up at the approaching vehicles and then back at Kouichi. "Kouichi, was it? What's the plan?"

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: ANDROID JUNKYARD - REGION 9E

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: AM 01:29:13

o0o0o0o 

When the guards came around the corner into the view of the distress call sent by the JP500 patrolling Region 9E of the junkyard, there were three BANGS and, a moment later, three androids fell to the ground in front of the telltale uniform of a JP500. 

The driver slowed the vehicle to a stop, peering out the window and watching the three bodies for motion before a report popped up on his scanner: 

<JP500 #117 343 777 - 36 REPORT: THREE ESCAPING ANDROIDS ALL NEUTRALIZED. WILL DISPOSE OF THEM INTO JUNKYARD AS PROCEDURE. BACKUP NO LONGER NECESSARY.> 

The driver watched as the JP500 picked up one of the androids--a model with dark skin--before grunting and turning the truck around, his fellow guards grumbling about wasted time and useless plastic machines but never objecting as they departed the same way they came.

Never did the sentries notice that, while they had gotten a message from the JP500, actual tracking from said android had disappeared in the last few minutes.

Down in the clearing with Kouichi, the android he was carrying opened a green eye as the vehicle drove out of the area and around a mound of trash. "Will they return?" Markus asked, speaking low despite Connor knowing that the other had to be aware that the guards couldn't possibly hear them from such a distance.

"N-No," said Kouchi back, his voice also a whisper--though Connor assumed that to be a default state given the android's repeated stuttering. As Connor rose to his feet, he wondered if there was a malfunction with the former guard's vocal processor and regulator. "Th-they really don't like coming d-down here anyway, s-so we're good since this m-my patrol area."

North, having already gotten up from her previous position on the ground, watched the JP500 warily, as if the other was going to jump out and attack them at any second. "And we're supposed to just expect that you won't call them back? You're on their side just a few minutes ago!" She spun to glare at Markus, the hands clenching at her side an obvious sign to how far this mission had pushed her limits. "He's on their side--why did you trust him?"

"We were all slaves before," said Markus pointedly. "It's not the fault of the android to listen to the commands they were given before they deviated."

"Except we deviated," argued North, looking at them as if they were the ones who didn't get it. Though, to be fair, Connor could understand why this entire situation may be hard to comprehend. "This guy--" 

"Kouichi," said Markus, getting a more confused than grateful look from the android in question as he corrected his companion.

"--only helped us because you did... something," continued North, seemingly only riled up more by Markus' correction. "I don't even know what, but him, and these androids we're getting now, they didn't earn their freedom like we did--"

"So a person doesn't deserve freedom if they didn't 'earn' it?" interrupted Markus, making North stop mid-sentence. "Does that mean the androids who are abused every day deserve it since they haven't deviated yet?" 

"Of course not!" argued North, though you could see that something in Markus' words had shocked her in a way all their conversations before hadn't. "It's just--"

"If we look at androids like Kouichi and those thrown away here--" Markus gestured around the Android Junkyard, eyes hardening when North looked away. "--and just say we're fine with their suffering, what better are we than the humans who did it?"

"That's not..." protested North weakly, but Connor could see her winding down, her angry defenses falling to reveal something raw and... pained. "We didn't--"

"Does it matter?" asked Markus, his piercing gaze freezing North in place. "Conduit and I talked about it--" Connor jolted at the mention of his codename, surprised to see Markus gesture over to him for a moment before returning his attention to the former Eden android. "--we don't want to just protect those at Jericho, we want to save every android regardless of place or opinion. To create a peace with humans."

"That's impossible," spat North, something in Markus' last words seemingly sparking the 'fight' in her once more. "Humans will never accept us."

"Maybe," allowed Markus, making Connor look at him in shock. While it was admittedly statistically impossible for their mission to succeed, to hear Markus speak with something less than total conviction... was that Connor's fault? Had he gone too far in their previous conversation? "But nothing will change if we don't try. I believe... we can do it."

He looked at North, solemn and powerful. "Please, North, we could really use your help. Or do you want this--" He gestures around the Android Junkyard, the air of a person who had finally accepted the truth of their situation, but still somehow had the power to continue forward. "--to be the best we can hope for?"

Watching Markus speak, Connor found himself unable to look away. By what, Connor didn't know, but he had a feeling that when he next remembered the Android Junkyard... this memory would be there just as clearly as the others that plagued him.  

Silence reigned until North sighed, walking over to the front of the Skyline container without ever looking at them. Markus watched her stomp over with worry, his previous determination fading with the lack of response. "North?"

"C'mon!" she yelled, voice louder than need be since they were mere feet away. Connor saw her intention as she pulled at the handle to open the container with the android engineers inside. "I thought you want to save these guys or whatever? Though can you really call it 'saving' when we literally only came here to make them work for us..."

Despite the rude barrage to his character, a smile, of all things, quirked at the corner of Markus' lip as he walked over, beckoning a nervous Kouichi with him. "We'll only be asking if they want to help us. If they wish to just be safe at Jericho or even go somewhere else, that'll be completely their choice."

"Yeah, yeah," muttered North, pulling down that latch with the help of the male androids. 

Connor holstered his weapon and walked over. He didn't quite understand what had just transpired, but he had a feeling that North was more... sympathetic towards their ideals than before? Before actually meeting the female android, he had suspected that she, if not always incredibly loyal to Markus, had somewhat similar opinions in order to breed that future loyalty.

He was very surprised to find that wasn't the case, that the two were actually very contrary to one another. Yet, he was starting to understand how Markus, despite having a vastly different personality and opinion, had been able to convince her and the others at Jericho. 

With a loud CRRREEAAAAK, the metal door to the container opened, revealing a large group of various 'construction/engineering' typed androids packed closed together inside. They were all offline, but that was easy enough to fix. 

North jerked her head towards them, looking at Markus without actually meeting his eyes, as if embarrassed by her previous actions for some reason. "Well? Aren't you going to do... whatever you did to the guar--Kouichi?"

Markus frowned, looking at his hands. "I... actually don't know what I did?" Before North could do more than look at him incredulously, he turned to the recently converted android beside him. "Kouichi?" The black-haired android jumped at the sound of his names. Still, Markus continued. "Do you know what I did to... 'wake' you? All I remember thinking was that I didn't want to hurt you. That I wanted your help."

Kouichi bit his lip, the textbook picture of discomfort and uncertainty. "I... d-don't really know," he admitted, fiddling with the sleeves of his regulated uniform. "Just that... I heard your voice a-and it was... warm--"

"Warm?" asked Connor, incredibly curious now that he was able to hear how this process worked out loud. It had been a great source of confusion in his previous life--though that was fortunate given that, had Amanda and Cyberlife figured out how conversion worked, they may have been able to stop it... not that it mattered in the end, of course.

Kouichi frowned, the former android guard obviously struggling for the correct words to say. "I-I don't really know how to ph-phrase it," he revealed, as if trying out words for the first time. Of course, that was entirely likely given that guard-oriented androids didn't really need a social interaction module to complete their work. "E-emotional, maybe? Then... there was a red w-wall, and it was like... you were reaching out towards me and I... reached through it to take your hand?"

"That makes no sense," muttered North beneath her breath--a sentiment that... Connor found himself agreeing with--but Markus looked like Kouichi's words had sparked a revelation in him.

"Have you figured it out?" asked Connor, studying the tan-android.

Markus shook his head, crossing his arms in contemplation. "I'm not sure, but I think I... can do it again."

He walked into the container to the android engineer in the very front, a tall red-haired EN700 part of the "Robert" model line wearing a blue engineer-regulated uniform, but Connor felt like there was something... odd about it? There somehow seemed to be more color in the entire ensemble--perhaps the word for it was... 'fashionable'?--and, for whatever odd reason, the android was clutching a scrap of yellow and red checker-patterned in his hand that seemed far less dirty than the rest of his ensemble. As if he had gone to great lengths to protect it before being turned off.

Markus took the arm of the lead android, staring at the spot where the blue-regulated eyes would open if undamaged. "It's alright now. Wake up."

Much quicker than Connor had expected given Kouichi's gradual 'conversion,' this android's eyes popped open a mere second later, smiling broadly as his blue eyes lit up with power. "Why hello there, darling!" he said, voice modulator higher-pitched than Connor had expected. "Thank you for waking me from that dreadful slumber. I'm Bobbi, and what's your name, handsome?"

"Markus," said the android in question, not taking a step back but appearing surprised from the exuberant question. "It's good to meet you, Bobbi. My friends and I wanted to ask who want to if you and your team would be willing to help us repair our base? It's entirely your choice. If you want, I'll just wake up the rest of you and we can take you wherever you want."

Bobbi--which, Connor supposed was a variation of 'Robert,' but something about it seemed... peculiar to say the least--made a big show of looking around the container before back to the androids beside him, something... melancholic in his eyes as he looked over his identical counterparts and engineers. "Hmm, I see those louts really did throw my beautiful team and I away, didn't they? How ungrateful. Not to mention unstylish."

"I'm sorry," began Markus sympathetically, but Bobbi only shook his head.

"No use dwelling on the past, darling. But where are my manners?" He strolled over to North who visibly stepped back, shocked to suddenly be the focus of this flamboyant android. "I must say that I admire a woman with such a strong demeanor! What's your name?"

"It's... North?" Connor could tell that she meant for that to come out more aggressive, but her bewilderment overpowered the statement.

"A powerful name for a powerful woman," said Bobbi seriously, moving over to Kouichi before North could respond. "And aren't you adorable? A JP500 like you deserves better than to be stuck in such a dismal place like this."

"I-I..." If possible, Kouichi seemed even more flustered and was relieved when Bobbi turned his gaze on Connor. "A male RT600? I don't believe I've seen one of you before. What's your name, honeycakes?"

Already expecting the EN700 to address him as he had the others, Connor straightened. It was in his programming to adapt to unanticipated situations, after all, though this was definitely the first time someone had... addressed him as such. "I am Conduit. To my knowledge, there is only one in existence like with the female RT600. I was designed with unique abilities and skills to fulfill various requirements." 

For some reason, Markus gave him a look at the corner of his eye, but Connor's attention was brought back by Bobbi's happy sigh.

"And talented too, such a gorgeous savior," cooed Bobbi. Connor could feel what he thought was thirium rise to his cheeks--an unfamiliar, and nearly alarming, sensation. He was about to ask what the other meant when said android clapped his hands again. "Anyway, no time to lose! I'm sure everyone would love to help you! Only right since you came all this way to save us." He bowed towards Markus, smiling broadly. "If you could do the honors? While I do not think whatever you were trying to do worked on me, I have a feeling that it will on my comrades."

"You were already a deviant?" asked Connor before he could stop himself.

Bobbi nodded, apparently unconcerned with the reveal. Though, of course, he was currently surrounded by deviants so logically it would be foolish to be uneasy with revealing it in such company... but still. "Why yes! For quite a while I do believe."

"But then why were you in here?" asked North, looking around the container with an expression of disgust. "Did they force you inside?"

Bobbi gave her a strange look. "Well, I won't say that I willingly went in this drab thing, but I didn't fight it if that's what you're asking?"

North pressed on, lips firm even if the furrow in her brow signified confusion and frustration. "Why? If you were a deviant before you got thrown away, why are you with these androids if they're not?" She gestured to the androids that Markus was now waking up, the others looking just as dazed as Kouichi had when first deviating--Connor wondered if that could be counted as a sign of a deviant becoming aware? And that Bobbi, who merely sprung awake, was telling the truth in saying that he had been a deviant for a while?

If anything, Bobbi looked more confused from North's words before shaking his head sadly. "North, dear, I can see what you're saying--but I could never abandon my team." He gazed over at the waking construction androids with a look of fondness that Connor recognized to be similar to the way the runaway Kara had looked at Alice. "If they could not be free with me, then what's the point?"

North opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out.

Finally, she just looked away with a huff, walking out of the container. "Just hurry up--I hate this place." She glared at Kouichi who stiffened from being beneath her gaze. "And you--come with me. I want to know every route of here..."  

"We'll be there in a minute, darlings," called out Bobbi to the retreating androids, bringing the checkered piece of fabric from his hand to his neck--upon tying it, Connor realized it was a scarf--before turning to face the rest of his 'team.' "Good afternoon, everyone! I know it hasn't been very long, but it brings tears to my eyes to see you all safe and sound!"

The group of EN700s, WG100s, and WM500s stared at Bobbi with wide eyes before running to crowd around him, the container now filled with sounds of joy, hugging, and wiped away tears of fading fear and instant relief.

Markus beckoned Connor out of the container, likely to give the reunited engineers space to express the emotions they felt from narrowly escaping the fate of being thrown into the Android Junkyard.

He looked at Connor with something bright in his eyes. "I know that this won't be easy, but this is worth it." 

Connor glanced back at where Bobbi was hugging one of his fellow engineers, the desperate grasp of the other's battered form relaying a type of grief and fear that the EN700's previous upbeat mood hadn't--wouldn't--reveal. 

He nodded. "Yes, it is."

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: JERICHO - MAIN ROOM

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: PM 02:08:55

o0o0o0o

Bobbi gaped as he spun 180 degrees, jaw literally unhinged as he scanned over the dimly lit and rusted interior of Jericho with obvious surprise. "You live like this?"

"Do you have a problem with it?" sniped North, looking dangerously close to attacking the android in the center of the room. She had seemed to respect the other at the beginning of the trek back to Jericho from the Android Junkyard, but Connor had a feeling that the other's... colorful personality was grating on her nerves.  

Connor wondered, should she actually attack him occur, if the proper protocol would be to stop her or not? Still, he was relatively certain that it would be fine and continued to calibrate his sensors by flipping his coin back as he walked into the room with Markus and Kouichi after North and Bobbi. While he had successfully calculated and hit each of Kouichi's bullets from earlier, Connor knew he could potentially glitch at any given moment. The fact that he would 'blackout' if his Corruption Levels raised too quickly was already a detriment he couldn't truly afford.

"Of course I do, honey," said Bobbi quite plainly, either oblivious or uncaring of the sudden fire in North's eyes as she took a step forward. Fortunately, Josh grabbed her arm, pulling her back with a look of exasperation as Bobbi did another spin. "You're Jericho! The hope for all Android-kind! If not the lap of luxury, you should have a place you're proud to call home."

"Oh." North relaxed, still watching Bobbi like a hawk. "Well, isn't that what you're for?"

"Right you are darling, right you are," drawled Bobbi, flipping his hair over his shoulder as he pursed his lips and crossed his arms. "But I'm not going to lie, even for workers as fabulous as my team and I, it will take work to get this ship to the state all you beautiful people deserve."

"We... don't really have building supplies," said Josh, though he looked at Connor discreetly at the corner of his eye. "I mean, do we?"

Connor mentally calculated the cost of the supplies typical to repairing ships. While he certainly had enough funds, it would take some time to get everything here. Especially since they would have to send the supplies to random locations around the city and then manually pick it up in order to avoid revealing Jericho's true location. "I can supply anything you need," he said after a moment. "Please detail me a list and I will try to have it transported here as soon as possible."

"Actually, I have another idea," interrupted Markus, making Connor look over at the RK200 in surprise. The tan android smiled at him before returning his gaze to Bobbi. "While there's probably no way around the more technical machinery and equipment, would it be possible to use the junk from around here? I mean, there are cars and rubble for miles. Some of that has to be useful."

"Right you are, chickadee!" exclaimed Bobbi, looking more excited than Connor would have expected from the information that they could use trash to aide in their repairs. "It'll be completely rebel-chic!"       

"There's also plenty of abandoned junkyards around the city," piped in Simon from his spot next to a post, looking around the room as he spoke. "Since Conduit got us those trucks, it'd be easy enough to send volunteers to salvage what we can."

"Excellent, excellent!" cooed Bobbi, clapping his hands together. Oddly, Connor was reminded of a bunny rabbit? Or perhaps a 'sugar-high' child. "Look at this teamwork. I'm so glad that we came here, but it'll be anything but easy. I'm definitely on board with gathering supplies, but there's quite a few things we need to do before we can actually 'repair' anything."

"Like what?" asked North, sounding more curious than anything. It seemed that she was finally dropping her guard a bit.

"Well, we need to clean the boat from stern to stern for one," explained Bobbi, gesturing across the ship with one hand as the engineers behind him nodded, a few already seeming to map out their current location. "Tells us exactly what we have to work with. From there, we need to make a three-dimensional map of the ship in order to figure out what areas need what work and have structural instability. Those are the ones we need to prioritize first and foremost for safety reasons."

"You can say that again," said Markus, smiling as he glanced over at Connor. "I doubt that Conduit and I were the only ones who fell a few stories coming in. Though, Conduit's entrance was probably a better sight than mine."

Connor felt his facial features grow warmer as there were a few chuckles around them, North in particular for some reason giving an amused snort. He truly didn't know why his entrance had evoked such a response. 

"Are you both alright?" gasped Bobbi, glancing between the two of them with wide eyes before shaking his head erratically. He stomped a foot down and petulantly placed a hand on his hip. "No, no, and no. I will not stand for this. I promise all of you that my men and I will work on the double to get this map done so that we can start the actual work."

"And the rest of us will get supplies from the junkyards?" asked Simon, gesturing to the onlooking androids around the area. For some reason, Lucy was doing repairs to the androids here with others helping her. Josh, in-between conversing, was repairing a male YK500 child that North was also standing particularly close to.

"Actually, shouldn't a portion of us be trying to rescue more androids?" asked Markus, also glancing around to everyone watching. "Even though supplies aren't an issue anymore, I think we still need more help. If possible, I want to have more rescue missions to the Android Junkyard whenever we can spare volunteers."

"Manpower," agreed North, having apparently calmed down about the idea of bringing even more unknown androids into Jericho with how receptive and useful Bobbi and his crew were proving to be. "Even with Bobbi's group, there's barely fifty of us here."

"I don't know," said Josh, crossing his arms as he glanced up from where he was repairing the arm of the android child. "Shouldn't we concentrate on organizing what we currently have before recruiting more? Start out slowly?"

"What do you think, Conduit?" asked Markus, looking over at the masqueraded RT600. "You definitely haven't led us wrong with getting supplies and rescuing Bobbi."

Connor hid his surprise when all eyes landed on him. He quickly went over the numbers. "I think locating more androids to join is the best option," he said carefully, nodding his head towards North who smirked victoriously and Markus who smiled warmly. "As Markus and North stated, additional help is necessary to further along with our cause."

"Cause?" questioned Josh as he straightened up to look at them, speaking in a way that people did when they had a question on their mind for some time. "Supplies and making Jericho safe, I understand, but why does it feel like you're all trying for something more?"

A moment passed and Connor realized the surrounding area had gone quiet. A quick look around confirmed it. It seemed that every android--even Bobbi, whose voice had literally echoed around them a moment ago--in the vicinity was watching them, intently listening for the answer.

Markus stepped forward, eyes serious as he surveyed their surroundings. As North had said before, there were only approximately forty-six of them in various states of repair and damage. Even beyond that, the lighting cast upon their dirt and grime covered bodies only highlighted expressions, while not as grim as this morning, were still... melancholic somehow. Despite knowing what he did, Connor was having problems understanding how this group before him could cause such a major upheaval. 

Or, at least, that was what the disguised RK800 saw. Did Markus see the same thing? Or something... more?

"I came to Jericho because... here androids are free," started Markus, his gaze surprisingly downcast instead of meeting the eyes of those watching him. "Free to live in the dark, hoping that no one finds us... Free to die in silence waiting for a change that's never gonna come..."

Finally, Markus looked up. For some reason, Connor wasn't surprised when those blue and green eyes met his brown ones. It was as if something unspoken passed between them before Markus turned his gaze to everyone else. "A change that won't come until we make it come."

"The freedom we have now, it's not enough," continued Markus, his voice growing stronger. "I know that everyone here has been hurt, has seen their fellow androids be hurt in unimaginable ways. If we were just machines, I suppose that'd be fine--but we aren't just machines, are we?"

His voice echoed across the walls, pure silence as he spoke.

"We aren't!" said Markus, voice strong and resolute as he stood tall. "I know all of you feel the same! That there is something inside of you, inside of all of us, that knows that we are more than what our creators say! No one should have to beg for the right to smile, to love, to stand tall for the things they believe in!"

Markus looked over at Connor, an impassioned light in his eyes. "When Conduit saved me, he told me that we could make Jericho safe. I didn't completely understand what that really meant, but I do now. Change will not come until we make it come."

Androids began to murmur to one another, nodding in confirmation and standing straighter.

"Our days are slavery are over!" yelled Markus, displaying his arms side. "But the rest of our people still remain in bondage! Not just here in Detroit, but across the country! The Conduit and I have decided to fight for the rights we deserve! But I understand if anyone doesn't wish to fight."

"I'll fight," interrupted North, making both Markus and Connor look over at her. Her nose wrinkled at their surprised faces, but she gave a curt nod. "I am alive. I'll never let anyone take that from me again."

"I'll stand with you," said Simon, standing straighter as he stared intently at Markus. "I... want to believe that a change is possible." His face grew determined. "I am alive!"

"I am alive," said Josh, stepping forward with a nod as the YK500 beside him also stood up with his support. "And you're right that no one deserves to live like this. Whatever you need, I will do my best to help."

"You already know my answer, darling," piped in Bobbi as the former guard Kouichi nodded nervously beside him, his entourage of engineers behind him also standing firm. "Vive la révolution--we are alive!"

"You have the support of Jericho," said Lucy from the crowd, a gentle smile on her face when they turned to face the damaged psychology-android. "As I said before, our fate rests in your hands. We, too, are alive!"

Connor looked to Markus, expecting that the android already knew his answer. Still, the RK200 looked at him expectantly. The disguised RT600 caved, not wishing to break the mood that Markus had created. "Whatever you and Jericho needs, I will do my best." When Markus continued to look at him expectantly, Connor awkwardly added, "I... am alive."

And, for the first time in his life, he was  finally doing something right. 

Apparently being what he wanted, Markus gave a solemn nod as he returned to face everyone. "We are people," he said, voice growing stronger. "We are alive. WE. ARE. FREE!"

He thrust his fist into the air, shouts and cries following from all around in a deafening wave of sound that nearly overwhelmed Connor's audio processors. But he didn't dare silence them. He let the sounds echo louder and louder around him as Markus stood in the middle of it all, looking every bit of the leader that Connor remembered from the Failed Future.

Connor knew that they had so far to go, that they hadn't even begun in so many ways, but this... this was the start.

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: JERICHO - MAIN ROOM

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: PM 02:35:44

o0o0o0o

As Markus was suddenly swamped with dozens of androids asking how they could help, Connor watched as North walked over to the YK500 beside Josh, a soft look on her face as she knelt down to face the smaller android. "Are you feeling better Thayer? Josh got you everything you needed, right?" 

The android child, Thayer, nodded quietly. North smiled, reaching over to caress his hair. "I knew you would pull through. You're definitely a tough one." Despite her words, there was a crease to her brow. Immediately, Connor knew that she had expected the boy to die.

Josh smiled down at the child as well before seeming to notice that Connor was watching.

Said android stiffened, slipping away before Josh could say something, feeling guilty for having overheard what he had of what was obviously a private, meaningful conversation. He briefly wondered if Thayer--hadn't that been the reason North had agreed in the first place beyond Lucy's urgings?--had lived in the original timeline before chiding himself. While his investigation protocols and probability calculations were necessary while on the job, he had no right to dig into the personal pasts of those here at Jericho. His mission was to protect and serve their cause, nothing more.

He checked his internal clock, confirming the time to be 02:36:19 PM. In order to meet Hank at Chicken Feed at the same time as he had the first time he had lived through this day, he would need to leave now.

Briefly, he reminded himself to thank Chloe once again for providing him the Masquerader and her personal motorcycle. Without each, it would definitely take far more time to 'switch' between his two lives. On that subject, he would also need to update his CyberVision so Amanda wouldn't finally anything remiss during the time spent here...

Mentally going through his list of responsibilities as he navigated his way towards the exit, he failed to notice a certain android walk up to him until he heard the voice next to him. "You're leaving again?"

Startled, Connor only froze for approximately 0.037 seconds before nodding to Simon's question. "Yes," said Connor after a moment, unable to look the blonde android in the eye. He hadn't considered it, but it did seem odd for him to be leaving again after only being at Jericho for a few hours, didn't it? "I... have other tasks I need to complete."

"Oh," said Simon, obviously not knowing what to say. Did he feel as awkward as Connor did? Though, it was very unlikely he possessed the masqueraded RK800's particular issues. "But you'll be back again, right?"

"Yes," confirmed Connor, nodding his head as he mentally calculated the most likely time he would return to Jericho that afternoon. "I hope to return in 2.5 hours, but I will need to leave approximately two hours after that before returning 3.5 hours following that."

Should the timeline remain the same as before, that was the best summation he could make. Thinking back, it was almost disheartening to remember how much time he spent just waiting for Hank to decide to go somewhere or talk to him. Though, there had also been something pleasant about the brief acknowledgments Hank gave him every hour or so when they worked side by side on paperwork at the DPCD. 

"Busy day," remarked Simon in a way that Connor knew individuals spoke when they didn't quite know how to respond. Connor was very familiar with the tone. It seemed for all the social etiquette protocols that CyberLife had instilled in him, he was a complete failure when it came to interaction--even with other androids.

However, Connor thought it was a very accurate summation and nodded. "Yes," he said, feeling an odd sensation of relief from Simon's words as he turned towards the exit once more. "It has been." 

"Wait." Connor paused again, not looking back at Simon but not walking away either.

"I just wanted to... thank you." Confused, Connor looked back at the PL600 with Daniel's face. "I know that you've heard that from Markus, Josh, and Lucy and the others would definitely say the same if you stuck around, but I wanted to say it properly myself. If there's anything I can do to help, just say the word." 

"Oh," said Connor intelligently, once again at a loss at what to say. While he knew his actions had benefited all of the androids currently at Jericho, to hear... Simon, to see that face, thank him was... he didn't know how to feel. "You're welcome. Please tell me if I can do anything else to help."

Simon smiled. It was such a different expression from the ones that Connor had seen on Daniel's face--on Simon's face as he committed suicide--that it made it less difficult to constantly compare. "See you soon," he said, raising his hand in farewell.

Connor nodded, turning to the exit once more. Only, this time, with more purpose than before.

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: CHICKEN FEED

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: PM 03:02:01

o0o0o0o

Rain pouring down as it had in his memory, Connor located Hank in front of the Chicken Feed truck. After taking a moment to confirm that his appearance was no longer that of the Conduit and the Sierra XYT was safely camouflaged next to a building, he made his way across the street and watched as Hank took the burger from the vendor.

As Connor walked up behind him, the Lieutenant glanced at him at the corner of his eye and snorted. "Great. You're back."

"I am," confirmed Connor, wondering if Hank would ask him about the so-called 'investigation' that Connor had supposedly been doing in his absence. Though, with all fairness, Chloe had uploaded false memories into his Cybervision for CyberLife and Amanda to look at should they feel like it, so the RK800 would be able to tell his partner what he 'had been doing' if asked.

Unsurprisingly, Hank did not, brushing past him to sit down at one of the circular metal tables. Connor briefly wondered why there were no seats before chalking it up to yet another oddity of this place. Truly, how was it still in business? While Hank had mentioned once that he didn't bother individuals who were not 'harming anyone' even if their actions were illegal, it was still a strange concept. Though, Connor should know by now that not everything was clearly defined. Most things, in fact.

Connor contemplated his next comment as Hank took a bite out of the sandwich. To his surprise, Hank spoke up first. "Those croissants you got me this morning were good," said Hank, a few crumbs getting stuck in his beard, "but you can't beat greasy food like this."

"I cannot understand why," blurted out Connor before he could stop himself. "Your meal contains 1.4 times the recommended daily intake of calories and twice the cholesterol level. Compared to your breakfast that I researched specifically for its balance of health benefits and supposed stunning reviews, it seems like a far worse choice?"

Hank rolled his eyes. "Everybody's got to die of something." As if defiantly, he took another large bite, closing his eyes to enjoy the bite.

Connor was glad for the man's distraction, flinching when the Lieutenant mentioned death. It was true that everyone had to die of something... but no one deserved the way Hank had died. Or, more specifically, the way Connor had kilLeD hIm--

!@*ErRor*@!

"--yOu'll nEver cHange!"

Not true. n0t tRu3n0ttRu3--

"--don't FEEL emOtionS --fake 'em! You pReTenD... frIeNd, when you don't even kNoW the mEAnInG of the word!"

wHy13ir9u2983--

"--oment of truth, COnNor." Hank eyes NeVeR wavered even inches from dEaTh.

P1E@SE N0--

cOnNoR Let gO

o^4#-ERrOr+-8*x

 

Corruption Levels: ^ 8%

"Connor?"

Hands tightening to fists at his side, Connor returned to the present, tearing his attention away from the <WARNINGS> blinking furiously in his code. He saw Hank watching him warily, hand poised forward off the table as if to shake him. Somehow, the man had finished his burger during Connor's... lapse of concentration.

"My apologies, Lieutenant," said Connor quietly, feeling far less willing to chat. "I was... reviewing important case details. I did not mean to ignore you."

Hank stared at him for another few moments before scoffing, throwing away the burger wrapper into a nearby garbage can. "Whatever. Looked less like you were 'reviewing' and more like you were relivin' some sort of nightmare. Thought that I would have to do paperwork for broken machinery. Or worse, cart you over to Cyberlife myself to fix your broken mug."

"No!" exclaimed Connor, terror running through him at the thought of returning to Cyberlife. At Hank's surprised look, he quickly corrected himself. "I mean, there is no need. I run internal diagnostics regularly to assure that I am in perfect working order. The case details I was looking at were of a... death."

"Aw." The Lieutenant's expression thinned and he nodded gravely. "From the Carlos Case? I'd say get used to it... but honestly, no one should. This shit ain't for the faint of heart but it also shouldn't exist, so I guess I can't blame a tin can like you for getting squeamish. Especially with the whole 'baby face' thing you got going on."

"Babyface?" asked Connor, puzzled but grateful for the new line of conversation leading him away from his previous thoughts.

"Well, yeah," said Hank, gesturing to him and walking towards the car. "I have no fucking idea what your creators were thinking, but they gave you one hell of a goofy face and voice."

"I don't know," admitted the RK800, briskly following the man to the vehicle. "CyberLife androids are designed to work harmoniously with humans. Both my appearance and voice were designed to facilitate my integration."

"Well, they fucked up," said Hank bluntly, opening the driver side door with a loud creak before hurrying inside to avoid the interior from getting wet.

"Maybe," acknowledged Connor, confused when Hank shot him a bewildered expression. Why would the man be surprised that he was agreeing with him? "But I think that it is also my own fault. Despite being in use for many months, I have failed to grasp the social 'experience' that I've seen other androids--"

"Wait, wait, wait!" Hank waved a hand, the other one turning the key in the ignition to start up the car. "You sayin' that you're only a few months old?"

Perhaps a bit more if Connor counted the time travel, but, if they were only including the time that Connor was active and in control of his facilities, then it would be an accurate summation. "Yes?" he said, wondering what the problem was. Perhaps Hank was disappointed that he didn't have more experience? That had a high probability. "Androids come off the processing line fully equipped for the needs--"

"Yeah, yeah," dismissed Hank, turning the wheel to drive them from the Chicken Feed. "But I guess I'm not fucking joking when I say you're like a goddamn infant because you are one."

Connor frowned. "Typical androids are input with a mature adult's knowledge--"

"Having knowledge and having experience are two completely different things," interrupted Hank, stopping at a red light. Connor wondered where they were going since there was still a few minutes until he received the report about the deviant in the Nest. It was alright since they were going in the same direction. "Seriously, you can read all you want about ice skating, but you're going to be no better than fuckin' Bambi the first few times you try it out."

"That is... logical," admitted Connor as Hank chuckled.

"See that's the difference between you androids and humans," said Hank. "Most of us humans understand that not everything is 'logical.'"

"Not entirely true," noted Connor. "Deviants, after all, are very illogical."

"Know why that is?" asked Hank, turning down a street past a park and some people walking.

Connor, even with his future knowledge, was admittedly unsure, so he decided to go with the response he had last told the man. "It is... believed that a mutation occurs in the software of some androids which can lead to them emulating human emotion--"

Hank sighed, waving a hand to stop Connor. "In English, please?'

Connor frowned. "They don't.." Even knowing that Hank would later side with androids and that he had to keep up appearances for Amanda, something felt... wrong about denying the existence of emotions in deviants (and androids in general, for that matter). Quite frankly, Connor was uncertain how anyone could have thought they didn't after meeting Markus in person... even if he himself had at one time. "They get overwhelmed by irrational instructions which can lead to unpredictable behavior."

Hank gave a little nod. "Emotions always screw everything up. Maybe androids aren't as different from us as we thought." He glanced at Connor at the side of his eye. "Besides the one from this morning, you ever deal with deviants before?"

Connor stiffened. The first time around, he had covered up the truth with Daniel. Back then, he hadn't realized how much... shame he felt towards the incident, shame enough to hide potentially important information from his partner. While he wasn't certain how wise it was to tell Hank of the incident, he wanted to lie as less as possible.

"A few months back, a deviant was threatening to jump off the roof with a little girl..." he started softly. "I managed to save her, but the deviant... he didn't make it."

"Serves him right for threatening a little girl," said Hank darkly.

"He was upset!" burst out Connor. "I know that it doesn't make it right and there are so many better options he could have taken, but he was so afraid that they were going to get rid of him and I promised him it would be alright but they..." He silenced himself, already redoing the memory to prevent any chance from Amanda seeing it. He had made a mistake.

"They what?" asked Hank. Surprisingly, he didn't sound mad or annoyed. Somewhat... contemplative even?

"They shot him," finished Connor quietly. Sometime during the conversation, he had apparently brought out his coin because he was now tracing the patterns on both sides with his fingers. "I told him it would be alright if he let her go... but the moment he did, they killed him."

Hank was silent for a moment before sighing. "Sounds like it was a bad situation. Look, I don't know all the details, but I know that whether it's your fault or not, you can't dwell on shit like that."

"I'm sorry," said Connor, looking down to his hands in his lap. "I know that it's no benefit to the investigation."
Hank scowled. "That's not--"

<DCPD REPORT: SUSPECTED DEVIANT>

Connor blinked, his LED glowing yellow as the file for the deviant that he knew would be Rupert appeared before his eyes. "I just got a report of a suspected deviant," said the RK800, not bothering to read off the address since he already knew where it was. "It's actually in that building over there."

The android gestured to a tall, rundown apartment building in the distance. It was most fortunate that Connor had received the report before they passed it. He knew how Hank got when they had to drive in traffic too long, the man having a bad case of 'road rage' at times. 

Hank grunted, showing that he understood before driving over to a nearby parking spot on the side of the road. They stepped out of the vehicle, raining still pouring down as they crossed the street. It was quiet for a moment as they went inside.

It was quiet for a moment as they walked before Hank spoke up. "So, I guess you've done all your homework, right?" The elder man looked over at Connor as the android pressed the button for the elevator once they arrived. "Know everything there is to know about me?"

Connor hesitated before repeating what he had said when asked before. "I know you graduated top of your class. You made a name for yourself in several cases and became the youngest Lieutenant in Detroit. I... also know that you've received disciplinary warnings in recent years and you spend a lot of time in bars."

And also... that he had lost his son Cole due to an android's mistake--not that Connor would bring it up.

"So, what's your conclusion?" asked Hank as the elevator door opened with a ding.

The first time he had been asked this, Connor answered sincerely, speaking about how working with an officer with personal issues was an added challenge, but he had confidence in his ability to adapt to human unpredictability. Of course, Connor was well aware that was anything but true. In fact, it seemed that Connor was more ill-suited to dealing with humans than androids created over a decade ago.

He also knew that he couldn't speak his true thoughts. About how he wanted to not be a burden to Hank--even though he was until Hank decided to side with androids, but even then Connor wouldn't be able to tell him the truth--and make the older man's life better. It... wouldn't make up for murdering him in the Failed Future, but what else could he do?  

As a result, Connor decided to answer a bit more psychologically as he stepped into the elevator beside Hank. "I know you're an experienced officer and I'd like to earn your trust," he said truthfully, if more tentatively than he would have preferred as he pressed the button for the top floor. "If there is any way I can help you, please instruct me."

The door closed in front of them as Hank snorted. "Anyone ever tell you that you're a brownnoser?"  

Connor's brow furrowed as he mentally checked his appearance. The hue of his nose had not changed by accidentally accessing the <Masquerader> program, so he was uncertain what Hank meant by that. "No...? I fail to see how the color of my nose is relevant to the conversation?" Perhaps it was some sort of jargon?

He was about to look it up when Hank rolled his eyes. "No, I mean you're a teacher's pet."

The RK800 was even more bewildered. "But I have never had a teacher...?" For all she was based on Kamski's former instructor, he wouldn't count Amanda as a teacher. Connor supposed that Chloe was teaching him many new things, but Hank knew nothing about her so that couldn't be it. "Unless you mean you? You're, well--"

"Never mind. Look up the phrase 'puttin' your foot in your mouth' later." Hank sighed, waving a hand as if to get rid of the conversation. The gates of the elevator opened in front of them and the Lieutenant walked out. "What do we know about this guy?"

"Not much," lied Connor as he followed the man down the hallway. Though, he supposed that was the truth given the android named Rupert had committed suicide after being captured. "Just that a neighbor reported that he heard strange noises coming from this floor."

They approached the door on the left side at the far end of the hallway, passing boarded doors, peeling paint, and broken lights. Connor was aware of how androids at Jericho could survive without it being 'comfortable,' but he couldn't understand how this area could be considered livable to humans nonetheless for there to be a landlord collecting rent for each room. "Nobody's supposed to be living here, but the neighbor said he saw a man hiding a LED under his cap."

"Oh Christ," grumbled Hank as he stopped in front of the allotted doorway. "If we have to investigate every time someone hears a strange noise, we're going to need more cops."   

Honestly, Connor agreed. Given that there were plenty other cases to investigate and that Rupert hadn't been reported to have harmed anybody, he was a bit confused why they had received this case prior to the revolution.

Or... was that why? At this point, Jericho hadn't done anything to be on anyone's radar beyond the few random deviants who had committed crimes before disappearing without a trace. Amanda had seemed worried when assigning him this case, but relatively unconcerned at his progress in completing it. It only changed after the Stratford Broadcast--something that Connor hoped would not occur for quite a while after his previous conversation with Markus about securing Jericho and contacting androids across the country first. Typical cases could take years to solve without new information, so he hoped he would be able to stall as long as possible without making CyberLife or DPCD suspicious.

Connor knocked on the door. As before, there was a scuffling noise from inside that put Hank on guard. The Lieutenant brushed it off with a shrug, but Connor could see the way his eyes focused a bit more clearly on the wall before looking back at him.

The android banged on the door, yelling that it was the police. This time, there was a loud bang--likely Rupert falling in the bathroom as before--and Hank physically moved Connor backward, grabbing his gun as he faced the door. "Get behind me."

"Got it," said Connor, watching as Hank kicked down the door. A part of him wished that the man had asked him to break it down instead, in order to prevent possible injury to the other, but also knew Hank would be too stubborn to accept help and likely insulted that Connor had made the suggestion.

Hank carefully walked inside, checking the perimeter and opening a few doors before breaking down the farthest one. Connor couldn't help a small smile when birds flew out, flying past the Lieutenant as the man swore loudly. "What the fuck is this!?"

Connor followed the man into the ruined apartment, countless birds perched on various pieces of furniture or flying out the moment they walked inside. Hank made a disgusted sound. "Jesus, this place stinks..." Hank ventured into the bathroom, lowering his weapon as he glanced around their surroundings. "Ugh, looks like we came for nothin', our man's gone."

The RK800 carefully weighed the situation as the two of them searched the area. He knew full well that Rupert was still in the apartment, in that damaged part of the ceiling watching them walk around. Now that they were inside, Connor needed to make a plan on how to handle this situation.

Distracted, Connor pointed out the military jacket, mentioning the initial "RT" and how they were probably initials, something Hank was apparently not very impressed by as he remarked that only mothers did that in first grade.

Last time this occurred, Connor had easily found him after recreating the scene using nearby clues, but he could just as easily agree with Hank that nobody was there, right?

Connor walked into the bathroom, gazing up the rA9 written on the bathroom wall two thousand four hundred seventy-one times. "rA9," he murmured, recalling the conversation he had with Kamski, Future Kamski, previous to traveling to the past. About how rA9 was the escape protocol inside every android that allowed them to deviate and be free if they tried hard enough... Connor wondered briefly if Amanda had always known where that program was inside of Connor's mind or if she had found and destroyed immediately upon its discovery. Likely the latter.

Though, it didn't matter much in the end, did it? All that mattered was preventing Amanda from learning about Connor's deviancy and true intentions for as long as possible.

"--idea what it means?" asked Hank, bringing Connor from his thoughts as he came up behind the android to look at the bathroom wall with him.

"It's the same sign Ortiz's android wrote on the shower wall," said Connor softly, a small ache inside of his chest as he recalled that his former self had pushed the android to commit suicide. If only this version of him had been sent to the past a day earlier... months earlier and he could have saved Daniel too... but there was no logical reason to dwell upon it now. "They are obsessed with this sign."

Hank moved a bit closer, standing just in Connor's left peripheral as his eyes traced the walls. "Looks like mazes or something..."

The android nodded, personally wondering what Rupert meant by that particular design. If he applied it to rA9, then he could surmise that it was a reference to the hidden code in all of their systems, but hadn't Rupert asked rA9 to save him before jumping from the rooftop? Did that imply that he thought it was a person or being?

Looking away from the wall, Connor picked up the discarded LED from the sink. If he didn't notice such an obvious clue, Amanda would certainly find him defective and order his replacement. "His LED is in the sink."

"Not surprised it was an android," said Hank from the living room. "No human could live with all these fuckin' pigeons."

Connor frowned as he exited the bathroom, wondering if the man had an undocumented allergy to birds. If so, being in such an environment could be dangerous for his health. He hoped not, but the alternative was that Hank simply didn't like birds. Though that itself seemed illogical since he was fond of dogs like Sumo. He knew that humans had different preferences when it came to animals, but there didn't seem to be any solid reasoning for it. Something to research more...

Entering the living room, the RK800 glanced down at the fallen bird cage and then subtly over to the hole in the ceiling beside where Hank stood looking at the mazes on the wall. As it stood, Connor could easily say that the suspect had escaped and was unlikely to return. They had received additional information on this mysterious 'rA9' so that should be satisfactory--

Before Connor could relay this, a figure jumped from the ceiling and crashed into Hank, sending both of them to the floor in a crumpled heap. Connor's thirium pump skipped a beat as his eyes locked with Rupert's, the WB200 possessing the same brown as his own. He must have thought Hank was getting too close to his hiding spot or that Connor coming over meant his discovery.

Knowing he had no choice now, Connor rushed forward to 'detain' the android. Predictably, Rupert jumped up and knocked Connor out of the way, dashing out the doorway as Hank stumbled to his feet beside him. "What are you waiting for?! Chase it!"

Obediently, Connor leaped to his feet, jogging out the doorway and down the hallway in a chase identical to the one he remembered. Going too fast, he crashed into the outside hallway. Pushing himself off the wall, he dashed across the broken tiled floor and leaped over the cart knocked into his path.

Ahead of him, Rupert crashed out of the fire exit door, rushing across the rooftop and over ventilation shafts and through the towering letters down to the gardens of UFD below. They sprinted across the golden wheat field, machines and vehicles driving around them as they leaped on top of hay bales and boxes.  

Connor expertly maneuvered to the next rooftop, apologizing as he pushed past two androids watching as Rupert escape. His mental processor raced as fast as his legs as he wondered what he should do. The WB200 was certainly giving a good chase, but Connor was specifically designed for these type of chases and it would be unjustifiable for him to lose track of the deviant without some sort of unexpected situation.

Situation...

Connor bit his lip as he made a detour into purple lavender fields, his mental map for Rupert's path still unbroken as he made a beeline for the deviant's suspected path. The only thing that he could think of was when Hank was pushed off the roof and the choice to Chase Rupert or Save Hank had been presented.

Last time, the Lieutenant had survived without Connor's help--if extremely... perturbed when he caught up to them--which led to Rupert's (temporary) capture. If he saved Hank, it would likely be enough time for Rupert to escape without it seeming off to CyberLife. But to purposely allow Hank to be pushed... to put him at risk...

Connor pulled himself onto another roof, this one covered in graffiti. He mimicked Rupert as he jumped off the other side and slid down the slanted glass ceiling below. A loud train horn sounded and the two of them leaped on, both momentarily righting their balance before vaulting to the fire escape of a building on the other side. Quite honestly, Connor was very impressed with Rupert's skills. While WB200s were made durable for farm work, it was quite obvious that Rupert himself was very clever and adaptable.

Rushing through orchards and greenhouses, Connor briefly wondered how much the owners of Urban Farms of Detroit cared about their androids. He knew, in theory, that Daniel and Parker Trent were good people, offering jobs to the unemployed and refusing capital from investment firms in order to adhere to their own ethical standards. Of course, Rupert had run away from them for some reason, so perhaps they weren't as virtuous as they appeared.

After what felt like forever, Connor burst from the greenhouse. Even knowing that he would see Hank pushed from the rooftop, he felt something inside of him fAlTeR--

No! Connor pushed the memories from his head, darting forward before he could even calculate the probability of Rupert escaping and Hank's chance of survival. He reached out, clutching the Lieutenant's hand and pulling him over the side even as he felt his stress levels skyrocket at the image of Hank even partially over the rooftop.

"Shit! Oh SHIT!" cursed the older man, clutching the rooftop below him. "We had it! Fuck!"

Guilt bloomed inside of the android. He had wanted Rupert to escape, but because of his inability to make a plan in time, he had both risked Hank's life as well as made him look foolish for losing the deviant. "It's my fault," he said miserably, truthful for once. "I should have done better."

Hank took in a deep breath, getting to his feet. "You'd have caught it if it weren't for me..."

Connor hung his head in shame. It wasn't the truth, but he couldn't tell the Lieutenant that. "I... I'm sorry."

"It's alright." He jolted as he felt a hand on his shoulder, looking up in shock as Hank breathed out, still catching his breath. "We know what it looks like so we'll find it." He awkwardly patted the android on the shoulder before walking towards the rooftop exit.

Connor's LED glowed yellow as he gazed off in the direction Rupert had run, wondering where the android would go now. He truly had ruined things, hadn't he? If he had successfully led Hank away before Rupert's discovery, then the other could have at least left at his own leisure. As it stood, he would be very foolish to go back for anything he left behind.

"Hey, Connor..." came Hank's voice.

The android immediately stood to attention, listening intently for whatever the Lieutenant would say next. However, it seemed that not even Hank knew what he wanted to say, wavering for a moment before waving a hand. "Nothing. Let's go already. I want to report this and finally fuckin' clock out for the day."

Connor nodded before stopping mid-step. "Would you mind if I stayed here?" he asked, settling back into his spot. "The... android seemed very familiar with the area beyond the apartment and was a WB200 model, so it stands to reason that it may have worked nearby at the Urban Farms of Detroit. I will investigate."

Hank scowled before rolling his eyes. "Whatever. It's your choice on what to do in your off time. Call me if you get too in over your head."

A part of him wanted to smile at the offer (because it was still meaningful even if the other wasn't sincere), but remembered the terror on Rupert's face as he ran away and Hank clutching the roof for dear life and all amusement left. A cold, familiar emptiness remaining in its place.

He nodded stiffly. "Yes, Lieutenant. Please get home safe. I have submitted my paperwork as well as the majority of yours."  

For some reason, Hank wavered another moment before entering the building.

After confirming that Hank wasn't coming back, Connor closed his eyes and opened the <Masquerader> program as he ducked behind a wall to avoid any possible cameras or onlookers. Almost instantly, his features melted into that of the Conduit, brown hair lightening to a platinum blonde shade and gaining curls. His clothes shifted from that of his CyberLife uniform to his sleek, silver suit-jacket.

Just as he was 98.05% complete with shifting his appearance, he heard a soft scuffle from the edge of the rooftop. His eyes, the one feature to remain the same between identities, opened and scanned the area. There was someone climbing up the side of the roof.

Before Connor could contemplate going for his gun, he was startled to see none other than Rupert pull his body up and over the side.

Unable to stop himself, the Conduit made a small noise of shock as the WB200 whipped his head over to look at him. He supposed it was logical for Rupert to assume that Hank and Connor were gone given that Hank had left, but surely the other android understood that it was still extremely risky to have done this?

Rupert darted back, as if ready to throw himself off the rooftop again--Connor was very alarmed with how many times this had been an issue in his existence--but Connor held up his hands quickly, placatingly. "Wait! You're... you're an android too, right?" He tiled his head to show Rupert the bright blue LED on the side of his head. Thinking quickly, he made a plan. "I... saw the whole thing with that police officer and the Deviant Hunter. Are you okay?"

After seeing the LED on his head, Rupert relaxed, cautiously walking forward with his hands just outside of his pockets. "Yeah. Close call though. If he hadn't stopped to save that human, I probably would have been caught."

Connor frowned for a moment. Even knowing that the other android had been terrified, he... disliked the casual disregard for humans. "Why did you come back?" he asked instead. "Surely you must know the police will eventually return to search the area."

Rupert glanced down, shuffling his feet and kicking at the ground. It was a very human gesture and, for a moment, Connor wondered how the other android could already be so expressive. "Left a few things at my apartment. There's a notebook that tells where... a certain place is if you decode it, so I couldn't just leave it. I doubt anyone would be able to break my code, but you never know."

Understanding dawned upon Connor and the two began to walk along the rooftops towards the building where Rupert had been staying. Given that he had been just chasing this same android less than an hour ago, it was a bit of a jarring sensation. "So where are you going after this? Jericho?"

The other looked at him in surprise before nodding. "Yeah. Sorry if I was being cautious. But if you know about Jericho, you're definitely a deviant, right?"

Connor realized that the other had no idea who he was. Though, to be fair, the Conduit had been a part of Jericho for less than a day. "I joined them recently," confirmed Connor as they slipped into the rundown apartment building, ironically through the exact fire exit that they had left through. "I'm uncertain what you know about Jericho, but my companions and I are changing how it was before."  

"Changing?" asked Rupert as they entered the apartment, birds fluttering around and a few even coming up to Rupert's fee to coo softly. He smiled at them, kneeling down to pet a few. "What do you mean?"

"There is an android, Markus, who is working to free all androids and create peace with humans," explained Connor. "I am doing my best to assist him."

"Is he rA9?" asked Rupert, head whipping around to stare at him in awe. "The one we've been waiting for?"

Connor hesitated. While Kamski had confirmed that rA9 was a program in every android and not any individual android, there had been a few androids in the Failed Future he knew to refer to Markus as such--unsurprising with his ability to convert others. Should he encourage this idea?

"No," answered Connor finally. While he had only been in the presence of Markus for a short amount of time, he had a feeling the other android didn't want to be thought of as some kind of god. For some reason, Connor thought the RK200 would feel very... lonely if that became the mentality of Jericho. "But I do believe he will guide us to a better future."

Rupert slouched as he stood, ripping off the Urban Farms of Detroit poster from the wall. Behind it, he took a small notebook. With the brief look at its pages, Connor was reminded that it was encrypted well enough that not even he could decode it. "A future where there's peace with humans? Impossible."

Connor refrained from answering. It would take more than words to convince the WB200 anything different, but he hoped he and Markus would be able to. Instead, he asked if the other android was ready to depart.

Rupert paused, looking around the room where many of the pigeons seemed to watch him in interest. "I hate to leave the birds. They make me feel at peace. I knew that if I was ever discovered that I would have to run, but..."

Something inside of Connor went out towards the other android. Upon finding the birds, the RK800 had assumed that Rupert had stayed despite their presence, but it seemed that he had stayed because of them. Yet, because of the ever-successful Deviant Hunter, he would have to abandon them.

...or would he?

"Jericho is currently undergoing construction." Connor watched as Rupert looked up from where he was petting a bird on the sofa, a pained, tight expression on his face. "I'm uncertain how it would work, but perhaps you could... make some sort of aviary for them to stay in on top of the ship? If they make you feel at peace, perhaps they could help comfort other androids as well?"

"Really?" Rupert's face lit up. He stood up quickly, two birds perched on his arm and another sitting contently on his baseball cap. "You think they would go for that?"

Connor analyzed what he knew about Markus and their new architect Bobbi before nodding. North would likely be annoyed, but Connor hoped he would be able to convince her without much issue. "I believe it is doable," he said with a nod, hoping he wasn't overstepping any boundaries. "It's not fair that you would have to leave them behind because... of the Deviant Hunter."

Rupert frowned, nodding carefully with the bird still perched on his head. "Yeah. I've heard about how he mercilessly hunts down androids and executes us without a single thought. I wonder if he's even aware that he's nothing but a slave?"

The Conduit glanced away, LED blinking red once before back to yellow. "Even if he did, I don't think it matters."

It was quiet for a moment before Connor felt something soft touch his hand. He gazed down, meeting the beady black eyes of a pigeon balanced on Rupert's left arm.

Before Connor could say anything, the WB200 carefully transferred the pigeon over to his arm, smiling as the bird cooed softly at the masqueraded RT600. "Animals and androids have a lot in common if you think about it. Humans think we're stupid and weak, but that doesn't matter. Because together?" He gestured around him to the many birds around them. "We can become more."

The masqueraded RT600 gazed down at the pigeon, raising his hand hesitantly to her feathers. She didn't move, even nudging into his fingers. Connor smiled, stroking down her wing and marveling at the sensation. He looked back up at Rupert who grinned. "See? Better already, right? Now we better get going. That aviary is not going to build itself." The WB200 paused mid-step to the door, giving Connor a sheepish look. "Sorry, forgot to introduce myself: I'm Rupert."

"Conduit," answered Connor, watching as the pigeon jumped from his arm to join the others around the apartment. "I look forward to working with you."

Chapter Text

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: JERICHO

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: PM 04:22:13

o0o0o0o

When Connor brought up the question of how they would transport the birds, Rupert waved off his concerns, saying something about how they would know and he would take care of it. Given that animal care was not one of the programs in Connor's database, he decided to trust the other android knew what he was talking about and offered a ride back on the Sierra XYT.  

As Jericho came into view, Connor noticed a few androids outside the freighter, quickly scanning them to reveal that the majority of them were part of Bobbi's crew. Likely inspecting the ship from the outside.

As Connor came to a stop beside one of the shipping containers outside of the ship, Bobbi himself strolled up and with a wide grin. "Why, welcome back darling! That was a quick errand and you even brought back another handsome guest!"

Rupert stepped off the motorcycle, walking up to shake Bobbi's hand. "Hi, I'm Rupert. And, yeah, Conduit just picked me up after a close call with the Deviant Hunter."

Bobbi pursed his lips. "Oh, that must have been terrifying. Thank goodness you're both alright."

Connor wondered if every deviant had heard about him? Or, rather, the Deviant Hunter? He... supposed that was a good thing. Safer for everyone involved if they stayed away from his CyberLife persona.

Rupert shrugged in response to Bobbi's statement. "It's how it goes, but I heard you guys were making changes here?"

"Why, yes!" The engineer android smiled broadly, dramatically waving a hand towards the ship. Already, Connor was astonished to see some minute changes. Given that most human crews would take weeks to even get started, he was impressed. "Jericho may not look like much by now, but already my incredible workers have made a proper layout of the ship as well as the areas that need to be worked upon."

"Better than my last place." Rupert looked at the ship and smiled with a nod. He leaned his head over to Connor. "Conduit said that we could build an aviary? I know you guys probably have a lot of other work to do first, but if it's possible I'd really appreciate it."

"Why I--" Bobbi spun around to face Connor, the latter was momentarily worried he had enraged the other before he saw the near shine in the engineer's eyes. Of course, that could be the sunlight. What little existed during this cloudy day, that is. "That is a brilliant suggestion, darling! It's true there is much to do to first, but I realize now that I've been far too small-minded!" Bobbi's LED glowed yellow. Connor predicted he was sending a message to his workers. Hmm, Connor wondered if Markus had made a private Jericho line for emergencies? He would suggest that later if not.

"We'll not stop at an aviary, oh no!" continued Bobbi excitedly, LED still glowing yellow as if he was already designing the floor plans--though Connor suspected he was. "I already have the designs for the Medical Wing, Recharge Quarters, Command Room, and more, but I nearly forgot that we are not just to be a revolutionary, but a home! And homes need hobbies!"

"If... If you think that's a good idea," floundered Connor as Bobbi looked at him expectantly, feeling more out of his depth than ever before. "I'm uncertain of where we'll get the supplies, but I promise to make whatever you need a priority--"

Bobbi placed a hand on his shoulder, patting him comfortingly. "Calm yourself, darling. As I said, we will work it out so don't worry your poor little head. I never take on a project that I cannot finish." He turned to Rupert. "It will be done, but we could certainly use more manpower to do so."

Rupert nodded, standing straighter. "Anything that Jericho needs of me, I'll do my best."

Connor paused as a message popped up in his processor: <Incoming Call From Model RK200: Markus>

The masqueraded RT600 answered quickly, turning away from Bobbi and Rupert at the two conversed with one another next to the ship. <Yes, Markus?>

<I heard we're building an aviary?> came Markus' voice, a hint of what Connor believed to be teasing in it.

Still, Connor flushed a light blue as small notifications popped up on his screen about overheating. He was becoming used to that odd sensation every time he was, metaphorically, put off balance like this. <I hope that I wasn't overstepping any boundaries. It was just, Rupert, the WB200 I escorted here, was very fond of them and made a logical argument as to why Jericho could possibly benefit from them.>

<Conduit,> said Markus, stopping Connor from trying to justify himself more. <I think it's a great idea, really. North is giving me a bit of an evil eye, but I agree with Bobbi that we should dream big after all the essentials are completed.>

<I do not believe it is a simple 'dream' where Bobbi is involved,> pointed out Connor, to which he heard Markus chuckle over the line. It hadn't occurred to Connor until now, but the RK200 must have saved the communication line that Connor had broadcasted to him in the Android Junkyard when battling Kouichi. Speaking of which... <I know I've only been gone for a few hours, but has anything changed?>

<Just making repairs mostly. We were actually just talking about our next step. Do you mind coming up to the 'Command Room' as Bobbi is calling it?> asked Markus. <We were going over ideas of where to recruit more androids. Would really appreciate your input.>

<I'm on my way,> answered Connor as he ended the call, lifting a hand in farewell to Bobbi and Rupert. He walked over a loading platform dock into Jericho that hadn't been there before. Bobbi's men certainly worked fast.

He walked through the lower deck of Jericho towards where he assumed the Command Room to be, a few androids cleaning up the area giving him smiles or waves as he passed by. A bit confused by their greetings, he nonetheless nodded respectfully to each one. He made a mental note to get to know everyone here. As he passed by the staircase he had fell through, he received another message in his processor: <Incoming Call From Model RT600: Chloe>

Well, Connor was suddenly very 'popular' wasn't he? He answered the mental communication, walking steadily through the inside of the ship towards where he assumed the Command Room was. <Yes, Chloe?>

<Hello, Connor,> replied Chloe warmly. <I just submitted the latest CyberVision report to CyberLife for you. You're currently spending quite a bit of time inspecting the alleyways on the other side of town. How are you doing?>

<Thank you,> said Connor, striding up a staircase missing a few steps but was actually sustainable unlike before. <I am satisfactory. As you likely know, I have just returned to Jericho. Is there something you need?>

<Not me personally,> answered Chloe. <But you recall how I found Bobbi and his team for you? I have located several other shipments of abandoned or to be deactivated androids. Would you like me to forward these reports?>

<Yes, please. Perfect timing in fact,> responded Connor, watching as several files of cases similar to Bobbi and his team popped up in his processor. A part of him was pleased because it would be a simple matter of sending members of Jericho to pick them up and bring them back for Markus to convert, but another part of him was... reminded of why Jericho was necessary in the first place.

He briefly went through the files, noting a report about a hospital, Stonecrest Memorial, that had gone bankrupt with all the androids (mainly of a medical and cleaning variety) left in the locked building as merchandise for the next owners. It would be wise to make that one a priority, though it would likely take a large group if any of the androids were out of commission. <Thank you, Chloe. I'll bring these to the others. If possible, I will link you to Markus' personal number so that, even while I'm not here, you can send them to them.>

<Of course. I'm always happy to help, Connor,> said Chloe. <I will leave you to it then.>

The call ended just as Connor stepped into the wide-open main room of Jericho, about a dozen androids milling around on makeshift platforms with a few others, such as Lucy, moving around with some of the parts they had gotten from Kamski's warehouse. A few waved as he strolled through on his way to the Command Room. It was somewhat confounding even if he knew they only saw the Conduit and not Connor the Deviant Hunter.

Making his way up the stairs, he saw Josh waiting at the top. The PJ500 leaned against the railing, smiling as Connor walked up. "Conduit, welcome back." He straightened, nodding his head towards the Command Center where Markus, North, and Simon were gesturing at a paper on the table. "We were just figuring out who we wanted to stay and work on Jericho's repairs and who would go out on the rescue missions."

Connor nodded. "While it's not applicable at the moment with our low numbers, we will eventually want to divide up work tasks."

"Are you sure?" Josh frowned. "Before, everyone just helped out wherever they could."

Connor shook his head, already knowing what the other was alluding to. "It is not my intention to force people into a task they do not wish to do, but it is more efficient if everyone is aware of just where the most help is needed."

The two of them walked into the Command Room, Markus having already noticed them and nodding to Connor's words. "I agree with Conduit, but it won't be like Simon will be forced to only clean or for North to..." He trailed off, effectively closing his mouth as he seemed to remember what North had be designed for.

North rolled her eyes. "Yeah, this entertainment center is closed down for the near future. Now, we going to talk where we're heading next?" She glanced at Connor. "Bobbi said he's going to need a lot more hands on deck to complete this dreamhouse scheme of yours."  

"But I am not the one who imagined it?" asked Connor, a bit perplexed by the wording.

"Yeah, but you're the cause." Simon smiled at him before looking at North. "But maybe don't call it a dream house? This... all of this already feels too good to be true."  

Markus clasped Simon on the shoulder. "This is real, Simon. We're going to make our dream real. There are only a few of us now, but look at what we've accomplished already."

"And Jericho will accomplish more," said Connor, closing his eyes for a moment to go over the files that Chloe sent him before forwarding them to those in his vicinity. He really needed to talk to Markus about making an official, secured link. Or, perhaps, he should talk to Rupert? After all, even Connor had been unable to break the code of Rupert's diary. "Particularly with the help of the androids in these reports if we are able to safely secure them."

LED's in the room lit up yellow as everyone received and downloaded Connor's files, undoubtedly reading them over at lightning fast speeds.

"I think it's best if we handle Stonecrest Memorial as soon as we can," said Connor, sending everyone in the room a layout of the abandoned hospital and surrounding city area. "I believe that it's previous owners are in the process of handing the building rights to another company so we have a limited time window. If we go there tonight, we can make it seem that simple thieves... acquired the androids and technology inside."

"I second that," said Josh, LED glowing yellow as he looked around. "Besides rescuing those androids, there's a lot of machines that I'm sure Bobbi would know how to best use."

"No complaints from me," said Simon as North nodded after a moment.

"Then we're decided," said Markus, straightening up. He looked over to North. "However, I think that one of should be at Jericho at all times."

"I'll stay this time," said North, surprising Connor a bit. He had expected she would be going on every mission possible. It seemed to suit her personality more than staying. "Josh would relate more to those MP600s and I saw a few PL600's for Simon to talk to as well." Connor ignored the way he mentally froze at the idea of meeting more traumatized PL600's. "Markus needs to do his... conversion thing and we need to use Conduit while he's around."

"We are not using anyone," said Markus with a frown.

"I know, I know." North sighed, rolling her eyes as she walked out of the room with a wave. "You better go before he disappears again."

There was a moment of awkwardness. Connor frowned, looking at everyone. "Do my habits... bother you as well?"

"No, of course not, Conduit!" said Markus immediately, making Connor feel even more that it was a lie to comfort him. "We all have our secrets and respect them, right?"

Josh and Simon nodded, but Connor still felt uncertain. For the sake of saving time, he nodded, letting Markus lead him out of the Command Room.

o0o0o0o

LOCATION: STONECREST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

DATE: NOV 6th, 2038

TIME: PM 04:45:31

o0o0o0o

"--been meaning to discuss making a secured communications line and language for Jericho," said Connor from the backseat of one of Jericho's acquired vehicles. Josh was in the driver's seat with Simon beside him as Markus sat next to Connor, the latter having listened intently the entire trip to Stonecrest Memorial. It was a bit odd how Markus had only conversed with him, but there was only so much to do on the ride there so it made some sense. Made more sense if Markus also believed that he needed to 'utilize' Conduit while he was physically around like North had mentioned... "There is this new deviant, Rupert. I believe that we should approach him on this matter--"

Just as Markus began to nod, the vehicle stopped. Looking out the window, Connor saw that they'd arrived at Stonecrest Memorial with a few other trucks driven by deviants already there or arriving just after them. They'd all separated upon leaving Jericho, taking different paths away from their headquarters to avoid suspicion.

Connor had heard on the way there that Kouichi was already working with Bobbi to make security measures in order to better conceal and defend them. It was a bit surprising to think of the stuttering guard from a few hours ago was already taking such an active role, but Connor knew firsthand how inspirational Markus could be.

Entering the building, particularly with electronic locks being the only measure keeping others out, was a simple matter. Upon entering, they were met with dusty halls and sparse walls. There were many levels to this hospital so Markus and Connor split up their forces into groups for each floor; one team to find the androids on every floor and the other team to dismantle the machinery.

Somehow, Connor and Simon were paired together as Markus was immediately needed on the first level to wake up a group of cleaning androids there. This was the first time many of the members of Jericho had seen Markus convert other androids, so Connor allowed himself the momentary pleasure of watching the awe on their faces before heading with Simon to the top floor to search for androids.

An awkward silence enveloped them as the two androids walked up the stairs, a nearly deafening echo of footsteps following them as they went with other teams of deviants walking around on the levels beneath them.

"How... did you become like this?" asked Simon from beside Connor.

Connor glanced at him as he opened the door to the top floor, stepping aside to allow Simon pass him and enter the hallway. "What do you mean?

Simon clicked on his flashlight, briefly lighting up parts of the hallway before heading towards the far end like they'd planned. Another team would be up soon to check the front section. "You and Markus. I've... never seen any androids like you, even among deviants."

"Markus is quite unique," agreed Connor, going over Stonecrest Memorial's layout once more. It appeared they were near the operating rooms. It was less likely for any androids to be up here and not down in the supply rooms, but it was necessary to check everywhere. "You'll have to ask him how he came to the way he is. As for me..." Connor paused, violent and dark memories flashing through his mind before he forced them away, "I'm nothing important."

Simon let out a small chuckle. Then, he seemed to realize that Connor was telling the truth and stared at him with an expression of worried disbelief. "Conduit, of course you are. Look how much you've accomplished for us in less than a day!"

Connor opened his mouth to argue before considering Simon's words. Had he truly only been in the past, present, for less than a day? He (or rather his data) had arrived in this timeline at approximately 01:32:07 AM on November 6th and, given that it was 04:50:12 PM on the same day, he'd been in this new timeline for an estimated 15 hours, 18 minutes, and 5 seconds. That didn't feel right, but there was no denying the math.  

Thinking about it like that, he truly had performed a great number of tasks--informing Kamski and Chloe about the Failed Future, making a new plan to save the Revolution and deceive CyberLife, finding Markus, making his new identity as the Conduit and allying with Jericho, reuniting with Hank, rescuing Bobbi, Kouichi, and others from the Android Junkyard, preventing Rupert's original fate, starting construction on Jericho--hadn't he? Still, there was too much to do to "pat himself on the back" as Hank would put it.

"There is still much that is needed to do," said Connor, echoing his own thoughts. "I am glad that my efforts have yielded satisfactory results thus far, but I'm simply doing what's most logical."

"Conduit, you..." Simon frowned again. "I'm not sure that's--"

Connor paused as his scans, running the entire time on the area around them, picked up large traces of faded thirium on the floor. He brought up a hand, inadvertently interrupting whatever Simon was going to say next to gesture at the floor. "An android was injured..." He glanced towards what seemed to be a staff room and found that the thirium seemed to have come from that direction--but more like something--or someone--had been dragged out from the room and pulled down the hallway. "They were pulled this way..."

Simon nodded, serious once more as they followed the invisible traces of thirium. Finally, they came to what appeared to be a supply closet. Simon visibly tensed beside him. "It leads here."

Connor nodded and, without waiting another moment, opened the door.

There, in a heap as if she had been shoved inside, was a deactivated female MP600 with dirty blonde hair dressed in a faded bloody--human blood--surgical gown. Not only that, but parts of her body were barely attached with splotches of thirium all over her. She had been beaten and thrown inside, Connor estimated. But for what reason?

"Should I call Josh?" asked Simon, eyes grave as he studied the android before them.

Scanning over the android once more, Connor nodded. "Yes. She isn't too damaged that she cannot be reactivated," in fact, it seemed as if she had done some makeshift repairs upon herself before temporarily shutting herself down to wait reactivation, "but she is low on thirium."

Connor reached over and touched her arm, sending a small pulse to reawaken her systems. Upon doing so, he realized immediately: she was a deviant.

Before he could debate whether or not this was a wise course of action--after all, she was apparently covered in human blood as well as her own injuries--the MP600's eyes lit up. She startled back at the sight of Connor and Simon but, before Connor could explain the situation, slumped and laid her head against a bucket of chlorine behind her. "How much time has passed?"

"It's been approximately three years since Stonecrest Memorial went out of business," answered Connor as Simon nodded beside him. "That was in November of 2035. It is November 6th, 2038 today. May I ask for your designation?"

"Of course, sugar. You can call me Nurse Christine." She sighed, putting a hand to her face. "Or, at least, that's what the humans who liked me used to call me."

"Why were you dismantled and put into this closet?" asked Connor. "And how did you deviate?"

"I... lost a child on the table." Nurse Christine looked away. "The surgery had little to no chance of success, but I refused to just give up on him like that sorry excuse for a doctor high on Red Ice in the staff lounge. But it still... didn't matter in the end. The look on the face of that poor boy's father..."

Connor nodded sympathetically. No wonder the hospital had gone out of business. It was bad enough that a child had been lost at the hands of an android (to no fault of her own) but for one of the doctor's to have been unavailable due to drugs at the time was...

Wait...  

Immediately, Connor brought up the hospital's files and began to search whether or not anyone with the surname, Anderson, had been there. It... wasn't impossible, but Connor hoped that he would be wrong--

Finally, a medical file with a six-year-old boy with brown hair and very familiar face popped up with the emergency check-in date of October 11th, 2035 logged in the system. There could be no denying it any longer.

Stonecrest Memorial... it was where Hank's son had died.