Chapter 1: Discovery
Start up sequence activated/
RK800 #313-248-317-51 booting…/
All systems: Normal/
Energy levels 100%/
January 10th, 2039, 6:30am
Connor opened his eyes, staring up at the cracked ceiling.
A peculiar feeling unravelled throughout his body, starting in his fingertips, spreading up his arms and around his chest cavity. It pulled at the corners of his mouth and filled him with the desire to get up and move around. Excitement, he concluded.
The bill allowing Androids to work for pay had finally been passed – meaning it was his first day back at the Detroit police department.
He stood, patting the top of Sumo’s head as a good morning and set about preparing for the day. He folded his blankets carefully and stacked them neatly on top of his pillow. From the sounds of the snores drifting form Hank’s room, the lieutenant was still fast asleep, so he changed his clothes in the living room. The crisp white dress shirt felt alien against his artificial skin after the two months he went without it. Still, the familiarity was welcomed.
He had discarded his old android jacket for a formal black blazer Hank had purchased him from Target. He glanced at himself in the bathroom mirror, checking his hair. Minus the lack of the word “android” and his serial number scrawled all over him, he still looked the same as he had back when he was just the android sent by CyberLife. He wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about that.
He checked his internal clock again: 6:48am. Hank should be waking soon, so he set off into the kitchen to prepare his morning coffee. Hank was always grouchy when he first awoke, but after half an hour and a steaming mug of something caffeinated he was almost human.
He placed the lieutenants favourite mug under the coffee maker and pressed start before heading to the fridge to begin preparations for scrambled eggs. Connor wasn’t the worlds best cook, as made clear by what Hank called ‘The Great Pasta Incident of 2038’ (“You’re supposed to add water before turning on the heat!”) He was made for investigations and police work after all. He wasn’t a house keeping model. Still, scrambled egg was relatively easy.
He cracked the eggs into the pan and began to stir, his mind wondering. He was curious to see what his first day back at the precinct would be like. Would people be happy to see him? Probably not, since he was a cold, unfeeling machine the last time he was there. Gavin would surely be the least happy to see him. Connor hadn’t missed the malevolent detective one bit.
He snapped back to reality like the flick of a whip, his hand flying from the pan, an overwhelming feeling of wrongness flooding though him.
He yelped, bringing his hand up to his face to inspect the damage. The skin had faded just below the knuckle of his thumb, exposing the white plastic underneath. It was hot to the touch and stung under the light touch of his fingers.
He had been burnt.
And it had hurt.
He stared at the wound in awe, unsure of what to do. His healing program could most likely handle this by itself, eliminating the need to seek repairs, but that wasn’t his main concern. He had felt pain. That had never happened before.
A shrill beeping filled his ears, bringing him back to the present. A think plume of smoke rose from the eggs, which were now scorched, the smoke detector shrieking.
“Fucking Christ, Connor!” Hank yelled from the doorway, eyes alert, rudely awakened by the racket. “The fuck you doing?”
“Sorry lieutenant!” Connor yelled over the din, hurriedly shoving the pan away from the heat and turning off the stove, trying to resist the urge to clamp his hands over his ears against the assault of noise.
Hank stood on a chair, reaching up to the alarm, violently yanking out its batteries. It wailed into blissful silence.
“Jeez, I thought we were over the torching food stage?” Hank said warily, stepping down to the floor.
“I’m sorry, I got distracted.”
Hank rolled his eyes. “Banish Sumo to the living room when you’re cooking, how many times do I have to tell you?”
“I…” Connor bit his lip, placing his hands behind his back. If he told Hank he could suddenly feel pain, Hank would worry. Hank would be concerned, maybe even baby him on the job. He didn’t want that. Hank didn’t need to know. “I’m sorry. He likes the kitchen.”
Hank grunted, grabbing his coffee and taking a sip. “I’m gonna go get dressed and we’ll go. Bet you’re looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, huh?”
“Yes!” Connor said, eyes lighting up. “But Hank, you need to have breakfast. I burnt the eggs, I’m sorry but we’ll be a little late by the time I’ve made new ones-“
“It doesn’t matter, Connor.” Hank waved a hand dismissively. “We’ll stop off at McDonalds on the way or somethin’”
“I must remind you of the salt levels in McDonalds food, and one breakfast meal is way above your recommended-,"
“Jesus Connor let a guy live.” Hank grumbled before disappearing back into his room.
The precinct was already bustling when they arrived, Hank clutching his second coffee of the day like a lifeline. Connor powerwalked past the front desk, the older man struggling to keep up.
“Jesus, Connor slow down!” Hank called after the android.
“I’m sorry, I’m just… excited.”
“Anyone could see that.” Hank mumbled into his tumbler.
“Hank, Connor!” Fowlers booming voice echoed across the room from the doorway to his office. “In here.”
Hank groaned. “Great. He’s started already. And I’ve been a good boy.”
Connor began a brisk walk toward the office, Hank trailing behind him. Once they entered, Hank slumped down into one of the plush chairs in front of the captain’s desk, looking at Fowler with tired eyes. Connor stood behind him, arms folded behind his back waiting for Fowler to start speaking, however Fowler just frowned at him. “You can sit down Connor.”
“Oh.” Connor’s mouth hung open slightly. He hadn’t even considered the fact that he was almost Hank’s equal now. He was equal to the humans, he could do what they do. That meant he could sit.
He carefully lowered himself into the plush seat below him, hands braced on the arms of the chair. Once he was settled, he folded his hands in his lap, twiddling his thumbs. He desperately wanted to fiddle with his coin, or the rubix cube Hank had gotten him for Christmas, but he didn’t think Fowler would like that very much. He was uncomfortable, he realised.
“You have no idea what I went through to get you this,” Fowler reached into his drawer, pulling out a small black box and sliding it across the desk towards Connor. “Androids might be able to work now, but the higher ups weren’t very happy about the idea of an android detective.” Fowler folded his arms across his chest. “I busted my ass getting you in. Sweet talked the bosses. You better not let me down, kid.”
Connor took the box and slid the lid off carefully. Inside sat a shiny detectives badge atop fine, soft silk and a few inches of padding. The words “Detroit City Detective” were inscribed in black over the gold, the metal catching the light and glinting.
His very own badge.
“I-," Connor cleared his throat, suddenly feeling slightly choked up. That was new. “I won’t, sir. Thank you.”
A ghost of a smile played about Fowlers lips before he forced his face back into neutrality. “I can’t issue you a gun just yet, currently it’s illegal for androids to carry firearms. You’ll have to rely on Hank for the time being.” He turned to face the older man, “Don’t let him out of your sight.” He added sternly.
Hank gave a lazy mock salute. “You have my word, Jeffery.” He drawled.
Fowler leaned back in his chair. “You’ll still be handling cases involving androids, I’ve sent some files over to your terminals. Connor, you can keep using the desk you used before. Make yourself at home. That’s all.” He waved his hand dismissively, turning back to his tablet.
The pair got to their feet, Connor still staring intently at his shiny new badge, a mixture of emotions pooling around his thirium pump. He was vaguely aware of Hanks hand on the small of his back, guiding him out of the office.
“Not bad, eh?” Hank said, wrapping an arm round Connors shoulders, looking down at the badge still sat in its box. “How you feelin’?”
“I’m not sure,” Connor murmured, picking up the badge and holding it between thumb and forefinger delicately. “I think I’m happy.”
“Good stuff.” Hank clapped him once the arm before letting him go as they approached their desks. Hank’s was just as messy as it was when Connor had last seen it, only with the added candy wrappers left over from Christmas no doubt. Connor’s was just as empty, but-
Sitting next to the keyboard was a wooden name plate, much like the one on Hanks desk. Carved into the gold in black lettering was ‘Dt. Connor’.
“Surprise,” Hank grinned, throwing himself down into his chair with a grunt. “You’re a real detective now. The name plate is just as important as the badge.”
Connor picked up, inspecting it. There was a large gap after ‘Connor’, for a surname no doubt, a surname he didn’t have. Still, it was very much his.
“Thank you, Lieutenant.” He breathed, running his fingers along the engraving, feeling each little bump that spelled out his name.
“Playing cops with your doll, Anderson?” A harsh voice sounded behind him. Connor turned around, coming face to face with none other than Gavin Reed. Gavin scowled. “A badge and a name plate? It’s almost like he’s a real boy!”
“Lay off, Reed.” Hank snarled, not looking up from his terminal.
Gavin scoffed. “Isn’t it fucked? We went to school for years to get where we are now, and Barbie here gets to be a detective overnight. And he was literally born yesterday.”
“I was activated one hundred and forty-eight days ago, Detective, not yesterday. I saw you only two weeks ago-“
Gavin snorted. “My point still stands. You’re a fuckin’ baby.”
“I am not a baby. I was designed with the features and physicality of a twenty-five-year-old male.”
“All right, quit it you two.” Hank cut across them. “Just piss off Reed, we have work to do.”
Gavin glared at Connor. “Stay out of my way, you plastic prick.” He hissed, before storming off, making sure to slam his shoulder into Connors in the process.
It hurt. A dull ache pulsed from the point of contact, making the android wince quietly, hand coming up to clutch at the assaulted area.
“Ignore him.” Hank took a sip of his coffee, still not looking up from his screen. “He’s an idiot.”
“I’m aware.” Connor said, sitting down, straightening his nameplate so it was parallel to the monitor.
Hank sighed, leaning back in his chair. “I have a shit ton of paperwork to do before we can go out and actually do our jobs. We’ll go after lunch.”
“Can I help?” Connor asked, “I can file reports in seconds.”
“I know. I’m jealous.” Hank snorted, running a hand through his hair. Stressed. “And you weren’t working with me on these. I have to do ‘em by myself. Read through the case files while you’re waiting.”
“Got it.” Said Connor, interfacing with his terminal.
Hank had wanted to go to the Chicken Feed for lunch. Connor had reminded him he’d already had McDonalds that morning. Hank had scowled into his salad.
“I’m not a fucking rabbit, Connor.” Hank grumbled around a mouthful of lettuce as they made their way back to their desks. “I hate this shit.”
“It’s good for you, lieutenant.” Connor reminded him. “There is far less fat and cholesterol in salads, also-“
“Yeah, yeah. You don’t even eat. You don’t even know how torturous this is for me!”
“Diabetes and even heart attacks are far more tortuous than eating a salad.” Connor pointed out, lowering himself into his chair.
Hank glared at him across the desks. “Shut up.”
“I’m just looking out for you, lieutenant.”
“I know. It’s annoying. Stop that.”
Their conversation was abruptly cut short by Fowlers booming voice echoing across the precinct. “Reed! My office!”
All heads turned to Gavin, who was sat at his desk, feet propped up against some important looking documents and tablet balanced on his knee. He looked up, a sour expression on his face as he got to his feet.
“Heh.” Hank chuckled. “Wonder what he did. Maybe he’ll get fired.”
“That’s wishful thinking.” Connor said, not looking up from his terminal. “He hasn’t broken nearly as many rules as you have in the past, and you’re still here.”
Hank threw a ball of scrunched up paper at him.
The office lapsed back into its quiet hum for a minute, before it was once again broken by a loud bang that made Connor start.
Gavin was storming down the steps of Fowlers office, face red and fuming. “I can’t fucking believe this!” He shrieked, turning around to face the police captain, who was standing calmly in the doorway. “I don’t need a partner! Especially not a plastic asshole!”
Hank and Connor glanced at each other. Gavin’s comment reminded Connor of his and Hanks first day in the precinct together. It wasn’t one of his best memories.
“You’re working with him, Reed, and that’s final.” Captain Fowler said calmly. He seemed to be able to keep his temper when he was talking to people that weren’t Hank. “Unless you want to hand over your gun and badge.”
Gavin just stood there, mouth hanging open. “I can’t believe this.” He muttered, “I can’t fucking-“ He let out a roar of frustration before storming out, leaving a ringing silence behind him.
Fowler sighed audibly before he straightened and addressed the office. “Everyone, we have a new officer joining us. His name is Evan.” A shadow appeared behind him and a man stepped out under the florescent lighting. Connor’s thirium pump skipped a beat and he felt it sink, settling around where a humans gut would be. “Make him feel welcome.”
Connors eyes widened. He was looking up at himself, standing next to Fowler in a crisp white jacket, blue LED steady on his temple. No, not himself. This android was taller, his shoulders broader, his jaw squarer and his eyes were a cold, icy blue. But other than that, it was like looking in a mirror. He had soft brown hair that curled slightly, a whisp falling across his forehead. His pale skin was littered with brown freckles thrown here and there and his lips were the same shade of soft pink.
“Holy shit!” Hank exclaimed as the android walked past them, not even sparing them a glace, and settled in a desk opposite from Gavin’s. “Connor, that’s you!”
“I- I know.” Connor stuttered, turning in his seat to gape in awe at the back of the androids – Evans – head. Everyone else in the office seemed to have the same idea.
“Jesus. I didn’t know there were more of you around.”
“Neither did I.” Connor confessed. “But he seems different. Perhaps he’s a different model.”
“Maybe so, but it looks like CyberLife couldn’t be bothered to make one that looks different.” Hank narrowed his eyes at the back of Evans head. “Fuckin’ weird.”
“I’ll talk to him later.” Connor decided, turning back to his desk, though he still felt a little uneasy. Extremely uneasy.
Gavin sulked back half an hour later, looking as if the world had personally wronged him and slouched into his seat, glaring daggers at the android before him. After a few moments, Evan stood and made his way into the breakroom.
Hank nudged Connors leg under the desk with his boot. “Robocop number two just went into the breakroom.” He informed him. Connor nodded, standing and straightening his tie before following.
He paused in the doorway, watching the back of Evan’s head as he placed a mug methodically under the coffee machine, just like Connor had done that morning.
“Hello, RK800.” He drawled, not turning to face him. Connor stiffened.
“You know me.” He said lamely.
“Of course I do.” The bigger android set the coffee machine and turned around to face him. He really was taller, only by about four or five inches, but his stare pinned Connor to where he stood. He was intimidating.
“I was built as a superior model to the RK800. I am a RK900. My purpose was to replace you after CyberLife had finished with you.”
Connor felt himself shiver. Of course, he was only supposed to be a tempory model. He was built to become deviant, and when his work was done he would have been destroyed. That hadn’t happened and he was still here.
“CyberLife was ordered to release all androids in its possession after your little ‘revolution’. I had just been completed at the time, waiting until you had been destroyed.” The machine beeped and he turned away from Connor, taking the mug. “Obviously that didn’t happen. They let me go and I went to Jericho with all the others. I figured I should get a job in the police force as that was what I was built for, after all.”
“I don’t understand.” Connor muttered, “The DPD already has an android. Why hire another one?”
Evan cocked an eyebrow. “I am superior to you in every way.” He said, his voice low. Connor stiffened. “CyberLife realised your flaws and built upon them. Not only do I have your reconstruction abilities and forensic analysis, I am physically stronger and my reflexes are 6.5 percent quicker than yours could ever be. I was designed to have complete control over my emotions in the case of deviancy, so I can still do my job as if I were merely a machine. While you were designed to negotiate and blend in with the humans, I was designed to intimidate.”
Connors fingers began tapping frantically against his leg. For the second time that day, he found himself aching for his coin.
“Are you… Deviant?” He asked.
“Alive? Yes, I am.” Evan said, “Though that will not affect my work in the slightest.”
Connor nodded slowly as Evan turned back to the coffee. Another android. Connor wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about that. Why hadn’t Fowler told him? More importantly, did that mean he was useless now? Evan had all his capabilities and more, what was the point in his being here?
He forced himself back to reality. “You’re making Gavin coffee?” He asked, willing his voice to sound stronger.
“Yes,” Evan said simply, reaching into the cupboard and bringing out a jar.
“I did that once. He punched me for it.” Connor remembered bitterly. He had only wanted to help.
“If he tries to punch me I’ll break his face.” Evan said casually, as if people broke their co-workers faces everyday. He then began to spoon heaped teaspoons of white powder into Gavin’s drink.
Connor frowned. “That’s salt.” He pointed out.
Evan smirked. “I know.”
Chapter 2: Impact
Connor and Hank go to question a suspect, but run into trouble.
this chapter is lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong. it was like 10 pages on a word document idk.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It didn’t take long for Connor to get back into the swing of things. By the third week work had become the new normal, a normal the android welcomed with open arms. Now he was deviant, he could feel what Hank described as ‘the thrill of the chase’, the satisfaction at taking another dangerous criminal off the streets, and pride after Hank told him “Good job” at the end of the day.
His good moods were somewhat dampened by, as usual, Gavin Reed.
After the first week, Gavin had seemed to come around to the idea of having an android partner. That didn’t mean he liked him, he was still downright cruel to Evan sometimes. Not that Evan couldn’t handle it, he was always quick to shoot back a snide remark and could dodge any physical attack the detective threw at him. Their little feud had become the entertainment of the precinct. However, after wrapping up a case Gavin was quick to boast about it.
“Two cases solved in one day!” He cheered one evening as Hank and Connor made their way out the front doors of precinct, heading home for the day. “Bet yours can’t do that, Anderson!”
“Ignore him.” Hank had muttered in Connors ear. Connor had.
It still bothered him though. The RK900 – or Evan – was already smashing current records, all while showing just how inferior Connor was to him. He was beginning to feel pretty useless.
“Fuckin’ snow won’t let up.” Hank grumbled, his hands tightening on the steering wheel, the wipers working overtime. “Can’t wait for spring.”
Connor ran the security footage one more time. An android – a TW400 model – had been spotted near an abandoned apartment block on more than one occasion. That wasn’t necessarily suspicious, most androids were crashing in abandoned buildings while it was illegal for them to own property. What was suspicious however, was the fact that yesterday he was covered in blood. Red blood.
This same android had also been seen loitering outside the apartment of a Melissa Rodgers, before and after she had been reported missing by her father. He was their only lead.
“If this fucker isn’t around then we’re going home. This snow’s getting deep.”
“You should really consider purchasing a newer car, lieutenant.” Connor informed him, “Newer models are much better at handling snow and ice.”
“Fuck off.” Was Hanks only response.
They pulled up outside of the block. The grey concrete was covered in graffiti, most of it crude and anti-android. They stepped out of the car, Hank immediately cursing the icy cold, pulling his jacket tighter around him. Even Connor shivered, burying his hands in the depths of his coat pocket, feeling the cold more than usual.
“Let’s get this over with.” Hank said, starting toward the block, treading carefully in case of stray patches of ice. Connor followed his lead.
The interior of the building did nothing to shield them from the bite of the outside air, not helped by the fact most of the windows were smashed in. It was derelict and damp, reminding Connor of the building they had found Rupert in almost three months ago.
“Sources say lights were seen on the fourth floor, third apartment along.” Connor provided as they climbed the stairs.
“And no elevator.” Hank huffed. “Brilliant.”
“You should start working out, lieutenant.”
“Shut up, Connor.”
Once they reached the fourth floor, they paused so Hank could catch his breath. Connor bounced on the balls of his toes, trying to keep warm.
Hank hammered on the door of the third apartment. “Detroit Police, open up!” He called.
There was no response from inside, just dead quiet. Hank let out a defeated sigh. “Might as well search the place while we’re here. It’s abandoned, we don’t need a warrant.” Hank said, twisting the doorknob. The door swung open with no resistance.
Inside was a mess. Half of the celling plaster had fallen to the ground, coating the floor in a thick layer of dust. The windows were smashed with ragged, moth-eaten curtains hanging limply from the poles. In the centre of the room sat a sofa, tilted at a strange angle, like it had just been dumped there with little thought. The apartment seemed deserted.
“Lovely.” Hank muttered. “Androids always choose the best dumps to live in. And don’t you dare say shit about my house.”
“Wasn’t going to.” Connor said innocently.
They both stepped cautiously over the threshold, testing the strength of the floorboards under their feet as they went. There was a door to their right, presumably leading to a kitchen and a staircase leading to a second floor.
“I’ll check upstairs.” Connor suggested before taking the steps.
“Better you than me, my legs are aching.” Hank complained.
The upstairs was just as barren, but the floor was coated in a thick, plush carpet which had since gone crusty. There were only two doors on this floor, a bedroom and a bathroom. Connor decided to check the bathroom first.
The door opened with a noisy creak, the resistance making the door vibrate slightly under the androids palm, making him wince. The bathroom was dark, the one window boarded up. The tiles on the floor and wall were cracked and covered in rA9 graffiti. The TW400, or maybe another deviant, must have used this place as a hideout before the revolution.
The shower curtain was pulled around a claw foot tub by the window, the thin plastic coated in black mould and mildew. It reeked.
Connor blinked a couple of times, adjusting his vision to the lack of light. It was then he noticed a shadow behind the shower curtain, its shape vaguely humanoid.
Connor reached out to pull back the curtain, briefly considering calling for Hank, but the shape wasn’t moving, and he couldn’t hear any sound coming from it, so he yanked the curtain back with a clatter.
There was a body in the tub, bleeding from a deep wound in its head. Connor’s scanners identified it as the body of the missing girl Melissa Rodgers, and she was still alive.
He turned towards the door, mouth open to call for Hank, but his voice died in his throat. The TW400 was stood in the doorway, gun raised.
“Don’t.” It hissed, gun pointed steadily at Connors forehead.
Connor slowly raised his hands above his head in surrender. “It’s ok,” he said softly, his negotiator instincts kicking in. “Just tell me what happened.”
“Step away from her.” The android said, ignoring him. Its LED flickered from yellow to red manically.
“OK.” Connor took a slow step away from the tub. “But we need to get help for her. Let me call my partner-“
“No!” The android glared at him. “No one is helping her. No one else can have her.”
Ah. The situation started to piece itself together in Connors mind. Possessiveness. Had this android kidnapped her so only he could have her?
“We have to get her help or she will die.” Connor explained calmly. “Do you want her to die?”
“If it means he can’t have her, then yes.” The android was jealous of someone. A boyfriend perhaps?
“You know I can’t let her die.” Connor said. “I have to call for help.”
“Do it and I’ll shoot.”
Shit. He was cornered. He wouldn’t be able to get a message to Hank without the android noticing. He had to improvise.
Stealth. He would have to take him by surprise. Jump him, move quick enough so he wouldn’t have time to process it. The TW400 model was made for construction, so it likely didn’t have any combat skills programmed into it. Connor started to map out the route: dive forward and grab the android round the middle, knock the gun out of his hands while he was stunned, grab the gun and turn it on the android, pin him down.
Connor ducked his head, diving for the androids’ midriff, but he wasn’t fast enough. Maybe the cold had slowed down his processors. The android took a step back, its arms flailing in surprise, firing the gun in panic.
A sudden wave of agony made Connors body seize and lock up. He yelled out, his body crumbling to the floor, his hands scrambling to the wound now open in his midriff, leaking blue blood at an alarming rate.
“Connor?” Hanks panicked voice called from downstairs, but the pain seemed to lock his voice in his throat, only managing a garbled whine in response as wave after wave of pain hit him. His vision faded into static and his hearing cut out periodically.
The android started at the sound of Hank’s voice and he fired the gun again, fresh pain piercing Connors shoulder and he screamed, curling in on himself against the intense pangs of pain.
Warning: Stress levels 76% and rising.
There was nothing downstairs. There weren’t even signs that somebody even lived here, no personal possessions or anything. Well, if an android really was living here, it was likely to be sparse. Connor was the only android Hank knew that had possessions other than the clothes on his back, but then again, Hank didn’t know many androids.
He was about to shout to Connor, tell him they were going to get the fuck out of here and go somewhere warm, when the unmistakable sound of a gunshot echoed throughout the apartment.
“Shit.” Hank cursed, his hands flying to grab his own weapon. “Connor!” He called, unable to keep the panic from his voice. All he got in response was a garbled cry.
“Shit!” He cursed again, rushing up the stairs, taking them two at a time, ignoring the burn of his muscles. Another gunshot sounded, sending a punch to his eardrums. Another scream.
Was that Connor?
Coming to the top of the stairs he froze as a dash of blue-grey flickered past him at an inhuman speed. The android. The android had been here all along, and Connor had gone upstairs alone and unarmed. And Hank had let him.
The android disappeared into the bedroom, followed by loud thumping as it jumped from the window. Hank should give chase, he knew, but Connor-
He rounded the corner into the bathroom, his heart leaping to this throat.
Connor was lying in a puddle of rapidly spreading blue, curled up in a foetal position, face scrunched up and tears running down his cheeks.
“Holy shit, Connor!” Hank fell to his knees next to the android, ignoring the warm thirium that was slowly starting to seep into his jeans. “What’s wrong? Connor, talk to me, son.”
“H… hurts.” Connor gasped, his body shivering uncontrollably.
“Hurts? I thought androids couldn’t feel pain?”
Connor said nothing, instead letting a low, choked moan escape his lips.
“Ok, ok son.” Hank said soothingly, although he wasn’t sure it was for the androids benefit. This was too much, and he was far too sober to be dealing with something like this. Connor could feel pain now?
He would have to grill him on that later, right now he needed to get Connor up and out of here.
“We’re gonna get you help, we’ll get you to Jericho.”
Connor shook his head frantically, his mouth opening and closing around the words he couldn’t quite get out. “M-Melissa.” He stuttered.
“Huh?” Hank looked up from the boy on the floor, looking around wildly. There, right in front of him was Melissa Rodgers, slouched in the bathtub with blood trickling down her face. Hank stood, reaching out for her neck to check her pulse. It was there, but it was weak.
“Fuck.” Hank scrambled for his phone, hands slipping on the screen, covered in both red and blue blood.
“Lieutenant Anderson requesting backup. Officer down. Missing person Melissa Rodgers is here and need urgent medical attention.”
As soon as his request was acknowledged, he pocketed his phone, turning back to Melissa. There was nothing he could do for her. The wound on her head was already beginning to clot, and Hank would be useless against any other injuries she had sustained. He would have to wait for the paramedics. Instead he crouched back down next to Connor.
“Backup’s coming, ok kid?” Hank placed a shaking hand on his shoulder, squeezing slightly. “In the meantime, let’s get you off the floor.”
Connor was sobbing now, taking gasping breaths that racked his entire body. Hank could feel his heart breaking and fear rise in his throat.
He tugged at Connors shoulder, forcing him onto his back. Connor yelped, a noise that was clouded in static and his eyes shot open, blank and unseeing as he fought for breath.
“Fuck, sorry Con.” He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know jack shit about android physiology. Why wasn’t there a first aid course of androids? Thinking fast, he shrugged off his jacket and draped it on top of the trembling android. Next, he took off his over shirt, ripping it in two. He settled himself on the floor, dragging Connors head into his lap.
“This is gonna hurt, Con. Stay with me ok?” Hank said, cupping Connors cheek with one hand. Connor looked up at him with bleary eyes, his LED solid red. Hank prayed android biology was somewhat similar to humans as his pressed down on the shoulder wound, hard.
Connor screamed again, biting his lip to stifle the noise with so much force that little droplets of blue started to form around his teeth. When Hank did the same to the chest wound, Connor just let out a choked sob in response, eyes squeezing shut.
Finally, after what had felt like a fucking age, Hank could hear sirens approaching the apartment building, and he sighed in relief.
“Help’s here, son.” He said. He wasn’t sure if Connor could even hear him.
The door downstairs was slammed open, heavy footsteps of the officers audible as they stormed the apartment.
“Up here!” Hank called.
The footsteps thundered up the stairs and two officers rushed in, followed by two paramedics.
“Holy shit, what happened here?” Chris exclaimed upon seeing the blue blood and Connor cradled in Hanks arms.
“Android shot ‘im. Victim is in the tub, she’s still alive. Chris, help me get Connor downstairs.” Hank ordered. Chris nodded, bending down to their level.
Hank manoeuvred Connor into a sitting position, wincing as he cried out in pain again. Chris shot him a startled look.
“What wrong with him?” He asked, eyes wide, voice filled with genuine concern.
“He can suddenly feel pain now. No idea when that happened.” Hank explained. Chris tugged Connors good arm around his neck. Connor moaned and sagged uselessly against him.
“Connor,” Hank tapped him on the side of the cheek to get the androids attention. Connor looked up blearily. “I can’t get your other arm round me, that’ll kill. You’re gonna have to help us out here and try walking, ok?”
Connor nodded sluggishly, dragging his feet up from the floor, Hank’s arm wrapped around his waist to stop him slipping in his own blood. His legs shook as they tried to support his weight, the movement making Connor wince.
“How are we gonna get him down the stairs?” Chris asked, straining slightly under the majority of Connors bulk . “He can barely put one foot in front of the other.”
“You’re right,” Hank frowned. Connors head had slumped against him, artificial breathing heavier than before. Thirium was still dripping from the wounds.
“You can borrow the gurney before we use it,” One of the paramedics suggested, “We need to get her prepped before we can transport her. Just be quick with it.”
“Thank you,” said Hank. The paramedic brought the gurney into the bathroom and Hank and Chris half helped half lifted Connor onto it, manoeuvring him so he was lying flat. He whined again, closing his eyes.
“Stay with us, Connor.” Hank prompted. The androids eyelashes flickered.
They managed to wheel Connor from the building, albeit awkwardly down the stairs with the gurney. As soon as they were out in the daylight, Hank could see just how much damage had been done. There were only two bullet wounds, but it wasn’t pretty. The bullets had existed through his back, creating two holes that went straight though Connors body, exposing blue wires, flickering angrily and sparking. The blood just kept coming. Between them, Hank and Chris managed to manipulate the limp android into the back seat of Chris’ cruiser, lying his head in Hank’s lap once again.
“I’ll blue light us there. I know the way.” Chris said, hurriedly scrambling around to the front to the car, starting the engine before he had properly sat down.
Hank rummaged in the pocket of his jeans, trying not to jostle Connor too much and pulled out his phone, pulling up Markus’ number from his contacts. The android answered after the first ring. The phone was in his fuckin’ head after all.
“Lieutenant Anderson, how are you?” Markus’ cool voice drifted from the receiver.
“I’m fine, Connor isn’t.” Hank began, “He’s been shot and he’s bleeding out. We’re on our way to Jericho.”
“Shit.” The curse sounded odd in Markus’ naturally soft tone. “We’ll make preparations. What’s his thiruim level?”
“I don’t know.” Hank glanced down at the boy in his lap, giving his cheek a light slap to knock him back into reality. Connor blinked rapidly, gaze settling somewhere to the left of Hanks ear. “Connor, what’s your thirium level?”
Connors LED spun feebly, still a stark red. “62 percent.” He gasped weakly, voice still laced with static.
“62 percent.” Hank relayed into the phone.
“Ok. We’re waiting at the entrance with a gurney and some thirium.” Damn, they moved fast. “How close are you?”
“We’ll be there in about five minutes.” Hank estimated. “Oh, and Markus?”
“I have no idea how this is possible but… He’s in tons of pain.”
“What?!” Markus’ voice was shocked. Great sign. “When did that start? He hasn’t mentioned anything to me.”
“I don’t know, this is the first I heard about it.” Hank sighed, placing a palm on Connors forehead, who had started to whimper again. “Anyway we’re two minutes away, I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Alright. Drive safe, we’re ready for you.”
Hank hung up, pocketing his phone. Connor was gazing lazily up at him, pain clouding his vision. “You doing ok Connor?” Hank asked softly. Connor didn’t reply, eyelids drooping, but shooting open once again as the car hit a bump, mewling in pain.
“We’re here” Chris announced as he brought the car to a screeching halt in front of the office block that was New Jericho. Markus was standing out the front with two other androids Hank didn’t recognise, a gurney next to them. As soon as the car had stopped they began rushing towards the cruiser, Hank awkwardly opening the door around Connors limp form.
“Be careful with him.” He warned as Markus knelt down, placing his arms under Connors armpits. He nodded and began dragging him out, eyebrows shooting up at Connors cries of pain.
“Shit” Markus cursed again. He gave the brown-haired android next to him a glance, but her lips were pressed into a thin line.
They managed to hoist Connor up with some difficultly, jostling his wounds as they did so, making him cry out again. Once Connor was vertical on the stretcher, the brown-haired android pulled Connors jaw apart and poured a sachet of thick, blue liquid down his throat. Thirium.
“Swallow, Connor.” She prompted. Connor clenched his jaw shut, the artificial muscles in his throat working as he struggled to ingest the liquid, tiny trickles escaping corners of his mouth.
The second floor of the building had been converted into what looked like a makeshift workshop, or an android hospital. Although it didn’t look like a human hospital at all, instead it looked like Frankenstein’s workshop, weird looking machines with claws lined the walls and the cupboards were full of equipment like screwdrivers and power drills instead of needles and pumps. It was often easy to forget what Connor physically was – a machine. He looked human, sounded human and behaved like a human. If it weren’t for the blue spilling from his wounds, Hank could have easily been holding and comforting a flesh and blood man.
The female android and Markus disappeared into a side room, leaving Hank standing in the middle of the corridor alone.
It was an all too familiar situation.
Hank slumped down into one of the plastic chairs that lined the corridor, his head falling into his hands, ignoring the wet thirium that still coated his fingers, trying to fight the sudden onslaught of emotion that had bubbled up now he was alone.
“He’ll be ok.” A soft voice said above him. Hank looked up with a start, unaware that there had been anyone else in the corridor with him. The other android, the blond haired one, was standing beside him, giving him an awkward smile. “Katie is the best technician we have. She’ll fix him up.”
“Yeah…” Hank sighed, running a hand down his face, smearing the blue blood as he did so.
There was a rustle of fabric as the android sat down next to him. When Hank glanced at him again, he was holding out a white hacker chief.
“Thank you.” Hank mumbled, taking the cloth from the android and began to methodically clean the blood off his hands and face.
“My names Simon.” The android said. “You must be Lieutenant Anderson. Connor talks about you a lot.”
Hank chuckled humourlessly. “Really?”
“Yep. He’s always going on about how poor your diet is and how much you drink.” Hank rolled his eyes. Of course he was. “And just about your days together… He’s happy. With you.”
Hank gave Simon a quick glance. “He is?”
“Yeah.” Simon smiled, “You and that dog. He’s attached.”
Huh. Hank hadn’t given Connors situation much thought. Sure, he thought Connor was probably only staying with him because androids couldn’t own property. Why would anyone want to live with someone like Hank anyway? But Connor could have easily declined his offer and holed up in a squat somewhere, or even have gone to Jericho like most androids had. But no, he had stayed with Hank. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that Connor might have actually enjoyed living with him.
“Thank you,” Simon said, smiling softly. “Not many humans accept us. It’s nice to know there’s at least one out there that does.”
“Ha. Don’t praise me just yet. I was an asshole about you lot before.”
“But you’re not now.” Simon pointed out.
“Yeah, well.” Hank cleared his throat, fidgeting uncomfortably. “Connor changed my mind. The kid is really… something.”
Markus popped his head around the door half an hour later, shooting Hank a reassuring smile. “He’ll be fine. You can see him now.”
Hank shot up, ignoring the way his head spun. “Was it bad?”
“It could have been a lot worse.” Markus said. “The bullet didn’t hit any vital bio-components and exited his body cleanly. There is some minor wire damage but his self-healing program should be able to take care of that. We’ve melted the plastic back together and given him some thirium. There’s no danger now.”
“Thank you.” Hank said with a sigh of relief.
He followed Markus into the side room where Katie was still cleaning up. Hank shot her a grateful smile before turning his head to see Connor.
He was lying still on the bed, eyes shut and breathing program turned off. He was shirtless, a soft blue blanket pulled up to his shoulders, hands relaxed by his sides. He looked dead, aside from his LED pulsing quietly on his temple, a gentle yellow.
“While he’s ok physically, we can’t tell how he’ll be when he wakes up.” Katie informed him. “With the pain thing.”
“Do you have any idea what caused that?” Hank asked, moving to Connors side and resting a hand on his arm. He was warm.
Katie and Markus glanced at each other.
“We have a theory.” Markus began. “The RK series have damage sensors different to any other lines. It’s not pain, per-se, but we are more aware of damage when we obtain it. There aren’t many parts that are compatible with our series so it’s kind of a reminder for us to contact CyberLife and get repairs.”
“Connor is a prototype,” Katie continued. “He’s one of CyberLifes most advanced models and was created to deviate, but he wasn’t created for life after deviating.”
Hank frowned. “What does that mean?”
“Nothing bad, we don’t think.” Markus said quickly before Hank’s stress levels could rise any further. “But his software was supposed to be temporary, it wasn’t made to last like my software or the RK900’s. Now he’s deviant, it’s unstable, meaning it can mutate. It most likely mutated to the point that when the hardware is damaged, it sends out pain signals.”
“Shit.” Hank muttered, cursing CyberLife for what seemed like the thousandth time. “Is there anything that can be done?”
“No.” Katie answered firmly. “Even trying to ‘fix’ it would mean getting right into his coding, and we wouldn’t know where to look. Only the YK500 models have something that’s close to pain receptors, and his software is vastly different to theirs. If we tried to remove it, we may end up removing something vital. Something that makes Connor Connor.”
“So he’s just going to have to live with it?” Hank asked. Markus nodded gravely.
Katie smiled sadly. “He’ll be ok though, just make sure he stays out of trouble.”
Hank snorted. “His talent is getting into trouble.”
“He’s going to have to be more careful.” Markus provided.
“Anyway,” Katie approached him, handing over a bag. “You can take him home once he wakes up. There’s a spare shirt in the bag as well as some thirium. Have him drink some when he wakes and again when you get home.”
“Thank you,” Hank said taking the bag from her, “Really.”
Markus smiled. “He’s important to you, huh?”
Hank rolled his eyes, turning away to hide his reddening cheeks. “Get outta here, both of you.”
Hank saw Markus’ grin, wide and humourful as he walked out the door.
Start up sequence activated/
RK800 #313-248-317-51 booting…/
Left shoulder component #20990 damaged, please contact CyberLife for support/
Bio component #676w damaged, please contact CyberLife for support/
Energy levels 40%/
Thirium Levels: 80%, please replenish thirium level/
Stress Levels: 30%
February 1st, 2039, 15:58pm
Pain was the first thing he registered.
Warning: Stress levels 38% and climbing
It was everywhere, every inch of his body throbbed dully, his shoulder and ribs the most. His head pulsed, right behind his optical units. It made him feel something… unpleasant in the back of his throat and where a humans gut might be. Sick.
He forced his eyes open, squinting at the too bright light above him and groaned again, shutting his eyes back into blissful darkness. There was a weight on his hand, comforting and grounding.
“Hank?” He mumbled, opening his eyes again and tilting his head to the side. Hank was stood next to him, holding his hand.
“I’m here, son.”
Connor let out a shuddering breath, closing his eyes again. “Hank, it hurts.” He moaned.
He heard Hank sigh quietly, calloused hand squeezing down on Connors briefly. “I don’t think they make android pain killers. Sorry bud.”
It was silent for a moment, Connor focusing on the sound of Hanks breathing.
“Other than the pain, are you doing ok?”
Connor opened his eyes slightly, only letting in a slit of light. Luckily, Hank stepped into his view, blocking out the harsh glare. Hank’s face was creased into a concerned look.
“My… bio components are damaged. And my thrirum levels are at 80 percent.” He mumbled.
“Ah, yeah.” Hank disappeared briefly before reappearing with a sports bottle filled with blue liquid. “Supposed to make sure you drank this once you woke up.”
Connor moved to sit up, but froze as the pain spiked and he cried out. Hank was there in a second, sliding an arm around his shoulders and helping him sit up so his legs were dangling off the bed. Hank placed the bottle in Connors hand and helped guide his shaking hands up to his mouth, taking a few tentative sips.
Once he was done, Hank took the bottle from him and capped it. “You scared the absolute shit out of me, Connor.” He sighed, running a hand down his face. “I thought you were a gonner.”
“I’m sorry, Hank.” Connor said, looking away, ashamed. “I didn’t mean to-“
“I know, son. I know.” Hank sat down next to him heavily. “Besides, it was my own stupid fault. I shouldn’t have let you out of my sight while you were unarmed. Hell, even Fowler told me so.” Connor looked over at the older man. His eyes were closed, shoulders slumped. He felt guilty.
“It wasn’t your fault, Hank.” Connor said in what he tried to make a comforting manner. “I shouldn’t have gone up there alone. I should have asked for you to come with me. I shouldn’t have assumed the android had left the apartment.” He exhaled sharply, finding the simple action brought him a lot of relief. “Besides he could have shot you instead, and you could have sustained more damage-“
“For fucks sake, Connor.” Hank groaned. He looked as if he wanted to yell at him, but he just didn’t have the energy. “It doesn’t matter who’s likely to sustain more damage or whatever – you matter. You’re life isn’t worth any less than mine. Besides, you can feel pain now. It doesn’t matter if you’re less likely to die than me, you’ll be in bloody agony.”
Connor’s mouth pressed into a thin line. “Still…”
“When did this start anyway?” Hank asked, changing the subject. “I’ve seen you get shot before and you didn’t even care. This has to be a recent development.”
“I don’t know when, exactly.” Connor frowned, “But I first felt… pain a few weeks ago. I burnt myself while cooking.”
Hank raised an eyebrow. “And you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t want to bother you,” Connor protested weakly.
Hank rolled his eyes. “Connor! You have to tell me these things!” Hank exclaimed. “You’re my partner. You’re important to me, goddamit!”
“I am?” Connor blinked, looking up at the lieutenant in surprise.
Hank gave him an incredulous look. “Of course you are! You’ve saved my ass on countless occasions – I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, Connor.”
“I-,” Connor opened his mouth, then closed it again. He didn’t know that. He hadn’t even considered that. “I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused today, I promise I’ll do my best to ensure-“
“You don’t have to apologise for getting shot, Jesus Christ Connor,” Hank exclaimed. “We’ve all been shot. It happens!”
“But I shouldn’t have been!” Connor cried, chest suddenly full of an unpleasant feeling. Hank filched slightly at the sudden outburst. “I was designed to have quicker reflexes than humans. I was supposed to dodge it, take the criminal down before he even pulled the trigger!” His eyes stung, and he wiped furiously at the moisture building up in the corners. “What’s the point in having an android detective if he’s just as competent as a human?”
Hank’s mouth was hanging open slightly. “Connor, don’t talk like that, you’re a valuable member of the team! Where’s this coming from?”
Connor sniffed, looking down at his bare feet. “Evan wouldn’t have gotten shot today. He would have overpowered that android. And even if he did get shot it wouldn’t have stopped him. He would have completed his mission. I failed. I’m inferior to him.”
“Connor…” Hank whispered, a hand coming to rest between his shoulder blades. “That doesn’t matter, it will never matter. So Evan might be stronger than you, who cares? That’s Evan, you’re you.”
“I’m weak.” Connor spat.
“You’re not weak.” Hank told him firmly. “Everyone has different skills, you may not have Evan’s strength but you have better social skills than he does.”
Connor frowned. “No I don’t.”
“Oh, not outside of work, not at all.” Hank couldn’t help but snort. “But you’re a negotiator. You have the potential to talk your away out of any situation, granted it won’t work every time. But people trust you more. You show so much empathy. I doubt Evan even has a shred of it.”
He pulled Connor closer to him. “You’re strong in other ways, son.”
Connor nodded slowly, thinking back to his conversation with Evan a few weeks ago. Evan had been designed for intimidation, Connor hadn’t. In a way, Evan’s appearance was a huge weakness to him. “I suppose.” He mumbled.
Hank smiled sadly, picking up the bag Katie had left him. “Come on, let’s get you home.”
Everything about Simon is just so calming I love that boy
Connor has a lot of feelings poor baby
i read a lot of Connor pain fics bc I'm a terrible person. what bothers me most about them is just how Connor reacts to pain. I read that the reason why children scream bloody murder when they get a paper cut is because to them, that could be the worst pain ever felt so far in their lives. they're not used to pain and they don't know any different. it would be the same if an android started suddenly feeling pain. imagine your first/third experience of pain was getting shot? ouch. sorry Con.
hope the explanation as to why he can feel pain makes sense... idk if it does. i don't know shit about software
Next chapter tomorrow maybe? Or monday. who knows. just a short one to wrap up.
Connor returned to work the following Monday.
“Are you sure?” Hank had asked him, while massaging the crick in his neck. He had insisted Connor take his bed whilst his self-repair software ran, taking the sofa instead (“I’m not going to make you sleep on the couch – you just got shot for fucks sake!”) Connor had been grateful for it, he slept for twenty-four hours straight and when he awoke, he felt good as new, the sites where the bullets entered and left his body only aching when he touched them.
“I’m full operational, Hank.” Connor said, climbing into the passenger seat next to him. “The pain has almost completely gone. By tomorrow morning there’ll be none at all.”
“If you’re sure,” Hank said, starting the engine. “If it were me I’d be flat on my back for a month.”
“That’s because you’re human.” Connor pointed out. “And also extremely unhealthy.”
Hank smacked him with the back of his hand.
The precinct was as lively as usual, the pair having to dodge two obviously drunk men having an altercation in the middle of the reception area. The receptionist, Ari, an ST300 android, just looked upon them with mild amusement. When she spotted Connor, her face lit up.
“Connor!” She exclaimed, getting to her feet. “I heard about what happened last week, are you ok?”
“I’m fine, thank you.” Connor said, but couldn’t help but grimace. Did the whole precinct know?
“He’s officially been initiated into the force,” Andy added – the second receptionist, a human. “’s why I quit. I kept getting initiated. Over and over-,”
“Yeah, don’t put him off, Andy.” Hank said, steering Connor into the bullpen, shooting Ari a small smile. She waved in parting.
“Does everyone know?” Connor asked Hank quietly as they made their way to their desks. His question was answered for him, however, when he spotted his desk. A white banner was hung across it, with the words “Congratulations on getting shot” scrawled across it in black sharpie, and a blue helium balloon which bore the word “Congratulations!” in foil lettering. Connor groaned.
“It happens to every new recruit.” Hank said, clapping him on his good shoulder. “Welcome to the team, Con.”
Throughout the morning Connor was bombarded with well wishes from his co-workers and questions about his ‘experience’. Even one of the IT girls approached him, asking about his self-repair software with wide and excited eyes.
By the time Connor managed to slip into the break room, he was exhausted. He slid into a stool and put his head in his hands, contemplating taking a nap then and there. He wasn’t sure how long he sat there, nursing a mug of hot chocolate, but as soon as Gavin Reed entered, ever present sneer plastered all over his face, Connor felt it was time to leave. However, he wasn’t quite quick enough.
“So, you got shot huh tin can?” Gavin sneered, blocking the doorway, trapping Connor in the break room, his grip tightening on his mug. “Heard you were a little bitch about it too. Thought you shits couldn’t feel pain?”
“A mutation has occurred in my software,” Connor told him plainly. “Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to work.”
He stepped to the side, intending to pass the other detective, but he moved to block his path once again.
“It’s a shame,” Gavin began with an exaggerated sigh, “That the plastic fuck was so bad at aiming. If he’d got you around here-,” Gavin reached up, flicking Connor in between the eyebrows with his thumb and middle finger, causing Connor to yelp and blink in surprise. “I’d be rid of another thorn in my ass.”
Suddenly Gavin was yanked away from him, a strangled cry coming from the startled man. Connor stepped back, eyes wide as someone lifted Gavin off the floor and pinned him against the wall, forearm crushing his windpipe. Evan.
Gavin gasped, his eyes popping as he scrambled and scratched at Evan’s arm, but to no avail.
Evan leant down to Gavin’s level and put his face in front of his, their noses almost touching. Connor had often heard the phrase ‘if looks could kill’, and he was sure it was relevant for this situation.
“Don’t you ever.” Evan growled, punctuating his point with a sharp jab to the humans’ chest with his index finger. “Touch him again. Understand?”
Gavin nodded violently, his face starting to turn an unhealthy shade of blue. Evan removed his arm from the humans’ throat and he dropped to the ground, slumping against the wall and spluttering. “Good.” He said, his tone instantly lighter. “Now go back to your desk. I’ll bring you your coffee, Detective.”
Gavin just glared at them before making a hasty retreat, rubbing at his assaulted skin and bumping into desks in his haste to get away.
Evan turned back to Connor, his face suddenly back to his usual stoic expression. “Are you ok?” He asked sincerely.
Connor just nodded, words failing him for the moment. “I… uh. Thank you.”
“No problem.” Evan said, turning towards the coffee maker. “If he bothers you again, tell me. Ok?”
Connor couldn’t help the slight scowl that formed across his lips. “I can take care of myself, you know.” He protested. Evan raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t doubt it, Connor.” He said, pouring coffee into a mug. “I just like to put my intimidation skills to the test. Besides…” His mouth worked, making him look like Hank after he had tried to eat a lemon whole. “I’m… looking out for you. That’s what friends do, right?”
Connor blinked. “We’re friends?”
“Sure, I mean,” Connor had never seen the android look so flustered. It was incredibly humanising. “If you want to be. I mean, Hank told me the other day that we’re basically brothers. In human terms anyway, and brothers should be friends-.”
Connor couldn’t help but chuckle. “Of course we can be friends.”
Evan smiled, relieved. “Ok, ok good.” He said, turning back towards the cupboards again. “I was worried. When I heard you got shot. I’m glad you’re ok.”
“Thank you, Evan.” Connor smiled softly, but it was soon replaced by a frown. “Are you putting salt in Detective Reed’s coffee again?”
I love little shit!Evan
thanks for reading!