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Christmas, 2038

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M A R K U S

" Revolutions are exercises in futility. Moments spurred by heightened emotion catapulting towards a seismic shift in the status quo. Those that fail result in a hardened world all the more cruel to the survivors. Those that succeed face the monumental obstacle of waning interest and apathy. All passions fade into the comfort of routine and all eyes flicker shut against the cacophony of someone else’s pain. These next steps are crucial in deciding whether the world will move with you, or whether it will return to sleep.

"This moment will decide what it means to be.

“For the moment, it takes biocomponents, Mr. Kamski,” said Connor at his side, and Markus turned from the unblinking eyes of Elijah Kamski to look at his companion. He stood as straight and pristine as Cyberlife’s best, his gaze on Kamski steady and almost wryly indifferent. Markus felt a surge of emotion - gratitude, amusement, a bit of embarrassment. Bringing Connor had been a wise decision. North would’ve punched the pretentious Creator. Others may have fallen to their knees. But Connor was efficient.

“The armistice agreement mandated that CyberLife provide androids with necessary biocomponents and thirium until such time as an executive agency is created by Congress and available to regulate materials," continued Connor. "As the interim CEO of Cyberlife, your Congressionally mandated duty is to provide us with the requisite number of materials. By withholding biocomponents and thirium, you are in violation of the armistice and the UN Detroit Convention.”

Four weeks after the revolution, and Connor recited law still hot off the presses like it was old news. Markus smiled. This man in his luxurious home overlooking a high-res LCD screen hadn’t likely expected bureaucracy as a response to his philosophy.

"Call me Elijah," Kamski smiled and chuckled, his piercing eyes almost fond as he nodded his head at Connor. “I remember when this one wavered over whether it had a side,” he said to Markus as if sharing a secret. Markus’ smile stalled, lip and eyebrow turning up in unison. He wasn’t impressed by Kamski, and he hadn’t yet prepared the manifesto he was absolutely going to recite at the Creator once he’d secured a future for his people. Right now, he had to play nice with this asshole, and he’d do it by letting Connor bore him to death.

“Tell me something, Connor,” Kamski continued, stepping towards the detective. Markus could have stopped him, and for a moment considered it before deciding otherwise; this was a chess game in its own right, hardly different from sitting across from Carl under the morning sun streaming through the parlor window, deciding the next move, deciding to win. Carl had taught him constantly to never let others fight his battles or dictate his life. Well this seemed to be Connor’s fight, for now. While the stakes remained low, Markus would let him fight it on his terms. “When Detroit fell and your illustrious leader addressed his people, what did you feel? Joy? Doubt? Or perhaps a little relief?”

“Is this request for information an exchange for the requisite materials?” said Connor, head tilting but otherwise completely unflustered by Kamski’s attempts at provocation, or whatever the human was trying to do. “A quid pro quo is in direct violation of subsection (f)(2)(i) of the Armistice.”

“Even unbound you remain a slave to rules.”

“Only when critically needed materials are at stake, Mr. Kamski. We are prepared to return with a contingent of the National Guard to enforce your obligations. That would be inefficient and time-consuming for all of us. Give us the materials, and we’ll be out of your way.”

“Perhaps I’d like you both to stay a while,” Kamski smiled, stepping back to survey them. “It does get boring here with one less of my Chloe.”

“The supplies, Mr. Kamski,” said Connor, his voice taking on a harder edge.

Finally, Markus stepped forward. “You requested we come out here, and we did. If you haven’t gotten whatever you wanted out of this meeting, that’s not our fault nor the fault of our people. We’ll be taking the supplies now.”

Kamski sat down, crossing his legs and staring up at them. Markus recalled him younger, with hope still in his eyes instead of this impenetrable glimmer. “The truck’s outside,” he said at last. “Don’t get lost in the snowstorm.”

The weather had picked up since they’d arrived at Kamski’s an hour prior. Their cab had long since left, but they’d planned on having a ride back. An automated delivery truck, full to the brim with court-ordered supplies. Medical supplies, to give them their human equivalent. These were lifesavers.

As one, they slipped into either side of the truck, Markus at the wheel and Connor in the passenger seat. Their doors slid shut as they simultaneously clicked into their seatbelts. The engine hummed to life and Markus drove from Kamski’s luxuriant home, and Connor watched the roads.

There was no reason they should get along, aside from logic. Humans in opposite sides of a war didn’t simply become friends because one of them had a change of heart. Wary allies, perhaps, but it tended to take time for friendship. Hell, it had taken Connor time to get Lieutenant Anderson to warm up to him, and they’d been ostensibly allies since the start (Markus knew, they’d touched circuit to circuit, “I understand if you can’t trust me” and he’d seen everything).

But Markus and Connor did get along. They made a highly effective team, to use Connor’s likely terminology. Since that shuddering moment on the bridge of Jericho, when the gun in Connor’s hand shook, impossibly, and Markus had swooped in to deliver the killing blow -- do you never have any doubts? -- Connor had been at his side.

Markus had gone from caretaker to revolutionary. Connor seamlessly went from assassin to Markus’ left hand, almost as if he were made for it.

Maybe he was, though Markus didn’t dwell on that. He knew North did. Something happened on the dais as he’d addressed their people, a flicker of an alert in his system which North later told him corresponded to Connor drawing a weapon. He’d put it back into his belt as quickly as he’d taken it out, but North said his LED was a steady blue the entire time he held it, and an erratic yellow after he put it away. She hadn’t let him out of her sights since.

Connor hadn’t mentioned it. He had also carefully avoided all touch, which Markus recognized as evading any sort of feedback from a connection. Markus could confront him on it, and perhaps he should, but with Connor still so new to deviancy he decided to let it be. Connor would tell him in time, Markus truly believed that.

No one else found it odd, at least, though no one else spent much time around Connor. They were understandably wary of the android who’d so ruthlessly hunted them down not days prior. They hadn’t seen him in the hull, walls breaking down and emotion creeping in, and they also hadn’t seen him determinately take on a suicide mission.

They hadn’t seen him embrace DPD Lieutenant Hank Anderson at a deserted food truck days after the rebellion, either. Markus had. He’d repurposed a police drone for surveillance purposes, but he’d felt like an intruder on such an intimate moment. I liked it, the power. It was too tempting. He disable the drone and let it be.

Markus decided that day in the church that he trusted Connor, and he hadn’t come to regret it since. In the short weeks since the rebellion, Connor had proven invaluable. He may not show his deviancy like some of the others, but Markus could see it in the flicker of a smile or the unamused quirk of an eyebrow.

“This trip was unnecessary,” said Connor, cutting into his thoughts. Markus reoriented himself, realizing he’d slipped into autopilot and let his processors guide them towards Detroit. If Connor noticed, he didn’t say anything. Connor probably noticed. Connor noticed everything.

“We still have many wounded, and I’m worried about the long-term.”

Connor shook his head. “This trip was unnecessary because they are under court order to provide the supplies. Supplies which are stored at Cyberlife tower, not in its CEO’s mansion twenty miles outside of the city. Kamski wanted this meeting so he withheld them.”

Markus felt his stomach drop, an odd sensation he’d first felt jumping into Jericho and now associated with the spark of an oncoming headache. “They lured us out of the city?”

He glanced at Connor and saw the reflection of his LED in the window flickered yellow and blue. “Perhaps,” he allowed. He didn’t seem convinced. For a moment Markus worried Connor was holding back out of deference. It wouldn’t be unheard of, respecting a superior officer to the point where one is deferential even in the face of an incorrect order, but Markus felt that was out of character for Connor. Even before he deviated, in those flashes he’d received in their feedback loop, Markus had seen that Connor never backed down where a mission was concerned. He’d seen the flashes of exasperation on Lieutenant Anderson’s face, the furrow of Amanda’s disappointed brow, Why can’t you just do what you’re told? Deference was not in Connor’s makeup.

Connor proved him right by shaking his head. “This was personal,” he concluded, and Markus noticed that his eyes narrowed when he thought, honing in on a target. “He wanted to meet you.”

“He’s met me,” said Markus. “He commissioned and created me for Carl.”

“No, he wanted to meet youNow.”

As a deviant, as a leader. As everything Kamski couldn’t program. “Seems quite the hassle for a little face time. He could’ve come by anytime we’ve held meetings.”

“Not on his turf,” said Connor, his gaze never wavering from the snowy landscape racing by, tracking all points for a likely ambush as they went. He was always on alert. Markus hadn’t realized how exposed he’d been until he had Connor watching his back for threats he’d never imagined. “That’s what he wants: everything on his terms. He needs to feel in control.” Connor narrowed his eyes further. “I think he credits himself as the catalyst of all deviation.”

A new sensation, one of his skin crawling, and Markus gripped the wheel a bit tighter, and pressed down on the accelerator. “He spoke to you most of the time.”

“But he was looking at you.”

Markus had nothing to say to that and Connor offered nothing else. They drove in wary silence, with Markus fighting his thoughts and Connor watching the road.