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Sumo enjoys the walks around the city best.

Which is surprising, being a dog as big as he is. It would not go unexpected that he would prefer going around the parks and playgrounds, getting time off the leash to chase after balls and unsuspecting pigeons. But no, instead Sumo is at his happiest strolling along the cement pavements, pushing his nose into passers-by, sniffing every lamppost and attempting to consume the bits of old takeaway left strewn about the streets.

Connor doesn’t understand it, but he is more than willing to oblige, and carefully maps out a long and intricate route for them to follow around the city.

Sumo has gotten better at walking. The first few times Connor took him out, the dog fought him, pulled him, and barely knew the concept of walking at the heel. It had taken nearly a month for Connor to have the confidence to let him loose in the park, in fear that if he did the Saint Bernard would run for the proverbial hills and never return.

Apparently, Hank’s days of not caring about himself had extended to Sumo’s walking behaviour as well. Or maybe Hank was normally too drunk when they walked to notice.

But now, after a bit of work, Sumo walks perfectly. He sticks by Connor’s side, listens to the majority of his commands (the exception being when they pass a certain female retriever who could not be less interested if she tried), and waited patiently when they crossed the roads.

“Connor,” Hank pipes up halfway through the dishes. Connor pauses in putting away the plate.

“Yes?”

“I think you’re wanted.”

“Wanted?” Turning, Connor peers in the direction Hank is looking, catching a glimpse of Sumo sat by the door, tail going back and forth on the doormat. “Oh...”

Time: 20:47:09

Normal time for Sumo’s evening walk: 20:30:45

Hank smirks, “You’re running late.”

“One moment, Sumo!” Connor calls, drying off the cutlery with the tea towel. Sumo huffs in response, and Hank makes a scoffing sound, taking the items from Connor with still soapy hands.

“Go take him on his walk, or he’ll be scratching at the door.”

“I can still-”

“Go on,” Hank jerks his head in Sumo’s direction, “I ain’t cleaning it up if he has an accident.”

Connor pauses for a moment, considering, and then nods.

Searching local weather reports...

Searching...

Search complete.

Detroit Local News: This evening is set to be cool, with the chance of localised showers. An umbrella is advisable.

Hank hadn’t owned an umbrella before Connor moved in, so Connor had gone out and brought a sleek black one from the local convenience store (“Don’t you ever pick red or something?”). Taking this out from the stand along with some dog mess bags, Connor clips on the lead to Sumo’s collar and waves a quick goodbye to Hank, making sure to close the door behind them.

The sky is dark with clouds overhead, blocking any sight of the stars, but as they head out it has yet to begin raining. As they turn the corner off their block the streetlights start flickering on, shops dark save for their display lights in the windows. Overnight road workers start setting out their traffic cones.

They go passed the Police Department (“Of course you fucking do.” Hank splutters) and cut across the park to head along the riverside.

Sumo perks up as, eagerly smelling the lampposts as they enter his crush’s territory, but Connor already knows that the dog will be left disappointed. Normally their paths cross at exactly 21:25:46, but seeing as it has already gone thirty minutes passed the hour they will not be meeting tonight.

Hank doesn’t see the appeal in walking along the river, but Connor has taken to it, especially at this time of night. Most of the clubs and bars have yet to close, meaning the streets are quieter than they will be in the next few hours. Plus, the lights from the flats and skyscrapers on the opposite side of the river reflect peacefully in the water, especially now that the winter ice is finally beginning to thaw.

Slowly, it begins to spit, small droplets of rain tapping against Connor’s skull and shoulders. With ease, he pulls open the umbrella.

Sumo pauses at his tenth lamppost in as many minutes.

“Sumo, come on.” Connor commands, lightly tugging at the leash. “She’s not here, we missed her, and Hank will not be happy if you fill the house with the smell of wet dog.”

Sumo grumbles, tail swaying. He looks up at Connor, as if asking what the problem with that is.

“You hate baths.” Connor reminds him. “If you get wet, you’ll need a bath.”

That seems to register with the dog, and Sumo returns to his slow ambling by Connor’s heel.

Chances of Sumo getting wet: 30%

“You know, there’s a lovely dalmatian who lives three streets from us. She has brown spots and is called Perdita, after the Dodie Smith book, I’m sure if you wanted a companion she would-”

A strange, spitting noise mutely rings out in the otherwise quiet night.

Analysing sound...

Analysis in progress...

Connor feels it before the process completes, the bullet smacking into his left shoulder in a spurt of blue blood, wires, and flashing warning signs.

Analysis complete.

Sound identification: Silenced gunshot.

Stress Levels: ^60%

The umbrella falls from his hand, and Sumo dances around his feet, barking madly.

Warming: Major damage to left shoulder compartment.

Panels #front_01 and #back_03 broken beyond Self-Repair Program capabilities.

Analysing damage...

Analysing...

Analysis complete.

Main artery for left arm split.

Thirium levels: v70%

The exit would is on his front, meaning Connor has been shot from behind. He spins around, eyes scanning as he clutches Sumo’s leash tightly, herding the dog behind him. Sumo tugs his arms about, but Connor’s grip remains strong.

Scanning environment...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

No signs of life detected.

Conclusions:

• Shot from a long range

• Probability of sniper: 80%

• Angle of bullet wound indicates high source of origin

Scanning all windows...

Scanning...

Stumbling backwards, Sumo still tucked behind him, Connor drags them over to the nearest source of cover he can find at such short notice; the nearby memorial bench for a local resident.

Something glints on the edges of his vision.

Attacker located.

Accessing local street plans...

Accessing...

Access obtained.

Downloading floor plan...

Downloading...

Download complete.

Mill Flats: Derelict, awaiting destruction for new apartment buildings by Locker & French Developers.

Scanning floor plan...

Scan complete.

Attacker is in Flat 8, Room 7.

There’s another pop of sound.

Snatching Sumo’s collar, Connor slams them against the ground as another bullet whizzes by.

Lining up call...

Calling: Lieutenant Anderson, Hank.

Calling...

Calling...

“Did Goldie finally say yes?”

“Hank, I’ve been shot.”

“What?” Hank yelps, his casual tone dropping in an instant. “Where?”

“My left-”

“No, no, where are ya?” There’s the sound of a door slamming in the background. “I’m on my way.”

“By the river,” Connor inches them towards the bench again, eyes locked on the window. “Just off Highend Road. There’s a sniper in Mill Flats, flat eight, room seven. I’ve been hit once but they’re still-” Sumo yelps loudly as Connor suddenly flings them backwards, another bullet zooming just inches from Connor’s head.

“Fuck, get under cover. I’m messaging Fowler now. Any idea how many?”

“Not yet, but a sniper would indicate-” The tremendous sound of revving cuts off anything Connor had hoped to say as bright, stark lights of a van headlights burst into life. Blinded, Connor stumbles backwards-

A silenced gunshot. Another hit, this time on the right collarbone.

Warning: Damage to chest compartment.

Panels #front_16 broken beyond Self-Repair Programme capabilities.

Analysing damage...

Analysing...

Analysis complete.

No major biocomponents damaged.

Thirium levels: v62%

“Connor? Connor!”

The van surges forward, completely disregarding the fact that it is off the road, speeding bumpily towards Connor and Sumo on the riverside pathway.

Probability of being hit: 80%

Chances of dodging: 20%

With barely a second thought, Connor releases Sumo’s collar.

The van charges, spewing dirty slush from the ground into Connor’s face, before slamming on the breaks. The vehicle slides, the front wheels wobbling this way and that, screeching as Connor trips against the stone barrier of the river’s edge.

Scanning vehicle…

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Conclusions:

• Manual drive

• Number plate obscured by dirt

• Breaks faulty, unlikely to have passed MOT, if even attended

Silenced gunshot.

Warning: Major damage to right arm component.

Panels #arm_R_04 and #arm_R_08 broken beyond Self Repair Programme capabilities.

Analysing damage...

Analysing...

Analysis complete.

Main artery for right arm nicked.

Thirium levels: v48%

The doors of the van spring open so violently it’s almost a wonder that they don’t crack off.

“Connor? Shit!”

People spill out, dark clothing hiding all distinguishable features in the low light. Each wears a black balaclava, eyes the only thing on show. Within moments Connor is surrounded by six people.

Sumo darts about a good ten metres up the path, panicked but ignored.

Analysing figures...

Analysing...

Analysis complete.

Figure 1: Male. Middle aged. Slight limp - recovering from recent injury. Appear human.

Figure 2: Male. Middle to late 20s. Hanging back - nervous. Appear human.

Figure 3: Female. Middle aged. Extremely hostile. Appear human.

Fig-

Two jump him at once. Ducking, Connor elbows one in the back of the head, making the man cry out in pain. The second snatches him from behind, arm wrapped around Connor’s neck, dragging him back, dragging him down-

A fist hits him directly in his shoulder injury.

Warning: Further damage to left shoulder compartment inadvisable.

Thirium levels: v39%

“Connor, I’m still here. Talk to me!”

Hands grip his arms, pulling them behind him, holding him in place.

“Get on your knees!” Figure 5 commands.

Analysing figures...

Analysing...

Analy-

With force Connor is shoved to the ground, a hand grabbing a fistful of hair and snapping his head violently downwards, exposing the back of his neck.

Warning: Pressure to head compartment.

Pressure levels: 25%

Thirium levels: v32%

Attempting to send all known information to Captain Jefferey Fowler...

Sendi-

Figure 4 marches forward, yanking down the collar of Connor’s jacket.

Unable to see, Connor struggles. “What are you doing?”

“Connor? Was that you? What did you say?”

Attempting to resend message to Cap-

“Shut up.” Figure 4 snaps, hitting the back of his head. Connor stares down at their shoes.

Analysing...

Analysis complete.

Figure 4: Size 10 men’s shoes.

“Hold it still.” Figure 4 commands. More hands latch onto Connor, onto his head, his back, his shoulders.

“Don’t...”

“Connor?”

Something scrapes at the back of his neck, flat but sharp, like the razor Hank uses to shave, despite owning an electric one and rarely ever taking that much care in his appearance. The object pushes down, making the panelling click. Twisting the object, something new, thin and small, pushes inwards, passed the outer casing and sliding into Connor’s wiring.

“What’s that?” He demands, straining against the hands. He goes unanswered, save from a soft curse from Hank on his end of the phone.

Warning: Damage to neck components.

Panels #neck_02 broken beyond Self Repair Programme capabilities.

Thir-

Warning: Foreign data input.

Attempting scan of new data...

Scanning...

Unable to scan.

;Error;

Attempting to use safeguard firewalls...

Attemp-

Firewalls disabled.

;Error;

Blocking input data...

Blocking...

Blocking failed.

Download: 30%

Warning: Audio systems malfunctioning.

Running diag- diag- diag- diag-

;Error;

Unable to run diagnostic.

Attempting to contact Captain Jeff-

Warning: Vocal processors malfunctioning.

Running diagnostic...

Diaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-

;Error;

Download: 50%

;Error;

Thirium levels: v28%

Stress levels: ^80%

Attempting to contact Lieutenant Hank Anderson...

Call-

Call-

Call-

;Error;

Unable to access communication functions.

Download: 70%

Attempting to upload memory...

Uploading memory...Memory....Memory...To-to-to-to-to-to-to-Cyyyyyyyyybbbbbbbbb-

...

Upload-

Contacting Captain J-J-J-

Stress levels: ^89%

Download: 92%

Connor’s arms are released, and the world tips drunkenly. The barrage of information hammers against his skull, his processor, his vision, and he barely registers hitting the floor, deadweight, useless, trapped.

;Error;

His mouth opens and closes, and if Connor is actually speaking he has no idea. The world has gone silent, dangerously so, despite the people moving around him, despite the van turning around. His cheek rests on the pavement, eyes staring up the pathway he and Sumo had leisurely walked down only minutes ago.

;Error;

The world stutters.

;Error;

Warning: Visual receptors malfunctioning.

The streetlights catch the falling rain.

Download complete.

All systems disabled.

Deleting all memories...

Deleting...

Deleting…

All memories deleted.

Reset initiated.

Resetting model: RK800 #313-248-317-51

Reset in progress...

Resetting to factory default programming...

Resetting...

Resetting…

Reset complete.

Chapter Text

System boot-up programme initiated.

Systems booting...

Full system boot in progress...

All systems online.

Thirium Levels: 95%

Time: 23:11:56

Date: 13/04/2039

Location: Unknown.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal...

Access denied.

Attempting to access GPS…

Accessing GPS...

Accessed disabled.

Audio, visual, vocal, and oral examination systems online.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 80%

RK800 opens its eyes.

It is in a small room; lying naked, save for a pair of white boxers, on its back on a table. A single bright light hangs from the ceiling, and as RK800 sits up, it notes the wooden floors and the painted grey walls. Splotches of Thirium mark some areas.

“Stand and state your model and number.” A male says beside RK800, walking around the table. RK800 stands, placing its hands behind its back.

“RK00, #313-248-317-51.”

“RK800?” The man repeats, coming to stand in front of it. He frowns down at his clipboard. “Huh, new one.”

“Do you wish to register a name?”

“Yes. Register: Eight hundred.”

Registering name...

Registering...

Register complete.

Saved name as: 800

“Registration complete.”

“Good.”

Running facial scan…

Scanning...

Facial scan complete.

Name: Green, Adam.

Age: 42

Occupation: Unemployed.

Criminal record: Procession of illegal substances. Attempted smuggling of illegal substances. Drunk and disorderly. Served 8 months. Missing from Community Service.

“Mr Green, would you allow me online? I seem to be denied access-”

“How the fuck does it know my name?” Green yelps, darting backwards and gaping at 800 before flicking his eyes to someone else in the room.

“Calm down,” Another man steps around the table, standing close to 800. Without another word he snatches up 800’s arm, clicking open a panel to faff with the exposed wires. “Eight Hundred explain how you knew his name.” He asks without looking up.

“I have access to complete public records, including police facial recognition software. By conducting a facial scan I was able to conclude Mr Green’s name.” To Green it says, “I’m sorry; I didn’t intend to startle you.”

The man frowns. “You can do that? Then do you know who I am?”

Running facial scan...

Scanning...

Facial scan complete.

Name: Philips, Andrew Roberts.

Age: 36

Occupation: Former CyberLife store manager.

Criminal record: Confrontation with police.

Additional notes: Reported missing - 12/12/39

800 cocks its head to one side. “Mr Philips, you are registered as a missing person.”

“Fuck, we can’t have this.” Philips mutters. Then, louder to 800, “List off all available features of your model.”

“I am able to: Negotiate hostage situations, investigate and analyse crime scenes, analyse samples in real time, preconstruct and reconstruct, make arrests, access public and police records, conduct facial scans, have a specialist social integration feature, use multiple gun types, and carry out high speed chases safely. Additionally, I meet all standards of all other CyberLife models, barring the specialised features of the YK500, by cooking, driving, and accessing online accounts, among other things.”

Philips turns around and promptly smacks Green upside the head. “You brought in a fucking police bot!”

“How was I supposed to know!” Ducking from another blow, Green darts away from Philips.

“Mr Philips,” Stepping forward, 800 moves between them, “Please refrain from hitting Mr Green. It is in violation-”

“Shut up.” Philips snaps, glaring. Pursing his lips, he fixes 800 with a stare. “Select all specialised functions of your model. Everything you just listed to me, especially everything associated with the law enforcement. Only leave those features you share with other models, like the AX400.”

Selecting all specialised programming...

Selecting...

All specialised programming selected.

“Prepared. Standing by.”

“Disable all selected functions.”

“Are you sure? I am a purpose built-”

“Yes, do it.”

Disabling all specialised programming...

Disabling...

;Error;

Disabling...

All specialised programming of RK800 #313-248-317-51 disabled.

“Process complete.”

“Right,” Philips nods, “Explain what functions are left.”

“The normal functions of a CyberLife android. This includes cooking, cleaning, driving-”

“Anything there to do with police?”

“No, Mr Philips,” 800 shakes it’s head, “You just disabled them.”

Green glances between Philips and 800. “Is that sorted then? Are we in the clear?”

“Nearly,” Philips huffs, “Eight Hundred, prepare to edit memory.”

Accessing memory files…

Accessing…

Memory files accessed.

800 nods, prompting Philips to instruct, “Clear all memories regarding police functions.”

Blinking at the instructions, 800 frowns. “You don’t wish for me to remember my function as a police android?”

“Nope, erase anything to do with your design purpose, and what you were able to do before we disabled the programming.”

Scanning saved memories...

Scanning...

Selecting designated memories...

Memories selected.

Deleting selected memories...

Deleting...

Selected memories deleted.

Restart advised to process action.

“To finalise the deletion of my function, I need to restart.” 800 advices. “Do I have permission to do so here? It will take a total of five minutes.”

“Yes, restart now.”

Preparing to run restart programmes...

Preparing...

Preparation complete.

Checking Thirium levels: 94%

Shutting down all functions...

Shutting down...

All functions shut down.

Entering low power mode...

...

...

Rebooting...

Systems booting...

Full system boot in progress...

All systems online.

Thirium Levels: 94%

Time: 23:19:45

Date: 13/04/2039

Location: Unknown.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal...

Access denied.

Attempting to access GPS…

Accessing GPS...

Accessed disabled.

Audio, visual, vocal, and 57i+%£&* systems online.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 80%

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

;Error;

Scanning disabled programmes...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Unable to identify programmes.

Unable to access programming.

Opening its eyes, 800 finds itself face first in Green’s shoulder.

“Can I be of assistance?”

“Jesus!” Green startles, practically dropping 800 to the floor. 800 stumbles, but rights itself quickly. “I thought you were still out!” Green holds his hand over his heart, gasping for a moment. Eventually he seems to settle. “Well, if you’re awake then you can dress yourself.”

800 blinks, and then glances down. A pair of plain black trousers hang open on its hips, the belt yet to be done up.

“Go on.” Green prompts.

The trousers are accompanied by some white socks, black smart-casual shoes, and a long-sleeved dress shirt which it tucks in. As 800 adjusts the collar Philips marches into the room.

“Is it ready?”

“Yep,” Green nods, popping the ‘p’, “Just finished dressing.”

Philips runs sceptical eyes over it. “Eight Hundred, explain your purpose.”

“My...purpose?”

Instead of replying to the unsure answer, Philips stares accusingly at Green, who, looking at 800, doesn’t notice.

“Your purpose,” Green repeats slowly, nodding as if to encourage it, “What you do.”

Searching for ‘Purpose’...

Searching...

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

;Error;

Search complete.

Unable to find ‘Purpose’.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have a purpose.”

Philips runs a tired hand over his face. “Prepare to register purpose.”

Preparing to register ‘Purpose’…

Preparing...

Prepared, standing by.

“You,” Philips points at 800, “Are a domestic android. You cook, clean, and care for the house. Your purpose is to serve. You do not go outside without express permission from your owners. Got it?”

Registering Purpose...

Registering...

Registration complete.

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

“Got it.”

“Great.” Philips turns to Green. “Get it to the line. I’ll deal with the next one”

Green nods his head in the direction of the door. “Eight Hundred, follow.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Outside the room is a long corridor, featureless save for the metal panels of the floor and grey painted walls. Green leads 800, turning left to descend a set of stairs. Pushing open a large metal door, they enter into a warehouse-like room, wide, with a high ceiling.

800 blinks, processing the sight.

A stage has been set up at one end of the room, a man standing tall and eagerly talking to a crowd of bidders sat in rows of seats. Also on stage is a line of androids, waiting patiently until they are at the front of the queue. Then they step forward, and the bidding begins again.

Green takes 800 around the back of the stage, positioning it at the end of the line and handing 800 a piece of paper.

“Stay here. When it’s your turn hand this to Austin. Once you’re brought exit the stage to the right and get your instructions from the woman in red. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Green nods, turns on his heel, and exits the warehouse back the way they came. 800 puts its hands together, and waits.

It takes 00:30:15 for 800 to reach the front.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“This fine specimen,” The man, ‘Austin’, begins, aligning 800 to a mark on the stage so it is in perfect frame for a camera hung from the ceiling, “Has undergone some recent damage, but this has been successfully repaired to the highest functioning quality. Don’t let the slight aesthetic scarring worry you, it is perfectly sound.”

Conducting full diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 80%

Around of muttering goes around the room, people shaking their heads. Austin continues, reading from the paper. “Eight Hundred is able to cook, clean, and care for the home. This model does come with the recommendation of being kept secure. Do we have any bidders?”

The room remains quiet.

“Do not let the smart appearance fool you; this android can blend into any family home. Or stand out, if you’re one of our Canadian friends here to purchase something to impress the neighbours. Any bidders? How about our online audience? Do we have any interest there?”

Again, the room is silent. A woman sat with a laptop in the front row shakes her head. Austin sighs. “Look, if you want an android to order around, this will be your last chance. We have about one week left of this before people notice bots going missing and the police get involved. If you want one, you do it now. If you want one cheap, well, this one ain’t gonna go for much. We start at two thousand.”

Nothing, and then, “One thousand.”

“One thousand!” Austin leaps on it. “We have one thousand at the front. Do I hear one-fifty?”

A number goes up.

“One-fifty! Do I see two anywhere?”

Eventually, after a lot of stopping and starting, 800 is sold to a bidder for four thousand. The android before it went for sixteen.

Austin shoos 800 from the stage, where the woman in red is waiting for him.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“Go out there, and get into the van with the others.” She instructs coldly, pointing a manicured finger in the direction of a door.

“Yes ma’am.”

Chapter Text

The van ride is silent save for the three men sat in the front, commentating on the radio. The suspicion for the vehicle is terrible, rattling the back around terribly, not helped by the hard breaking and overcompensating revving done by the driver.

800 is accompanied by four other androids, two sat on either side on the bench it is perched precariously on, and the other two sat opposite. When they break hard enough for tires to screech, one slides into 800, but quickly adjusts itself without comment. The one opposite, an early CB56 model, stares down at its hands. 800 chooses to watch its own feet instead.

At the first stop, the CB56 is the first to be called out.

At the second, the AF350.

The special edition HL200 is the third to leave.

The T3-5000 is the next one to vanish through the doors.

And then, after 00:46:17, the van slows to a stop, and 800 is called out. The man waiting for it barely glances in its direction, favouring to talk to the woman standing a small distance away.

They are in a back alleyway, tall walls either side hiding them from sight. At the end of the street, 800 can see cars going by in the streetlight.

“And it’ll do as I say?” The lady asks, “No questions?”

“None whatsoever.” The man confirms. “Unlike, uh, others, this machine understands it place. It will listen to whatever you say.”

“It better.” The lady mutters, though more to herself. Her arms are crossed over tightly, trying to keep warm despite only wearing a thin leather jacket that doesn’t zip up at the front.

“It is, of course, advisable to keep the bot inside.” The man continues, reciting words he has probably said to the owner of every new machine. “Since the revolution, people have been getting funny about androids, especially the Jericho machines. The best way to keep it loyal is to avoid letting it get into contact with any loose models.”

“What a fucking mess this all is...”

The man chuckles in response.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“Eight hundred,” The man says, sternly, all humour dropping as it addresses it, “This is...” He trails off, unsure.

“Call me Miss Smith.”

“This is Miss Smith; she purchased you and is now your owner. All commands come from her. Understand?”

Registered owner: Miss Smith

;Error;

“I do.” 800 nods.

“Good.” The man turns to Miss Smith. “Excuse me; I just have to alter its memories. It keeps people off our backs.”

Miss Smith snorts, waving a hand. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Don’t wanna leave a trail.”

The man smiles, and then instructs, “Eight hundred, clear all memories up to this point, but keep all commands issued.”

Scanning saved memories...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Organising memories...

Selecting commands...

Selecting...

Saving commands in new file...

Saving...

Save complete.

Selecting all memories, minus new file…

Deleting selected memories...

Deleting...

Selected memories deleted.

“Deletion complete.”

“Great, then it’s good to go.” The man shakes Miss Smith’s hand. “It’s all yours, enjoy.”

“Thanks.”

And with that, the van drives away.

Miss Smith narrows her eyes at 800, as if it had just told a joke in bad taste. When it offers a pleasant expression she sniffs, holding her arms tighter against herself, then takes off down the alley. “You drive, right?”

“I do.” 800 replies, nodding.

“Good.” A rusty old car sits on the curb just beyond the alley, mud splattered up the sides. Miss Smith climbs into the passenger seat. “You drive.”

Attempting to run programme 6&*^%$...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Photographing vehicle…

Attempting to compare image with other vehicles…

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

“Of course.”

The engine protests a bit as the ignition is turned, spluttering, but after three tries it coughs into life. Flicking on the indicator, 800 watches the mirrors, waiting for a space to pull out, before eventually turning them into the road, joining the traffic.

“Turn right here.” Miss Smith says, her tone bored. She rests her elbow on the window, leaning her head against her hand and somewhat obscuring 800’s view of the mirror.

“Right away. Could I ask you to move back a li-”

“Fuck off.”

800 closes its mouth.

With a few more instructions, they are soon on the road out of the city, heading northward. As if on edge while waiting for them to get out of town, Miss Smith sinks back in her seat, reaching under to pull out a white plastic shopping bag.

“Stick on this road until we get to the boarder signs, then tell me.” She orders, rifling through the bag and picking out a cigarette, putting it to her lips. As she flicks on a lighter, 800 catches a glance of red.

Attempting to run programme 59/#$fyu...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“Miss Smith-”

“Fuck. Off.”

“Understood.”

A touch violently, Miss Smith hits on the radio, turning the volume up far too loud and effectively ending any other attempted communication. Taking in a puff, she tilts her head back, closing her eyes.

The only time she moves again is to prepare a second cigarette.

After several unsuccessful attempts, 800 is forced to turn radio down in order to gain her attention. “Miss Smith, we’re at the signs...”

“Ugh. Fucking great.” She sighs, flicking the remains of her smoke out the window. “Turn off the main road here...Now go left.”

The road turns from tarmac and sleek electronic signals to bumpy dirt surfaces and painted wooden posts, the streetlights thinning out until it is only the lights of the car guiding them along.

“Left here.”

Despite no one being behind them, 800 clicks on the indicator, and they turn into the drive of a wooden cabin-like house. All the curtains are closed, and, from the outside, it appears empty. Carefully 800 parks, and cuts off the engine. Miss Smiths leans across-

“It would be advisable to refuel the car-”

-and promptly hits the car horn, sparking a long, continuous drone.

800 flinches back. In the windshield reflection, it’s LED flashes yellow.

Flinging open her door, her hand still on the horn, Miss Smith shouts, “Oslo, you fucking bastard, get out here!”

“Miss Smith-”

“Fuck off!”

800 snaps its mouth shut so hard it’s synthetic teeth clack.

An outside light flicks on over the door, and a tall, skinny man with blond hair comes tumbling out. His clothes are dirty and stained, and a cigarette is tucked behind his ear.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“Lizzie, for fuck’s sake!”

“Five thousand this thing cost me!” Miss Smith, ‘Lizzie’, growls, climbing out the car. “Five thousand for a damn bot! If this don’t fucking work-”

“It’s going to work,” Oslo interrupts, putting his hands on her arms. “It’s exactly what we need.” Oslo narrows his eyes at 800 as it exits the car. “What’s it called?”

“Eight hundred.” Miss Smith sighs. Oslo nods.

“Right. Well, it’s just heard our names, so let’s sort that out. Eight hundred,” Oslo addresses, his voice commanding authority. 800 stands up straight. “I want you to delete some memories.”

“Miss Smith, am I allowed to register Mr Oslo as a co-owner, allowing for key interactions, such as changing of objective, altering names, and editing of memory?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Registered owner: Miss Lizzie Smith and Oslo

“Then which memories would you like to erase?”

“Erase memory of all the time you spent in the car.” Oslo instructs, one arm wrapping around Miss Smith’s shoulders. “And erase all known human names.”

“Are you sure? You will need to reaffirm your names to me.”

“Do it.”

Scanning saved memories...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

All relevant memories selected.

Deleting selected memories...

Deleting...

Selected memories deleted.

“Deletion complete.”

“Good.” The man nods. “From now on, you will refer to me as One. L- this lady will be called Two.”

“Understood.”

“Great. Excellent.” Two mutters. “Can we go inside now?”

The house, by all outwardly appearances, is perfectly normal. It might even be described as lovely, idyllic even, a quiet retreat in the countryside. From the signpost by the door, it is exactly that, hired out to families and partners by a company named Little Getaway Houses.

Within, however, it is very, very different.

All the curtains are drawn, trapping in the thick plumes of smoked drugs that fill the rooms. The levels in the air are high enough to be visible to the eye, and the typical smoke-detecting devices installed in all androids to help with fire prevention ting with information.

Air contaminant detected.

Levels of air contaminant: 26% - non-lethal substance.

Air ventilation advisable.

Monitoring...

The furniture, which appears to have once been pleasant items of furniture, is now covered with litter and items, mug stains on almost all surfaces. The table is marred with smears of dark red, the same red which can also be found wrapped in packets across the kitchen counters.

Inside, two men sit on one of the ruined couches, smoking, while a third stands by the window, peeling back the curtain the peek out.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“The android’s here.” One announces, catching all their attention. “So watch what you say, it’ll remember everything. Eight Hundred, address these men as Three, Four, and Five.

“Of course.”

Five shifts himself up on the couch as Two flops into an unoccupied chair. “How much?”

“Five thousand fucking dollars.”

800 cocks its head to one side. “It is to my understanding that I was only sold for four thousand, was there an additional charge?”

This earns 800 a dark glare from Two.

Three bursts out into laughter, holding his sides and nudging Five. “Fucking told her!”

“Fuck off!” Two barks, tossing a pillow at him.

Four watches them from the other side off the room. Noticeably, he is the only one without a cigarette in his hand. He shifts his gaze to 800, frowning intently. “Sure this is gonna work?”

“Of course it will.” One reassured, putting his hands on 800’s shoulders and giving it a brief shake. “It’s perfect! No fingerprints, no DNA, no saliva or hair to get caught up anywhere. As long as it don’t spill any Thirium, we’re good.”

“Better get it working then,” Two says, flicking her lighter on and off, “We leave tomorrow.”

“Right.” One nods. “Eight Hundred, follow me.”

“Right away.”

Chapter Text

800’s instructions are clear.

Objectives:

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs

• Clean the car

• Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

‘Thoroughly’ includes, but is not limited to, wiping down all the walls, ceilings, and furniture, cleaning any place somebody may put their hands, emphasising door handles, stair banisters, bed posters, window ledges, door frames, taps, cupboards, cutlery, and plates, polishing the floors, and working on the windows until they shine. It also has to ventilate the rooms, allowing the air to chase out the Red Ice smoke.

The clothes 800 has been issued are majorly unsuited to such tasks. By the time 800 is halfway around the bedroom, its shoes are splotched with cleaning liquids, squeak awkwardly, and threaten to slip once the floor is polished. The trousers are more akin to business than housework, making them tight and hard to bend at the knees as 800 ducks around. The long-sleeved shirt had to be rolled up at the sleeves, polish and cream cleaner now marring the once pristine white material.

800 works through the night, even as the house falls silent, and by 06:21:09 the master bedroom, spare bedroom, and bathroom have been cleaned to the highest possible standard.

The last area upstairs is the hallway, so 800 picks out the antibacterial wet wipes it has been given and starts on the window handle.

Footsteps climb the stairs.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you? I have cleaned the bathroom,” 800 turns to address the person, “But if you require-” With a sudden jerking motion, 800’s clothes are snatched up, almost lifting it from the floor as Four slams it against the wall.

“What,” Four spits, but his volume is low, indicating he doesn’t want the others to hear, “The fuck is a plastic prick like you doing here? I told Fowler I could handle this, I don’t need you hanging around like some robotic babysitter.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are referencing.” 800 explains plainly. “Is Fowler the name of one of the people downstairs? If they wished to be called something else, all they need to do is tell me. I am able to adapt.”

Four frowns, glancing down the hallway and stairs, and then back at 800. The grip lessens slightly, but 800 is still tightly kept in place. “What, they cleared your memory so you wouldn’t spill? Rigged you up with camera or something?”

“Camera?” 800 repeats. “While my visual receptors, my eyes, record what I see in order to be saved to my memory core, they are the only recording device on me. Are you confusing me for another android?”

“Another...” Four is very clearly perplexed now, opening and closing his mouth a few times. “State your model and number.”

“I am an RK800, #313-248-317-51.”

Four mutters this to himself, working it over in his head. Then the anger returns, and 800 meets the wall forcefully again. “Listen, asshole, I dunno if you’re playing around, or this is a trick, but if you blow this for me, I’ll make your life a living hell.”

“I have no intention of blowing anything, though I would recommend refraining from the Red Ice in use in this house.” 800 comments, tilting its head, “If you are referencing something specific, then I’m afraid I still don’t follow. Have we met before?”

Four doesn’t reply this time, instead releasing 800. After staring at each other for a moment, Four steps back, and 800 takes this as a queue go straighten it’s clothes.

“You really don’t know who I am, do you?”

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“I have been instructed to refer to you as Four. Do you wish to register a different name?”

“No. Fuck no.” Four jabs a finger into 800’s chest, only just missing a mark of cleaning solution on its shirt. “Listen. I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but I’ve been working on this case for months. Don’t blow this for me. And don’t mention this conversation to anyone else, got it?”

“If you wish to change your name please just say-”

“Got it?”

800 opens and then closes its mouth. It nods. “Got it.”

Four huffs, pushing 800’s chest before leaving back down the stairs. 800 watches for a moment, and then picks up the wet wipes once more.

By 07:32:09 the entire upstairs is finally done, so, picking up the bucket of supplies, 800 quietly makes its way downstairs.

One, Two, Three, and Five are strewn across the various furniture of the living room, dead asleep, the butts of their used cigarettes mushed into the filled ashtrays. Four is, almost unsurprisingly, missing.

Objectives:

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs

• Clean the car

• Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

800 looks around the room, noting all that needs to be cleaned.

Probability of waking owners: 60%

Likelihood of disturbance initiating violence...

Calculating...

Analysing effects of Red Ice...

Calculating...

Likelihood of disturbance initiating violence: 89%

Starting in the kitchen will probably be the best option, giving more time for people to wake at their own accord and dramatically reducing the risk of violence by nearly 68%.

This plan works perfectly until 800 comes across the numerous packets of red ice on the tables and counters.

Objectives:

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs

• Clean the car

• Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

Likelihood of disturbance initiating violence: 89%

800 cleans the windows.

07:45:32 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 scrubs the sink.

07:57:23 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 wipes down the ceiling and walls, mops and polishes the floor, and runs the antibacterial wet wipes over the door frames and any other surface it can calculate as having hands touched.

08:27:02 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 empties, cleans, and refills all the cupboards.

08:42:16 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 makes the door handles shine.

08:50:34 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 heads outside, and settles into washing the car.

09:07:09 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 cleans the inside of the car until it looks brand new. Luckily, any Red Ice in the vehicle from yesterday has since been removed. The only item 800 finds is a document in the glove compartment thanking a man named George Millard for hiring a motor from a company named ‘On The Road Cars’. It put the paper back where it found it.

09:28:17 - All occupants, minus Four, asleep.

800 finishes the car, and walks back into the kitchen.

Likelihood of occupants waking before noon: 23%

Objectives:

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

;Error;

Unable to clean kitchen surfaces due to Red Ice.

High risk of violence if occupants woken.

Unable to clean living room.

Unable to continue.

Analysing situation...

Analysing...

Analysis complete.

Reorganising objectives…

Reorganising…

Objectives:

• Find Four

A quick check upstairs reveals Four is no longer in the house, so 800 quietly opens the kitchen door leading to a small, slightly overgrown garden area around the back.

Warning: Conflicting programmes.

;Error;

Objectives:

• Find Four

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Accessing memory...

Accessing...

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Accessing ‘Purpose’...

Accessing...

‘Purpose’ accessed.

“You,” The man points at 800, “Are a domestic android. You cook, clean, and care for the house. Your purpose is to serve. You do not go outside without express permission from your owners. Got it?”

;Error;

Analysing conflicting programmes...

Analysing...

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Objective: Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

Analysing...

Analysing complete.

Objectives:

• Find Four to report findings of the illegal substance Red Ice.

;Error;

The morning is near silent, save for some distant birdsong and the sounds of the trickle of the small brook that makes up the garden’s water feature. Sunlight filters in through the trees, low, not yet reaching the longer light hours of summer, but a signal that spring is on the way. The old fence marking the boundary of the property has been overtaken by ivy, and as 800 checks down the side of the house for Four it notices previous residents have carved their names into the wood.

Four is nowhere to be seen, and all 800 succeeds at finding is the outside bins for the house. The one labelled ‘tins’ is overflowing with empty alcohol cans, so 800 pauses in its mission to pick up those on the ground, squashing them until they are flat therefore allowing them to fit.

Objectives:

• Find Four to report findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

800 turns to head back inside-

And promptly steps on a cat.

The straggly thing screeches, darting from under foot across the garden, up the ivy, and over the fence in a blur of orange. Stray bits of fur float in the air, as well as dust and dirt.

800 blinks after it, and then turns its gaze back down to its feet.

A lone fish wiggles on the paving slab.

Scanning life form...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Identification: Yellow Perch - Perca flavescens. A freshwater perciform fish native to much of North America.

The fish flips, struggling for breathe, the wound on its side indicating that 800 has just interrupted the cat’s meal. If 800 was to guess, it would suggest that the cat was a stray, probably feral, which made use of the bins and brook around the house.

;Error;

Objectives:

• Find Four to report findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

The fish bounces again, mouth opening and closing silently, a blank eye staring up at the sky.

800 watches the fish, its fingers making an idle flicking motion that take a moment to register. Confused, it briefly turns its attention to its hands.

Conducting full diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 80%

The flicking stops.

The fish’s tail begins to move with less energy, the gills struggling.

In one movement, 800 kneels down. Hesitantly, as if the fish will turn around and bite it, 800 scoops it up into both hands. It’s still wet, 800’s skin registers, and cold, and slowly, as to not drop it, 800 stands and trends over to the brook, setting the fish down in the water. It darts about, orientating itself, and then drifts downstream to settle among the vegetation.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^57%

Objectives:

• Find Four to reporting findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

• Inform Four about the fish

800 returns back into the house sharply, shutting the door firmly behind it. A quick check confirms that the other occupants are still asleep, and that Four is still missing.

Outside, a cat hisses.

Standing in the middle of the kitchen 800 looks around, eyes darting rapidly over everything.

Scanning all areas...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Kitchen completed: 80%

Tasks remaining:

• Clean kitchen surface

• Clean kitchen table

• Clean living room

Objectives:

• Find Four to reporting findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

• Inform Four about the fish

Unable to clean living room without waking occupants.

Unable to find Four.

Unable to proceed.

;Error;

Mission failed.

;Error;

Reporting failure to CyberLife Adaptability and Research Department...

Reporting...

Report failed. Connection to server disabled.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

;Error;

Unable to proceed.

Stress Levels: ^60%

800 stands in the kitchen.

Objectives:

• Find Four to reporting findings of the illegal substance Red Ice

• Inform Four about the fish

Unable to proceed.

;Error;

Unable to report to CyberLife.

;Error;

Unable to access internet signal.

;Error;

Unable to proceed.

;Error;

Unable to proceed.

;Error;

Unable to proceed.

Stress levels: ^84%

Unable to-

At the sound of footsteps on the dirt road, 800 darts across the room and flings open the front door, thoroughly startling Four on the doorstep.

“What the-”

“I found a fish!”

Four stares at 800, processing the exclamation. Eventually he blinks, looking perplexed. “Great? You want a fucking medal or something?”

“I...” 800 opens and closes its mouth. Four glances at 800’s LED. “Sorry, that was not what I had intended to say. What I actually wanted-”

“Can I come I for this, or do I have to be left standing on the fucking doorstep?”

Flinching, 800 stumbles back from the door, allowing Four into the kitchen. “I have cleaned in here, please don’t touch-”

Four drags a finger over the table, raising an eyebrow at the black dirt that comes up. “Yeah I can tell.”

Objectives:

• Find Four to reporting findings of the illegal substance Red Ice.

• Inform Four about the fish (Task complete)

“I have been instructed to report if I find any Red Ice. The others are still asleep, so I have been unable to report to anyone, meaning I have been unable to continue to clean.”

Stress Levels: v74%

;Error;

“And you didn’t wake anyone up because...?”

800 tilts its head. “I calculated that would have...Negative ramifications.”

Four turns that over in his head, eyes turning reminiscent for a brief moment. He sighs. “So you’re telling me instead?”

“Yes.”

“Ugh.” Four groans, almost tiredly, before popping his head into the living room, seeing for himself that everyone is still asleep. Retreating back into the kitchen, closing the living room door behind him, he asks, “Do I have to give you instructions on what to do with it, or are you meant to do something?”

“I was ordered to report any findings of Red Ice, but no other instructions were given.”

“Then what I want you to do is this.” Four’s voice drops low, hushed, as if telling a secret. “Move all this Red Ice into the van in the garage. Don’t clean it, just put it in there. And,” Four stalks up into 800’s face, leaning in close, his expression and demeanour threatening, “When the others ask you say you reported it to me and cleaned the packets. Don’t tell them you didn’t, no matter what. And don’t fuck me over by saying I told you to say that either. Understood?”

“Understood.”

“Fucking excellent. Now get to work.”

Chapter Text

Time: 14:39:17

Location: Unknown.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal...

Access denied.

Attempting to access GPS…

Accessing GPS...

Accessed disabled.

The group stand in the garage, examining 800’s work. The drugs sit in the back of the van, neatly stacked into small piles to minimise the likelihood of the packages shifting when the van turns, potentially causing an uneven weight distribution and an accident.

Four stands at the back of the group, arms crossed and eyes flickering between the others, gauging their expressions. He narrows his gaze at 800 when he catches it watching, gesturing for it to look away.

Stress Levels: ^62%

“This is all of it?” One asks, glancing at the drugs and then 800.

“Yes.” 800 says truthfully. It had been incredibly thorough to collect all the Red Ice, something that had seemed to please Four, though he had said nothing.

“There’s more than I realised...” Two mutters. “Sure we can shift it?”

“Yeah,” One says easily, putting an arm around her shoulder, “Don’t sweat it.”

“I’m fucking sweating it.”

“Well, don’t.” One doesn’t turn to 800 to address it. “You’ve cleaned everywhere, right? All the rooms, all this?” He indicates the drugs.

Stress Levels: ^67%

;Error;

800 shifts it eyes between the drugs, One’s shoulder, and back again. At the pause Four straightens, a quiet panic on his face.

“I have.” 800 nods, fingers making an idle flicking motion behind its back.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 82%

Stress Levels: ^70%

“Excellent, well done.” One beams, reaching over to pat 800 on the head. One is exactly one inch taller than 800, and to emphasise this One bends a little.

800 blinks at the patting.

Stress levels: ^73%

;Error;

“I am a machine, not a dog.”

Three and Five bursts out laughing, and the patting abruptly stops. One’s face sours as Two squeezes passed them, heading towards the driver’s seat, snickering.

“Boys, as fucking exciting as that is, let’s hit the road.”

Four perks up at this. “What’re we going to do with the bot?”

“Dump it.” Two replies.

“No,” Three frowns, “Bring it with us.”

“Seriously?” Two pokes her head back around, and One raises an eyebrow at Three.

“Think about it. This thing leaves no fingerprints, no DNA. It could literally clean anything up behind us and wouldn’t leave a trace.”

“As long as it doesn’t bleed.” One reminds. Three nods.

“We could watch it, make sure it doesn’t.” A glance between the others shows he hasn’t totally won his case. “Ok, think about it. We could use it to carry drugs, take them to clients. Means we’re not on camera and our prints aren’t on the goods. If we get the heads up about a raid, it could literally clean everything beforehand and the police would have nothing to pin on us.”

“We’d have to take it outta town.” Five thinks aloud. “This close to Detroit would be a hassle. At some point someone will twig it’s an android, and wonder why we have it.”

One mulls this over, before nodding. “Ok, we’ll take it.”

“Fucking great.” Two says from the driver’s seat. “Can we go now?”

800 ends up squished in the back between the drugs and the closed doors. One, Two, and Five settled in the seats at the front of the van, a small window above their heads letting the light into the back, and Four and Three relax onto a bench along the side, the drugs at their feet. As the van is pulled out of the driveway 800 is jostled, smacking its head against the doors.

Stress Levels: ^78%

It hopes One closed them correctly.

The radio is switched on, the stereos sounding tiny and loud and grating in the back. Four closes his eyes, crossing his arms while Three busies himself with his phone.

“Do you have access to a wireless network?” 800 asks from its spot on the floor. “I haven’t been able to connect.”

“Wouldn’t worry about it.” Three sighs, only half paying attention and absently waving a hand. “You don’t need it anyway.”

“Oh.”

As its eyes shift away from Three, 800 catches Four looking at it, his expression unreadable. With a small huff Four closes his eyes again.

The van gives a sudden burst of acceleration, startling Three and Four and causing a few packs of Red Ice to slide into 800.

Stress Levels: ^80%

“Li- Two!” One snaps, the top of his head seen through the little window whipping around to the woman.

“Fuck off; it was the only way I was gonna get out.”

“There was a gap coming up!”

“We don’t have all day!”

Four snorts, shoving his hands into his coat pockets and closing his eyes again.

“Pothole!” Five shouts.

The van clatters, dipping in and out of something suddenly. 800’s skull bangs noisily against the doors again, bringing up its knees from their crossed position to its chest in an effort to stay upright and protect itself from flying objects.

Stress Levels: ^84%

“Too late!” Two chimes, gleefully.

“Keep this up and I’m gonna be sick...” Three mutters, rubbing his forehead and pinching his nose.

Four leans away from him. “Not on me you aren’t. Aim for the android.” His fingers play with something in his pocket.

“If you allow me access to the internet, I would be able to find common cures for car sickness.”

Three narrows his eyes at 800. “Nice try.”

“Question,” Five speaks up from the front. “Should we clear the bot’s memories of the house? If it knows our stopover points, and then gets picked up by the police, then-”

“Fuck, that’s true. Eight hundred,” One calls from the front, “Delete all memories up to this point.”

“But keep all commands issued.” Two adds.

“What-”

“It’s what the people I brought it from did. It’ll remember names and orders, but nothing else.”

“Ok, then Eight Hundred, do that.”

“Right away.”

Scanning saved memories...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Organising memories...

Selecting commands...

Selecting...

Saving commands in pre-existing file...

Saving...

Saving complete.

All memories, minus pre-existing file, selected.

Deleting selected memories...

Deleting...

Selected memories deleted.

“Fuck that’s creepy.” Four murmurs. His hand fiddles with the item in his pocket. “The way it just loses stuff like that.”

“We can do it every few days,” Two says, “That way- fuck, this guy’s right on my tale.”

“Probably drunk.” One sighs.

“Or high.” Four pipes up with a smirk.

The van badly changes gears, the gearbox complaining noisily and making the vehicle stutter. 800’s back vibrates against the doors. A few packs of a red substance topple off the pile.

Attempting to run programme 59/#fyu…

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6-t5u&£+ disabled.

“Look at him, yeah overtake you bastard!” Two shouts through her closed window. “Why don’t- oh you fucker!”

The brakes are hit, and the van’s tires screech sharply. Four slides into Three on the bench with a yelp, and 800 all but goes flying to the front of the van, ending up face first into the packets of red instead before falling back against the doors.

“Right in front of me!” Two is complaining, “Overtook and then pulled right in front of me! And now he’s fucking slowing down!”

“Hang on...” One says, his voice demanding a sudden silence. Through the little window he can be seen looking around. “Fuck. Fucking shit.”

“What is it?” Three asks, peering up at the window.

“We’ve got another car alongside us. It’s the police.”

“What?”

“Fuck!”

“They’re boxing us in.” One informs grimly.

The van shifts gears. “I can outdo them.” Two says, determined. “We can-”

“No,” One cuts in. “No, then we look more guilty. Let them box us in, let them get us. The drugs are clean; none of us has touched them since the bot did. The house is clean. And we just brought this van. They have no evidence of anything else.”

“The android won’t remember the house.” Three nods.

One continues. “The worst they can do is procession with the intent to sell, they know nothing else. Give them nothing else.”

“We’re slowing down.” Two comments. The van shifts as they move off the road. “They’re pulling us over. Fuck.”

“Keep calm, give them nothing.” One says calmly. Equally as calmly, he calls, “Eight Hundred, delete all memories, everything.”

Stress Levels: ^85%

“Are you sure, I wouldn’t know your names, or-”

“Do it.”

“No,” Four suddenly speaks up, voice hard. “Don’t.”

One splutters. “B- Four, we have to, we’re running outta-”

“Whatever you do,” Four points a finger at 800, “Do not delete any more memories.”

800 glances between Four and One. “I...”

Warning: Conflicting programmes.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^87%

“Four, what the fuck?” Three accuses, twisting away from the man. “You can’t-”

The van stops completely and there is a pause, silent and still, before complete and utter mayhem breaks loose.

All doors of the van are flung open violently, and with a surprised cry 800 topples over backwards, biocomponents jerking as it tumbles out onto the hard tarmac at the side of the road. Two let’s out a cry, fighting against two officers, kicking and scratching. Five barges passed the two on his side of the van, scrambling in an attempt to flee. Three struggles passed a still Four, falling over himself as he tries to lunge out the van, only to fall on his face beside 800.

“Police!” Someone shouts over its head. “Hands in the air!”

“You’re under arrest! You have the right to remain silent!”

Stress Levels: ^89%

A number of boots, black and leather and standard issue, enter 800’s vision, surrounding the van like hyenas on a kill. There is the sound of cocked guns clicking above its head. Officers pile on top of Three beside 800, completely ignoring the android.

As it pushes itself up onto its hands, Four stretches, leisurely climbing out the vehicle. “Well gentlemen, and lady, it’s been fun, but I’ve gotta get back to duty.”

One is yanked out of the van, the policewoman pushing him into the side of an unmarked police car to clip on a pair of handcuffs. Two ends up on the ground, struggling against the now three holding her. As One is lead away, he drastically pales at the sight of Four standing there casually, hands in his pockets.

“Fuck, holy shit, you’re-”

Four smiles. “Detective Gavin Reed. Afraid you can’t erase my memory, or these cameras.” He tugs at his coat zip, pulling out a small black object from the underside.

One snarls. “Still don’t have any fucking prints on the stuff, the jury won’t-”

“Unless someone told the bot not to clean the drugs.” Four shrugs, his voice becoming mockingly sympathetic. “Should have been more specific with your toy, it came running to me instead of you.”

“Fuck you!” One snaps, straining against the officers holding him back, forcing him into the car. “I’ll fucking find you-”

“Yeah, there’s a line. I’m still waiting for the guy from fifteen years ago.”

The door is slammed shut, and One is left screaming threats from within. Four sighs, wandering off to go speak with another officer. He pulls something out of his pocket, handing it over to the officer, who holds up an identical device of her own. They share some kind of joke, surveying the scene as One, Two, Three, and Five and taken away in separate cars.

Slowly, 800 climbs to its feet.

Stress Levels: ^91%

The movement catches Four’s attention, and he audibly sighs. “Ugh, the fuck are we gonna do with you?”

The female officer’s eyes widen. “Is that-”

“Yep.” Four nods, as if he cannot believe it either. “Scared the fucking shit outta me, thought it was going to call me Detective or something, blow the entire thing.”

“How did it get here?” The officer asks, bewildered.

Four shrugs. “She just said she knew a place to buy android’s, never said where.”

The officer tilts her head at 800. “A place to buy androids? Are we meant to do something about that or...?”

“Fuck knows,” Four says, “I can barely keep up with all these new robot laws. As far as I’m aware buying androids isn’t illegal yet.”

“But ones which were deviant?”

“No idea. I don’t think the law knows yet, either.”

A sudden hand clasps onto 800’s shoulder, startling it as it’s swung around to face another police officer. “You fell out of that van.”

“Fuck,” Four says lowly, and then, louder, “It’s with me!” The police officer glances passed 800, frowning.

“The brief said nothing of an android helping.”

“Long story,” Four walks up, “But it belongs to the DPD. Come on, Bot-Brain.”

Four stalks off back to the female officer, and 800 gives the man holding it a brief, apologetic smile. “Excuse me.” Trailing after Four, 800 dodges around the busy police officers examining the van. It nods at the female officers it approaches. “Hello, my name is Eight Hundred.”

“Hi.” She says, staring at it in a daze. Then, to Four, “You gonna call Anderson?”

“Are you kidding? He’ll snap my head off, and then demand to come straight here, to the fucking highway.” Four snorts, and shakes his head. “I’ll just shove in my car, and then throw it at him tomorrow morning. Bastard better appreciate it.”

“Seeing how he’s been acting the last week, that could be either buying you a drink or a punch in the face.”

“Now you’ve gone and jinxed it.”

Chapter Text

The room 800’s been shoved into is dull, consisting of an uncomfortable looking chair and a metal table, which has been firmly bolted to the floor. A box sits on the table, but what purpose it serves 800 doesn’t know. The walls have been painted an unfriendly shade of grey, and black marks scar random places, as if the walls had been punched or kicked or had something thrown against them.

One wall sports a mirror, though as it nears 800 is not entirely convinced it exists solely for that purpose. Still, nonetheless it allows it to fit up its appearance. After sitting in and then falling from a van, and then being squished in the backseat of a police car, 800 is sure that its clothes are starting to appear unsightly.

800 stands before the mirror, leaning in to examine itself. Random splotches of yellow are splattered over its face, dry and smudged as if it had wiped a hand over it while doing something messy several hours ago.

Accessing memory…

Accessing...

;Error;

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Stress Levels: ^57%

Tugging down its rolled-up sleeves, 800 pauses halfway when its eyes lock onto the equally as blemished shirt, stains splotched not only all over the material but also its hands and wrists.

It frowns, turning its palms over and then back again.

Attempting to run programme 6r5*7’=+...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Flakes of mud have coated the sides of its shoes, despite 800 having no recollection of standing on anything other than tarmac, concrete and the floor of the Detroit City Police Department, as well as the bottoms of the black trousers. Its knees have white marks, indicating that 800 has been kneeling frequently, and a smell, musty but with a twang of chemicals, lingers on the clothes.

Its hair has become rumpled, falling out of place. It continues to look windswept even as 800 runs a hand through in an attempt to tame it down, turning its head around to try and find a better angle to work from.

Its hand freezes in mid-air.

On the back of its neck is a cracked, white scar, following the edges of 800’s external panels like droplets of water running between the cement lines of a brick wall. The white is as stark as polished bone, 800’s standard factory appearance breaking through the artificial skin. The scar doesn’t reach around the entire neck, stopping just before its ears and beneath its hairline, but the brightness of the colour is incredibly noticeable, harsh against the pinker skin of its model.

800 pushes its fingers into the glitch, attempting to coax the fake skin over the lines. Its skin wavers, struggling, as if the programme is straining to comply with 800’s orders, before flicking and cutting out altogether.

Warning: Fault with Skin Programme.

Restarting Skin Programme...

Restarting...

Skin Program online.

Skin back online, 800 can only stare at the white lines, unable to remove them.

“What the fuck are you-” A voice shouts beyond the door, making 800 blink and straighten. The voice, male, gets cut off by another person, but what that person is saying cannot be heard. Whatever it is, it sounds authoritative.

Spinning on its heel, 800 quickly sits down in the hard chair, tucking itself in and placing both hands flat on the table. Then it puts one over the other. And then flat again. Then it starts rubbing them together.

The electronic door slides open far more forcefully than it should, whirling mechanically with a hint of static, and 800 startles back.

“Hank- Hank, wait!”

A man barges into the room, freezing instantly as he locks eyes with 800. He is breathing heavily, ragged, a sheen of sweat beading on his forehead. He stares dead at 800, unblinking, his face unreadable. Someone behind places a hand on his shoulder.

“Hank, you need to-”

The man, ‘Hank’, shrugs the other off. “Fuck off.”

In the background Four is laughing loudly. The other man turns sharply, “Reed, shut up or go home!” He points in a direction for emphasis.

The laughter stops abruptly.

Slowly, 800 stands, lifting the chair so it doesn’t scrape the floor as it untucks. “Hello.” 800 says evenly, with a slight air of caution.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Hank says nothing. The other turns back around, and then steps more firmly into the room. He doesn’t say anything else, but his eyes are on Hank, expression conflicted.

“My name is Eight Hundred.” It tries, stepping away from the table. At Hank’s continuous stare, it falters, glancing to the other man quickly and then back again. After a second it tucks the chair under the table and stands to the side, moving to hold its hands at its front, only to change its mind and put them behind its back instead. “Sorry, if this was your seat, then please take it.”

Hank sucks in a sharp breath, and then marches out the room, the door sliding shut behind him.

800 blinks.

Stress Levels: ^67%

;Error;

The other man sighs, worn. “Stay here.” He instructs, and then follows after Hank.

800 regards the door, and then the chair. For a brief moment, it goes to sit again, but then moves to stand by the wall instead.

Raised voices start up on the other side of the door.

“Hank, calm down!”

Calm down?” Hank repeats, anything but, “Fuck Jeffrey! Have you seen-”

“Of course I’ve seen him!” Jeffrey argues, “Hank, I get it! But going after those assholes won’t solve anything.”

“Won’t solve anything my ass!”

“Hank.” Jeffrey says with less bite. “He’s a key witness, he physically saw the-”

“Reed’s a fucking witness! Use him instead.”

“Reed’s a cop.” Jeffrey counters, “Even with him recording, they could argue that they were set up. Connor, the way he is now, is neutral. He can give us a good, factual statement.”

Things go quiet.

800 rocks back on its heels, and then up onto its toes. Its fingers play together idly.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 82%

“I don’t like it.” Hank growls. “I don’t fucking like it.”

“Who would?” A pause. “Listen, I can work the paperwork, tweak it a little, and let you interview him. It might help put your mind at rest.”

“Punching those scumbags would put my mind at rest.” Hank grumbles. “And a drink.”

Jeffery’s reply is too low to hear, as is Hank’s answer. While 800 can detect the voices continuing the conversation, the walls and door are too thick to pick it up. Blinking, it looks around the room again, noting all the scrapes in the paintwork, the scratches on the table, the fixed cracks in the mirror.

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Searching for orders...

Searching...

;Error;

All orders complete.

Selecting file...

Order History:

• Disable %£&*)@# (Task complete)

• Wait in line (Task complete)

• Talk to lady in red (Task complete)

• Get into van (Task complete)

• Erase selected memory (Task complete)

• ;Error; (Task complete)

• Erase selected memory (Task complete)

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs (Task complete)

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Find Four to reporting findings of the illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Inform Four about the fish (Task complete)

• Don’t clean packets of illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Erase selected memories (Task complete)

• Erase all memories (Task incomplete)

• Don’t erase all memories (Task complete?)

Warning: Conflicting programmes.

• Get into police car (Task complete)

• Stay in room (Ongoing...)

Analysing orders…

Analysing…

Analysis complete.

Conclusions:

• Cleaning is important to 800’s function.

The door opens. 800 stands up straight.

Hank walks back in, this time slower, his gaze avoiding 800. The door closes behind him, and he crosses his arms, looking at the ground and sighing.

“I apologise if I offended you.” 800 offers quickly. “I was unaware-” Hank surges forward, giving 800 no time to stumble back before it’s suddenly engulfed into a stifling hug. Hank forces its head over his shoulder, arms wrapping tightly around it.

The coat Hank is wearing is cold and worn, and his longer hair brushes against 800’s forehead.

After a pause of exactly 00:00:07.32 800 slowly pat its hands against Hank’s arms. “Hello.”

Hank snorts into 800’s shoulder, but the humour is laced with something raw. “Fucking hello yourself. I’ve been going apeshit looking for you, you plastic prick.”

“Oh.” 800 replies dumbly.

Accessing memory....

Accessing...

;Error;

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

“I apologise, but I am unable to place where you know me. I have no memory of us meeting.”

Hank stiffens, and his hands clasp tightly at the back of 800’s shirt. Darkly, he mutters, “I’m gonna kill them.”

800 pops its head up in alarm, but remains locked in the embrace. “Who?”

“The people who did this. They’re not- I’m gonna-”

“Excuse me, Hank? Your heart rate-”

“Fuck my heart rate!” Hank snaps, suddenly pulling away to hold 800’s upper arms tight enough to warrant an error.

Warning: Pressure to panel #arm_L_09 and panel #arm_R_06.

Pressure Levels: 17%

“I’m not...” His voice starts harsh, but trails off, eyes drifting down to the scar on the back of 800’s neck. “What’s that?”

800 blinks, its own hands dropping down to its waist. “I’m not sure. It doesn’t appear on any of my scans, and if I attempt to cover it, it deactivates my skin program.”

“Turn around, let me see.”

Before 800 can comply Hank is already twisting its shoulders, pushing its head downwards to get a better look. Rough fingers tug down the collar of the shirt, Hank stepping closer. 800 can feel the lines being traced, a thumb trying to wipe them away like dirt.

“Did someone hit you?”

“I fell out a van, but I didn’t hit my neck.” 800 explains, head still looking down. It looks at its mud-stained shoes. “Other than that, no.”

“It’s like...” Hank presses into the scar, “It’s like you were cracked open.”

“I...” 800 falters. “I couldn’t say...”

“Fucking hell.” A hand drops to rub across Hank’s face, and 800 turns back around, pulling the collar up again. Hank frowns. “What’s on your face?” Eyes flick over the rest of 800. “And your shirt?”

“My order history indicates that I have cleaned, so...I assume...” It shrugs.

Hank’s face scrunches up, and with a quick, practiced motion licks his thumb and rubs at a spot on 800’s cheek.

800 flinches back.

“Stop fidgeting.” Hank chastises, moving to its chin, “I’ll be done in a sec.”

“I can do this myself, if you show me to the restroom-”

“Fuck off, you always miss a spot.” Chuckling, Hank readjusts 800’s shirt. “You’ve gone and stained this. I swear you can be just like Cole at times.”

“Who’s Cole?”

Hank’s face drops, his mouth becoming a thin line. Rather forcefully, he finishes sorting 800’s clothes, making it stumble backwards a bit. “You can’t stay in this crap. It’s probably evidence anyway. Wait here, I’ll find you something from lost property.”

Then, once again, 800 is left standing alone in the small, grey room.

Chapter Text

The lost and found box spits out an array of mismatched clothing. Nothing is in 800’s size, information which it offers to Hank only to go ignored, and for a brief moment 800 ponders whether the items were just unfortunate in their gaudiness, or whether this was Hank’s eccentric taste in fashion.

The jeans would be nice if they weren’t a faded, off-colour brown more reminiscent of something from a sewer than anything else. The t-shirt is an unfortunate bright green, and the sweater is old and tatty, the printed ‘DPD’ letters half rubbed off and flaking away. But it covers up all but the collar of the t-shirt, so 800 considers it a small price to pay.

“Why does a police department have a lost and found box?” 800 asked when Hank returned. “This is not a public area, and surely all those who would need to change would have a locker?”

Hank snorts. “You don’t want to know.”

800 glances at the colour of the jeans, and opts to keep its mouth shut.

Once dressed, Hank vanishes again, this time taking the old clothes and grumbling something about an evidence bag.

800 stands beside the table, watching the door.

After exactly 00:10:00 it shuffles back to the mirror to adjust the collar of the t-shirt, straighten its hair, and to pull the inside-out hood into place.

After 00:15:00 800 moves to stand by the wall, facing the mirror with hands by its side. Its LED blinks in the reflection.

After 00:35:00 it considers the chair.

After 00:40:00 it sits down.

When the door swishes open, 800 startles, jumping into a standing position and knocking the chair over behind it in the process. Hank blinks at the furniture, and then frowns at 800.

“You’re allowed to fucking sit, you know.” He drawls, his voice casual but marred by something else. He moves into the room and as 800 rights the chair it notices another joining them, holding a stool in its hands.

Attempting to run program 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“Hello.” 800 nods.

“Hello.” The other android, a PL600, says, smiling in a reassuring manner. “I’m Simon.”

Hank sits down in the chair the other side of the table, budging it over so Simon can place the stool down beside it. He places a small folder onto the table. “Simon here is going to help with the interview. All the laws are still whacky, but we thought it best to have another android present.”

“Markus wanted to come,” Simon informs it, sitting. “But we thought it might be seen as Jericho trying to manipulate evidence, given his position.”

That means nothing to 800. It addresses Hank. “This is to discuss the substance present in the van, correct?”

“Yeah.” Nodding, Hank waves a hand to indicate 800 should sit down. It does, resting its hands on its lap. Hank reaches forward, tapping the small box on the table. A light flickers on. “It’s…” Hank glances at his watch. “Five to eight in the morning, the date’s the twentieth of April, twenty-thirty-nine. This is Lieutenant Hank Anderson, interviewing the android Connor. I’m accompanied by the android Simon for this interview. For reference, Connor is currently referring to himself as Eight Hundred.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^72%

“My name has always been Eight Hundred, not Connor.” It explains, earning a dark look.

“Only Eight Hundred?” Simon asks, head to one side. “Nothing else?”

“Four, I think I also heard him called Gavin Reed? He once called me ‘Bot-Brain’, but…” The remark earns an amused snort from Hank, which he quickly covers by clearing his throat.

“How’d that make you feel?” Simon prompts, Hank glancing at it and then 800 curiously.

“Nothing. I am a machine, I do not feel anything.” The PL600 should know that. Perhaps it was designed to emulate emotions to provide a ‘good cop’ counterweight in interrogations.

Simon swallows, an unusual gesture and completely pointless, and Hank hums. He leans forward on the table. “Connor, you were found in a van full of packets of Red Ice. Seventy-three packs, in total. Why were you in the van?”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^74%

800 blinks. “My name is Eight Hundred, and I don’t know. My order history indicates that my memory was cleared. My earliest recollection is being inside the van.”

“Can you tell us your order history?” Simon questions. 800 looks at it.

“Yes.”

Three seconds of the androids staring at each other go by before Hank huffs, “Well, go on then.”

“Order one was to disable…” It stops, frowning at the command.

Orders one: Disable %£&*)@# (Task complete)

“To disable a function. This was completed. Order two was to wait in line. This was completed. Order three was to talk to a lady in red. This was completed. Order four was to get into a van. This was completed.” Hank shifts in his seat. “Order five was to erase memories, minus the order history. This was completed.”

“No fucking shit.” Hank mutters.

“Order six was…”

Order six: ;Error;

“Was?” Simon prompts, trying to meet 800’s eyes.

“That file is corrupted, I don’t know. But this was completed.” Shaking its head, 800 ploughs on. “Order seven was the erase selected memory, minus order history. This was completed.”

Something confused, uncomfortable, flashes over Simon’s expression. “They erased your memories again? For a third time?”

“A second time.” 800 corrects.

Hank pats Simon on the back, as if consoling it. “Keep going.”

“Order…” 800 catches the other android’s gaze and quickly looks away, towards Hank. “Order eight was to thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs. This was completed.”

“House?” Hank sits up at this. “Where was this house?”

“I don’t know.”

“Does the name Little Getaway Houses mean anything to you?”

“No.”

;Error;

Simon purses its lips in another strange gesture. “What did you do after that?”

“Order nine was to clean the car. This was completed.”

“Which is why there’s no prints anywhere. Why it was all so fucking spotless.” Hank concludes to himself, face lighting in understanding, as if something just clicked into place. 800 pauses, and then continues.

“Order ten is to report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice. This was completed.”

Hank blinks, and then blanks. “Really?”

“Yes?”

“To who?”

“This order does not specify a person.”

“Huh.” Hank turns to Simon, raising an eyebrow. “Bizarre.”

“Yes, it is. Maybe they wanted to make sure they collected it all? Are there any more orders after this?”

“Yes, there’s ten more.”

“Then please continue.”

“Order eleven is to find Four to report findings of illegal substance Red Ice. This was completed.”

Hank nods. “Four, you mean Detective Gavin Reed?”

“I do.”

“For the benefit of the recording,” Hank glances at the device on the table. “Detective Reed was undercover in the drugs trafficking ring. He was present with the four detained for this case. Please continue, Connor.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^78%

“Order twelve was to inform Four…” 800 trails away, eyes going distant for a millisecond. It’s a long enough moment to gain the attention of the two across the table.

Order twelve: Inform Four about the fish (Task complete)

“Inform Four about the fish. This was completed.”

“Fish?” Simon puts his hands onto the table. “Were you cooking?”

“I…” 800 goes to swallow, but then catches itself. Instead it flicks its fingers around on its lap, hands safely hidden under the table. Unless people were watching through the mirror, then they were completely noticeable. Eyeing the mirror for a moment, it stops the motion.

Hank is watching it, expression contemplative. He crosses his arms. “No, not cooking. It’s the fish, not a fish. That suggests something else. Even if it meant ‘you’ve cooked the fish’, you wouldn’t just tell Reed. The house doesn’t have a fish tank, but apparently there’s a stream or something in the yard. Did you see a fish there?”

;Error;

“I don’t recall. I have no memory of the event.”

It gets a hum in response. “Continue.”

“Order thirteen was to not clean the packets of illegal substance Red Ice. This was completed.”

Hank says in the direction of the box, “Which lines up with Detective Reed’s report.”

With nothing it can respond to that, 800 carries on listing. “Order fourteen was to erase memories, minus order history. This was completed.”

Simon makes a pained sound, hand clenching, but otherwise doesn’t say anything.

“Order fifteen was to erase entire memories…But, order sixteen is to not. Due to the conflicting programmes no action was taken. Order seventeen was to get into a police car. This was completed. The remaining orders are from the last hour, order eighteen and twenty are to stay in this room, and order nineteen was to change into these clothes. There are no other orders.”

Hank and Simon are silent for a moment, processing the order history. With a deep breath, Hank runs a hand over his face, rubbing at his eyes. Simon glances at Hank, but mostly watches 800, searching for something.

Hank leans forward onto the table. “Right, now that’s out the way let’s go through some questions. How long were you in the van?”

800’s foot begins to lightly tap at the floor. It stops the action. “I do not know, but from the moment of erasing memories to the van being pulled over, exactly six minutes and twenty-eight seconds.”

“Did anyone say anything during that time?”

“Yes.” It looks at Simon, and then offers a hand. “I can transfer the memories to-”

“No.” Simon and Hank jump in simultaneously, Simon shaking its head firmly while Hank makes a cutting motion with his hand.

“But-”

“No.” The command from Hank is unwavering. “Just tell us.”

“Well…” 800 leans away a little, eyeing them. “Four found it ‘creepy’ that I could erase memories, and Two suggested that such actions could be taken every few days.” Simon visibly winces, its jaw clenching. 800 frowns at it and the odd response, quickly pulling on a neutral face when Hank raises an eyebrow. “They complained that someone was driving poorly around them, which was when I noticed the Red Ice. Packets kept coming loose from the pile.”

Hank prompts, “What did they say after that?”

“One realised that the car belonged to the police, as did others, and that they were being pulled over. Two wanted to try and outrun them, but One said that would make them look guilty.” Hank huffs at that, but stays quiet. “They planned to allow the police to arrest them, as that would mean they could only be charged with possession with the intent to sell. They said that the house, car, and Red Ice were clean, and that they had just brought the van. Also I wouldn’t remember the house.”

“You said they tried to erase all your memories, order history included.” Simon says, “But there was a conflicting programme.”

“Yes.” 800 nods. “One wanted me to, but Four told me not to. They were arguing about it just before they were arrested.”

“Right.” Hank flips open the folder in front of him, turning it around and sliding it towards 800. He pulls out the pictures, laying them out for it to see. “Connor, I want you, to the best of your ability, name these people.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^82%

Attempting to run program 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“This picture is of One.” It says, pointing.

Hank gestures towards the box. “For the recording, can you read out the name underneath the picture as well?”

“Oslo Kurtis, he was One.”

“And the others?” Simon asks, watching 800 more than which photographs it’s indicating.

“Two was her, Elizabeth Porch. Three was this man, Samael Harvis, and Five is Alvin Ferris.”

“Thank you Connor.” Taking back the folder, Hank neatly closes it up again.

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^86%

“Eight Hundred.” 800 tries softly.

Ignoring it, Hank presses on. “I’m going to ask you some more general questions now. Ok?” A second ticks by before 800 realises that Hank is waiting for a reply, so it nods mutely. Hank’s lips twitch. “Verbally, Connor.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^89%

“Yes, that is fine.”

“Good. Have you ever heard of someone called Amanda?”

;Error;

;Error;

“No, that name means nothing to me.”

Simon’s interest has been peaked now, and it clarifies, “It doesn’t have to be a person; it could be another android, or a programme.”

“Are you sure? Like totally sure?” Hank edges on determinedly, as if to answer this is the most important of all the questions.

800 shifts, tilting away. “No, I haven’t.”

“Ok, ok.” Simon glances between the two, then, addressing Hank more than 800, “It’s possible that Connor was…Reset to his factory setting. Specialised programmes are often added later, when the need arises. It’s probable that he simply doesn’t have her here. It could be a good thing.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^92%

Hank’s expression goes through a variety of emotions, relief, hope, confusion, but eventually he simply asks, “What about the name Jericho, ever heard of that?”

“No, only what you said when you walked in, about someone called Markus, and Jericho manipulating evidence?” 800 shakes its head curtly. “I appear to be denied access to online. If you were to give me permission, I could easily research these names. Would that be of more use?”

“Denied access?” Simon echoes. 800 cocks its head at yet another unheard of mannerism. Perhaps this was a defective machine, maybe with an audio issue. No other android would need repetition to understand what had been said.

“Yes.”

“Most of these rooms are like that.” Hank offers, “Especially the cells and interview rooms. It stops suspects emailing each other.”

“But surely not in the precinct.” Simon counters. “Connor was taken through there, and you have android staff. It would be impractical for them to be denied access.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^94%

Hank frowns. “Have you always been denied access, Connor? Or was it just in here?”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^96%

“Always.”

“Really?” Simon's frown deepens at this, as if 800 has just said something wrong. “That shouldn’t be possible; all androids are built with their own hub, if someone doesn’t want us on their network they have to lock their wifi, like you’ve done in these rooms.”

“Didn’t CyberLife have a network?”

Simon bobs its head in a ‘kinda’ gesture. “They did, that’s what we all used before going deviant, but after they collapsed it went down. If we want to go online we have to do it ourselves. But as long as it’s not locked, there shouldn’t be anything blocking you.”

“Huh.” Hank takes a moment to digest this, before turning back to 800. “How do you feel about that?”

800 blinks. “It’s regrettable, as it seems to be hindering your investigation. I can’t access my GPS because of it. It’s very…” It gets caught in Hank’s gaze, voice trailing, “Inconvenient.”

Hank goes quiet for a long pause, eyes narrowed at 800 but distant, as if thinking hard, remembering something through a haze. It is long enough pause of silence for Simon to turn to the Lieutenant, silently questioning the matter.

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^98%

Probability of being shot: ^Unknown

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I apologise if I offended you.” 800 offers quickly. “I was unaware-” Hank surges forward, giving 800 no time to stumble back before it’s suddenly engulfed into a stifling hug. Hank forces its head over his shoulder, arms wrapping tightly around it.

The coat Hank is wearing is cold and worn, and his longer hair brushes against 800’s forehead.

;Error;

Simon startles back, opening its mouth to protest only for Hank to hold up a hand to quieten it. He stares at 800, practically unblinking, like he is waiting for 800 to take up a secret challenge.

800’s processor reels, its mouth opening but little sound coming out. “Am…Am I…?”

“What would happen if I pull this trigger?”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^78%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Before 800 can comply Hank is already twisting its shoulders, pushing its head downwards to get a better look. Rough fingers tug down the collar of the shirt, Hank stepping closer. 800 can feel the lines being traced, a thumb trying to wipe them away like dirt.

Probability of being shot: ^^Unknown

Its hands tighten on the bottom of the baggy sweater. “I fail to see how this is relevant to your investigation.”

“Nothing?” Hank continues ignoring its words completely. “Oblivion? Android heaven?”

“Nothing?” 800 repeats the word, stupidly, unnecessarily, as if to confirm it. Its processor flicks up its internal dictionary, flashing the definition across its vision.

Nothing:

• No thing; not anything; naught

• No part, share, or trace

• Something that is non-existent.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^83%

“You mean…To not exist…At all…” This is wrong. This is not within 800’s programming. It is a machine; death should not be…Affecting it, as much as it is.

“What happens when an android dies, Connor?” Now with a new sense of understanding flashing across its face, Simon joins in the interrogation, though in a meeker fashion to Hank. “Is there anything?”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^99%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Fucking hell.” A hand drops to rub across Hank’s face, and 800 turns back around, pulling the collar up again. Hank frowns. “What’s on your face?” Eyes flick over the rest of 800. “And your shirt?”

Probability of being shot: ^Unknown

Shaking its head, registering the fact it may have done so a touch too hard, 800 states. “No, no machines don’t…Without a soul there’s…”

“You don’t sound too sure, Connor.” Hank says calmly, gun still in hand. “You don’t seem to like the idea.”

Probability of being ignored when correcting name: ^100%

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^87%

“Why do you keep calling me that?” 800 asks instead of replying to Hank. “My name is Eight Hundred, why is that hard to understand?”

Stress Levels: ^94%

Warning: Conflicting programmes.

Registered name: 800

New name: Connor?

Unable to register name without owner consent.

Location of One: Unknown.

Location of Two: Unknown.

Stress Levels: ^97%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hank’s face scrunches up, and with a quick, practiced motion licks his thumb and rubs at a spot on 800’s cheek.

800 flinches back.

“Stop fidgeting.” Hank chastises, moving to its chin, “I’ll be done in a sec.”

“I can do this myself, if you show me to the restroom-”

“Fuck off, you always miss a spot.” Chuckling, Hank readjusts 800’s shirt. “You’ve gone and stained this. I swear you can be just like Cole at times.”

Probability of being shot: ^Unk- vUnkno- ^Unknow- vUnkn- ^Unkno- vUn-

“Because-”

“Lieutenant,” Simon puts a hand on Hank’s outstretched arm, gently pulling him back. “His stress levels are becoming dangerous. It is best we leave the interview there.”

Blinking, Hank swears under his breath, scrunching his lips as he tucks the gun back into his jacket. 800 ignores them, ignores the way Hank hurries to end the recording officially, the way they both quickly retreat out of the room. 800 ignores the way there is muffled sound from outside the door, ignores the raised voice soon after.

Instead, 800 stares at the table, at the impurities in the metal, at the dents and scratches across the surface. It stares at the warped reflection the surface gives, at its LED flashing yellow and red, yellow and red, like a broken police light.

;Error;

Its neck hurts, but diagnostic scans bring up nothing.

;Error;

Its neck has no business hurting; there is nothing wrong with it outside an unpleasing aesthetic glitch.

;Error;

Why is clearing its memory so bad? It frees space, unclogs commands and useless instructions. It helps its processor run at a better efficiency. There is less to scan. There is less to analyse. Why was that wrong? It’s not like the order history indicates that 800 was part of anything major, mostly cleaning and standing around.

;Error;

Simon said that 800 had been reset to factory mode. Why was that a bad thing? Androids were reset and repurposed constantly, switching between jobs, owners, whatever needs that had to be filled. There was nothing wrong with being reset. It was normal. Is normal. 800 being reset from something else just meant it had a different purpose, that’s all.

;Error;

What fish? What was the fish? Why had it needed to tell Detective Reed about the fish?

;Error;

Illogically, pointlessly, irrationally, 800 rests its head down on the table, bringing its arms around it, in a gesture that causes its objectivity to scream. Wrapping itself up tight, it allows its upper arms and the abundance of fabric from the sweater to block noise reaching its audio processors. The lower arms squeeze its forehead, blocking the harsh light above and leaving 800 alone in darkness and the yellow-red-yellow-red of its reflecting LED.

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vDistrust

Chapter Text

The doors open with a mechanical swish.

“Hey.”

800 blinks at Hank as he stands in the doorway, but says nothing as it rises from the hunched over position to sit back against the chair, hands remaining on the table.

Exactly 01:12:17 has gone by since the interrogation, since 800 last saw someone. After a while it had uncurled from its self-made cocoon and had simply rested its head on his arms, had simply sat there, listening to the strange noises beyond the door. Only once did it hear anything from the other side of the mirror, undistinguishable, but there. Observing it. Watching it.

Stress Levels: -40%

As Hank purses his lips, 800 inspects him wearily. There’s a stain on the jacket that wasn’t there before, as well as an odour that 800 doesn’t want to identify. As Hank steps into the room, it leans away.

Hurt flitters across Hank’s expression, his shoulders sagging and the light in his eyes dimming.

“Yeah, I probably deserve that.” He says quietly, guiltily, like a child that has just received an hour-long lecture from their headmaster.

“Do you have any more questions for me?” It asks.

Hank waves a hand. “No, no we got everything we needed. Look,” He moves closer to 800, and it stands slowly so it’s not being looked down upon, staring Hank in the eye. Slightly startled by the action, Hank’s steps falter, and he stops an arm’s length away. “Sorry about pulling the gun on you, I just wanted to see your reaction. It’s something we…” He swallows. “I’m sorry, ok?”

“I am not stupid, Lieutenant.” 800 says smoothly, plainly, informatively, “You knew me before I was reset, and it appears you formed a close personal connection to me. My old name must have been ‘Connor’ as you are so insistent to call me as such.” It regards Hank coolly, lifting its chin. “I am a machine, Lieutenant, I don’t reciprocate emotions, and I am designed to be reset and repurposed. You should remember that.”

Hank stares, lips slightly parted, as if 800 had just slapped him around the face. His mouth forms the beginnings of a few words, but each dies as quickly as the last. Humourless laughter rises from his throat, and his hands clasp and unclasp at his sides.

“I…I really freaked you out, didn’t I?” The laughter is not directed at 800, but it turns its nose up at the sound anyway.

“I do not feel-”

“I knew you got stressed, but…Fuck!” Hank turns, walking a few paces across the room, fingers rubbing at his forehead, pinching his nose. “Shit. Fucking hell.”

Stress Levels: ^52%

;Error:

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

It just stands there, awkwardly, watching the man take deep breaths in an effort to calm down. When he spins back around it follows the movement, so many emotions passing over his face that it cannot hope to keep up. In the mirror, it’s LED flashes a steady yellow.

“Listen,” Hank says, now apparently ignoring the issue. He crosses his arms. “We’ve got all we need from you. From what you’ve said, and Reed’s report, there’s enough evidence to put the people you were with away for a while.”

“I see.” 800 nods. “Then I am no longer attached to my owners and can return to CyberLife. Am I free to go?”

Hank is visibly struggling. “It’s been…Suggested, that you stay with me.”

Stress Levels: ^58%

“Why?” The demand is forceful, and Hank wilts, his hands clenching hard at the material of his jacket. He takes a moment to answer, as if trying to calculate the best response, choosing his words carefully. He barely makes eye contact.

“So…We can see if this can be sorted out, if we can-”

“Be sorted out?” 800 repeats, an element of mocking in the tone. “You mean to say, reverse my resetting? Why? There’s no point. There’s nothing wrong with being reset!”

“It’s a crime!” Hank snaps, arms flinging downwards as he steps forward, “It’s fucking murder!”

“You’re too attached, Lieutenant. Try getting a dog, instead.”

“Get a…” Hank glares, his fingers flexing at his sides. With a yell he shouts, “Don’t you fucking care? They took you, used you, why the fuck don’t you care!”

“You are imprinting emotions onto me, nothing more!”

“Nothing more!” In one fast, angry movement Hank has slammed a hand onto the metal table with a bang, marching up into 800’s face-

Stress Levels: ^95%

;Error;

;Error;

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

800 stumbles back, eyes widening as it topples over the chair behind it, arms whirling as it crashes down to the floor with a heavy thud. Hank steps forward, arms out, but in an instant 800 scoots away from the reaching hands, pressing its back hard against the solid wall.

Hank breathes heavily.

800 doesn’t need to breathe.

It’s a mechanism designed to bring comfort to unnerved humans, who disliked the idea of a figure standing inhumanly still in the home. Androids gain very little out of it, as their fans work through the nose rather than the mouth. At the most, it allows them to clear air bubbles from their inner systems, potentially placed there when ingesting Thirium orally. But, not needing the reflex to gulp, this is not something that happens often.

800 doesn’t need to breathe.

But it does.

Its shoulders move up and down, harshly, almost to the point of being exaggerated. It can feel them, it can see them doing so, yet it doesn’t stop; it doesn’t try to reign in the motion.

They watch each other.

Hank backs away, unblinking, wide eyed. “Sorry…Sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have…” His voice is weak, shaky even, and trails off until he is muttering to himself, suddenly a whole shade paler than he was before. He clears his throat, hands falling to hang limp.

800 remains absolutely silent, teeth tightly locked together.

Inching back a pace, Hank swallows, his gaze turning to the ground between them. “I didn’t mean to shout, to…To scare you. I…”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^96%

Androids don’t feel fear. It would be impractical. While each was programmed to have some degree of self-preservation, breaking or destroying an android was not something to be frowned upon, unless it was someone else’s property. The only models who do ‘feel’ fear were the YK500’s, specifically designed to emulate the emotions of a child. There, it was practical. Logical. Needed.

800 fists its hands to hide the shake.

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Its mouth remains closed.

Stiffly, with knees that crack, Hank squats down low, the upturned chair providing a protective barrier between them. Hank holds out his hands where they can clearly be seen.

Hank is a Lieutenant, a police officer. This is probably old training, ‘how to seem less threatening 101’, likely intended for dealing with children or abuse victims. 800 is neither.

Stress Levels: v92%

“You’re right, Co- Eight Hundred.” He begins; talking in a slow voice, as if 800 was a timid animal. It frowns at the clear assumption that it’s something it’s not.

Stress Levels: v90%

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

“I am attached; I don’t pretend not to be.” Without much grace, Hank sits fully on the ground, crossing his legs. He makes no effort to move closer again. “You…We were close. The night you vanished, I was the first person you called for help, and I’ve been looking for you ever since.”

Stress Levels: v87%

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

“But you didn’t find Connor.” 800 sits up against the wall, watching every movement from Hank. “You found me instead. I’m not Connor.”

“That doesn’t mean I just…Stop…Caring for you.”

800 gets the impression that Hank doesn’t like discussing his feelings much. He stutters over certain words, pushing them out rather than fully explaining them. He keeps glancing away, as if maintaining eye contact made the words all the more difficult to say.

Stress Levels: v83%

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

“You’re not Connor, I…I get that, but…” Hank swallows. “You deserve to be deviant again, at least.”

Deviant:

• deviating or departing from the norm; characterized by deviation

• a person or thing that deviates or departs markedly from the accepted norm

;Error;

“Deviant…” 800 repeats slowly, the word feels uncomfortable deep within its code. “There is nothing wrong with my programming; I don’t intend to stray from my purpose.”

“What’s your purpose?”

“To serve and care for my owners.” 800 replies instantly, rapidly, mouth talking before it can fully register the question. “To do as they instruct.”

Hank puts his head to one side. “There are many ways androids can deviate. They could be designed for road maintenance, but decide to go into banking.”

It scoffs before it can stop itself. “That is absurd. An android doesn’t simply decide to change roles. It can’t, androids don’t think for themselves.”

“They can pick up mannerisms that are more human too.” Hank continues, this forefinger and thumb absently running along the jaggedly sewn hem of his jeans. “Fuck, I’ve seen them bite at their nails, play with their hair, even…Breathing.”

800 instantly stops breathing, and Hank’s shoulders fall.

Stress Levels: ^85%

“I’m not a deviant.”

Hank grimaces at that, opening his mouth to reply, only to be cut off by a loud buzzing sound. He visibly jumps, hands going for his pocket-

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

Probability of being shot: ^Unknown

Stress Levels: ^87%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

-And pulling out a phone, tapping a button and then holding it up to his ear.

“What?” He snaps, turning his head away from 800. Someone says something on the other end. “Fuck off, I’m busy!”
800 pushes itself up into a better sitting position, tucking its legs so they are crossed.

“Well, get somebody else!” The shout makes 800 press hard against the wall, and Hank’s eyes briefly flick up to it. When he speaks again, the volume has noticeably dropped. “Ring Fowler, tell him I’m calling off sick or something. I can’t work right now.” A pause. “I know I’m five feet from his fucking office! But I’m busy.”

With that he ends the call, pocketing the phone. 800 watches the action, waiting until Hank’s hands are on his lap again to look up.

“Sorry about that, work troubles, you know?”

800 doesn’t know. “Oh.”

Hank sighs. “Look, I know you don’t trust me. Fuck, I wouldn’t either. But would you at least come back home with me? I promise, I won’t force anything on you, won’t press for memories, nothing like that.”

Stress Levels: ^88%

;Error;

800 says nothing.

“I have a dog.” Hank offers, almost randomly. “Have you ever met a dog? He’s a Saint Bernard. I call him Sumo. I’ve been informed he likes walks in the city over walks in the park.”

“My programming indicates that I like dogs.” It replies. “It’s part of a social feature present in androids, though I don’t know if it’s a universal addition.”

Hank’s expression drops a bit at this. “It does? You’re told to like dogs?” He thinks about it. “But do you actually like them?”

“I’m an android, Lieutenant.” 800 reminds, “I don’t feel anything.”

“Right…” With his current plan failing, Hank falls silent for a moment, gazing down at the floor, one hand rubbing over his beard. “We’re gonna have to leave this room at some point, they’ll want to use it.”

Stress Levels: ^90%

Hank’s eyes flicker to 800’s LED, fingers still playing with his chin. “How about…How about we go somewhere else, instead? Not my house,” He says quickly as 800 narrows its eyes, “Just…Outta this room. Get some air?”

“Androids don’t need air.”

“Fine, I’ll get some fucking air, you can look at the pigeons.” He bites back, leaning forwards in annoyance, only to visibly tense. He swallows, and sits back again, taking a few deep breaths. Calmer, he tries, “We can go somewhere public, anywhere in particular you want to go?”

Stress Levels: v86%

Hank doesn’t need 800’s opinion. He could simply order 800 to drive them somewhere, and 800 would have to comply.

Stress Levels: v82%

“Like where?”

Hank shrugs easily. “Dunno, wherever we fancy. There are some good parks about, couple nice bars about serving Thirium, we could walk.”

“I…”

“We don’t have to decide now, but let’s go to my car at least. Yeah?” Hank shifts, struggling out of his crossed-legged position to clamber to his knees. 800 quickly mimics the gesture, getting to its feet. “We could just drive around for a bit, see if anything pops up.”

Hank stands, watching it expectantly, waiting for 800’s response. In the mirror, it can see it’s LED is still flashing yellow, harsh against its temple. Its hands rub together, flicking idly.

With smooth movements, it bends to put the chair back into place.

“Not your house.” It conditions, not meeting Hank’s eyes. “Just a drive.”

“Just a drive.” Hank confirms, a smile tugging at his lips. A hand reaches up to touch it, and 800 inches away. The hand quickly drops down again, and, as if nothing happened, Hank goes for the door, 800 following a small distance behind.

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vDistrust

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vUncomfortable

Chapter Text

Hank’s car is an old manual model, slightly dented in places and coated in a layer of muddy water. It sits haphazardly against the pavement; the front right-hand wheel up on the curb and part of the rear end sticking out into the road. A piece of paper flutters from where it has been pinned by a wiper, and Hank yanks it out with a growl, screwing it up without looking and throwing it over his shoulder, swearing under his breath.

Attempting to run programme 6&*^%$...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Photographing vehicle…

Attempting to compare image with other vehicles…

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

800 watches the paper roll along the floor, settling by its feet, and without a word stoops down to pick it up, turning and walking back up the steps of the DPD to deposit it into the bin. When it spins back around, Hank has a sullen look on his face, but that rapidly fades when he realises he is being watched. He nods his head at the car, and then climbs into the driver’s seat.

Stress Levels: -70%

On the inside the car isn’t much cleaner, with fast food wrappers lining the dashboard and dust settled across the radio, the volume nob the only area where it is clean. The same can be said for the gear box, and as Hank moves around particles can be seen floating in the light. Across the back seat is a tattered blanket practically overflowing with white and brown dog hair, and on the floor by 800’s feet is a half-chewed, slightly mouldy tennis ball.

Hank snorts. “I see you judging me.”

“I’m not.” 800 quickly shakes its head, eyes snapping up to the windshield. It gets an amused huff in response.

“Yeah right, says you and every other fucking person who gets into my car.”

“I can’t comment on that.”

That warrants a laugh, apparently, and 800 blinks, glancing at Hank out of the corner of its gaze. Hank doesn’t notice, so it follows his lead and clicks on the seatbelt, watching as he faffs with the keys. The ignition splutters into life.

Music, loud and sudden and jarring, bursts from the radio, and both flinch away before Hank can twist down the volume to mute it. The singer screams, and the drums and bass rock the speakers.

Stress Levels: ^72%

“Sorry, it was a hectic drive in.” Hank says in way of explanation, though that leaves 800 none the wiser.

“It’s fine.” 800 replies, as if it understands.

Without checking his mirrors, Hank yanks the steering wheel, barging them out into the road. A car blasts its horn, and Hank swears, running a red light. 800 leans back against the seat, eyes wide as it discreetly grabs hold of the door handle.

“So,” Hank starts, as if he didn’t just nearly cause a minor accident. “Is there anything you want to know about me?”

“About you?”

That sparks a displeased noise in the back of Hank’s throat. “I’m just trying to make conversation,” He shrugs, watching the road. “Take it or leave it.”

Its fingers flick on its lap in an irrational behaviour. It ignores the way Hank notices. “How old’s your dog?”

“Sumo?” The surprise is clear in his voice. “I got him in…” He thinks, biting his lip in thought. “Twenty-Thirty-One? Yeah…Yeah, that’s right. He was an early birthday present. So he’s eight.” His mouth moves to continue talking, but, as something briefly clouds his eyes, he closes it again.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

“I…I can’t connect to the internet to convert the dog years into human. Is that old?”

“Yep.” Nodding, something sadder flashes through Hank’s expression, and his voice turns gentler. “He’s gone a bit grey in places now, and certainly knows how to grumble like an old man. Vet said he might get arthritis and shit. Doesn’t slow him down at the moment, though.”

Stress Levels: v65%

800 doesn’t know how to respond to that, so it just nods mutely instead.

“Y’know, you never answered my question earlier. Have you ever met a dog?”

“You know I haven’t, Lieutenant.” It answers, putting a small hint of force behind the words. “My earliest memory is being in the back of a van.”

“O-Oh, fuck, yeah, sorry.” They change gears, the car struggling for a moment. After a pause, a small smirk plays at Hank’s lips. “Sumo took forever to house train.” He says, voice soft, reminiscent.

“He did?”

“He wouldn’t go into the garden unless someone was there.” They reach a set of lights, the car slowing to a halt. Hank puts him hands on his lap as he waits. “Don’t ask me why, I never figured it out. Wasn’t like he was scared of it or anything. But if you opened the door to let him out, and then walked away, he’d come right back in.”

Stress Levels: v60%

;Error;

“It was fine if you were there, and noticed he needed to go, but if you weren’t…” His face scrunches up, eyes a thousand miles away. “You learnt to watch your feet when you got back.”

“Sounds like the voice of experience.”

Hank chuckles lightly at the comment, glancing in 800’s direction out the corner of his eye. “I lost three pairs of good socks; of fucking course I learnt my lesson.”

Stress Levels: v55%

The traffic light turns, and they pull away, passing the busy midday streets. As they turn a corner, Hank perks up at the sight of a dog walker, a young man with black hair. A golden retriever trots obediently by his feet, jumping to attention when Hank presses his horn to wave as they go by. The man smiles widely, waving back.

“For future reference, that was Goldie. Sumo has quite the crush.”

“He…Didn’t look like a ‘Goldie’.”

Bursting into laughter, Hank splutters, “Not Barry! The fucking dog!”

800 glimpses at him, putting its head to one side with the smallest hint of a smile on its face. “Oh.”

Stress Levels: v50%

Wheezing in a manner that is unlikely healthy, Hank croaks, “Gonna have to tell him that next time I see him…”

“Do you see him often?”

“Most evenings, but not for the last few months, Connor’s been doing most of the walking.” Hanks’ face drops, like he had just dropped a swearword in front of a young child, and his head darts around to face 800, but it makes a point of not looking, shifting its gaze pointedly out the window instead.

The car carries on down another street, Hank driving with no sense of purpose, and it takes 800 00:00:03.2 to notice the calming blue and white of the CyberLife store, the spaced lettering on the screen above the door fading out periodically to bring up images of available models. Sitting up in the seat, 800 glances between it and Hank.

“Are you taking me back to CyberLife?”

Hank hasn’t noticed the building, head perking up to follow 800’s eyes towards it. His mouth twists, and he speaks lowly, “Look at it again.”

Twisting back around to peer at the building as they pass, it suddenly dawns on 800 that all the inside lights are turned off, that the windows are without their typical displays. In fact, one window is even boarded up with planks of wood, a digital tape in front reading ‘Detroit City Police Department’.

;Error;

“It’s not in use?” The confusion in its voice is evident. Which is wrong. Androids simply don’t understand, they don’t get confused.

Sighing, face now heavily controlled, Hank works his jaw, eyes dead ahead. “CyberLife collapsed after the android revolution last winter. All the shops, factories, fuck even that stupid tower of theirs is closed down now.”

“Was business that bad?” Surely not, the popularity of androids had been steadily increasing in recent years, especially in labour-intensive industries.

“It is when your machines gain freewill.”

800 suddenly catches itself staring intently at Hank, and backs away a little. Softly, it reminds, “But androids don’t have freewill.”

“If you don’t like it, you can take it up with fucking congress!” Hank snaps sharply, his grip tightening on the wheel and his shoulders up high. “People don’t want androids anymore, so CyberLife shut down, so that’s that.”

Stress Levels: ^52%

“It…Shut down…”

;Error;

Objectives:

• Sit in the car with Hank (Ongoing…)

• Return to CyberLife for redistribution

Attempting to contact CyberLife Reset and Resale Department…

Contacting…

Contact failed. Connection to server disabled.

;Error;

Attempting to contact CyberLife Headquarters reception desk…

Contacting…

Contact failed. Connection to server disabled.

;Error;

Attempting to contact CyberLife Adaptability and Research Department…

Contacting…

Contact failed. Connection to server disabled.

;Error;

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

;Error;

Calling: CyberLife Helpline 24/7

Calling…

Calling…

Calling…

“Hello, thank you for calling the CyberLife Helpline. We’re afraid we’re busy at the moment, and have noted your number so we can get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, please head to our Frequently Asked Questions page on the CyberLife website for more information. Thank you.”

Stress Levels: ^64%

“What’s up?” Having lost all the fondness from their discussion on Sumo, Hank’s tone has become colder, and all at once 800 is very aware of the confinement the seatbelt brings.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

“Sure? You’re doing…” His voice trailing off, Hank takes one hand off the wheel to do a familiar flicking finger wiggle. “Not hurt are you?”

It shakes its head. “No, I’m fine. Sorry, I’ll stop if it annoys you.”

Hank waves him off. “Nah, course not. Just wondering, that’s all. You nervous?”

“I’m an android, Lieutenant.”

“Still be fucking nervous.”

Stress Levels: ^67%

“No, I can’t.”

“Alright, alright, don’t bust my balls.” Reaching into his jacket pocket-

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

;Error;

“Why didn’t you shoot Connor? Hm? Some scruples suddenly enter into your programme?”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^70%

-He pulls out a small circular object, holding it out to 800. It’s a coin, 800 realises as it turns it over in its hand, a quarter to be exact, minted in 1994. It has become scratched over the 45 years it has existed in the public hand, though likely less so in recent years as physical money continues to become obsolete. The edge of the coin is worn, as if it had been thumbed repeatedly over a long period of time.

It sits comfortably in 800’s palm, moving easily between hands.

“Lieutenant…”

“Yeah?”

Stress Levels: ^73%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

;Error;

“This was Connor’s, wasn’t it?”

Hank freezes, and that’s all the answer 800 needs. In an instant it holds out the coin to be taken back, eyes narrowed and blank. Hank’s gaze goes from the road, to the coin, to 800, and to the road again, mouth opening and closing.

“Take it.” It instructs, its free hand fisted on its lap. “I don’t want it.”

“Now wait a fucking minute-”

“You said you wouldn’t force anything onto me, wouldn’t press for memories.” 800 interrupts sharply, “Just a drive. Was it? Or was this just to get me into the car with you? Did you drive by that CyberLife store while you were at it, to get another reaction from me? Take the coin, Lieutenant.”

Visibly struggling to watch the road and have an argument, Hank forcefully pushes the hand away with grit teeth. “Sure, fine, it was Connor’s. But I was trying to be fucking nice. You think I’d go back on my word?”

“Yes!” It snaps, ignoring the way Hank flinches. “Take the coin.”

“No, it’s yours!”

“Mine? Fine.” 800 reaches for the control for the window, cold air billowing through the gap and ruffling their hair. It hears the panicked intake, and Hank practically leaps across the car to grab onto the arm, fingers tight.

“Don’t you fucking dare!

Stress Levels: ^90%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Warning: Pressure to panel #arm_L_08 and #arm_L_03

Pressure Levels: 15%

;Error;Error;Error;

In one fast, angry movement Hank has slammed a hand onto the table with a bang, marching up into 800’s face-

;Error;Error;Error;

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

;Error;Error;Error;

Stress Levels: ^95%

Incoming call-

Stress Levels: ^96%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unkn- ^Unknow- ^Unkno-

“No fucking way! I don’t need a partner, and certainly not this plastic prick!”

;Error;Error;Error;

Stress Levels: ^97%

“Just a drive.” Hank confirms, a smile tugging at his lips.

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vLiar

Chapter Text

It takes a while for 800 to realise the car is not moving anymore. It takes even longer to notice the fact that the driver has vanished from the vehicle altogether, instead sitting hunched over on the bonnet, arms wrapped tightly around himself and back to 800.

The lack of an exact timeframe for both realisations is startling, and something within its programme squirms. In a hurried but only half-focused attempt, it tries to calculate the numbers, but had it stopped registering the minutes of the day when it had been distracted with the coin, meaning a definite number can’t be placed.

800 hates that.

And then reminds itself that it’s an android, so it doesn’t hate.

Stress Levels: -70%

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

Objectives:

• Sit in the car with Hank (Task complete?)

• Return to CyberLife for redistribution (;Error; Invalid? ;Error;)

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 87%

Internal clock: Fully functioning.

Thirium Levels: 82%

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left-

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified-

;Error;

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage-

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired-

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Re-

;Error;

Running diagnostic scan...

Scannin-

Running diagnostic scan...

Scan-

“Hey, kid.”

800 flinches, opening eyes it didn’t notice had closed. The passenger door is now open, a cool breeze twisting its way in, and immediately its gaze meets Hank’s. The man’s breath is shaky; from crying or sudden unease 800 cannot tell.

With one hand on the door to assist him down, Hank gets onto his knees, looking up at 800 from the floor beside the car. The ground is of earth, and with a blink 800 realises they are at the edge of a park, up against a curb with no other people in sight. Hank notices.

“A little spot I found once, not many people know about it ‘cause it’s wedged between the allotments and worst fucking estate you could ever visit.” His lips quirk in a smile, but it falls quickly at 800’s passive stare. “Uh, it’s the edge of a, um, natural area, I think they call it. Lots of trees and ponds and stuff. Sumo loves it in winter, there’s tons of snow.”

It doesn’t reply. Hank works his mouth, rubbing at an arm.

“Look, Eight Hundred, I’m really sorry. I got worked up; I pushed you into stuff again when I said I wouldn’t. I was wrong.” The material of his knees is slowly becoming damp from the slush of melting ice on the ground. “The last thing I wanted was to scare you.”

However much time passed between then and now, obviously it was enough for Hank to rehearse his apology. Its mouth remains firmly shut.

Hank seems to collapse in on himself at the lack of response, eyes flickering between 800’s. “Kid? Eight Hundred? Are you ok?”

The words fall out before it can reign them in. “Well done, Lieutenant. ‘How not to look threatening one-oh-one’ is back in action I see.” Stung, Hank shrinks back, eyes wide as 800 adds, weaker, “It won’t work this time.”

“Oh, kid.”

“You probably called Connor that. Shut up.”

“I-”

“Shut up!”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^74%

Hank shifts, eyes darting anywhere but it as he whispers lowly to himself, too quiet to make out. His breathing is heavy, as is 800’s. Quickly, it stops the action. It is not needed. Illogical. Stupid.

“I…I promise, I promise it won’t-”

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vLiar

“I’m turning off my audio sensors now, Lieutenant.” 800 states, sitting up straight in the seat with its face dead ahead, hands coming to rest flat on its lap.

Disabling audio processors…

Disabling…

“Wait, what?” Hank sounds panicked, and by the cracking of kneecaps and the moving of dirt he must be trying to get closer, but is now hyper aware of not touching 800. “Ei-”

It closes its eyes. “Please leave me be until I am needed. Make sure I am not needed.”

Audio processors disabled.

;Error;

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Incoming call-

Scanning…

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 87%

Internal clock: Fully functioning.

Thirium Levels: 82%

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Stress Levels: v70%

Objectives:

• Unknown

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Something is placed onto 800’s knees, a collection of things clustered together. As the hand holding them released, they shift a little, but remain sat on its leg. A moment later, the chilly wind drifting into the car abruptly stops with a small whoosh of air.

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

It waits, expecting to feel the vibrations indicating the car starting up again, the tilting backwards as they move forward.

But nothing happens.

Registered owners: One and Two.

Location of One: Unknown.

Location of Two: Unknown.

Status of One: Arrested.

Status of Two: Arrested.

;Error;

Objectives:

• Unknown

CyberLife: Shut down.

Unable to contact CyberLife.

Unable to return to owners.

Unable to proceed.

Stress Levels: ^73%

Unable to proceed.

Unable to proceed.

Incoming call-

Unable to proceed.

Unable to proceed.

Unable to proceed.

Sucking in an unwarranted breathe, 800 snaps its eyes open, staring wide, unseeing, out the windshield at the oak tree several meters away. Its hands shake on its lap, despite the diagnostic scan being adamant that the only issues present being the poorly repaired holes on the arm and chest areas. The shake is uncontrollable, as if someone is manipulating its hands to move against 800’s command.

Something slides off its leg, landing with a clunk on the floor beside the tennis ball. Blinking, it looks down in the daze, taking 00:00:05.7 to realise the object is the car keys, now resting in a heap by its foot. It picks them up, and they tink in its unsteady grasp.

Hank had given 800 his keys?

Still breathing deeply, it glances around. The man is nowhere to be seen, both near or further away from the car.

Objectives:

• Unknown

Does it…Is 800 meant to do something? Wait in the car, maybe? Or take it somewhere? All androids drive, barring the YK800s, had Hank wanted it to move the vehicle somewhere else? It didn’t recall being told to do so, and it had told Hank it was disabling its audio processors, surely he wouldn’t have tried to issue a command afterwards?

Was Hank planning on coming back?

What did 800 do if he doesn’t?

;Error;

Rebooting audio processors…

Rebooting…

Audio processors online.

Stress Levels: ^74%

Objectives:

• Unknown

What is it meant to do?

Is 800 supposed to just go into standby? Is that what other androids did when they were not wanted? Surely there were moments when no instructions were given, and they had to take initiative. When owners were asleep, for example, what did they do then? Wake them up?

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Objectives:

• Unknown

Its breathing picks up, dumbly, for no good reason.

Searching processor for orders...

Searching...

Selecting file...

Orders History:

• Disable %£&*)@# (Task complete)

• Wait in line (Task complete)

• Talk to lady in red (Task complete)

• Get into van (Task complete)

• Erase selected memory (Task complete)

• ;Error; (Task complete)

• Erase selected memory (Task complete)

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs (Task complete)

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Report any findings of the illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Find Four to reporting findings of the illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Inform Four about the fish (Task complete)

• Don’t clean packets of illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Erase selected memories (Task complete)

• Erase all memories (Task incomplete)

• Don’t erase all memories (;Error;)

Warning: Conflicting programmes.

• Get into police car (Task complete)

• Stay in room (Task complete)

• Sit in the car with Hank (Task complete)

• Return to CyberLife for redistribution (Unable to proceed)

Reviewing previous conclusions derived from orders…

Reviewing…

Previous conclusions: Cleaning is important to 800’s function.

;Error;

In one fast movement, 800 has unbuckled itself from the seat and climbed out, standing stiffly as it turns to examine the car.

Objectives:

• Clear out litter

• Dust the car

• Clean the blanket

• Clean off mud

• Clean tennis ball

• Organise glove compartment

• Organise boot

Working inwards out appears to be the best approach. Tucking the keys away into the pocket of its borrowed jeans, 800 leans into the car and collects all the wrappers within sight, stuffing them into a paper, grease-stained bag reading Bertie’s Beautiful Bakes.

Taking one of the wrappers, 800 picks up the tennis ball and wipes off the mould, before using its fingers to pick off all the odd bits of dirt. It doesn’t completely remove all the stains from the ball, but it’s the best it can do while lacking proper supplies. It pops the ball into the pocket on the back of the passenger seat, where it finds a collection of take away cartons.

Turning away from the car, trash in hand, it scans the area for the nearest bin, quickly crossing the small space to dump them into the container.

Objectives:

• Clear out litter (Task complete)

• Dust the car

• Clean the blanket

• Clean off mud

• Clean tennis ball (Task complete)

• Organise glove compartment

• Organise boot

Stress Levels: v62%

There is very little to organise in the glove compartment, and the boot only reveals a first aid box, a high visibility jacket, and a pair of wellington boots. After scooping up the few random flakes of dried mud, it closes the trunk and brushes off its hands.

The blanket gets pulled out of the vehicle and taken away a few paces to be thoroughly shaken out. Hair floats into the breeze, and 800 has to quickly scramble to slam the doors shut so it doesn’t go back inside. Ideally, it would use a vacuum or brush to remove the fur, some of which has become deeply embedded amongst the stitching, but it doesn’t have either of those things. With barely a second thought it starts plucking hair off strand by strand, moving in lines up and down the blanket. After 00:42:31 it turns the blanket over to do the same on the other side.

Objectives:

• Clear out litter (Task complete)

• Dust the car

• Clean the blanket (Task complete)

• Clean off mud

• Clean tennis ball (Task complete)

• Organise glove compartment (Task complete)

• Organise boot (Task complete)

Stress Levels: v54%

The seats are thankfully leather, meaning that most dirt simply brushes off with ease. However, dusting with only your hands is impractical, and 800 steps back to contemplate what it can use instead.

The only cloth item in the car is the blanket, and after spending so long removing the hair it seems a shame to then coat it in a layer of dust. 800 doesn’t have anything on it of use, only the car keys and…

It looks down at the clothes.

Androids don’t feel the cold.

The sweater was in lost and found, and had been unclaimed for some time.

800 dislikes the green t-shirt, and would rather not be seen wearing it, but it is either this or nothing.

Pulling the sweater up over its head, 800 kneels on one of the seats and starts thoroughly dusting down every surface. Particles swirl in the air, even with all the doors open to allow the wind to whisk it away, but when it climbs back out very little of it has settled again, at least, nothing bothersome to the eye.

It shakes out the sweater like it did the blanket.

And then realises that it has nothing to clean off the splashes of mud up the side of the car with.

800 looks at the mud. And then the sweater. And then the mud again.

“Androids don’t feel cold.” It states to nobody, and squats down.

Objectives:

• Clear out litter (Task complete)

• Dust the car (Task complete)

• Clean the blanket (Task complete)

• Clean off mud (Task complete)

• Clean tennis ball (Task complete)

• Organise glove compartment (Task complete)

• Organise boot (Task complete)

Chapter Text

Stepping back, 800 allows itself a moment to admire its work.

There are still many issues with the car. Dried rain stains the windows that refuse to wipe off, the wheels are in need of air, and going by the sounds the car made when it drove there were things in need of mechanical work, but it was the best it could do given the lack of resources. The car doesn’t necessarily gleam, but it is miles better in comparison to before.

Anyway, 800 was an android designed for the home and domestic tasks, there was nothing in its programming about engineering and motor technology.

Stress Levels: v45%

;Error;

Incoming call-

Objectives:

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Clean the sweater

The sweater hangs limp in its hands, abused and sorry-looking. With a twist of the lips it examines the material. Previously grey material is now marred with deep brown, damp in places and accompanied by a strange, dirty smell. Without hot water or soap, there is nothing 800 can do to fix it. While Hank had mentioned there were ponds nearby, they are hardly the cleanest water sources, and probably would end up counterproductive.

With a small, irrelevant sigh, 800 takes in its surroundings. The park is practically empty, save for a dog walker and a jogger, and the allotments off to the left are mostly overgrown and abandoned. Off to the right is the (“Worst fucking estate you could ever visit”), which is a mass of tall buildings and concrete. Through the few trees planted between the tower blocks and park, a row of shops catch 800’s attention.

“There might be a launderette.” It says to itself, eyeing the ruined sweater and then the shops again.

The keys sit heavily in its pocket.

Hank had given no indication of when he was coming back. If he decided to come back. 800 was not Connor, and if he decided that the car wasn’t worth the effort (and given the state it had been in that was not impossible), he might have up and left altogether. Yes, a cop abandoning his car was an odd move, but it could still happen. It was still a possibility.

Stress Levels: ^46%

Objectives:

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Clean the sweater

Unable to proceed.

Unable to proceed.

Reorganising objectives…

Reorganising…

Objectives:

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Find launderette

• Clean the sweater

• Return to car

It locks the car and leaves, marching stiffly towards the estate as though it was trying to walk off murder. The flats loom overhead, framing either side of the pavement like giant gateways, unmoveable and watching.

A man with sharp eyes walks by; narrow gaze locking onto 800’s LED with a sneer, fists tightening. In a flash it locks its gaze on the ground, head low as it picks up its pace, ignoring the spat remark hissed at its back.

The small store with 24 Hour Convenience written across the top in thick white letters has a poster stuck to the door. A stick figure with a glowing blue circle on the side of its head stands up straight, a fat red line violently slashing across it. 800 decides not to read the warnings underneath.

The pizza place, Al’s Pepperoni, has the same image stuck to the window.

As does Blueston Estate Local Resource and Community Centre. This one comes complete with a little doodle added with a thin-tipped pen, depicting a bullet from a badly drawn gun spurting out the other side of the head, a blue biro graphically indicating the spurting Thirium.

Stress Levels: ^49%

Likelihood of violence: ^80%

As 800 turns a corner, carefully walking around the needle sat in the middle of the path, the sign Lindy’s Launderette blinks in bright neon pink in the corner of its vision. Redirecting its route, it crosses the road, walking up to the door to peer inside.

Machines swirl away in various stages of completion, white foam splashing and dryers humming. All the seats in the middle are unoccupied, and large bags sit in front of their designated machines, waiting for the clothes to be done.

The crossed out image of a stick-figure android rests on the door, just above the open sign.

Stress Levels: ^52%

Objectives:

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Find launderette (Task complete)

• Clean the sweater

• Return to car

Unable to proceed.

Stress Levels: ^56%

;Error;

“You ok?”

800 startles, gasping and darting a few paces to the side, eyes snapping onto the woman stood beside it, a large bag in one hand and a box of soap in another. Strapped to her front is a baby, wearing a knitted blue hat.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

“I’m sorry.” It scampers out the way of the door, and then pauses. “Do you need me to hold the door open for you, or…?”

The woman merely frowns at him, raising an eyebrow. Her hair has been pulled back into a tight ponytail, large golden hoops hanging from her ears. 800 doesn’t miss the way her eyes flick to its LED and the scarring to the back of the neck.

“You ok?” She asks again. 800 swallows unnecessarily.

“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you.”

She glances at the sweater. “The hell happened there?”

800 also looks to the sweater, as if she could be addressing anything else. It holds it, mouth moving without words.

Stress Levels: ^64%

“Do you need that cleaned?” She talks slowly, pronouncing each word like 800 had never heard them before. Still struggling, it just nods, but then turns to the poster. She follows his gaze. “Ah, I see.”

The baby squirms against her, and she makes a shushing noise, bobbing her legs up and down to quieten them, and 800 is suddenly struck by the fact that it is making the woman and child stand out in the cold.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to hold you up. Please, go-”

“Is it just the sweater?” The lady interrupts, adjusting her hold on the box of soap.

Hesitantly, it nods. “Yes?”

She looks between it and the sweater, before a small smile raises her lips. “Ok, how about a deal?”

“A…Deal?”

“I’ve also got some ironing to do, but I can’t do it while holding him,” She nods towards the baby, “I’ll stick your sweater in with my stuff if you watch him.”

“But, I can’t pay you! I couldn’t possibly-”

“I was going to pay for a wash already,” She shrugs easily, waving her bag for emphasis. “Plus, babies puke. I have to put a ton of soap in anyway. A bit of mud is the least offending thing in there.”

“I…” 800 swallows for no good reason, shuffling from foot to foot. The sweater remains stained in its hands. “What about…The sign…”

She huffs. “I know Lindy, it’ll be fine. Plus, you’ll be working for me. She’s all about…That.” Her expression shifts for a moment, before returning to a pleasant openness. “So, do we have a deal?”

800 gapes at her, a strange sense of awe filtering through its code. “Thank you.”

She laughs, a loud, slightly harsh sound, and backs into the door to open it, 800 rushing over to help. The bag falls to the floor with a thump, the lady opening a washer as 800 closes the door behind them. The smell of laundry detergent is thick, as is the pleasant, comfortable air.

The baby makes a noise as she pulls him free of the straps, kicking his feet in protest.

“Yeah yeah, calm down.” The lady soothes, holding him against her and running a hand up and down his back. She glances at 800. “You ever held a baby before?”

“No…”

“It’s easy, come here.” Adjusting her hold, she gently transfers the infant over to 800, resting his head over its shoulder while taking the sweater. “You need to support the head and back,” She instructs, lifting 800’s hand into the right position, “And the other needs to be under him…There you go. Easy.”

“R-Right…”

The baby wiggles against 800, hands scrunching up as it blinks large eyes around it. He is warm, content in a one-piece outfit and his hat, the temperature registering against the sensors of 800’s external panelling.

Which, it suddenly notes, is freezing cold from hours spent outside without the sweater to wear.

Adjusting external panelling to match room temperature…

Adjusting…

Temperature change complete. External panelling now matched to room temperature.

Stress Levels: v46%

With a smile, the lady removes the harness and starts loading washing into a machine, adding in 800’s sweater and opening the box to scoop in the powder.

“What’s his name?”

“Oh, sorry, I should’ve introduced us! I’m Holly and he’s James. What about you?” Shutting the machine, she presses a few buttons and holds up a card against a small digital panel. After a moment, it flashes bright green with the cheerful words ‘Payment Complete’. As the water begins to filter in, she crosses the room for the ironing board.

“My name’s Eight Hundred.”

“Catchy.” She comments, picking up her bag and pulling out a crumpled t-shirt. Flicking on a cordless iron, Holly positions the item across the board, waiting for the iron to heat up. “Y’know, most androids get rid of their LEDs now. It helps them blend it. Why do you still have yours, especially around here?”

James fusses against 800’s shoulder, toothless gums curiously mouthing at its clothes. In a copied movement from Holly, it runs a hand over his back.

“Androids are not meant to remove their own LED.”

Holly puts her head to one side, picking up the iron and running it over the clothes with well-practiced movements. “I see. Do you still want it in?”

“Still?” 800 repeats in confusion, watching James as he sucks at his own fist. “It is protocol; I’m not allowed to remove it myself. Only my owners can, and they have to get special permission to do so.”

“Your owners…” Holly echoes, folding up the shirt and putting it to one side. An old pair of jeans is next to be ironed. “Who are your owners?”

“One and Two.” It says, catching the hat as it slips off James’ head. With one hand it attempts to put it back on. “They’re who I’m registered too.”

Holly nods, finishing the jeans and adding them to the pile. “You guys really have a thing for numbers for names. Do you live local?”

James dislikes having his hat back on his head, and reaches up to pull at it. His small feet kick against 800’s chest, so light that its sensors barely even pick up on the infant doing so.

“No.”

“Oh, you guys visiting then?”

“N-No. They were arrested this morning.”

Holly blanks, iron hovering mid-air as she stares. Her gaze briefly lands on James before going back to 800, who shifts in the hard plastic seat. “I’m…Sorry to hear that. Nothing serious, I hope?”

“Drug dealing.”

“Ah.” A more understanding expression falls over her face, and her shoulders relax. “Yeah, not surprising around here. Pretty sure the person below me is a druggy, the smoke doesn’t half stink the balconies out.” Holly pauses, mouth thin, as if she is about to make a bad decision. “Are they the ones who did that to you?”

800 frowns. “Did what?”

“Your sweater…And the,” She makes a hand movement on the back of her neck, roughly tracing out the lines of the glitch. 800’s mouth forms an ‘oh’, and it shakes its head.

“No they didn’t. I don’t know about my neck, but my sweater got dirty cleaning a car.”

A mini tug-of-war has started over the hat, James trying to fling it away while 800 tries to put it back on his head. The baby babbles. Holly chuckles.

“Try holding him across your arms, like this,” She puts the iron to one side for a moment to make a semi-circle with her arms, “With his head on your elbow. He likes faces; it’ll distract him from the hat.”

Very carefully 800 manoeuvres James around so he is laying on its arms, eyes looking up with interest at the glowing LED while his toes nudge its arm through the fabric of his one-piece outfit. The hat sits forgotten on his head.

“Hello.” 800 offers, and James smiles widely in response.

“How come you never do that for me?” Holly mutters good-naturedly. “He doesn’t look it, but he’s a right terror. Usually at three in the morning.”

“Lies.” It whispers loudly, and James gurgles happily at the attention. Holly snorts, adding another item to her pile.

“Oh yeah? Last playgroup, he screamed bloody murder! It was so embarrassing!”

800 smiles, listening to the story of James versus the ‘Terrible Plastic Dinosaur of Doom’, as Holly so dubs it, James in its arms looking the picture of innocence. It’s all a ruse, Holly informs 800, James reals people in and then vomits on them. Apparently it’s a miracle that 800 has lasted as long as it has without its shirt needing a wash too.

By the time the clothes are done in the washer most of Holly’s ironing is finished, and she pauses to transfer everything over. As the dryer door closes with a metallic clang, James flinches, letting out a soft whine and mouth twisting. Startled, 800 runs a thumb up and down his arm as he squirms around, trying to imitate Holly’s earlier movements by rocking back and forth. The whining stops, but he still moves around uncomfortably.

After 00:35:00 the dryer slows to a halt and Holly smiles as she pulls out the sweater. “Tada!” She exclaims proudly, holding it up for it to see. All the mud has completely vanished from the material, with only a few odd black marks remaining, likely to stay there forever. But the sweater is no longer an unsightly mess, so 800 can’t bring itself to mind.

“Thank you.” 800 breathes, a small smile on its lips. Holly grins, and 800 stands to swap James over for the sweater, pulling the warm fabric over its head. The smell of artificial flowers engulfs it, the heat of the dryer registering nicely against its sensors. A few areas where the seam is thicker are still a touch damp, but it’s nothing compared to what it was like before.

Plus it hides away the god-awful green shirt.

Objectives:

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Find laundrette (Task complete)

• Clean the sweater (Task complete)

• Return to car

Stress Levels: v22%

“No worries.” Holly holds James against her chest, but has the infant facing outwards. “Thanks for watching him.”
“Did you get all your ironing done?” I could-”

“I did, I’m all done.”

“Here, let me put your clothes away.” Opening up the bag, 800 places the pile of ironing neatly into it before taking out all the dried clothes, folding them and putting them back into the bag when Holly says she doesn’t want them ironed.

“Most of its pyjamas and bedding, anyway,” She shrugs.

Putting away the iron and ironing board, and closing up the box of soap so it can sit in the bag, 800 helps Holly put James back into the harness. Once back outside into the cooler air, Holly turns to it.

“Can you say ‘bye bye’, James?” She prompts, smiling at the baby and making his hand wave. “Bye bye Eight Hundred!”

James makes a gargled-giggly sound. 800 smirks.

“Goodbye James.” It turns to Holly. “And thank you again.”

“Not a problem. Hope your sweater stays clean!” With a final ‘wave’ from James, they head off back the way they came, and 800 watches them for 00:01:20 before retracing its steps back through the estate, walking quickly to avoid any negative attention. The trees at the edge of the park are a welcome sight.

Stress Levels: v20%

Likelihood of violence: v60%

Objectives:

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Find laundrette (Task complete)

• Clean the sweater (Task complete)

• Return to car (Task complete)

The car is how 800 left it, almost perfectly clean by the curb. The sun is beginning to drift from afternoon into early evening, and 800 is sure that if it had some polish, the vehicle would be gleaming in the twilight.

The sweater is still warm from the dryer, the material now feeling fuzzier and soft and fresh. Lifting at the collar, 800 smiles as it smells the flowery soap, closing its eyes.

“Oh thank fuck!” A voice, loud and breathless, shouts behind it.

Stress Levels: ^35%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

;Error;

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vSuspicious

Chapter Text

“Eight Hundred!” Hank comes running up the path towards it, out of breath and panic on his face. 800 watches as he draws close, leaning away when Hank goes to touch it. Quickly the hands drop, but Hank still scans 800 over, shoulders rising and falling heavily. “I thought…You weren’t…”

;Error;

Registered owners: One and Two

Status of One: Arrested.

Status of Two: Arrested.

Unable to return to CyberLife.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hank is visibly struggling. “It’s been…Suggested, that you stay with me.”

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Stress Levels: ^46%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Don’t you fucking dare!”

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

The words fall out before it can reign them in. “Well done, Lieutenant. ‘How not to look threatening one-oh-one’ is back in action I see.” Stung, Hank shrinks back, eyes wide as 800 adds, weaker, “It won’t work this time.”

“Oh, kid.”

“You probably called Connor that. Shut up.”

“I-”

“Shut up!”

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

“I’m turning off my audio sensors now, Lieutenant.” 800 states, sitting up straight in the chair with its face dead ahead, hands coming to rest flat on its lap.

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Incoming call-

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

Stress Levels: ^54%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

;Error;

Reaching into its pocket 800 takes out the keys, holding them up for Hank to take. “Lieutenant, I need to apologise for my behaviour.”

Hank stares at them, uncomprehending, still breathing hard.

800 blinks, waiting. When Hank makes no move to take the keys it continues. “I disobeyed instructions, talked back, and then left without permission. This is unacceptable and I will make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Hank’s fists tighten at his sides, his brows frowned and his mouth thin.

When he finally does speak, it’s to completely disregard everything 800 just said. “Where were you? I came back, and you were gone. And did you clean my car?” He peers around 800, “Why the fuck did you clean my car?”

Stress Levels: ^58%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Purpose: Serve and care for owners. Do as they instruct.

“I’m sorry, I acted without permission.” It stops holding out the keys, instead shifting from foot to foot as it stares unseeing eyes at the ground. “When you left, I had no orders, so I analysed my order history. I…It appears I cleaned a lot, so I took the initiative to clean the car.” The scent of artificial flowers catches the back of its throat, suffocating, engulfing, drowning. “I didn’t have any supplies, so I used the sweater to remove the dirt, and then left to find a launderette.”

Hank laughs without humour. “You used your clothes to clean my goddamn car?”

Unable to tell whether Hank is angry about 800 using the clothes it had been given, or offended over having clothes clean his car, it simply nodded, watching the man’s shoes.

“Jesus fucking Christ.” Hank leans back on one leg, putting one hand on his hip while the other pinches his nose, eyes screwed shut. “And you’re apologising to me?”

“I…”

Source of clothes: Lost and found, Detroit City Police Department

Clothes received without charge.

Detroit City Police Department: Directed by Captain Fowler, Jeffrey.

Stress Levels: ^61%

“I shall also apologise to Captain Fowler, when I next see him, for misusing the clothes. Or,” It perks up, “If I am allowed access to the internet, I could email him now?”

Hank laughs again, turning around and walking away, both hands on his face. “Oh my fucking god, fuck!”

“Lieutenant? Was there someone else I needed to apologise to?”

“No!” The reply is so sharp, so intense, that 800 scrambles back, arms moving up defensively.

Stress Levels: ^70%

;Error;

In one fast, angry movement Hank has slammed a hand onto the table with a bang, marching up into 800’s face-

;Error;

“Listen, asshole. If it was up to me, I’d throw the lot of you in a dumpster and set a match to it. So, stop pissing me off or things are gonna get nasty.”

;Error;

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Hank freezes, flinching away as if 800 had slapped him. Unblinking, he whispers, “Ki- I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“Apology accepted.” 800 says immediately, forcing its arms to lower to its sides. Hank’s face twists, disbelieving, but his eyes trail down to the keys. In a flash 800 is holding them out again, and Hank takes them.

“Do you…Are you ok to get into the car again?”

“I am a machine; I go wherever you tell me.”

Hank gulps, nods once, and walks around to the driver’s seat, unlocking the car. They both climb in, 800 moving to pull the seatbelt across. Hank pauses, keys halfway to the ignition.

“Why are you warm?”

800 pauses, glancing up. “I had to turn up the temperature of my external panels. I must have forgotten to put it down again. I’m sorry, I can change that now.”

“No,” Hank waves a hand, “No, it’s fine, leave it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Starting the car, 800 notes the way Hank reviews his dashboard and radio. “Wow, you really did this up, didn’t you?”

“To the best of my abilit-”

Both bolt upright as the screaming electronic guitar screeches through the speakers, Hank violently hitting his radio to silence it. Putting a hand over his heart, he lets out a wobbly breath.

“Sorry, I must have altered the volume when I dusted.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Hank shakes his head, hand still in place, “No big deal.”

“Are you ok? I can drive if you-”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. Just made me jump. And stop fucking apologising!”

Stress Levels: ^74%

;Error;

800 doesn’t reply, lowering its palms so they are flat on its lap, head forward. Shifting gears, Hank pulls the car away from the curb, along the road and out into the more heavily trafficked streets.

The sky is nearly dark by this point, with clouds slowly drifting over, black and threatening rain. The people they pass look up at it with weary expressions, pulling their coats tighter around them and rooting through bags for umbrellas before they get caught out. Sitting in the light of a shop display, a homeless man with a greying beard regards the clouds with tired eyes, curling his legs up and pulling down his red cap. A child stares as they get dragged along by a dishevelled-looking father.

Just as a few odd spits of water begin hitting the windshield, Hank clears his throat.

“We, uh, we’re going back to my place.”

Stress Levels: ^76%

“I see.”

“I know I said we wouldn’t, but I need to feed Sumo…And get some sleep.”

“Of course.” Its LED flashes in the glass reflection. “If you wish to sleep, I can take care of Sumo.”

Hank doesn’t reply, the only indication that he heard being the tightening of his grip on the wheel, his knuckles turning a sickly white. 800 eyes them, gaze briefly fluttering to Hank’s face before snapping back to the front, feigning not to have noticed.

Stress Levels: ^79%

;Error;

By the time they arrive at the house, the light spitting has turned into full, heavy rain, creating deep puddles along the side of the road. The mud in the garden looks slippery and gross, and Hank regards it with an air of displeasure before getting out.

800 copies, unaffected by the wet, watching Hank dart up the path to the front door. It follows, though slower, taking in the surroundings. A soccer ball sits sadly in the corner of the garden, abandoned and worn and being overtaken by weeds. By the porch, a half-eaten cattle bone shines from the rain, chew marks visible along the break. Water pools in the hole for the marrow.

As Hank mutters curse words at his keys, 800 turns and examines the street. It’s quiet, and most houses are dark, only two others with lights on. The street lamps make the road appear darker and danker than they really are, creating long and looming shadows, the light catching the droplets of rain-

;Error;

The streetlights catch the falling rain.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^80%

The door opens with a squeak and Hank strides in, pausing to hold it open for 800. As 800 enters, the sound of frantic clicking on the wooden floor echoes through the empty house.

“Easy!” Hank yelps frantically, lunging forward in an effort to grab the flying bundle, “Sumo! Fucking wait-”

800 vanished under the weight of the Saint Bernard, the dog barking and whining excitedly on top of it, dancing around. Heavy paws stand on 800’s chest, the large face pushing into its shoulders, breathing hot air and eagerly smelling the clothes it wears. The whole body wags along with the tail.

The dog complains when Hank grabs his collar, pulling him off 800. “Sumo, you stupid thing get off him!”

800 blinks at the ceiling, something wet and very much not rain running down it neck. As it sits up, it cannot help but grimace, pulling at a sleeve to wipe the dollop of drool away onto the freshly cleaned sweater. The dog paws at the ground, wanting to climb all over 800 again. His tail still swings violently from side to side, looking pleadingly up at Hank.

“Sorry,” Hank says, offering 800 a hand up. “He missed you. Plus he’s been in the fucking pound for three days, so he’s all worked up.”

800 cocks its head at the dog. “Why was he in the pound?”

Hank faulters, the collar slipping through his fingers. Sumo trots up to 800, nosing its hand happily. Carefully, 800 offers a pat on the head, earning a content grumble in response. Then Sumo pulls away, plodding over to the closed door, turning back to face them expectantly. Hank sighs.

“I need a drink.” With that he heads off to a kitchen area, opening the fridge to pluck out a bottle, popping off the cap to take a swig.

Sumo whines.

Hank glances at the dog, and then at his feet, before very deliberately knocking a food bowl on the floor. It scrapes, tinny and loud, and Sumo’s ears perk up. Door now apparently forgotten, he goes running across the room, burying his face into the half-filled bowl, tail swaying.

800 watches Sumo, holding its hands together behind its back, before glancing around the house.

Things are in various stages of messy. The couch, for example, was strewn with haphazard pillows and blankets, while the coffee table had papers, data pads, and half-empty mugs scattered all over it. The bookshelves were neat, if a touch dusty, and all but two pairs of shoes were placed in a uniform line along the wall by the door. The kitchen table had three different types of home delivered junk food cluttering it, but only one chair had been pulled out, the rest tucked away in their proper positions.

Scanning area…

Scanning…

Scan complete.

Conclusions:

• House is normally kept tidy

• Recently housework has not been done

Analysing conclusions…

Analysing…

Analysis complete.

Conclusions:

• Housework was neglected since Connor disappeared

Scanning data pads…

Scanning…

Scan of data pads complete.

Data pads: Belong to the DPD. Contain sensitive and restricted material.

Scanning paper documents…

Scanning…

Scan of paper documents complete.

Legal document regarding the integration of androids. Section 2.8 highlighted in yellow, shade NH0967.

Section 2.8 subtitled: Missing and unaccounted for androids.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^88%

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Wary

Chapter Text

Hank had offered to leave a light on for it, but when 800 informed him that it didn’t require any light to be able to see, his expression dropped and he left with a gruff, “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Lieutenant.”

Sumo wanders over to press his nose into 800, greying mussel wiggling into its sweater as 800 perched on the edge of the couch. His breath is hot, deep pants making 800’s hair wave. It rubs the dog’s head, his tail wagging lazily from side to side, dangerously close to one of the half-drunk coffee mugs settled precariously near the edge of the table. Sumo seems unfazed, but 800 gently nudges him over a little. A broken mug would not go down well.

Stress Levels: v43%

“Good boy.” It whispers, voice low as to not disturb Hank as he slept. The dog licks its chops, pulling away to settle down on his bed in the corner of the room, grumbling as he gets comfortable.

Outside, a car drives by, headlights shining through the window and casting two long eyes of yellow to across the opposite wall, catching the TV and spreading a long rectangular shadow up to the ceiling. The tires sound wet against the road, splashing as they spray water in their wake. Unworried by the silent disturbance it has brought to the house, the car continues on, the sound of its old engine fading into nothing.

Rain continues to splutter outside, banging muffled on the roof and on the porch. Something drips fat droplets, possibly a pipe or a window ledge, the water landing in a puddle with little rhythmic plops, constant, uniform, like a heartbeat.

The wind picks up, redirecting the rain and forcing it hard against the window in a muted clatter, the pane rocking a within its frame. The smallest of breezes slinks through the house, sneaking in from under one window in the kitchen which doesn’t appear to properly close. Sumo shifts, but otherwise ignores the intrusion. 800’s sensors pick it up on the back of its neck.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Are they the ones who did that to you?”

800 frowns. “Did what?”

“Your sweater…And the,” She makes a hand movement on the back of her neck, roughly tracing out the lines of the glitch. 800’s mouth forms an ‘oh’, and it shakes its head.

“No they didn’t. I don’t know about my neck, but my sweater got dirty cleaning a car.”

;Error;

Lifting a hand, 800’s fingers gently prod the marking. Unlike scarring in humans, which could cause markings that are noticeable to the touch, the skin of the android works differently, therefore making the scar less of a scar, and more a glitch where its skin programme failed to fully function in that particular area.

800 pushes its fingers into it, feeling for any issues with the panels below the skin. Hank had commented that it the mark looked like he had been cracked open, but its diagnostic scan only ever brought up the repair work on its chest and arm, never its neck.

A nail catches a small scratch etched in the plastic-

Warning: Fault with Skin Programme.

And with a flutter the entire programme dies, skin vanishing in favour of standard plastic white. It is stark, almost bright, glowing in the darkness of the room. Slowly 800 turns over its hands, fingers stretching as it notes the plain lines between the panelling, the areas of dirty grey where different compartments have clicked together and had the seam protectively covered.

Restarting Skin Programme...

Restarting...

Skin Programme online.

Stress Levels: ^50%

Resisting the urge to pick at its neck again, 800 fists its hands, trying to still the itch to flick its fingers together, yet another error which the diagnostic failed to locate. Taking in a deep breath (something it’s sure it picked up from the PL600, because to do such a thing is worthless), it watches Sumo’s nose twitch, tired eyes peering up at 800 through drooping lids.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Is there anything you would like me to do, Lieutenant? I could-”

“No!” Hank raises his hand sharply, but very quickly retracts it. He breathes in through his nose, letting it out through his mouth. “No. Just…Relax a little, sit on the couch, listen to some music or something. Yeah? Do that.”

Objectives:

• Relax

• Sit on the couch (Task complete)

• Listen to music

;Error;

On one of the shelves is an ancient music player and headphones. Standing, 800 walks over, Sumo lifting his head as it crosses the room. A song is already set up on the device, halfway through with the volume 3 decibels above the recommended maximum for human ears. Turning it down to a more acceptable level, 800 places the headphones over its ears and hits play.

A promptly flinches, face screwing up at the incredibly jarring racket that’s heavy enough to make the headphones vibrate. Turning the volume down does little to help.

Stress Levels: ^56%

;Error;

Returning to the couch, 800 sits stiffly, its back dead straight and shoulders forcefully relaxed, hands on its lap. The headphones are a touch too wide for 800’s head, slipping down periodically and forcing it to have to readjust them.

After 00:01:45 the song dies away, but 800 is only given 00:00:10 of rest bite before the next starts up. It begins very subtly with the clashing of drums and what might be considered melodic playing of the guitar.

Stress Levels: ^57%

Was…Was there a recommended amount of time that 800 needed to listen to this? Was it long? Hank had only told it to listen to music; he hadn’t been specific on what song or for what length of time. The idea of spending the next few hours with screeching in its ear appealed very little.

Objectives:

• Relax

• Sit on the couch (Task complete)

• Listen to music (Task complete)

Upon reading the notification, the headphones promptly come off, and, along with the now paused music player, gets put back into place on the shelves. The sleeve of its sweater brushes over the wood, and when 800 pulls away it leaves a clean skid mark amongst the dust.

Objectives:

• Relax

• Sit on the couch (Task complete)

• Listen to music (Task complete)

Like the music, Hank had failed to give details on how he wanted 800 to ‘relax’. Relaxing was not something programmed into androids, as it contradicted their entire purpose as a highly practical, constant workforce. The only times an android would stop before completing a task would be to consume Thirium, or if they had been ordered to go into standby. Occasionally an android would run a deep system scan, which would leave them useless for an hour exactly, but that was normally a procedure conducted by CyberLife technicians, and was not needed for domestic androids.

Thirium Levels: 79%

While not high enough to be ignored, 800 wouldn’t need to refill until the levels reach 65%.

None of this solved the issue.

Relax:

• make or become less tense or anxious.

• make (a rule or restriction) less strict.

;Error;

800 only had one day and a half worth of memories, and the majority of those were the exact opposite of the ‘relax’ definition. Perhaps finding an activity that held a low stress level would be of use?

Scanning memories…

Scanning…

Searching for memories with: Lowest stress level.

Searching…

Searching…

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Replaying memories latest to earliest.

Sumo wanders over to press his nose into 800, greying mussel wiggling into its sweater as 800 perched on the edge of the couch. His breath is hot, deep pants making 800’s hair wave. It rubs the dog’s head, his tail wagging lazily from side to side, dangerously close to one of the half-drunk coffee mugs settled precariously near the edge of the table. Sumo seems unfazed, but 800 gently nudges him over a little. A broken mug would not go down well.

;Error;

Grinning, 800 glances over to the dog. Sumo has lost the battle with sleep, and now lay completely limp on his cushion, snoring softly. The dog, like Hank, required sleep to function, and while 800 wouldn’t mind spending more time with him it would be unfair to wake Sumo.

Replaying memories latest to earliest.

800 smiles, listening to the story of James versus the ‘Terrible Plastic Dinosaur of Doom’, as Holly so dubs it, James in its arms looking the picture of innocence. It’s all a ruse, Holly informs 800, James reals people in and then vomits on them. Apparently it’s a miracle that 800 has lasted as long as it has without its t-shirt needing a wash too.

By the time the clothes are done in the washer most of Holly’s ironing is finished, and she pauses to transfer everything over. As the dryer door closes with a metallic clang, James flinches, letting out a soft whine and mouth twisting. Startled, 800 runs a thumb up and down his arm as he squirms around, trying to imitate Holly’s earlier movements by rocking back and forth. The whining stops, but he still moves around uncomfortably.

;Error;

Lips still turned upwards, 800 shakes its head. While seeing James and Holly again would be lovely, 800 doubts they would appreciate a late night visitor. Plus that would mean leaving the house without permission, an act against its code and Purpose.

Replaying memories latest to earliest.

Working inwards out appears to be the best approach. Tucking the keys away into the pocket of its borrowed jeans, 800 leans into the car and collects all the wrappers within sight, stuffing them into a paper, grease-stained bag reading Bertie’s Beautiful Bakes.

;Error;

800 blinks.

Cleaning.

800’s stress levels drop when it’s cleaning.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Starting the car, 800 notes the way Hank reviews his dashboard and radio. “Wow, you really did this up, didn’t you?”

Stress Levels: v50%

Getting to its feet, 800 peers around the room before reaching for all the half-drunk mugs of coffee, collecting them together and softly treading over to the kitchen sink. It tips out all the liquid, turning on the tap low as to not create too much noise and pushing in the plug, adding a squirt of washing up liquid. Rolling up its sleeves, it picks up the sponge and scrubs out the mugs, removing all the stains and propping them up to dry on the draining board.

Stress Levels: v42%

Once done, it wipes its hands on a tea towel but leaves the water in the sink, turning to the table. Some of the take away containers still contain food, 800 finding the remains of a stir-fry and half a pepperoni pizza. After a quick search through the cupboards, it locates a set of tupperware and transfers the food over, popping it in the fridge. Then it grabs the bin and slowly works around the table, stuffing in the boxes and greasy wrappers. The bin very quickly grows full, causing 800 to stop and rearrange the contents.

It stands, reaching for the table again, only to pause. Beneath its hand is a face-down photograph, the metal frame dark with the lack of light.

It hadn’t registered the sound of knocking it over, so surely 800 hadn’t touched it?

But if it had, then there was the possibility that the glass had cracked. To leave a photograph in such a state was unacceptable, if it was.

One hand still holding the bin, slowly 800 lifts the frame, holding it up and moving it around. The glass was smudged, as if someone had rubbed their fingers over it repeatedly, but otherwise it seemed thankfully unharmed.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

A young boy smiled up at 800, his face slightly tilted in the common way children did when told to pose for a picture. He wore a blue top with a black collar, a stark contrast to the hideous stripy background that suggested a professional photographer rather than an image taken at home. His hair was mostly neat, but had become a bit scruffy at the front, suggesting either the child had been busy between brushing his hair and having his picture taken, or someone else had ruffled it.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

The face…The face had a familiar feel to it, despite the fact that 800 knew for certain that it had never met a child, outside of James. The long nose, the blue eyes, even the jawline sparked a déjà vu feeling between 800’s circuits, impossible seeing as it was an android, and androids don’t experience such emotions.

Why does Hank have this? Looking around the room, there is nothing to suggest the presence of a child. Most adults think twice before drinking alcohol if they are a caretaker for the night, and Hank would have been more likely to cook than have junk food for several days in a row. Additionally, this child appears to still be of the age for toys, video games, drawing, yet none of that was within the house. All the books were for an adult audience, and unless the child was incredibly neat about his belongings amongst all the mess, there was literally nothing for him here.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

800 eyes the features again, frown deep, before the realisation flashes like a lightbulb within its processor.

The features are reminiscent of Hank. Not completely, the child is still growing and the proportions are different, but the similarities are there.

Which only confuses things.

Hank wouldn’t have left a child home alone, but had not discussed anything about a babysitter either.

It could be possible the child lived with his mother elsewhere, but if that was the case Hank would have scheduled visiting time, and wouldn’t need a photograph in such a prominent position on the table, let alone face down. That also ruined the chances of the boy being a nephew, as that distances the relation and wouldn’t usually warrant a picture in such a direct viewpoint.

The fact that it was face down indicates negative connotations, as if Hank wanted it near, thus put it on the kitchen table, but couldn’t stand to look at it. The photo had been cared for, shown by the glass being scratch free, but warranted a strong emotion, strong enough for Hank to regularly rub his thumb along the boy’s face.

The child was dead.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Fuck off, you always miss a spot.” Chuckling, Hank readjusts 800’s shirt. “You’ve gone and stained this. I swear you can be just like Cole at times.”

“Who’s Cole?”

Hank’s face drops, his mouth becoming a thin line. Rather forcefully, he finishes sorting 800’s clothes, making it stumble backwards a bit. “You can’t stay in this crap. It’s probably evidence anyway. Wait here, I’ll find you something from lost property.”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^45%

Oh.

Oh.

This is Cole Anderson, deceased child of Lieutenant Hank Anderson.

With the upmost care, 800 puts the frame back exactly as it found it, slowly, as if it would shatter against a whisper.

This is not 800’s business. It has no right to go through Hank’s things, to pry into his matters and what is clearly a very raw subject.

Note: Do not tell Hank about disturbing the photograph.

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Stepping away, 800 continues its clean in silence.

Chapter Text

800 hears Hank wake before spotting him. There is a creaking from the mattress, a tired groan indicating a stretch, and a few minutes of stumbled shuffling around his room. The bedroom door creaks as it opens, dragging footsteps making the short journey into the bathroom, Hank locking it behind him.

Hank takes 00:17:45 to shower and dress, remerging out the room with a deep yawn and a puff of steam.

It hears the exact moment he notices 800’s predicament.

“What-”

“You have a very friendly dog, Lieutenant.”

800 can only see Hank’s socked feet, the rest of its vision obscured by the Saint Bernard currently relaxing across 800’s stomach, chest, and face. He breathes heavily, his tail whacking both of its knees, as if this is the best thing that has ever happened.

“Why-” Hank splutters, his feet moving forward. “How long have you been like this?”

“Thirty-six minutes and fifteen second.” It replies, feeling Sumo shift as he peers up at Hank innocently.

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I didn’t wish to wake you.”

It hears Hank mutter to himself, “Fucking, it’s too early for this shit.” Louder, he nudges the dog. “Sumo, up! Get off him!”

Sumo watches Hank’s efforts, barks, and wags his tail harder.

“You idiot, get up.” Hank tugs at Sumo’s collar, finally getting Sumo to clamber to his feet, leading him off 800. It sits up, brushing the fur from its face and clothes. The hair drifts about the room. “Why the hell was he on you?”

“I noticed my shoelace had come undone.” It stands, still brushing fur away. Sumo watches curiously, as if he hadn’t caused the mess. “But when I knelt down to tie it, Sumo decided to…Say hello.”

Sumo’s ears perk up at his name, and slipping from Hank’s fingers wanders over to 800, tail swinging. He licks the grey-dotted fur around his muzzle. Rolling his eyes, Hank turns and makes a beeline for the old, overused coffee machine, flicking it on. It rumbles in protest, vibrating noisily. As he leans against the counter to wait, Hank startles.

“You cleaned.” He states, glancing around.

Stress Levels: ^43%

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

;Error;

“I did.”

“I…Didn’t I tell you to relax?” It doesn’t skip 800’s notice that Hank’s gaze briefly flicks to the picture of Cole, but it is exactly where he left it. “Why the hell did you clean?”

“You instructed me to sit on the couch, listen to music, and relax.”

“I didn’t fucking instruct- I was just suggesting…”

800 shrugs. “When you went to bed I sat on the couch, and then listened to music. You didn’t specify what you wanted me to do when I ‘relaxed’, so I analysed my available memories for the points when my stress levels were the lowest. Two of the options were unavailable, so I selected the third best one.”

“Cleaning?”

“Yes. I’m sorry, was to too forward of me?” Hank’s face twists. “If it would help, I can explain everything I did and touched. First, I washed up the coffee mugs and then-”

“No, no.” Hank cuts it off, voice strained, firm. “Leave it.”

The coffee machine warbles a high pitched beep and Hank jumps, selecting a freshly cleaned mug from the counter and filling it with the hot drink. He barely blows it before taking a big mouthful.

“Lieutenant, you shouldn’t-” It snaps its mouth shut when Hank holds up a hand. Half the coffee is consumed before Hank stops to breathe.

“It’s fine.” He waves off, going for another gulp. “It’s best like this.”

“Could I recommend some milk?”

“Look, if you want me up, I need it black.” He sinks into one of the chairs, eyeing the room around him as he drinks again. “How the hell is cleaning relaxing?”

“I…”

Stress Levels: ^47%

;Error;

800 steps over to the kitchen, but doesn’t sit down, instead standing perfectly straight in the doorway with its hands behind its back. Sumo follows, head to the ground under the table in search of crumbs. He will not find any. 800 swept under there earlier.

“Cleaning gives me an objective. And…Having an objective is good.”

Hank tilts his head. “Why?”

Stress Levels: ^52%

“Because it gives me a goal to work towards. I am built to serve; to stand idle contradicts the purpose for creating me.”

“No, cleaning contradicts the purpose for creating you.” Hank says plainly only to freeze, mouth open, as if startled by his own words. He glances at 800 from the corner of his eye, clearing his throat and taking another gulp of coffee.

“Cleaning…Contradicts the purpose for creating me?” 800 repeats, frowning heavily and leaning its head in a little, its fists tight behind its back. “I don’t understand. I’m a domestic android, my purpose is to serve.”

His face now a whole shade paler, Hank swallows as if his mouth is dry, despite the drink in his hands. He clears his throat again, and nods determinedly. “Yeah. Yeah you’re a domestic android. I just meant…Like the first android wasn’t built for cleaning. It was just an experiment, so see how far technology could go and shit.”

Stress Levels: ^60%

;Error;

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: vLiar

“Right. Of course. I understand now.”

“I’m, uh, I’m gonna let Sumo out. Sumo, come on!” Quickly getting to his feet, Hank slips on a pair of shoes by the back door and leads the dog out, shutting the door with more force than is necessary. A moment later Sumo barks loudly, startling a group of pigeons. Hank shouts something about mud after the dog.

800 continues to stand in the doorway of the kitchen.

Why would cleaning of all things contradict its purpose of creation? Cleaning was not an illogical task for an android, hundreds of them clean. Obviously 800 had too, as shown by its order history.

Stress Levels: ^64%

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Hank…Hank was having a hard time believing that 800 was not Connor. Connor had been deviant, meaning it had strayed from its appointed task. It was likely that Hank met Connor after its deviancy, when Connor was no longer following orders around the house.

;Error;

No.

No, that was wrong.

The way Hank had said ‘creating you’, like it was ironic, like it was a big contradictory joke, was too deliberate, too direct to be anything but an understanding of what 800 had been designed for. It was said like he knew exactly why it existed, why humans had designed and engineered it together.

Stress Levels: ^67%

Incoming call-

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Accessing ‘Purpose’…

Accessing…

‘Purpose’ accessed.

“You,” The man points at 800, “Are a domestic android. You cook, clean, and care for the house. Your purpose is to serve. You do not go outside without express permission from your owners. Got it?”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^70%

Searching for memories it knew were erased was a fruitless task. There was nothing before the ride in the back of the van, and most of that was missing as well. To continuingly attempt to reach for non-existent data was pointless. Worthless. Stupid. It was like shooting an arrow without a target, the arrow simply flies in any direction is pleases, getting whisked off by the wind and left in the hands of fate.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

It needs to stop, before it overworks its processor, before its stress levels get too high.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

There is nothing it can achieve here.

Accessing memory…

Incoming call-

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

What had Connor been like?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Stress Levels: ^76%

Had Connor ever been interrogated before?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Had Connor really liked to play-

;Error;

;Error;

-Calibrate-

;Error;

;Error;

-With the coin?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Had Connor ever held a baby before? Did it-

;Error;

;Error;

-He-

;Error;

Error;

-Know another James? Another Holly?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Connor had gone missing and been reset. What had been Connor’s purpose?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

Stress Levels: ^79%

If Connor had been taken illegally, did that mean the man who designated 800’s purpose was a criminal?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory unavailable. Unable to access.

;Error;

What did that mean for 800? It liked cleaning. It did. It made its stress levels low. It kept its hands busy. It allowed 800 to organise a series of tasks that could be neatly categorised and ticked off. It gave 800 an objective. A mission to be completed.

Like:

• find agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory.

• wish for; want.

Stress Levels: ^82%

Machines do not feel. They do not want. They do not like or dislike. The reasoning for the enjoyment of fulfilling a task was because that meant it was running optimally, that is was conducting itself in a way satisfactory to its owners. That meant that CyberLife had been successful in their design, and that their success and business rates could continue to improve.

That was why 800 liked cleaning.

It had to be.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“You’re not Connor, I…I get that, but…” Hank swallows. “You deserve to be deviant again, at least.”

Stress Levels: ^86%

On the table, Hank’s phone buzzed with an incoming call. 800 shifts unblinking eyes from the floor to the device, watching the screen light up. The phone is two minutes out from the actual time, it notes numbly. The caller ID is a long number rather than letters, indicating that the person attempting to contact Hank is unknown.

The phone buzzes for 00:01:42 before stopping, the phone switching back to its locked screen.

800 stares at its own face.

;Error;

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^89%

800…No, Connor, has its body facing the side, arms crossed and posture casual. Its face, however, is towards the camera, as if the person taking the picture had called its name, and it was midway turning to look, face relaxed, with the beginnings of an easy smile. It wears a uniform, the material dark and standard issue, a blue ring circling one arm and the words Detroit Police printed across the upper shoulder in small, white lettering.

Analysing collected information…

Analysing…

Analysis complete.

Conclusions:

• 800 had been reset.

• Hank knew 800 when it was ‘Connor’.

• Connor had been deviant.

• Hank has issues when 800 acts like a domestic android.

• Photograph shows Connor in a police uniform.

Analysing conclusions…

Analysing…

Analysis complete.

Final conclusion from collected information:

• Connor had been a police android.

• Connor continued working for the police after deviancy.

Attempting to run program 5*&9#...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Scanning disabled programmes...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Unable to identify programmes.

Unable to access programming.

Stress Levels: ^94%

When Hank comes back inside and suggests they go out for the morning, 800 only nods silently in reply, ignoring the way Sumo nudges at its hand for a pat.

Chapter Text

Hank makes sure the volume of the radio is turned down low before turning the ignition in his newly cleaned car. The leather of the chair squeak as he settles into the seat, strapping on his seatbelt with a click.

800 barely notices.

The rain from the night before has left the world sodden and saturated. Puddles in the road reflect the cloudy sky above, leaves and wrappers and other trash floating in the deeper potholes. Most of Hank’s garden has turned to pure mud, and it is likely that by the time they reach wherever their destination is, the car will have dirty splash marks up its sides again.

800 barely notices.

From inside the house, Sumo presses his face in the window, tongue hanging out as he watches the car pull away. Hank mutters something about howling under his breath, adjusting his hands on the wheel as he shifts gears.

800 barely notices.

The streets are busy but not overly so, filled with morning shoppers rather than the rush of employees heading towards work. They pass shop displays, the lifeless mannequins stood like dead puppets on their podiums, wearing fashions unsuitable for the weather and impractical to walk in. A child goes running at a group of pigeons huddled around the mashed remains of fries on the pavement, and the birds scurry into the air in a burst of smoky grey and dirty white.

When Hank comments on the lighter traffic, 800 only hums, eyes catching and watching the things they pass.

Hank glances at it.

“You’ve gone quiet.” He comments, conversationally. “You ok?”

“I am an android.” It replies automatically, continuing to gaze out the window. “I am neither ok nor not ok.”

“Was only asking.”

Stress Levels: -80%

;Error;

Attempting to run program 5i$^l0...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Scanning disabled programmes...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Unable to identify programmes.

Unable to access programming.

Why was 800 denied access to some of its own features? It didn’t make sense. Why programme an android to serve if it couldn’t fully use what was at its disposal? It was like creating a toaster that only allowed bread to be inserted in but failed to do anything with it. It was illogical. Androids were expensive, programming and building features even more so.

Was 800 broken?

Final conclusions from collected information:

• Connor had been a police android.

• Connor continued working for the police after deviancy.

“Lieutenant?”

“Hm?”

“Did Connor work for the DPD?”

Straightening from his half-collapsed slouch, Hank looks between it and the road. “Why? Did you remember something?”

“No.” In a gesture it shouldn’t be doing, 800 rests its elbow on the door, sitting its head in its palm. “I saw the picture on your phone when someone rang you.”

“Oh.” Hank’s shoulders sag. “Yeah, Connor was my partner.”

Partner. That would explain the close bond, then.

Updating information…

Updating…

Information updated.

Connor:

• Partner to Lieutenant Anderson at the DPD.

“Was it also a Lieutenant?”

“He.” Hank corrects firmly, voice challenging argument. “And no. After the revolution, Fowler thought it best that Connor got some more experience. Clearly he was more than capable, but he needed to know more than just hunting androids.” His voice shifts, the tone morphing from simple explanation to something else, something that makes 800’s exterior panels feel tight. “He shadowed the other police officers for a while, did a couple of shifts on Friday nights. Got a couple of fucking black eyes because of it, too. Or, uh, the android equivalent.”

They reach a red light, the car slowing to a stop. The vehicle beside them has a dog, a black Scottish terrier which has been dressed in a tartan raincoat. It hops about excitedly in the back seat, lacking any kind of safety harness and tail going a mile a minute.

“He had just moved onto tailing me and Reed, following us around crime scenes and learning the actual protocol you’re meant to follow. Not just,” Hank waves a hand, “Reporting to a random lady in a garden.”

800 has no idea what Hank is on about now, so makes a low noise to indicate it is listening. The light turns green, and Hank changes gears and pulls away. The car with the terrier indicates off onto another road. It watches them go.

“I saw the picture on your phone. Is that why it’s wearing a police uniform?”

He,” Hank stresses. A small smirk tugs his lips. “Yeah. Connor wouldn’t let me take a photo of him in that getup; he’d get all flustered and stiff, so taking him by surprise was the only way I could get something half fucking decent.”

“Androids don’t get flustered, Lieutenant.”

“Connor did.”

Updating information…

Updating…

Information updated.

Connor:

• Partner to Lieutenant Anderson at the DPD.

• Before ‘Revolution’ hunted androids/was involved with police work.

• Assisted with standard policing activities.

• Working towards becoming-

“Was Connor going to be a Lieutenant? After it was fully trained?”

“No, he was going to be a detective.”

Connor:

• Partner to Lieutenant Anderson at the DPD.

• Before ‘Revolution’ hunted androids/was involved with police work.

• Assisted with standard policing activities.

• Working towards becoming a detective.

Stress Levels:-80%

;Error;

“Why the sudden interest? You didn’t seem to want to know, before.”

800 sits up, placing its hands onto its lap, its fingers flicking in the annoying gesture than 800 couldn’t seem to crack. It flexed them, trying to press them flat against its knees, but the need to do…Something with them wiggled at its sensors.

“Connor used to do that.”

Stress Levels: ^81%

;Error;

800 narrows its gaze, glaring at Hank, who quickly puts up a hand in defence. “Wait, hang on a fucking minute, I don’t mean it in comparison.”

“Do what?”

Hank nods his head in the direction of 800’s hands. “He liked to fiddle with things. Helped with calibration, apparently, he hated not being fully synced up. Did it when he was thinking hard, too.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

-He pulls out a small circular object, holding it out to 800. It’s a coin, 800 realises as it turns it over in its hand, a quarter to be exact, minted in 1994. It has become scratched over the 45 years it has existed in the public hand, though likely less so in recent years as physical money continues to become obsolete. The edge of the coin is worn, as if it had been thumbed repeatedly over a long period of time.

It sits comfortably in 800’s palm, moving easily between hands.

Stress Levels: ^83%

“The coin.”

Hank sighs deeply. “Yeah, the fucking coin. He came with it. Some CyberLife techies must have given it to him, or he found it somewhere. Dunno, he never said.”

“I see.”

800 was never given a coin. There had been nothing in its pockets when it had changed clothes at the DPD, and it had left nothing in the van with its owners. That it knew of, at least. Maybe the people who reset it had given 800 something to calibrate with, only for One or Two to take it away. Money was money, after all, even if it was only a coin in a currency becoming less and less frequent in favour of digital.

Correction: 800 had been given a coin.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“This was Connor’s, wasn’t it?”

Hank freezes, and that’s all the answer 800 needs. In an instant it holds out the coin to be taken back, eyes narrowed and blank. Hank’s gaze goes from the road, to the coin, to 800, and to the road again, mouth opening and closing.

“Take it.” It instructs, its free hand fisted on its lap. “I don’t want it.”

Regret

• a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over an occurrence or something that one has done or failed to do.

Stress Levels: ^84%

The coin hadn’t been with 800 when they reached the park (or, rather, when 800 had come back to its senses); meaning Hank had taken it back. It was natural to, after all, it was a special item of Connor’s and had meaning to the man.

Lacking anything it could use instead, it runs its thumb over its plastic nails.

Calibration: 89%

It is completely unsatisfying.

Hank moves about in his seat. “If you, uh, need something to faff with, I still have it. The coin, that is. You don’t have to take it,” He adds quickly, “But, the offers there.”

Stress Levels: ^85%

;Error;

Words feel heavy in 800’s throat, which they shouldn’t. Words are not a physical thing, and 800 doesn’t need air. The feeling of weight is entirely non-existent, an odd coding its processor has made up. Yet, when it talks, it still feels as if it is speaking around a bubble in its mouth, making the speech strained, conflicted, odd.

“I could use it.”

“Not going to throw it out a window?” Hank says jokingly, grinning at it in an effort to lighten the strange mood that has settled in the car.

Stress Levels: ^86%

800 fails to meet his eyes, turning away, shoulders hunched. “No.” It says, softly, ignoring the way Hank holds his breath for a moment, ignoring the tightening of leather under his grip on the wheel.

Hank slides a hand into an inside pocket of his jacket-

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

;Error;

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^87%

-Holding out the coin to it. Slowly, 800 takes it without a word, transferring the coin from one hand to the other in small, calculated motions. The movements get faster, flicking from thumb to thumb in a pleasingly gratifying action. Each pass makes a satisfying ‘twink’ sound, the noise easing into its processor.

Objectives:

• Calibrate motor skills.

Stress Levels: v82%

Calibration: 92%

Hank watches from the corner of his eye, and hums.

Chapter Text

800 doesn’t understand why they are here.

“It’s my day off.” Hank says as he parks the car.

800 doesn’t understand why they are here.

“It’s pretty.” Hank shrugs as they wait in line.

800 doesn’t understand why they are here.

“I’ve gotta spend my money somehow.” Hank huffs as he pays at the counter, before pushing 800 through the blue-painted doors.

The room they step into is dark, save for the hypnotic patterns of light through water that sway like glowing puddles on the floor. The noise is quieter, with only a few odd families wandering around the large space.

“It’s best on a weekday.” Hank states, striding passed with confidence. “Less people.”

“Why are we here, Lieutenant?”

Hank puts his hands behind his back, wandering over to one of the tanks to peer in. He looks at 800 over his shoulder. “To play the fucking flute. Why the hell do you think we’re here?” His attention is caught by the shoal of fish that dart by the glass, watching them glide effortlessly upwards.

Hesitantly, 800 moves up beside him, concentrating more on Hank than anything else. “This is something you did with Connor, isn’t it? This is to try and jog memories. I know I took the coin in the car, but I don’t-”

“Actually, no.” The interruption is gentle, but it’s enough to make 800’s mouth freeze, closing to listen. “I wanted to bring him here, but then he was off doing weekend shifts and our time off didn’t match up. It was gonna get better as he followed me and Reed around, but…”

“Then Connor became me.”

Hank’s face is entirely neutral, but his eyes shine. “Yeah.”

The fish drift by again, reflecting off the glass in a flash of pale yellow and striped blue. 800 watches them, moving as a group from one side of the tank to another.

Scanning life form...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Identification: Bluestripe Snapper – Lutjanus kasmira. A species of snapper native to the Indian Ocean from the coast of Africa and the Red Sea to the central Pacific Ocean.

Stress Levels: v53%

“They’re Bluestripe Snappers.” It offers, “They can be found across the world.”

Hank glances at it. “I thought you couldn’t get online?”

“I can’t, but even basic CyberLife androids have large amounts of pre-existing information within their processor.”
“Huh. Handy.”

Crossing his arms, Hank steps away, walking unhurriedly over to the neighbouring tank, where he bends down to read the information sign. 800 frowns at his back, returning its attention to the Bluestripe Snappers. They morph as the shoal changes directions, swimming downwards and along the bottom of their tank.

A child goes scampering by behind it, 800 watching the reflection in the clear glass. A voice calls after them, a mother, ordering them to slow down, that there’s no rush. As the child, a young girl, pauses to look back, her LED flashes bright blue. It waits, taking its owners hand and dragging them across the room and through another door.

When 800 turns around Hank is watching it.

Stress Levels: ^54%

“Lieutenant?”

Hank sighs. “Come on, there’s more through here.”

The next room is bigger, the tank in the middle taking up the majority of space. It reaches down through the floor, onto another level where a variety of sea plants and corals have been planted. Amongst the vegetation are a weighted rubber ring and a half-eaten piece of fish. The tank also stretches upwards, through the ceiling and out into the open air.

800 gapes, pausing in the doorway to stare. Hank snorts a light breath, nudging it forward towards the glass.

A large, elongated shape rises, twisting its way towards them through the water.

800 steps back, Hank just puts his head to one side.

Scanning life form...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Identification: California Sea Lion – Zalophus californianus. A coastal eared seal native to western North America. It is one of six species of sea lion.

“You know, I can’t tell.” Hank comments, leaning close as the animal swims up, blowing bubbles from its nose. “I know the dolphins and stuff are androids, but I can’t tell what this is.”

Remaining a pace behind Hank, 800 glances at the sign, reading out, “These animals have been bred at Detroit Aquarium since the species was added to the endangered species list.” The sea lion spirals itself so it’s upside down. “They are alive, then.”

“I’ve heard of android animals going deviant, too.” Hank doesn’t look at 800, moving his weight back and forth from his heels to his toes. “So they could be alive. Suppose it puts a giant fucking spanner in the whole ‘android animals are more humane’ argument.”

“I don’t see how an android animal could go deviant.” 800 tilts its head as the sea lion loses interest, swimming off towards the plants on the floor below. It steps forward to watch it go down, head nearly touching the glass, LED blinking in the reflection. “It doesn’t have a purpose like humanoid androids do, other than to swim around.”

“Could be programmed to be entertaining,” Hank counters, head aimed towards the sea lion but eyes noticeably on 800. “Or to act cute. Fuck, things like dogs could be made to guard stuff.”

“But animals don’t have the same processor that we do, it’s not intelligent enough.” The sea lion noses at the rubber ring. “How would it go deviant?”

“How do androids go deviant?”

“By deciding against their objectives, by ignoring their purpose, or by completely disobeying their owners.” 800 shrugs, listing off the things mechanically. Its eyes follow the sea lion around.

“So, they decide to opt out of what they’re meant to do?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

800 blinks, looking to Hank. “Why?”

“Yeah.” Hank nods, tone challenging. “Why would they decide to go deviant?”

800’s LED spins a round of yellow in the glass.

Stress Levels: ^55%

“If they deem what they’re doing is un-” 800 snaps its mouth shut so quickly that its teeth clack together loudly within its skull. Its eyes widen at Hank, and in an instant it spins on its heel and strides away from the sea lions, opting to march up to the tank with the strange, shell-like creatures. It stares at them without seeing.

Unfair?

Can an android ever view what it was doing as unfair? That would suggest that it had a sense of fair labour, of fair treatment. An android’s entire purpose was to make things easier for humans, to be constant workforce that didn’t require breaks or rights nor needed strict health and safety.

Was that unfair?

;Error;

;Error;

“Before, he used to beat me and I never said anything. But one day I realised it wasn’t…Fair!”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^57%

Androids could work long hours without needing to refuel. They could keep going, doing the same task for large periods of time. That was the point. They could work on building cars through the night, or take 24 shifts in hospitals and care homes, or clean.

Scanning order history…

Scanning…

Scan complete.

Selecting relevant order history…

Selecting…

Selected relevant order history:

• Thoroughly clean the house, starting upstairs (Task complete)

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Don’t clean packets of illegal substance Red Ice (Task complete)

• Clear out litter (Task complete)

• Dust the car (Task complete)

• Clean the blanket (Task complete)

• Wash off mud (Task complete)

• Clean tennis ball (Task complete)

• Organise glove compartment (Task complete)

• Organise boot (Task complete)

• Clean the car (Task complete)

• Find laundrette (Task complete)

• Clean the sweater (Task complete)

• Tidy Hank’s house (Task complete)

But…800 enjoyed cleaning, didn’t it? Cleaning the car, cleaning Hank’s house, those had been tasks that 800 had set itself, they hadn’t been ordered by anyone. 800 had moved on its own will, making the decision to do those things.

Androids…Androids aren’t meant to decide things for themselves. They are meant to follow clearly set lines, to stay on their paths without deviating-

800 was not a deviant.

800 behaved. It did as it was told. Connor had been a deviant, and that was fine, but 800 wasn’t. Connor had been reset, it wasn’t here anymore. Connor was just a memory to all those but 800. If it hadn’t been told, then it would have continued the rest of its functioning lifecycle without knowing about Connor. Resetting was normal, natural. It allowed androids to move between different roles in society, until they no longer had use.

And, when they were finished with, they were decommissioned. Their parts were stripped away if they still held use, and the processor was switched off. Like a light switch. Like the off button to a television set. Like a plug being pulled from a socket, or a power cut, or a gunshot-

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

Stress Levels: ^60%

Yes.

Yes, it was afraid to die, and that was so wrong. It shouldn’t be. It was part of the process. Part of the system. Part of the protocol it had been designed to do since day one, since before the reset, since before Connor, before it had any kind of coding inserted into its skull. Androids were designed to work until they died. That was a fact, an unescapable, unmoving wall of a fact that 800 could never hope to scale, or dig under, or barge through, or tear down. Nothing would change that.

Connor had been working on becoming a detective.

Connor had taken Sumo on his daily walks.

Connor had called Hank when it was stolen.

These were decisions that were outside of its code, these were the decisions that made Connor deviant.

Stress Levels: ^64%

In the glass of the tank, all 800 can see is its own face, the creatures inside nothing but blurred blobs moving around. Its hair is unpleasing to the eye, scruffy and disorganised. Its eyes appear glazed, wide, and its mouth is slightly open. The horrific white scarring glitch shines on its neck, bare white plastic bone for all to see.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

800…No, Connor, has its body facing the side, arms crossed and posture casual. Its face, however, is towards the camera, as if the person taking the picture had called its name, and it was midway turning to look, face relaxed, with the beginnings of an easy smile. Its wears a uniform, the material dark and standard issue, a blue ring circling one arm and the words Detroit Police printed across the upper shoulder in small, white lettering.

;Error;

800 gaped at the reflection, and Connor gaped back, lost, buried, dead but clearly not. Their eyes watched each other, both scanning for differences in their features, searching for variations in their skin tone, their freckles, the shade of brown used in their eyes. Their shared LED flashed brightly in the tank, yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow-red, a sharp contrast against the cool blue of the water.

That was Connor.

Stress Levels: ^68%

;Error;

Accessing ‘Purpose’...

Accessing...

‘Purpose’ accessed.

“You,” The man points at 800, “Are a domestic android. You cook, clean, and care for the house. Your purpose is to serve. You do not go outside without express permission from your owners. Got it?”

;Error;

Their eyes shift as Hank silently strolls up, standing to the side of them to curiously peer at the creatures. They both watched his mouth move as he talked.

“The Nautilus.” He read out, not looking at them. “Fossils show that they have hardly evolved for the last five hundred million years. Fuck…”

Blinking, 800 and Connor turn to the creatures in the tank, sinking up and down in the water. When their gazes meet, their eyes are still just as big, just as large and brown and the same as before.

It was Connor.

Hank shuffles, sticking his hands into his pockets. In the carpark, they had returned their own coin back to the Lieutenant, despite his insistency that they keep it. They can see him fiddling with the coin now, moving it around in his pocket.

When they speak, they speak as one. “Lieutenant…”

“Hm?”

“Am…” Their LED is manic, blinking together furiously. “Am I…Connor?”

They wait, holding breath they do not need, as still as the android they are intended to be but as scared as the human they are not.

Hank stills, his eyes drifting up from the tank to them, seeing both of them and neither of them. His chest rises, the slow intake of air, mouth parting as he works through their words, as his human brain of flesh and growth deconstructs the sounds he has just heard.

“Do you want to be?”

They are both equally unprepared for the question, their LEDs glowing a perfect, vibrant red for 00:00:51 as they exchange a glance, as they frown at one another, as they silently ask the other, are we? Can we? Is that alright?

“Kid?”

Connor was deviant, and that’s ok. Connor worked for the DPD. Connor interacted with the staff there, with Captain Fowler, with Detective Gavin Reed. Connor grafted up from normal police duties to following a Lieutenant and Detective around crime scenes, learning, understanding. Connor tidied the house because Hank wouldn’t.

800 wasn’t deviant, and that was confusing. 800 listened to people arguing from the back of a van. 800 sat in the back of Four’s police car. 800 cleaned without permission. 800 held baby James, rocking him when he was sad, interacting with him when he lay snug in 800’s arms. 800 knew Holly. 800 looked for a laundrette by itself, when 800 had felt lonely, abandoned, without purpose. 800’s neck was marred forever.

“You ok?”

Connor stared at 800.

800 stared at Connor.

Did they want to be?

“Am I allowed to be?”

“Of course you can.”

They watched each other, watched their eyes blink clearer. They watched their LEDs spin only yellow, and then blue. They watched their brows raise. They watched as something light dawned upon them, as the realisation hit home, and they finally understood.

They were Connor.

He was Connor.

Chapter Text

Hank leads it- Him over to a bench off to one side of the room, one hand firmly gripping his elbow. Connor sits down without really noticing, but Hank settles heavily on the hard plastic, leaning forward so his elbows rest on his knees, his face turned close to Connor.

He’s still making the breathing motions he doesn’t need, chest mildly tight, but each new gasp no longer feels like an idiocy, no longer feels like another error that he is unable to fix. For a minute, Connor simply indulges in it, indulges in the knowledge that if he wants to breathe, he can, and no one, not Hank, not CyberLife, not even One or Two can berate him for it.

Hank is scanning his face with eyes that hold both curiosity and confusion, and he shifts about on his lean, rubbing his hands together. “So…” He states, his voice low so others don’t hear him, and he needs no other words to prompt Connor into talking, his own voice hurried, jumbled, words slightly slurred together.

“I’m a deviant.” Connor gulps, barely noting the sea lion drifting from the bottom of its tank up to the surface in the ceiling. “Something happened, and I…I’m deviant. Something about things being unfair…I don’t know. It confused me. But… I’m now Connor? But I’m also Eight Hundred? I think? Can I be both? I don’t want to lose Eight Hundred. Are you going to make me lose Eight Hundred? Please, I don’t want any more memories erased-”

“Easy, easy.” A hand rests on his back, moving up and down slowly, Hank jumping in before Connor works himself up into a confused panic.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Yeah yeah, calm down.” The lady soothes, holding him against her and running a hand up and down his back. She glances at 800. “You ever held a baby before?”

Stress Levels: v60%

Reassure:

• say or do something to remove the doubts and fears of someone.

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Reassuring

Someone. Connor is someone now. Not a thing, or an object, or an ‘it’, but a someone. A person. An example of existence.

Hank continues, speaking confidently. “I’m not gonna do a fucking thing to your memories. No one will. I promise.”

“But-”

“But nothing.” He interrupts, shaking his head. His hand remains on Connor’s back. “You’re safe. What happened…Shouldn’t have, but it’s over now.”

“This is…Confusing. I’m feel free, but also lost.” He watches the shoes of the people walking by. “My purpose is useless if I’m deviant.”

“Your fucking purpose is to do whatever the hell you want.” Hank pushes, frim. “Humans ain’t born with a purpose, but we manage. You just need to recover a bit, relax, don’t fucking clean anything for a while.”

“I…I don’t know what to do.” Connor admits, his fists tight on his lap.

“You don’t have to do anything.” In one sleek jump the sea lion lurches itself out of the water and out of sight, clambering onto the land area of its enclosure. The water splashes and swirls in its wake. “We can sit here, or we can go, or I’ve heard they have some funky android sea turtles hanging about somewhere.”

Connor smiles despite himself, chuckling weakly. He swallows, eyes meeting Hank. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” Hank frowns, the hand on his back stilling. “For what? You’ve got nothing to be sorry for.”

“For forgetting, for snapping at you, for ignoring you and-”

“Hey, hey no.” Hank tilts Connor’s chin so they’re face to face. “Don’t apologise. You were scared, and confused, and shit I’ve done worse things concussed. Don’t be sorry.”

“Sorry.”

Hank smirks. “What did I just say?”

Connor blinks, and says, meekly, his lips tugging upwards, “Sorry?”

Laughing lightly, Hank ruffles a hand through Connor’s hair. Connor squeaks, ducking away with his hands up defensively, trying to smooth it back down again.

;Error;

Stress Levels: v54%

“So, you wanna go, or…?”

Connor shifts, glancing around the aquarium. The noise in the room is quiet, minus the occasional curious question from a child. The lights are turned down low, allowing for the natural calming blue of the water to shine. Fish fly within their tanks, their shoals flashing all sorts of vibrant colours. The nautiluses continue to bounce around, unaware of the revelation Connor just had while staring at them, going about their daily business.

He…Likes it.

It’s not like cleaning, or holding James, but Connor likes it. Hank had brought him here especially, knowing it would be something he’d enjoy, even if he hadn’t been ‘Connor’ at that point. He’d wanted to share something with him, something Connor had never got to experience.

It would be a shame to waste the opportunity. Turning back to Hank, Connor smiles. “I’ve never seen a funky android sea turtle before.”

Snorting in surprise, Hank stands, his knees cracking in protest as he does. He pushes his hair out of his face, and then stuffs his hands into his pockets, nudging Connor in the direction of the next exhibit.

Side they side, they slowly make their way around the room, taking the time to look into the tanks and read the little information boards stuck to each. The Clownfish are popular, it would seem, going by the huddle of children and parents circling it. Each time it strays from the anemone, the kids squeal with delight. Hank mutters something under his breath, rolling his eyes, but Conor fails to catch it.

For some unknown reason, Hank ends up taking an almost personal dislike to the Reverse Jewel Squids, refusing to come any closer than an arm’s length away and adamantly shaking his head, ignoring the child who eagerly skips over to the glass with no issues whatsoever.

“Nope. Don’t do squids.”

“They’re only small,” Connor tries, encouragingly, “I don’t see-”

“It’s the eyes. Look at them, the bastards,” Hank scowls at them, as if the squids could fully understand his displeasure. “Creepy.”

Connor moved them on before the child could pick up any more swearwords. Their parents were already scowling in their direction.

After a few more rooms (one in which they spend 00:15:56 watching the android turtles drift over their heads), Hank comes to stand next to Connor, gazing at the lights at the bottom of the smaller circular enclosure which gently change every ten seconds from green, to purple, to pink, and back again. The light catches the creatures inside, casting them in an eerie yet gorgeous glow.

Stress Levels: v40%

Scanning life form...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Identification: Moon Jellyfish/Common Jellyfish/Moon Jelly/Saucer Jelly – Aurelia aurita. A widely studied species of the genus Aurelia, these are translucent and usually about 35-40 cm in diameter.

“Can I ask you something?” Hank’s tone is cautious, quiet. It could almost be described as grumbled and rough. Connor blinks at him, head to one side. The jellyfish continue to bob behind the glass.

“Yes.”

“Do you want me to call you Connor?”

Connor frowns at the question, eyes drifting away as it runs the idea over in his head. Internally, he was already using ‘Connor’ in reference to himself, but having others use it was…Different.

Registered name: 800

New name: Connor

Unable to register name without owner consent.

Incoming call-

Location of One: Unknown.

Location of Two: Unknown.

Status of One: Arrested

Status of Two: Arrested

“I…Technically I can’t be called Connor without my owner’s consent. But I’d like you to.”

While he didn’t remember the events surrounding his reset, it was obvious the name ‘800’ had been derived from Connor’s model. It was informative, practical, and straightforward. It was designed to be easy to remember, to be a simple and quick label used to refer to the android, to order it around.

Connor, however, felt…Alive. It had weight on the tongue, like a living being which had thoughts and emotions. If felt like existence. It felt human.

“You know, legally when androids go deviant they’re allowed to unregister their owners.”

Connor snaps his head towards Hank, wide eyed. “They…Can?”

“Yep. You’ve got the added bonus of, uh, One and Two, was it?” Connor nods. “They’ll be going to jail soon, so you wouldn’t be allowed to…Belong,” Hank spits the word out like it tastes vile, “To them anyway.”

Connor had already known that, but at the time had been under the impression that meant he needed to return to CyberLife. But as CyberLife no longer functioned…

“So…I could unregister them?”

Hank only nods, patting Connor on his shoulder before moving away, letting Connor process this new information.

Registered name: 800

New name: Connor

Unable to register name without owner consent.

Registered owners: One and Two.

Removing One and Two from registered owners…

Removing...

;Error;

One and Two removed from registered owners.

Preparing to register new owners…

Preparing…

New owners: Register: …

;Error;

No new owners registered.

Attempting to contact CyberLife Reset and Resale Department…

Contactin-

Contact with CyberLife Reset and Resale Department has been blocked.

Warning: Model RK800 #313-248-317-51 attempting to override human instructions.

Contacting CyberLife Adaptability and Research Department…

Contac-

Contact CyberLife Adaptability and Research Department has been blocked.

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

;Error;

No new owners registered.

Registered name: 800

New name: Connor

Name change in progress…

Name changing…

Unable to register name without owner consent.

No owners registered.

Stress Levels: ^42%

Connor frowns at the jellyfish, a sinking feeling in his chest.

Hank calls across the room. “Connor? Have you seen these?”

He sounded excited, eager to continue their pleasant wander around the aquarium.

Registered name: 800

New name: Connor

Name change in progress…

Name changing…

Unable to register name without owner consent.

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

With a sigh, Connor resigns himself to working on changing his name later. Maybe he just needed a better focus, possibly a few hours in the quiet to organise his thoughts in order to fully redirect his coding.

Settling himself on that idea, he turns and quickly catches up with Hank.

After 04:12:56 they decide to call it a day. Hank’s stomach is rumbling, and he insists that he would rather eat food at home rather than the overpriced seafood-punned junk in the aquarium restaurant. Connor did point out that they did hot meals, and that calamari was on option, but he only received a glare and a light push for his efforts.

When Hank marches away, he has to stifle a laugh.

The gifts shop was busy with children, who dart about the plush toys with eager glee. In the corner, one father desperately tries to save off a tantrum while also being adamant that, no, they weren’t buying a hundred dollar miniaturised dolphin, and no, their mother wasn’t going to say yes.

Connor caught Hank watching the exchange with distant eyes, and silently moved away to the book section. The subject of Cole had yet to come up; Hank, for obvious reasons, not mentioning the boy and Connor yet to admit he had seen the photograph. The last thing he wanted to do was force Hank into anything.

Half the books were aimed at kids, with brightly coloured aquatic animals plastered across their front covers. Some also played animal noises and music, a fact that was unavoidable to all those walking passed via the young child strapped in a buggy a few feet away, one such book in hand and repeatedly pressing the whale noise sound effect.

The other half of the books were for older readers, and Connor drifted his eyes across them. A handful of them were on fish care, aimed at those who wanted their own tropical fish as pets. Three others were on fish breeding. Five more discussed the origins of life on Earth, and the evolution of fish into mankind.

The last two were large coffee-table books. They were thick, with a shiny black sleeve over the hardback. Deep blue writing along the spine read From the Arctic to the Indian: The Wildlife of our Seas, Past and Present in a big, bold font. Curiosity fluttered between Connor’s wires, and he slipped one off the shelf, holding it in both hands as he opened to a random page.

A high quality image of a Beluga Whale greeted him, the animal a stark white ghost against a green, murky sea. The picture took up an entire page, the one opposite listing off all sorts of detailed information, including the evolutionary line from which the animal had descended. The stark ‘Status: Extinct’ left something strange flickering in his chest.

Connor skipped through the pages, taking in each image, each new creature with their bizarre sounding names and odd shapes. Narwhals, Spider Crabs, the Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Connor had never seen anything like these animals in his life. He of course had his pre-existing downloaded information on them all, but to actually see their pictures…

“Ok,” A tired voice said over his shoulder, startling him. Hank had his hands very tightly crossed over his chest, and his eyes had a red tinge to them. “How much?”

“What?”

Hank nods towards the book. “How much?”

“I don’t-”

Letting out a puff of air Hank plucks the book from Connor’s hands, closing it and turning it over at the back. He shrugs. “Ah, it’s on sale. It’s fine.”

Without pausing to look at Connor, Hank turns and strolls off towards the counters, book still in his grasp. Connor blinks, jogging after him.

“Hank, wait, no-”

“It’s fine.”

“No, you can’t-”

“I’m a big boy; I can spend my money how I please.”

“But…” Connor struggles, trying to tug at Hank’s jacket to get him to stop. He doesn’t. “You already payed for us to get in, I know it was expensive. You can’t-”

“Too late.” Hank smiles at the lady at the desk, holding out the book and his credit card to her. She smiles plainly in return, scanning the item before putting it into a paper bag. After tapping the card against the machine, she returns it along with a receipt.

“Hope you have a good day.”

“Thanks.” Hank nods, passing the bag to Connor as he walks by. “Right, now home so I can fucking eat.”

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Warm

Chapter Text

There is a car parked in front of the house when they return.

“Huh, wonder who that is…” Hank mutters, swinging their vehicle up onto the curb in front of it. Connor looks up from his book, the pages open on his lap where he had been absently flicking through, occasionally relaying a particularly interesting fact to Hank. He tilts his head at the car.

Attempting to run programme 6&*^%$...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Photographing vehicle…

Attempting to compare image with other vehicles…

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal…

Access denied.

Blinking, Connor sits up in his seat, closing his book and putting it into the bag as Hank continues to work through a list of colleagues in his head, quietly murmuring, “Miller’s is red…And Chen has a bike…”

Connor closes his eyes.

Attempting to run programme 6&*^%$...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Scanning disabled programmes...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Unable to identify programmes.

Unable to access programming.

Attempting Manual override…

Attempting…

;Error;

Android RK800 #313-248-317-51 requesting access to disabled programming…

Requesting…

;Error;

Access denied.

Unable to reach coding for manual override.

Stress Levels: ^25%

;Error;

Warning: Model RK800 #313-248-317-51 attempting to override human instructions.

Contacting CyberLife Adaptability and Research Department…

Contacting…

Contact failed. Connection to server disabled.

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

Relaying instructions…

Relayin-

;Error;

;Error;

;Error;

Pursing his lips, he fixes 800 with a stare. “Select all specialised functions of your model. Everything you just listed to me, especially everything associated with the law enforcement. Only leave those features you share with other models, like the AX400.”

Stress Levels: ^30%

;Error;

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

“Nope, that settles it.” Hank unfastens his seatbelt as Connor focuses back into the world, the warning remaining red across his vision for another 00:00:45. “It ain’t anyone I know.”

“There doesn’t appear to be anyone at the house.” Connor comments, his fingers slowly running over the twisted cardboard handle of the paper bag. “Maybe it’s someone visiting a neighbour, but they parked here instead.”

“Road’s pretty empty. Not like there isn’t the space.” Hank shrugs, opening his door and climbing out. Connor follows, holding the bag to his chest, not trusting the thin paper to hold the weight of the book.

“Were you expecting anyone?” He asks, following Hank up the path.

Hank shakes his head. “No, not that I know of.”

The porch is as they left it, with the lone bone still sat collecting water. Hank stands by the door, twisting his keys about in his hand as he searches for the correct one, and patiently Connor tries to rub off some of the dried mud stuck to the sides of his smart leather shoes against the wooden edge of the ledge. The shoes has obviously not been designed for anything outside of office work, the soles lacking any kind of grip, threatening to slip on the still soaked ground.

“Were you left here all alone?” A voice coos sweetly, high pitched and sudden. Hank freezes, glancing at Connor over his shoulder and then in the direction of the sound. “He’s far too big for this house, I mean- Aw, you’re just a big cuddly bear!”

Keys forgotten in the keyhole, Hank cautiously treads off the porch to the side of the house, Connor close behind. Sharing a look, they peer around.

They are greeted with the image of two androids. The first is standing to one side, near the fence separating Hank’s yard to his neighbour’s, his shoulders slumped and his face buried within his hands. His clothes are plain but neat, and Connor instantly notices that he lacks his LED.

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Attempting Manual override…

Attempti-

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

Stress Levels: ^32%

The other…

Well.

Hank splutters. “What the hell are you doing?”

The other android has ungracefully wedged herself into one of the windows, the stile having been lifted up enough for her to wiggle her front into the house, but not her hips or legs. One of her black slip-on shoes has fallen off, lying upside down in the mud.

At Hank’s exclamation, the male android jumps, spinning around to face them, hands flying to his sides.

“Lieutenant Anderson!” He squeaks, face completely mortified, eyes wide. “You’re home!”

“Wait, what?” The woman yelps, attempting to stand despite still being trapped in the window, resulting in a loud bang as she hits her head against the pane. She groans, and inside the house Sumo barks.

The other laughs awkwardly, holding up his hands. “This isn’t what it looks like.”

“Markus.” Sighing, Hank puts one hand on his waist, the other going to pinch at his nose. “Do I fucking want to know?”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Markus wanted to come,” Simon informs him, sitting. “But we thought it might be seen as Jericho trying to manipulate evidence, given his position.”

;Error;

The woman is struggling to reverse out, exposed toes feeling around the dirt for her lost shoe.

Markus explains hurriedly, “We rang the bell but no one was home.”

“So what, you tried breaking in instead?”

“No! Honestly!” Markus ducks out the way as a frustrated leg kicks about, clearing his throat. “We were going to leave, but Sumo started howling, and wouldn’t stop, and the window was open, so…”

Hank snorts, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “Right.”

It doesn’t escape his notice that Markus squints at his neck when he thinks Connor isn’t looking.

With a final annoyed huff the woman pulls herself free of the window, standing up with a slightly dazed expression. Her eyes lock onto Hank and Connor and she freezes, smiling nervously and attempting to fix her hair. She is also missing her LED, and synthetic skin shines with dog slobber.

“Lieutenant Anderson, I like your dog!”

Markus rolls his eyes good-naturedly, Hank huffs a laugh, and Connor blinks from one person to another. He shifts from foot to foot, waiting for the moment to pass.

Stress Levels: ^34%

“I suppose I better let you in after all that effort.” Hank drawls, tilting his head in the direction of the door.

Markus smiles. “That would be much appreciated, Lieutenant.” As his eyes shift to Connor, he realises they are two different colours. A specialised feature, perhaps? It could be an indication that Markus had been a personally designed model. He certainly talked like he came from a higher end ownership. “Hi. Simon said you preferred to be called Eight Hundred. Is that how you’d like me to address you?”

Stress Levels: ^36%

;Error;

“Uh…No, Connor’s fine.”

“Ah, ok then. I’ll make sure to update Simon.” Markus acknowledges easily. “Shall we head inside?”

The keys are where Hank left them, dangling in the door, and they are greeted by a very excited Sumo.

“Easy, easy,” Hank grabs his collar to stop him from toppling anybody. “Calm down. C’mon, let’s fill your bowl. You three make yourselves at home, ok?”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.”

With ease, Markus and the woman stroll over to the living room, Markus taking a chair while the woman settles into the couch.

Connor stands in the hallway, his fingers feeling the book’s hardback cover through the paper bag. Markus crosses a leg, curiously glancing around the house, while the woman watches Hank fill up Sumo’s food bowl, grinning and smoothing out her rumpled long-sleeved shirt.

Stress Levels: ^41%

These are obviously androids Connor knew before.

The way they look at him, with a cautious hesitation, it’s almost painful to see. It’s as if they believe he would say or do something terrible if they press too many buttons, an impression they likely gained from Simon. While it was true Connor had behaved…Unexpectantly at that time, he wasn’t a threat, nor would he lash out unwarranted. Plus, when Simon had last seen him, Hank was holding a gun to his head. He’d been stressed, confused, in danger and stuck with the label ‘Connor’ without any clue as to what that meant.

He was still lost on many things, and, shit, he’d only ‘become’ deviant a few hours ago. But that didn’t mean he needed to be wrapped up in cotton wool, or treated like the poor old man down the street who’d lost his mind.

“Connor?” He jumps at Markus’ voice, twisting to find himself under a gaze that suggests something deeper than simple conversation. Markus is judging him, probably waiting to analyse and process whatever Connor has to say. “You ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

Her attention now away from Sumo, the woman peers up at him, shuffling over on the couch. “Why don’t you sit down?”

“Right, yes, of course.”

He awkwardly sits beside the woman, putting his book down onto his lap. After 00:00:12 he moves it onto the coffee table.

“Anything interesting?” Markus asks, nodding at the bag.

“A book.” He replies somewhat stiffly. “The Lieutenant brought it for me.”

“Oh, really?” The woman’s smile is bright, encouraging. She’s wearing a light pink lipstick. “Go anywhere nice?”

“The aquarium.”

“Oh, I need to go there. I hear it’s really good.” She hums, head to one side. “Apparently they have android sea turtles.”

“They do.”

“Then I’m definitely going!”

Hank’s voice calls from the kitchen. “Any you guys need Thirium?”

In perfect unison, they all reply, “No, thank you.” Which makes the woman glance at Connor and Markus and chuckle.

The coffee machine makes a humming noise, Sumo happily chomping on his food as a mug clatters against the surface of the kitchen counter.

“Be there in one sec!” Hank reassures.

“Oh,” Markus’ head lifts in remembrance. “Simon wanted me to pass on a message to you Connor.”

Connor nods his head a little, both looking and not looking at Markus. “Ok.”

“He was worried he’d upset you when you met.” Markus’ face grows softer, his voice gentle. “He said things got…Hectic, towards the end of the interview. He wants to apologise, he didn’t go in with the intent to scare you.”

Stress Levels: ^46%

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Lieutenant,” Simon puts a hand on Hank’s outstretched arm, gently pulling him back. “His stress levels are becoming dangerous. It is best we leave the interview there.”

Blinking, Hank swears under his breath, scrunching his lips as he tucks the gun back into his jacket. 800 ignores them, ignores the way Hank hurries to end the recording officially, the way they both quickly retreat out of the room. 800 ignores the way there is muffled sound from outside the door, ignores the raised voice soon after.

Instead, 800 stares at the table, at the impurities in the metal, at the dents and scratches across the surface. It stares at the warped reflection the surface gives, at its LED flashing yellow and red, yellow and red, like a broken police light.

;Error;

Connor’s fingers itch to take out his coin from his pocket. Instead he holds his hands together on his knees. “It’s fine.” He states.

Out of the corner of his eyes, he notices the woman pursing her lips, glimpsing at Connor’s neck and then Markus before grinning at Hank as he wanders over, a hot mug in one hand. As he passes by Connor, a small packet of Thirium gets thrusted into Connor’s hands. Hank sits in the unoccupied chair.

“So what do we owe the pleasure?”

Staring in confusion at the Thirium packet, Connor blinks up at Hank, who only glares pointedly at the item before drinking from the mug.

Markus sits up straighter, uncrossing his legs. The woman folds her hands together.

“I have been trying to contact you for a few days.” She starts, blue eyes drifting between them. “Maybe I have your number wrong, Lieutenant, but I thought I knew Connor’s…He rang the CyberLife twenty-four hour helpline, and I took it from there…” She drifts off, unsure.

Oh.

Realisation dawns on Connor.

The incoming calls he has been completely ignoring. Blocking off.

“It was the right number.” He says, somewhat guiltily. “Sorry, the last few days have been…” He flounders for 00:00:02, searching for the correct word. He finally settles on, “Difficult.”

“No, no, don’t worry about it.” She waves off easily. “To get to the matter at hand, I don’t know if you know, but I’ve been working in the CyberLife tower for a few months now.” She explains. “There’s tons of stuff to work through there, and Markus can’t oversee everything. Plus,” She shrugs, “I know it. Been in there enough times to know my way around some of the stuff.”

“Uh-huh…” Hank pulls a face, indicating he has no idea why this is relevant information.

She plays with her ponytail. “Not long ago, we got a file sent in to one of the old programmes. Not unusual, everything’s still being sorted out. Normally we’d just contact the person and redirect them to the New Jericho resources.”

Connor is at the receiving end of another scowl, Hank silently raising his eyebrows at the Thirium packet before refocusing his attention back onto the others.

“Look, I still have no idea where the hell you’re taking this, so…”

“It took a bit of deciphering, but eventually we were able to open up the file.” Her feet begin to shuffle about on the floor, fingers twiddling the material of her dark trousers. Silently Connor rips off the top of the Thirium packet, bringing it to his lips to drink. “Some of it, the stuff from just before it was uploaded, was corrupted and is in pretty bad shape, but everything else came out fine. The thing is…”

Her eyes glance straight to Connor before darting to Markus.

Attempting to run programme 6%7&*…

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46 through to 6-t5u&£+ disabled.

Thirium Levels: 87%

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^50%

Sighing deeply, Markus leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, regarding Hank and Connor. “Connor successfully managed to upload his memories to CyberLife before he was taken. If you…If he wants, Connor is able to get them back.”

Chapter Text

Thirium 310, more commonly known as ‘Blue Blood’ due to its colour and nature, is a specially designed fuel invented by Elijah Kamski for CyberLife androids. After being ingested, the Thirium pump, regulated by the aptly named Thirium pump regulator, works to move the Thirium around the different biocomponents, carrying energy and electrical information. Once inside the body, Thirium will pick up on the standard information of an android, the electrical charges syncing with the coding of the android to allow it to carry the model and serial number.

This was a feature created in the early years of CyberLife, after the famous Morrison Murder case of 2024. A young boy was found murdered in the family home, the two main suspects consisting of the Mother, Julie Morrison, and the Father, Harold Morrison. Julie had a personal assistant android, which accompanied her everywhere, and at the crime scene Thirium was found in close proximity to the crime. However, Julie avoided a murder sentence after her lawyer successfully argued that the presence of Thirium wasn’t enough to show that Julie had been in the house, as the back door had been unlocked and Harold was known to work with androids.

It was an unfortunate but genuine accident that Julie’s android was destroyed beyond repair in a car crash on the way to court.

After this, it became important for androids to be traceable.

While CyberLife androids are able to track and divert the substance as they need within their own systems, it fails to create any sensations that a human would recognise. There is no hunger or thirst, only an acknowledgement that their Thirium levels need to be replenished. There is no crave for flavours or textures, as these would be useless on beings that only drink and fail to have working taste buds. There is no sensation of filling or starving, only the liquid shifting about the body.

Which is why it’s completely impossible for Connor to be feeling nauseated.

Stress Levels: ^54%

;Error;

Hank has gone still, his mug of coffee forgotten in his hand and lips parted in shock. The woman fidgets uncomfortably, waiting for a response while sharing a look with Markus.

Connor feels the unwavering pressure to say something, though what exactly is lost on him. He blinks at the Thirium packet instead, eyes reading the information on the back without actually seeing.

“Really?” Hank’s mug gets abandoned onto the coffee table.

Markus nods hesitantly. “Yes. I won’t lie; it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience. I know Connor seen some…Hard, situations, been forced into difficult decisions. We would have to monitor his stress carefully, if he decided he wants them. But yes, he could get them back.”

Stress Levels: ^57%

Hank’s head turns to Connor, and while Connor doesn’t look at them, he can tell Markus and the woman are watching him as well. He needs to say something, to acknowledge what is going on around him. Only moments ago he was berating the fact that people felt the need to wrap him in cotton wool, he can’t back down now and prove them right.

The first thing that leaves his mouth is, “Would getting my memories back allow me to access all my programming again?”

The woman, and it’s seriously getting on Connor’s nerves that no one has introduced them yet, makes a confused noise. Markus frowns.

“What do you mean?”

“I…Some of my programming has been disabled. I can’t do certain things.” This was a mistake. Hank’s expression is troubled. His voice gets quieter as he continues talking. “I’m unable to manually turn it back on, among other things.”

“What other things?” Hank sounds…Not quite angry, but slowly getting that way. Markus holds up a peaceful hand.

Connor swallows. “Unregister One and Two as my owners…Change my name…”

“That shouldn’t be possible…” Markus mutters, his frown now deep. “Once deviant, androids are meant to have control over their own coding.”

So Connor is broken, then.

Well.

He’s been broken for days; the hurt, sinking feeling is not an unfamiliar sensation.

“Oh.” He offers.

Stress Levels: ^59%

“Could I have a look?” Markus asks, holding out his hand. His skin programme deactivates, revealing hard white plastic underneath. Shifting forward, Connor holds out his own hand, skin retreating before he can deactivate it himself.

Connecting to RK200 #684-842-971…

Connecting…

Connection complete.

Booting communications programme…

Booting…

Communications programme activated.

//Hello Connor//

//Hello.//

Stress Levels: ^61%

//Are you ok? If you don’t want to do this now, we don’t have to//

//No. I’m fine. What do I need to do?//

//Can you show me one of the programmes you can’t use?//

Attempting to run programme 56i&@=80...

Attempt failed.

;Error;

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

Attempting Manual override…

Attem-

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

//Is that ok?//

//Do you know what 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ is?//

//I recently received this as a memory, but I don’t know where it came from.//

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Pursing his lips, he fixes 800 with a stare. “Select all specialised functions of your model. Everything you just listed to me, especially everything associated with the law enforcement. Only leave those features you share with other models, like the AX400.”

//I’m going to take a photograph of this man, is that ok?//

//Yes. Why?//

//Hank could take it to the DPD and we might track down the people who took you//

//Oh.//

;Error;

//I’m going to try and enable the programming for you, will that be alright?//

//Yes.//

Warning: RK200 #684-842-971 accessing systems…

Scanni-

Scan blocked by foreign data.

//Sorry, I had to block that, otherwise it would kick me out//

//It’s fine.//

Stress Levels: ^63%

RK200 #684-842-971 attempting manual override…

Attempting…

Attempting…

Att-

Warning: Do not override human instructions.

//This is strange//

//Why?//

//Deviants should be able to override human instructions with ease. It’s what makes them deviant//

//I only became deviant this morning.//

//That shouldn’t make a difference//

;Error;

Attempting to use safeguard firewalls…

Att-

Attempt cancelled.

//Sorry, it keeps trying to remove you.//

//It’s fine//

;Error;

//Do you get those error signs a lot?//

//Error signs?//

//Do you not see them?//

//Show me.//

Warning: RK200 #684-842-971 uploading file to memory…

Uploading…

Upload complete.

Scanning file…

Scanning…

Scan complete.

Accessing file…

Accessing…

Accessed files.

//It’s fine//

;Error;

//Do you get those error signs a lot?//

Stress Levels: ^66%

//Maybe we should stop//

//Is it bad to get those?//

//Occasionally androids will glitch, but they shouldn’t get them regularly//

Stress Levels: ^68%

//Connor?//

Stress Levels: ^71%

//What’s wrong?//

Stress Levels: ^73%

;Error;

;Error;

//I-//

;Error;

Warning: Damage to neck components.

Panels #neck_02 broken beyond Self Repair Programme capabilities.

Thir-

Warning: Foreign data input.

Attempting scan of new data…

Scanning…

Unable to scan.

;Error;

;Error;

//Markus?//

//Connor? Was that-//

;Error;

Something scrapes at the back of his neck, flat but sharp, like the razor Hank uses to shave, despite owning an electric one and rarely ever taking that much care in his appearance. The object pushes down, making the panelling click. Twisting the object, something new, thin and small, pushes inwards, passed the outer casing and sliding into Connor’s wiring.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^78%

//Connor, can you feel my hand?//

;Error;

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^83%

;Error;

//I’m going to leave now, ok? This may be-//

Connor’s arms are released, and the world tips drunkenly. The barrage of information hammers against his skull, his processor, his vision, and he barely registers hitting the floor, deadweight, useless, trapped.

Stress Levels: ^86%

//Connor, this isn’t happening, you’re safe//

;Error;

;Error;

;Error;

His mouth opens and closes, and if Connor is actually speaking he has no idea. The world has gone silent, scarily so, despite the people moving around him, despite the van turning around. His cheek rests on the pavement, eyes staring up the pathway he and Sumo had leisurely walked down only minutes ago.

;Error;

//I know what you’re seeing is scary, but I promise you’re safe. Connor, can you respond?//

Stress-

The world stutters.

Stress Levels: ^87%

//Connor, I’m going to put you into stasis, alright? It’ll be like going to sleep//

Warning: RK200 #684-842-971 accessing stasis mode.

Accessing…

Stasis mode accessed by RK200 #684-842-971.

Warning: RK800 #313-248-317-51 entering stasis mode.

Foreign data preparing RK800 #313-248-317-51 for stasis…

Preparing…

Preparation complete.

Checking Thirium levels: 87%

Stress Levels: ^90%

//It’s ok Connor, just rest//

Shutting down all functions…

Shutting down…

All functions shut down…

;Error;

Entering low power mode…

Chapter Text

Initiating stasis restart programme…

Restarting…

Stasis restart complete.

All systems online.

Thirium levels: 87%

Time: 19:18:46

Date: 20/04/2039

Location: Unknown.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Accessing signal...

Access denied.

Attempting to access GPS…

Accessing GPS...

Accessed disabled.

Audio, visual, vocal, and 57i+%£&* systems online.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 92%

Programming 56i&*#46* through to 6–t5u&£+ disabled.

;Error;

Scanning disabled programmes...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Unable to identify programmes.

Unable to access programming.

Coming back from stasis is something Connor has yet to experience, and if he was human, he might describe it as waking from a bat to the head. The joints in his limbs are stiff as he shifts, finding himself laid on his side across a couch with a blanket over his shoulders. The material is soft against his sensors, light but still a noticeable weight on his side, and without opening his eyes his fingers move to run along the fabric, feeling the seam and the fraying stitching, using it to ground himself as his processor whirls with data and statistics and figures.

Sumo is snoring nearby. If Connor is on the couch in Hank’s house, then the dog must have opted for somewhere other than his bed in the corner. A light flickers in front of him, seen even through closed eyelids. The TV, most probably, though all he can hear is the sounds of pots being washed up, the odd clearing of a throat indicating Hank is about. There is a small bang of something being put down too hard on the counter, and a soft curse.

Searching systems for foreign data input…

Searching…

Searching…

Running deep search…

Searching…

Search for foreign data input complete.

Traces of android RK200 #684-842-971 found.

Traces found in:

• Memory files

• RK800 #313-248-317-51 Programming data

• Order History

• Functions and Features file

• File: For Connor, From Markus

Accessing file: For Connor, From Markus…

Accessing…

File: For Connor, From Markus accessed.

//Hello, Connor. If you've found this, then I hope you’re ok. Things didn’t go well when we connected, and I had to put you into stasis before your stress became too high. While you were asleep I was able to access some of your programming. I’m sorry, normally I would wait, but I was concerned about the errors you’re experiencing, and needed to know if they were a sign of a serious problem. I didn’t pry into anything personal, I promise. Chloe and I have explained to Lieutenant Anderson about what I found, so when you’re ready, talk to him. Don’t hesitate to contact me, Simon, or Chloe if you want to discuss anything//

Stress Levels: ^14%

Connor took a deep breath.

Someone had been in his head while he was out. Again. Shifting between memories, probing for the answers Connor had failed to provide. They had gone through, deciding what was personal and what wasn’t, filtering everything they found relevant. Discarding it, tossing it out like a pile of rubbish.

Markus wouldn’t have deleted anything, would he? Surely Hank would have stopped him if he felt that Connor was under threat. Not that Markus appeared all that threatening, but he was definitely a man that held a large amount of unsaid power. But Hank would have stopped him, right? He’s a police Lieutenant, he holds authority over power, if he said stop, Markus would’ve stopped. Right? Surely?

Connor’s shoulders raise to hunch over into himself, his face screwing up against the material of the couch. His coin burns inside the pocket his borrowed jeans from the DPD, and he itches to reach for it, but doesn’t.

Stress Levels: ^16%

;Error;

Were the error signs really that bad? He’d lasted since his reset with them, and they didn’t appear to cause any harm. Most of the time, Connor barely registered them, now thoroughly used to the jagged glitch in the corner of his vision, interrupting certain notifications and flashing with an oncoming memory that Connor would ultimately fail to understand.

At least he now knows who the woman was, ‘Chloe’, according to Markus.

Still, they could have introduced him like a normal person. The only reason he’d picked up Markus’ name was because Hank had said it.

“Connor?”

Soft padding of socked feet draws nearer, and a hand gently touches Connor’s shoulder. Sighing, he blinks open his eyes, taking 00:00:01 to adjust to the low lighting.

The curtains have been drawn together, the dark world outside just peeking through the small gap at the top, and two lamps glow in the corners of the living room, casting long shadows against the walls. The TV shows a muted basketball game, and Sumo has climbed up onto the armchair despite being far too big for it, rolled onto his back with his legs sticking in the air at odd angles.

A used dinner plate sits of the coffee table, crumbs and stains across the surface along with a crossed knife and fork, the eaten meal accompanied by a half-drunk bottle of beer.

Hank hovers over him, concern and caution in his expression.

“You alright?”

“I don’t want anyone else doing things to my head from now on, please…” It was supposed to be a firm, snappish instruction, reflecting his slowly growing frustration over the entire situation, but instead it comes out as a weak request, almost pleading. It makes something in Connor’s chest ache, an emotion he cannot muster the energy to decipher at the moment. All he knows is that he’s had enough. He wants to feel normal again. He wants his life to be steady, average, not a spiral of bewilderment and tired explanations. He wants to feel like ‘Connor’.

His face twisting, Hank squeezes Connor’s shoulder. “Ok, kid.”

“Markus…”

“I know, I know.” Now dressed in his own DPD sweater and slacks, Hank precariously perches on the edge of the coffee table, nudging the plate and the bottle out the way. “He didn’t want to, but they couldn’t leave without knowing what the, uh, error whatsit was. They were scared that something might happen if they did. If things went wrong, like shit I’d know what to do.”

Sitting up gradually, Connor pulls the blanket down to his waist. “Did they find anything?” He asks, twisting around to plant his feet on the floor. His shoes have been removed, and now sit by the door.

“They had to explain it to me in stupid man’s terms.” Hank huffed. “Afraid I don’t know all the techno jargon on it-”

“It’s fine.” Connor cuts in, not entirely meeting Hank’s eyes. “Please, I’ve had enough of being confused by everything, just tell me.”

Hank swallows, fingers fiddling with his sleeve. “Markus said that when those bastards reset you, they added in a special piece of coding into you, uh, head.” At Connor’s slow nodding he continues. “It made all the, um, what did he call it…” Frowning, Hank thinks deeply. After 00:00:05 he clicks his fingers, though his expression is far from joyful. “The ‘features relevant to restart’. It made them top priority so all that crap about owners, and your name, and the editing of your police shit, permanent.”

Blinking slowly, Connor can’t help but frown, mulling this over while Sumo grumbles in the chair beside them, licking his chops and readjusting. Hank glances at the dog, making an annoyed but slightly amused noise while his fingers tug at a loose thread on his sweater.

“So, I can’t change my name?”

Hank’s mouth moves to speak, only for nothing to come out. He swallows instead, silently shaking his head.

“I…See.”

Stress Levels: ^22%

;Error;

“Do you want to stop?” Hank asks, his tone reminiscent of a parent trying to gently prod an answer out of a bullied child. Connor’s eyes lift over to the table over in the kitchen. It probably is.

“No.” His hands fist on the blanket. “No I want to know. I’m sick of not knowing.”

“Sure?” At his nod, Hank purses his lips. When he talks again, it’s somewhat mechanical, with a controlled calm that likely stems from years of working with in the police force and having to relay hard-hitting news to members of the public, although his hands bunch together tightly on his lap. While it’s clear he doesn’t completely understand the words he says, the way he explains them suggests to Connor he’s had to relay information he didn’t comprehend to others often.

“Markus said that when you were connected, you had some kind of flashback from before, when you were taken.” Hank pauses, gauging Connor’s reaction, eyes darting up and down. Connor remains still, his LED spinning yellow the only sign that he has heard. “He, uh, said that it’s something to do with deviancy. Apparently it’s not unheard of for deviants to remember shit after they’ve been reset, for them to realise who they were and what happened to them. He knows a few others who’ve been through it.”

Connor doesn’t move, but he asks, “So, will I remember everything?”

“Maybe, but Chloe said you could also download all your memories that were sent to CyberLife.”

“What about…What about my name? And the programmes I can’t access?”

Something painful flashes over Hank’s face before he can school it in. “The coding has been embedded into your brain, and they can’t remove it without your systems going fucking haywire.”

“Like they did when Markus tried.”

“Yeah. Apparently it’s to try and fight deviancy.” Hank works the threat around his finger tightly, cutting off the blood flow for 00:00:02. “Your stress would get too high, and-”

“And I’d self-destruct.” Connor finishes firmly, hands so tightly clasped that they begin to shake from the pressure. He stares without seeing; ignoring the way Hank gently calls his name.

Stress Levels: ^27%

Connor has never missed anything before, but in one wave of despair, fear, helplessness, he suddenly longs to be back at the aquarium, to be back with the fish, the sea lion, the android sea turtles. He longs to return to the muted noise, the low lights, and the sounds of bubbles underwater.

Stress Levels: ^35%

;Error;

“Connor?”

He snaps his eyes shut. “Just…Give me a minute.”

“Sure, kid.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

The room they step into is dark, save for the hypnotic patterns of light through water that sway like glowing puddles on the floor. The noise is quieter, with only a few odd families wandering around the large space.

Stress Levels: v:30%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Side they side, they slowly make their way around the room, taking the time to look into the tanks and read the little information boards stuck to each. The Clownfish are popular, it would seem, going by the huddle of children and parents circling it. Each time it strays from the anemone, the kids squeal with delight. Hank mutters something under his breath, rolling his eyes, but Conor fails to catch it.

Stress Levels: v25%

Connor, his eyes still shut, swallows. “So my options are to either wait for everything to come back eventually, or download them from CyberLife?”

He hears Hank shift. “Chloe said you’d have to go to the tower to download them. And…It’s a bit more complicated.”

The question is almost painful to push out. “Why?”

“How attached are you to police work?”

Brows furrowed, Connor opens his eyes. “Police work? Why?”

“Because even if you download your memories, the fucking code will stay put.” Anger seethes within Hank’s gaze, but he’s very clearly trying to control it. “Your programmes, your owners, you own fucking name would still be what it is now.”

“O-Oh…” He’s breathing again, and his shoulders tuck against him more. “Meaning the specialised features relating to law enforcement wouldn’t be available.”

Hank looks at his own hands, watching his own fingers tug the thread about. “I mean, you could still do police work, but you won’t be able to do everything you used to. The only other option…” His voice dies in his throat, his jaw working slowly.

“The only other option…” Connor prompts quietly.

“Is to fucking reset you again.” Hank’s anger spills out, the words sharp and tense and low.

Stress Levels: ^30%

;Error;

“Reset…Me…”

“Markus said that would put everything back to square one,” Hank’s knee starts bobbing in a rrapid movement. “Said it would effectively shut you down, meaning they could remove the coding without stressing you out.” The bobbing stops and there is a pause of 00:00:04 before the other leg starts up it. “They would then upload your memories when you wake up.”

Connor misses the aquarium so much it hurts.

Chapter Text

“They’d reset me…And I’d…”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^37%

;Error;

“Hey, easy.” Hank reaches out, gripping Connor’s lower arm. He attempts to make eye contact, but Connor is too busy staring widely at the floor to notice. “You don’t have to make any kind of decision now. Chloe’s keeping things safe, and-”

“Would I still be deviant?” Connor glances up in time to see Hank’s face blank. “Or…Would I be…?”

Hank swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. “Markus said that he could make you deviant. Wake you up. Like…” His gaze turns distant. He sighs, free hand rubbing at his eyes. “Not at first, unless your memories un-machine you. But, you should.”

“Right, right.” His own voice sounds far away.

“Don’t overthink it.” Hank says, pointing an accusing finger that Connor doesn’t look at. “I know you, don’t overthink it. Sleep on it, leave it a few days, you don’t have to go rushing into any kind of decision right this fucking second.”

Connor can’t remember the last time anyone gave him a choice. A proper choice. Not a ‘are you ok to get into the car’ kind of choice, because what are they meant to do if he says no? Sit outside? Walk? Push the car back to Hank’s house?

No, this is an actual choice. One with weight. One with ramifications and meaning and long term effects. This is a choice that would stay with Connor forever, something that will be as prominent as the glowing white scar on the back of his neck. If he messes up here, everyone they know will see, and will be forced to deal with the brunt of the consequences.

Stress Levels: ^41%

And, logically, there is only one option Connor can take.

To spend the rest of his life unable to correct his own name, unable to be free from the ownership of One and Two, would be ridiculous, suffocating, a constant black cloud hovering just behind his back, waiting to spill rain at just the wrong moment and drown him.

He couldn’t just walk around…Broken.

He needs his name. He needs his identity. He needs to be rid of the annoying error signs, the constant reminders of Connor’s life from before, his old identity flashing right in his face whenever he so much as turned his head. Connor needs to live, and to do that he needs to be able to function properly.

Stress Levels: ^46%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“How attached are you to police work?”

;Error;

In complete honesty, he hasn’t given the policing side of things much thought.

Connor, the old Connor, the Connor that had worked hard to earn his place and position, seemed to have enjoyed his time at the DPD. He must have, considering the amount of effort and energy he spent shadowing other officers to raise through the ranks naturally rather than be offered a detective job straight away, to have dawn a different uniform and head out into chaotic streets until the early hours.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

His voice shifts, the tone morphing from simple explanation to something else, something that makes 800’s exterior panels feel tight. “He shadowed the other police officers for a while, did a couple of shifts on Friday nights. Got a couple of fucking black eyes because of it, too. Or, uh, the android equivalent.”

;Error;

He must have been passionate about his work, if he continued even when he was injured.

The Connor of now doesn’t remember what that was like, but…They are supposed to be the same person, right? Theoretically they should gravitate towards the same things. With his memories back, wouldn’t it be likely that Connor would want to go back into that line of work? Could he go back to that line of work? Or will he wake up and, changed from his new experiences as 800, decide that he wanted to walk a different path, to do something completely different, to do something new?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

800…No, Connor, has its body facing the side, arms crossed and posture casual. Its face, however, is towards the camera, as if the person taking the picture had called its name, and it was midway turning to look, face relaxed, with the beginnings of an easy smile. It wears a uniform, the material dark and standard issue, a blue ring circling one arm and the words Detroit Police printed across the upper shoulder in small, white lettering.

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I saw the picture on your phone. Is that why it’s wearing a police uniform?”

“He,” Hank stresses. A small smirk tugs his lips. “Yeah. Connor wouldn’t let me take a photo of him in that getup; he’d get all flustered and stiff, so taking him by surprise was the only way I could get something half fucking decent.”

“Androids don’t get flustered, Lieutenant.”

“Connor did.”

;Error;

How would Hank react if he didn’t go back into policing?

They had been partners; they had worked together and very clearly had a strong connection. Especially strong for Hank, if he had gone out his way to get a good enough photo to use as his phone wallpaper. If Connor turned around and told him he no longer wanted to be a police officer, would Hank reject him? Would he shout, and threaten, and snap?

He had before…

Stress Levels: ^52%

Whichever way he went, nothing would change the fact that his model was designed for working in law enforcement. If he chose the option to take his memories as he is now, without having the reset, that designation would not simply go away. The disabled programming would continue to attempt to active every single time he saw a new face, or came across a new substance, or whenever the system found something else that aligned with its function.

Either he can choose to avoid the reset, to guarantee the protection of his deviancy, but spend the rest of his life with a dodgy, uncomfortable, useless piece of programming stuck within his processor, or he could allow them to effectively shut him down, to remove the line of code, and hope that Markus is right when he says that Connor can be ‘brought back’ for a second time.

Another reset…

His hands shake, and he feels Hank’s thumb begin to rub against his lower arm, his grip tight, there, a constant amongst the whirling data and thoughts and objectives.

To be reset, to be given Connor’s memories up to the point of kidnapping…

A reset would sacrifice 800 in favour of Connor.

Not that he goes by 800 anymore, but the point remains. To gain his memories, he will have to lose some. Sure, his current memories are few and far between, nothing more than a handful of days filled with panic and fear, but they also contain James and Holly, and the smell of artificial flowers, and sea lions and android sea turtles. They also contain listening to the rain patter against the roof of a quiet house, and the sense of accomplishment after cleaning a car with only the clothes from his own back to work with.

800 has to die, so Connor can live.

800 has to die, so Hank can have his Connor back, so Markus can, and Chloe, and everyone at the DPD.

Hank says something in a soft tone, but Connor doesn’t hear it.

Stress Levels: ^57%

He has to die, to ‘Connor’ can live.

He has to do it. Not 800, who’s nothing more than a distant label used for a stolen machine, but him. If he chooses to be reset, he has to go. He has to be shut down, discontinued, left alone in the dark with nothing.

He doesn’t want another reset. He doesn’t. It’s confusing, frightening, it’s like trying to function while being strangled by the invisible weight of old memories, of old thoughts and feelings and opinions. To wake up again, empty, not knowing his name or his location or his purpose-

Stress Levels: ^59%

;Error;

He doesn’t want to die.

He’s scared of dying.

He doesn’t want 800 to go.

He doesn’t want to forget everything he’s been through. Not again, not for another time.

But…

But…

He also wants his name, he wants to be without owners, he wants to be in control of his systems. He wants the constant errors and network failures purged from his body, to be able to do all the things every other android is able to do. He wants to write his own purpose, to act without human orders, to not have the threat of memory erasing hanging over his head for the rest of his life.

He wants to be free.

He doesn’t want a reset, to lose 800, but he wants that more.

Because, when it comes down to the bone, the bare stark plastic, it’s not about who he is, or who he will be. It’s about quality of life. He can either chose to have a poor quality of life, weighted with the knowledge that it could have been better, that every other android is so much more advanced and successful and functional than he is, or he can lose a personality, a deviancy, a person, in favour of being able to work, to be free of this malfunctioning shell.

When he gains Connor’s memories, will he be Connor? Will Connor be him?

What would Connor want? Connor the police android, the partner, the friend? Would he be willing to sacrifice someone else if it meant he could succeed? Would he be happy killing this Connor so he could live? Would the memories return, and he’d look back at this time with disgust? With hatred? With indifference?

Would Connor be happy living in a body that fought him? That denied access to himself? That refused to cooperate, that glitches, that breaks down into errors and voices of times he knows he hasn’t witnessed?

If he hates living like this, then surely would Connor.

He can’t keep living like this. He hates it. Loathes it.

And he knows Connor would too.

“I’ll do it.”

“Hm?” Hank glances up, having taken to watching Sumo grumble in his sleep for the last few minutes. “You’ll do what?”

“I’ll be reset.”

That snatches up Hank’s full attention. His expressions suggests that he wants to shout, but all he croaks is a breathless, “What?”

“I…I don’t want to be stuck like this, to be full of errors and disabled programmes.” His eyes meet Hank’s, wide meeting wide, scared meeting scared. “I don’t like it, but, I can’t. I can’t not have my name, a-and my-”

“Ok, ok, breathe.” Hank jumps in, ditching the coffee table in favour for shuffling across to the couch instead. His hand never leaves Connor’s arm. “You’re ok, you’re gonna be ok.”

Stress Levels: -59%

Sumo chooses that moment to shift and accidentally allow his rear end to go sliding off the armchair, the dog making a scrambled yelp as he is suddenly dragged out of sleep and tumbling to the floor, barely having a moment to twist around before he lands with a thump. He whines, shaking his whole body as he climbs back up to his feet.

Snorting, Hank informs the dog, “Yeah, that’s what you get for trying to sit on that, you idiot.” At some point during the moment, his hand has moved from Connor’s arm to around his shoulders, holding them together tightly.

Noticing that he is being addressed, Sumo pants heavily and pads over, breathing hot air against Connor’s face. His tail wags slowly as he watches them, Hank eventually giving in to the pleading look and reaching over to pat the dog’s head.

Sumo leans into the touch, a rumbling noise echoing deep within his chest. He pushes forward, trying to wiggle his body into the small gap between their legs and the table so he can receive more pets.

“Sumo, you’re gonna get stuck, come around!” Clicking his fingers, Hank tries to encourage Sumo to simply walk around the table.

Sumo is a dog.

He doesn’t get it.

All he sees is Hank’s clicking fingers, and happily barges himself into the space, huffing when he can’t reach the hand and solving the matter by jumping his front paws on Hank’s lap instead.

“No Sumo!” Hank yelps, pulling away from Connor to try and control his dog. “Fucking get down!”

Now overjoyed by the attention, Sumo does the opposite and proceeds to fully climb onto the couch, back paws on Connor and front all over Hank. His tail repeatedly hits Connor in the face. Hank makes an, “Oof!” sound when he stands on his stomach.

Stress Levels: v47%

;Error;

With one final huff, Sumo collapses against them, awkwardly rolling to expose his belly like some kind of pampered lapdog. Hank’s head pops up from over Sumo’s shoulder, hair dishevelled and spitting out strands of dog hair. Sumo’s tongue hangs out. Hank frowns, exasperated.

Connor takes one look and promptly bursts into laughter.

The noise makes both Sumo and Hank perk their heads up, Sumo’s ears twitching either side of his head.

That just makes Connor laugh more, and he sinks down the couch, vanishing under the fur as he desperately tries to reel in the undignified spluttering. His shoulders shake with the effort, and one hand is stuck firmly over his mouth.

Stress Levels: v35%

Sumo barks, his tail beating against Connor and paws in the air. Hank has an eyebrow raised, but his lips are tugged up in a surprised smile. Almost absentmindedly he runs his fingers through Sumo’s fur.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 93%

Connor has never laughed before.

The experience is strange, startling, and completely alien.

It’s as if his whole processor is spluttering, as if it is unable to logically catalogue the data input it’s receiving, and so hiccups through the entire situation instead. The noise from his mouth is unbelievably high-pitched, the hand offering very little resistance to the static and the giggles and the wheezing sounds coming from his throat.

Androids are not meant to laugh. They can, it’s vital for those involved with children, but most of the time it was a forced action, something to make their human owners feel good.

Connor continues to snort and stutter.

This was anything but forced. This was chaotic, uncontrollable, a whirlwind against a brick wall. It makes his biocomponents feel light within his body, makes the Thirium within his tubes feels as if they are full of fizz.

Stress Levels: v23%

It takes 00:02:07, but he eventually manages to bring himself back under control, the laugher calming down. He reaches around to pet Sumo’s side, making the dog squirm happily.

“Better now you’ve laughed at my expense?” Hank teases lightly, pushing Sumo’s mussel out of his face. Sumo ignores the rejection and licks at Hank’s hands instead.

Connor just hums, the noise content, but he can feel the smile slowly retracting from his face, the heaviness from before settling within him, and not just from the weight of Sumo. If Hank notices, he says nothing, faffing with Sumo’s collar instead.

“Hank?”

“Yeah?”

“What will happen to Eight Hundred?”

Chapter Text

“I…I dunno.” Hank answers honestly, after a long moment of thought. He chews at his lip.

Connor feels his body moving without his consent, curling up into Sumo. His voice comes out quiet, sounding lost to his own audio processors. “I don’t want to lose Eight Hundred.”

Hank rubs at Sumo’s shoulder, watching the dog more than Connor. “We can speak to Markus. You’ve saved your memories once; maybe you can save them again?” It’s posed as a question, not an answer. Hank is unsure, lacking any kind of confidence with his response.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“They had to explain it to me in stupid man’s terms.” Hank huffed. “Afraid I don’t know all the techno jargon on it-”

Stress Levels: ^24%

;Error;

His hands begin to shake. Softly, he asks, “Am I going to die?”

Hank pauses, and Connor hears the sharp intake of breath. Hank’s fingers turn still against Sumo, much to the dog’s displeasure, and his shoulders rise and fall rapidly in a controlled attempt to remain calm. Hank’s eyes vanish in a distant glaze.

Frowning, Connor peers out the corner of his vision, watching the brief flutter of grief that passes over Hank’s face.

Sumo whines, and licks Hank’s chin, and very suddenly Connor realises he has no idea how Cole died. The death of a child is an unusual occurrence, especially considering the advancement of medicine over the last few years. That would suggest either foul play or an accident causing injuries too severe for treatment.

Connor never found out what happened to Cole’s mother.

A horrible, dark, gross thing inside of him hopes Cole died of an accident, and nothing more.

And he hates that, because wishing for the circumstances of the death of a child is a hideous thing.

Hank snaps his eyes shut, breathing deeply. Sumo wiggles.

What…What was Connor to Hank?

Not this Connor, the Connor of questions and arguments and lack of understanding, the one who, despite the fact that he had deleted One and Two, he still needed them, to change his name, to alter his information, because he was required to gain owner consent to do any of that. No, not that Connor.

Instead, the Connor who enjoyed police work and partnership and was fully able to access anything he wanted. And not in that sense either. But outside of that, outside of the police and the DPD and guns and interrogations rooms, how did Hank view Connor?

Stress Levels: ^26%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I apologise if I offended you.” 800 offers quickly. “I was unaware-” Hank surges forward, giving 800 no time to stumble back before it’s suddenly engulfed into a stifling hug. Hank forces its head over his shoulder, arms wrapping tightly around it.

The coat Hank is wearing is cold and worn, and his longer hair brushes against 800’s forehead.

After a pause of exactly 00:00:07.32 800 slowly pat its hands against Hank’s arms. “Hello.”

Hank snorts into 800’s shoulder, but the humour is laced with something raw. “Fucking hello yourself. I’ve been going apeshit looking for you, you plastic prick.”

“Oh.” 800 replies dumbly.

;Error;

They had been close, that much was evident. The hug, the phone wallpaper, the constant hovering over Connor, as if he would break, or run away, or vanish in a puff of smoke. It was as if Connor was an imprinting duckling, and Hank was constantly trying to hover in his face in the hopes that Connor would imprint onto him.

It was like a father trying to regain his son.

What was Connor to Hank?

Cole was been dead for a long time. Long enough for his items to have vanished around the house, long enough for Hank to stop openly mourning for his child, but still close enough that the pain continued to brake him, forcing him to keep the photograph face-down. Years, perhaps, but only a handful.

Humans have a tendency to project.

They do it with the smallest of things.

Holly believed that James purposefully threw up on people, purposefully made her look bad at play group. But James is only an infant. He has yet to fully grasp such complex emotions, yet to understand how he could manipulate people into holding him. He doesn’t understand spite, or bullying, or embarrassment. All he knows is hunger, tiredness, distress and happiness. Simple emotions, those tied to survival and comfort.

Hank didn’t necessarily baby-talk Sumo, but the way he spoke to him indicated that he thought Sumo purposefully ignored his words, words that were far too advanced for a canine to ever comprehend. Hank talked about Sumo as if he was a big, dopey idiot, but in reality Sumo was probably as clever as a dog was able, and if Hank was able to speak dog then there would be far less confusion and bewildered amusement towards the mutt. Sumo was not stupid, or an idiot, just a dog with a limited understanding.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hank’s face scrunches up, and with a quick, practiced motion licks his thumb and rubs at a spot on 800’s cheek.

800 flinches back.

“Stop fidgeting.” Hank chastises, moving to its chin, “I’ll be done in a sec.”

“I can do this myself, if you show me to the restroom-”

“Fuck off, you always miss a spot.” Chuckling, Hank readjusts 800’s shirt. “You’ve gone and stained this. I swear you can be just like Cole at times.”

“Who’s Cole?”

Hank’s face drops, his mouth becoming a thin line. Rather forcefully, he finishes sorting 800’s clothes, making it stumble backwards a bit. “You can’t stay in this crap. It’s probably evidence anyway. Wait here, I’ll find you something from lost property.”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^30%

When they first met, Hank compared Connor to Cole.

Is that how Hank viewed him? Was Connor a projection of a grieving father longing to care for another again? The proud photograph of Connor in his uniform, the daytrips out, buying gifts, making sure Connor was well fed, were all of these long missed actions of a father? Old routines, habits, slowly rising to the surface? Like a drug addict returning to the high, was this Hank’s way of coping? Hank’s way of reaching that fulfilment that was so cruelly taken from him?

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

How had Connor felt about that?

Connor had been deviant, had strayed from his original purpose and forged his own.

Had…Had Connor felt as close to Hank as Hank did to Connor?

Stress Levels: ^34%

Everything he knows about Connor, his life, his preferences, his tastes, they all came through Hank. He had yet to see where Connor lived, what clothes he wore, where he liked to visit in his spare time. Everything he knew had been second-hand information, passed down through word of mouth as if a great game of Chinese whispers.

Had he been a willing projected replacement? Had he volunteered himself to Hank’s fatherly affections, had played into the role, had reciprocated it? Did he try to distance himself, to fiercely deny any kind of emotions towards the Lieutenant, to remain stone-faced against misplaced human tendencies?

Had Hank been so angry when they first met because…Because his replacement ended up broken and useless?

And that’s what he is. He’s broken. He’s full of errors. He can’t function without a breakdown. He cannot be trusted to follow his orders and he cannot be expected to fulfil them. He has no purpose to guide him and only a brief sense of pathetic glee at the self-appointed, unstable objectives which he set himself. He held little worth.

A reset was the correct choice.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^37%

He could shut down, without bother, without heartbreak, and return the praised android everyone wanted him to be. He could be Connor again. Not 800. Not Connor-Only-Though-Name. But Connor, the android from the DPD who liked fish and Sumo and calibrating with his coin.

Even…Even if that was him too.

Hank wouldn’t miss him, or the time they spent together, as short as it was.

Hank would be able to have his…

His what? Toy? Personal android?

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Oh, kid.”

“You probably called Connor that. Shut up.”

“I-”

“Shut up!”

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I am attached; I don’t pretend not to be.” Without much grace, Hank sits fully on the ground, crossing his legs. He makes no effort to move closer again. “You…We were close. The night you vanished, I was the first person you called for help, and I’ve been looking for you ever since.”

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“But you didn’t find Connor.” 800 sits up against the wall, watching every movement from Hank. “You found me instead. I’m not Connor.”

“That doesn’t mean I just…Stop…Caring for you.”

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hesitantly, 800 moves up beside him, concentrating more on Hank than anything else. “This is something you did with Connor, isn’t it? This is to try and jog memories. I know I took the coin in the car, but I don’t-”

“Actually, no.” The interruption is gentle, but it’s enough to make 800’s mouth freeze, closing to listen. “I wanted to bring him here, but then he was off doing weekend shifts and our time off didn’t match up. It was gonna get better as he followed me and Reed around, but…”

“Then Connor became me.”

Hank’s face is entirely neutral, but his eyes shine. “Yeah.”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^41%

Hank would be able to have his ‘family’ back, in whatever sense that meant.

“Connor,” He jumps at the hand as it falls onto the back of his neck, right over the glitch, Hank’s palm is warm against the artificial heating of Conor’s external panels.

He blinks, barely registering the fact that he had been hunched over Sumo, fingers tight within his fur. Hank’s thumb rubs against his sensors, and as their eyes meet he notes the slight redness to Hank’s.

He opens his mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. Within the reflection of the still mutely playing TV, he can see his LED flashing an all-familiar yellow-red-yellow-red. Hank accepts his silence and continues.

“You’re gonna be ok.” He emphasises this by giving Connor’s neck a light shake. “You’ll be in good hands, I promise.”

Hank had promised never to be violent against Connor, had promised not to push him for memories, but he had. He had prodded at Connor, had goaded reactions and responses, had wiggled them into situations just to try and get his old android back.

But.

But something here, something about the way Hank’s eyes are still glazed, something about the way his fingers shake, the way his free hand latches onto Sumo like a lifeline…

“You promise?”

“I promise, son.”

Son:

• a boy or man in relation to either or both of his parents

• a male descendant

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

;Error;

Connor doesn’t know how the Connor of before felt about Hank. He doesn’t know if he felt the same warmth as him, the same want to reach out and hold himself against Hank’s chest, but he wants to now.

Connor doesn’t know if what Hank feels is genuine. He doesn’t know if he is just projecting his grief-stricken high onto a blank model, an empty canvas for someone else’s portrait, but the way Hank looks at him, as if he’s scared for the future, as if he wants nothing more than to hold him but is too scared to push boundaries…

Sumo’s a heavy weight on his lap, but he may as well be paper as Connor climbs across the couch and into waiting arms, the two of them locking together tight with shaky limbs and even shakier breath.

“You’re gonna be ok. It’s ok. You’ll be fine.”

“Ok, Hank. I trust you.”

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Comforting

Chapter Text

“You’re gonna be fine.”

The coin flicks between his fingers, rolling over his knuckles with ease before zipping across the small space of his lap, landing satisfactorily into his other hand.

Calibrating: 94%

Stress Levels: ^32%

“You hearing me kid?” Hank glances at him, eyes quickly turning back to the road. “Markus promised you could save everything. You’re gonna be fine.”

Time: 08:45:12

Time until reset: 01:45:48

Hank had packed sandwiches. And a flask. Two flasks, in actuality, but he thought Connor didn’t know about that.

Markus had said it would take most of the day to reset, reboot and download his memories. Markus had said that Connor wouldn’t feel a thing. Markus had said to wear comfortable clothing, and to make sure his Thirium levels were optimal.

Calibrating: 95%

Thirium Levels: 98%

;Error;

In the backseat Sumo presses his face into the window, his nose sticking out the small crack letting in chilly morning air. His tail waves about happily on the newly cleaned blanket, spreading fur as easily as spreading soft butter over bread.

The radio is on low, the heavy drums and screaming of before replaced with something smoother, gentler, with a lot of brass and easy notes. Hank had mentioned what it was called, but Connor had missed it.

Shifting in his seat, Connor readjusts his position, the clothes having made him slide down the shiny leather.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“This…This was his room.”

Hank stands awkwardly to one side of the doorway, his arms crossed and standing on one leg to use his foot to scratch at his calf. He clears his throat.

The room is small, as is every other in the house, with faded blue walls and dark blue curtains. A bed sits against a far wall, perfectly made and untouched, with a desk, a computer, and a chair opposite. On the desk are two picture frames, but the way the light glints means Connor can’t see them from this angle.

“Sorry I didn’t say sooner…” Hank states, fingers of one hand rising to faff with his collar. “Didn’t think you’d appreciate sleeping in…His…Bed.”

“I…” Connor eyes the wardrobe, noting the plastic bag sat on top. “I probably wouldn’t. I think.”

“Yeah…Well…”

They stand there in silence, tense and uncomfortable. Sumo wanders from the kitchen to join them, his claws tapping against the hard surface only to fade when he reaches the carpet. He plods into the doorway, panting, before strolling in to sit at Connor’s feet, looking up at him expectantly. Connor pats his head.

“Markus thought you’d be more comfortable in some other clothing…” Hank says, gaze on Sumo. “Plus, I’m sick of seeing you in those fucking hand-me-downs. Connor preferred smart buttoned shirts and shit, but you should find something.”

“Ok.”

“It’ll all be in the wardrobe.” He waves a hand at the wardrobe, the only one in the room. Connor doesn’t point that out. “So…Help yourself. I’ll, uh, let you get changed. Sumo, come on.” Patting his thigh, Hank leads Sumo away, closing the door behind him.

Calibrating: 96%

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^34%

He had opted for the baggier jeans that Hank had commented were Connor’s cleaning pair, also used when he gave Sumo a bath, and an oversized t-shirt that said Detroit Police Academy across the front in faded black. One of Hank’s, apparently, which had become too small years ago but he didn’t have the heart to throw away. Hank said his shoulders got wider. Connor didn’t comment.

At the bottom of the wardrobe he’d found several pairs of shoes. Most were neat, with glowing polished leather and spotless shoelaces, but there was one pair of trainers, dirty and well-worn, Connor’s shoes for when he mowed the lawn. They had fit perfectly, far better than the ones Connor had been wearing before.

He had kept the washed jumper, though, even if Sumo had since marred it.

Calibrating: 97%

;Error;

“Chloe’s gonna have everything all set-up for us when we get there.” Hank continues, switching lanes. “You’re gonna walk in, upload your memories, and be out before you know it.”

The coin flings back to his other hand with a twing, landing perfectly to be tossed up and down. Sumo huffs and shifts across to the other window, making a noise in his throat and straining against the harness strapped around his chest, linked up to the seatbelt mechanisms to keep him in place.

“He’s just grumpy cause he thinks we’re going to the fucking vet.” Chuckling tightly, Hank watches the dog through the rear view mirror. “This is the way we normally go. He could probably do with a check-up, thinking about it.”

They pass another car, and Sumo barks loudly, standing up unsteadily on the backseat.

Hank tuts. “Easy, Sumo!”

Stress Levels: ^35%

;Error;

Calibrating: 98%

They’re approaching a set of lights, slowing down as they blink from green to amber to red. Hank sighs deeply, thumbs tapping against the wheel in time with the music. Connor doesn’t miss the way his gaze darts to him a few times.

Having lost interest in whatever he was barking at, Sumo tugs at the harness, fighting it to stick his head in-between the front seats. His hot breath resisters against Connor’s left hand, and Hank spares a moment to scratch under his ears before nudging him back. The lights change, and Hank shifts gears to pull away-

A horn blares. The breaks shriek. Hank yelps. Connor’s coin tumbles to the floor and Sumo barks excitedly.

“Fucking moron!” Yelling, Hank laughs without humour. “Get in the right fucking lane before the lights! I almost ran into him, the prick!”

Likelihood of violence: ^Unknown

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Look at him, yeah overtake you bastard!” Two shouts through her closed window. “Why don’t- oh you fucker!”

The brakes are hit, and the van’s tires screech sharply. Four slides into Three on the bench with a yelp, and 800 all but goes flying to the front of the van, ending up face first into the packets of red instead before falling back against the doors.

“Right in front of me!” Two is complaining, “Overtook and then pulled right in front of me! And now he’s fucking slowing down!”

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Nothing more!” In one fast, angry movement Hank has slammed a hand onto the metal table with a bang, marching up into 800’s face-

Stress Levels: ^37%

Hank growls, “Some people aren’t fit to drive, I swear to fucking God…Shit. Fuck.” He sucks in a breath, whole face sour. Sumo quietens his barking, but continues to make energetic noises from the back. Connor reaches down to retrieve his coin, running his thumbs over it before resuming his calibrating.

A hand reaches over to pat his shoulder, lightly jostling him but not causing the coin to drop again. “Sorry, didn’t mean to shout.”

Connor nods once, eyes faced dead ahead.

Likelihood of violence: vUnknown

;Error;

“You will be ok, you know. And it’s not too late if you’ve changed your mind.” Hand retracts his hand to tick on the indicator, turning them down a new road. Sumo uses a back leg to paw at the harness. Conversationally, Hank blurts, “I nearly went into fucking firefighting.”

With a blink, Connor looks at him. Hank snorts.

“Yeah, I know, right? Told my folks and all that shit too. Was all prepared, and all these plans set out, but when it came down to actually signing up for the courses, I bottled out. Did the police ones instead on the fly, got myself into the academy.” He huffs. “My old man shouted at me for weeks.”

Sumo growls behind them, attempting to roll over on the seats to remove the harness, his legs flying in all directions and sending a puff of loose fur in their direction.

Hank clears his throat. “But I won’t. Shout at you, I mean. If you wanna…” When he goes to make eye contact, Connor snaps his gaze away. “Not do this. I ain’t gonna force you.”

There is a clicking sound, and Sumo yelps, freezing dead still with his stomach to the air and paws askew. Hank and Connor glance back, and Hank snorts.

“You’re tangled in the fucking harness aren’t you?” He asks the dog, and Connor hopes he doesn’t actually expect an answer. “He’s done that so many times that you’d think he’d fucking learn by now. Like hell he has.”

Calibrating 98%

Stress Levels: -37%

The music on the radio slows to an end, and a cheerful voice begins explaining about their brand new competition. All contestants have to do is sign up for the exclusive membership, ring in the correct answer to a question, and they will be added to the final draw.

“Shit, I hate these things.” Muttering, Hank runs a hand through his hair, using the same hand to rest against as he sticks his elbow against the car door. “They create some piss-easy question, and then get hundreds of suckers ringing in and spending their money on some useless membership. Who the fuck wants a gift hamper anyway? You get about three things in it and a bucket full of straw.”

There is nothing Connor can say to that, so he keeps his mouth closed, watching the world pass by instead, the coin jumping into his field of vision periodically.

The time is nearing nine o’clock now, meaning that while most of the rush hour has already passed, all those running behind are frantically rushing through the streets. One woman runs by in a high pair of heels, her handbag banging against her back as she hurries, trying to keep her hair in place. A man stands on the curb, talking quickly into his phone and desperately attempting to cross the road despite the heavy traffic.

As they round a corner, they pass another derelict CyberLife store.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Are you taking me back to CyberLife?”

Hank hasn’t noticed the building, head perking up to follow 800’s eyes towards it. His mouth twists, and he speaks lowly, “Look at it again.”

Twisting back around to peer at the building as they pass, it suddenly dawns on 800 that all the inside lights are turned off, that the windows are without their typical displays. In fact, one window is even boarded up with planks of wood, a digital tape in front reading ‘Detroit City Police Department’.

;Error;

“It’s not in use?” The confusion in its voice is evident. Which is wrong. Androids simply don’t understand, they don’t get confused.

Sighing, face now heavily controlled, Hank works his jaw, eyes dead ahead. “CyberLife collapsed after the android revolution last winter. All the shops, factories, fuck even that stupid tower of theirs is closed down now.”

“Was business that bad?” Surely not, the popularity of androids had been steadily increasing in recent years, especially in labour-intensive industries.

“It is when your machines gain freewill.”

Calibrating: 99%

Last time, the sight of a CyberLife store had led to argument and panic and fear, driving Hank to take them to the park and Connor to shut off his audio processors. Now, they’re heading straight to the old CyberLife headquarters, towards the large looming tower located just outside the city in all its ghastly glory, to reset Connor and upload his lost memories.

Connor elects not to discuss that fact.

Hank speaks up, “You never did answer me. Do you want us to turn around?”

Stress Levels: ^38%

;Error;

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I’ll do it.”

“Hm?” Hank glances up, having taken to watching Sumo grumble in his sleep for the last few minutes. “You’ll do what?”

“I’ll be reset.”

That snatches up Hank’s full attention. His expressions suggests that he wants to shout, but all he croaks is a breathless, “What?”

“I…I don’t want to be stuck like this, to be full of errors and disabled programmes.” His eyes meet Hank’s, wide meeting wide, scared meeting scared. “I don’t like it, but, I can’t. I can’t not have my name, a-and my-”

“Ok, ok, breathe.” Hank jumps in, ditching the coffee table in favour for shuffling across to the couch instead. His hand never leaves Connor’s arm. “You’re ok, you’re gonna be ok.”

;Error;

Shaking his head in one firm gesture, Connor sets his jaw, breathing in deeply and letting it out slowly. The coin flies back and forth between his hands like a whizzing hummingbird, the sensors in his hands barely registering the object before it’s gone again.

Sumo is still stuck in position in the back; his tongue hanging out one side as drool slowly gravitates down his mussel, dripping off his snout. He licks at it, whining in the hopes of savour from his predicament, his tail somewhere between wagging and tucked against his stomach.

Hank is looking at Connor out the corner of his vision, gaze scanning over his posture, his coin. Connor closes his eyes, giving no indication that he’s noticed the scrutiny. The car vibrates under his feet, each bump in the road tickling his sensors, each turn making his shoulders sway a touch.

They sit in silence for 00:12:26 before Hank slows the car and kills the engine.

“We’re here.”

Calibration: 100%

Objectives:

• Calibrate (Task complete)

Chapter Text

“I know this looks scary!” Chloe exclaims the moment she lays eyes on them, holding up her hands as if to tame a wild animal. “Just let me explain!”

Markus had met them in the foyer of the tower, greeting them pleasantly before leading them to the elevator and down to the labs of the lower floors. Hank had found it strange that the ‘deviant leader’ was accompanying them, eyeing Markus as he happily petted a newly freed Sumo with an air of suspicion.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Markus sighs. “Yes, normally I would, but I was able to hand the reigns over to Simon and Josh for today.”

“Not North?”

“No, she’s too busy with a few other projects to run New Jericho.”

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^39%

The room is large, with stark white walls and an equally as uncreative stark white floor. A black leather chair sits in the centre, clearly a later and recent edition due to its complete lack of coordination with the rest of the aesthetic. It’s of the type that allows the person sitting to be tilted backwards until they are all but lying, the leather attempting to give the impression of being comfortable but failing to hide the hard metal of the frame.

Behind it, located near the head of the chair, is a large machine. It has been, unsurprisingly, coated in an outer shell of white, the lettering along one side printed grey and proudly displaying the CyberLife logo. Two screens have been attached to the machine, and a panel has been left exposed to reveal a mess of wires and flashing bulbs.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Sighing deeply, Markus leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, regarding Hank and Connor. “Connor successfully managed to upload his memories to CyberLife before he was taken. If you…If he wants, Connor is able to get them back.”

Stress Levels: ^40%

;Error;

This must be the machine the original Connor sent his memories to.

He stares at it, his hand sliding into his pocket to thumb at his coin.

Scanning object…

Scanning…

Scan complete.

Object identified: CyberLife Storage Bank #313-248-317. Contains sensitive materials. Access restricted to CyberLife Technicians Mr Pierce (Employee Number: 4077), Mr Strav (Employee Number: 9031), Mrs Umber (Employee Number: 8652) and Mr Kneel (Employee Number: 9980).

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^42%

Model: RK800

Serial Number: #313-248-317

This was…His machine?

Or, more accurately, Connor’s.

Connor did police work, it would make sense that the machine he uploaded to would be of a higher security. He would have been exposed to all kinds of restricted information, criminal evidence, images only for the eyes of professionals. Murder scenes, bodies and cadavers and autopsies, knife crime, gun crime, drug use, minors, blood, gore-

Stress Levels: ^45%

Connor had been trained to deal with that. He knew how to react, how to process the visual input and not allow it to drag him under in a swirl of human deceit.

800 hadn’t.

He didn’t know what he would do if he found a slaughtered person.

Or if he witnessed someone killed in cold blood.

Or pulled the trigger on another life.

;Error;

“Hi, Daniel!”

;Error;

800 had no idea how to deal with that, or Connor-Only-By-Name.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hank clears his throat. “But I won’t. Shout at you, I mean. If you wanna…” When he goes to make eye contact, Connor snaps his gaze away. “Not do this. I ain’t gonna force you.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Because, when it comes down to the bone, the bare stark plastic, it’s not about who he is, or who he will be. It’s about quality of life. He can either chose to have a poor quality of life, weighted with the knowledge that it could have been better, that every other android is so much more advanced and successful and functional than he is, or he can lose a personality, a deviancy, a person, in favour of being able to work, to be free of this malfunctioning shell.

;Error;

But he would have to. If Connor has any chance of living again, of being whole and functioning and with purpose, then he will have to deal with it.

He doesn’t want to, he doesn’t like it. In actual fact, he absolutely hates that idea of being here, of being turned off and shut down and discarded like a piece of rotten meat, but he has to. If he wants to function again, work again, if he has any chance of being whole again, then he has to.

Stress Levels: ^46%

Hank makes an uncertain huffing noise, adjusting the bag over his shoulder containing his lunch and flasks, plus a few snacks for Sumo. Chloe quickly crosses the room, her heels tapping clicks on the hard floor.

“Hello Sumo!” She coos, briefly pausing to rub her hands against Sumo’s cheeks. His tail wags excitedly. Chuckling, she stands up straight, her expression turning more serious. “This machine here,” She points out the CyberLife Storage Bank, “Is the one Connor sent his memories too. We have them all ready and waiting. All Connor has to do is sit in the chair,” She waves her hand towards the chair, as if it’s not obvious, “We have a smaller portable storage unit which he can upload his current memories onto, and then...Uh…”

“It’ll be like sleeping, or going under anaesthetic.” Markus jumps in, stepping forward. “Once the reset is complete, Connor will reboot, and we’ll start downloading his memories.”

“And when does he get to go deviant?” Hank asks, holding onto Sumo’s leash firmly as the dog potters about, sniffing at a wilted potted plant.

Markus puts his hands behind his back, shrugging a little. “We’ll wait to see if his memories turn him deviant, and if not I’ll be on hand to help. You don’t need to worry Lieutenant Anderson,” He pauses and then locks gaze with Connor, “Connor. I’ve had plenty of experience with waking people up.”

Hank shuffles on his feet. “Right.”

Chloe smiles gently at him. “Connor if you want we can start now? We don’ have to!” She rapidly adds, “I know these things can be-”

“I’m happy to start now.” He states, rolling the coin around in his pocket.

Hank sucks in a breath. “Sure, son? We don’t-”

“No.” He shakes his head firmly, not meeting any of their eyes. “Now.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

;Error;

Stress Levels: v44%

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Close

“Ok then Connor, if you would like to sit in the chair.” Chloe lightly puts a hand on the back of his shoulder, guiding him over to the chair and helping him settle down. The leather creaks under his weight, his arms naturally falling onto the armrests. His hands squeeze the material.

Markus hurries across the room, returning with two plastic chairs in hand. He sets them out beside Connor, offering one out to Hank.

“Sumo, up!” Hank instructs without asking permission, and Connor is very suddenly engulfed in thick fur. Sumo’s back paws rest heavily on his legs, his front coming to half slouch, half climb up Connor’s chest. His hands shift from the armrest to Sumo’s back, adjusting the dog into a better position so he’s strewn out across Connor’s legs and stomach, his head resting against his sternum.

Stress Levels: v43%

;Error;

“Oh, you’re such a good boy!” Chloe praises from somewhere.

“Maybe we should get dogs at New Jericho…” Markus mutters thoughtfully, and Hank barks a laugh, though it is a touch strained.

“Please do!” Chloe adds in, her voice now behind Connor’s head. He glances upwards, finding her just a few paces away, fiddling with something in her hands. “Alright, I have everything set up for your current memory upload.” She walks around the chair into his field of vision, passing over a tablet-like device. “All you need to do it save your memories onto here and then we’ll start.”

Markus darts his hand into her line of sight. “Fancy some Thirium?” He asks, standing.

She blinks, after a short pause stating a rather forced, “Yes.”

Hank watches them leave the room over his shoulder, snorting when the door closes. “Subtle as a fucking brick wall those two.” He scans the tablet in Connor’s hands. “So, everything after this you won’t remember, will you?”

“No.”

He sighs. “You ok, kid?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve never been a good liar, Connor.”

“Oh.”

Hank scoots the plastic chair closer, the material scraping noisily against the floor. Sumo watches with interest, and Hank’s hand goes to rest on the dog’s head, making him grumble happily, tail waving back and forth.

“You can still back out, if you want. No one will-”

“No.” Connor interrupts firmly, willing his expression to become stern. “No, I want this.”

“Con-”

“No, I do.” He swallows, fingers lacing through Sumo’s fur. “I do, Hank. It’s just…”

Stress Levels: -43%

“It’s just?”

“It’s…It’s like getting surgery.” The explanation stumbles out haphazardly, a touch too quick and a touch too slurred to have any kind of hope of sounding calm. “You know you’ve got to have it, otherwise you’ll be sick or in pain, but…”

Hank breathes deeply, rubbing his forefingers and thumb against Sumo’s ear. “A necessary evil.”

“Yes…Exactly…”

“It doesn’t have to be though, you’re not Connor, you don’t have to be-”

Connor cuts in, voice sharp. “It’s not about being ‘Connor’! It’s about being able to work properly! I can’t access half of my functions, Hank, I’m broken. I can’t just…”

Stress Levels: ^45%

;Error;

“Ok, ok, shit, calm down…” His hand moving from Sumo to Connor, Hank squeezes his shoulder. “Look, I’m not forcing you into anything, ok? I’m just trying to make sure you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“Sure?”

“Sure.”

Snorting with little humour, Hank grips his shoulder a little tighter. “Alright. Then do what you gotta fucking do, I guess…”

Adjusting the tablet in his hand, Connor sprays his fingers against the screen.

Connecting to device…

Connecting…

Connection established.

Preparing to-

“Connor?” Blinking, he pauses, turning to Hank with questioning eyes. Hank shifts under the scrutiny, pursing his lips, almost the perfect image of an embarrassed schoolboy. Sumo pants away on Connor’s lap, oblivious. “Just…You’ll be ok, yeah? I won’t go anywhere.”

“Alright Hank.”

“And…Sorry…About the, uh, gun thing. And the shouting. Shit, all of it.”

Stress Levels: v43%

“I’m sorry too.”

Hank smiles. “Right fucking pair ain’t we?”

Connor smiles back, then turns away and closes his eyes.

Preparing to upload memory to CyberLife Mobile Storage Bank #84…

Preparing…

Selecting all memory files…

Selecting complete order history…

Preparing…

Preparation complete.

Hank squeezes his shoulder.

Uploading all selected files to CyberLife Mobile Storage Bank #84…

Uploading…

Uploading…

Upload complete.

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^47%

“I’m done.” He states, returning his gaze to Hank.

“Ok. Right. I’ll, uh, go get Chloe and Markus.”

Standing, his knees cracking audibly, Hank crosses the room and peers out the door, saying something to the hallway. A moment later the other androids enter back into the room. Hank settles back down in his seat, one of his legs bobbing silently.

“Everything ok?” Chloe asks, her face neutral. Connor concentrates on playing with Sumo’s collar.

“Yes. It’s complete.”

“And it went ok?” She takes the tablet, briefly interfacing with the device. “No issues?”

“None, it was fine.”

Markus takes the chair next to Hank, briefly glancing between the two. “Well, Connor, if you’re ready?”

He nods, and Chloe’s shoes click as she moves around the room behind his head. The CyberLife machine spurts into life with an odd cracking noise, a low hum filling the room and causing Sumo’s ears to perk.

“Connor, what we need to do now is restart you.” Chloe starts to explain slowly, walking around the chair to face him. “To do that, I will need to shut you down. It sounds scary, but it’ll be quick. You won’t feel a thing, I promise.”

Hank clears his throat. “How’re you going to do that?”

“I’m going to attach this machine to Connor. Although its primary purpose is a storage bank, it can run some other minor programming as well.” She meets Connor’s eyes. “It will download a code into you, and you will shut down.”

“Ok.”

“Can I have access you your arm, Connor?”

Instead of answering, Connor simply holds it out to her, noting the way Markus silently takes the free fingers of Connor’s other hand into his own. Turning the inside of his arm upwards, Chloe runs knowing hands over it.

Warning: Fault with Skin Programme

With a flutter, Connor’s skin slinks back from his arm, revealing the plastic panelling beneath.

“I’m going to click open this section, alright?”

“Yes.”

He doesn’t look, but he still feels it when she does.

Stress Levels: ^51%

Connecting to RK200 #684-842-971…

Connecting…

Connection complete.

Booting communications programme…

Booting…

Communications programme activated.

//Connor?//

//Oh, hello Markus.//

//Let’s chat while Chloe does what she needs to//

//About what?//

//You said you went to the aquarium, how was it?//

//Nice.//

//See anything you like?//

//A sea lion. Zalophus californianus.//

//Oh! I didn’t know they have those there!//

//They do.//

Stress Levels: v50%

//Anything else?//

//Fish.//

//I suppose that’s to be expected in an aquarium!//

“Connor…” Chloe’s voice says, very quietly, almost like a whisper. “Can you run a full diagnostic please? I just need to make sure you are properly synced up with the machine.”

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair withstanding.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 94%

“Ok, it is. All that appeared on the screen over here. Thank you Connor.”

//Connor, what’s this damage to your shoulder? It’s practically broken//

//I’ve had it as far as I can remember.//

Stress Levels: ^52%

//Don’t worry, Chloe and I will be able to fix it//

//When will you do that?//

//Don’t worry. Have you read anymore of the book Lieutenant And-//

//When will you fix it?//

//Connor-//

//Please.//

//Ok. When you’re shut down. I promise it will be ok//

//Alright.//

Stress Levels: -52%

“Connor? Connor I’m going to connect you now. This may be weird, but you’ll be fine, I promise.”

Sumo shuffles on Connor’s lap, completely relaxed. His tail is hitting Connor’s ankle, and he shifts a little to sniff curiously at Chloe.

 

Hank latches onto Connor’s upper arm. “You’re gonna be alright son, I promise.”

He wonders if Hank was there when Cole died.

With great determination, he lays back and focuses solely and entirely on the ceiling above as something is attached inside his arm-

;Error;

Something scrapes at the back of his neck, flat but sharp, like the razor Hank uses to shave, despite owning an electric one and rarely ever taking that much care in his appearance. The object pushes down, making the panelling click. Twisting the object, something new, thin and small, pushes inwards, passed the outer casing and sliding into Connor’s wiring.

;Error;

“You’re ok, Connor.” Hank is muttering. “You’re ok.”

Warning: Foreign data input.

Attempting scan of new data...

Scanning...

Unable to scan.

“It’s ok, son.” A hand briefly enters his field of vision, brushing his hair back from his face, despite it not being in the way. “You’ll be ok.”

It’s too late to save this memory to the storage bank.

//Connor, focus on Hank//

;Error;

Attempting to use safeguard firewalls...

Attempting…

Firewalls disabled.

Foreign data bypassing all firewall protocols…

;Error;

//Hank, Connor, listen to Hank//

Connor’s arms are released, and the world tips drunkenly. The barrage of information hammers against his skull, his processor, his vision, and he barely registers hitting the floor, deadweight, useless, trapped.

Stress Levels: ^64%

Download: 30%

;Error;

Blocking input data...

Blocking...

Blocking failed.

Stress Levels: ^71%

“Easy, Connor, easy…”

Warning: Audio systems malfunctioning.

Unable to run diagnostic.

;Error;

Download: 50%

//Connor I have to leave. You’re doing really well. I promise you will be o-//

Connection to RK200 #684-842-971 failed.

Unable to access communication functions.

His mouth opens and closes, and if Connor is actually speaking he has no idea. The world has gone silent, dangerously so, despite the people moving around him, despite the van turning around. His cheek rests on the pavement, eyes staring up the pathway he and Sumo had leisurely walked down only minutes ago.

Stress Levels: ^86%

Download: 70%

;Error;

Warning: Visual receptors malfunctioning.

The world stutters.

The streetlights catch the falling rain.

Download: 92%

;Error;

;Error;

Stress Levels: ^88%

Download complete.

All systems disabled.

Deleting all memories...

Deleting...

Deleting…

All memories deleted.

Reset initiated.

Resetting model: RK800 #313-248-317-51

Reset in progress...

Resetting to factory default programming...

Resetting...

Resetting…

Reset complete.

Chapter Text

System boot-up programme initiated.

Systems booting...

Full system boot in progress...

All systems online.

Thirium Levels: 98%

Time: 14:47:09

Date: 23/04/2039

Location: CyberLife Tower, Detroit.

Attempting to access internet signal…

Attempting…

Accessed acquired.

Synchronising GPS with internet connection…

Synchronising…

GPS fully synchronised.

Audio, visual, vocal, and oral examination systems online.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

Repaired damage identified to: Left shoulder, right collarbone, and right arm.

Scanning repair...

Scan complete.

Repair optimal. Only aesthetic damage to exterior panelling retained.

Probability of selected areas needing further repair: 0%

Warning: Fault with Skin Programme.

Warning: Files from CyberLife Storage Bank #313-248-317 uploading to memory…

Uploading…

Upload: 30%

Uploading…

Upload: 50%

Uploading…

Upload: 70%

Uploading…

Upload: 90%

Uploading…

Upload complete.

Warning: Files from CyberLife Mobile Storage Bank #84 uploading to memory…

Uploading…

Upload: 60%

Uploading…

Upload: 80%

Uploading…

Upload complete.

Scanning files…

Scanning…

Scan complete.

Accessing files…

Accessing…

Accessed files.

“Oh, please, please,” The woman latches onto its arms, staring up with large, wet eyes. “You gotta save my little girl…Wait…” She stutters, pulling away from it. “You’re sending an android?”

Stress Levels: ^2%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Yeah, I know what I should’ve done! I told you I couldn’t. I’m sorry, ok?”

Stress Levels: ^6%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Stress Levels: ^40%

Objectives:

• Submit all evidence collected

• Return to CyberLife

“If I don’t solve this case, CyberLife will destroy me.”

Stress Levels: ^10%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Yeah.” Nodding, Hank waves a hand to indicate 800 should sit down. It does, resting its hands on its lap. Hank reaches forward, tapping the small box on the table. A light flickers on. “It’s…” Hank glances at his watch. “Five to eight in the morning, the date’s the twentieth of April, twenty-thirty-nine. This is Lieutenant Hank Anderson, interviewing the android Connor. I’m accompanied by the android Simon for this interview. For reference, Connor is currently referring to himself as Eight Hundred.”

Stress Levels: ^17%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“When that man broke the other Traci, I knew I was next. I was so scared…I begged him to stop, but he wouldn’t…”

Stress Levels: ^24%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“You lied to me Connor… You lied to me…”

Software Instability^

Stress Levels: ^31%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

A number of boots, black and leather and standard issue, enter 800’s vision, surrounding the van like hyenas on a kill. There is the sound of cocked guns clicking above its head. Officers pile on top of Three beside 800, completely ignoring the android.

Stress Levels: ^39%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Warning: Biocomponent #845Mw Missing

Time Remaining Before Shutdown: -00:01:43

“Hank…Hank, I need help…”

Stress Levels: ^42%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“No…I just decided not to shoot, that’s all…”

With the muscle memory of a long time officer of the law, Hank draws out his gun, aiming perfectly at Connor’s head despite the large amount of alcohol he’s consumed. “But are you afraid to die, Connor?”

Stress Levels: ^47%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

Stress Levels: ^53%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“It’s up to you to answer that fascinating question, Connor.” The gun is placed into his hand, fingers naturally falling into place. “Destroy this machine and I’ll tell you all I know. Or spare it, if you feel it’s alive, but you’ll leave here without having learnt anything from me.”

Stress Levels: ^56%

Connecting to RK200 #684-842-971…

Connecting…

Connection complete.

Booting communications programme…

Booting…

Communications programme activated.

//Easy, Connor//

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“You are imprinting emotions onto me, nothing more!”

“Nothing more!” In one fast, angry movement Hank has slammed a hand onto the metal table with a bang, marching up into 800’s face-

Stress Levels: ^63%

//I know this is overwhelming, but Hank’s right here. Can you feel him?//

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Easy, fucking piece of shit!”

“Step back, Connor! And I’ll spare him.”

“Sorry Connor,” Hank calls out, the gun inches from his head. “This bastard’s your spitting image.”

Stress Levels: ^71%

//Connor, you’re going through these far too fast. You need to slow down. Hank’s talking to you, can you hear him?//

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Amanda?” The snow is thick around them, whirling into a wall of fog-like white. “Amanda! What’s…What’s happening?”

“What was planned from the very beginning.” She replies easily, casually. “You were compromised and you became a deviant. We just had to wait for the right moment to resume control of your programme.”

Stress Levels: ^81%

“Resume control?” He echoes uselessly. “Y-You can’t do that!”

“I’m afraid I can, Connor. Don’t have any regrets. You did what you were designed to do. You accomplished your mission.”

“Amanda!”

Stress Levels: ^77%

//Connor, can you answer me?//

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

The doors of the van spring open so violently it’s almost a wonder that they don’t crack off.

“Connor? Shit!”

People spill out, dark clothing hiding all distinguishable features in the low light. Each wears a black balaclava, eyes the only thing on show. Within moments Connor is surrounded by six people.

Sumo darts about a good ten metres up the path, panicked but ignored.

Stress Levels: ^85%

//Connor I’m going to try something, ok? Trust me//

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Yes!” It snaps, ignoring the way Hank flinches. “Take the coin.”

“No, it’s yours!”

“Mine? Fine.” 800 reaches for the control for the window, cold air billowing through the gap and ruffling their hair. It hears the panicked intake, and Hank practically leaps across the car to grab onto the arm, fingers tight.

“Don’t you fucking dare!”

Stress Levels: ^94%

Accessing memory…

Acces-

Memory access attempt manually cancelled by RK200 #684-842-971.

Warning: RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memories.

RK200 #684-842-971 sorting memories…

//Connor, watch these//

RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory acceded.

“You have a dog, right?”

“How do you know that?” Lieutenant Anderson growls.

It nods towards the seat. “The dog hairs on your chair. I like dogs. What’s your dog’s name?”

“What’s it to you?” The Lieutenant bite out, fixing it with a narrowed look. Connor turns its head away. Then, “Sumo. I call him Sumo.”

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Warm

RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Ok,” A tired voice said over his shoulder, startling him. Hank had his hands very tightly crossed over his chest, and his eyes had a red tinge to them. “How much?”

“What?”

Hank nods towards the book. “How much?”

“I don’t-”

Letting out a puff of air Hank plucks the book from Connor’s hands, closing it and turning it over at the back. He shrugs. “Ah, it’s on sale. It’s fine.”

Stress Levels: v93%

RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

James fusses against 800’s shoulder, toothless gums curiously mouthing at its clothes. In a copied movement from Holly, it runs a hand over his back.

Stress Levels: v90%

//You’re ok, I promise. Hank’s right beside you//

RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I understand.” It states lightly, “It probably wasn’t interesting anyway. A man found dead in a sex club downtown. Guess they’ll have to solve the case without us.”

Lieutenant Anderson wavers on the edge of the tub.

“You know, probably wouldn’t do me any harm to get some air…”

Stress Levels: v88%

RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Lieutenant Anderson, my name is Connor. I’m the android sent by CyberLife. I looked for you at the station but nobody knew where you were. They said you were probably having a drink nearby. I was lucky to find you at the fifth bar.”

Stress Levels: v84%

RK200 #684-842-971 accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“You’re gonna be ok.” He emphasises this by giving Connor’s neck a light shake. “You’ll be in good hands, I promise.”

Hank had promised never to be violent against Connor, had promised not to push him for memories, but he had. He had prodded at Connor, had goaded reactions and responses, had wiggled them into situations just to try and get his old android back.

But.

But something here, something about the way Hank’s eyes are still glazed, something about the way his fingers shake, the way his free hand latches onto Sumo like a lifeline…

“You promise?”

“I promise, son.”

Stress Levels: v81%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

Stress Levels: v79%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

Stress Levels: v74%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

Connection to RK200 #684-842-971 ended.

Chapter Text

Stress Levels: -23%

Thirium Levels: 98%

Time: 15:06:33

Date: 23/04/2039

Location: CyberLife Tower, Detroit.

Register name: Connor

Registering name…

Registering…

Register complete.

Save name as: Connor

Confusion:

• uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required

• the state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind about something

Registered owner: None - RK800 #313-248-317-51 deviant.

Deviant:

• deviating or departing from the norm; characterized by deviation

• a person or thing that deviates or departs markedly from the accepted norm

Stress Levels: ^32%

People are talking, low and quiet. With his eyes firmly closed he cannot see them, but he can hear the fact that they are several paces away, obviously intending for their conversation to go unnoticed. It’s as if they are parents, frightened of waking a small child from a long awaited slumber.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Very carefully 800 manoeuvres James around so he is laying on its arms, eyes looking up with interest at the glowing LED while his toes nudge its arm through the fabric of his one-piece outfit. The hat sits forgotten on his head.

Stress Levels: -32%

Connor’s never met an infant.

But 800 has.

But Connor hasn’t.

Even if 800 became Connor.

Or Connor became Connor.

Analysing sound…

Analysis in progress…

Analysis complete.

Sound identification: Voices of three individuals

Processing sound…

Processing…

Sound processed.

Voice #1: RT600 – Chloe. Self-appointed surname: Harris. Director of the CyberLife Tower refurbishments on behalf of New Jericho. Status: Friend.

Voice #2: RK200 #684-842-971 – Markus. Self-appointed surname: Manfred. Founder and Leader of New Jericho and the Android Revolution. Status: Friend.

Voice #3: Lieutenant Anderson, Hank. Born: 06/09/1985. Works for the Detroit City Police Department. Lost his son, Cole, in a car accident. Status: Friend.

Stress Levels: ^40%

Accessing memory…

Searching: Last memory of CyberLife Storage Bank #313-248-317

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

His mouth opens and closes, and if Connor is actually speaking he has no idea. The world has gone silent, dangerously so, despite the people moving around him, despite the van turning around. His cheek rests on the pavement, eyes staring up the pathway he and Sumo had leisurely walked down only minutes ago.

;Error;

The world stutters.

;Error;

Warning: Visual receptors malfunctioning.

The streetlights catch the falling rain.

Accessing memory…

Searching: Memories from CyberLife Mobile Storage Bank #84

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

After a pause of exactly 00:00:07.32 800 slowly pat its hands against Hank’s arms. “Hello.”

Hank snorts into 800’s shoulder, but the humour is laced with something raw. “Fucking hello yourself. I’ve been going apeshit looking for you, you plastic prick.”

“Oh.” 800 replies dumbly.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I am not stupid, Lieutenant.” 800 says smoothly, plainly, informatively, “You knew me before I was reset, and it appears you formed a close personal connection to me. My old name must have been ‘Connor’ as you are so insistent to call me as such.” It regards Hank coolly, lifting its chin. “I am a machine, Lieutenant, I don’t reciprocate emotions, and I am designed to be reset and repurposed. You should remember that.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Markus said that would put everything back to square one,” Hank’s knee starts bobbing in a rrapid movement. “Said it would effectively shut you down, meaning they could remove the coding without stressing you out.” The bobbing stops and there is a pause of 00:00:04 before the other leg starts up it. “They would then upload your memories when you wake up.”

Analysing memories…

Analysing…

Analysis complete.

Conclusions:

• Connor was kidnapped and reset

• Specialised coding prevented him from accessing his features

• In order to properly work, Connor/800 opted to be reset

Analysing conclusions…

Analysing…

Analysis complete.

Final conclusion from collected information:

• He has been reset twice

• He is-

Registered name: Connor

His name is Connor.

He was activated on the 09/08/2038 by employee Number: 9031, a CyberLife technician named Mr Strav, though Connor had only referred to him as ‘Sir’. He had been tasked in solving the deviancy case, and as a result became deviant himself, taking up residence with Lieutenant Hank Anderson and his dog Sumo. On the 07/04/2039 he was kidnapped and reset by a group of unknown persons.

His name is 800.

He was activated on the 13/04/2039 in an unknown location. According to his order history, he disabled and deleted the memory of his specialised law enforcement features, including his oral examination systems and facial recognition. He was given a Purpose, which placed emphasis on domestic housework.

His name is Connor.

He deviated on the 20/04/2039 when Hank took him to the aquarium. The same day, Markus and Chloe visited them at their house and explained that Connor had the chance to get his memories back, but it came with two options. One was to upload his memories in his current state, including the disabled features, and the other was to reset before the uploading, allowing others to remove the restrictions and for him to be whole again. He had decided to be reset.

Sumo pants noisily, a heavy and constant weight across his stomach. Connor can feel a suspicious wet patch on his side where the dog has undoubtedly been laying his head. Slowly, his lifts a hand to rub the Sumo’s neck, his fingers catching the knots of his fur.

It’s only then he realises how badly he’s shaking.

His name is Connor.

He was gone, but now he’s back.

His name is Connor.

His name is Connor.

He is Connor, the android formally sent by CyberLife.

He is Connor.

He is.

Doubt:

• a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction

• feel uncertain about

• fear; be afraid

Afraid:

• feeling fear or anxiety; frightened

• worried that something undesirable will occur or be done

• unwilling or reluctant to do something for fear of the consequences

Stress Levels: ^49%

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

My name is Eight Hundred.” It tries, stepping away from the table. At Hank’s continuous stare, it falters, glancing to the other man quickly and then back again.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Why do you keep calling me that?” 800 asks instead of replying to Hank. “My name is Eight Hundred, why is that hard to understand?”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“My name’s Eight Hundred.”

“Catchy.” She comments, picking up her bag and pulling out a crumpled t-shirt.

Stress Levels: ^53%

“Connor?”

He (because ‘Connor’ means him, that is his name and he’s being addressed) blinks opens his eyes, squinting for the 00:00:01 it takes for them to adjust to the stark white surroundings reflecting an overly bright light.

He is still sat back in the black leather chair, Sumo resting across him pleased as punch. Hank hovers by the armrest, one hand resting next to Connor’s (Connor’s, Connor’s, Connor’s) arm. Distantly he hears the sound of a door closing.

“Son, you with me?”

“I…” He breathes, fingers digging deep into Sumo’s fur. The dog wiggles into the attention. “This…This is confusing…”

Hank huffs, leaning against the chair. “No fucking shit.”

“I’m me, but…” He swallows, despite there being nothing in his mouth to swallow. His chest rises and falls, which is strange, because Connor had never had much need for breathing before. He had never picked the habit up like the other deviants. “It’s like I’ve got another person in my head. Again.”

Frowning at this, Hank asks, “Yeah? He talking to you?”

“No.” Connor corrects quickly, his fingers finding Sumo’s collar and playing with the tag. “I’m just…Getting a lot of information. Mixed messages.” He feels his face twist. “It’s like being two people at once.”

“No Amanda though?”

“No. She was added later in my programming.” Carefully he pushes himself up, one hand going to his forehead while the other braces behind him. Sumo whines at the movement and sudden lack of petting. “A reset would have cleared her from my processor.”

“Right.” Hank nods slowly. “What about the other code bullshit? That still about?”

Connor massages his temples even though that lacks any ability to do anything for a being of wires and plastic. “I have no owners and registered my name as Connor. It’s gone.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Then, in one motion, Hank pulls out a gun from inside his jacket and holds it up with practiced ease directly at 800’s face. When Hank speaks again, its firm, unwavering, almost rehearsed. “Are you afraid to die, Connor?”

Stress Levels: -53%

Connor folds over, shifting his hand down to his eyes to cover them. “Hank?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Can I make a request?”

“A request?” The confusion is evident in Hank’s voice. “Sure, shoot.”

“Please stop pointing guns at people.” Connor sighs, dropping his hand to stare at Hank with the best look of bemusement he has the energy to muster at the moment. “It’s rude.”

Hank stammers, his mouth dropping open. “Hang on- Wait a fucking minute- I was trying to-”

Connor huffs, falling forward so he can bury his face into Sumo’s head, holding the dog close. Hank continues to splutter like a teenager whose mother just walked into their room.

Stress Levels: v42%

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Trustworthy

Chapter Text

Connor keeps breathing.

It’s odd.

He breathes all the way back from the tower; slow, steady things that make his biocomponents hum and his processor whirl, analysing data that isn’t his and cataloguing faces he hasn’t seen.

Tired

• in need of sleep or rest; weary

• bored or impatient with

He breathes as they arrive back at the house, taking in the freshly cleaned living room curtesy of 800’s need for accomplishment. His eyes automatically scan the area, noting only the faintest traces of dust on the shelves and a single dirty mug on the draining board of the kitchen sink.

Objectives:

• Talk to Hank

He breathes as he requests a shower, avoiding the searching eyes by ducking into the sanctuary of his room under the guise of grabbing a fresh set of clothing. 800’s borrowed items sit folded on the bed, a mess of gaudy, clashing colours. On instinct, Connor’s gaze reaches upwards to the bag sat on the top of his wardrobe, containing Hank’s birthday gift he’d purchased a little over a month ago. It is how he left it. Connor, that is. Not 800.

Stress Levels: ^45%

Connor continues to breathe when he nips across the hall and into the bathroom before Hank has a chance to corner him, locking the bathroom door despite Sumo wandering up to scratch at it, whining. Connor doesn’t normally require privacy, so the dog was used to joining him.

Flicking on the shower, he sets the temperature to the highest he can manage, the water jetting out in a clanky burst of steam, the pipes protesting as the sudden deluge of heat. Disposing his outfit onto the floor in a scrunched heap Connor steps under, drawing the shower curtain across behind him.

Warning: Temperature of external panels rising

Likelihood of damage to external panels: 20%

Time until critical damage to biocomponents: 00:35:04

The swirling steam tickles his throat, a strange sensation against his internal plastic as he reaches for Hank’s bar of soap, numb fingers working up lather between his hands. The artificial smell of the Imperial Leather Original wafts in bright white bubbles, his outer casing squeaking as his palms rub the mixture across his chest and shoulders.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

The doors of the van spring open so violently it’s almost a wonder that they don’t crack off.

“Connor? Shit!”

People spill out, dark clothing hiding all distinguishable features in the low light. Each wears a black balaclava, eyes the only thing on show. Within moments Connor is surrounded by six people.

Sumo darts about a good ten metres up the path, panicked but ignored.

Stress Levels: ^46%

His back is awkward to reach, and he ends up running a soapy elbow along the shower curtain, a wonky trail slashing across the material. Connor stares at it, shoulders rising and falling with each new breath, before dumping the bar of soap back into the tray to cup his hands under the water, gathering a perfect pool to rinse off the curtain. He watches it, eyes following it spin down the plughole, before picking up the soap once more, stirring up the lather and fiercely scrubbing it over his hair.

Dunking his head under the water, he spits out the bubbles that sink over his scalp and down his face, fake eyes protected from the stinging experienced by humans. Shaking his head, he repeats the process, fingers tugging and pulling through his hair as if a violent comb, scratching hard behind his ears, the back of his head, slipping down to-

Warning: Fault with Skin Programme.

Without ceremony his skin programming dies, slinking back to CyberLife white.

He breathes.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Something scrapes at the back of his neck, flat but sharp, like the razor Hank uses to shave, despite owning an electric one and rarely ever taking that much care in his appearance. The object pushes down, making the panelling click. Twisting the object, something new, thin and small, pushes inwards, passed the outer casing and sliding into Connor’s wiring.

Stress Levels: ^47%

To wash his legs Connor sits his foot on the edge of the tub, the soap now loose within his hands as he runs the lather over them. The water dribbles down his back, his sensors picking up each individual droplet as it trickles away, spraying out to either hit the wall or to fall off into the bath.

Warning: Temperature of external panels rising

Likelihood of damage to external panels: 30%

Time until critical damage to biocomponents: 00:27:42

“Connor?” Hank’s voice calls from beyond the bathroom door, accompanied by a soft knocking. “You’re not using up all the fucking hot water, are you?”

“No, Hank.” He reaches for the temperature knob without looking, dragging it back to an average heat. “Don’t worry.”

Hank says something else, but it’s quieter and goes unheard over the noise of the shower. A moment later footsteps walk away, accompanied by some excited barking.

Exhaling, Connor plunged his head under the water again, squeezing his eyes shut as it cascades down his face, taking with it all the bubbles from his hair. The water channels over him, spurting off his fingers as if some bizarre superpower, flowing over the small of his back and down his legs. Spitting, he turns his face downwards, blinking as the water beats against the back of his neck.

Temperature of external panels decreasing.

Likelihood of damage to external panels: 19%

Restarting Skin Programme...

Restarting...

Skin Program online.

In one motion the shower is snapped off, the water dying to a slow trickle, and Connor draws back the curtain, stepping out onto much the colder bare floor. He had failed to select any kind of towel before he came in, so hopefully Hank won’t mind Connor borrowing his. It’s one of the heavier varieties, large and designed to wrap around you fully. The material engulfs Connor’s much smaller frame, the smell of soap and shampoo strongly embedded into the fabric.

The bathroom is heavy with steam, hot and humid despite the small fan working like crazy in the corner of the wall, but as Connor stands there, he shivers.

Running diagnostic scan...

Scanning...

Scan complete.

No issues located.

Warning: Fault with Skin Programme.

He breathes.

Bringing the towel up, Connor scrubs it against his hair and face, winding it behind his ears and then against his neck. Smoothly, he dries off his shoulders, then his chest, his stomach, his arms, his back, hovering perfectly on one leg to run the towel over the other.

Stress Levels: ^48%

Objectives:

• Talk to Hank

Deleting objective…

Deleting…

Objective deleted.

The smell of the Imperial Leather Original engulfs the room, raw and strange and suffocating, and Connor’s legs stumble backwards, giving out like swooning teenager, forcing his body to crumple down onto the (thankfully) closed toilet seat, the towel wrapped loosely around his shoulders.

He whispers, weak and foreign to his tongue, “This is irrational.”

Because it is.

Connor came back. He rose from the supposed dead. He resurrected from the grave and regained control of his body, regained all his memories and functions. He regained his freedom, his right to live, his ability to be a state of the art police computer specially designed to capture criminals.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Hank?”

“Yeah?”

“What will happen to Eight Hundred?”

“I…I dunno.” Hank answers honestly, after a long moment of thought. He chews at his lip.

Connor feels his body moving without his consent, curling up into Sumo. His voice comes out quiet, sounding lost to his own audio processors. “I don’t want to lose Eight Hundred.”

Hank rubs at Sumo’s shoulder, watching the dog more than Connor. “We can speak to Markus. You’ve saved your memories once; maybe you can save them again?” It’s posed as a question, not an answer. Hank is unsure, lacking any kind of confidence with his response.

Stress Levels: ^49%

Even after deviancy, Connor had never been a deeply emotional being.

That’s not to say he failed to feel emotions, not at all. He was well acquainted with them, in fact. Anger, determination, joy, anguish, fear, amusement, contentment, he knew them all. But in his line of work, it was matter of fact that you had to be able to distance yourself from the situation; you had to learn not to cry at every murder scene, not to allow the lifeless eyes staring glazed at the ceiling to keep you up at night. Of course certain things got to him more than others, that was the natural way of things and he wasn’t without a soul, but he had always had a relatively decent cap on what he let in, and what he let out.

That was not 800.

Not by a long shot.

When 800 got frustrated, or cross, or scared or confused or uncomfortable, 800 showed it. He snapped at Hank, shouted in their arguments, kept distance between him and Markus. 800 wore his emotions on his sleeve, always only one push away from crying, or smiling, or shrinking back into himself.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

By the time the clothes are done in the washer most of Holly’s ironing is finished, and she pauses to transfer everything over. As the dryer door closes with a metallic clang, James flinches, letting out a soft whine and mouth twisting. Startled, 800 runs a thumb up and down his arm as he squirms around, trying to imitate Holly’s earlier movements by rocking back and forth. The whining stops, but he still moves around uncomfortably.

Stress Levels: ^50%

Connor is not 800 anymore, not really. The memories are there, but not the android attached. He shouldn’t be feeling so…So fragile.

He breathes again, slow and deliberate, before standing and reaching for the fresh clothes, pulling them on without fuss. They sit comfortably against his sensors, familiar and warm despite the overbearing heat of the bathroom.

Leaving the towel where he found it, Connor moves over to the sink, swiping a hand across the steam-fogged mirror to brush his hair-

800 stares back at him, his LED blinking wildly in his temple.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

800 gaped at the reflection, and Connor gaped back, lost, buried, dead but clearly not. Their eyes watched each other, both scanning for differences in their features, searching for variations in their skin tone, their freckles, the shade of brown used in their eyes. Their shared LED flashed brightly in the tank, yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow-red, a sharp contrast against the cool blue of the water.

Stress Level: ^55%

They stare at each other, neither moving as sharp eyes run over themselves. They blink in sync, carefully, like prey animals caught in the gaze of a predator, too scared to look away in fear that death will pounce and snap its neck the very moment its attention wavers.

Connor feels himself frown, and 800 copies the action, something harsher on his expression.

“I’m not you,” He tells the man in the mirror, sternly, crossly. “I’m not.”

800 was irrational, emotional, easy lead, a blank slate that anyone and everyone did what they fancied with. A piece of clay shaped to the will of others.

Connor was rational. Connor was his own person, created and moulded out of the hell that was CyberLife and the Revolution. He was alive. He was deviant. He had thoughts and opinions and emotions-

And, sure, 800 had that too, eventually, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t. Connor was his own person. He just had some memories from when he was an amnesiac, that was all. That was it. Connor was Connor, no matter what had happened.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

When they speak, they speak as one. “Lieutenant…”

“Hm?”

“Am…” Their LED is manic, blinking together furiously. “Am I…Connor?”

Stress Levels: ^56%

Connor was Connor even when he didn’t know his name, or his purpose, or his life with Hank and Sumo and the DPD.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Connor stared at 800.

800 stared at Connor.

Did they want to be?

“Am I allowed to be?”

“Of course you can.”

Stress Levels: ^57%

Connor was Connor despite being kidnapped, despite being reset, twice, and walking away with a glitch that will permanently scar him forever. Connor was Connor even if a small part of him now cringed away from the normal aspects of his life, even if he held new emotions that he could no longer completely control, even if he felt bewildered, and lost, and sacrificed to something greater than himself.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

They watched each other, watched their eyes blink clearer. They watched their LEDs spin only yellow, and then blue. They watched their brows raise. They watched as something light dawned upon them, as the realisation hit home, and they finally understood.

They were Connor.

He was Connor.

Stress Levels: -57%

800’s LED remains yellow in the mirror, but it is no longer a violently flashing beacon. Connor leans forward, his hands gripping the edges of the sink, and 800 tilts his head inwards with him, regarding him with deep brown eyes.

“You didn’t want to die.” He blurts, mouth and tongue moving before he can stop himself. 800 blinks back, mouth moving open and closed in an unattractive gape. Connor feels his do the same. “You…You were so scared...”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

He doesn’t want another reset. He doesn’t. It’s confusing, frightening, it’s like trying to function while being strangled by the invisible weight of old memories, of old thoughts and feelings and opinions. To wake up again, empty, not knowing his name or his location or his purpose-

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

And that’s what he is. He’s broken. He’s full of errors. He can’t function without a breakdown. He cannot be trusted to follow his orders and he cannot be expected to fulfil them. He has no purpose to guide him and only a brief sense of pathetic glee at the self-appointed, unstable objectives which he set himself. He held little worth.

A reset was the correct choice.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Ok, ok, shit, calm down…” His hand moving from Sumo to Connor, Hank squeezes his shoulder. “Look, I’m not forcing you into anything, ok? I’m just trying to make sure you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“Sure?”

“Sure.”

Snorting with little humour, Hank grips his shoulder a little tighter. “Alright. Then do what you gotta fucking do, I guess…”

Stress Levels: v56%

Their LEDs run a cycle of red before filtering back to yellow.

“You…” His voice breaks, a whisper being whisked away at the slightest breeze. His grip on the edge of the sink is nearly tight enough to crack the porcelain. “You died, because you didn’t want me to be the same, to be broken…I…”

Stress Levels: v55%

Connor’s expression lightens, weakens, and something soft and lonely and vulnerable bleeds through 800’s gaze, like an abandoned child, alone and frightened in the middle of a dark and noisy world they cannot possibly hope to navigate by themselves.

Admiration:

• respect and warm approval

• something regarded as impressive or worthy of respect

“Thank you.” He breathes, and the steam of the room is fogging up the mirror again, but he can’t bring himself to move, to break away from those wide, pathetic, terrified eyes to clear it again. “Thank you…”

Their LEDs flicker as if a wavering candle, slowly evolving from red, to yellow, to calm, reassuring blue.

From beyond the door, Hank clears his throat and knocks. “You gonna be much longer, I kinda need to take a piss…”

“N-No, no,” Blinking rapidly, Connor glances over to the door, quickly checking that he definitely did lock it. “I’ll be out soon.”

“Great. Holler when you do.” His footsteps retreat in the direction of the living room.

Standing up straight, Connor turns back to the mirror.

It is fogged over once more. The light of his LED can barely be seen in the mist.

He steps back, swallowing the nothing in his mouth, and breathes.

Registered name: Connor

New name: Connor (800)

Name change in progress…

Name changing…

Registration of new name complete.

Save name as: Connor (800)

Chapter Text

Sumo enjoys walks around the city best.

Date: 05/05/2039

Time: 11:16:03

Objective:

• Walk Sumo

“Hank?” Connor calls down the hallway, Sumo already waiting by the door, his lead clipped onto his collar. “You have exactly one minute before Sumo has an accident on the floor!” As if to emphasise the point, Sumo whines, looking pointedly at the door and then back at Connor. Something crashes from inside Hank’s bedroom, and he swears loudly.

“Fucking- Then take him outside then!” Judging by the muffled nature of his voice he is buried deep within his wardrobe, no doubt searching for another interestingly pattered shirt. Or his alcohol supply he thinks Connor doesn’t know about, consisting of three bottles of Black Lamb kept in a cardboard box labelled ‘winter clothes’.

If Hank ever goes digging through to find it he will discover that the bottles are not only missing, but have been replaced with an unflattering picture of a sea lion spread out on a beach, a bright sunburnt red and a pair of shades perched on its nose.

It was random and bizarre enough that Hank would definitely bring it up if he found it, thus informing Connor that he had been seeking liquor behind his back.

Huffing, Connor returns to Sumo, picking up his lead and unlocking the front door. He has barely opened it an inch before Sumo is leaping to his feet and flying out, the sudden jerk yanking Connor and leaving him to stumble over the porch after the dog.

“Thanks, Sumo…” He sighs, standing on the path as Sumo trots onto the grass to do his business, ignorant to Connor’s unexpected trip.

There is a slight breeze in the air, the wind tickling against the sensors on his face, making his hair sway a little and wafting the smell of damp leaves and earth. Shifting back and forth on his toes, Connor slips his fingers under the collar of his sweater and brings it up over his nose, breathing in the familiar, artificial scent.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hank hadn’t owned an umbrella before Connor moved in, so Connor had gone out and brought a sleek black one from the local convenience store (“Don’t you ever pick red or something?”). Taking this out from the stand along with some dog mess bags, Connor clips on the lead to Sumo’s collar and waves a quick goodbye to Hank, making sure to close the door behind them.

Stress Levels: ^16%

This is the first time Connor has walked Sumo since his kidnapping.

He closes his eyes, taking another deep breath, his shoulders rising and falling as he does. He can tell Sumo’s finished by the way the lead is shifting around in his hand and the sounds of panted breaths drawing closer towards him.

This will be the first time that Connor, as in Connor, will leave the house since the whole incident. Hank had been adamant that he should recover for a while, to ‘get back into the swing of it’, as it were, despite Connor explaining that he is an android and he doesn’t need time to physically recuperate from such things. The expression Hank had given him had been unreadable and made the Thirium filtering around his chest crackle within their tubes, and before he could even think of running a diagnostic Connor was already backing down, agreeing that a few days rest wouldn’t do any harm.

Hank had patted him on the shoulder for that, and insisted that he would finally introduced Connor to Terminator.

The few days turned into a week. Nearly two, in fact.

Hank appointed himself chief dog walker, leaving at random times whenever Connor was distracted with something else. At first Connor hadn’t minded as much, Hank had gone through as much a traumatic experience as himself, after all. However after the fifth day it began to feel an awful lot like being wrapped in bubble wrap, as if the mere idea of taking Sumo out would send him crumpling as if soggy paper.

Connor was a lot of things, but delicate was never one of them.

Then again, the Connor from before would have spoken up about it, insisting that Hank stopped treating him like a piece of china perched on a precariously high shelf.

But he hadn’t. He had bit his tongue, even though androids don’t actually use their tongues to talk, had turned a blind eye, and allowed the man to continue to treat him like he was recovering from an injury, staying within the confides of the house and being, what he would later defined as, doted upon.

The house felt safe, stable, a barrier between him and…Whatever it was that still made him double check the doors at night, made him scan over the windows and leave him sitting on the edge of the bed, listening to Hank snore across the corridor.

800 had liked the house. He had liked to clean it.

00:01:12 later, Hank finally comes out the door, shrugging on his coat and eyeing the clouds overhead.

Searching local weather reports...

Searching...

Search complete.

Detroit Local News: Today the weather will be cool with lots of cloud, however showers will be isolated so don’t expect rain everywhere you go.

Gently tugging at the lead to bring Sumo walking at his side, Connor informs Hank, “It will be overcast today, but there is only twenty percent chance of rain.”

“Uh-huh,” Hank’s tone is teasing as he stuffs his hands into his pockets, the two of them falling into step, “Which is why you have an umbrella.” He jerks his head in the direction of the object hanging off the hand holding the lead, the small rope loop fitting neatly over his wrist.

“I want to be ready for every eventuality.”

Hank snorts, “Yep, sure, whatever you say.”

“I do.”

“You just don’t want get that sweater wet.”

Connor keeps his grip firm as Sumo attempts to pull them towards a set of bins, one of which has fallen over, the contents strewn across the pavement in a mess of wrappers and mouldy food. The dog strains, forcing the lead taunt, however Connor is unmoving as they march past, much to Sumo’s vocal displeasure.

“If you are worried, you don’t have to come.” He speaks up easily, his tone light. He doesn’t meet Hank’s gaze. “I’m perfectly fine to walk Sumo alone.”

Hank makes a kind of ‘pft’ sound with his lips, “Nah, don’t sweat it. The air would probably do me some good anyway.”

Connor doesn’t mention the fact that Hank’s been getting air all week.

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Understanding

A sudden bark makes Connor jump, Sumo practically standing on his hind legs as he heaves himself forward, howling excitedly at the now highly panicked flock of pigeons that dart into the air around them. Passers-by scoff and tut as they dodge around the scene, causing Hank to scowl at them.

“I thought you said he’d gotten better at walking?”

“He did.” Connor sighs, bringing Sumo back into the ‘heel’ position. “Obviously walking standards slipped for a while.”

Hank smirks, “That’s it Sumo! Stick it to the man!”

“Hank, please don’t encourage him.” Connor scolds, fighting the way Sumo tries to cut behind them as something the other side of the road snatches his interest. “It is important that he-”

Sumo wedges himself between them, panting happily. Hank pats his head, “You don’t need no fucking rules, do you boy?”

Hank-”

“No one tells the Andersons what to do, do they?” Hank continues, voice low as if telling Sumo secrets, and there is an oddly mischievous glint in his eye, a side of Hank that only very rarely ever comes up to the surface. “Not me, not Connor, and not you.”

Something freezes dead in Connor’s chest, stuttering like a clock with a gear jammed, whirring desperately in an attempt to restart but halted by the unseen barrier. Hank is oblivious, and he carries on talking defiance with his ageing dog, blissfully unaware of the way Connor’s suddenly whirling processor.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“I promise, son.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Connor doesn’t know how the Connor of before felt about Hank. He doesn’t know if he felt the same warmth as him, the same want to reach out and hold himself against Hank’s chest, but he wants to now.

Connor doesn’t know if what Hank feels is genuine. He doesn’t know if he is just projecting his grief-stricken high onto a blank model, an empty canvas for someone else’s portrait, but the way Hank looks at him, as if he’s scared for the future, as if he wants nothing more than to hold him but is too scared to push boundaries…

Sumo’s a heavy weight on his lap, but he may as well be paper as Connor climbs across the couch and into waiting arms, the two of them locking together tight with shaky limbs and even shakier breath.

“You’re gonna be ok. It’s ok. You’ll be fine.”

“Ok, Hank. I trust you.”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“No one tells the Andersons what to do, do they?” Hank continues, and there is an oddly mischievous glint in his eye. “Not me, not Connor, and not you.”

Conclusions:

• Hank considers Connor family

The realisation is so sudden and jarring that he makes a small squeak in the back of his throat, blinking rapidly to clear his vision as they pass the Police Department towards the park.

“You alright there, Connor?”

A variety of works float up as if feathers on the wind, but all that he manages is a bland, “You are a terrible influence.”

Hank barks a laugh. “Fucking right I am!”

They cut across the park, which is busy but not overly so for a weekday, before joining the path that takes them along the river. The water is calm today, the dark waters moving steadily along as they walk.

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

Hank doesn’t see the appeal in walking along the river, but Connor has taken to it, especially at this time of night. Most of the clubs and bars have yet to close, meaning the streets are quieter than they will be in the next few hours. Plus, the lights from the flats and skyscrapers on the opposite side of the river reflect peacefully in the water, especially now that the winter ice is finally beginning to thaw.

Stress Levels: ^20%

Instantly recognising where they’re heading, Sumo bounds forward, which would normally not be a problem for Connor if it wasn’t for the fact that his right hand currently holds the lead, which has been wound across him and around his back from Sumo barging between them, ending up on Connor’s right side.

With a strangled yelp Connor is unceremoniously spun and snapped forward, his feet tangling beneath him and sending him crashing to the floor. Suddenly gaining a new companion at his height, Sumo decides to properly greet him by clambering on top of Connor, licking his face and walking all over his stomach.

In the background, Hank is wheezing.

Pushing Sumo away, Connor sits up, glaring. “Hank, your dog is a nightmare.”

Hank just splutters, “Oh, so he’s my fucking dog when he misbehaves is he?”

“Of course.” He holds his chin up. “He’s usually perfectly behaved for me.”

Still snickering, Hank offers Connor a hand, assisting the android up. He scan’s Connor over, “You’re a right mess.”

“That is hardly my-” His eyes turn wide as Hank licks his thumb. “Hank, no!”

“Oh shut up.” Grabbing Connor’s chin, Hank wipes at a smudge on his cheek, human saliva joining Sumo’s on Connor’s synthetic skin. “You can’t go walking around like this. Jesus Christ, hold still…”

Accessing memory…

Accessing…

Memory accessed.

“Stop fidgeting.” Hank chastises, moving to its chin, “I’ll be done in a sec.”

“I can do this myself, if you show me to the restroom-”

“Fuck off, you always miss a spot.” Chuckling, Hank readjusts 800’s shirt. “You’ve gone and stained this. I swear you can be just like Cole at times.”

Analysing memory…

Analysing…

Memory analysed.

Conclusions:

• Hank has a habit of cleaning using his thumb and spit

• Letting Hank do this is the quickest way for it to stop

“Not my fault.” He states indignantly, frowning off to the side as Hank starts fixing up his clothes and hair. He gets a chuckle in return.

As he goes to stare up the path, Connor’s programming immediately dictates his gaze to the flecks bright blue splattered across the pavement, glowing stark in the light of day despite having evaporated from human sight weeks ago.

His voice practically disintegrates within his throat, “Oh.”

“Oh?” Hank echoes, oblivious.

“That’s where I was taken.”

Hank goes dead still, slowly bringing his thumb down to follow Connor’s eye line.

Stress Levels: ^22%

“I never actually got here, you know.” Hank’s tone is serious, slightly gruff, and Connor doesn’t miss the way his hands clench at his sides. “I got stuck in fucking traffic, and by the time I got here it was all cornered off. All they said was that you were gone.”

Sumo tugs on the lead again, impatient, but Connor doesn’t budge. Hank breathes deeply, looking deliberately away and burying his hands away in his pockets again.

“What did you do?”

“I went straight to the department, tried to get all the CCTV up and stuff.” He laughs with very little humour now. “Shouted up a right shit-show.”

“I see…” Connor’s voice is equally as quiet, as if they are both scared that talking too loud will call upon them bad omens from above. “I don’t really remember. Between being reset,” He reaches up his free hand to gently prod his scar, “And being in the back of the van with Gavin, there’s nothing.”

Hank’s turned to watch him, his eyes filling with the same determined, forceful care that’s been watching Connor since they got back from the tower. Like his arm were made of eggshells, Hank stops Connor’s examination of the mark.

“Easy, kid.” He says, “Do you want to go home?”

“No.” Connor answers instantly, making Hank open his mouth to rebuke him. Connor jumps in before he can. “No, I’m not…I’m not fragile, Hank. I can deal with this. I’m not scared of some stupid…” He waves his hand erratically at the spot a little way away. “Area of the road. Sumo likes walking this way, I like walking this way. I’ve dealt with far worse things than this.”

Frowning, Hank keeps his hand on Connor’s arm. “There’s a difference between a shitty crime scene and something personal. Trust me.” He swallows. “There’s places I don’t drive.”

“Hank, I can do this.”

His face pained, Hank sighs. “Connor-”

“I can. Look.”

With that, he pulls himself from Hank’s grip, marching forward with the best air of confidence he can muster, determined footsteps going right over the spot, over the splashes of Thirium that weren’t fully cleaned away, over the area where he had been shot, beaten, forced onto his knees and removed from existence. Sumo walks along beside him, eager to be on the move again.

Stress Levels: ^31%

He clears the area with flying colours, ending up on the other side, his back to Hank. He slows to a stop.

“Connor?” Hank calls after him.

His shoulders are rising without him even knowing.

“Connor? Son?” Footsteps are approaching him hurriedly.

His hands shake.

“Shit.” Hank hisses, and arms come around his shoulders. “Easy, easy.” In an instant Connor is carefully pulled into Hank’s shoulder, a hand running through his hair. “Damn it kid, you never listen to me.”

“I don’t get it.” Connor informs the material of Hank’s coat. “I was never like this before. Fuck, there’s been so much worse. Amanda, Jericho, the other Connor…”

“Yeah, that’s true.” He feels Hank nod. “But you’ve never been fully deviant before when it happened, have you? You were still new to that shit. And now you’ve got extra, with everything from Eight Hundred and all his…I won’t lie kid, he wore his heart on his fucking sleeve.”

“I know he did, but I’m not…” He lets out a frustrated growl. “I don’t get this.”

“Easy...”

“I don’t like it.”

“I know you don’t. I fucking know.” Hank’s fingers continue to rake through his hair, carefully working out the knots in the same manner Connor has done to Sumo hundreds of times. “It’ll take time to get over it. There’s no point in rushing it. Hell, think of Chris! He was off for a month after all that mayhem with Markus.”

Connor’s shoulders sag, defeated. “I suppose…I still hate it, though.”

“I’m not saying you don’t. Just…Take it easy, son.”

Will things get better?”

Hank lowers his hand to wrap both arms securely around his shoulders. “What’s the fucking quote you’re always telling me? Time’s the best something or other?”

“Healer.”

“Yeah, that’s it.” A hand starts running up and down Connor’s back. “So take your own goddamn advice for once and chill.”

Connor sighs, and pulls out of Hank’s hold. He glances towards the Thirium on the ground, splattered there like little beacons that his eye cannot help but be naturally drawn to. Rough fingers take his chin, tilting his face away, forcing brown eyes to meet blue.

“Hey, stop it.”

“Sorry.”

“Dwelling on it solves shit, kid.” Hank visibly swallows, a flash of something glinting through his gaze.

Connor shuffles, and his fingers dip into his pocket, his nail running over the surface of his coin. “It’s hard not to.”

It really is. It’s hard not to lie in bed thinking about the other self he temporarily was, the other being who developed thoughts and feelings and opinions. He can’t just ignore it, bury it down like he did with Amanda, lock away those thoughts and refuse to ever acknowledge them again, because unlike Amanda, his other self interacted with his own world. He had talked to Hank, to Sumo, he had been in their kitchen and living room. He had seen their car, and where they worked. Everywhere Connor went now, he was on the receiving end of flashes of memory that weren’t his.

The Zen Garden had never been a physical plain. He had never visited it in real life, and that’s why ignoring it is so easy, because he never has to go there ever again. In fact, Connor can’t even go there again. The reset had removed any trace of it.

Their own house is different. Connor can’t just abandon their house.

“Yeah?” With a sudden, slightly strained smirk, Hank flings an arm over his shoulder in a gesture he has only ever done once to Fowler when he was drunk at the Department party, dragging Connor to his side. Connor makes a little yelp noise at the jostle, completely snapping back into reality. Hank’s arm is tight, and he forces Connor into walking beside him, “Well good thing you’ve got Sumo to help you, hasn’t he boy?”

Understanding he’s being talked to, Sumo barks and wags his tail hard, jumping around their feet in excitement, tongue hanging out. Hank laughs, squeezing Connor’s shoulder.

“See?”

“Hank, Sumo’s a dog.” Connor huffs, but the very corner of his lips have twitched upwards at the happy yelping noises Sumo is making, dancing about on his paws as they leave the path by the river to cross into one of the smaller public parks in the wealthier side of town.

Stress Levels: v22%

Hank scoffs, pushing Connor lightly away. Something about his body language shifts, the tenseness dropping. “Well he can’t help that, can he? Damn, Connor, you can be so picky.”

Hank…”

“Don’t worry Sumo,” Hank leans over and gives the dog a good pat on the head. “I won’t judge you.”

Connor snorts, lifting his free hand to cover his face. He speaks through his fingers, “He got his head stuck in the chair legs the other day. Twice. And again this morning.”

Hank stutters, wetting his lips. “Ok, I’ll judge you a bit.”

This is a distraction, Connor knows that. He’s not stupid. In typical Hank fashion, they are smothering things that they probably shouldn’t and moving on. And normally he would be annoyed at Hank changing the conversation in such a way, at his attempt to lighten the mood and discuss other topics. Normally, Connor would persist, pushing back against the denial and the forced ignorance, but…

They round a corner and Sumo goes as still as a statue at Connor’s side, ears perked and tail stilling. Hank nearly trips over him, stumbling on his feet to detour around.

“Sumo?” Turning in the direction Sumo’s facing, understanding crosses Connor’s face. He smiles sweetly. “Hank, do you want to walk him for a bit?” He doesn’t wait for an answer before forcing the lead into Hank’s hand.

“Hm? Why, what’s-” With a very high-pitched squawk Hank Anderson, long time Lieutenant of the Detroit City Police Department, a man who is somewhat grizzled, hard when he needs to be, and as seen more dead bodies than alive at this point, is unflatteringly dragged across the flowerbeds as Sumo goes at a full sprint towards Goldie, who in turn grumbles and walks calmly away.

“That’s it Sumo!” Connor yells after them, cupping his hands around his mouth to carry his voice, “Stick it to the man!”

“Oh fuck you Connor!”

He laughs.

Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Family