President Kel Rounds folded his hands, preparing himself. It wasn’t easy being President, and now with the Android Network being friends with other allies, it became quite difficult. Androids alive or not alive? Dangerous or not dangerous? None of America could agree, but the imbalances would make things tougher. If he waited like he originally wanted to, then many androids would still be hurting good folk out there. Decent androids would also be getting hurt. Even wanting to hire an android to curb other androids, giving him funds to survive and help.

He needed a compromise. A good one. One that the Network would accept, as well as the American people. It wasn’t easy finding that fine line. The Android Network leaders themselves, they . . . were each more of a committee of different ideas and goals that were voting how to go. Their own little idea of democracy. It made getting them all to agree difficult, not working with just one overwhelming presence, but he did it. And now? He had to tell the world.

“Thirty seconds ‘til we are live Mister President.”

Kel Rounds stared ahead. At least, the chances were better more androids would survive, but . . . “My fellow Americans.” He gave some meaningful and touching words that his speech writers put, like always, before coming into the meat of what mattered. “As there are bad humans and good humans, there are bad androids and good androids. Passing judgment is not easy on them, but letting good working Americans bear the brunt of the imbalance problems is not going to happen any longer. America taking back Detroit was the right course of action, I still believe that, and I don’t regret the decision. However, the manner in which we had relieved the androids was less than desirable. In this time, now, some corrections will be made to that mistake.”

He took a little bit of a breather. “While working with a new group that is trusted by several of America’s Allies, we have created a plan together that will entrust that only the best androids will survive, while the worst ones are taken care of promptly.” He adjusted papers on his desk. There was nothing really on them, but it was a way to break up the moment as he continued. “All androids in the Detroit area have already begun testing and partnering. With standards created by an allied group of America, they will be placed under tests to make sure that they are decent androids. If they fail the test, the termination will be quick. If they pass, a human watcher with the qualifications needed to judge the rules and standards will be assigned to them.”

Another small break. “All androids that pass will be redistributed to an area that is designated correctly for their programming, with their human watcher. If the designated area is within Detroit, then extra precautions will be given, as well as a strictly enforced time limit.” One more small break. “While the tests will weed out most problem androids that turn bad, it isn’t perfect, which is why the major areas most androids inhabit will also be enforced with strict military lines, so should a problem arise, the likelihood a human will be hurt will have gone down.” And one more. “While all androids are being given a fair chance to turn themselves in, there are also certain models that ultimately always become destructive, and they will be taken out immediately. They will not be given a test, nor will any android models know their status, to ensure the protection of all Americans. As of today, please stop all work with androids. Tell them to go to their nearest Police Station to undergo testing.”

Almost through. Now he knew how Warren felt on the tough speeches. “While this step may seem wrong to Android supporters, the Network, a group of android supporters that works with our allies, has agreed with this planning, and once all dysfunctional androids are completely removed and only trustworthy, good androids are left, then New Detroit will be given to those androids as well as their own currency, and voted upon leaders. Thank you.”

 


Frankenmuth

 

 

Hank slammed his hand on his alarm. One more snooze was fine. At least, that’s what he thought until he got his own phone call.

“Hank!”

Uuh? “Fowler?” He threw the covers off of him. What was his old chief doing calling him? He got dressed and started to listen in. “The fuck, really?” Hank slid off his shirt from the night before and put a fresh one on. “I knew he was giving a stupid speech, but you gotta be kidding. Christ.” Hank sighed. “Wait, why are you calling me? Detroit department is nothing now, I work in Frankenmuth.” Ah. “Yeah, that’s the old android.” He opened a drawer. “Qualifications needed to judge the rules and standards? Hell, Fowler, I don’t know anything about some stupid President standards. Oh? Oh, that’s his way of saying a cop only smoother. Well, can’t just say a cop. Gotta get all fancy.” He got some pants on. “Yeah. I don’t think I like where this conversation is headed. Yeah, I knew I didn’t like where this conversation was headed, I work in Frankemuth. That’s like a hundred miles away from Detroit. Fine, 90, whatever, way too far for what you are wanting.”

Shower probably would have been a good idea. Sounded like it would be a hell of a day as he kept listening. “Government paycheck, huh? Hours I work? Really.” Hmm. “If I’m not chosen then who’ll- Gavin?!” Nah, nah, fuck that guy. “Screw him, Fowler, he’d try and get Connor killed! Nah, don’t tell me he’s fine with androids now. Yeah, I’m okay with them now, but there’s no way a guy like him changed.”

Hank listened and talked back as he began getting ready for his regular day of work. Considering Connor was the only android that made the news as helpful (although Kara should’ve been in there too), they wanted to get him squared away first. He already had a job waiting in New Detroit for him. He even had an official title as the Deviant Hunter of New Detroit. Something he’d been called before probably, but now? Official. And if Hank, whom was the human who Connor knew the best being his partner before the dirtybomb didn’t want to be his  watcher? Well, then he was supposed to get watched by Gavin.

Fucking all that was mighty from the land to the shitty Detroit River, Gavin! My ass. He probably wouldn’t get Connor killed since that would end his new paycheck, but he would be one aggravating asshole. Connor did not need that right now, he needed to stay balanced. Hmm. He just signed the papers to Connor’s place and got the keys. It was situated in a safe region from the radiation, but not nearly a hundred miles away like Frankenmuth. A commute, but doable. So?

Connor’s adorable little family just inherited a grumpy ass Uncle.

 


 

Connor answered his phone, seeing Hank was calling. It was finally the day he was supposed to give the keys over. “Hello, Hank.”

“Meet me in Davison, not Frankenmuth.”

“The town my new junk home you don’t like is at? Why, I thought that was taken care of?”

“It is. I never said it was junk, I said it was a dump. Get your insults right.”

“Sorry, Hank. It’s really best not to joke around right now,” Connor said. “The President had some things to say this morning that has everyone slightly on edge.”

“I imagine so. You go in yet?”

“Not yet,” Connor admitted. “Kara says we should all wait. We can work harder in a week to make sure everyone passes.”

“You don’t get that convenience, Connor,” Hank warned him. “New Detroit wants you now, and me too. Apparently if I don’t go, Gavin is going to be your-“

“Please come, Hank,” Connor said quickly. “There are things I particularly don’t like about Gavin.”

“Aw, what’s wrong?,” Hank teased him. “What do you think about Gavin?”

“Hank.”

“You want me to stay out of the way and let Gavin run the ride?”

“I cannot tell you because it involves words usually programmed with experience from you involved, as well as general actions not appropriate for family audiences to hear.” He noticed Kara’s stare.

“Fine, meet me here in Frankenmuth first then. If everybody survives, we’ll head on up to Davison.”

“Less joking, Hank. Please?” Connor asked. He got a ‘yeah, yeah’ and then he hung up. Connor hung up too. Frankenmuth. “What are the chances we could pass the standards as is, Kara?”

Kara stopped looking out the window to look at him. “I’ll pass. Alice has had more than enough time to be okay now. Max is fine. You need more time.”

“Let’s say hypothetically that I don’t have time,” Connor said to her. “That Hank is waiting in Frankenmuth for us because I have apparently already got a job.”

Kara wasn’t giving him a pleasant look. “That’s not good. The standards are too tight, with only three rules. There’s not a second chance option, you have to pass.”

“I have to risk it,” Connor said. “It will look highly suspicious if I don’t come in when I’ve been called for duty.”

“Connor.”

“I was once a loyal part of the Detroit Police Department,” Connor reminded her. “I have to go, Kara.” She looked out the window slightly again.

“Fine,” she said softly. “I’ll . . . rejigger you, but it won’t last super long,” she warned him. “Long enough to pass any standard.”

 


 

Frankenmuth

“Kara, what if we don’t pass?” Alice asked.

“Thern we’re detained,” Kara said. “Don’t worry. You’ll pass. Just believe in yourself.”

Connor didn’t say anything as he walked into Frankenmuth’s Police Department and saw Hank waiting ahead. One test. One test with standards Kara wanted to rewrite, but that she assures she can help me pass. Still, it was nerve wracking. What if Alice wasn’t as far as she needed to be for the rigorous testing? Max, he was still newly born. What if he couldn’t pass? I would have to take everyone out without killing anyone in the process. He’d have no idea what to do next, but he’d have to protect his family. Connor walked up with everyone else toward Hank.

“Sorry about this,” Hank said to Connor. “Into the prison center. They want to make sure none of you run off if things go bad.” Hank gestured toward the open prison. “Not long. You are first up. We are getting you all in and out, okay?”

Connor went in along with Max. Kara had to pick up Alice. That’s right. This was probably traumatizing for her. Not helping her balance at all. As the glass moved down behind them, Alice was cradling Kara extra close. She couldn’t be that spooked, she might fail only because of her own nerves. Connor knocked on the door. “Hank? You know that Kara and Alice have bad experiences in these, don’t you?”

“I know Connor and I’ve told them,” Hank said. “It’s a standard procedure for this.”

“Not even a week to become accustomed to this,” Connor complained.

“I know. Everyone else is going to take their sweet ass time. It’s going to take months,” Hank said. “Even if every android just volunteered themselves, there’s no way we could accompany every one in a short amount of time. I guess because your important, they want you first.”

“If I’m important, they should want me when I have had some time to get ready.” Yet. Connor couldn’t complain too hard. For all he knew, the containment center might be part of the way to break them down. He bent down toward Alice. “We are all in this together,” he said to her as Kara continued to rock her. He touched her hand. “Don’t worry. Everything will be okay.” He patted her arm. “Have you ever sung the Android’s Freedom song?” She shook her head. “I think if New Detroit truly is ours, maybe we should make it our anthem. Every android big and small knows it. It’s a song that pulled affection from the public, enough to finally stop the persecution.”

“It was a pretty song,” Kara said to Alice. She didn’t get to hear it. “I didn’t want her to get over worried, Connor. We were with Hank at the time, far away from everything. I kept her away from the news.”

Connor nodded. “You should learn it. You can sing it, when you get scared. It’ll help.” He looked toward Kara. “Although, your song is pretty too.”

Kara looked at him thoughtfully. “It was the first song I ever sang.”

“I know,” Connor said. “I remember that.” He smirked. “I saw that.”

“Probing,” Kara said accusingly. She looked back toward Alice, and then toward Max.

“And you? I know you’ve never heard it.” Connor went over toward Max and picked him up. He was beating his hands in the middle of the red circles, annoying some of the police on duty.

“It’s a good song to sing.”

Kara was taken back by Markus’ presence but Connor wasn’t. Right now was a tactical time to get the tests done with. While there was the stress of not knowing what would happen, there were not large crowds ahead of them, or terrifying shots that echoed through, signaling someone failed. They might even get a degree of empathy since they were the first ones to undergo it. However? “Still no North.”

The glass rose and Markus strolled in. “She’s okay with the kids. Simon is watching over her. He really doesn’t want to go back to Detroit.” The glass closed behind them. “Called in first?”

Connor nodded.

Markus looked toward Alice and Max. “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.” Markus started to sing their freedom song softly. Connor and Kara joined. Then, Max and Alice felt comfortable enough to join in. “Everything will be okay. If we make it? I like your idea, Connor. It should be our City’s Song.”

“And the pigeon should be the city bird,” Connor added.

“And orange blue blood soda should be the city drink,” Max added too.

Connor chuckled and rubbed his head. He sat him down and looked toward Alice. She was looking much better. “There’s nothing to do in here, but you are kids so I’m sure you’ll find something. Have fun.”

Alice and Max did just that. They both started to play leap frog.

“Which frog is up first?” Hank asked as he lifted the glass.

“I will be!” Max cheerfully said. “I’m not scared. I could be. It is a normal part of emotional functions. Okay, I am a little scared, but I am also brave.”

“Okay Chatterbox, come with me.” Hank took Max’s hand and closed the glass behind him. He looked toward Connor briefly before going off with him.

It’s fine. He’s good. So he’s new? He’ll pass. He’s balanced. What questions are they asking him? Connor looked toward Kara and Alice. Each of them looked like they were hiding their nerves too. “I’m sure he’ll be okay. Just a few minutes.”

Connor felt relieved that his words of comfort were right. Max was coming back to the glass with a relieved looking Hank.

“Alright, Alice,” Hank said as the glass rose. “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay. After you and Kara and Connor, you’ll be heading to your new home.” He reached in his pocket. “See? Signed everything and got your home keys right here.”

A little extra reinforcement. Alice smiled and took Hank’s hand. Connor watched the time while Markus kept Max company. Kara was over in the corner with him. “Did you get all your snuggling out you think?” Connor asked her.

“Snuggling?” She looked toward him. “I haven’t had that problem yet, have I?” He just shrugged with a smirk. “Oh great.” She rolled her eyes. “When?”

“The day I lost you, and the night I had you with me again,” Connor said to her. “Hank was right, you really do snuggle deep.”

“You didn’t even tell me?” She laid her hand on the glass. “Dangit.”

“It’s like sleepwalking,” Connor said. “Except it’s sleepsnuggling. You practically forced Max out of the bed.”

Kara sighed. “Perfect timing on this, Connor.”

“Yes, I thought so too,” Connor admitted. “Something to take our minds somewhere else at an intense moment. We should share a bed in our new place.” She didn’t answer. “I bet your snuggling will be better if you just get to snuggle me every night.”

“I don’t know the arrangements yet,” Kara said.

“It sounds like it would be reasonable. Max and Alice can share a room, Hank could have the other room, and we could share one. There’s no other place for everyone, and we can’t expect Hank to drive 93.4 miles there and back to here.”

“No, we can’t expect that,” Kara agreed. “I suppose. Considering. Alice is coming back.”

Connor watched Alice coming back with a smile. Hank didn’t look too bad either. Two out of four. The glass rose for Alice and she came back in heading straight for Kara.

“Alright, Kara,” Hank said.

“Can’t we do Connor next?” Kara asked. “If for some reason things go bad, we should get him done before me.”

“I gotta go by the sheet,” Hank said. “It’s not gonna look good if you got nerves and want to go last?”

“Hank is helping as he can,” Connor said. “You’ll have to go first.”

Kara sighed. “Alright, fine. Close your eyes, Connor.”

Connor seemed confused, but he closed his eyes. He felt Kara’s arms wrapped around him as well as a sensation he hadn’t experienced in some time. It was the sensation that breathed life back into him. Kara’s lips on his, but slightly opened. Connor moved his hands around a little before settling them around her. The kiss was longer this time, and he didn’t know what he was really supposed to do, so he just tried to mouth her back. That strangely failed, so he tried to mouth her from the left since she was mouthing him on the right. He wanted to tighten his grip but his live analysis couldn’t even keep up, and once it actually felt her tongue touch his, he swore he felt a static electric charge. Something akin to pain, but good pain. A pain that he didn’t mind experiencing again.

Now his grip could tighten, his analyzing tongue wasn’t even doing anything anymore except accepting all oncoming signals into it. It was also involuntarily trying to coax more oncoming signals as he moved deeper into Kara’s mouth. It only got away with it once, before Kara backed off.

“Okay.” She sounded a little different. “Okay, Hank, I’m ready.”

Connor just stood there as the glass rose and she started to leave. His senses were going overboard with the different signals and environmental exposures he’d just experienced. He blinked and then watched Kara coming back toward him. Wait, had she already gone?

“You’re up, Connor,” Hank said. “Last one?”

Wait? “Was I unresponsive for several minutes?” Connor asked.

“You’ll get better with it,” Kara said. She gestured outward. “Go on, Connor.”

“You kissed me,” Connor said. “But you didn’t just kiss me, you wrapped your arms around me and after regular kissing, you foraged into my mouth with your tongue. My senses went off the charts and apparently I went offline for a little while.”

“Your turn,” Kara said. “I know. I told you I’d ‘rejigger’ you, just go. You don’t have long.”

“It’s called a French kiss, Connor,” Hank said as he grabbed him. “It’s the reason boys are extra nice to girls. Come on.”

 

Connor was still tingling off the charts, but he tried to retain his focus. He remembered last time Kara kissed him he seemed to have the ability to be supercharged to taken on deviants. He was sitting in a chair. Last place his body wanted to be at.

“He had touching troubles?” Hank’s chief asked. “He’s been touched all over the place.”

Connor even heard someone from behind him, but his body didn’t react. It couldn’t. There were too many tingles going through his wires and circuits it was like he was almost numb. He could still feel, but it was much different than the little kiss Kara gave him last time when she first remembered. That five minute countdown.

“Seems fine,” Hank’s chief agreed. “A little spaced out. Androids don’t ingest alcohol?”

“Nerves. Give ‘em a break,” Hank said. “I know Connor. I can vouch for him.”

“That, and he has a female android, a little girl, and a little boy.”

“Yeah, he has a family,” Hank said. “Are we done now?’

“Yeah.” His chief shook his head. “Good luck on this next part, Hank. After it’s all over, if you want to come back, there’s always a place for you.”

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