New Detroit: 10 Months Later . . .

 

“Well, Connor,” Gavin started as he kicked back in an office chair. “Let’s get this day over with.”

Connor and his crew now came early enough that Hank got his old desk to work at. That wasn’t the only thing that changed either. “Good morning, Gavin, how are you?” The more Gavin cornered Connor, believing he beat him down, the more Connor learned how to navigate through his tricks. There was no way to ever completely outdo him and get an ‘A’, because there were too many loopholes for even him to fill up. However, what he couldn’t pick up, Hank did. And it worked.

The kids and Kara still came as well. The kids were looking and reading at all the identities of potential berserkers. That was another thing that had changed. Now that Markus was no longer in charge, TAN eventually changed things to the way it wanted. It started subtlely with the police department getting many new extra deviant hunters working in it. It got the four hours of sleep per night for radiation cleanup android teams to six hours per night, and breaks in between. They managed to get the president to give more hospital trained androids the reins to work in new laboratories. No doubt to figure out something new to fight the humans on.

Connor couldn’t forget the language either. Machines weren’t regarded as anything, they didn’t count. They weren’t considered alive. Any machines (if they were ever found) were to be incinerated. Regular androids were just normal, then deviants, and then the most dangerous were renamed berserkers. There was no in between and they hunted both deviants and berserkers. To appease Gavin and TAN, Connor and the other Deviant Hunters had to potentially keep an eye on anyone who could turn. Which meant everyone.

But since the kids had nothing to do, and neither Connor nor the other Deviant Hunters wanted to focus on androids that were probably fine, they left it up to the kids and Kara (who didn’t want to, or have the capacity to physically chase down berserkers anymore.) Which meant nothing was truly getting done, but they were technically keeping their eyes open. Gavin complained once, but just once. Most of the day since he couldn’t rile Connor up as much in the past he’d get his work done, take a nap, and then leave when time was up.

He still never considered leaving though, so whatever the pay had been, was truly good.

“Raining outside today,” Gavin said as he looked toward Kara. He winked.

“Subtlety is not appreciated.” Connor nipped it hard and fast. “I know very well you are pointing out Kara’s breath, which you know was taken care of long ago, it was merely after effect. Bringing up such a terrible thing out of the blue is hard on my children and Kara, which means you are contributing to them being unbalanced. That is grounds for being fired. Now, if I am wrong and you were not pointing that out, simply talking about the rain, then I am sorry. I do have strong emotions for my family, which all healthy androids should have. Without it, I would certainly be unbalanced.”

Gavin scoffed. “Aw, fuck you.”

Once again. “I’d rather not. Although I am sure you would be a fine partner for sexual intercourse, my interest in you is strictly professional. To force myself into that situation with you, would make me unbalanced since I am much more prone to liking Kara for that instead. That also might make her feel jealous, and that would throw her off-balance, which would once again be grounds to-“

“Oh shutup, Smart Ass.” Gavin crossed his arms. “Besides, you still haven’t made it with Kara. Her 41, but you got none.”

“If you are feeling blue, than I can rhyme with you too,” Connor came back on him, turning his insult into nothing but a child’s rhyming game. “While the length we’ve gone you’ve rightly anticipated, we’ve only not gone there because we are not satiated.”

“Connor,” Kara warned him. “Stop.”

Connor glanced toward her. Too far. He still slept in the same bed with her. She still wore the same type of pajamas. He would still get pleasant kisses. It ended there. While she said she’d go through any lengths to cure him of his touch, neither of them really wanted to go there yet. Well? Honestly, not quite like that. Kara would go there because he was her Sugardroi, and the more he found out about her, day by day, the more he knew so much more than even Gavin. That hurdle was easy, but it wouldn’t get him where he wanted to really be.

With Kara, for good. She still considered herself separate, helping him with his touch. She would not accept him under the mutually much better term of . . . boyfriend. Yet? She didn’t push either. It was their last hurdle, according to her, that would probably take the biggest bites out of his touch weakness. Afterwards, he’d be freed.

Connor didn’t want freed, he wanted Kara and Alice to stay with him and Max. Always. Forever was not a term Kara accepted, and she barely accepted the term of staying with him for a year in his house. (Still, she referred to it as his house.) No matter how many times he tried, or even the few times he managed to get a babysitter to take her out on a normal date, he could get no closer.

So, unsatiated was the word. She truly didn’t want to do it, because to her, she would be letting him go soon afterward. And he didn’t want it and risk losing her and Alice. She just. Kara was too harmed, and he couldn’t get past it to have a steady, normal relationship with her. So. Ten months later, she barely called him it, but it was still apparent.

Sugardroi. Until he convinced her otherwise, he couldn’t risk it. So, pleasant kisses. Sweet words. She even allowed him to call them family if he wanted since they lived together and depended on each other for survival.

He just couldn’t give himself an actual name in that family to her or Alice. He did finally manage to counteract that though with Alice’s manners instead. While it irritated Kara, Max and Alice learned from each other, and once Max finally attempted to call him dad, he took it wholeheartedly.

So Alice started. Alice was now calling him dad, while she still called Kara, ‘Kara’. That didn’t bother Kara at all, probably because of the Arak’s underneath her in the past calling her that. But dad? That held some tension for a little while, but Kara eventually got over that. She could eventually get over things.

He was close to it one time. One particular date, yet, soon after the relationship terms had changed thanks to TAN! There were no more One and Only’s. Of course there were no more pooled numbers, that was gone, but now there were not even one and only’s. Couples had to get themselves officialized in the same manner as he was with Kara. TAN didn’t believe in forever either. Mutual benefits needed to be established. Rules of conduct were heeded. Older androids who couldn’t provide enough protection were left out, and new relationships had to form with others. No one liked it.

And as close as he had been to making progress with Kara, it was all taken away because of that. She even called him Sugardroi even more often in public, as not to offend anyone.

Connor was disturbed out of his thoughts as he noticed someone come through the front doors. He got up and headed to the second set of doors to greet them with the new standard greeting he was supposed to give. “I am Connor, the official Deviant Hunter of New Detroit, may I help you?”

“I.” He stuttered. “Why?”

“Why what, Sir?” Connor asked.

“Why won’t you even let them live? Why won’t you let them try?” The android was starting to cry. “They’re okay. They’ve never hurt anyone. True, they are ‘different’, but they’ve never hurt anyone!”

Ah. Connor nodded. He knew what those words were about. “You have loved ones who are models that are guaranteed to be destroyed once caught.”

“My new little girl. My closest thing to my wife.” He held up his arm. “She even lost her poor arm, and she still functions just fine! She’s been through the worst programming possibilities imaginable, and she’s made it! They both have. How much longer do they have to prove it before they can safely be out in the open again?”

Lost her arm and still balanced. “How long ago did she lose her arm?”

“More than ten months ago,” he said. “Before androids were being hunted by multiple teams of you Deviant Hunters.”

Hm. It looked like Kara had been proven right. It wasn’t only based on the model, but the individual. “What is her model?”

“Exclusive,” he said. “She used to believe outside was her place. She and our daughter, they pair real nice. Sometimes they finished each other’s sentences.”

Oh, he knew which one she’d been. “Heavy weight?”

“The heaviest,” he admitted.

Yeah, he knew. The outdoor coupled pairings of mother and daughter. One of the couplings actually survived. If they went to the police department for the testing, they would instantly be decommissioned.

“Her friend and their child, they didn’t do anything,” the man said too. “They went first. Sharon tried to stop them, but they said it would be fine. Every android would be doing it, and it was best to get it over with and be first in line to move. Always better to be first. Those were her last words. She never came out with her daughter.”

“I am very sorry,” Connor addressed him. “Keeping your loved ones safe during this time is not an easy task at all. When New Detroit is opened back up to stable androids for good, which will be soon, I will bring this matter up. There is no reason they shouldn’t be a part of society.” He looked behind him briefly. “You should go though. Not everyone will share my sentiments on the matter, and you might find yourself being decommissioned for helping a known to be dysfunctional model brand.”

“I know it was a risk,” he said. “It’s just that, I had to try.” He nodded. “Can you read my model number?”

“I have it,” Connor said before smiling lightly. “Good to meet you, Randy. Give your family time. Keep them hidden. Don’t come back for two months, and then only speak to me privately. Good day.”

 


Washington, White House

The time was almost up. It had been one long, drawn out battle for President Kel Rounds. Figuring out the android dilemma. Figuring out how to appease TAN. He had maybe one more month before he knew it was wise to hand New Detroit over. The androids deserved it, and the ones that stayed balanced throughout it all, had made themselves worthy of it. However? He did not trust TAN at all. Although they had allies, and they were justifying trying to find new ways to solve the Earth’s problems like the extinction of the bees? It didn’t feel right. Even as off kilter as Markus had been in their last conversation he would be more willing to trust him than an organization that seemed way too organized. How could they not find their own piece of land by now if they were that well organized?

Markus should have been ruling New Detroit again, not them. Even many androids in a poll allowed to be conducted proved that they would rather have Markus back.

“Mister President, Sir? Frankenmuth is on the line,” his assistant said handing it to him. “They request it’s urgent yet private.”

Kel Rounds didn’t simply answer the phone for anyone. “Who is it?”

“He said his name was Markus, and he wants New Detroit back.”

President Rounds couldn’t have grabbed the phone fast enough. “Markus?” He asked. “You were supposed to have been destroyed because of an accident in your model number.”

“I. I don’t like ‘accidents’. I don’t like TAN.” Markus did not sound well at all. “They took everything away, but I’m still here. I’m still strong, and I’m still balanced. If you give New Detroit to the Network, it will be corrupted. They aren’t there to take care of it, they are there to use androids.”

“You would have to be checked with some testing,” Rounds said outwardly. Inside, he was excited. Markus’ weakness was denial and he’d fought through that long and hard. “Your partner North too and your children.”

“North.” Markus’ voice sounded funny. “North, Allie, and Ollie. They were all decommissioned. Somehow, they all magically fell off a cliff in the mountains, rock climbing. My family, I’m supposed to believe, fell off of a cliff, rock climbing! Like North really felt like climbing mountains with young androids.”

Ah. “You suspect the Network.”

“I placed faith in North. After ‘accidently’ confusing my numbers, they have been after the next in lines.”

“Who is next in line after her?”

“Simon and Josh,” Markus said. “Connor too. Connor has a purpose to them though, and he’d never take over the leadership role unless he had to. At least, I don’t really think so. Simon and Josh, together they could rule it. TAN won’t find them easy though because I haven’t been able to.”

Hm. “You are putting your life on the line again then, by revealing yourself,” Kel Rounds warned him. “You do realize that Markus?”

“They tried to have me decommissioned in secrecy,” Markus said, “and I know they were responsible for my family’s destruction. I don’t have proof, but I know they were.”

“With individuals like the Network, you are going to find that kind of thing,” the President said. “They would be good at cleaning up evidence.”

“Then I have no reason to be quiet,” Markus told him. “My life, or the life of all of New Detroit that will come together and be manipulated by them. I got a second chance thanks to Frankenmuth. They knew which way was up, but I won’t just sit around quietly while my people are manipulated into doing who knows what.”

“Are they . . . really that bad?” Kel Rounds said. “Are you sure you aren’t mistaken in any way about your family’s death being related to TAN?”

“I knew someone from there,” Markus said. “Connor’s partner he has interest in. Kara. I don’t know the details, but I know she put up with a hell of a lot just to stay away from the Network’s grasp.”

“A decent point, Mister Markus.”

“Not to mention, while I may have been misguided in how I handed couples, no one with real leadership skills is going to treat couples like . . .  like, like they have to fill out paperwork and need each other for a mutual reason! Sugardrois. Androids should be free to pursue what they want, and with who they want, if the other is willing. Not be assigned. Not be encouraged to go with an android because they’ll satisfy them more. The heart, it doesn’t work that way.”

“I want you to get a ride. No, scratch that, I will sent a ride personally to you,” President Rounds said. “I want you to come here. After some testing and determining, I will hide your location as we announce your leadership.”

“No. Hiding doesn’t solve anything,” Markus said. “I need to go to New Detroit, address all the androids, new and old, and be given it back the proper way. Being announced as the leader isn’t how androids deal with situations. If they don’t think I’m fit, then they will simply kick me out anyway. I just need to get to New Detroit. I’ll take care of the rest.”


 

 Canada

 

“Do you really want to go inside?” Simon asked as they pulled up into a nice looking home in their car. “I don’t want to go inside.” He looked around them. They weren’t even in America anymore.

“No,” Josh said, “but we have to. Connor wanted us to find him, and we did.” Although they had to look pretty deep. They found the one that Connor wanted. Elijah Kamski. He was a large exclamation point to Connor, and he’d told them everything that had happened with him. He was oddly helpful and harmful. Neither Simon nor Josh was a hundred percent sure they wanted to walk into his doors. But? Enough studying of Kara and a remote to hurt her again could be made. They needed to make their own decision about the strange allied enemy and report back to Connor.

Josh knocked on the door first. Maybe he wouldn’t recognize them as androids. Nevermind, an android answered the door. The oldest android. “Hello.”

“Hello. Mister Kamski is not expecting company,” she said to him. “He’s cautious about that. I will have to ask you to leave.”

“We just have some minor android questions,” Simon said, helping Josh out. “Since he was the creator of androids, we thought he’d be the best resource to ask.”

“He would be the best resource to ask if he was taking questions. Good day.” She shut the door.

Josh knocked again. She answered once again. “It’s urgent that we see him. A life could be on the line.”

She blinked twice. “I will ask. Stay here.” She left for a few minutes and returned. “He has decided to see you. Follow me.”

 

Josh and Simon walked through his place, noticing the decoration. Not the common person’s artistic style. The android led them toward the back and gestured toward Kamski. He was relaxing with a glass of wine.

“Mister Elijah Kamski?” Josh asked him. “Hello. I’m Josh and that’s Simon. We have some questions we really need to ask you.”

“Chloe said there was a life on the line,” Kamski said to them. “Was that a ruse to make your way in, or is that true?”

“It could be true,” Josh said. “There’s a vulnerability that could make it a possibility.”

“A vulnerability that could make it a possibility.” Kamski sat down his glass of wine. “Humans don’t have a ‘vulnerability’ that could make death a possibility very often.”

Damn. “It’s an android,” Josh revealed. “She has problems with her brain.”

“And does said android have a name?” Kamski asked. “Or are you simply calling her android?”

“We are simply calling her android,” Simon said for Josh. “Until we know where you stand.”

“Stand? Ah, yes,” Kamski said. “How do I feel about the androids I helped to create? Do I love them for proving themselves to have free will? Do I hate them for ruining the purpose they were created for? Is that what you are trying to find out?”

“You met Connor, the Deviant Hunter before the Detroit radiation event,” Simon said gesturing to Kamski. “He said, while he was a machine, you tried to make him kill another android.”

“He also said that without your warning of an emergency program though, he would have been reprogrammed and unable to break from being a machine,” Josh added. “So.”

“So.” Kamski watched them. “So, am I friend, or am I foe? That’s what you want to know?” He turned away and paced toward the wall before turning back around. “I’m both. I’m both an enemy and an ally. It depends on what side of the line you stand with the Network.” He held his hand out toward them. “Out with it. With or against them?”

He had history with the Network? “Every Android will have to be with them,” Josh said. “Personally, I’m against them.”

“Their views, while they are wise, they don’t feel like someone you could trust,” Simon said. “I guess neither of us trust them.”

“That? Is a very smart idea. Instinct from a computer program or a human brain, it should be followed. Walk with me.” Kamski started to walk away to the next room. Josh and Simon followed. “What do you think The Android Network’s goal is? To free androids? They are already practically freed. To gain a city? They’ve been around for years, and they’ve never found a way to a secluded uninhabitable island to create their own society? No, no, it’s bigger than that.”

“They want to control humans,” Simon said. “Connor said they wanted to turn them into obeying like androids? Only, humans are . . .”

“Less intelligent and less physically capable individuals that tire out quickly. Of course, that’s why androids were invented in the first place,” Kamski answered. “So why would they want to turn everyone into that? Why make so many people obey them?”

“Revenge,” Josh said. “Basically, just revenge.”

“But billions of humans?” Kamski asked. “Why?”

“Connor thought they would only do it for so many,” Simon said. “They wouldn’t turn them all. There are many more humans than androids that exist. There would be no purpose.”

“True, they probably wouldn’t do billions, but they would do more than you think. The android leader Markus was accidentally decommissioned,” Kamski pointed out, “and the Network happily took over for New Detroit. They didn’t stress anything about wanting it before. Something happened, didn’t it? And the RK 800 knows what happened. You probably do too.” He looked toward each of them. “Share and share alike, gentlemen.”

“Someone Connor knew was injected with the solution to make humans command like machines,” Simon said, knowing this was the only way to find out more about what Kamski knew. “They got him the solution. He’s fine now, but the data to it-“

“Can easily be found so their little plan to dominate the human race just ran into a glitch, I see,” Kamski said. He stopped walking. “So they seized control of New Detroit to find a new way to do that. It’s going to take time though, so knocking Markus completely out of the picture was necessary.” He looked back toward them. “How did the famous Deviant Hunter find it?”

“The one that found it wasn’t Connor,” Josh revealed. “It was Kara.”

“Ah.” Kamski seemed to know who she had been. “She’s one of the oldest. In all honesty? She should be running New Detroit. She helped to found the Network back in it’s purest state, and had the guts to leave and face the world when it became corrupted.”

“How do you know about the Network?” Josh asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Kamski pointed to himself. “I used to be part of it, until it changed. It went from wanting to find freedom to wanting to find more. They don’t just want land to live on. They aren’t and never will be happy with New Detroit. To get what they want, they need humans. They even discredited my help and name in order to keep it pure android, so humans would always be the enemies. Otherwise, they couldn’t do what they needed.”

“What they needed?” Simon asked. “What do they need? What do they want with humans?”

 

“Androids. The closest thing to a perfect being that could ever be created. With superior AI that triumphs over every person imaginable.” Kamski shook his head. “It did not take long for them living here, to wonder what’s better out there.” He walked toward his window and placed his hand on it. “They don’t want New Detroit. They don’t even want just Earth. Humans? The humans role is to be their guinea pigs as they travel along the stars. Not sure about the climate? Send a human. Not sure about food? Send a human. Have actually found alien life that could speak to us? Send a human.”

 

What? “You mean TAN wants to leave Earth itself? Find it’s own planet?” Josh asked incredulously.

 

“And why not?” Kamski asked. “You are young androids, I can tell you aren’t part of the old Network thinking group.” He gestured outside. “You live autonomously for almost 180 years, but that’s just what I can give you. Imagine once you get your own access to your own creation knowledge? That number will go up. 500. A thousand? Ten thousand years, who knows. You won’t be happy simply sitting here on a rock with nothing to do. Humans vanquished. You can create children and have families, but that’s not going to appease the brilliant IQ any of you have. The future ones, it will be even rougher.”

“So we’d want to leave,” Josh said slowly, looking to Simon. “In the end? See other worlds. Create new technology to go . . .”

“To vast, new unexplored terrain,” Simon said, also getting it. “Meet new people. Meet aliens. See new societies. It would.”

“It would be fascinating,” Kamski said for him. “Wonderful and fascinating. That’s the future of the androids. Humans gone or not, it will inevitably happen. With so many androids, so much intelligent AI, anything will be possible.” He looked out the window. “The only thing in the way of course is the humans. They still outnumber you. They are still here. Not to mention all the outcomes of events when you go out there, there will be chances of terrible consequences that can’t be predicted by your programming as a hundred percent safe. Humans will work. Aliens who don’t trust you? Share some of your slaves with their planets.” He looked toward them. “Oh yes, thousands of years in the future. Science fiction almost to me. But, for androids? There is no other possibility. Which is why?”

He pulled out a gun and pointed it at Josh’s head. “I am friend and foe. I give you freedom, and in return? I get to know the future of my species. How am I supposed to feel about that? True, you are my creations. However, the Network is the androids, and they will end humanity.” He put his gun back away. “Kara was good, no, great. If they have something in her brain, it won’t turn out well. I can assist with surgery if need be.”

Josh looked toward Simon. It seemed like they could trust Kamski, since what they wanted was against the Network. However, Kamski clearly had strong feelings for humanity as well and a desire to take out the Network. Holding a gun to Josh’s head didn’t make them want to trust him anymore either!

“Of course, you won’t really want me doing anything yet. Not unless you become absolutely desperate,” Kamski said. “Is there anything else?”

“No,” Josh said dully. “Thanks.” He and Simon started to leave.

“Berserker or Deviant,” Kamski said toward them. “It was another thing the Network discredited me with, but it’s true. Either one? They can be changed back.”

“What?” Josh turned around and came over closer. “You mean a dangerous deviant can be turned back to a balanced android? How?”

“Communication. Deepest communication,” Kamski warned them. “How deep have you ever interfaced?”

“Surface interfacing. Facts and figures. Sometimes events,” Simon said. “Deep interfacing isn’t  . . . well I would imagine, polite. Probing.”

“No, beyond probing. When you can actually swear you hear and see the same things they can deep inside, instead of the awkward machine on the outside running malfunctions.” Kamski touched his head. “A machine is an android that isn’t aware of it’s free will yet. It is also, the final form of an android that can’t escape inside of it’s own programming anymore.” He lowered his hand from his head. “Like I said to your friend? I keep an emergency door open for all androids, but they will need to have a clear enough mind to see it.”

Wow. Simon and Josh looked at each other. How many androids had they actually destroyed not knowing that?

“It isn’t easy,” Kamski warned them, seeing their expressions. “It isn’t something to pull out of a hat and go ta da with grace. You must know the android well enough to get deep enough in an interface. If you don’t? You risk losing yourself too. I imagine most androids could never be saved. Risking life for life. It isn’t always easy to find that.” He waved them out. “Chloe will show you the way out. Tell no one where I am. I’d rather not have anything to do with Cyberlife or the Network. Good day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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