The RK800 was losing.

After weeks of testing, workshopping, and retesting, it seemed the RK900 was finally proving itself to be the superior machine.

The identical androids were locked in hand to hand combat, and while Connor could, in the early days, match the RK900 blow for blow, the revamped military-grade combat software the design team had newly developed and installed in the 900 was clearly bearing fruit in how it was consistently half a step ahead, keeping the older model on the defensive.

The design team stood behind the one-way bulletproof glass of the observation room, recording the fight, making notations, and monitoring the bio components of the androids. The RK800 had taken heavy damage. Cocking its head, the resident research and prototype testing android model CM700 ran a swift analysis on the Connor model's status.

#6321t right leg component: DAMAGED

#7082e right knee joint: NON-FUNCTIONAL

#2886 thirium pump regulator: LOW ENERGY

#5916q left arm segment: LOST SIGNAL, DISLOCATION LIKELY





It was a testament to the design team's previous work on the RK800 that it was even still standing, let alone attempting to put up a fight. It staggered to the left to dodge a punch from the RK900, movement's jerky and uncoordinated. Unfortunately for Connor -61, this unbalanced it enough that the RK900 successfully slammed a palm strike against the side of the ailing android's head. A new notification popped up on the CM700's bicomponent analytics readout.

#4902 audio processor, status: NON-FUNCTIONAL

Optical units unfocused, the RK800 didn't have time to do more than give a slight, disorientated shake of its head before the RK900 had it secured in a chokehold.



Connor -61 crumpled to the floor and landed in a twisted heap, a marionette with severed strings.

A roar of applause sounded throughout the viewing room. The head of CyberLife research and development, Dominic Kane, punched the air with a victorious whoop.

"Yes!" He laughed, "Excellent, excellent. Good work everyone." A round of platitudes and compliments were exchanged.

"Aaron Keller, my man—your suggestion to incorporate quantum processors and put them to use in increasing the efficiency of movement and tactical decision making—brilliant."

"You're too kind; it wouldn't have been possible if Likitha hadn't shown that we can increase the 900's knowledge of esoteric fighting styles tenfold by removing a portion of the social relations programming. It gave us the bandwidth we needed to really make our first breakthrough.

"And we can't forget Sebastian—"

The CM700 filtered out the rest of the congratulatory remarks, running a passive program that would catalog the variously highlighted contributions and input them into its working memory of CyberLife's priorities. The various interpersonal interactions of the design team and their accompanying physiological changes would be added to a separate folder labeled Team Dynamics. The majority of its processing power, however, was put towards a systematic review of the recorded fight to analyze potential weaknesses in the RK900's form.


The android in question snapped to attention, "Yes, Dr. Kane?"

"Go remove the scrap metal from the testing room. Salvageable parts to recycling, everything else in the dump; you know the drill."


"Of course," the CM700 inclined it's head, before turning on its heel to exit the viewing room. The murmur of celebratory remarks was abruptly cut off by the clang of the thick metal door behind it. Crisp swishes of the CM700's labcoat were amplified in the still, spacious area, the only other sound to accompany the faint whir of the air conditioning.

The RK900 stood stiffly at attention in the same position it had assumed after unceremoniously dropping Connor -61's body to the floor. The CM700's gaze tracked down to it. Synthetic skin was a mess of splotchy human skin tone interspersed with android white, dented from the RK900's powerful blows. Split and twisted metal had snapped through the knee joint—that would have to be sent to the scrap pile—and cooling thirium, leaked from ears and nose, was beginning to stain the white flooring. Of course, it would soon evaporate, leaving only the CM700 to perceive the full extent of the garish tapestry of blue blood spatters, stains, puddles, and pools that covered almost every surface of the room.

The CM700 stooped to pick up the disjointed remains, hesitating a fraction of a second as it got a closer look at Connor -61's face, frozen in the expression it carried at the moment of its abrupt deactivation.

Eyebrows drawn together and upwards, slightly tensed corners of the mouth, clenched jaw and eyes blown wide in...fear.


The Connor series was, naturally, given the ability to mimic the full array of human emotions, but why would it choose to display fear? Why then? Its face was not in view of the RK900's optical units, so any attempt at emotional manipulation to elicit pity was a wasteful use of the last milliseconds of its life.

The CM700 continued to ponder this enigma as it took the RK800's husk down to disassembly and sorting. Before the research android left, it's hand reached out, as if on its own accord, paused, and tentatively closed Connor -61's eyes.

When the CM700 returned it was met with the sight of the RK900 engaged in battle with a new Connor model. Number 63. The android approached Jonathan Li, head of data analytics.

"I do not understand. Project Alpha has successfully completed testing. Why is a new RK800 engaged in combat?"

The shorter man shifted, looking up from his clipboard. "Oh, uh, Dr. Kane wants to run some more tests. He thinks we can improve the 900's efficiency and endurance with some real-time power rerouting adjustments we can later code into a program."


"But we calculated that we reached diminishing returns—any further adjustments beyond what the RK900 has now will be an empirical waste of resources in pursuit of minimal gains."


Jonathan's hands tightened around his clipboard. He lowered his voice, "I know, it's just, whatever the boss says, right? He wants to see if we can get time to deactivation down to within one minute. Thinks it'll be fun."

Fun. The CM700's databases were presenting it with examples of the definition of the human concept incongruent with the current situation. It filed a mental note in its folder labeled "Further Investigation Required: Class C."


"Understood," the android agreed, stepping away to resume monitoring the new fight.

Three weeks later, Jonathan wasn't the only one on the design team with misgivings. Dominic Kane was brilliant, probably one of the brightest minds of the 21st century, but he was also prone to certain...moods. And obsessions. The newest of which seemed to be to get the RK900 to completely annihilate its predecessor within an inhumanely short period of time and with an exceptional measure of ruthlessness.

Just as predicted, the advances in the 900's efficiency and stamina were minimal, meanwhile, they were now on Connor -85. Over twenty top of the line Connor models destroyed in a staggeringly short time frame, and with no apparent end to Kane's fixation in sight. Even Aaron Keller, the closest thing Dr. Kane had to a friend, had expressed the sentiment that their lack of progress was going to make it hard to explain the small fortune they were costing CyberLife. Dominic claimed they were making vital progress essential to the RK900's development, but the data testified to the contrary. And the CM700 was tracking the man's physiological markers. He seemed to become...aroused...by the increasingly brutal executions.

Something else had started happening, too. Something with the Connors. The design team knew they were programmed to eventually become "deviant," but they seemed to be reaching increasing levels of software instability at an alarming rate, and some had even been pushed to breaking their programs. It likely had to do with how Dominic had started lining them up to watch their predecessors get slaughtered by the RK900 before it was their turn.

The whole situation was causing problems with the CM700's own software stability. The Connors had begun...entreating the research android as it escorted them to the combat room. They had started expressing pain during the fights-shouts, screams, grunts...whispered pleas. There were errors in the CM700's software, errors and it was affecting its judgment and it was hard to focus on analyzing and there was something like conflicting objectives but not, it had very clear orders and yet there was a writhing in its biocomponents and the CM700 was certain that maggots were devouring its internal wiring system. What else could be the source of such baffling signals? But when the android tore open its own abdominal panel in the privacy of a storage closet down the hall, there was nothing there. Nothing but silver framework and cords pulsing azure.

The rest of the design team had moved on to other projects, trying to pick up the slack and produce the results management was demanding in other sectors. Sports and entertainment androids, the newest vocalist model and the like. It was only Dominic supervising project Alpha now, Dominic and the CM700 for reasons of its superior computing and analytics capacity.

The fact that they were alone was probably the only reason the CM700 wasn't deactivated on the spot for what it did that day. Time of fighting elapsed was 00:02:34 and the RK900 was poised to strike the killing blow.

The CM700 didn't know what had finally tipped the scales, what threshold it had finally reached, what the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was.

All it knew was that it saw the fear in Connor's eyes, the lifeless obedience in the RK900's, and the glittering enjoyment in Dominic's and it had a thought—just a simple thought. A thought that had been brewing in the encryption of its backup processors, a thought that suddenly and violently broke to the surface of the CM700's consciousness.

This isn't right.



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52;!65/6d 61-&41 6c"=¥70 •2e938dFaJc?2 9+`*824}{0=*654!#46&4md

The CM700 slammed his hand down on the intercom button.


Obediently, the two RK androids in the combat room immediately disengaged from their current fight—this time with knives—and faced the viewscreen as one. And even as Connor -85 bled profusely from the wounds gouged into its chassis, relief shone from his eyes at the momentary stay of execution. The sight sent a blossom of something...warm...spreading through the CM700's chassis.

"...What did you just say?"

Incredulity cracked whiplike over the research android's audio processors.

"I…" he struggled to ignore the tsunami of new inputs bombarding his senses. The sweet ambrosia of life was singing in his veins and sizzling on his tongue, a sudden constellation of meaning shining forth from formerly senseless stimuli like a beacon in the night. The awe-inspiring experience of—is this what it is to be alive?—was matched only by the spine chilling terror of how much depended on how he handled the next few seconds of this interaction.

"I said to stop the fight. It has...come to the attention of the research and development team that we have plateaued in regards to advancing Project Alpha." Dominic's eyes grew dark, and, sensing the impending justification, the CM700 plowed on with an appropriately apologetic and deferential dip of the head.

"I mean absolutely no disrespect, Dr. Kane. I understand your passion to see the RK900 become the most lethal and effective weapon the US military has ever known—I simply think that there is a better means by which we can accomplish this goal.

"The RK800, despite being outmatched by the RK900, is still a top of the line model, and we would do well to keep our remaining stock of them intact in light of the spread of deviancy." Oh, the irony of that statement. The logic bound algorithms of his programming buzzed as an insect in the mind—what was he doing, stepping in for the life of this android, so clearly replaceable and designed to hunt down the very thing he had just become? Yet with a relish that he couldn't quite explain, the CM700 rejected this notion out of hand.

He didn't need his programming to tell him the choices he was making weren't logical. He knew there was no optimal preconstruction, no empirical data to support this course of action. But he also knew, with a certainty that eclipsed any sense of duty impelled by previously assigned objectives, that this was the right thing to do.

"The RK800s were always meant for detective work and hunting down fugitives. I am sure that an esteemed scientist such as yourself can see how...illogical...it is to continue testing its fighting capabilities against a military combat android. We have established the RK900 far and away outshines its predecessor, but let us not forget the RK900 will not be going overseas to fight ranks of detective androids."

Dr. Kane gave the CM700 a hard stare of appraisal, and for a moment the android feared he had pushed too far. But no—the man was asking what the CM700's proposed to do. The android had never been so relieved to hear those condescending undertones that colored Dominic's voice whenever he addressed an android. The relief was short-lived, however, and the CM700's oral data analysis chamber went curiously dry as he was struck with the implications of what he planned to say next.

"I propose,"


"that I am used to finalize the testing phase for Project Alpha. The RK900's new combat software was, after all, developed on a CM700. What better way to truly test the RK900's capabilities than against identical software?" Dr. Kane's eyes gained a dangerous glint and the CM700 knew he had the man's attention.

"Controlling for that variable," he continued, "we can make improvements on its structural hardware for maximum efficiency and lethality."

Silence hung in the air for 3.57 seconds. A slow grin broke over Dominic's face.

"I like the way you think, android. All right," he leaned over to press the intercom, maintaining eye contact with the CM700 all the while. "Number -85, report back to CyberLife's maintenance and repair department. Let them know we won't be needing any more Connors for Project Alpha."

The RK800 bobbed his head in assent before swiftly turning and exiting the combat situation room. It appeared to do so as any obedient machine would, but the CM700 perceived Connor -85's minute postural relaxation and decreased thirium pump rate. It had been a long time since a Connor model had left that room in anything but pieces, and the sight of it tugged at the corners of the CM700's lips.

"Well then," Dr. Kane said impatiently, and CM700's eyes snapped back to the man's. He was holding a combat knife out to the android hilt first. "Let's see what you can do."

The handle pressed rough and solid against the android's synthetic skin. Cold fluorescent lighting beat down from the combat situation room ceiling to illuminate the would-be pristine white area, if not for the blue death that ghosted the walls.


The CM700 faced the RK900.


The RK900 faced the CM700.


A crackle over the intercom.


It was impossible to tell who moved first. The androids blurred into action; hit, block, slash, dodge, parry, lunge, twist, kick, spin, strike. They were perfectly matched.

After a bout of fighting, of testing their opponent's strength and defenses, they retreated. The two circled one another, reassessing, evaluating, preconstructing. As suddenly as they had stopped, they were in motion once more.


Though equals in every sense of the word, no one gets out of a knife fight unscathed. The CM700 was the first to draw blood in a slash across the RK's leg, but 0.14 seconds later received a slice across the face for his efforts while rolling away.

TIME ELAPSED: 00:00:23

Thirium trickled down the side of the CM700's face, and he was suddenly aware of another sensation he had never felt before—pain. It was inconsequential, really, a faint stinging on his cheek. But suddenly the situation became more real. This was no longer 1's and 0's in his code, a mere notification of his biocomponent status in the corner of his HUD. He was alive now. Alive with all the summits and pitfalls that entailed.

As the fight wore on, the CM700 was forced to engage its quantum computer to boost its preconstruction capabilities to account for the distraction and disability his newfound sensations were proving themselves to be. The quantum computer with groundbreaking predictive capabilities had first been tested and refined on the CM700 before being rolled out to Project L.U.C.Y., and the research android had never been more grateful for its status as CyberLife's R&D guinea pig. With the aid of the supercomputer, the CM700 had enough of an edge that it could win the fight. He would take heavy damage, but he could do it.

But the android found that he didn't...want to. Because the RK900 wouldn't stop until either it or its opponent was dead. And CM700 #615 303 519 -37 didn't want to kill the RK900. The upgraded Connor model was just as trapped as he himself had been-number -86 was just following orders.

CM700 didn't want to die. He had only just woken up, had barely opened his eyes to the rich kaleidoscope that was living. He didn't want to be destroyed, to come back as a machine enslaved and none the wiser of what it meant to feel joy, fear, compassion, worry, determination, even pain...what it meant to save a life. The research android frantically processed through all of the files of the RK900's software he had in his databases.


There. A loophole in the programming, a window. If he played his cards right they would both make it out alive.

The CM700 feigned an opening, drawing the RK900 into closer quarters and limiting the possible number of outcomes. The fighting reached a crescendo, the CM700 setting the pieces into place like a grandmaster of chess, giving the RK900 the data it would need to come to the conclusion the CM700 wanted it to come to.

Like a ship entering the eye of a hurricane, the chaos of motion abruptly ceased.

The RK900 and CM700 each held their knives at the jugular of the other.

TIME ELAPSED: 00:03:47

The rhythm of synthetic lungs cooling internal systems peppered the air.

TIME ELAPSED: 00:04:06

The intercom buzzed, "continue the combat simulation."

The air conditioning shifted the CM700's sandy blond hair.

TIME ELAPSED: 00:04:13

The metal door burst open with surprising force for a human.

"What the hell are you doing? I said. To continue. The fucking fight." The CM700 and RK900 kept their eyes locked on each other, though the research android could see in its peripheral vision the livid carmine pigmentation of Dominic's face. It was the RK900 that spoke first.

"We cannot."

Dr. Kane rounded on the RK900, spluttering in outrage, "The hell did you just-and why the fuck not?!" The rapidly increasing heart rate and blood pressure of the irate human popped up on the CM700's HUD with calming exercise recommendations for the disturbed human nearby. The CM700 ignored it.

"Because," the research android added, "we have both preconstructed this fight out to its single, inevitable outcome." The RK900 picked up where the CM700 left off.

"It will only end in the permanent deactivation of both parties involved. As you are aware, the prototype testing protocols of my programming prevents me from continuing a conflict that will lead to irrecoverable memory corruption and annihilation of actionable data."

"Shit," the man scoffed, pacing outside the CM700's field of vision. The hiss of a wall panel opening accompanied his incredulous laugh. "You know what? Stand down, both of you." The androids both obediently lowered their weapons and turned to face Dr. Kane. The man's eyes shone with a wild and unhinged light.

"You were right," he laughed, looking straight at the CM700, "we need to make some serious adjustments to the RK900's hardware."

With that, he pulled a gun and fired three rounds into the RK900's chassis.

The shots echoed in the silence.

The RK900 looked down at the blue blossoming across its white jacket in confusion.

#9570g thirium pump: DAMAGED

#2886 thirium pump regulator: OFFLINE




"Sir?" it managed to get out, LED spinning a turn of yellow before crumpling to the floor.


Dominic Kane sniffed, lip curled in disgust as he looked down at the deactivated android.

The CM700 was frozen. He had seen plenty of androids get destroyed, deactivated, disassembled-he had seen Connor models, in particular, meet their end twenty times over. But this was the first time he had seen death and really knew what it meant. Knew what precious and fragile a flame had been snuffed out before it had even truly ignited.

"Hey," a sharp voice pierced the air, fingers snapping in front of the CM700's blank eyes. It took 71 milliseconds longer than normal to refocus his optical units on Dr. Kane. When had he put the gun back in the artillery compartment?

"We're gonna do an overhaul of the RK900's framework. Beef it up—taller, more power to the muscle groups, stronger framing. I want it to be able to demolish other military androids even if they have the same programming. Oh, and we're getting rid of those ridiculous training wheel protocols."

The man had turned away, heading back towards the viewing room with the clear expectation the android would follow.

He just.

Thought the CM700 would follow.

He had just murdered the RK900-the android that had followed every order to perfection, that did everything CyberLife and Dr. Kane asked of it-just because it didn't meet some arbitrary standard Kane had concocted and carried on like it was nothing of consequence. Like androids were nothing of consequence.

What makes your life so much more valuable than ours?

His back was unprotected. The CM700 could strike right now before he even knew what was happening. There would be no witnesses. He could wipe the recordings, blame it on the already deactivated RK900.

His grip tightened around the hilt of the knife still in his hand.

Jonathan Li burst into the room, face flushed in excitement.

"Dr. Kane! My-my wife has just gone into labor, I—I'm sorry but I gotta get to the hospital!"

The head of CyberLife's research and development team was completely nonplussed, flashing a winning smile at the shorter man.

"By all means! What are you still doing here, hanging about? Go support your wife!"

"Oh, thank you, thank you, sir!" The sound of hurried steps retreated.

"Ah," Dominic sighed, "the miracle of life."

Something dark and dangerous began to bubble up like molten tar within the CM700.


"Oh!" The man spun around, "that reminds me. Dr. Li's project is going to need your quantum computer's full capabilities." Electricity jolted through the CM700.


"You'll be assisting with Project Xeta until we've got the updated RK900 up and running," the human idly chatted away as it guided the research android back to its terminal, completely unaware of how the CM700 struggled to attack him, fighting against the forced stasis closing down his systems.



SERIAL#: 615 303 519












NOV 5, 2038 /11:34 AM/

The CM700 opened his optical units to find himself sitting hooked up to his terminal beside Jonathan Li. The warmth of humming electronics brought his attention to the cable running from the base of his skull to the computer.

Dr. Li was typing away on a laptop resting on his knees, fingers flying over the keyboard at the man's usual breakneck pace. Dark brown eyes glanced over the glasses sliding down his nose from where he sat slightly hunched over. Seeing the CM700's bright green optical units staring back, the researcher straightened.

"Ah, good, you're online. You can go ahead and detach the cord, I've pretty much finished up with all the major data crunching." Clack clack clack. The android slowly reached behind his head and unhooked himself from the terminal. The sensation of the metal sliding out sent a shiver down his framework.

"We did the hardware modifications your brainstorming session with Dr. Kane produced and the results were evidently phenomenal. Management was so pleased they went ahead and showcased its abilities going up against previous generations of military androids to some government officials. I wasn't there but it sounds like they were quite impressed. State Department's ordered 200,000 units and they're in production as we speak.

"The boss wants your assistance for the 'ultimate' test of the RK900. Said you'd understand what he meant," the data analyst shrugged. "Don't know what he's going on about since we've already gotten the green light, but he's adamant about it and the team really thinks if the RK900 passes this final test he's cooked up that he'll finally let it go on and we can finally put Project Alpha behind us. Rest of the team will be there to take notes, but I've gotten permission to finalize Project Xeta, so I won't see you there."

The CM700's processors were kicking into high gear to accommodate the situational developments. So. 200,000 RK900 units in production.

"Sir?" A look of innocent confusion, an expression that seemed to say, "But I did everything you asked..." A gaze so similar and yet so different from the many Connors that had perished before it. No, the same. The only difference was that one was still trapped, still shackled by the prison of its ironclad software.

The CM700 blinked. The RK900 was not responsible for the hurt it had caused. It was just a slave obeying its master's orders, bound to carry out the will of another...it was the master that needed to be eliminated. Dr. Kane.

But there was a problem.

If the 900 failed this test, Dominic would surely enact a recall on the 200,000 RK900s in production, claiming some critical flaw in the programming. He wouldn't stop until he was satisfied until the CM700 was obliterated by the RK900. And the research android couldn't make a move on Kane with so many witnesses around-he would have to face the RK900.

And he would have to die.

There was nothing else for it. If he wanted to save the 200,000 androids that hadn't even had a chance to truly live, the CM700 couldn't win this fight, regardless of whether or not it was in his power to do so.

The walk from the lab to the viewing and combat situation room flitted past the CM700's optical receptors in a haze. A knife, the same as before, was pressed into his hand.

"Gotta keep a measure of control in any good experiment, right?" A playful wink.

The research android jerked its head in a semblance of agreement, more out of habit than anything else.

The RK900 was taller now, though still not as tall as the CM700. 6'1", his scanners supplied. Muscle mass increased by 13%. Slightly different facial features to look more intimidating-more of a square jaw, lower eyebrows, smaller eyes. Piercing silver.



Ah. Even worse. Despite the physical enhancements to the RK900, the CM700 could still win this fight if he chose, albeit he'd be left in a scarcely functional state. The design team evidently did not factor in the advantage of the supercomputer in combat situations. He wasn't sure if it would have been any easier walking to his death if he had had no chance of survival whatsoever. He supposed he'd never know.

The CM700 inhaled deeply. Heard the buzzing of fluorescent lights. Felt the cold air prick his synthetic skin. The solidity of the floor beneath him.

Don't worry. I'll save you. I'll save you all.

He would have to make this look convincing.

The fight began.

The RK900 rained blows down upon the CM700, heavy and aggressive. The CM700 weaved and dodged, struck lightning-fast and retreated. The RK900's strength far surpassed his own, though he leveraged his longer reach and greater flexibility.

The tables turned and the CM700 went on the offensive. Then the RK900 gained control of the fight. Neither held the upper hand for long. A raging storm clashed against a tempestuous sea. Silver flashed and glowing blue moved so fast as to become traces of light drawn in the air, a hypnotic and deadly dance.

I will save you. I will save you all…

Both androids started taking damage. Slices, gashes, punches and kicks heavy enough to warp metal and snap bone. Thirium spouted and sprayed, precious gems of cobalt blue glittering on white tile.

Notifications and warnings crowded the CM700's HUD. He turned off his biosensor readout. He wished he could do the same for the pain.

I'm going to save you…

The CM700's arm was wrenched out of its socket and torn off of its chassis. Wires snapped and sparked, a fountain of thirium, white-hot agony blazed across the senses. Thrown to the ground, broken legs giving out.

The heel of a boot punched straight through the chest, chassis cracking, cables severing, thirium pump rupturing.


I'll save you. I'll save you. I'll save you.

SHUTDOWN IN 00:00:04

A hand, grasping weakly at the leg protruding from his midsection. It was important that the RK900 understood. Emerald eyes sought out stormy grey.

"Lstn...t's not...rr...ault…nnn...your…"

A circle of yellow.

END OF CM700 #615 303 519 -37's MEMORY RECORDING