Early in the 21st Century, the Tyrell Corporation, advanced Robot evolution into the NEXUS phase. A being virtually identical to a human, known as a replicant.
The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility and at least equal in intelligence to the genetic engineers who created them.
Replicants were used Off-world as slave labor in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets.
After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth, under penalty of death.
Special police squads, BLADE RUNNER UNITS, had orders to shoot to kill upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.
This was not called execution
It was called retirement.
Dr. Jason Gideon, An Essay of Dr. Tyrell’s Nexus 6 Replicants and the Barbarous Summary Executions by the Blade Runner Squads.
Los Angeles, 2049
Deckard was exhausted. He just wanted this fight over with and to move on with his life. He had not wanted to take the job in the first place but was given no choice in the matter. Now he was running and jumping across rooftops, battered, and at least one arm had fractures, he lost his gun at some point, but he had to keep going, had to finish the job.
Roy Blatty was the last of the Replicants that had snuck into Los Angeles just six days prior. Six days, even Rick couldn’t believe that his life had been upended so badly in just six goddamned days. Now, he didn’t have time to reflect on the pure and utter crap that he had been dropped into when those five Nexus 6 Replicants showed up, and he was drafted into stopping them.
He stopped, breathing heavy, he leaned down and tried to catch his breath. He looked up and there was Roy, watching him, baiting him. Didn’t these assholes have a kill date thought Deckard? Looking up he saw the smirk on Roy’s face and the dangerous gleam in his eyes. Rick took that as a challenge as he straightened up and ran.
Again, he was being led through a maze of rooftops, and metal pipes everywhere. Neither man knew exactly where they were going, one leading the chase, the other following along. Rick, he just wanted this job over with, then, with any luck, he was going to disappear, hopefully, with Rachel.
They stopped again and he watched in horror as Roy made an almost impossible leap across the roofs. Rick grimaced and looked at the infuriating man with a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ look on his face.
“Afraid to die Deckard? Here I am, come and get me,” Blatty taunted as he opened his arms and grinned maliciously.
“Son of a bitch,” Deckard growled under his breath. He glared at Batty before he backed up across the roof that he was on, then with all his strength he ran. He knew as soon as he jumped he wasn’t going to make it, that he was probably going to fall and die. A part of him was afraid, to die that way, but another part, the part that was tired and broken almost welcomed it. He made the leap and was able to grab onto the ledge of the roof where Roy was waiting for him. He tried to scramble for purchase, but the rain was making the bricks slick and the pain in his arm was making it difficult to hold on. He looked up to see Roy standing there, tall, shirtless, almost majestic in his power. He smiled once again knowing that at that moment he had won.
Rick resigned himself that he was going to die. Then a hand wrapped around his wrist and gripped him tight. His momentary fear that he was going to fall turned into abject terror that Roy was going to throw him down. But, Roy was pulling him up, and in a moment he was sprawled on the roof, rain beating down on him wondering just what the fuck happened.
Rick stood and looked over at Roy, confused why the Replicant saved him. The android cocked his head and smiled almost sadly and Rick almost believed him. Dipping his head slightly Roy dropped to his knees and looked up at Rick.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
“Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
“I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.” The sadness permeated Roy’s very being as he looked at Rick one last time. Rick’s heart was beating fast in his chest, the atmosphere thick with emotions not thought possible from an android. He knew, at that moment, that it was over.
“Time to die.” Roy’s head dropped down, his lifeless eyes still open, but he was gone. Rick stood there and tried to understand why it just didn’t feel like a win. He didn’t know how long he stood there with the rain beating down on him and the now dead android just mere inches away, but after it seemed like it was too long, he limped away, leaving Roy there for the collectors to come and retrieve his body.
By the time he made it street side and found his car he was beyond exhausted. All he wanted was a hot shower, something alcoholic to soothe the ache that was gnawing in his gut, and Rachel.
When he got there he saw Gaff standing on the sidewalk, near his vehicle. They stared at each other for a few long minutes before anyone spoke.
“You’ve done a fair man’s job, sir. I guess you’re done now.” Gaff leaned on his cane and Rick just wanted to wipe the smirk off the man’s face.
“Finished.” Deckard glared at him, still not understanding just who the hell the man was. Gaff reached into his coat and threw Deckard’s gun at him. It clattered to the ground at his feet.
“It’s too bad she won’t live! But, then again, who does?” The smarmy smile just infuriated Deckard, but all Gaff did was turn and limp away. Rick didn’t pick up his gun right away, he stood there watching his handler walk away as he tried to sort through everything that had happened in the last few days. Nothing really made sense, and it seemed that Deckard would not find the answers. Taking a deep breath he bent down and picked up his gun and slipped it into his holster. He turned to his vehicle and got in. He hovered there a moment as he tried to understand what the hell it all meant. When no easy answers came he started the car and made his way to his apartment, hoping Rachel was still there.
Disappearing was easier than either he or Rachel thought it would be. Rick assumed that the whole time they were making plans and getting ready to leave that Gaff was going to come after them, but he didn’t and Rick wasn’t going to dwell on it. For the first time in a long-time he felt…something. When he looked at Rachel, even knowing she was a Replicant, he didn’t care. He stepped up and took her in his arms and held her close. He closed his eyes as her arms wrapped around him and he felt. Was this the beginning of love? Was it happiness? He wasn’t sure, all he was sure of was he wanted to find out.
“We have to go.”
They smiled at each other, two broken souls who had found each other. Deckard was going to make the most of every day. He wasn’t sure if Rachel had a kill date, Tyrell had never told him, but four years or a hundred, it didn’t matter to Rick, it would never be enough time.
Breaking away he picked-up their bags and led her to the car. He threw them in the back and they each got in. Rick made his way out of the underground car park, his vehicle hovering as they made it into the city traffic. When he looked in his rearview mirror he saw Gaff standing there, watching them. Their eyes met for a moment and the strange man just smiled and tipped his hat. He was letting them go and Deckard would always wonder why.
I surmise that the memories implanted in the Replicant known as Rachel caused her to have very human emotional responses. According to Tyrell’s research, Rachel was essentially becoming human. He makes several references to the Blade Runner, Richard Deckard, and Rachel’s exposure to him. The emotions that were awakened in the Replicant were not planted, as had happened in the Nexus 4 and 5, but they were spontaneous, stimulated by Rachel’s attraction to the Blade Runner.
This attraction, I conclude, is what pushed Deckard over the line. In researching the data regarding the incidents in 2049, and why the laws regarding Replicants were changed, I surmise that he too developed feelings for Rachel. Their disappearance is rather telling and will be explored further in this essay.
Dr. Jason Gideon, Personal Observation, An Essay of Dr. Tyrell’s Nexus 6 Replicants and the Barbarous Summary Executions by the Blade Runner Squads.
MIT Graduate Class, 2074
Dr. Jason Gideon stepped up to the podium, his class on the History of Replicants and the Tyrell Effect, was one of the most popular classes currently offered at MIT. They were still the premier college in robotic and Android engineering. Gideon looked out at his class and wondered when they got so young. Or, did he just get old? He chuckled to himself as he settled his notes. Turning to the class, the ever-present toothpick in his mouth, he looked around.
“The Tyrell Effect, can anyone tell me what it means?”
Several students raised their arms in anticipation.
The young curly haired man stood, “The Tyrell Effect is the process in which false memories are implanted into the modified Nexus 6 Replicants. The first experiment, Rachel, was the first successful one, however, after Rachel, and under the hand of several scientists that took over after Tyrell’s death, several more were created. The false memories were generated on an advanced Quantum computer that was able to create a wholly unique identity for each Replicant, furthering the idea of their individuality and uniqueness.”
“Very good Mr. Epps, anyone else?” Several hands shot up once again and Jason wondered at their eagerness. Maybe he was just becoming jaded, he didn’t know. What he did know was these kids were smart, and they seemed to be getting smarter every year.
Gideon let several of the students answer, each of them giving basically the same answer.
“You are all correct. Tyrell did experiment later in his life on giving Replicants false memories. He hoped that giving them these memories, it would suppress their rebellious nature. He was monitoring Rachel closely, his notes were very precise in their recording of her daily activities. The experiment appeared to be going well, and Rachel had no knowledge that she actually was a Replicant. Can anyone tell me if they know the catalyst to Rachel’s disappearance?”
Several hands shot-up again and Gideon scrutinized his students.
“Quinn. Can you tell me what happened?”
The young man stood and pushed his glasses up on his nose and cleared his throat. His clipped accent was strong, but precise in his speech.
“That would be the incidents in Los Angeles in 2049. Richard Deckard, a well know Blade Runner at the time, was tasked with giving Rachel the Voight-Kampf test. According to Tyrell’s notes, it took Deckard just over 100 questions to figure out that she was indeed a Replicant. Tyrell records that, in Deckard’s own words, most Replicants he could figure out in fifteen to twenty questions. In that regards, Tyrell called Rachel his success. It was after this encounter that Tyrell claims Rachel became suspicious of her own origins.”
“You are right. She did become suspicious. And it was after the slaughter of 2049 that Deckard disappeared with Rachel and no one has seen or heard of them in the last twenty-five years.”
Several hands raised and Jason leaned back on the stool he had next to the podium. Looking out at the sea of faces, which he knew each one by heart and couldn’t help being just a tiny bit proud that he had helped to teach them, mentor them and hopefully make them see that, Replicants were not inherently dangerous. It was mankind’s failings that caused them to rebel, to react violently because most of the Nexus 6’s, that’s all they knew. Violence, slavery, sexual pleasure, which Jason considered rape. With no ability to make a choice, even pleasure androids experienced trauma.
The shy young man took a deep breath before he asked his question. Jason was most proud of the young man, he had come a long way since he had started to mentor him.
“You call the incidents slaughter, Dr. Gideon, but aren’t the Replicants just machines? Human’s create them, and yes we are responsible for how they are treated, but beyond that, aren’t they tools?”
Gideon dipped his head to the side and narrowed his eyes as he scrutinized Zachary for a moment. Gathering his thoughts on the very important issues going on in Government, the rights of Androids, more specifically the Nexus 6’s, the newer 7’s and currently being developed, 8’s.
“In Deckard’s own report, when the Replicant Roy Blatty died, he showed a depth of humanism, of the want and need of freedom from oppression. The Replicants involved in those incidents just wanted more time. When Tyrell refused, that was when Roy killed him. Everything they did was out of a very real human response.
“Should we grant Replicant’s limited rights?” Gideon stood and paced the room. “I wholeheartedly agree that we should. They are intelligent, emotional beings aware of their own lives and mortality. These questions have been bantered around in philosophy, Science Fiction books and cinema for decades. We have talked this to death and yet, we still have no real answers.” Gideon stopped mid-stride and looked out at his students and wondered if he was getting through to them, or if they were just too mired in their scientific minds that the ethical concerns over Replicants didn’t really phase them.
“We are proving every day that false memories can help stop Replicants from rebelling. The memories provoke spontaneous emotional responses and some even pass the now outdated Voight-Kampf tests with ease. Do we, as a free and advanced society have the right to enslave them just because we created them? Don’t we have a duty to give them a proper life? It is an ethical dilemma that we are still debating today.” Gideon looked-up at the clock and nodded a moment.
“Okay, I want a 5000-word essay on the pros and cons of giving Replicants limited or equal rights as the rest of society. I want thoughtful and well-researched arguments, not a regurgitation of the propaganda. They will be due in two weeks.” With that, he shut down his holo-tablet, gathered his papers and PDD and shoved them into this briefcase. As his students were filing out he looked up at the back of the class and saw someone waiting for him. Wiping a finger across his brow he let his gaze settle on the man there.
“Hotch, how long ago did you sneak into my class?” Gideon glared as the man made his way forward.
“I’ve only been here to hear the end. You didn’t tell them that it was precisely those events in 2049 that Blade Runners were tasked with subduing and not outright killing Replicants.” Hotch crossed his arms as his constant companion, Teo, jumped up on the desk, seeking affection from Jason.
“You brought Teo. Everything okay with him?” Gideon stroked the fake fur on the large cat, who purred under his hand.
“He’s fine. We almost had a problem last week when he became a little too affectionate with another cat. But, it was quickly settled.” Hotch smiled as he scratched Teo’s head and smiled.
Gideon studied Hotch for a moment then leaned a hip on his desk and looked over at the man.
“Why are you really here Hotch?”
Hotch just watched Teo curl up on the desk and lay his head on Gideon’s lap.
“I have a Run, Jason.”
“And you came all the way up here to tell me that? You could have just video conferenced me”
Gideon scrutinized the man before him and narrowed his eyes.
“Who?” There was a churning in his gut as he tried to think back to the Replicant’s he had a hand in helping to bring to life. He never used the word build. He thought it was beneath what it was they really were.
“Steven, Nathan, and Sean. They escaped and are on the run. Reports are that they made it to DC. I thought it only right to come to tell you.”
Steven, the one he gave personal memories of his own lost boy to. He even named him Steven. Steven George. The current laws wouldn’t let any scientist give a Replicant their own last name, that was as close as Gideon could get.
Nathan Stokes. He had been given above average intelligence and was used in more delicate scientific circles. He could be sent in if there was any chance of escaping gases, an accelerator going wrong, anything that would compromise a normal human. He had been given a sweet, almost submissive personality, easily malleable.
Sean. It wasn’t lost on Gideon the tightness in Hotch’s eyes as he said Sean’s name. His family had commissioned the Replicant, their money and their influence were such that the Hotchner’s were denied very little. Gideon, though, knew the truth that happened behind closed doors. Sean was personal. He had been given a fifteen-year life span, the average for the newer Nexus 6’s. Aaron had come to him, at the age of nineteen, and begged him to give the Replicant more time. It was debated over for several weeks. Ultimately they agreed to add five more years to his time and would assess the situation before his expiration date. Ever since that day, Aaron and Jason had become friends.
Eventually, the younger man had confided in Gideon, telling him the truth of his home life and why Sean was so important to him. When he heard that Aaron had been part of the DNA Enhancement Movement of the early ’40s, Gideon’s gut twisted. It took a long time to get the young man to trust him enough to tell him what abilities he had developed.
A couple of years after they had met, Gideon had given him Teo. It wasn’t unusual for humans to acquire mechanical animals. Gideon knew that Deckard’s ex-wife actually had an electric sheep. He wasn’t sure of the circumstances, but Deckard, in a fit of rage over their divorce, pushed the sheep off the roof of their apartment building. It wasn’t something that was widely known, but it hadn’t taken much for Gideon to dig it up. Teo though was special. His mechanical DNA was a synthetic match to the real DNA that was used on Aaron and those in his group. They were linked, human and machine. Gideon never regretted giving Sean those five additional years, because it brought Aaron into his life. A man he thought of as a son.
“Are you sure you should be taking this run, Aaron?” Gideon deliberately used his first name, he hoped it would draw his friend out, to understand what he was feeling.
“I’ll be fine Jason. I just came here to tell you as a courtesy.”
“So, you’ll capture them and send them to one of the camps to be “renewed”, is that it?”
“I really wish you hadn’t seen that movie.” Hotch just shook his head. “You know that isn’t what they do Gideon.”
“No, they just wipe away all memories, emotions, experiences and plug in new ones, effectively erasing who they had become.”
“Who they are is dangerous if uncontrolled. We are barely being able to pass laws that allow them back on Earth, Jason. The camps are a compromise from outright killing them.”
Gideon stood abruptly and started to pace furiously. Teo had protested his displeasure at losing his pillow. This argument was an old argument between himself and Aaron. They didn’t see eye-to-eye on how to handle the rogue Replicants. He wasn’t even sure if they ever would.
“It’s worse than slavery, you know that.”
“They are machines, Jason. Machines built by humans. Yes, they look like us, can even develop feelings like us, but they aren’t us. They aren’t human. If they hurt people, they need to be stopped. Just like any other killer. So, yes I took the Run, even knowing Sean is one of them.”
Gideon knew what Sean had meant to Aaron. The Replicant had saved him at the age of twelve from the abuse of his father. Sean, in protecting Aaron, had crushed all the bones in both of Marcus Hotchner’s hands. He was saved from the camps when strong evidence had come out that Aaron had been abused most of his life. The Replicant was acting to his directive, protect Aaron, no matter what.
“I don’t understand how you can say that. Knowing what Sean has done for you.”
Hotch closed his eyes and Gideon could see that he was trying to get a handle on his anger. When he opened his eyes back-up they were slitted and golden, just like Teo’s eyes. The growl that formed low in his throat should have had Gideon backing off, but it didn’t.
“He killed Haley. Is that what you wanted? He was still trying to protect me, but something went wrong and he killed Haley. So, yes, I am taking this Run whether you like it or not.”
“I didn’t know. When Aaron?”
“It happened a month ago.” Aaron wiped a hand down his face and started to pace, Teo jumped off the desk and paced with him. “We were home, arguing. She was bringing up children again and I told her we could adopt. I’m not subjecting a child to my DNA. The doctors aren’t even sure what could happen. You know that many of the others had already opted for sterilization, and I know it’s a logical choice, but I..”
“You want the option if there was a way that your DNA could be passed on without the genetic enhancements.”
“Yes.” Aaron stopped pacing and faced Gideon. “The argument turned heated and Haley just happened to be making dinner. She spun, with a knife in hand and I…I don’t know what happened. In mere seconds Sean had his hand around her throat, crushing it. She was dead before he finally released her. I hit him with the Replicant suppressor, but it took seconds too long.”
“Why didn’t you call me Aaron?”
“It took everything I had to not kill Sean at that moment. I would have Jason. I wanted to.” Aaron’s eyes slit even more as his anger shown on his face.
“I’m sorry I didn’t know. I would have come down…”
Aaron put up a hand to stop him, “It’s fine. He was in the camp awaiting his hearing. It was supposed to be two days ago, but that was when he broke out with Nathan and Steven. Jason, it’s imperative that you call me if Steven shows up.”
“Hotch, do you understand what you’re asking me? I didn’t want him taken in the first place.”
“He tried to kill three of your students. They need help, Jason. Please don’t be foolish. You know how to reach me if you see any of them.” Aaron turned around and without even saying goodbye he was leaving, calling Teo to his side, he walked out, leaving Jason standing there alone.
Walking into his office, the lights turned up and his computer woke as he took a seat. He wanted to call Dave, to talk to him about better solutions besides mind wiping the Replicants. He thought there had to be a better way. Sitting back he contemplated on what to do.
Standing he grabbed his briefcase and took out his PDD, a hologram popped up as he turned it on.
“Anna, I want you to book an immediate flight out to Los Angeles. Airstream if possible. Then call Grant and let him know he’s going to have to take over my classes for the next little while. I’m going into the office. Dave and I need to figure out a better solution than mind-wiping for rogue Replicants.”
“Yes, Dr. Gideon.” The quiet voice of his electronic assistant chimed.
“Don’t tell Dave I’m coming, I want to finalize something on my research before I go into the office. Just get me to LA.”
Gideon clicked off and left his office at the University and made his way to his campus apartment. Quickly he packed a bag, grabbed his research papers and tried not to think about Aaron or the Run he had decided to take. He couldn’t worry about Steven.
Shaking his head a moment he walked to his bookcase that held a plethora of books on the rare birds of Earth, many species have already gone extinct. Man’s folly, he thought to himself. He pulled out the photo album he kept there, it was old fashioned of him, he knew, but he sat and looked through the pictures of the boy that had been taken from him too soon when his wife, Marie and their son were killed when their hovercar collided with an air bus. The bus had been on a downward descent and the driver took his eyes off of the traffic around him for a moment. The collision was fatal.
It had taken a long time for Jason to reconcile their deaths, and when Dave had given him a job as a lead genetic researcher at the newly formed Tyrell Corporation, he jumped at the chance. It gave him time to heal, creating Steven had given him a chance to see what his boy might have been like all grown-up. He knew, intellectually, that it wasn’t the same, that the Replicant was just an avatar, but it eased that pain just enough that it let him finally move on.
Now, his Steven was in danger of being erased. He had to find a better way, a way to save them, to save their memories, who it was they had become. He had to save Steven.
Blade Runner Units, created in the aftermath of the Mars Exploration Slaughter of 2032. Elite squads that were trained on how to spot the Nexus 6 from a normal human. They were quite successful in their mission in protecting humans and suppressing Replicants from coming to Earth. They, however, didn’t stop all of the rebellious Nexus 6’s. Over the years several small groups had been able to smuggle themselves into one of three ports. Los Angeles, New York or Florida.
The significance of where Replicants ported in wasn’t lost on historians and lawmakers. The traditional ports of any immigrant seeking a better life in the United States. Blade Runner Units then became a fixture at those three entry ports, but it still didn’t stop them.
Washington, Texas, and even making their way down from Canada, the Replicants began to show a determination in entering the US. Most of them had come peacefully. They integrated easily into many different areas of employment. Anything from a chef, to a biochemist, to a lawyer, Replicants had found a different life for themselves. Only when they made a very non-human mistake was it ever suspected that they were not human. When found out, a Blade Runner Unit would be dispatched to ‘retire’ the Replicant.
This wasn’t retirement, it was execution, it was outright murder.
Dr. Jason Gideon, An Essay of Dr. Tyrell’s Nexus 6 Replicants and the Barbarous Summary Executions by the Blade Runner Squads
Aaron was running hard, Teo by his side, both were on high alert. They had a lead on where Sean was at and when Aaron went to confront him, he ran. Nathan and Steven had already been captured and returned to the camp awaiting reintegration. The whole investigation had only taken Aaron three days. None of them had been smart enough to leave DC. It was to Aaron’s advantage that they hadn’t.
Sean, though, had proven to be trickier than Aaron had anticipated. He had moved around quickly, finding new spots every day to hide in. Eventually, though, he had made a mistake. He trusted the wrong person, and all Aaron needed to do was grease a few palms and he had Sean’s current location. When confronted, Sean ran. They had been on an all-out chase through one of the darker parts of the city, and Sean seemed to have forgotten that Aaron could see very well in the dark.
He had been running full out chasing his prey, which was faster than any normal human could possibly run, for almost a half an hour. He knew Sean wouldn’t tire, but he eventually would. If he lost him now, there would be no telling when he’d get another chance to find him. Aaron’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness, being able to see as well as Teo could.
Aaron heard a noise a few meters away from his current position, he stopped and crouched, narrowed his eyes, and cocked his head to try to get a better beat on where the noise was coming from. After a few tense moments, Aaron thought a command to Teo to silently investigate. The cat slunk low like the hunter he was fashioned after. He kept his growl in as he stalked his target. Aaron saw him sniffing the air, and the almost imperceptible chuff he let out had Aaron moving towards his companion.
“Sean? I need you to come out Sean.” Aaron slowly stalked towards where Teo was staying stationary, his fur bristling.
“Why? So you can send me back to get erased? Haven’t I always protected you, Aaron?”
Aaron stood and as quietly as he could he unsnapped his gun holster and took a tentative step forward.
“Sean, you have. You have always protected me and I can’t tell you how much you’ve meant to me. But, Sean, you killed Haley. She wasn’t threatening me when you attacked her. You have to let me take you in, Sean. If it isn’t me it’ll be another Runner, and they won’t know you as I do.”
It was a few tense moments, then Sean was slowly walking out from behind his hiding spot. The frown on the boyish face had Aaron’s heart aching. The blond hair fell in the Replicant’s face obscuring his eyes and Aaron wanted to reach out and brush the hair aside. This was killing him inside, but he wouldn’t, couldn’t back down.
“I’ll help you. I’ll plead your case, but you have to let me take you in.”
Sean closed his eyes and nodded. Aaron held in his emotions as he lifted his tranq gun and shot. It took a moment for the tranquilizer to work, but he was there to catch Sean before he hit the pavement. Teo came over and butted his head against Aaron’s leg, meowing softly trying to give comfort. Aaron took the run because he didn’t want anyone else to take Sean in. The Replicant had been like a brother to him and the pain of knowing what was going to happen was almost too much.
Shaking his head Aaron typed in an all-clear code for one of the hover transports to come in and collect Sean’s body. When it was done, Aaron sat back on his heels and closed his eyes, trying not to let his emotions get the better of him. His fingers buried themselves in Teo’s fur and the purring of the large cat was the only thing keeping him calm.
The run was over, but it didn’t feel good, none of this felt good. Aaron thought for a split second that maybe Gideon had been right, he probably should have handed the run over to someone else, but he just couldn’t. Sean had been too important to him and he deserved respect. Finally, he stood and brushed off his leather pants, and straightened. He made his way to his vehicle, trying to keep his heart from shattering.
He drove aimlessly around the city, not really having a destination in mind. When his stomach churned a little he knew he needed something to eat. He didn’t really care where as he swung into an open-air street vendor, and after parking, he walked towards one of the stools and sat, Teo jumped up on a stool next to him. He ordered a plate of garlic noodles and a side of vegetable dumplings. It was hard to get good meat, and sometimes you didn’t want to question where it had come from. Vegetables were always safer.
“No serve cats.” the vendor growled in the mix of English, Chinese, Russian and Spanish. The street lingo that almost everyone could speak. It had sprung up around 2020 and slowly gained popularity till almost everyone could speak some form of the mixed language.
“He stays. He won’t be a problem, not real.” Aaron responded back. He had learned as a kid how to speak the street lingo, much to the chagrin of his parents. It didn’t hurt that he already had formal training in six different languages and could easily pick-up words and phrases of others.
“Fine, he cause trouble your fault.” Aaron chuckled and shook his head as he reached over and scratched Teo’s head. He felt the contentment of the cat as he curled up in a ball on the stool he was sitting on and fell asleep.
The food was set in front of him, and as he picked up his chopsticks to eat, he ordered a pot of tea. He needed the warmth because inside he felt a hollow, cold feeling that he wasn’t sure was going to leave him any time soon.
He ate in silence, thanking whatever deity came into his head that no one around him tried to strike up a conversation. He wasn’t in the mood for small talk, especially with strangers. He finished his food, paid the vendor and called Teo to his side. They made their way back to Aaron’s apartment where he took a long hot shower and grabbed a bottle of the whiskey that Gideon had gifted him for his birthday. He didn’t drink all that much, but lately, it was the only thing that would let him sleep. Teo paced the bed as Aaron sipped at his drink.
“Worried about me, T?”
The cat moved and bumped his head against Aaron’s shoulder. Reaching up he scratched the cat’s head, getting a deep purring response for the effort. Teo may be mechanical, but there was real affection there. It often made Aaron wonder if Gideon was right about the androids.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Sean. I almost don’t want to know. I don’t want to see his memories taken from him, but what can I do? He killed Haley, and I don’t know how to reconcile that.” Draining his drink, Aaron waved a hand at the lights beside his bed, turning them off. As he was plunged in darkness he was glad that no one was there to see the silent tears he shed. The ones for Haley and now the ones for Sean. The gnawing pain in his heart he didn’t think would ever heal. He wiped his face and turned towards his companion who curled up in the space right at his stomach. He wrapped an arm around the feline, seeking some form of comfort and fell into a very fitful sleep.
“Captain, you wanted to see me?” Aaron knocked at Captain Erin Strauss’ office after he left Teo at his desk. The note to see her was the first one when he opened his PDD that morning.
“Yes, come in and shut the door.”
Aaron stepped in after shutting the door behind him, then made his way to the chair in front of her desk.
“Los Angeles has requested a new Blade Runner. I’m reassigning you to their field office.”
Aaron frowned a moment as he leaned forward.
“And I have no say in this, I take it.”
“No. If you remember it is written in your contract that we can assign you wherever we see fit. Los Angeles has a need for a new Runner and I’m placing you there. Do you have an objection?”
“Yes, I don’t like my life suddenly being decided for me. Have I don’t something wrong Ma’am?”
“No. You haven’t done anything wrong, but we are worried about you. The Committee feels that time away from DC will be good for you and I can’t say that I disagree.”
Aaron narrowed his eyes and fought with his anger. He clenched his hands and took a few deep breaths.
“If I’m not here I can’t advocate on Sean’s behalf.”
Strauss sat back in her chair and assessed him for a moment. When she finally spoke, Aaron knew he wasn’t going to like what she had to say.
“Sean is precisely why the Committee is placing you in Los Angeles. You’re too close to that situation. Your advocacy letter and formal protest of his memories being erased are duly noted Hotchner. But, he killed a human, he killed your fiance. The Committee feels it best if you leave the situation, at least for now.”
Aaron sprang up and started to pace like a caged tiger. His movements were smooth and graceful, but surrounding him was an air of danger. He was pissed, but he knew he needed to get it under control.
“This isn’t right Erin.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, you will go to Los Angeles, or you will be fired. And, with your…” Strauss waved a hand at him as his eye narrowed to slits, “Difference, it will be difficult for you to find work. Do I need to remind you what happens to Enhancers who are unemployed?”
Aaron sprang at her and leaned in close to her face. Baring his teeth, his eyes turned and the growl he had been holding back bubbled up.
“You wouldn’t dare.”
Standing abruptly Strauss got right in Aaron’s face.
“I would send you off-world in a heartbeat if you don’t comply Hotchner. You have one week to be at the airstrip. An Airstream will be waiting for you, be on it.”
The two of them stared at each other for another minute before Aaron finally backed off. All his senses were heightened as he started to storm out of the office.
“I formally protest this reassignment and the mind wipe of Sean Hallowell. I will comply Ma’am!, but tell the Committee they can go fuck themselves.” Aaron walked out and slammed the door. Barely containing his rage, he grabbed a recycle box and went to his desk. Teo jumped up and sniffed around the box while Aaron started to go through his things. Some things he was keeping, little things that were reminders of better times. When he went to put his pictures in the box he laughed that Teo had curled up at the bottom of the box.
“What are you doing?” Aaron chuckled as he reached in and pulled the purring cat out. “You are a menace, you know that?’
Teo stood on the edge of the desk and bumped his head against Aaron’s.
“You know that no one believes that you are a badass hunter, right?”
The cat just meowed and bumped his head against Aaron once more before moving to his designated spot on the desk. Chuckling Aaron went back to working on putting the things he wanted to keep in the box.
“Hotch, what’s going on?”
“What!? That’s bullshit, what the hell are they thinking?”
“That I can’t handle what’s happened with Haley and Sean. Fuck, Sawyer, they are going to wipe Sean, even after my advocating for him.”
“Jesus, I can’t believe they are doing this.” Teo stood up on the desk and started to meow as another animal came into the bullpen. The wolf came up and bumped Sawyer. “Man, I can’t be the only Enhanced around here Hotch. You know they are gonna be watching my every move.”
“Just watch your Runs, keep your head down and don’t make them question anything you do. Don’t give them a reason to send you to the Mars Colonies.”
“Ice Queen threaten you with that?”
Aaron snorted at the moniker that the DCSF had given their Captain. It stuck, even among the few Blade Runners operating in the precinct.
“Said if I wasn’t on the Airstream by Friday morning she’d see that I was fired and my contract ‘nulled. You know how difficult it is to find anything for work when they find out you’re Enhanced.” Aaron scratched the wolf’s head before he continued with what he was doing.
“It’s bullshit is what it is. We can’t help that our parents let our DNA be twisted all to fucking hell. It’s a wonder that most of us even survived the experiments.” Sawyer leaned a hip against Aaron’s desk. He picked-up a holocube that cycled through several photos programmed into it.
“Gonna miss you, man. Not gonna miss that too serious face, though,” Sawyer teased.
“No, you’re just going to miss me buying you drinks on a slow night,” Aaron smirked as he threw things in his box.
“Yeah, and watching Air Ball at your crappy place.”
Aaron took a deep breath and looked around. He would miss the place. He had made friends, Phil being one of his closest. They understood each other, understood the hatred and prejudice often directed at those like themselves. The animals helped. Every Enhanced human had been given a robotic animal at some point in their lives. Their outward appearance often matched whatever DNA they had been subjected to. For Aaron, his was a mix of Cheetah and Jaguar, but he didn’t want a companion that large. Gideon had compromised and made a slightly bigger than normal Norwegian Forest Cat. Aaron had loved him on sight. The animals worked on two levels, one level they helped keep Enhanced humans calm. Their emotions often triggered their abilities and these abilities were different for everyone. The second was protector, hunter, or whatever was needed of them for their individual human. All the testing was usually done at Tyrell Corporation and a robotic animal was created specifically for that person. No two were ever alike. Though the animals were expensive to build, it was part of the Government’s restitution to the humans that had been experimented on as children. Some as young as infancy.
The interesting side effect of Enhanced and animal was a mental connection that took place once they were introduced to each other. Dr. David Rossi was still researching the phenomena to see how this connection occurred. The current research was that some of the nanites used in building the animals would transfer to the Enhanced human, then back again. But, currently they couldn’t prove anything, and Dr. Rossi’s research continued.
Aaron was brought out of his thoughts when he felt a hand grip his shoulder.
“Just, watch out for yourself. I’ve heard that Captain Morgan can be a real hardass. Didn’t even know he was looking for a new Runner.”
“I didn’t either. Look, you and Einstein there, keep your heads down. You know how the Committee is about us. Just, watch your back, Phil.” Aaron was finished grabbing what he wanted to take with him. He had finished inputting all his data and the crystal files he set in an outbox for collection. Paper was rarely used anymore, but the few small paper files he had he finished with and set those to be picked up and filed away. When he was done he grabbed his box, said his goodbyes to Phil then with Teo at his heels, they walked out the door. Another chapter in his life closed, but Aaron wasn’t going to go down easy. He’d take this assignment, but he had a long memory and he’d bide his time. He did not let things go, especially when they were this unfair to him, and to Sean.
Aaron stood looking in his mirror in the small hotel room he was staying in until he could find an apartment closer to the precinct where he was going to be stationed out of. He thought about the long history of the Blade Runners and how they had evolved over the decades. It used to be whole squads working together, but as the number of Replicants who tried to get to Earth dwindled, there was less need for whole units. They were then broke-up into smaller 3 person units, now each law enforcement precinct need only one, sometimes two Runners. They were contracted to the police, EIB or Earth Investigation Bureau, or sometimes Black Ops Units requested help from the specialized group. The Committee held the Runners contracts, and for the most part, they worked independently, taking Runs that were in their assigned areas. This contract work helped to stop individual precinct’s from taking advantage, or even credit, for the success or failures of a Blade Runner.
Shaking his head he assessed himself once more, wondering if he should shave, but he liked the slight scruff, he thought maybe he’d keep it for a while, maybe just groom it a bit. He straightened his jacket and wondered if the tight black jeans were too casual. His favored things to wear were either the jeans or the leather trousers he was fond of. Both were made for the rigors of being a Blade Runner. He could have pulled out one of his suits, but he liked to save them for court, or Committee meetings. He straightened his tie and sighed. He knew he needed to leave, couldn’t put it off any longer. Calling for Teo through their mental connection, he smiled down at the cat, glad he was there with him.
It hadn’t taken Aaron long to get a cab and make his way to the heart of downtown. He was dropped off in front of the police station, paid the cabbie and made his way inside.
“Good Morning, welcome to the 14th Precinct, how may I be of service?” Aaron raised his brow at the greeting.
“I’m going to guess a Nexus 5?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
Aaron didn’t answer just watched the Replicant for a moment. “I’m here to see Captain Derek Morgan?”
“Major Crimes Unit, just head up those stairs, make a right and he is at the end of that hallway.”
Aaron thanked the Replicant, not even bothering to learn their name, as he made his way up the stairs. He turned back when Teo hadn’t been following.
“Teo, come.” He called out. The cat meowed at the Replicant, then trotted over to Aaron. Frowning, he would worry about what that was about later, Aaron turned back and started up the stairs once again.
When he entered the bullpen it was surprisingly quiet. There was the hum of machines, the familiar scratch of data being written on thin sheets of crystal, the hum of computers, a coffee pot going off in the corner, but the detectives at their desks talked in quiet tones. He assumed this wasn’t the norm, there was always a lull in activity during light days. Not that crime didn’t stop, but he assumed they were all working current cases, but nothing new. Striding in with Teo at his side he walked up to the first person who looked his way.
“Morning, can I help you?” The striking brunette stood and smiled at him.
“Yes, I’m looking for your Captain?”
“Ah, his office is right back there. You must be the new Blade Runner. I’m Emily Prentiss, I’ll be your partner.” Emily held out her hand in greeting.
“Aaron Hotchner.” Aaron took the offered hand while Teo stood in front of him and assessed the woman. “But, I think there’s been some mistake, I don’t work with a partner.”
“You do now.” Aaron turned to the new voice and looked the man up and down. “I’m Captain Derek Morgan, you must be Aaron Hotchner.”
Derek looked down at the cat and frowned. “We don’t allow animals in the bullpen, Hotchner.”
“Teo goes with me wherever I go. It’s non-negotiable. He’s also not a real cat.”
“He’s a robot?” Emily asked as she bent down, Teo bumped his head against her knee. Aaron couldn’t help the smile as he watched the two of them.
“Yes, and he’s my companion. His name is Teo.”
Aaron looked back up at Morgan and saw anger flushing his face.
“You have a problem Captain?”
“You’re a Splicer?”
Aaron’s back straightened and his shoulder squared as he glared at Morgan.
“If you read my file you know I’m an Enhanced and I’d really like for you to refrain from using that word when directed at me.” Aaron fought changing in front of Morgan, but he was pissed off already.
“Captain!” Emily looked at him shocked that he would use a derogatory term towards any human.
“Follow me,” Morgan practically growled as he stalked away, ignoring Emily altogether.
“Teo, stay with Emily.” The cat meowed as he wound around her legs. “Charming them already are you?” Aaron chuckled, then nodded at Emily before he walked towards Morgan’s office. This conversation he was not looking forward to.
Closing the door behind him as he entered he stood tall, with arms crossed.
“I take it you didn’t read my file,” Aaron growled low in his throat.
“Read some. Didn’t get to the part where you are an Enhanced. What are your abilities?” The tightness around the Captain’s eyes and mouth had Aaron straining not to punch him out. He really needed to calm down or he had a feeling this was going to come to blows.
“It’s all in my file. And you do realize it’s a rather rude question to ask. I wouldn’t ask if your parents were mixed ethnicities, why do you think it would be okay to question my DNA?”
Captain Morgan threw his stylus and PDD down on his desk. He glared up at Aaron as he leaned forward.
“Your kind are dangerous. You have these, freaky abilities that can hurt people. I don’t want you runnin’ around thinkin’ that you have that right.”
Aaron leaned on the desk and glared back at the Captain.
“You requested a Blade Runner, the Committee assigned me. If you have a problem take it up with them. But, I will warn you, they do not like being questioned. And I could have you brought before them with so many sanctions it would take years for you to repair your reputation. Being a prejudiced asshole will be only the beginning.”
Morgan lifted a brow as the two men studied each other.
“You’re right. I am a prejudiced asshole, but I have my reasons. Just don’t do anything to piss me off and we’ll be good.”
“I don’t work with a partner.”
“You do in my house.”
Aaron shook his head to tamp down on the rising anger at this whole screwed-up situation.
“I take my own Runs. Remember, Captain, I work with you, not for you. My bosses are the Committee, not you. If you don’t like something with my work, you take it up with them. Do we understand each other?”
Aaron stood and took a few deep breaths before he turned and started to go out the door.
“Can you really know a Replicant without the Voight-Kampf test?” Morgan asked before he stepped a foot outside.
“I can, why?”
“I suspect we have one here in the office but haven’t been able to prove it. I’m not ordering you, I’m asking, will you help?” Aaron narrowed his eyes at the man wondering if this was some sort of trap or test. After a moment he asked that very question.
“Is this a test? Or some kind of sick game?”
Aaron watched the man deflate and flop back against his chair.
“Sit, I’ll explain.”
Aaron carefully sat in one of the chairs in front of Morgan’s desk.
“About a year ago there were rumors that a Skin Job had infiltrated the LASF. My last Runner couldn’t find them. I don’t know why. I’d like to know if we have an unsanctioned Replicant in my precinct. Find them, then we’ll talk more.”
Aaron tried to find the lie in his words but couldn’t. He could smell the worry pouring off the other man. Shaking his head he almost laughed, the situation was so ridiculous.
“Fine, but I’ll handle it my way.” Aaron stood and left the Captain’s office not letting him get any more words in. Looking around the bullpen he noticed that the desk in front of Emily was vacant and Teo was already sprawled across it. Striding across he went to the desk and scratched the cat’s head.
“So, where do we start, Partner.”
Aaron just grinned and shook his head as he turned on the computer to get himself acclimated to their system.
“We are on a mole hunt, Prentiss.” He didn’t explain further, just typed in the username and password he was given in his transfer papers and started looking through case files. He would worry about everything else tomorrow.