Dr. Eldon Tyrell alludes to special enhancements built into Rachel, but nowhere in his notes or in his classified research could anyone find out what those enhancements were. Dr. Tyrell believed wholeheartedly that Rachel was not only the future of the Replicants, but he believed that she would also save mankind. From what, no one has been able to surmise.
Along with his main research into Replicants and how they could be improved, how their lives could be better were notes on the current human birth and death statistics. Dr. Tyrell was doing side research into the declining birth rates in humans. He had several theories, which mirror the theories of many of the geneticists at that time. With his own notes, I noted that he had some of my own original research, which is now, I admit, outdated. But, many of the theories persist. The one most prevalent and the one that we are still combating today is the problems with pollution and contaminated food supply. The decline in birth rates has an almost strange coincidence to the declining rates in the fresh food supplies. Unfortunately, this theory has not been able to be proven.
I have my theory to what Dr. Tyrell was doing, but it seems an almost impossible goal. The only way to confirm my theory is to track down Rachel and to do a head to toe diagnostic of her.
Dr. Jason Gideon, An Essay of Dr. Tyrell’s Nexus 6 Replicants and the Barbarous Summary Executions by the Blade Runner Squads.
Rick Deckard was leaning against the sheep’s pen watching his herd being brought back in from their grazing. It was coming near the time to shear them. He watched his son on horseback corral them into one of three pens they had spread over several acres. It had taken a few years of blood, sweat and some tears to be able to afford the few sheep that he had first acquired. It was after one of them died in childbirth that he realized he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. He put his ego aside and had reached out for help.
Ranches and therefore Ranch Hands were rare in 2049. Land had become scarce at one point in the late ’30s. But after the Moon, then Mars had started to colonize, much of the land had slowly started to come back. By the time that Deckard and Rachel had made their escape and they found the little farmhouse here in Montana for sale, he jumped at the chance. He had just enough credits, after cleaning out his bank accounts and receiving the bounty for Roy, Priss, Leon, and Zhora, he had just enough to get them started that first year. It was difficult, with many starts and disappointments, but after about five years they had finally got to the point that they were staying above water most of the time.
Their wool was in high demand. The clipping of the wool took time, but Rick insisted on safe and humane treatment for the sheep. Several each year he sold off to specialty slaughterhouses for the now in-demand meat. Both wool and meat often fetched very high prices.
They also had a small vineyard that Rachel made homemade wines. It was a far cry from the luxury that she had been living in when she and Deckard had fallen for each other. Looking out over what they had built together, he often wondered if they did the right thing. Then he would look at Spencer, his son and know that whatever hardships they had gone through to get where they were it was all worth it. Though they didn’t go by Deckard, he and Rachel had thought it best to change their names, hoping no one would come after them. So far they had been lucky and no one had. He went by William Reid and Rachel went by Diana. But, when they were at home, they were more relaxed and used their real names.
“Good job Son, get Simon settled and come on in. Your mother will have dinner ready.”
“Okay, Dad.” Spencer smiled as he slid off the saddle and closed up the pens. They didn’t have many threats from predators, Wolves had been almost completely extinct for decades. The biggest threat was the rabbits. With no Wolves to help keep them in check, the gardens were often in danger of being ravished. Though they had several traps set all around the vegetable and herb gardens, some still would get through from time to time.
Because of the overruns of the rabbit population, the Government had loosened the restrictions on the selling of fur and meat. Rick let Spencer take care of them, and some years they would get a good chunk of their income from the sales of their fur and leather as well as the meat that was sold at the local farmer’s market.
It was an old fashioned way to live, but Rick had found a peace that had not been there for a long time. He had been afraid, for a while, that he might have actually been a Replicant himself. His empathy had been lost a long time before in his work as a Blade Runner. He was so emotionally shut down, he struggled with himself for a long time. But, he and Rachel leaned on each other and grew together. He let go of that apathy and let himself feel again. When he held his son in his arms for the first time, he actually cried.
Pulling himself out of his reverie, he tapped the fence a couple of times and headed into the house. He leaned in the doorway to the kitchen and smiled crookedly at his wife.
“He got the letter.”
“You knew he might.”
“Christ Rach, we can’t let him go.”
“And we can’t keep him here. You know Spencer will suffocate if we try to box him in. MIT and he wants to go into robotics. What are you afraid of Rick?” Rachel stopped what she was doing and turned to her husband.
“What if they figure it out? I just want him safe. I want you safe.”
Rachel smiled softly and walked over to her husband and put her arms around his waist. “You know there are no guarantees. Look at me, I don’t even know if Tyrell gave me a kill date. I could go tomorrow, or next week, or ten years from now. I’m not safe, ever. You know a Blade Runner could find us one day and all this would be over for me.
“But we go on, we take each day as it comes. And Spencer, our beautiful boy, will find his way. But, you, my love, have to let him go.”
Rick pulled her closer in his arms and bussed a kiss on her forehead and worried. He wasn’t even sure what he was worried about, but there was a churning in his gut that something was coming. He couldn’t understand it, but he tried to quell his fears as he held Rachel in his arms.
Spencer walked in and Rick just smiled at the boy. He knew his son was grown, but to him, he’d always be that carefree boy that he taught to ride a horse or throw a ball around in the front of the house. The boy he’d catch taking their computer apart and putting it back together, but somehow he made it faster and more efficient. The boy who was curious about everything, and wanted to always learn. The wide-eyed boy that chased butterflies, but also wanted to know everything about them. Rick would never regret one day of his life, ever. He had been given two gifts, his wife, and then the miracle of his son. He tried never to take either for granted. Twenty-five years still didn’t seem enough.
“I’m going upstairs and finish my homework. I’ll be down for dinner. Ethan was going to come by after and take me to some new place that just opened over in Billings. He said they have all these old fashioned video machines. Says the games on them are supposed to be fairly difficult.”
“Dinner will be ready in half an hour.”
“Okay Mom,” Spencer shouted down from the stairs.
“You have to let me go.” Rachel looked up and smiled at her husband. Rick knew it hadn’t been easy for her either. Those first four years together they lived in constant fear that her expiration date would activate. When it hadn’t and they hit five years, they breathed a sigh of relief. Rick leaned down and kissed her, then let her go.
He left the kitchen and moved into the small library where he poured a drink before grabbing a book off the shelf and started to read. He would worry about tomorrow when it came.
Spencer decided to meet Ethan at his apartment. He hopped on his airbike and made it there in almost no time. He had tinkered with the machine making it more fuel efficient, and faster. He had modified the machine to run on corn fuel instead of electricity like the rest of the farm equipment. It was clean, efficient and the research that was available on the ‘Net let him distill the fuel himself with a minimal amount of work. It was also cheaper in the long run.
Stopping in front of Ethan’s apartment building he put the bike in park and headed upstairs. He knocked and waited for his friend to open the door. When it was opened hands gripped his jacket and pulled him inside. He was pushed against the wall and kissed within an inch of his life. Closing his eyes he moaned into the kiss as a body pressed close. Hands were pulling his shirt out of the leather pants he was wearing.
“You have way too many clothes on Spencer James Reid,” Ethan growled in his ear as he was trying to push the jacket off his shoulders.
Spencer laughed as he stilled his friends’ hands.
“And you are entirely too eager.”
“I was here last night.”
“Which is entirely too long.” Spencer tried not to think what his friend meant. He assumed they were just, to use an old term, fuck buddies. But lately, Ethan had been saying things that made Spencer think. He wondered if Ethan wanted more. He, though, wasn’t sure if he wanted more from his friend, but right at the moment he wasn’t going think about that. Right now he couldn’t help just how good it was to be with Ethan.
They fumbled with each other’s clothes as they clumsily made their way to the bedroom, Spencer almost tripping over the couch at one point. Finally, they had made it to the bed and Ethan was kissing Spencer once again.
“God Spencer, you have no idea what you do to me.”
“Ethan..” He didn’t know what to say to that so he just pulled his friend back to him and kissed him.
When they finally came up for air, both a sticky, sweaty mess, Spencer panting hard, but also feeling pretty good. He turned a goofy grin on his friend who, at the moment looked entirely too serious.
“Ethan?” Spencer frowned as he sat up on his elbows and studied the look on Ethan’s face.
“I love you,” Ethan blurted out and Spencer just stared at him in shock. “Y-you don’t have to say it back, but I, I just wanted you to know.”
“Oh, um..”Spencer’s heart raced, then he fled the bedroom and locked himself in the bathroom. He turned on the shower and stepped under it. His heart was still racing and he had no idea what to do. He knew he loved Ethan, but it was more friendship, best friends, but he wasn’t in love with him. His hands were shaking as he cleaned himself off. After a few moments, he turned off the shower, dried off and wrapped a towel around himself. He quickly dried his too long hair and took a deep breath. He knew he had to leave the bathroom, but he didn’t know what he was going to say.
Finally, he opened the door and took a deep breath. Stepping out he saw Ethan standing at his window looking out. He had raised the shields and was staring out at the fields that Spencer knew were just on the other side of the highway.
“Look, if you want me to leave I will.”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t going to just blurt that out like that. I…”
Spencer found his clothes and slipped them, then went back to the bedroom. “Ethan, I do love you, but like a friend. You’re my best friend. I don’t…I mean…I’m sorry.”
Ethan turned around and leaned into the window, he had put his jeans back on, but no shirt.
“I know. I’ve always known Spence. I think that sometimes I know you better than you know yourself. I don’t want to lose you as a friend, but I couldn’t keep going on like this and not tell you.”
Spencer stood and moved through the apartment to get to the kitchen. He needed something to drink to soothe his now dry throat. Getting a glass of water he sat at the small fold out table and closed his eyes a moment to try to get a handle on his feelings. He didn’t want to hurt Ethan but knew that he had.
“Hey, I know you’re gonna be turning this over in your mind, but don’t. It’s all me, Spencer. You’re just, you’re everything that I’d want in a partner. It doesn’t hurt that we know each other so well.”
“No, seriously Spencer, don’t, okay? I don’t want any awkwardness between us, I said it, not for you, but for me.”
Spencer drank his water and looked down at the table trying to sort out his feelings. He felt bad for not returning Ethan’s feelings for him, but it just wasn’t there. He knew there needed to be a change in their relationship because of his friends’ confession. He didn’t think he should keep having sex with Ethan, it would just hurt them both even more if Spencer ever found that person he could fall in love with. He wanted a relationship like his parents. Full of love and wonder. He worshipped them a little, and it might be odd, but he didn’t care. He thought they were amazing and he loved them very much.
“Maybe I should go.” Spencer stood and went to the sink to clean out his glass, setting it in the blaster to dry. Sighing he started to move towards the small living room to get his jacket.
“Hey, we can still go out. I’m not mad Spencer, really, my feelings are my own and I’ll deal with them. Okay?”
“Sure. But, Ethan, we can’t do, this anymore.” Spencer gestured towards the bedroom and had a sad look on his face. He had enjoyed not only the sex but the intimacy he had with Ethan. Knowing what his friend really felt he couldn’t in all conscious lead him on.
Spencer watched the play of emotions on Ethan’s face before a sad smile formed, “I know. So, just friends?”
Spencer nodded and pulled Ethan in for a hug, and tried to tamp down on the emotions that flared up. He didn’t understand why he felt like crying, but he did. He’d hold it in till he got back home and in his own bed.
“Just friends.” The two men looked at each other for a few minutes before they left the apartment and got on Spencer’s cycle. It would take about a half hour to get to Billings, but they had all night to go and enjoy themselves. Spencer put all thoughts of his mixed emotions aside and was determined to have a good time.
When they got to the arcade, as Ethan called it, he felt a little more settled. They entered the establishment and Spencer’s senses were immediately assaulted by noise, bright lights and the smell of beer and alcohol.
“You didn’t say this was a bar,” Spencer smirked as he strode towards the bright neon bar in the center of the arcade.
“You didn’t ask.”
Shaking his head he ordered a couple of local brews and grabbed them after the bartender poured. He led Ethan to a high-top table and sat. He let his eyes wander and noticed that even though it was bright and noisy, it was also exceptionally clean and had a veneer of class. The tables were deep rich wood that was ruthlessly clean, as were the stools they were sitting on. Spencer dug into his pockets and pulled out a bunch of small credits he had grabbed before leaving the house.
“Good evening and welcome to Flynn’s. Would you gentlemen like a menu?” The pretty barmaid had a pad and a couple of menus in her hand.
“Yes, thank you.” Spencer took them and handed one to Ethan.
“My name is Jasmine, if you need anything, just press this button.” She showed them a little set of holo buttons built into the tables. The tops were deceptive and Spencer had to look twice to notice the synthetic material that made up the holograms.
“You’re a Replicant?” Spencer asked. Ethan just glared at him.
“I am a Nexus 5 service Replicant. Will that be a problem? You can request a different waitress if you see fit.”
“NO, no, I’m sorry I was just curious. It’s fine, Jasmine. Thank you.” Spencer smiled at her and she smiled back, her eyes blinking furiously.
“Then just let me know if you would like anything to eat.”
The barmaid moved off and went to go serve some drinks that were ready for tables in her station. Spencer watched her work for a few minutes then turned back to Ethan and his beer.
“What? I like them, is that a problem?” Spencer had never told anyone, even Ethan, that his own mother was a Replicant. He kept that knowledge very close to his heart. He would do anything to protect her. It was one reason that he took the self-defense course up at the local college.
“You could be a little more tactful, though.”
“The Nexus 5’s are not like the more advanced and emotion-driven Nexus 6’s. They don’t have the same emotional capacity. When Tyrell built the 5’s he was really trying to create the perfect worker android. Most of them worked out well, only a few over a fifty-year span have had any kind of meltdown, and most of those were the fault of the owners overworking them. If she were a Nexus 6, yes I’d be more tactful.”
“You know way too much about Replicants. But then again, you’ve always liked that robot stuff way too much.”
“And all you care about is music.” Spencer teased back. He took a sip of his beer and looked over the menu trying to decide if he wanted something to eat.
‘Well, if it isn’t little Spencer Reid.” Spencer looked up and narrowed his eyes.
“Harper. What are you doing slumming yourself?” Spencer glared at her.
“We just had to come to see what new place was opening up. I see you still hanging with your bodyguard.” Harper sneered as she leaned in the table.
“If you don’t mind, Ethan and I were having a very pleasant evening till you showed up.”
“Oh come on Spencer, drop the act, you know you’ve always wanted me.”
Spencer sat back and started to laugh. He laughed so hard that he almost fell off his chair. When he was able to finally speak again he leaned on the table and looked right at the woman that had been the bane of his existence through high school.
“Harper, I would not touch your skanky ass if someone paid me to. Now, why don’t you get yourself back to that even skankier husband of yours and the two of you stay out of my way? I’m not the twelve year old you used to bully anymore.”
“You always were pathetic.” Harper shoved off the table and stalked away from the two men.
“Whoa Spence, I didn’t think you had that in you. I’m rather proud of you.” Ethan was grinning from ear to ear.
“I’m not twelve Ethan, and you know I can take care of myself.”
“I know,” Ethan chuckled as he took a sip of his beer. “You know how pissed off your Dad would get if you get yourself into a fight.”
“Yeah, but I’m not going to back down either.”
“Hey! Reid, what the hell did you call my wife?” Spencer sighed and shook his head.
“Hello, Mike. I called your wife a skanky ass whore. She tried to proposition me, but as I told her, you couldn’t pay me to touch her, let alone fuck her. Now, why don’t you two just get out of here? I hear the Dolomite just down the road is having two for one ladies night. Maybe, someone, there will be willing to screw her because you certainly aren’t doing the job right if she’s lifting her skirt for just anyone.”
Spencer had just enough time to duck the swing that came at him.
“You really want to do this Mike? Then let’s go outside. I’ve been waiting ten years to kick your sorry ass.”
Mike tried to take another swing at Spencer, who just blocked it. He had a quick opening which gave him enough room to move outside.
Ethan, Harper and several others ran out after the two fighters. Mike tried to take another swing at Spencer who just dodged it easily. What he hadn’t told Mike and those he had been tormented by in school was that his father had enrolled him in self-defense courses, boxing, and street fighting. They were some of the same things he learned as a Blade Runner, but Spencer was faster, and his mind was quick. He could assess his opponent in seconds, which all of his teachers had been impressed by. He had learned quickly at their hands.
Mike lunged and Spencer dodged out of the way again, then as the other man was charging at him he swung out his feet and swept them under and tripped Mike.
“Stay down Michael. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You little punk,” The man shouted as he gained his feet once more. The two went at it for a good five minutes before Spencer ended it with a well-placed punch to the solar plexus, then another shot to his face. Mike went down.
“I’m not a twelve-year-old kid anymore Michael Danvers. Next time, you and your skank wife leave me the hell alone. I’m not weak and I’m not scared of you. You should be scared of me. The statute of limitations on what you and your buddies did to me isn’t over. I can still bring charges against you. So, get the hell out of my face and stay out.”
Harper helped to get her husband off the ground and glared at Spencer before backing away from him.
“Holy shit Spencer. What the hell?”
“I’m tired of these asshats that think they can get away with shit just because they throw their weight around.”
Ethan grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the bar and bought him a beer.
“Man, those lessons your father sent you to sure did pay off.”
“I’ve never been scared of them, Ethan. I just never had the chance to defend myself. Now I do. I’m twenty-three, not a twelve-year-old who was small for his age.”
The two men smiled at each other then chuckled. They ordered egg rolls and dumplings and snacked on them while they played some of the old school games. Overall it had been a fun night. By the end of the evening, Spencer felt like he was on more of an even footing with Ethan, but there was still a bit of that underlying uneasiness. Spencer hoped that in time it would fade. He didn’t know if he could lose his friend.
He dropped Ethan off, then headed home. After putting his bike away he let himself in the house and saw his mother waiting up for him.
“Mom. Why aren’t you in bed?”
“What happened to you?” Rachel stood and looked at the bruise that was forming on Spencer’s jaw from where Mike got in one good hit. “Did you get in a fight?”
Spencer blushed and bowed his head.
“Spencer! What were you thinking?”
“It was Mike Danvers.”
“Oh, honey. I’m sorry, but you know how your father feels about fighting.”
“I’m not a child any more Mom, and it was about time I stood up for myself.”
Rachel smiled softly and pulled her son into her arms. “No, you aren’t. You’re all grown-up. Come, sit and talk with me, we haven’t done that in a long time.”
Sighing Spencer followed his mother into the library and sat with her on the couch.
“He’s sitting up in bed reading.” Rachel smiled softly as she took her son’s hand. “You know he didn’t use to. When we first bought this house it was hard, for both of us. We didn’t hardly know much about each other, much less on how to make a life together. Then he started to read, anything and everything he could. He slowly changed, became softer, and I was creating my own memories. Our attraction to each other grew and, well, it turned slowly into love.”
Spencer smiled at his mother, he always liked hearing about how his parents fell in love. As a child, he loved to sit at his mother’s knee when she told stories on how they met, and how they made it work, together. They kept nothing from him, which he was always grateful for.
“So, tell me, sweetheart, what put that sadness in your eyes.”
Spencer looked at her startled and then frowned. How could he tell her about Ethan? That they had been lovers, but he wasn’t in love with him. He took a long time to answer.
“Just, I don’t know Mom. Someone I know, that I care about, loves me and…” Spencer twisted his hands together as he tried to form the words.
“You don’t love him.” Rachel smiled softly and held her son’s hand in her own. “A mother knows, Spencer. You spend all your time with Ethan. The two of you have been inseparable since you met in school. It doesn’t take a genius to know you started having sex.”
“Honey there is nothing to be ashamed of. Tell me what happened?”
Spencer sat back and rubbed his eyes.
“He said he loved me.”
“And you don’t love him, do you?”
“I do, he’s my best friend, but I’m not in love with him. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and though we had fun tonight, I feel like I’m going to lose him.” Spencer leaned into his Mom and took a deep breath. A few minutes later he stood, kissed his mother goodnight and went to his room. Sliding under the sheets he took a shuddering breath and tried not to cry.
The DNA Enhancement Movement that began in 2043 and lasted for a ten-year span was an attempt of science to push human evolution along. The concept was to inject children, some as young as six months old, with a series of vaccine like shots over a set period of time and monitor them for any changes, and record what those changes were. Every child involved was voluntarily enrolled in the program by their parents. All risks and unknowns were disclosed to the parents at the time of recruitment into the program.
Over the ten-year life span of the movement over 250.000 children born were subjected to the experiments. The cocktail of drugs was recorded and assessed for each child. Some were given a mix of animal DNA, some various plants and other marine life as well as a control group that was given a placebo. Blood and Stem Cell samples from each child were taken, the DNA strands carefully separated then mixed with the individual cocktail for that child then injected into them over a span of several months and years. The scientists all deemed the experiment a success when each child started to show a unique ability that would not have manifested on their own without the cocktail given to them.
The terrible tragedy was that over fifteen thousand of those children died. Parents attempted to sue, but having signed all of the appropriate data crystals that outlined the possibility of death no lawsuits were brought against the scientists or pharmaceutical companies that facilitated the movement.
It wasn’t until the oldest set of children in the experiment grew up to the age of sixteen that they brought a class action suit against their governments and all parties involved in the experiment. They were brought before the World Court citing several counts of human rights violations and that decisions regarding their own bodies had been made for them when they were too young to give consent.
The lawsuit was the first of its kind, in that it brought several Governments to task for such heinous widespread violations. The children that had to live with the consequences of what was done to them, unfortunately, found very little peace. They had won in court and each country involved was ordered by the World Court to pay restitution to each child. Each Government was given free rein in what that restitution would be. The scientists involved were all sentenced to prison with no access to any scientific equipment, chemicals, or anything resembling the research they had been involved in.
Now, we as a society must help these children and not abandon them. They didn’t ask for what was done to them, they should not be punished for the foolishness of their parents.
Dr. David Rossi an Essay Admonishing the DNA Enhancement Movement and the Consequences of Unchecked Scientific Advancement in Human Evolution.
Aaron stepped out of the pouring Los Angeles rain and entered the darkened club, it didn’t take long for his eyes to adjust to the dark, though. Teo was wrapped around his neck, his head hanging down his shoulder, tail around his neck. He had dressed in tight leather pants that left little to the imagination, and a black fitted mesh shirt made of a breathable synthetic material that showed off his muscular torso. Synthetic leather boots that went to his knees completed the ensemble. He wore little to no jewelry, having never been a fan of it. He had toyed, for a time, with getting a piercing in his ear, mainly to piss off his father, but he had never gone through with it. He knew exactly what he was there for, and didn’t try to hide it.
He looked right at the greeter and moved closer.
“Good evening. Are you looking for anything, in particular, this evening sir?”
Aaron took in a deep breath and looked around a moment longer before he answered.
“I’d like to find out about obtaining a membership.”
“Of course. Let me take you back to the office so we have some privacy. May I inquire as to your name?”
Aaron almost chuckled at the very formal speech of the obvious, owner of the club.
“Very well Mr. Hotchner, right this way.”
Aaron learned early on that there were certain needs that he had that couldn’t be satisfied in the more, normal, as he thought of it, way. When he and Haley were first dating he was honest with her about it. Their own sex life was rather vanilla. She had said that she was willing to try, and Aaron gradually included those darker needs that would build up till he just couldn’t contain it anymore. She didn’t freak out, but she was honest back and told Aaron that she didn’t enjoy the rough, almost S and M edge to those dark needs in him. They came to an agreement. If he found a club that was clean and that he only sought out men, then she would compromise. Aaron, as do most Enhanced, had no sexual preference. He had enjoyed men and women when he became sexually active as a teen, so her request was an easy compromise.
Men he could fulfill that darker part of himself with and not feel guilty about hurting a woman. He knew it wasn’t rational, that just as many women would be willing to take what he offered, but he just felt more comfortable with men. When he left DC, that meant he had no place to go, and after everything that had happened with Haley, with Sean, and being reassigned, he felt that darkness in him that needed to be let out. On a short Run, a milk Run really, the Replicant was way too easy to find. She didn’t even really try to stay hidden, and when Aaron found her, she didn’t even put up a fight. He had passed this place, then did some research when he had gotten home. He found that it was clean, up to code and they catered to every kink and sexual want or need out there, as long as it was legal. He found no violations and the club protected all their patrons, sometimes from each other. Prejudice was strictly prohibited. He made the decision just that night to get a membership.
“You’re Enhanced.” The man made it more of a statement than a question.
“Don’t worry, you are safe here. I tolerate no prejudice in my club. Though you will have to wear this.” The man fiddled with a small machine on the desk and a moment later he was handing Aaron a hard leatherlike red bracelet. “That tells others that you are an Enhanced. It will protect both yourself and my boys and girls. Now, do you prefer men, women, gender neutral or it doesn’t matter?”
“And what is your specific proclivity?”
“Rough, just on the edge of S and M.” Aaron knew the questions had to be asked, it was how the club knew all their patrons, and it also alerted staff if a patron went off book to their usual exploits.
Another bracelet was made, this time two-toned. Black on top to indicate what he was into, and blue on the bottom to indicate his partner preference. The system was similar to the club he used to belong to back in DC, which made him feel even more comfortable.
“And I will need you to sign a non-disclosure agreement. It’s a blanket one that protects my clients as well as you.” Aaron took the crystal and pulled out his PDD. He inserted the crystal into the slot at the top of his device. The hologram popped up and he quickly read through the document and agreed to the terms. On his screen he used his finger to sign the agreement, it was recorded on the crystal then Aaron handed it back to the owner.
“And I do need you to look over and sign this as well. It is a disclosure that you are an Enhanced and agree to the rules of the club. That you will be responsible for yourself and your partner. It also indemnifies yourself if you cause undue harm to the club or your partner.”
Aaron repeated the procedure and read through the document carefully. He signed and returned the crystal to the owner.
“Now, Mr. Hotchner, if you wish to hide your identity while in the club that is entirely up to you. Many patrons prefer to use another name. Only I and my office staff will ever know your true identity. And, yes your animal is welcome, just make sure to watch him at all times. Let me walk you back to the entrance. Oh, and one more thing, you do not have to hide here. It is your choice if you show some of your traits. In fact, it would help you find what you are looking for much quicker.”
Aaron swallowed a moment, then took a deep breath and loosened that tight control he had on that inner part of himself that made him different from everyone else. He let his eyes turn, his nails sharpened, and he didn’t hide the sharp incisors. He relaxed completely. It felt good to let go and let that part of himself out. He took a moment to shake himself out before he moved into the club.
Aaron let that predator side of himself scan the room a moment before he moved up to the bar. He knew eyes were on him, clubs like this Enhanced were exotic and he knew he’d have many offers before he found what he was looking for. His movements graceful and almost sleek, he knew he appeared as if he was stalking prey, and in a way, he was.
He noticed that the music was currently subdued, but he knew it would change at any moment. There were a few couples on the dance floor, exotic go-go dancers were up on small stages around the club, some with robotic animals, some with another person. He saw a couple of pleasure Replicants, scantily clad, expertly pole dancing in the middle of the room. Aaron took it all in as he slid onto a stool at the bar.
“What can I get you this evening Sir?”
Aaron knew right away the bartender was a Replicant. He immediately looked for the license that was prominently displayed at the back of the long bar. A Nexus 5 service Replicant. Popular with bars, restaurants, shops and delivery places.
“What have you got on tap?”
“We have several local brews, wine, hard sodas, and lemonades. We do not have hard alcohol here.”
“Whatever dark local brew you have is fine.”
“Very good Sir.” The bartender poured an expert glass of the ale. Aaron sipped at it appreciatively.
“I believe what you are looking for will be on the upper floor. Those that lean towards the rougher appetites will be there.” The bartender offered before slipping away to help other patrons.
Aaron turned around and leaned back with his elbows against the bar and looked-up. His eyes scanned the upper floor, Teo was rubbing his head against Aaron’s neck and he began to relax even more. He narrowed his eyes when he saw someone staring back at him. They didn’t break eye contact for a few minutes. The man nodded his interest and Aaron turned and grabbed his drink then made his way up to the second floor. He had the man in his sights and stalked his prey while Teo kept rubbing against him, keeping him calm.
Walking right up to the man that had been staring, Aaron smiled as he gestured to a table. He wouldn’t touch, not yet, that would be for if they reached a bedroom.
“You were staring rather intently at me, was there something you liked?” Aaron’s voice had turned gravelly and deeper than normal.
“You’re eyes. They’re beautiful, but I bet you don’t let everyone see them.”
“No. But I feel comfortable here.” Aaron took a sip of his beer and really looked at the man. He eyed the bracelets he was wearing and smiled. His companion was tall like he was, broad, hair to his shoulders, that was sandy blond. His eyes were hazel, and he had a mouth that looked made for kissing, or fucking. Aaron could smell the man’s arousal and a small growl escaped. Teo sat upon his shoulder then slunk down and sniffed the man’s exposed skin. He meowed, then rubbed his head against the man’s thigh.
“He likes you. If he hadn’t, I would have left.”
“You let your cat pick your partners?” The man smiled as he scratched the cat’s head.
“He’s a good judge of character.”
“He’s a robot, right? I can see from your bracelet that you’re Enhanced?”
“Will that be a problem?”
“Not at all. What should I call you?”
Aaron took a sip of his beer and thought about it a moment, “Victor. And you?”
“Jared.” The two men knew these weren’t their real names, but it didn’t matter, they knew what they were about.
“Do you want to dance?” Jared indicated the large dance floor below them as the house lights lowered, hard-driving techno blasted out of the speakers all around the club. Garish strobe lights flashed all around. Aaron took a deep breath and felt the beat of the music as he watched bodies writhe below. When he looked back at Jared he smiled a toothy grin. He mentally called for Teo, who jumped on his shoulder and wrapped around him once more.
“No. Not here to dance.”
Jared produced a key to a room. The two men left the main club and made their way to the rooms on the upper floors. Aaron still didn’t touch, not yet, not till they were in private. He was savoring the anticipation and didn’t even try to hide his arousal. After entering the room Aaron pushed Jared against the wall, Teo jumped off him and went to a corner, and curled up in imitation of sleep.
Aaron turned his eyes back to his prey and leaned in, scenting him letting the smell of his arousal fill him. He boxed Jared in with his arms, but the man wasn’t even trying to get away. Leaning in close, Aaron scraped his teeth across Jared’s neck and licked a long stripe at the exposed skin. He leaned even more into the other man as he continued to nip and lick at his neck and chin. When he finally made it to his mouth Jared groaned in pleasure at the contact.
Pulling away after ravishing that soft lush mouth, Aaron quickly stripped, and ordered Jared to as well. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the packet that when the seal was broken was applied to any body part to protect from infection. Though many of the old STD’s had been virtually wiped out, newer viruses had cropped up over time, and Aaron never took chances.
A side effect of the DNA enhancement was that the Enhanced population wasn’t prone to getting any type of disease or infection. It was rare for an Enhanced to get sick at all. If they did catch some kind of virus, it was usually deadly. Applying the protection, he grabbed the unsealed bottle of lubrication, opened it up, and slicked up his now aching cock. He sprawled out on the bed and eyed Jared while he stroked his cock. The other man was biting his lip looking on in anticipation.
“Come here,” Aaron’s voice was rough with need, his body aching for the release it knew was coming. Jared kneed up on the bed then straddled Aaron’s waist. Bending down he kissed Aaron’s neck, scraped his teeth across his jaw then moved up to kiss his mouth. Aaron moaned as he gripped Jared’s hips, digging his nails in hard, holding him there a moment.
“Ride me,” Aaron growled as his pupils slit, his arousal pouring off him making the air thick with his scent. Jared’s breath hitched as he reached back and gripped Aaron’s slick cock, then slowly lowered himself down. From that moment all talking ceased.
“Fuck,” Aaron panted as the man above him seated fully on his cock. Gripping his hands around the man’s waist as he pulled his legs up and planted his feet on the bed to give himself some leverage, he started to fuck into Jared, hard and fast. He moved his hands up and scraped his nails down Jared’s back, he knew he had drawn blood by the smell. Jared cried out, as he begged for more. Aaron’s head fell back onto the pillow as he pistoned even harder into that tight heat surrounding his cock. He gave into that side of himself that liked to give pain, and from Jared’s reactions, the man was no stranger to it.
Nonsense words and expletives spilled from Jared’s lips as Aaron kept up his brutal pace. Panting hard he gripped his lover by the back of the neck and pulled him down, he bit lightly at the soft flesh of Jared’s neck making the man hiss.
“You can bite me,” Jared whispered in Aaron’s ear. He dug his nails into Jared’s shoulder at that confession. He had never gone that far with a lover, he wasn’t going to start now. It was too intimate, he wouldn’t give that to Jared, he would save that for the person he knew could be more to him than just a quick fuck, but the thought was enough for his cock to swell even more.
Breathing hard, Aaron felt that familiar pull and knew he was close, he pushed Jared back up and wrapped a hand around his cock and started to pull, twisting his wrist towards the head, Jared closed his eyes and grunted as he came a few moments later, spilling over Aaron’s hand. The hard muscles in his ass constricted around Aaron’s cock and it didn’t take much longer till he was finding his own release. Sated, Jared was pulling off him and making his way into the bathroom to clean up. Aaron almost felt guilty about the welts that he left on Jared. Some had been bleeding.
Aaron closed his eyes as he laid his arm across his eyes, his body and the needs inside him sated for the time being. When Jared was done, he stood and took his own shower in the bathroom. Instead of towels, there was a blaster and Aaron stepped in letting the warm air dry him quickly. He gathered up his clothes and were putting them on, Jared was still there.
“If you need help with cleaning the welts..”
Jared put a hand on his shoulder and smiled, “I’m fine. The shower was enough, and when I get home, I can assure you I’ll be fine.”
“Okay,” Aaron swallowed as he pulled on his pants and laced them tight around his hips.
“Will I see you again?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can I call you? You know if you want to meet again…”
Aaron finished buckling up his boots and turned golden eyes on Jared.
“Look, I’m not looking for anything. I came tonight because I needed to. If we see each other again, great, but I don’t want any type of relationship. If you’re looking for that, I’m sorry to disappoint.” Aaron called for Teo who uncurled from his spot in the corner and jumped on his shoulder, winding around his neck.
“It was the best sex I’ve ever had. I thought we, you know, had a connection.” Aaron stood and sighed as he grabbed his wallet.
“We don’t, but thank you for tonight.” Aaron didn’t say anymore as he strode out of the room then made his way out of the club. The apartment he had found wasn’t far away, so he decided to walk back instead of taking a cab. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling, his mind was whirling. He had needed the release, but there was now a hollowness to it. When he got to his apartment, Teo jumped down and ran to the climber that Aaron had bought him and curled up at the top.
In the past, he would come home, crawl into bed and wrap around Haley. She’d wait up for him so he could talk, she’d walk him through these feelings of guilt that always came over him after a night like this. But when he got there, no one was there, no one to help him, and he just felt so empty. He undressed and went and stood under a scalding hot shower and scrubbed himself almost raw. Even though he had showered at the club, he still didn’t feel clean. With the shower running he could almost pretend that the tears that fell were just the water falling down his face.
“It’s Elle Greenaway,” Aaron exclaimed as he walked into Morgan’s office and shut the door. It had taken him two weeks of searching and casually talking to everyone in the unit as well as those that interacted with the unit the most.
“You’re sure about that?”
“If I asked would you give her the New Voight-Kampf test?”
“I’d only need to ask her one question.”
“Only one?” Morgan looked up at Aaron skeptically and pursed his lips. “And why would you only need one?”
Aaron sat down and leaned forward hating that he’d have to talk about something that was not only personal, but it made him uncomfortable to admit.
“Not something I’m comfortable talking about, but you deserve to know. I can smell the difference between a human and a Replicant. If they have been in close quarters with humans for a while, it can throw me off, that’s why it took me a couple of weeks. But, once I got it, I knew. It’s Greenaway.”
“You realize she’s one of my best detectives.”
“I do. That’s why I came to you first. Technically I don’t have to wait for an order to bring her in, but I’m giving you the courtesy. As you said, it’s your house.”
Morgan stood and paced his office. Aaron knew it was because he was torn between doing what he should and what he wanted to.
“Fine, give her the test.”
“You can advocate for her with the Committee. She hasn’t done anything wrong and because of her impressive close rate, you may get to keep your detective.”
Morgan let the information stew a moment before he left the office and called for Elle to join them. When she walked in and saw Aaron she straightened her jacket and sighed.
“I wondered how long it would take you to figure it out.” Elle looked at Aaron as she stepped in the office and sat next to him. “How?”
Aaron sighed, “It’s your scent. Replicants have a different scent than humans. It’s almost imperceptible, but…I can detect it.” Aaron looked away a moment then turned back, mouth tight as he gripped his hands together. “I should turn you in, but you haven’t done anything wrong. I’m going to leave this office and let you and Morgan talk.”
He stood and went back to his desk, Teo jumped in his lap and started to purr, hoping to calm his human. Aaron shook his head and looked down and couldn’t help the smile on his face.
“Well, that’s something I don’t see much of,” Prentiss sat at her desk and smirked at her partner.
“I guess I haven’t found much to smile about lately.”
“Look I know we don’t know each other that well, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I know how difficult it is to uproot your whole life.”
“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”
Aaron turned to his computer and using the virtual keyboard brought up the list of possible case files. He was going through the previous Runners files to see if they had missed anything important. He had eliminated a few already and sent them back to the MCU, none of them had been Replicant related. The next file he was studying had him pausing. He looked up and frowned.
“Prentiss, do you know anything about this file on Deckard?”
“What?” Prentiss stood so abruptly that her chair upended. She didn’t bother to fix it as she walked around the desks to take a look at what Aaron had found.
“Your former Runner, he had a file on Deckard, was he looking into something?”
Prentiss sat a hip on Aaron’s desk and looked at his computer screen, reading the file.
“Not that I’m aware of. It looks like the Committee wanted him to look into some rumors.”
Hitting a few keystrokes, Aaron printed a data crystal, then grabbed it and made his way to the records lab. When he looked in the room he saw Garcia working at her station.
The day after he arrived in Los Angeles, Morgan had introduced him to their research Replicant. Penny Garcia. She was one of the Nexus 7 models that had an even more advanced positronic brain than the Nexus 6. She could literally jack herself into any systems network to try to find the information that the LASF needed, and she could do it in seconds.
Her designer had definitely had a sense of humor when it came to the oft perky Replicant. She always wore bright perky clothes reminiscent of other Earth eras. Today she was wearing a bright orange and yellow Kimono, a style that was currently popular with many of the younger teens. Her hair had been put up in an artful, and colorful bun. The abundance of temporary hair dies let anyone change up their style, almost daily if they wanted to. Garcia had chosen a mix of orange, yellow, green and blue. Aaron could not help the smile that Garcia always seemed to pull out of him. He also noticed that Teo had taken quite a shine to the Replicant.
“Miss Garcia, I need you to look at this data crystal and tell me everything you can about what the previous Blade Runner was doing looking into Deckard.”
“Sure Hotch, just give me two shakes of a cat’s tail.” Teo meowed his protest at that, but it didn’t stop him from jumping in the Replicant’s lap. Aaron stifled a laugh as he handed over the crystal. Prentiss wasn’t even trying to keep in the chuckle that escaped.
“Oh Pen, what are we going to do with you?” Prentiss teased
“Oh sugar, I can think of a million things you can do with me.” She teased back and Aaron didn’t think the cheeky flirting was standard Nexus 7 protocol. He wondered if David Rossi had a hand in her creation, it would explain quite a lot.
Aaron was brought out of his thoughts by a light tap on his shoulder.
“Okay bossman, I have an order by the Committee to investigate rumors that people have seen Deckard and Rachel in a small farming area in Montana. None of the rumors were substantiated, and Ryan was investigating before he got hurt and retired. He didn’t tell you?”
“No, I found the file among his other files. I’m going to have to contact the Committee to see what they want me to do. I want you to keep this to yourself, for now, Penny, finding Deckard, that’s a shitstorm I don’t think any of us would be ready for.”
“Yes, sir.” Garcia popped out the data crystal with the new information that she had found and handed it to Aaron.
“Thank you.” He pocketed the crystal and walked back to the bullpen with Prentiss at his side.
“What are we going to do Hotch? Going after Deckard is no small thing.”
“I know. I don’t know what the Committee’s agenda is, be prepared Prentiss, we may have to go before them to find out what they want.”
When they got back to the bullpen Aaron was called into Morgan’s office.
“Look, I don’t like that you lied to me Elle, but if Hotch can get us a Committee meeting, then I will advocate for you.”
“I have to call them anyway, there’s a file Ryan had buried, but I don’t want to say what it is yet, or why he buried it. Give me a day or so, then I’ll give you details on what is going to happen.”
Morgan took a deep breath as he sat at his desk and looked-up at Aaron.
“I’m gonna trust you here, Hotch. I don’t wanna lose Elle, but I also don’t want to break the law. If there is anything you can do, and I know it’s asking a lot considering how I treated you when you got here, but it would be appreciated.”
Aaron considered Morgan a moment and knew this was an olive branch. He still didn’t know what the man’s issue was with Enhanced, he knew he could ask Garcia to dig up the information, but he didn’t like to pry into people’s private lives. If it got out of hand he would demand answers, for now, though, he would wait and see.
“Alright. I’ll make my calls and let you know what is going to happen.” Aaron left the office and walked back to his desk. The first thing he did was contact his Committee rep, Tom Morrow.
“Tom,” Aaron greeted as the man’s face appeared on his screen. “I have a couple of things that I need to speak with the Committee about. First is an investigation that Ryan buried into sightings of Deckard and Rachel.”
“We were wondering what was going on with that. The Committee already has talked about it and they want you to pick up the investigation Aaron. There isn’t another Blade Runner they trust more. Ryan and his penchant for letting Replicants go are precisely why we wanted you in Los Angeles.” Aaron raised a brow as he sat back, Teo jumped on the desk and started to bat at the screen. “I see Teo is quite comfortable.”
Aaron scratched the cat’s head as he processed the fact that his appointment to LA went higher-up than he originally thought. This knowledge and the fact they wanted him to investigate Deckard gave Aaron a unique advantage.
“I’ll take the Run, but I have a request.”
Tom frowned as he leaned forward, his face getting bigger on the screen and Teo batted at him more.
“You never make requests. Sean was the first one, but you haven’t asked about him.”
“We’ll get to Sean in a moment, but this request isn’t about him.”
“Then what is it about Aaron?”
Taking a moment, Aaron activated the privacy screens that were embedded in his desk. Those around could see he was on a call, but no one could hear what they were talking about.
“There’s a Nexus 6 in the Major Crimes Unit. She made it all the way to detective. She’s good at her job Tom, and there have been no major incidents with her in the five years she’s been here. I guess her age at 10 from the small conversations I’ve had with her. She doesn’t have much longer, I don’t see why she would need to be brought in for reintegration, her 15 years are almost up. Let her live out the rest of her time as is, and I’ll do whatever you want me to on Deckard.”
Tom leaned back and stared at Aaron while he tapped his fingers on his desk.
“Give me two hours and I’ll talk to the Committee members. I don’t think your request is unreasonable, as long as you do whatever we ask you to on Deckard.”
“Yes, Sir. I understand.” Morrow ended the communication and Aaron turned off the privacy screens and sat back.
“Wanna tell me what’s going on?”
“I can’t Prentiss. Not until I hear back from the Committee, and if Morgan wants to tell you. All I can say is that I figured out who the rogue Replicant is.”
Prentiss frowned and Aaron knew she didn’t like being out of the loop, but he would give Elle her privacy until he heard back from the Committee. If her age was what he suspected, it wouldn’t matter in a few months anyway.
Aaron continued sorting through Ryan’s files and found a few Runs that he had passed on inexplicably. He set them aside and prioritized them to in order of immediacy. He needed to do some investigating before bringing any of them in. It wouldn’t be the first time someone was accused of being a Replicant, and it was just someone wanting some twisted revenge.
He made a plan with Prentiss and they scheduled a few interviews to follow-up on the claims. He was getting ready to pack up for the day when Morrow called him back.
“Alright Aaron, Moran gets to keep his Detective. The Committee wants proof of Deckard and Rachel’s whereabouts. That is more important to them than a Replicant who is about to expire. Don’t screw this up.” Morrow clicked off and Aaron sat back staring at the screen wondering just what he might have gotten himself into.
What can I say about being an Enhanced Human that others like me haven’t already said? Do I talk about the feelings of violation that I suffered as a child knowing my parents agreed to have me experimented on? Or do I speak of the prejudice and hatred that have been directed at me in school and in other parts of my life? How about I talk about having to always be careful and not lose the tight control I keep on myself so others don’t see just how different I am. How my eyes change with my mood, or when I’m upset or angry a feral growl can rise up and escape and scare those around me. That I have incisors I hide by not smiling much or sharp fingernails that if I don’t keep short can turn into claws.
How about the dark sexual urges that I have or how I can smell someone’s fear, pain or arousal? All of these things I did not ask for. They were thrust upon me as a child who had no ability to consent to these changes. And for what? Did these changes advance science in any way? Or were we just some scientists sick Island of Dr. Moreau fantasy played out in real life?
I don’t know. I don’t have any answers as to why this was done and neither do any of the others that stood with me as we sued our Governments that let this happen to us. Those of us that you call the First Children demanded acknowledgment that what was done wasn’t right. And, we won. But, it was a hollow victory. Yes, we won monetary compensation for the years that we were given the cocktail of drugs that twisted our DNA and yes we were given companion animals to help us with our moods and to keep us calm. But, that doesn’t help in the court of public opinion where we are outcasts, different, strange and sometimes scary.
Many of us have faster minds, quicker reflexes and are stronger, but we were barred from playing sports or participate in any academic challenges. Our schools would be seen as having an unfair advantage in any type of competitions. Yet children who were naturally gifted with intelligent minds were never barred. And there has been no evidence that the twist in our DNA had any effect on how we learned, or that it increased our learning capacity.
I was fortunate enough to be able to play Air Ball. The suits that are worn that levitate us above the stadium put us all on an even playing field. No one person is better than the other. We rely on skill when up there and it was freeing. But down on the ground and in the classrooms teachers would ignore us, telling us we were only intelligent because we were made that way. Even now I must fight to be heard, to be taken seriously. I have submitted my dissertations for my Doctorate, and after being accepted, they were immediately rejected solely on the basis that I am an Enhanced. This isn’t right, it isn’t fair and I will continue to fight for my rights as well as those of my fellow Enhanced. We didn’t ask for this, and yet we are the ones that must deal with the consequences.
Excerpt from A Personal Essay on Living as an Enhanced Human After the Ruling of the World Court, presented at the 106 International Conference on Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D. Candidate Aaron Sebastian Hotchner.
“So, have you ever been to Tyrell Corp?” Aaron looked to see Prentiss gripping the chicken stick rather hard as he flew through the Los Angeles air traffic. He didn’t say anything about it as he maneuvered his vehicle around the traffic heading towards the huge pyramid that is Tyrell Corporation.
“No. Never had an occasion to. Ryan had never stepped foot in there.” Teo had draped himself across Emily’s lap after sensing her distress. With her free hand, she buried her fingers in his fur and took a few deep breaths to help her stay calm.
“Interesting. I would think he would have tried to cultivate a relationship with them considering he was the Runner for the city.”
“Ryan had his own way of doing things.” Prentiss closed her eyes as Aaron banked slightly right to avoid hitting an Air Bus, then did a quick left to get around one of the many Zeppelin’s that flew around the city advertising anything and everything.
“Do you not like flying Prentiss?” Aaron couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped as he slid his gaze to his partner. Teo scolded his teasing tone and went back to comforting Emily.
“I prefer hover cars and staying close to the ground, thank you very much. An Airstream is fine, but this kind of flying with our air traffic? Yeah, I hate it.”
“We’re almost there.” Aaron kept his focus on the large pyramid that they were headed towards. He was directed to a landing bay, and after parking, gave Prentiss a moment to catch her breath. Teo slinked over and climbed up Aaron, and curled around his neck. “Come on, Jason and Dave are waiting.”
“So you know them pretty well I take it? Rumor is that it’s pretty difficult to get any type of audience with Dr. Rossi.”
“I met Jason during the lawsuit. He was our scientific advisor and spoke on our behalf at the proceedings in front of the World Court. It was his testimony that swayed the Court to our side.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were part of the lawsuit.”
“I was part of the First Children, as they called us. None of us liked what our parents let happen to us. We are the ones to suffer from the consequences of them being swayed into something so utterly dangerous. We felt they and the scientists involved crossed a line. We had no voice, not until many of us started to talk on some of the Video Chats. It wasn’t an easy decision, but our whole lives were affected by what they did.”
“My parents almost went through with it. But, thankfully my Father came to his senses.”
“Your Mother was one who was on our side right from the start.”
“I was wondering if you would remember.” Prentiss smiled sadly as she looked at Aaron. “You know you don’t need to talk about it. I get that it’s personal.”
“It’s okay. I’ve, mostly, come to terms with who and what I am. But, battling the prejudice and sometimes hatred can be hard. We have to fight for rights that Normals take for granted.”
“Which you should not have to.” Dr. Rossi stated as he walked toward them.
“Dave,” Aaron said with genuine affection in his voice. He shook the man’s hand then introduced Prentiss.
“Dr. David Rossi, my partner, Detective Emily Prentiss.”
“Detective, it is my pleasure,” Teo demanded to be noticed and Dave scratched his head.
“Watch it, David, she might actually believe the flirting.” Jason smiled as he walked in and shook Aaron’s hand first, then Emily’s.
“A pretty girl should always be flirted with,” Dave smirked as he gave Emily a quick once over.
“I certainly hope that isn’t your way of charming a girl.”
Dave went to say something more when Jason reached out and grabbed his hand, gently squeezing it.
“Let’s go to the office and talk. I found everything I could on Tyrell’s research and the notes he was keeping regarding Deckard. We aren’t sure how this will help in your investigation Hotch, but you are welcome to everything we have.”
The two men turned and started to lead the way to their shared office. Emily watched them a moment before leaning towards Aaron.
“For almost thirty years.” Aaron reached-up and scratched the cat’s head as they followed behind the two men. “Though they have always kept it low key, many of their colleagues speculate, but only a few close friends know. Dave is a terrible flirt, men, women, non-binary, even a Replicant a time or two. He’s pretty shameless about it, but it never goes farther.”
“Wow. I would not have thought…”
Aaron quietly laughed as he watched his friends. He speculated it had more to do with how much they both had been in the spotlight in the aftermath of Tyrell’s death and the upheaval it caused in the company. It wasn’t settled till Tyrell’s will had been read and he handed the company to Dave, Jason, and Dr. John Sheppard, an expert in Quantum Math and advanced Physics. When Aaron and Emily entered the office Aaron was surprised that Dr. Sheppard was there waiting as well.
“Dr. Sheppard, I didn’t know you were going to join us. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
“And you Mr. Hotchner. I’ve read all your personal essays on the DNA Enhancement Movement, as well as your analysis on the physics and genetics involved in many of those that have shown extraordinary abilities from the experiments. When you have the time, I’d love to pick your brain.” John smiled as he stood and shook Aaron’s hand. “And who is this lovely creature?” John held out his hand to let Teo sniff him. The cat rubbed, then nipped his fingertips.
“I’m flattered.” Aaron blushed a little. “And this is Teo, my companion.”
“My husband would be very disappointed if I didn’t at least invite you to dinner. And I think he’d be thoroughly charmed by your companion.”
“You have a robotic cat?”
“No, we actually have a real cat.”
“Wow, how did you manage that?” Prentiss didn’t even hide the fact that she was impressed.
“Well, you have to understand that whatever Rodney wants, he gets.” John didn’t even try to hide the smile. “But, seriously Aaron, open invitation, he’s been wanting to meet you for a while.”
“Again, I am quite flattered. Thank you.”
“Of course you may not thank me after you get the third degree from Rodney.” John smiled and Aaron couldn’t help appreciating just how good looking the man was. “But, you aren’t here for that, you want to know about Deckard and Rachel.”
Emily had been staring at Aaron shocked.
“Our Aaron here has submitted two dissertations for consideration. Both were accepted until the defending committee found out that he is an Enhanced. There is still abject prejudice within our own academia, to much of our shame. He’s literally one defense away from his own doctorate and it’s been an uphill battle to get them to listen, even to Dave and myself.” Jason offered when he noticed that Aaron wasn’t going to say anything.
“I’m sorry, doesn’t seem very fair,” Emily said as they were taking seats around the large conference table. Teo jumped down and sprawled out in front of Aaron.
“It isn’t, but it’s what I live with. Now, can we get to the reason we are here?” Aaron glared at Jason, it wasn’t something he liked to discuss, but he let it go for now.
“I’ve been digging deeper into Tyrell’s research. There were more enhancements that he gave Rachel, but either he didn’t write them down, or he buried them in his research so deep that none of us at this table have been able to decipher it.” Dave leaned forward and ran his fingers of the virtual keyboard, bringing up a holo image of Rachel.
“She’s beautiful.” Aaron couldn’t help commenting. He had many photos of Deckard, mostly from his days at the LASF, but only one picture of the Replicant, Rachel.
“Very. In Tyrell’s personal notes he did subtly encourage her to seek out Deckard. He did not confirm or deny to her that she was a Replicant, he wanted her to question her own existence. We also have come to believe that he encouraged the attraction. To what end, we just don’t know.” Jason leaned back in his chair and Dave brought up another file.
“Tyrell was secretly doing experiments on genetics. They were all virtual, he had not progressed beyond, that we know of. And not just genetics, but reproduction. He was researching the various reasons for lower birth rates in humans. Even the ones that left for the colonies, we still see the same issues that they had on Earth. Rodney, Dr. Rodney McKay, has been monitoring birth rates in the off-world colonies. In the last 20 years, there has only been a 2% increase in women conceiving.”
Aaron quickly took in the data that Dr. Sheppard was going through, he filed it away to think on later.
“Do you think the DNA Enhancement Movement had anything to do with it? I know that almost seventy-five percent of those involved had opted for sterilization. While it seems that 187,000 people is just a drop in the bucket, could the fact that we opted for it could affect the issues we have in birth rates?”
“That is only one of the problems Aaron. Tainted food supplies are still a concern, others opting more and more to just not have children, pollution, drug-resistant diseases, it’s all happening and it’s all affecting us as a species. Rodney has made his concerns known in front of the World Council, but, like they always do, they dismiss our findings.”
“And you think maybe Tyrell was…what?”
Dave and Jason looked at each other, a whole conversation passed between them with just a look.
“We think Tyrell was trying to find a way for Replicants to be able to reproduce.”
Aaron and Emily both looked at each other, stunned by this revelation. It took a moment before any spoke.
“Is this why the Committee wants her and Deckard so bad? They somehow speculate on what Tyrell was doing?’
“That isn’t the whole story. When we combed through Tyrell’s research, there is strong evidence that Rachel wasn’t the only one of her kind. We think there might be at least a half-dozen advanced Nexus 6’s like Rachel. My belief is, the Committee thinks Rachel knows the whereabouts of the other’s like herself.”
“Shit,” Aaron stood and started to pace the room, rubbing his face. “I’ve stepped in a shitstorm, haven’t I?”
The three scientists watched Aaron pace.
“What do you mean?”
“They aren’t going to just want information on Deckard, are they? They aren’t going to let me go after that.” Aaron closed his eyes a moment and wondered at how he had let himself get boxed into the Committee’s ultimate agenda, whatever that was.
“Aaron, you know we are secure here, tell us what’s going on.” Jason was watching him pace. Teo jumped off the table and came over to Aaron who picked him up and held him to try to keep his temper in check.
He told them about finding Elle and the conversation he had with Morrow as well as the agreement they made.
“Shit Aaron.” Jason rubbed his face. “Look, we’ll help however we can. Just, do what you need to and keep your head down.”
They talked for a few more minutes, Aaron taking in as much information as he could. He filed it away for later when he could sit down and write out his thoughts. The meeting broke-up, John, eliciting a promise for dinner. Teo this time wrapped around Emily’s neck and Aaron just smiled. As they were walking out and back towards Aaron’s vehicle, Jason grabbed his arm and steered him towards an elevator. He turned to Emily and asked her to wait, that he’d have Aaron back in a few minutes.
Once they entered the elevator Aaron turned to his friend.
“What’s going on Jason? I didn’t even get to ask why you were here and not at MIT.”
“They gave me Sean.”
Aaron’s heart was racing as he turned a stunned gaze on Jason.
“What do you mean they gave you Sean?’
“I think they were going to use him to leverage against you.”
“Dave and I have been trying something new, but we need your consent.”
“What is it?”
“Targeted Memory Erasure. We think we can pinpoint particular memories in the matrix of the Replicant’s brain and erase those that are distressing, or caused them to become distressed. If successful they will keep their personalities, and most of their memories will be intact.”
“You want to experiment on Sean?” The elevator stopped and Jason led Aaron to a hospital like room where Sean was currently residing. They stood outside and Aaron looked in through the glass to see him reading. He was still conflicted. He loved and hated Sean at the same time.
“Yes. Now I know Sean doesn’t technically have the right to consent, but he expressed his desire to try it. Aaron, we just need you to sign the consent to try the procedure.”
“He won’t remember what he did or why he did it?”
“Not if the procedure works as it should.”
“But you could end up erasing all his memories as well, right?”
Jason leaned against the glass and assessed Aaron for a moment.
“Yes, there is that possibility.”
Aaron stood there and watched Sean read. He was conflicted. He had advocated for Sean, but now that he was faced with this choice, it was difficult. He almost wanted Sean to retain the memories of what he had done. But, truly it wouldn’t change anything. Haley still died and Sean still killed her. He knew he hadn’t processed the emotions of her death, that he buried them deep down and it would be harder later on, but he wasn’t in a good place to deal with them. Not when he was on the hunt for Deckard.
Aaron didn’t say anything for a long time and he appreciated Jason’s patience. When he finally turned to Jason, he made up his mind.
“Okay. I’ll sign the consent.” Jason scrutinized him then just nodded before walking off. Aaron stayed where he was and waited for his friend to come back. When he did he had a data crystal in his hand. Aaron took another moment then held his hand out for it. He quickly slipped it into his PDD and read through the form, signed it and handed it back to Jason. Looking one more time in the room Aaron sighed, then walked away. Thankfully Jason didn’t try to stop him.
The ride home was considerably quieter than the trip to Tyrell Corp. Aaron didn’t have the energy to talk. Prentiss had made several half-hearted attempts at small talk, but Aaron just didn’t want to engage.
“I don’t know what happened when you went with Dr. Gideon, but Hotch, I’m here if you want to talk. Whatever it is, you aren’t alone.”
Aaron was silent for a few more minutes then after making his descent back onto the streets of Los Angeles did he speak again.
“I appreciate that Prentiss. I do, but there’s nothing you or anyone can do.” Aaron pulled up to her building and let her out. “But, I appreciate the offer.”
Emily said her goodbyes and headed up to her apartment, Aaron took off back into LA traffic. His mind was quickly calculating all of the things that could go horribly wrong and how with this one Run, he’s uncovered a proverbial hornet’s nest. Connections within connections. Aaron wasn’t sure what it all meant yet, but he was determined to follow it through to the end.
Aaron still took an easy Run here and there while investigating Deckard. He had feelers out to some of his contacts, but nothing forthcoming in the weeks since the meeting with the heads of Tyrell Corporation. He was getting frustrated and the Committee was on him to get some answers.
“Come on Tommy, you have to have something, heard or seen something.”
“Man, I ain’t seen nothin’ or heard nothin’. But, I hear that some old guy, lives alone but he’s a little creepy, I hear that he had somethin’ to do with the Runners back in the day.”
“You have a name?”
“Gaff. That’s all I know man.”
“Where does he live?”
“Come on H. You know I gotta live on these streets, don’t like to be no tattler.”
Aaron narrowed his eyes as he handed Tommy, an informant that he had in DC and found he had made his way to Los Angeles several years prior. He had run into him quite by accident one day as he was asking questions around some of the older business owners in LA. Ones who were around when the incidents in 2049 had happened.
He shook his head as he dug into his pocket and pulled out a few more credits and gave them to Tommy.
“Address,” Aaron let the growl form as he stared at the junkie.
“The old Bradbury Building over on Broadway. He’s on the fifth floor, 508.”
“Thanks.” Aaron had memorized a street map of Los Angeles before he had made the transfer. His eidetic memory didn’t let him forget it. Prentiss was following up on another lead and Aaron sent her a message of where he was going. He knew that it wasn’t far from where he was on Spring. He decided to walk it, taking his time and letting the whole investigation stew in his mind.
When he got to the Bradbury, a building that had been preserved, even in this day, and looked almost exactly the same as when it was first built. He didn’t have the full history on it, but he knew the old 20th-century movie, The Maltese Falcon had been filmed in it. He also knew it had some architectural significance, he just didn’t know what. Someone had lovingly restored it and Aaron took a few moments to appreciate that not all of Los Angeles’s unique architecture had all been lost over the decades.
He walked in and made his way to the fifth floor. He walked it, not trusting the elevator. Finding 508, he knocked and waited.
“Can I help you?” The man that greeted Aaron wasn’t as tall as he was, dark mixed-race skin tone, slightly hunched over and leaning on a cane. His hair was down to his shoulders, thin and going grey. His eyes caught Aaron’s and his own flared gold. The man’s eyes were silver and white.
“I’m looking for Gaff.”
“That’s me.” Gaff looked him up and down, “You’re a Blade Runner.”
“And you are looking for Deckard, because why else would you be here.”
“Then come in. I was making some tea, would you like one?”
Aaron stepped inside the man’s small apartment. Teo wasn’t with him for this, he left him at home, much to his protesting. He hadn’t wanted to worry about him when he went into the places he was going to. Even though Teo was tough and had taken out some fairly big prey, a robotic cat like him could garner a very high price on the black market.
“Yes, thank you.”
Gaff shuffled inside and finished-up what he was doing. A moment later he was handing Aaron a cup as he made his way to what looked to Aaron to be a gel chair. It was contoured and had thick padding that was a body conforming gel interior. They were pretty cheap, but usually very comfortable.
“Rick Deckard. Interesting man.”
“There were rumors about him. It wasn’t a coincidence he was given the Run to capture Roy and the others. They wanted to see if he really was a Replicant himself.”
“And why would they think that?”
“He showed very little emotion. He was cut off completely from feeling anything at all and Captain Bryant was worried.”
“And it wasn’t exactly a secret that Runner’s were treated worse than a traffic cop, yet we do your dirty work.” Aaron glared letting his pupils slit as he glared at Gaff.
“Yes, and now you have The Committee. Is it really any better? Slavery, even well paid is still Slavery.”
“You think Deckard was a slave? You think I am?” Aaron rumbled, his anger making him bristle.
“Blade Runner’s did one thing well, terminate a Replicant. Deckard knew the score, as do you.”
“I don’t kill.”
“No, it’s called reintegration? Yes?”
Gaff laughed as he sipped his tea and stared at Aaron.
“How is that not killing? The memories and experiences are wiped clean and replaced by new ones. You, my friend, have swallowed their lies. They own you and you have it worse than Deckard, you’re Enhanced, means the Committee will never let you go.”
Aaron worked hard to suppress the growl that was building in his chest.
“Is that why you let Deckard and Rachel go?”
Gaff smiled and lifted a shoulder, neither confirming or denying Aaron’s question.
“I have to find them, Gaff.”
Gaff stood and shuffled to the small bookshelf he had that held a few books but had boxes of things that Aaron’ couldn’t even begin to guess what was in them. The man pulled one off the shelf and shuffled back to his seat.
“I will help you, but not for you. I know that if I don’t, someone else will find me and question me. With you, they might have a chance. With anyone else, I don’t doubt that they would kill Deckard and Rachel, Committee or not.”
“What was it all for then? Why let them go?”
“Freedom, my friend, freedom.” Gaff pulled out several postcards and shuffled through them. They were old fashioned but most tourist spots still sold them. The synthetic cardstock they were printed on lasted longer than paper and could be recycled. Gaff took out three and handed them to Aaron.
“Start there, the rest you have to do on your own.”
Aaron frowned even harder as he looked at where they were sent from.
“Why help me?”
Gaff just gave him a smile and sipped his tea. Aaron realized he wasn’t going to answer his question and he felt dismissed. Getting up he pocketed the postcards which he would study later. He stood and started to head for the door.
“Mind you know what you’re getting into. Once you start your journey, there is no going back.”
Aaron left the apartment and tried to make sense of the very cryptic conversation he had with the man. Striding fast he was out the door and back at his vehicle before he even realized it. It was another late day so he decided to head home and call it a night. He would spend the time looking over the postcards and try to figure out where to go from here.
Aaron was flying down the highway, Teo was curled up in the seat next to him. He had told Morgan he had a lead and he needed to follow up on it, but he would need at least three weeks. When questioned he just said that it was out of the state. Morgan kept Emily, she was his detective after all. She didn’t like it, but ultimately she understood.
He was approaching the Oregon border and decided that once he was past the checkpoint, he’d stop for the night. Teo stood up on his seat and looked at Aaron, he meowed his displeasure at being forced to sit for so long.
“Hey, it’s called a road trip, you’re just going to have to be patient.” Aaron reached over and scratched at the cat’s head. The purr he got in response was worth it. “Don’t worry buddy, we’ll stop in a little while, then we can go for a walk.”
Teo bumped his head in Aaron’s hand and rubbed.
Aaron saw the checkpoint ahead and pulled out his identification. He showed it to the border guard who asked about the cat, Aaron explained and was let through. After another hour of driving, he found a motel to stop at.
As he was stretched out on the bed, which thankfully had a gel mattress and the privacy screens worked. His dinner of ramen noodles were long gone. The sonic shower was clean, which he was very grateful for. His thoughts turned to the dinner he had with Dr. Sheppard and Dr.McKay the night before he left the city. The two were quite interesting and John was right in that Rodney was fascinated by Teo. Their real cat, a very rare grey Scottish Fold, was also fascinated by Teo, and by the time the evening came to a close Teo had made another friend.
It had been refreshing to be able to speak with others that held some of his same interests and on a similar intellectual playing field. While he had come to enjoy his chats with Emily, there was a lot she didn’t understand. With John and Rodney, though, he could let go and talk with them on somewhat of an even footing. There were some subjects that were still above his head, but instead of feeling upset about it, he had felt stimulated.
It also didn’t go unnoticed by him that the two men had been flirting with him all evening. While he felt rather flattered, that wasn’t something he wanted to get involved in while in the middle of a hunt. When this whole thing was over, he thought that maybe he would take them up on their offer, because it had been very, very tempting.
As Aaron was falling asleep he thought about how Haley would have found the acerbic Dr. Rodney McKay fascinating and a little charming in his own way. His heart constricted as thoughts of her began to plague him as he tried to get a good night’s rest.
The next couple of days saw much of the same for Aaron. Driving, stopping for food, then a night in a hotel. When he finally got to Montana and to the start of his investigation, he was tired, but he’d push through it.
“Jake, come on, I didn’t come all the way up here on a whim. You said you had something for me.”
“Yeah, I do, just, you know enjoy yourself Hotch. Live a little.”
“Don’t have time Jake. I need to get answers, so come on, what did you find out?”
“Here, the rumor is this William and Diana Reid are not who they say they are.”
“And you think it’s Deckard and Rachel? Why?”
“Cause I did a little digging while you were making your way here. William and Diana Reid didn’t exist before twenty-five years ago. Like nothing. No school records, no work records, nothing on the Net, no banking credits. Nothing. The guy bought the place they are living in outright, ‘bout cleaned out his credits, and man I had to dig deep to find that out.”
“Alright, you got anything else?”
“Yeah, some kid livin’ with them. Name’s Spencer. Except for a few bullies in High School, he’s well-liked. Smart too.”
Aaron took it all in, gave Jake some credits and paid for the meal. He took the address that Jake gave him and thanked him for his help.
It was another five hours until he found the sprawling ranch in the middle of practically nowhere. Parking he exited his vehicle and grabbed Teo. He let the cat wind around his neck as he looked up at the house. He didn’t see any activity, so he walked around until he saw a man standing at some kind of wooden barrier that was made into an octagonal shape. He heard another come out the back of the house, calling for his father. As Aaron approached the younger man turned to look at him and it was like a punch in the gut. His breath shallowed and his eyes turned, he curled his fingers into his hands to hide his nails. He felt his teeth start to itch as his cock swelled. It was the most primal reaction he’d ever had to seeing someone. He was breathing deep and Teo was purring against him to try to help him calm down. Then the young man smiled and Aaron had to fight himself not to drag the young man away and do something very carnal and very stupid to him.
“Hello, can we help you?” The young man started to walk towards him and Aaron was almost frozen where he was at. It took him a moment to find his voice again.
“I ah, I’m looking for William Reid.” The older man turned, but he wasn’t paying attention because the younger one was right there in front of him holding out his hand.
“I’m Spencer, William’s my Dad, he’s just over there.”
Aaron took Spencer’s hand and couldn’t help staring at his lips. When a tongue darted out and licked at the dry lips Aaron almost groaned.
“Spencer. It’s nice to meet you.” Aaron knew from that moment that nothing in his life was going to be the same again.