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Born in the Light of Eyes

MCU Headquarters

a part of Born in the Light of Eyes, by Quakernuts.

The base of operations for the MCU in Sonder City

Quakernuts holds sovereignty over MCU Headquarters, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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MCU Headquarters is a part of Sonder City.

There are no Places in MCU Headquarters.

Some of the 1 Characters Present

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MCU Headquarters ‘The Nest’: A surprisingly small building meant to house the best of the best detectives available to Sonder City. MCU HQ, often called ‘The Nest’ by those who consider it their workplace has 4 levels (5 if you include the underground garage). We’ll step through them one at a time, starting from the bottom.

Basement ‘Dungeon’: The basement is where the holding cells are, and is basically entirely made to house the most dangerous criminals the Detectives manage to haul off alive. With 8 cells lining each side for a total of 16, this place was meant to deal with a large quantity of potentially dangerous individuals. From the stairs, you are lead into the observation office. There a few desks that are aligned for those assigned to ‘The Dungeon’ to get some work done. A window looking out into the row is fitted with smart glass, capable of displaying feeds from individual cameras all built into each cell. Computers line the wall aligned with the stairs, and along the back is an assortment of heavy armaments in case of prisoner rebellion or breakout. There is a singular heavy purpose door capable of auto locking in the case of an alarm and more than able to withstand several high explosive devices. The hallway itself is grungy and dirty by design, meant to create a very oppressive and unpleasant atmosphere. Each cell is fitted with a transparent electric barrier that makes it seem like the prisoners could walk out of their prison at any time. Any attempt to do so however, would be met with 40,000 volts of power, more than capable of knocking a grown man out. Inside each cell, the walls are fitted with Verinium, a composite metal composing of Titanium and steel that interweave with each creating an interlocking almost fiber like state that would require concentrated effort to blast or carve through. The cells themselves are filled with only the most basic of commodities. A single toilet and bed are all that filled these small spaces, along with a camera built into the upper corner of the wall next to the electric barrier. Each cell is also given a singular multiple-angle automatic weapon that can be dispensed from the roof in order to pacify prisoners without the need of human intervention. This weapon can be toggled to lethal or nonlethal depending on the current need. As added insurance, there are two turrets on a rail that runs the length of the hall in the off chance that someone manages to get that far. These turrets are also modified to allow for a choice of lethal or nonlethal.

Main Floor ‘Base’: Made to look like a standard police precinct, the main floor of the Nest is a conglomeration of desks and utilities such as printers, copiers, computers, a couple meeting rooms and the police chief’s office. When you enter building, you immediately see that the majority of the floor is one open room with roughly a dozen desks sitting in the middle with an assortment of different personal items adorned atop them. Each desk comes with the standard fare one would expect from a detective’s workspace, including filing cabinet and computer. The entire atmosphere is pleasant if you could consider that, with the space neatly cleaned and nearly immaculate save for the odd spot here and there that could use some work. The entire middle area is almost sectioned off in a near cube, with full length glass windows encapsulating the space with openings at regular intervals along with the stairs off to the left of the entrance. Rooms dot the outside length of the area, mainly empty meeting rooms meant for the more sensitive cases of the detectives as well as an area where people can get together and talk things out without the threat of being overheard. Among these areas is a small lunch area complete with a few tables and a fully functional kitchen. A couple of vending machines also sit in the dining room for those who don’t like to make their own lunches. Aside from meeting rooms, bathrooms and the kitchen/dining room, the only other space of note is the Police Chief’s office. Currently the only office on the main floor, the Police Chief’s office sits at the opposite end of the entrance, with glass windows for walls that can be polarized with a simple button flick. His office is complete with a massive screen fitted to the far wall that allows for reports and updates to the other SCPD districts as well as those higher up in the command structure. His office is also decorated with a few other seats and even a small loveseat for people to sit at. His desk is no different from the ones on the main floor, complete with personal items. Aside from all of that, the room has a bit of a nicer appeal with a nice carpet and easy on the eyes lighting.

Second Floor ‘Snake Pit’: The MCU isn’t only made up of detectives, and actually require their detectives to often times work closely with the more legal side of the law. As such, the entire second floor is dedicated to the prosecutors and defense attorneys that deal with the heavier side of crime. The entire floor is completely made of isolated offices, complete with doors and the individual’s pick of furnishings. There are bathrooms as well as a comparatively nicer cafeteria area complete with an auto-chef capable of making them any meal they desire if the ingredients are present. The atmosphere of the second floor is a bit more oppressive and desolate compared to the main floor equivalent, due to the fact that the lawyers barely come out of their offices when working. This creates an eerily silent feel to the place, despite quite a number of people currently inhabiting the space.

Third Floor ‘Central’: The Third floor, home to the Commissioner and District Attorney’s offices. Along with that, there is a massive meeting room fit with all the latest technologies, comfiest chairs, and best view (comparatively) in the building. The Commissioner and District Attorney’s office easily take up 1/3rd of the floor each, considering that the entire third floor is split into three rooms. Both of their offices are outfitted with their choice of design, commodities and furnishings as well as a personalized auto-chef, the latest technology in computers and reinforced to protect from outside attacks. The stairwell leading up to the third floor requires three different forms of authentication, and only the Police Chief is allowed up at any time, every other detective must make an appointment for the security system to allow them entry. While the entire building is reinforced to protect from outside attack, the third floor is doubled in this aspect, with each office capable of being an entire safe room on it’s own with shielding, double the reinforcement plating and several turrets built into the layout of the rooms. The meeting room is also the same, in fact it would be safe to say that if the entire building were to somehow be bombed, the third floor would be the one most likely to remain intact. The meeting room houses a massive table capable of seating 30 people, and as stated earlier, is complete with the latest technology in regards to whatever you could think of when it comes to holding a briefing. Holographic displays, a VI to deal with the information in a timely manner, an auto-chef to provide for the occupants, etc.

Roof: Nothing too special about this area, save that it’s large enough for a VTOL or helicopter to land on. People can get to the roof from the main floor and vice versa without being stopped by the clearance required on floor 3.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Prince McCastor Character Portrait: Atlas
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Wandering through, the life feels like a lie
Fake faces equipped with a fake smile
Can’t you see the truth
With nothing but an electronic eye


Electric country music floated through the entire area late at night. What time was it? Where was he again?

Prince lifted his head from the bar counter, his hair somehow looking purposely disheveled rather than messy from his drunken state. Prince stared at the glass in his hand, empty...just like so many other things in life. Oh man, he had reached the ‘self pity’ state of his liquor tolerance hadn’t he? That meant it was a good time to stop, after all, going to work with a hangover never ended well. Especially when Ryker would spend all morning hounding him and spraying him with something that reminded him of mom’s kitchen. Prince sat up, his eyes half closed as he brought up his free hand to give them a rub. “Did I pass out?”

“Close to it I think.” The bartender said, his gaze looking over the MCU detective as he washed a couple glasses. Luxley Pine, the owner of the Last Stand Bar. Personally, it was Prince’s favorite after work hangout, and the fact that Luxley was a fairly decent man was just icing on the cake in his opinion. “Granted, with your snoring, I thought you were dying. Was about to start running to get the med bot and shock you back into your pitiful life.”

“Aren’t you a ray of sunshine? Did I spit in your coffee or something?”

“You drooled on my counter.”

“You jest sir, the Prince does not drool o-” Prince looked down to see a small puddle where his head had been. “That was there when I got here.”

“I’m 110% positive that it wasn’t.” Luxley said, giving a small smile as he grabbed a rag and starting wiping it up. “Besides, I think you’ve had enough there Detective.”

“You know you’ve always been a good judge of liquor tolerances. When people fall asleep at your counter, you know they’ve had enough.”

“More money for me.” Luxley said, earning a small laugh from the Prince. Prince turned around, running a hand through his hair as he did so to get a better view of the place and see if anyone had showed up while he had been out. How long had he been out? Honestly, it was probably better if he didn’t know. An old fashioned jukebox was belting tunes out to the entire bar, though it had been jury rigged to a sound system that encompassed the entire bar. Old fashioned pool tables littered the area as all sorts of people crowded around them. Cyborgs and humans, officers of the law and the less disreputable. In the Last Stand, it was common courtesy to leave whatever business you had at the door, and for some odd reason it worked.

Of course, there were the odd times when it didn’t.

Almost on cue, the door slammed open to reveal several rowdy gentlemen entering the bar. A couple of them were visibly augmented, but none of them were past their twenties. They were laughing, hanging off of each other’s shoulders and generally enjoying the night. Aside from the rather abrupt entrance that caused everyone’s eyes to snap to the entrance, they were largely ignored. Until they grabbed a pool table and tried to hit the balls like they were baseballs and the cues like they were bats. Luxley slammed his hand on the table, his eyes twitching at the use of his coveted tables. “Hey! You shits! It’s a pool table, not a diamond! Treat it with respect!” The group laughed, tossing the cues haphazardly onto the table before wandering over to one of the metal tables and proceeding to just generally be a nuisance.

This wasn’t the first occurrence of this, to be honest it happened a lot more than one would have liked or expected, but here they were again. After about 10 minutes of the group essentially declaring themselves ‘Lords of the Bar’ (Their words, not Prince’s), Luxley reached under the counter. Prince reached over and placed a hand on his arm. “You know the rules Luxley.”

“They’re being assholes and annoying my customers.”

“You take one shot and I’ll have to arrest you for excessive force.” Luxley looked over at Prince, who unfortunately didn’t look all that authoritative with one of his eyes half closed and his other eye kind of glossed over. Luxley grunted, his beard bristling with annoyance at the fact that not only was Prince right, but he would be forced to arrest him if he did so. Luxley’s hand released the shotgun held under the bar, giving a very exasperated sigh before pulling his arm away from Prince and crossing them in front of him.

“You’re the cop, go deal with them.”

“For what? Being loud?”

“Disrupting my customers.”

“I’m a customer, and I ain’t disrupted.”

“Am I bugging you to go get rid of them?”

“YES!”

“Then you are disrupted, now deal with it.”

Prince stood up from his stool at the counter, giving his shirt a pull down and dusting off the shoulders of his blazer. “Well played sir, well played.” With that being said, he walked over to the table where one of the obviously drunken young adults was now dancing on the table ironically like a stripper...or maybe they really did enjoy it. He wasn’t here to judge. “Gentlemen.” Prince stated loud enough to get their attention. “You are being too loud and disrupting the general atmosphere of the place, either calm down or leave.” They paused for a second, before laughing and going back to what they were doing. By this point a few people had stopped to look at the scene, which earned a smile from Prince. He loved being the center of attention, even if this was the bottom of the barrel kind.

“Alright you loud mouthed little cock suckles.” Prince yelled, slamming the table and leaning in on the group of people. “I asked you politely, now I’m asking you using your language. Get the fuck out.” The group looked a little taken aback, before their gazes fell upon Prince and they slowly started to stand up to Prince. There were five in total, all relatively well built and a couple with augmentations that, while not military, would still sting. Prince stood there, his cocky smile that had become a staple of the rather young detective planted on his face like he was watching saturday morning cartoons. The supposed ring leader of the group was the first to say something, through slurred words naturally.

“Fuck off.” Elegant, short, to the point. Prince gave a nod, a smug smile on his face as he contemplated the reaction. Prince then gave a short laugh to the entire thing as he realized something, something he would have thought of to begin with if he wasn’t ten beers and twelve shots into the night.

“You know that part where someone tells someone else; ‘You walked into the wrong neighborhood’?” The kids looked around slightly before Prince pointed behind them. As they turned, they were met with several weapons of varying lethality pointed in their general direction. Cops and scumbags, all one in the same here who simply wanted to protect their bar, stood side by side in the only moment they ever would. The kids froze, unsure as to what to do before Prince put an arm around the Ring Leader. “Now, I can tell that you’re not wearing a diaper, because that stain on the ass end of your jeans indicates a very precise feeling of fear, so how about you go home, change, have a shower maybe, and sleep off this horrible night of excess?” The kid still looked ready to fight, but his friends were not in the same boat.

“C’mon man...not worth it...just not worth it.” They stated as they pulled the Ring Leader with them. With a slow walk towards the door, it took several moments for them to finally exit the building in what Prince could only call the ‘Most Anticlimactic exit ever produced by drunken idiots’. Prince gave a nod, running a hand through his and releasing a breath. With that job done, he turned back towards everyone else, who had holstered their weapons.

“My thanks people of varying moral integrity. Next round’s on me.” There were a few cheers as Prince took up his spot at the counter once more. Luxley wandered over, placing one more beer in front of Prince.

“Thanks...but isn’t that technically public intoxication?”

“Wrong question.”

“Do you care?”

“Bingo...and nope. That’s beat cop shit.”




Prince’s Apartment

Beep...Beep...Beep...Beep...Beep...BEEP

“FUCK OFF!” Prince yelled, grabbing his radio and tossing it across the room, yanking it from it’s plug in. His head was buried in his pillow, his sheets a mess and his pants still clinging to his form by the ankles. He had made it home at least, and almost managed to get undressed before passing out. He woke up slowly, his eyes still closed as he placed a hand on his hair. Dear God, it was as if someone had taken a leaf blower to it. He couldn’t have that, and the state of his being right now? If anyone saw him, he would keel over right then and there. With the appearance of his own body firmly lodged as an image in his mind, he opened his eyes slowly.

“Oh fuckin christ on a pizza roll.” Prince exclaimed, his palms coming up to his eyes to push them in and feel the cold relief as spots started to punctuate the blackness of his eyelids like fireworks. “Ok...Ok...Ok...It’s ok.” Prince opened his eyes again, wincing at the pain…

The pain of seeing himself in the full body mirror adjacent to his bed.

“Look at you.” Prince stated, disgusted at his current body image. “You’ve hit rock bottom...for the third time this week.” There was a heavy sigh as he picked himself up from the bed, groaning in protest as his body attempted to rebel against his spirit. He took one step before remembering his pants were still linked to his feet, stumbling over them and landing face first on the floor. Prince placed both hands over his mouth as he screamed slightly at the pain now coursing through what felt like every fiber of his being. He laid there for awhile, allowing the metal floor (Which was painted to look like hardwood) to cool his throbbing pain. When that was done, he threw the pants off and once again climbed to his feet with all the grace of a disabled hippo. “Awwwwwwwwwwww...Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” He groaned, finally able to climb to his feet and exit his bedroom.

As he wandered into the small hallway, he took a quick left into the bathroom, which as he entered he was assailed with a variety of scents. As he took a quick look, he realized why, staring at the toilet in horror. “Yep...that would be about 15 shots of Rye. Oooh, maybe 16.” He gave the contraption a quick flush as he attempted to have himself a shower. 20 minutes later and more than half of that spent making sure his hair was perfect, he walked out of the bathroom with nothing but a towel covering his lower half and strode confidently into the living room of his small apartment.

A white couch faced a rectangular device attached to the wall. A holographic display, a television really. A couple of recliners, also white, were on either side of the couch and facing the tv. Underneath was a small table that held a N87 gaming system and a small library, along with paddles. It was funny, even with virtual reality becoming the go to, paddle gameplay was still widely loved by most people around the world. Not to mention it was more accessible and cheaper than owning a VR suite in one’s home. Off to the right was the kitchen, divided from the living room by a half wall. In it were the necessities: Fridge, sink, microwave, dishwasher, etc. With a marble finish and wood paint job covering the metal cupboards, it was actually the nicest looking area of the apartment. Of course, that was the extent of his living place as just off the kitchen was the door to his little slice of heaven.

Naturally, draped over the kitchen counter, table, couch, recliners and in a corner for some reason were all of Prince’s clothes. Jacket, shirt, shoes, socks, even his shades had ended up in the sink for some reason. “Drunk me is such an idiot.” Prince said to himself as he wandered over to the fridge. He opened it to reveal...not a whole lot. He was living the true life of a bachelor at the moment. He really wanted eggs though, mainly to cure the unnatural splitting headache trying to cave in his skull. He closed the door, pressing the pad that was displayed on the front. He touched through the menu, ordering eggs, butter, some lettuce, orange juice and two pork chops for later. Finishing his order, he heard a ‘thunk’ as the groceries were delivered to his fridge via a cylinder system built into all the apartments. He opened the fridge to find all the items requested placed inside with surprising care. He grabbed the carton of eggs, pulling out five eggs before placing the carton back inside. Reaching into one of the top cupboards, he pulled out a glass and placed it in front of him, closing the door as he did so.

With a sloppy execution, he dumped the five eggs into the glass, and with more than a grimace, downed all five in a mighty gulp. Once that was done, and he had finished heaving, he wiped his face with his arm and washed his hands in the sink. He hated it, but to be honest, it was the best hangover cure he had come across. Yeah, there were so many drugs out there that claimed to do just that thing, but he had tried nearly all of them and so far none of them beat the eggs. He gave a series of noises akin to a gorilla trying to imitate a guitar sound in order to get the taste out of his mouth as he made his way to his room.

From there, he opened his closet, which automatically started spinning around as it made its way towards his outfit for the day. Today he was going for a ‘Casual Business’ look. A white dress shirt, black slacks, white red belt, red tie, and black running shoes. He nodded, obviously satisfied with himself as he set about donning his suit for the day. Soon enough, he was fully dressed, immaculately one might add. His dress shirt didn’t have a single wrinkle in it, his pants were smooth to the touch, and the tie was knotted up to perfection. Matched with the fact that he had spent a great deal of time on his hair, you would never assume that this man had gotten black out wasted the night before. With that being done, he closed his closet and wandered over to a panel built into the wall. Beside it was a palm scanner, which Prince put his hand up to. “There’s no such thing as too much perfection.” He spoke, a passphrase for his safe as the panel opened up to reveal everything he needed for his position. A underarm holster, his badge, gun, credentials and general police gear. He saddled up, and once everything was nice and snug, he closed the safe and stepped back in front of the full body mirror. Admiring himself for a couple minutes longer than one really should, he finally deemed himself worthy of being seen and made his way to the door. There he agonized over the jacket he was to wear. He looked so good this morning, it would be such a waste to cover it with a jacket.

If it rained though, he would have a meltdown just like the old crone in Wizard of Oz. He groaned to himself, but ultimately he decided on his Fuego leather jacket, waxed to a beautiful sheen along with silver rimmed shades. Stopping for a moment longer to look at the mirror that he had hung in front of the door to make sure everything fit properly, he opened the door and exited his apartment.




Prince pulled his 2077 Herini sports car into his parking spot at the MCU HQ. A 2 door slim and fast looking thing that looked more suited to being some irresponsible playboy’s thing rather than an MCU detective. Of course, once you saw Prince exit the car, you could tell the same type of personality was in play. Prince walked towards the elevator, clicking the lock button on his keys to hear the familiar ‘ding ding’ the car responded with to acknowledge that it was secure. He pressed the button to get the lift moving, and once it opened, stepped inside while taking a sip from his coffee cup. From there, it was a short ride up to the main floor of the Nest, otherwise known as MCU HQ.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened to reveal a flurry of activity already happening. Several desks could be seen from his position as monitors filled with varying amounts of information casts glares of light upon the officers who sat near them. Normal civilians sat with detectives, giving statements and in varying degrees of emotional stability. A couple of robots walked around performing menial chores such as cleaning the precinct or handing papers to other officers. The entire place always felt alive, from the earliest crack of dawn to the blackest pits of night. Prince exited the elevator, taking in a deep breath and exhaling with an exaggerated flare.

“So Princess decided to show up this morning. Heard you might be dead or something.” An officer wandered up to Prince, his grey hair indicating his seniority as well as his senility if you asked Prince. He wore a standard issue SCPD uniform, which was the norm for a lifelong sergeant. His face was littered with wrinkles, scars and cybernetics. In fact, nearly a whole half of his face was metal, with a skin overlay covering the more glaring issues. The man had been with the SCPD nearly since its inception, yet refused to take any kind of officer position, preferring to stay in the field. If only his name actually lived up to the history the man had to offer.

“Mancy, you crazy coot, I can’t die.” Prince stated as he walked on by, Mancy falling in step with him. “I survive through pure willpower and the amount of blackmail I have on Death himself.”

“Somehow I doubt that.”

“Would you believe a cup of about 5 eggs and an inexhaustible supply of pizazz?”

“I would believe the egg part, for some reason you smell like a rooster’s ass...you know, more than usual.”

“Well that stung only the tiniest bit.” Prince stated, smiling as he did so and taking another sip from his coffee. To be honest, Mancy and Prince made a very odd pair. Mancy was old enough to be Prince’s dad, and their personalities could be seen as clashing. Mancy was very serious most of the time, and Prince could barely get through a conversation without throwing some kind of quip around. Yet it seemed that they relaxed to a happy medium around each other. They weren’t partners, but they had a mutual respect that allowed this kind of banter to go on unabated. “Anything Prince worthy this morning?”

“Chief was looking for you.”

“Never a good thing to walk in on.” Prince said, stopping at his desk and noticing the dirty state of it. While he prided himself on looking good at all times, the areas around him often suffered due to the lack of attention spent elsewhere. He placed his coffee among the other half empty cups on the corner of his workspace. “Any idea as to what?”

“Honestly no, but I wouldn’t put it past him to give you a firm hard slap on the wrist.”

“Almost a ‘phrasing’ moment there old man.” Prince said, giving a cocky smirk as he leaned over his desk and logged into his desktop. Immediately he started clicking on his email, noticing one from the Chief asking him to his office as soon as he came in. Others were case details and such that he could go over later.

“Keep your mind above the gutter there Princess and your dress past your knees.”

“I hate the dress code.”

“At least the dress can have frills.”

“Ooooh, and you can be my man servant. I demand a tail coat that reaches down to your ankles.” Mancy gave a quick laugh at that before patting Prince on the back.

“The wife is out of town, so Last Stand tonight?”

“After last night…” Prince paused, his face going serious for a moment as if he was deep in thought. “Only a rampaging emp could stop me.” Mancy smiled, giving a small wave as he went back to his desk to resume his duties. Prince gave a smile, locking his desktop and pulling a sucker from a stash he kept in his desk for the kids that were sometimes dragged into the office. Ripping the wrapper off and popping it into his mouth, he glanced over at the Chief’s office. The windows overlooking the main area were polarized, preventing any vision inside. That put up alarm bells in Prince’s mind as he took his jacket off and placed it on his chair. He tugged at his shirt to make sure it was suitably tight before walking the distance to the Chief’s office.

A few other Detectives gave nods or ‘Good Mornings’ as he passed, which he replied with a smile and greeting in kind. When he got to the door to the office, he took a breath and knocked on the door. “Who is it?” The Chief’s voice answered. At the very least, he sounded very much calm about whatever Prince was being called in for.

“Detective McCastor sir.” Prince replied, the Chief being one of the few people he spoke to with...almost seriousness. At the very least, he was a lot more controlled around the man who had the ability to fire him or bust him back down to beat cop.

“Come on in.” The man replied, to which Prince entered the office. Inside was a rather spacious area, meant to be able to house important people/victims/witnesses. There was a few luxurious sofa chairs, a small table and enough room to pace if one wanted to. Off to the side sat an inert television used for video conferencing. Center piece was the Chief’s desk, modest by request yet still impressive when compared to the rest on the floor. Pure Mahogony, it was starting to show its years as scrapes, spills and burns showed on some of the surface. On it, he had a picture of his family, a lovely older woman with a child who appeared be in his early teens. He was thankfully unaugmented and shared much of his father’s rough edges it seemed. The woman had warm brown eyes and hair that hung loosely around her shoulders. It was a posed photo, although Prince knew for a fact that one of the Chief’s drawers held more candid pics.

The man stood behind his desk, his hands filtering through a couple of files in his hands. The first thing people noticed about him was his rather intrusive looking cybernetics. While they looked painful, the man never seemed to be in any kind of pain. They weren’t exactly pleasant to look at though, but Skipper McDougal didn’t care about such things. His eyes drifted from the paperwork to Prince as he walked further into the office, then glanced over at a figure that was standing opposite of his desk.

Whoever this was, he was tall and covered head to toe in fabric. Could be a cybernetic freelancer for some case? Didn’t seem to be MCU, but they had their fair share of deep dive operators who looked anything but professional in order to fit in with a certain crowd. “Sir.” Prince stated, walking up beside the figure and standing towards his Chief. “You needed to see me?”

“Yes, thank you for being prompt.” McDougal stated, putting the papers down on his desk. “I’m going to be blunt about this and get the shock out of your system right away Prince...Meet your new partner.” Prince blinked once...twice...three times before finally his mouth pursed enough to form a single sound.

“Huh?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Prince McCastor Character Portrait: Atlas
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And we live in a beautiful world,
Yeah we do, yeah we do.
We live in a beautiful world.


It was a good day, after all.

Skipper was giving him another chance to prove himself in MCU, though he hadn’t quite put it in that way. No, this was not his fault. This was only a small rest. Some time away. Agents, he’d said, took leave all the time when things didn’t pan out as expected. He noted the pull to his lips. The crease of his brow. The way he patted him on the back whenever he left him at his apartment. Even so, he was happy. Over the moon. He liked that saying. How could an emotion reach there and back again? It had to be powerful. Seeing how he felt the morning he’d been told that he could go back to the office, and start working in the precinct, it appeared sound. Joy had startling strength.

His vacation was officially over. His suspension rescinded. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed his time in Skipper’s home. The gratitude he felt was explored through actions and many, many conversations. He cooked, he cleaned and filled out any paperwork he was too tired to fill out himself. Sometimes, the old man fell asleep at the table, and would awake to find all of the work properly finished; neatly stacked beside a cup of coffee. It was all he could do to show his appreciation. A smaller part of him wished that he could have a place of his own: a home. Just like everyone else. Or, less restrictions on going outside.

Out there, where things were dangerous. Wild. Beautiful.

However, his request had been too much. Even if it made his heart sink… he understood. He wasn’t well enough to mingle with the public. Self-reflection was an important step to bettering himself and for that to take place, he needed time alone. To process what had happened with his old partner. To think of what had gone wrong and what he could do to prevent it in the future. He had done a lot of that: thinking. His recovery made it a mandatory measure. With nothing but pale blue walls, white furniture, and a 50” inch television, there wasn’t much else to occupy his thoughts.

This, however, was much different. With each agent, he’d remained at their household until he was required to accompany them on the streets. He hadn’t interacted much with MCU’s headquarters in the past beyond the first introductions—Skipper was making lenience's this time, though he wasn’t sure why. What was different this time, compared to the others? He had asked him before, of course, but he never got any straight answers: not with him. A shake of the head. A grin, a scratch of the beard and little else. He had said once that they had done him wrong and this time, they’d do it properly. An agent couldn’t be treated like a tool, put back in the box whenever he was not needed. He would be an agent of MCU in all the ways he ever dreamed of.

It was enough for him. More than enough.

The excitement he felt was palpable. Atlas imagined it tickling down his extremities, down through his toes and fingers; and if he thought about it hard enough he swore he could feel it. Time ran sluggishly slow. Each time he brought up the clock in his peripherals, flashing in the corner of his vision… it seemed as if only minutes had passed. He wanted to meet his partner now, not later. The morning before, Skipper had brought him out to meet the rest MCU’s crew; real conversations, rather than curt introductions. This would be his family. He thought that he ought to treat them as such and get to know them to the best of his abilities. Agents functioned as a well-oiled entity; not as separate individuals. Several cogs, not a singular device.

Vaxen Kilby was a puzzling man. Tugging at Atlas’ arms, turning his face over, and tapping at his face-plate. He seemed vested by his inner workings and asked him to change his expression. Come up with weird images. He laughed a lot, though he was constantly reiterating that he was just kidding. And to not repeat what he said. Parris, on the other hand, was much quieter. A little sad, he thought. He supposed that she may have been shy, though she had spared him enough of her time to show him where she worked. She showed him her tools and workstation and pictures of corpses, before shooing him away.

Ryker was one individual he was actually somewhat familiar with. He’d been to Skipper’s house more than once and had always brought him things from town during his vacation. Whether it was magazines or Mona D’s newest romantic film—he brought them all in package form, meticulously set in a brown box with MCU’s logo emblazoned on the side. He’d always noticed that he didn’t smile much, but he had always thought of him as a kindred spirit. A man with a heart of gold. He’d heard that said before, and liked the phrasing… but sometimes wondered where it had come from. Did the pigment of one’s heart change depending on the amount of kindness a person had? The world was peculiar. Human beings especially.

He looked at the time for the hundredth time today, tapping his metallic fingers across the marbled counter.

Two more hours.




The tall figure shifted in place. There was a sense of general discomfort; teetering the weight from foot to foot. Only then did the fabric slip away from its face, revealing a black panel with turquoise lights built into the jawline and much larger ones that represented his eyes. Pupiless. More like car lights than anything else, with mechanical lids. He shouldered the rest of the fabric off and let it pool at his feet. Of course, he’d wanted to show off his MCU uniform. Custom-fit for him. It was the same sort of uniform new agents would wear when they were being sworn into the force. He’d never worn one before, and insisted that this would be the perfect time to wear it.

Atlas cleared his throat and toed the fabric to the side, finally taking the time to look at his new partner. There was a jumble of unease in the pit of his stomach. Or else, where he thought it would come from. Unease. He had felt it before, when he’d been brought in for his mistake. Unpleasant as it was, this felt a little different. He’d read about if before. Butterflies. He was nervous about this encounter. The expression on the man’s face wasn’t exactly what he had expected. There was no smile, no uplift of brow. Nothing at all to tell him that this person was as equally excited as he was.

Huh?

That was all. For a moment, silence stretched between them and Atlas was unsure of how he could break it. How he should break it. He glanced towards Skipper, then back to the man in front of him. Prince, as Skipper had said. Like in the fairy-tales. If that was the case, then he would be honorable, kind and brave. Someone who had all the makings of a good partner. He held out one of his hands, in the respective gesture of goodwill. A handshake. He hoped he couldn't tell how nervous he was. There was a metallic rumble to his voice when he spoke; which did not sound too unpleasant to his own ears… but might have been off-putting to someone he’d never met before. Hopefully not in this case.

“Good to meet you, partner. I’m Atlas.”

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Character Portrait: Prince McCastor Character Portrait: Atlas
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This...was odd.

Not only was Prince not one for partners, but he wasn't particularly fond of the robotic kind either. Most 'bots', to put it nicely, were dumber than a sack of bricks that grew up in the poor end of the city. They followed directions, sure, but you had to be extremely precise or, at the very least, spend hours getting them programmed to understand a particular set of lingo. Even if you did that, someone else could come along and need the bot and then they need to do the same thing. Last thing he wanted was essentially a giant hunk of wasted metal clinging to his ankles as he went about his daily life. Prince stared at Atlas, as the bot seemed to proclaim, holding out a hand for Prince to shake. Someone had spent some time with the configuration at least, but even then this thing would be wasted on someone like him. Prince looked down at the hand, but felt no compulsion to grasp it and shake. After all, it was a machine, incapable of being offended or having its feelings hurt. Instead he turned back towards the Captain, a puzzled look on his face. "Did I do something wrong?" Prince asked, his question earnest as he desperately clawed his way into his memories trying to find a particular event that would have pissed the Captain off enough to warrant an overpriced babysitter. "Because unless I royally screwed the pooch, and I'm not that hard into bestiality, I can't think of a single thing that would warrant this kind of an ankle weight."

"You think this is a punishment, Detective?" Skipper asked, his mouth twitching into a smirk as his eyebrow raised slightly. Prince looked towards Skipper, then back at the bot, then back at Skipper.

"It isn't? You're assigning me a Blue Bot as a partner...that's essentially a punch to the dick and a knee to the chin."

"Language, Detective." Skipper stated, earning a slight groan from Prince. "Our new addition is pretty impressionable."

"Impressionable, what is it a new model that learns fr-" Prince stopped dead in his tracks as he looked over at the bot one more time. "...No."

"Yep."

"When?"

"Some time ago, that detail is hardly important."

"Why?"

"A test."

"Me?"

"Yes you."

"WHY?!"

"Starting to ask myself that very same question, Detective." Skipper stated, crossing his arms in front of him as he nodded towards Atlas. "And as he said, his name is Atlas. I would suggest using it." Prince looked at the still outstretched hand then back up at Atlas's...face? He didn't know whether to run for cover, approach him like he was just another dude, or act as if he was meeting some foreign diplomat. To say that Prince was uncomfortable would be an understatement. While he would never say he was afraid of AI, he was overly cautious and considered them to be a dangerous avenue of research. Humans were, in most ways, predictable and easy to track. AI's could think faster, react faster and had one major thing lacking when it came to understanding their motives;

Humanity.

Prince eventually grasped Atlas's hand, giving it a firm hard shake as he stared at Atlas. "Detective Prince McCastor." Prince stated, stealing a glance at Skipper to ask him to tell him what was going on without actually speaking.

Ah—the response Atlas had been looking for all along. Acceptance. Why else would he willingly shake his hand? Much of the back-and-forth conversation left him puzzled. A punch to the dick and kick to the chin? Why would anyone do something like that? This meeting was nothing like that at all. The comparison was inaccurate. He would have to bring that up again in casual conversation. Besides, Prince seemed like the type who wouldn’t mind any of his questions. He’d asked his own several times already: why? Though he assuredly had done nothing wrong. The initial question he'd posed rung in his head. Whirred incorrigible. Their partnership was something to be happy about, wasn't it?

It was. To him, at least.

The well of excitement only seemed to grow, threatening to spill over. Blooming into something larger than himself. Standing here, in his uniform, in front of his partner. What adventures would they go on? What criminals would they bring to justice? What would he learn from him? There were infinite possibilities; and he wanted to experience them all. He fought the initial urge to tap his foot on the ground, or draw him into a hug. Those things were reserved for good friends and family... and they weren't there yet. Hopefully that would change. Soon.

Prince was his new partner. This man. This time, he’d do things the properly. With his help, of course. A whirring noise sounded as he gripped his hand and gave it a good shake. A little too excitedly. A strong handshake sent off all the right messages; a man could tell another man’s mettle by the strength of their handshake. Or so he’d read. He only released his hand when he realized that he hadn’t stopped bobbing it up and down, rattling the man’s arm like a rope swung between them.

“Sorry, Detective McCastor,” he retracted his hand back to his side and rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, turning his attention towards the ceiling, “It’s been awhile, is all.” There was a twang to his distinctive, automated voice. Something familiar. Another agent’s influence. Old habits died hard.

Atlas scuffed the heel of his mechanical foot on the ground and lifted his shoulders, almost in a sheepish fashion. “Is there something we should be doing, Skipper?”

I was just getting to that, Atlas. Skipper stated as his hand drifted to his computer, tapping a couple buttons and presenting a screen that only he could see. Prince, this is going to be a step down for you, but I was hoping to have Atlas slowly integrated into the MCU... as such, I'm putting both of you on beat duty for the next couple of days." Prince visibly cringed as he slowly replaced his hand back down at his side.

"Sir... I haven't walked the street in years... isn't there something else we could do? Vandalism? Jaywalking? Hell, I'd even take a high society case!"

"Well if you're lucky, you'll probably get to see the first two." Skipper continued pressing buttons on his keyboard. "And before you say you're too busy, I know you have no open cases at the moment Detective, so do please spare me that excuse."

"How about 'My sister is sick and I need to take some time off' excuse?"

"Extremely low brow and not going to work."

"Had to try." Prince stated, earning a sideways glance from the Captain. He continued tapping away on his computer until he seemed satisfied. A moment later, Prince's phone vibrated in his pocket. He grabbed it, flipping through the messages and seeing the new assignment from Skipper. He groaned as his beat cop duty was made official, not to mention a very clear indication of a 'partner'.

"There, your assignment and route have been given. Now, since I happen to know you, Prince, I want to make something very clear." Skipper walked around his desk, standing in front and leaning against it so that the both of them could fully see all of his augmentations. He placed his palms on the wooden surface of his work area, glancing more towards Prince than Atlas. "Atlas is here to learn, to understand and ultimately become a asset to the MCU. As such, I expect you to be on your best behavior. Teach him the ropes like you would any rookie and be sure to expand his knowledge where ever you can."

"I don't remember seeing anything in my job description as to having to play the babysitter, sir." Prince stated with more than a hint of sarcasm to his voice.

"We're the law, Detective, we are babysitters... we're just better equipped." Skipper looked over to Atlas. "Atlas, I've forwarded you Prince's file for you to peruse, but if you have any questions for him now, I would love to see how he answers them." Prince squirmed slightly, rolling on the balls of his feet as he looked over at the tall piece of metal beside him.

Atlas was mumbling something about there being absolutely no babies in the vicinity. Whether or not he was just being smarmy was anyone’s guess, though he seemed to be nodding along with their conversation, luminous eyes sparkling up at each interjection. He was filling away information, saving it for a latter date. No doubt, he could quote it verbatim. He tapped at the small plating running along his wrist line, sparking up a holographic adaptation of the details Skipper had just sent them moments before. Particularly Prince’s file; his dossier winked up, displaying a younger profile smirking up at him.

If Prince’s lack of enthusiasm was anything to go by, the android seemed jubilous in comparison. A stark contrast. Beat duty! How he’d missed the simplicity of the streets, watching out for nee-doers, and bad guys. He didn’t mind one bit. This would be a prime opportunity to prove that he was well enough to become fully integrated into MCU’s midst's. A true, blue agent of the force. He swiveled his attention back to Prince, noting his sour expression with a tip of his head. He tapped at his wrist again, and the image of Prince’s face flickered away. He seemed to consider the question, scratching at the bottom of his chin with a metal finger.

He had too many, after all. Scrambling to be heard. He did not, however, want to bombard him here, all at once. Making Friends 101, a book he had already read several times, dog-eared as it was, informed him that it was best to grow close to someone gradually. One on one. Usually over coffee.

“Ah, no, Skipper sir,” Atlas paused and turned his body towards the door, dropping his hand back to his side. A metallic hm sounded, as he glanced back at Prince, “How do you take your coffee, Detective McCastor?”

It was important.

Prince watched Atlas turn to leave only to turn back towards him. How did he take his coffee? Out of all the questions, that was one that was common among human partners but, well, to be honest Prince had no idea what to expect from this. He was well outside his comfort zone, and considering his reputation and solve rate, he wasn't even sure why he was chosen for this particular job. "3 sugar, 2 cream." Prince answered hesitantly, looking back at Skipper who only made a motion towards the door for him to get going. Prince closed his eyes for a moment, taking a breath before walking to the door which Atlas opened up for them. As they walked out, several detectives stopped to peer at Prince and the person who followed him, confused by the rather tall stature of the person in question. Prince continued walking to his desk, looking over to see Mancy giving a coy look towards him. Prince put two fingers to his eyes then pointed at Mancy, who only gave a smile in response and went back to his own work. Prince shook his head, grabbing his jacket on his way back to his desk. "We'll take my car."

Prince led them to the elevator, hopping in and pressing the button for the parkade. During the ride down, Prince looked over at Atlas. "First rule, don't tell anyone you're an AI, the response will probably be less than favorable. If anyone asks, you're a sophisticated SCPD Android, top of the line with advanced VI parameters to mimic human behavior. Second rule, you follow my lead. I don't know what's going through that head of yours, but listen to what I say or you'll most likely end up regretting it in a number of different ways." The elevator dinged and the doors opened to reveal the parkade. Prince could see his car from where they stood. "Third rule, I reserve the right to make up rules on the spot to changing circumstances." Prince took a step out of the elevator, turning to face the AI.

"Any questions?"

Atlas only nodded his head at each interjection, tipping his head to the side as a dog might’ve. If he noticed any unusual looks, he certainly gave no indication of it. Mechanical eyes blinked at him, turquoise spinning. While he didn’t understand why lying about being an AI was a good idea, seeing how agents were supposed to be just, honest, and fair, he made a mental note of it. As well as his preference for coffee. Three sugar, two cream. A sweet concoction, if Skipper was anything to go by. He usually drank it black. Perhaps, this was an inflection on Prince's personality. Sweet as sugar. “A sophisticated SCPD Android, top of the line with advanced VI parameters to mimic human behavior,” he repeated, in Prince’s voice, down to the sarcastic edge, before turning back to his echoing drawl, "Are you and Detective Mancy intimate?"

The android mirrored the fingers to eyes motion, and raised an imploring eyebrow. A plate, raising up above his browline. Or, wherever it was supposed to be. It was strange, hearing a question worded so genuinely. There was no trace of a tease. No mocking tone. Simply an observation he'd made on the way to the elevator. He looked at him expectantly, almost too eagerly, awaiting his response.

"Intim-what?!" Prince started, pausing to look over at the machine. "No...god no...what di" It was then that Prince noticed the gesture the machine was making before letting a breath release from his nose. "We're friends...buddies, coworkers, you know that kind of thing. We're not...the other thing." Prince stumbled through his explanation, mentally facepalming at the entire question. If this is the way this thing asks questions, I have to stop jumping to assumptions.

"If that's the question you ask, obviously you don't have any serious ones in you." Prince stated as he reached his car and unlocked the doors. He motioned for Atlas to get in.

"Alright then, let's go get this over with."

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Character Portrait: Prince McCastor Character Portrait: Atlas
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Let’s get this over with, involved unfilled silence all the way to Detective Prince’s squad-car. Not on his own accord, as he tried to explain that his question had been serious. A curious observation.It wasn’t that he didn’t have any other questions to ask, but he’d been told many times before that it was rude to ask too many. All in due time, personal relationships were like plants to be watered and nurtured—besides, Skipper said he talked too much. It was something he was trying to improve.

Atlas initially moved over to the driver side and reached towards the door, intending to open it, before his partner shooed him away. Lips pulled into something that looked rather unhappy, teeth bared: what the hell are ya’ doing, you tin-can. Being a gentleman, he’d said. It earned him a look he couldn’t quite decipher. Eyebrow’s drawn. Curious, or confused.

How strange. He had seen it plenty of times on all of his dramatic soap-opera’s; opening and closing the door for someone you considered important. A testament to good manners. Wasn’t this one of those situations? Atlas’ eyes whirred, clicking shut. No, maybe not. Recalculations would have to be made. Maybe, he’d re-watch those episodes and see where he had gone wrong. Study the experts.

Atlas circled around the car, opened his own door and slipped into his seat. Folded himself, more like. It was cramped enough that he had to lean forward, perching his elbows on his knees. A soft clink of metal chuffing against metal; a gentle reminder that squad-cars weren’t quite outfitted for someone his size. Perhaps, they could acquire a larger one to accommodate him. There was another pause, a considerate one, as he thought back on what Detective Prince had said. “Like we are, then?” he turned to stare at him, face-plate flickering to life, “Friends, buddies, coworkers.”

"Coworkers at best." Prince replied as he got into his car. He let out a breath he had been holding, knowing that he was probably being a bit more moody and bitchy than he really needed to be, but no matter how he looked at this, he saw it as a punishment. After all, even if it was an AI it was apparently not versed in standard social conversation or interaction and would need to learn. It was one thing to teach a newbie the ways of the street, it was another to instruct his partner on how to just talk to people. Prince started up the car, and with a roar that was probably overcompensating for something, Prince waited only long enough to make sure his new robot 'coworker' was strapped in before pulling out like a bat out of hell and tearing out of the parking lot. If he was going to do this, he might as well get his kicks where he could. As Prince pulled them into the mainstream traffic, the other cars blazing past, a mix of high and low tech vehicles that used a smattering of autopilot and manual control, his thoughts raced as quickly as everyone passing him did. How was he going to do this? Sure, androids and the like were popular enough, but true AI was a mixed bag at best and a fear spreader at worst. He would have to pass off Atlas as some kind of 'new synthetic' to the populace should they start asking questions. Maybe that's why the Chief actually picked him? The Chief always did say that he had a big mouth on him.

"Do you... eat?" Prince asked, his eyes never straying from the road.

“Coworkers,” Atlas echoed softly and nodded his head. That was a start, at least. Even if Detective Prince didn’t consider him any of those other things, it was progress towards a fruitful relationship. A partnership. Friends, someday. He could almost feel a smile pulling on his face, if he had lips to perform such a feat. He was happy—that much he could tell. Pleased at the shiny, bright opportunity that he’d been given. Being out in the field meant that he was needed and that the Chief had forgiven his mistakes, seeing to it that he could make up for them; better himself just like anyone else could.

It meant he was like anybody else. Human.

Almost.

Atlas scratched at his chin, as if he had an imaginary itch. He didn’t, but there were so many thoughts whirring in his head. Too many. He knew what beat-duty entailed. He’d done it before with other people; under differing circumstances. What would they see? Who would they meet? What was Detective Prince’s style? Some were rowdier and hot-headed, while others were kinder, softer. What was his partner like?

When Detective Prince posed the question, he dropped his fingers from his chin and held it up, curling his finger inward. “No, actually.” He almost wished he did. Having been equipped with some sensory abilities, such as his sense of smell, it seemed an awful shame that he hadn’t been given working internal organs. Some androids had. Especially those who’d been created as companions. “But I do like food. The smell of it, I mean. Sometimes, I watch those cooking shows.” His eyelids clicked as he slid his gaze away towards the road, “Ah, y’know, Cooking With Stars.”

"Right... figured I would ask." Well there goes that idea of shutting him up with a hotdog or two Prince thought to himself as he continued down the stretch of road, every once in awhile being passed by a few people who were going well above the speed limit. Part of him pondered turning on his siren, but another part of him simply didn't care enough. He had long ago transcended such menial cop labor ever since he had gotten his Detective title. "Also I think you mean Cooking with the Stars. The way you say it implies something different. There he went again, being a snarky assbag for no other reason than he was annoyed. Childish behavior he supposed, but he couldn't shake the feeling of professional departure being thrust upon him. Luckily, the drive wasn't far to where they were doing their 'duty' for the day. It seemed the chief wanted them close by, most likely in case something were to happen to their now prized possession... or employee? Prince, uncharacteristically, didn't have much to say after that. After all, how does one talk to a machine without seeming to talk to themselves in the process? He had his own ego-maniacal problems, there was no need to compound them. Instead he drove, speaking only to curse some people out who tried to cut him off. Eventually he came to his turn, leaving the heavy stream of differing vehicles for a slower street with much more foot traffic. It was a middle class neighborhood, which meant bland buildings with bland people doing bland things and generally being law abiding citizens.

What a boring load of shit.

Prince took a couple turns through the winding streets, passing by more and more bland areas filled with people just going about their business and doing nothing particularly interesting. Already Prince could feel his will to live slowly leaving him as he looked for a place to park. Eventually he found one, sliding into the area easily enough and turning the car off with a little bit of flourish as he was stepping out of the vehicle before the motor has even stopped sputtering. A couple of people looked at Prince as he walked around the vehicle, stopping in front of the parking meter and pressing his badge up against it with a bit of a 'slap'. The monitor beeped, recognizing him as law enforcement and waiving the standard parking fare. When Atlus got out of the vehicle though, he drew more than a few stares as people stopped what they were doing to take a gander. Sure, Blue Bots were common, but they were pretty much universal in appearance. Atlas was... well, while he wasn't exactly going out of his way to draw attention, even the way he looked around at the people and buildings was doing more than any Blue Bot would. Prince walked over to him, replacing his badge within his coat. "Remember what I told you before." Prince stated in a whisper, already wary of the people around him overhearing. With that out of the way, Prince started walking down the street, one hand in his pocket and the other waving for Atlas to follow.

Ah, it was called Cooking with the Stars. It made more sense, though Atlas couldn’t articulate why it did. In any case, Detective Prince was kind enough to correct him on his mistake, no matter how small. He appreciated the sentiment and flickered his face-plate into a pixelated smile; orange flashing and disappearing into it’s usual opaque shine. A mirror reflecting the world around him. Absorbing. Acknowledging. Perhaps, a bit uncomfortably to those around him. Not that he’d be keen to notice.

He welcomed the silence—he’d never minded it that much. Though he’d noted that some people seemed to squirm in it, wholly uncomfortable. While he much preferred filling it with questions, he was happy to let it idle. Let it drag between them so that he could better focus on his surroundings, drinking in his environment as a proper authority of the law should. Always keeping on his toes. What he did learn from the quiet drive… was that Detective Prince’s patience seemed paper-thin, particularly when driving was involved. Road rage? Is that what it was called? An unusual phenomenon where the driver was rendered furious at the antics at others; their inadequacies on the road. He never truly understood it. Why curse at other drivers when they couldn’t even answer back?

Atlas’ excitement was palpable as they drew near. He leaned forward in his seat as far as he could and tapped his mechanical hands against the inside of his knee; impatient. A rarified rookie, raring to go. He waited until the vehicle’s motor came to a sputtering halt before he, too, slipped out and shut the door behind him. If he noticed anyone looking at him strangely, he didn’t say anything. Instead, he fell in beside Detective Prince and cleared his throat, “If anyone asks, I’m a sophisticated SCPD Android, top of the line with advanced VI parameters to mimic human behavior.” Repeated earlier, in Prince’s own voice. Like a recording being played back at a lower volume.

There was a pause, and another smile flickered over his screen. He stuck out his thumb in the traditional way to say that he understood. "Don't worry, I won't slow you down, partner."

"Uh huh." Prince stated, not bothering to really hide his true feelings at this point. As they walked, Prince could tell that Atlas was taking in the area, looking at people and analyzing mostly everything. Prince himself kept his eyes straight ahead, only bothering to peer his eyes away when someone would give them an odd look. A glance from the Detective would inform them as politely as he could to keep their eyes to themselves, as they would immediately look away or otherwise start doing some other task that would distract them from the two cops walking down the street. In the meantime, Prince was looking for a specific building, and after walking a few blocks, he found it. A small coffee shop with a street facing vendor. A couple people milled around it, holding hot cups of coffee in their hands and talking to each other as if they didn't have a care in the world. "Hold up." Prince stated, lining up among the other people there to get his coffee. When he got to the vendor, he ordered for himself and didn't bother doing the same for Atlas, as his prior conversation indicated he wouldn't be able to enjoy it anyways.

As he described earlier, Prince placed 3 sugar and 2 cream into it, creating an almost intolerable sweetness to most other people who would see him do this. Instead, he took a sip as soon as he was done stirring, and upon deeming it satisfactory, continued walking on while expecting Atlas to keep up. "I'm not sure how much of the policing bible, AKA the Detective Handbook you've read, but let me infer a little bit of my own knowledge and expertise on the situation." Prince started talking, if for nothing else but to make sure Atlas couldn't fill the void with an incessent amount of questions. There was also the part of passing the time, and Prince much preferred to hear his own voice. He wasn't an egomaniac, at least he didn't think he was. "The book will tell you how to do things proper, but problem being is that it's printed on black and white paper. Here in the real world, you have to trust your gut and believe in simply doing the right thing. Sometimes the book will tell you to do one thing, but ultimately it's up to us to figure out how to properly interpret the law. If you follow the rules right down to the letter, not only will you not get anything done, you'll make more enemies than friends." Prince continued as they strolled further down the block, Prince sipping at his coffee and Atlas most likely listening intently, although for Prince this was secondary at best.

"We're supposed to be the good guys, but a lot of the time we get used by people for political gain, which means making judgement calls on what truly falls under not only our jurisdiction, but our own moral compass. I'm not saying we break the law whenever we feel the need, but we can certainly bend it if it means truly performing the right amount of justice." It was at this point, that Prince noticed a man very sneakily grab a woman's purse from the ground when she bent down to tie her shoe, walking off as if there was nothing the matter. "Take Tommy Pickpockets over there... what are you gonna do about him?" Prince asked as he took another sip, which was when the woman noticed her purse gone and started looking around frantically asking about her belongings in a slightly below panicked voice.

Atlas noticed everything around them—took it in with the interest of a child. Wide-eyed with wonder. All of the people they passed and those who seemed particularly interested in the duo they presented. Of course, they were probably proud of them; authority figures, making sure that they were all safe and sound. A presence of security and comfort. They could all rest easy now that they were here to protect them. He didn’t seem to notice the way a wary mother pushed her child slightly behind her as they passed. He only offered nods in passing and glanced Prince’s way, falling into step with him. Once they reached the coffee shop, he seemed to light up. Or else, his faceplate did.

Although he was unfortunate enough not to have tastebuds or a functional mouth and organs; Atlas could smell things with startling clarity. It’s use was primarily for search-functions, sniffing out drugs, gun-powder and the like. Explosives, if neccessary. But, but. It had other uses, such as this. A small, indulgent gift. Coffee smelt warm. Like a soft breeze in the morning. Like reading a new book. It was the easiest way to describe it. Comfortable, warm. He always felt a small pang of jealousy when he’d seen Skipper cup his hands around his favorite mug each morning. That he couldn’t do the same was... disappointing.

Three sugars and two creams. He made a mental note, shuffled it into a folder he deemed important enough to recall. It was a wonder he wasn’t overflowing with all the things he considered important by now. There was too much of it, he knew. Maybe, someday, he’d learn to let go of those things. But for now, it was enough to keep it all close to heart. Who knew when he’d need to remember it later on. His memory was organic. It grew, expanded. Like a brain, they’d said. Of course, like anyone else, there were things he’d rather forget. He grinned. Faceplate lighting up as he joined Prince’s side once more, craning his head down to listen. How delightful. He was giving him advice. He’d be sure to pay attention.

“I don’t want to make any enemies,” his voice was low. Almost a mechanical whisper. Thoughtful. Atlas considered his words, whirred them through his head. His processes, his programing. What he was saying was indeniably conflicting with what he’d read—go by the book, they’d said. Be a good cop. Follow your heart. Do the right thing. Follow the rules. These were all... in conflict with each other, and something he’d struggled with before. “Do you think—”

He hadn’t had time to finish his sentence, because his eyes had already locked onto the man who’d snatched up the woman’s purse from the ground. From the moment the woman’s voice had risen and the man had turned to walk back into the throng of walkers, Atlas had already broken into a jog. The bandana around his neck flapped behind him as he shortened the distance between them. Dogged in his determination. “Hey—thief, halt! Stop right there!” His voice was loud enough to cut through the crowd; crackling like a megaphone.

Once he was close enough, he reached out to grab the man's sleeve.