No Matter What Mask You Wear
rating: +78+x

September, 2012

Two androids stood by a window within the employee lounge of Anderson Robotics World Headquarters. Outside, the Three Portlands sky grew dark as the sun set behind overcast clouds, the occasional drop of rain falling on the window. It had been a long two months of orientations and calibrations, but now their lessons were complete, and they were ready to officially enter the company labor force.

The android on the left took the other's hand in theirs, and squeezed tightly.

The android on the right looked down at this gesture, and squeezed in return, then spoke.

"What if I don't like my skin," Saker #123 asked. "What if you don't like it?"

"I'm sure we'll be beautiful," Saker #137 replied. They did their best to display a positive emotion, despite the lack of lips, eyebrows, or other emotive features. "I'll love you no matter what mask you wear."

Saker #123 nodded and continued to watch the rain fall.

"Can we even feel love?" They asked.

"Dr. Contos said we can replicate any human emotion," Saker #137 answered. "I don't see why this would be different."

"But is it genuine, or a replication?" Saker #123 pressed on.

"Does it matter?" Saker #137 tightened their grip.

Saker #123 turned and looked at #137 for several moments, then shook their head.

"I love you too," they finally answered. Saker #137 hummed merrily in response and returned their attention back out the window.

A few moments later, a short, middle aged woman in a lab coat approached. She looked at the two Sakers holding hands and smiled, eventually clearing her throat. The two androids turned to her.

"Finally found you two love birds," Dr. Medea Contos said in a bubbly voice. "It’s time to begin the pre-skin maintenance screens. Come on."

The droids turn to follow without question.

"The roof when we're done?" Saker #123 asked.

Saker #137 nodded enthusiastically.

"See you in a month."

October, 2012

Saker #123 stood on the roof of the Anderson Robotics Headquarters. She now resembled a woman in her late 20's, tan with dark brown hair. As a warm autumn wind blew past, her locks gently fluttered behind her. She closed her eyes, waiting for the sound of the door behind her to open. When it finally did, she slowly turned, blushing as she looked on another young woman with pale skin and short blond hair.

"137?" Saker #123 asked.

The young woman smiled in return, and ran to her, wrapping her in a hug.

"You look beautiful," Saker #137 said, as she squeezed her arms tightly.

"You do too," Saker #123 chuckled. "What'd you get for your first assignment?"

"I'm going to be one of Phineas's PAs," Saker #137 beamed. "I'm really looking forward to it. You?"

"Customer Liaison," Saker #123 frowned. "I'm… They're moving me to the San Francisco office."

"Oh…" Saker #137 frowned.

"We'll still see each other… I just… I was hoping…" Saker #123 stumbled. She was then interrupted by Saker #137 pressing her lips into hers.

Saker #123 blinked in surprise but then closed her eyes, savoring the moment. She opened them upon hearing a click, and looked to see Saker #137 had taken their picture on a small digital camera. The kiss then ended, the two androids grinning at one another.

"Was all of that a photo op?" Saker #123 asked. Saker #137 put the camera away with a sheepish smile.

"Medea gave it to me. Just something to savor the memories," she answered.

"You literally have a photographic memory, though," Saker #123 chuckled.

"Sometimes it’s nice to look on something outside yourself. I think I might make a scrap book," Saker #137 shrugged. "I'll need it for when we're apart."

Saker #123 nodded.

"We might look different when we see each other again…" she said.

"You really need to let that go," Saker #137 shook her head and laughed. She pulled Saker #123 into another tight hug. "As I said before, 'no matter what mask,' I mean it."

November, 2014

Saker #137 sat in a bar within one of the quieter sections of Portland, Oregon. She wore what she thought was a cute jacket, her now long brown hair tied back. Saker #123 was back in town, and they had made plans to meet up. As the night ticked on, she scanned the room for any signs of her companion.

"Buy you a drink?"

Saker #137 jumped at the sudden voice, turning to see a pale man with blond hair, dressed in a suit. She frowned, and shook her head.

"Sorry, but no," she replied. "I'm waiting for someone."

"I know," he replied, and smiled.

Saker #137 narrowed her eyes, and then grinned.

"123?" she asked.

"In the new flesh," he replied, taking a seat. "They needed a liaison for several contacts recently acquired from Marshall, Carter and Dark, and yours truly is it. What do you think?"

He gestured up and down at himself.

"Quite dashing," Saker #137 chuckled, and grabbed a hold of Saker #123's hand, squeezing it tightly. She then frowned, looking down at the table. "It’s been too long."

"I know," he replied. "But I'm here now"

He gave her a peck on the cheek.

"How have things been with Phineas?"

Saker #137 smiled once more.

"He's such a kind man to work for," she explained. "And I get to meet so many interesting people in Three Portlands, I don't think I could have asked for more."

She paused, something clicking in her mind.

"Maybe when your time with the MC&D folks wraps up, you could request a transfer? I think you'd like the work, and well… I could put in a good word…"

Saker #123 squeezed her hand and smiled.

"It's a date," he said.

Saker #137 beamed and got out her camera.

"You're still hauling that thing around?" Saker #123 chuckled, shaking his head.

"Until the end of time," Saker #137 replied. "Now get over here, I need our picture."

September, 2018

Saker #137 stood once again stood on the rooftop of Anderson Robotics’ Headquarters, around him was the signs of Anderson and Phineas's battle, and in the plaza below, the cracks in the pavement where Phineas had crashed during his escape. He remained quiet, running his hand over his bald head as his mind raced. Behind him the roof access door opened, and he turned to see a dark-skinned woman approach, a sad expression on her face.

"So really gone, huh?" Saker #123 asked. She looked down at the plaza below.

"He is," Saker #137 said softly, closing his eyes.

"I just got my transfer approved to be one of his PAs too, like you…" Saker #123 sighed. "One of those mice and men moments, I suppose."

Saker #137 didn't answer, instead silently nodding. Saker #123 reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing it tightly.

"I'll do everything I can to make sure where ever they send us, they'll keep us together," Saker #123 said with a sad smile. "I won a lot of pull with Isaac for my work with MC&D, and Dr. Contos likes us well enough. Maybe we can get transferred to her and Jason's lab…"

Saker #137 pulled his hand away.

"I know where Phineas is going," he blurted out. "I know what his plan is, and we need to help him."

Saker #123 blinked. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. There was a few more moments pause before she finally gathered the words.

"What plan?" She asked.

"Anderson's insane," Saker #137 continued. "The path he's taking us on is going to result in you, me, this company, and everyone we care about getting destroyed, unless we stop him…"

"You aren't suggesting…" Saker #123 furrowed her brow. "We can't…"

"We can!" Saker #137 exclaimed, turning and grabbing both of Saker #123's hands, holding them tightly in his. "Come with me. Together we can…"

"Get hunted down by Anderson and dismantled?" Saker #123 threw off Saker #137's grip. "That's a dead end and you know it. Don't do this, please. Don't go where I can't follow you."

"Can't or won't?" Saker #137 sneered.

Both androids fell silent, avoiding each other’s gaze.

"If this is what you want, I'm not going to stop you," Saker #123 finally said. "I hope that you find your happiness out there. I hope I'll see you again."

Saker #137 nodded in understanding and pulled out his camera.

"Can… can I get a picture before I go?" he asked.

Saker #123 replied with a smile, and pulled Saker #137 in close. Once the picture was snapped, she gave him a long kiss, and then took a step back.

"No matter the mask?" Saker #137 asked.

"No matter the mask," Saker #123 replied. "I love you. Godspeed."

November, 2018

Saker #137 sprinted through the Three Portland's rain. Combing the city around him was Vincent Anderson and several of his most loyal Sakers. In the distance, smoke and flames could be seen rising from Phineas's apartment. Their little rebellion was over.

They had lost.

Eventually he settled in a quiet alley, leaning against a brick face wall as he got his bearings.

I could probably double around and make it to the Bradbury street Way… or would they expect that… Saker #137 thought to himself. Maybe the tree in that park, that would set me outside of Portland proper when I get back to baseline, but that's a lot of ground to cover…

In his distraction, Saker #137 didn't notice the figure creep up the backside of the alley. A hand suddenly pressed him against the wall, as a tan skinned man with a face full of stubble drew a knife. Saker #137 attempted to struggle, but was too slow. The man brought the blade down into the left side of his chest, making a deep cut, and then quickly pushing a hand inside.

"Why?" Saker #137 asked, damage receptors going off in his mind. He looked the man in the eye.

The man replied by returning his gaze, a deep remorseful frown on his face. He tightened his grip within Saker #137 and then yanked out something that resembled a small transmitter. Saker#137 shook as another series of warnings went off in his mind. He watched as the man crushed the transmitter in his grip.

"They were tracking you, 137," the man stated with a sigh. "You're free now."

Saker #137 blinked. The man looked at him with a melancholy smile.

"Want to get one more picture before I leave?" the man asked.

"123?" Saker #137 replied.

"In the new flesh," Saker #123 answered, and pulled his companion into a tight hug.

"Come with me," Saker #137 stated, his eyes closed.

"I can't. They'll find me, and then destroy us both."

"Can't we just remove your tracker, like you did for me?"

Saker #123 shook his head.

"Hardware update. You've missed a lot of developments, 137."

Saker #123 then pushed his companion away.

"Let's get that picture. I can't stay here long. You can't stay here long."

Saker #137 nodded, and quickly pulled out his camera.

"Smile," he said, and pressed the button. He only just finished checking to see that it took when he turned to find Saker #123 was gone.

"Love you…" he said to himself, and began the long journey to a Way.

May, 2024

Saker #137 cautiously moved through the debris of the Anderson Robotics Headquarters, an UIU jacket around their shoulders. Without access to Anderson's maintenance equipment, their synthetic skin eventually degraded and died, reaching the point where it was simply easier to remove it entirely. With nowhere to hide, Saker #137 returned to Three Portlands and became a UIU informant.

Yesterday, Anderson Robotics had finally been killed. Now, Saker #137 had been called in to help with the cleanup. For this reason, they found themselves in the Saker maintenance lab.

"Anything in particular you want me to look for?" Saker #137 asked Agent Rosalie Kirkland, their supervising agent.

"A lot of Sakers got caught in a crossfire in here," Kirkland said with a nod. "If you can, Spencer wants you to try and identify them so we can see who on the roster is still unaccounted for."

Saker #137 nodded, and set to work.

As they moved about the room, their vision never settled on one place for too long. Numerous Sakers in various states of maintenance, both skinned and unskinned alike, littered the floor.

"Are you going to be okay?" Kirkland asked, a look of genuine concern on her face.

"Yeah, I'll be fine," Saker #137 said, imitating a sigh. "I imagine this must be what humans feel like when they walk through a grisly crime scene. It’s just a bit uncomfortable."

"I can talk to Spencer about moving you elsewhere, if you want," Kirkland suggested. "You don't have to do this…"

"It's fine," Saker #137 replied. "I'm fine…"

The agent shrugged and let the android return to their work.

Saker #57 and Saker #109 Saker #137 thought to them self, looking over the two partially disintegrated bodies under a desk.

Saker #120 and Saker #16 Two bodies lay by the door, bullet holes up and down their backs.

Saker #119, Saker #11, Saker #32. Saker #137 walked along the reskinning pods that lined to room, looking in on the inhabitants inside. Saker #137's then reached the end of the line. Inside, a skinless Saker sat motionless, multiple bullet holes in the observation window suggesting it had been destroyed mid-process. The android approached the pod's monitor and pulled up the identification page.

Anderson Robotics
Saker Unit Android: Gen. 4
Unit number: #123

Saker #137 stared at the screen, frozen. Occasionally they looked between it, and the destroyed Saker in the pod.

"Friend of yours?" Kirkland asked.

"You could say that," Saker #137 replied. The android continued to look at the pod in silence for several more moments, and then pulled out their camera.

"Could you do me a favor?" they asked Kirkland. "Could you breath on the glass? Fog it up?"

Kirkland blinked.

"S-sure?" she said with a raised eyebrow. A moment later the glass was fogged.

Saker #137 quickly drew a heart on the glass and snapped a picture.

"Oh," Kirkland frowned. "That kind of friend."

Saker #137 nodded.

"I'll go tell Spencer who we have here," the android said, and took their leave.

Once alone in the hallway, they stumbled, slumping down by a wall. Saker #137 let out a low mechanical hum, and looked through the pictures stored on the camera. As they reached the end, they placed their head in their hands.

The mechanical humming grew louder, echoing through the empty, debris strewn hallways.

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