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Case 1: Archives of the Occult [M, Android]


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Hey! It’s me again. I finally finished the first story in this little universe— it’s a mix of slightly futuristic sci-fi and urban fantasy! I don’t know how much I’ll lean into the fantasy aspect, but magic certainly exists.

I’ve been working on some stories with these two characters for quite a few months now, and I have plenty more ideas for them! Expect to hear more from these guys, because I love them dearly. :D 



I’d been informed of the big changes to the precinct three weeks prior.

Our precinct was finally on the list to receive funding for the newest available technology, and that week, that included androids.

I’d seen the bots walking down the streets sometimes— human as they could be, you had to really look to be able to tell them apart. The companies making them had done a good job, and that much was clear. I often wondered how much magic had to truly be imbued in an automaton like that to make it work so fluidly, because there wasn’t any way they were just mechanical.

But they were damn expensive. So you can imagine my bafflement when my captain had come up to my desk, dumped a stack of books on it, and told me to ‘read up, Hickman, because we’ve got some damn good funding, and I don’t want it to go to waste’.

I’d met my new android a week later. Android Mk. 20.3, who Captain Gibbs had already taken to calling just ‘20.3’. I shortened it to Twenty, and the android couldn’t have cared less.

…To be honest, I don’t think he was half bad in terms of androids. He looked good, if I’m still being way too honest. He carried a stoic demeanor that I wasn’t exactly sure was caused by being an android, or if that was just a him thing. Serious and no-nonsense, it seemed. 

Male detectives seemed to have been paired with male-model androids, and female detectives seemed to have been paired with female-model androids. I thought that was a little dumb, but hey, looking at Twenty, I definitely couldn’t complain.

We were given a week to get used to our new androids before we were sent out on jobs with them.

And that’s what led me here, to the basement library of an old abandoned house, where an occult-related murder had occurred. Twenty and I were told that there likely would be related books that we could find down here that would be relevant in determining the cause of death (which, seeing the scene, had… quite obviously been magic.)

I didn’t know how to read Latin. But Twenty, being an android, absolutely could, and now we were here, in an abandoned basement, flipping through book after book after book. 

It was boring as hell. But it was work, so I’d take it. 

I took a new book off the shelf, replacing my previous one, and brought it back to where I’d been seated. 

…Before I could begin reading it, though, I was distracted by a soft chuffing sound from behind me.

I turned just in time to see Twenty bobbing down a second time, nose clamped in one hand. A hiss of air exited the set of vents on either side of his neck, and when he resurfaced, the look on his face was one I never thought I’d see on a robot— especially not from him.

Irritation. Itchy, tickly irritation, and his face contorted a brief second before he bobbed down a third time. Rather than being completely silent, this one was accompanied by a little hngk—!’ and that same noise of escaping air.

It took me a moment to fully register the fact that my android companion was sneezing. I mean, obviously I’d scoured the books that Captain Gibbs had given me (and obviously my attention had been completely caught by the page on sneezing), but I hadn’t expected it to look like this. So… natural. Fluid. The expression on his face made something flip within me. If not for the slats on his neck, I’d completely believe he was human. 

Blindsided as I was by this, it took me a moment to regain my senses.

…That probably wasn’t a good sign, was it?

“Twenty? You okay?”

He seemed to be done for now, and he straightened, giving an experimental sniff.

“…Yes, I’m fine.”

“Was that… Were you sneezing? The question was out of my mouth before I could fully think about it. Twenty gave me a confused look.

“Yes? I… Suppose I was.” He sniffed again— something had to have been… well, getting to him was the only thing I could come up with. “As far as I know, it’s a function that ah-ahhctivates when my— oh, damn, eh-ehhxcu-hu-se m—“ 

He clamped a hand tightly around his nose as fast as he could before he shook with the suppressed sneeze. A hiss of air came from the vents, and then he straightened again.

Ghhuh… Excuse me. I believe what I was saying is that it’s a function that activates when my filters get too full of irritants. It works very well in expelling them.” 

“Oh. That makes sense. What’s causing it?” 

He sniffed again.

“It’s very likely that it’s the dust. This place hasn’t been touched in years, and even the finest dust could wreak havoc on the more delicate of my inner workings.”

“Why do you keep doing it? There can only be so much dust that can get stuck within that period of time, right?”

If he’d been human, I think he would’ve gotten sick of my questions real fast. But it was my job to ask questions, and, well… I had to admit, I was really curious.

“Well, that’s… holding them in certainly isn’t as effective in expelling irritants.”

“Don’t hold them in, then.” 

“It usually takes quite a few, er… I suppose you could call them sneezes. But it takes quite a few of them to remove the irritants, and I’d rather not be standing here trying to get all of the dust out when I just know that more will take its place.” 

I opened my mouth to reply, and closed it again, feeling my heart jump. Oh. Great. He was prone to sneezing fitsas well.

…I couldn’t tell if I was winning or losing today. I mean, obviously I wanted to see it happen, but this was a professional setting and I was on a job so I’d just… ignore it. Yeah. 

“Alright. We’ll make this quick then, how about that?”

He gave me a curt nod, but I could see his face twitch as he tried to stave off the irritation.

“…Or, what if—“

Ngk—! Hh— hh—“ There was another in there, I could tell, and he was trying so hard not to let it out. But being an android, it was quite literally programmed into him. There was no way he’d be able to stop it.

What if you just—“


That one came with almost a noise. He looked miserable, I could tell that much. How much dust was actually in here?

“What if you left the room to clear your filters, and I stayed here to continue looking?”

“Absolutely not.” He sniffed again. “You have no idea what you’re looking for.”

“Excuse me? Hey, I’m just as involved in this case as you are!”

“And you still don’t have any idea what you’re looking for. Can you even read Latin?”


“That’s what I thought. N—Now…”

He sniffed again, and brought a knuckle to press to his septum. I briefly wondered if it tickled in his nose area at all— I assumed his filters were within the vents on his neck.


It seemed that the more he stifled, the more intense his sneezes were getting. He was being far more stubborn than he needed to about this. But if he wanted to be stubborn, then he certainly could. I wasn’t about to stop him.

We continued our work in silence— or, well, near silence, as it kept being broken by the flipping of pages or the quiet stifled sneezes that Twenty thought I couldn’t hear. Unluckily for him, though, my… relation to sneezing had me hypervigilant, ears pricked closely for the slightest of uneven breaths. But even with that, it was still boring as hell.

“This search is useless.” I grumbled after a while, and Twenty looked up at me.

“Id’s id here, I’b sure of id.” I first and foremost noted the thickness of his voice. “Ca’bdai’d Gibbs told us id was likely dowd here rather thad adywhere else.”

“We’ve been here for hours and we’ve found nothing.”

“We jusd habe to keep luhlooki’g.” His face twisted in irritation, and he clamped his nose hard between his fingers, bobbing down once, twice, three times, trembling with the effort of holding them in.

Ngk! H-Ngk! Hh— Hh’CHnngk!” That last one had been louder than any sneeze I’d heard from him thus far. But it most certainly was not a fulfilling sneeze, as he resurfaced, looking dazed and unsatisfied. And still completely and utterly miserable.

“Apologies. Snf. Jusd the fil’ders.” He sounded the part, as well.

“Twenty, come on. Let’s just suck it up and call it a day. I don’t want you damaging something just because you’re deciding to be stubborn about it.”

“I’b dot dabagi’g adythi’g.” 

“Dude, listen to yourself. Why does your voice sound like that if you’re just fine?”

“Firsd of all, do’t call be ‘dude’.” He sniffed thickly, putting a knuckle to his septum. “Seco’d of all, by fil’ders are probably full. Id happeds sobetibes.” He sniffed again.

“You sound like shit, man, and it sounds like it’s really uncomfortable. Come on.”

Ex’guse be? Absoludely dot, we caddot jusd eh-eh’d our search here!”

“We can come back tomorrow! It literally does not matter.”

Twenty stood up from his seat, placing his hands firmly on the table as he glared at me.

“I a’b your superior id this case. A’d I—“

…But doing so had caused the book he’d been reading— a thick, heavy novel— to snap shut again, the pages ruffling until it slammed closed. Sending up a very large plume of dust into the air.

“A—A’d I— I…” I could see his eyes fluttering shut as the irritant hit, the urgency quickly growing on his face.

“I— I aAh’DSHU’H!” He doubled over with the first true sneeze I’d heard from him, and I had to admit… It was more than a little hot. Not too intense, but just desperate enough to let me know that the dust really had been teasing him this whole time.

It was accompanied with a sound I could only compare to decompression as the vents at the side of his neck sent jets of air out, along with a good amount of dust. Jesus, we’d been here way too long.

“Hh’HASHU’HHh— H’dCHU’H!” He was showing no signs of stopping. I finally snapped out of it enough to take him by the shoulders and begin steering him towards the exit. Every time he sneezed, his shoulders shuddered forcefully underneath my hands, but I didn’t let go. I wrinkled my nose at the dusty air being expelled from the vents at his neck— from where I was positioned, it hit me right in the face. Lucky I wasn’t allergic to dust, or neither of us would be getting out of here any soon.

“Hh— Heh— heH’DSHU’HHAH’CHU’H! Gghh… hh hhHh—“

“What in tarnation is goin’ on down there!?” 

I heard heavy footsteps start down the stairs, and I winced.


“Lieutenant Hickman!”

I tensed.

“I thought I told you to be more careful with that android! Did you even read the book!?”

“Yes, ma’am.” 

“Then why—“

I-Ihh— It’s my fault, Cahh—CaptainnN— HE’ASHU’hh!”

Captain Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

“L—Lieutena—ahhnt Hh—Hh-Hihckman—“

Okay. Hearing him try and say my name mid-sneeze? I could have died right there. I kind of wanted to.

…I kind of wanted a lot of things, actually, but they were all extremely unprofessional, so I pretended I didn’t.

“Take a moment, detective.”


Oh, good god, he just wasn’t going to stop, was he?

“Hickman ss—Said to cah—cahhhll off th— theE’H’ECHU’H!”

I could see what he was trying to say, and despite how attractive he was in this moment, I took pity on him.

“…I tried to call off the search midway through, ma’am. Twenty insisted he’d be okay, and only let me lead him out when he was sn— er…” I had to remember the technical term for it, didn’t I? “…In the process of purging harmful substances?” I made a gesture to the vents, wincing as he sneezed again. The dust was getting thinner, which seemed good.

Twenty nodded at what I was saying.

“Aha. I see you did read the manual, Hickman.”

I gave her a nervous smile.

“Well done. And 20.3?” 

He opened his mouth to respond, but another sneeze cut him off. 

“Be more careful. Don’t want to have to bring you in for servicing, y’hear?” 

“Yhh—Yehhhs, Cah—aH—“

It was nice to hear someone actually talking to an android like a person for once. A lot of the precinct was rather new to this, and referred to them as ‘things’ and wouldn’t talk to them directly. And honestly, Twenty was stuck with me as his companion now, and I kinda cared about that. Lot more than some of my coworkers.


“Easy, detective.” Captain Gibbs said. “I’ll send down some human officers so you two can get a break. Ones without sensitivities.”

Twenty put a knuckle to the bottom of his nose, and nodded. I wondered if it helped stave off the irritation at all— but I could see the squint in his eyes and the twitch of his nose still. 

“Take a rest, both of you. I’ll have a different case ready when 20.3 has recovered.” Captain Gibbs nodded at the both of us, and then headed back up the stairs.

We were both silent for a moment, but the quiet was broken by a quick intake of breath from Twenty.


He sniffled— actually sniffled— before putting his knuckle back up to his nose.

“This is completely unnecessary.” He muttered. I begged to differ, but I didn’t say it out loud.

“Do you wanna go somewhere that’s less…” I made a vague gesture to our surroundings, where the dust still floated in the air— though it was dispersing.

“Dhh— Dhhusty?” Even saying the word seemed to trigger something in him, and he nodded. “Yes. L—Let’s.”

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Very glad you all enjoyed!

I have a LOT more in store for these two, don’t worry They’re very fun to write, so they’ll be sticking around for a while! Keep an eye out for more, because there will be :) 

Little tidbit about this one…

The whole saga— which I’m going to call Case Files for the time being— spun off from this story. Also, this story was inspired mainly by what happens when you clean out a vacuum filter. (Flicking it from behind sends up the hugest visible clouds of dust… I’d imagine a jet of air directed at it would have a similar effect!)

Anyways, yes, absolutely look out for more from these guys in the future :) 

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i love the idea of just android. not quite human, but human enough. yk? anyways, good. very good. much good. looking forward to any new parts eagerly :)

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