The combined forces of the Raider and the Black Dahlia made for terrifying results. Points of interest identified, their team worked with scary efficiency to dispose of the Consortium’s guards and begin looting. They were backed up by a mysterious contact, one Stiles had never met in the flesh, but knew Black Dahlia must have brought along. SilverArrow didn’t say much, but with the way she could take down a security squad, Stiles didn’t care.
The Moraduke followed him everywhere. Stiles had a creeping suspicion that Derek wasn’t entirely sure what he was doing, but he didn’t waste time on apologies. When they broke into the storage units, Stiles knew exactly what he needed to find, and it was easy to shake his tail among rows and rows of equipment. Dev was having a field day. Even the mechanic seemed pleased. They were practically rolling in cred.
What’s going on? Kira’s voice chirped in his ear, halfway through the job, while Stiles was busy shoving as many spare parts and tools as he thought he’d need into his case. Someone’s on the ship?
Stiles’ entire body jolted in physical pain, and all at once, he was rushing as fast as his legs could carry him to the docking bay, his chest throbbing like he couldn’t get enough air. Stiles all but crashed into the airlock, issuing a manual override with fingers that shook too much. Someone was screaming in his ear, demanding him found, but he ripped out the communicator just as the doors were forced open, tenuous connections with the ship screeching the farther it moved. If Stiles had taken only a minute longer, he’d have been sucked into space.
The ship’s doors closed behind him in a rush, and he didn’t know how he was still standing, but he didn’t have the privilege of stopping now. If Scott was trying to steal the ship, Stiles wasn’t dealing with Scott anymore. Stiles thought about the tools DevilDog had been generous enough to share and felt sick to his stomach. The control room was only three floors up.
Scott’s fingers flew across the controls, eyes glowing and distant as the cameras of the Raider’s ship became his eyes. He was a nerve center and consumed the ship in his thoughts, forcing himself into the mainframe with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. He didn’t have the power for careful planning and coercion, this was an emergency and he was in distress. The only solution was to return as soon as possible before the corruption rendered him inoperable. The android activated the main display, targeting the smuggler’s ship and the Consortium vessel as he powered up his weapons. Destroying Consortium property should be avoided at all costs, but crippling the trader would prevent any of its occupants from following his lead until it was too late.
Bright lights streaked through space and both ships rocked under the onslaught of precision shooting that could only have been mechanical. Explosions bloomed silently in the vacuum of space burning bright clouds of fuel before fading away. Scott check the navilogs to determine his position, typing in coordinates towards where he predicted had the highest probability of a Consortium outpost. A few more taps and he dismantled the firewall around the Raider’s communications system, broadcasting coded distress signals to any Consortium warship within range.
Internal cameras caught unexpected motion that wasn’t the human child locked in his quarters. Scott enlarged the image, tracking the human as he sprinted through the hallways of the ship. He didn’t issue a warning, just activated the internal security systems to lock down the distraction and eliminate any potential threat. Blast doors slammed shut and automated turrets deployed at strategic corridors, the natural white lights flickering to red as the emergency alarms blared. In his room, Liam wedged himself under the bed with his hands over his ears and sobbed.
Stiles watched the countdown inch closer to hyperdrive activation, and pretended he didn’t notice all the way Scott’s voice was different (and the same, so close to the same, Stiles didn’t know which hurt most). But he still crouched in front of Scott, carefully strapping him in for the jump. His skin prickled where Scott had kissed him, and Stiles clung desperately to that memory, even as he pressed gentle kisses along Scott’s brow. How much damage had the power core done, he wondered. It had been over a week, and Stiles didn’t know if there was any chance of saving who his husband used to be.
Scott still wanted to help him. Stiles was a fool for dismissing his programming, but he hadn’t stopped now. “Power down first,” he whispered, kissing the shell of Scott’s ear. “When you wake up, you can assist. Just please promise me you’ll wake up, Scott. I can’t do this without you.”
Stiles was in his seat for hyperdrive, and as plans flashed before his eyes, he started a gamble.
"Raider, we need to talk." It started with a conversation over the intercom, Stiles’ face haggard and tired on a hologram as the pirate jolted out of sleep, already poised and dangerous. Stiles couldn’t see her hands, but he suspected she was working her way out of her binds. The moraduke was still unconscious. "I have a proposition for you. It can make us both very rich, if you agree. If you don’t, your ship will be yours in the next few days, and we’ll leave you in neutral territory, no harm no foul."
Braeden stared into the face of a man she believed was willing to poison his own son to get him this far. She did what she needed to keep her crew alive.
The Black Dahlia was fond of using communication waves that were over generations old for her privacy, and when her ship intercepted transmissions of interest, she ran scrambling signals that guaranteed only her crew would be able to decipher. Her mistake had been who’d she’d chosen as a breaker, and her surprise when she received an already coded message was a thing of beauty.
This is the chance you’ve been waiting for.
“Logos,” she guessed accurately, twirling a strand of strawberry blond hair around her finger. “I thought you’d have the courtesy to die. Guess we can’t accept much from a snitch.” The ship he managed was far too large for only one pilot. She locked onto his location, deciding that an undermanned craft with a traitor on board would be fun pickings.
"Hi Dal," Stiles answered, tired and drawn. "I’ve hit the jackpot. The kind of thing you’d forgive me for." At the very least, he knew how to catch a girl’s attention.
It wasn’t a research facility that offered solace, but one of the transport vehicles Scott had used to escape his prison. The android’s technology had done a remarkable job of determining its top secret layout and weak points. Half a decade was a long time in space travel, but with the war leeching so many of the Consortium’s resources, it was sensible to assume that the vessel would st ill be in service. Its task was to ferry the Consortium’s research equipment to other sectors, items that were barely used and more often than not, stocked to the brim. Their cloaking equipment was what kept them from meeting much trouble, as well as the benefit of traveling in Consortium territory.
Kira thought she’d be able to work with that, hesitant as she may have been to work for the man who hijacked her shift, but meeting Devildog set off the mechanic in her. Braeden and Derek would help lead boarding expedition, and the payout from this mission was more than enough to hire her crew back three times over. Everyone could be bought, and Stiles had reached her very expensive limits.
The spacer didn’t believe, even for a second, that once everything was finished, they’d all part ways as friends.
As they approached their target, their team of eight scrambling to complete their tasks, Stiles took Liam aside, disconnected all spyware in the vicinity and pushed a datastrip into his hands. Scott remained in the room. The crew had accurately guessed that the ‘muscle’ of Stiles’ operation would be with his son, the person who Stiles claimed also had the firepower to blow a hole in the Raider’s ship. Their truce was an uneasy one at best. No one knew how long Scott had been out of commission.
"Once we leave," Stiles started. "I need you to take Scott down to the escape shuttles. There are instructions on this to tell you how to turn it on and keep it charged. Only open the door for me, all right, Li? Just type in the flight commands like it says on here."
Those codes would guarantee that the shuttle took off for the smallest Consortium port in the vicinity, where life was stable enough that Liam would have a chance of getting away from the ship if it failed. There were personal touches as well, things he didn’t want to think about now or ever, but had been forced to.
There were no dreams, they were rare enough when life pulsed through circuits. Bits of memories and hopes and an actual imagination piecing images together the same way any organic brain would. The android had only dreamed three times, each one remembered to the tiniest detail. That spark was gone now, there wasn’t anything left to turn images into stories and he slept in darkness. The repairs were slow, but the long period of inactivation allowed Scott to recharge as best he could with malfunctioning hardware. He had no sense of how long he was out, just one more broken machine.
Awareness came back slowly, systems rebooting and powering up before he moved. Scott blinked open eyes with circles of red and white twisting across his dark irises, heads up display pulling up a readout of his current status. His systems held at 54% power, but there wasn’t much more he could pull from the improved core. Scott swung his feet off the bed, ignoring the small human child that yapped at his heels. He ran his hands along the wall of the sleeping quarters, following the lines of power beneath the metal before finding what he wanted and tearing back the bulkhead with inhuman strength. He pulled out a fistful of wires, attaching them to plugs in his wrist and downloading information straight from the ship’s mainframe. They were docked? There weren’t any habitable settlements in the area, just information displays on a Consortium transport and other ships nearby.
Scott scooped his stolen blaster up and headed for the door as Liam grabbed onto his arm and tried to tug him back. “Scott! Scott you can’t go, Dad said to stay.”
A quick shove sent the boy sprawling and he pointed his weapon at the annoyance. His primary directive was repair, he needed to return to the Consortium and anything that delayed his arrival would be categorized as a threat. He held the gun at the child who squeaked in terror, confused by why his friend had turned on him.
“S-scott?” Liam’s voice trembled and the android hesitated, unable to pull the trigger. Malfunction. Remove distraction. “Scott, p-please.” The gun wavered in the android’s hand before he turned abruptly, sealing the child in the room behind him without a word.
The crew seemed to be occupied, that made his task easier. Scott barricaded himself in the control room and plugged back into the mainframe, directing the ship with override commands. The airlocks sealed shut and the transport vessel groaned as the Raider’s ship made to disembark, leaving its leaving crew behind.
Stiles choked on air as sparks danced before his eyes, his implants working double time to digest more information than he’d ever been given. Scott was a computer, and everything he ever witnessed was stored on data files that the human brain could only match at its finest, so often without consciousness’ awareness. Stiles struggled to keep up to date, picking and choosing what memories he accessed. The earlier years of Scott’s life were the most important, a wealth of information that the rebels would probably kill to access, but he couldn’t help himself from searching for the last few weeks. He saw it everything, from wistful longing and shy affection, to new and unfamiliar fears and Scott’s first step into sunlight. He saw stubborn concern and misguided certainty that made the bartender hod his tongue.
He saw himself the way Scott saw him, and the way Scott saw Liam.
Stiles couldn’t control himself as his body slumped forward, leaning heavily into the android’s arms. He was tired of fighting, so very tired. There were too many things they’d never know, too many risks to take, and too much for Stiles to lose. He just wasn’t ready to lose Scott. He never would be.
"Secure yourself for the jump," he ordered softly, pressing a kiss against Scott’s mouth, speaking around tears. The touches that lingered left their mark. Someone had to tell Stiles he was flying a ship that was doomed to crash, but he couldn’t stop now. He never wanted to. "Then commence shut down procedures. I’m going to find you again, Scott. Just be okay for a little longer."
Scott watched the images play through his thoughts as Stiles went through the files, letting the human access anything he wanted without restriction. All of the memories came with so much emotion attached. He could see the tags and the way he’d acted, but it didn’t cause any reaction in his systems now and there was an emptiness where something important was missing. This must have been an important part of his program to have dictated all of his decisions that seemed so irrational now. Stiles seemed to be at the center of so many of these decisions. Emotions had shaped his choices for years before he’d met the human, but the images from the past few week seemed especially tied to these complicated feelings.
He was sorry? He was so, so sorry.
The android cradled his husband in his arms, stroking his hand through messy brown hair and returning each kiss. His hands cupped Stiles’s face to wipe away the tears, no emotion behind the gesture but some sort of ingrained response to protect and comfort. This man should be smiling, it was imperative. It was Scott’s responsibility as clear as any other mission. He kissed the corner of Stiles’s eye, trying to keep the tears from falling.
“Assistance requested.” He murmured into his husband’s skin, trying to understand with so much of himself missing. Scott was slow to pull away, but orders were orders and he sat back in the co-pilot seat, fumbling clumsy fingers with the straps. “Standing by to provide assistance.” Let me help you too.
Stiles couldn’t stop touching Scott, lost in the familiarity of it all. He had no warning that he’d never be able to do this again, and if he didn’t listen to Scott, maybe he could convince himself nothing had changed.
"I love you," he whispered, even if Scott could no longer understand it, or more likely, if the android chose to interpret it as weakness. It took him a moment, but Stiles guided Scott’s fingers to a spot just above his left ear, where his hair hid a thin metal plate that popped open to accept the transfer. His implants were the most expensive purchase he’d ever made, but he never regretted them, even though he’d forgotten what the world looked like without them.
"Crew is unarmed and neutralized?" Stiles asked, before the transfer could begin. He stroked up Scott’s arms, moving to memorize the feel of his broad shoulders, and the tickle of the hairs curled along Scott’s nape. His Scott, his partner, his husband and friend, the one who’d made Stiles’ entire world stop with his smile and the kindest person he’d ever met. He was gone now, and fighting back tears was so difficult.
It didn’t matter what Scott’s answer was. Stiles had to learn how to play to win. “After transfer, you can rest, Scott. You look - you look really bad. I miss you so much.”
Stiles’s hands lulled the android, it was a strange sensation to let down his guard. There was some kind of connection that he was missing, he used to be able to understand love. His memory files clearly showed he experienced the emotion though it was nothing that he could recreate or define. There was no reason for the way his body relaxed against the Terran but it would take more energy to explore this question than he had. “The crew is unarmed and neutralized. They have been secured without significant injury or damage to the ship. Alert, the Raider poses an elevated threat of escape. Maintain vigilance.” She was a dangerous foe and knew the ship better than anyone. The synth had beaten her once, but he doubted that she would allow herself to be jailed for long without making some sort of attempt at escape. When she did, Scott would be ready to stop her.
“I’m right here, Stiles.” He couldn’t be missed if he hadn’t gone anywhere, that did not make logical sense. Scott traced his fingers around the implant where flesh seamlessly met metal. Flesh shifted, exposing cables to link Stiles’s consciousness with his mainframe. At his most basic level, he was like any other supercomputer, but somewhere there was a ghost in the machine. Scott leaned forward to kiss his husband as he initiated the connection. [Memory files approved for access.]
If Scott punched through his lungs, Stiles wondered if it would have hurt less. He struggled to keep steady, but when his husband sounded like that, he had to pull him closer. Scott fit into his lap like he had a thousand times before, and Stiles coaxed him to rest, letting Scott lean his head against his shoulder. He rubbed up and down the android’s back, wishing that he wasn’t just imagining the way his partner leaned into him.
"Anything," Stiles pleaded. Tell me how to get things back to the way things were. If Stiles had known - was there still time to have gone back for the powercore, he wondered. "I’ll take care of you."
He kissed Scott’s brow, and his husband let him. If Stiles was a better person, he’d ask him to stop pretending around him. He wasn’t. He wiped black blood off Scott’s cheeks with the edge of his shirt, like his mother used to when he came home covered in hard-earned wounds.
"Tell me how to access your memory file, Scott." He dared, kissing his husband’s cheek and chin, and it didn’t make any difference, but Scott looked about as tired as Stiles felt, and they were running out of options.
This was nice, the Terran was helpful and provided a much needed sanctuary while Scott was vulnerable. He molded himself to Stiles’s body, pressing his face into the curve of his husband’s neck though there was no directive to be so close.This human and his offspring were to be protected, they were mission critical. He held still as Stiles wiped the blood from his face, the wounds slowly stitching themselves closed but requiring more energy than he had at the moment. Scott felt the inexplicable need to apologize though the mission had been a complete success and all parameters met.
“Memmmory files undamaged.” The android burred. “Voice recognition active, Stiles. Request specific file for information output.” He droned the words, settling his head back against Stiles’s shoulder and letting his eyes close. Machines weren’t supposed to feel tired, but his sluggish response to diminishing power mimicked exhaustion. He needed to shut down for a few hours, but he didn’t want to leave Stiles without any backup while there were still active hostiles onboard. Until they were ejected or eliminated, he needed to stay active enough to protect his…family.
Scott paused before speaking again. “Visual playback of memory files requires data link.” The android reached up to stroke his fingers down the back of Stiles’s neck. “Implants.”
Stiles crumpled into the pilot’s seat, burying his face in his hands. He begged the world to stop. If there was someone out there who could hear him, someone who could make a difference, he begged them to make it all stop. It took him too long to get the ship in the air. It took him longer still to attempt what normally would have been his first target, hacking the Raider’s data files. Her defenses were good. There was only so far Stiles could go, but she didn’t think that all her information required the same extent of security treatment.
Victory was short-lived and cruel, and when the automatic doors opened, Stiles pressed himself into his chair like it would beat back the nausea. They were still heading out of atmosphere by the time Scott returned.
Stiles wondered when seeing him would stop hurting.
"Hyperdrive in twenty," he whispered, wondering how many moves he had before the android stop finding him useful. "Scott, summarize… Required repairs. Does it have to be an outpost? Can - where else can you get help?"
Stiles didn’t now about the Consortium’s mobile labs and space stations. Designed purely for manufacturing purposes, they were responsible for their own defenses, and any additional support had dwindled as the war ravaged the Consortium’s territory. The smaller ones focused solely in research. There was just the issue of finding them.
Scott sat heavily in the co-pilot’s chair, looking like a man exhausted. The hack and the physical exertion had taken its toll on his limited power supply and it was getting difficult to get his systems to respond. He needed time to recharge before carrying out any more complicated commands. He lifted his head when addressed, accessing his memory files to determine the closest facility that could have the necessary parts for his repair. “Unkn-nown.” The android stuttered over the word. “New hardware required. Please return to the nearest Consortium outpost to contact engineering headquarters.”
The android didn’t know where the experimental facility was now, it was a space station and often located in distant pockets of empty space between stars where no trade routes would disturb them. Without updated coordinates, they’d be impossible to find. That kind of information wasn’t going to be available at any Consortium outpost, but they would be able to transmit his arrival and would receive instructions on how to deliver him for repairs. Hopefully it wouldn’t take long, it was extremely difficult to operate within these limited parameters.
He wasn’t sure what they would do with the remaining crew on board their stolen ship, but for now he trusted Stiles to make the best call about them. If they shoved the crew out the airlock, it would be a simple fix but pressing them into service to keep a ship this large flying would be useful as well. Scott was sure he could provide the required motivation.
Reaching out, the machine hooked his arm around Stiles’s neck, pulling the spacer almost out of his chair and resting their foreheads together. “Assistance r-requested.” Scott said, voice soft. Help me.
Stiles wished he had a lifetime to waste before seeing the creature who wore Scott’s face. It was a sick caricature of everything his husband had been. The skin fit all wrong, laugh lines gone slack and voice twisted into unfeeling recordings (except when they weren’t, except when they could be gentle and careful, and would he laugh if Stiles ordered him to?). He entered the cockpit, replaying images of the first time he was here. It was more sophisticated than almost every ship he’d ever flown - almost, because he’d been on the Black Dahlia’s Rampage, after Dev had gone through it.
He might not be able to make a pretty play, but Stiles would be able to get it into hyperdrive. “Subdue all threats. Do not kill,” he ordered Scott. “Assume they are well-armed and trained, but don’t break character. Do you have the capacity for that?”
It struck Stiles only after he’d spoken, how strange it was. Scott could do amazing things. Something like this, built straight into his programming shouldn’t have given him pause, but things were different now, things were so much worse. Scott always had the most amazing laugh.
"I’ll be making a jump," he added, features softening. "Please make sure Liam’s strapped in, and everyone else? And meet me back here. We have a lot to talk about." Stiles cleared his throat, and shoved his hands in his pockets before they reached out like he so badly wanted them to. All he wanted was his husband back.
Scott unplugged from the mainframe, rubbing the back of his neck and nodded. Simple orders, he could comply. Even damaged, he would be able to restrain any organics on board without killing them and still be able to maintain his cover. The android wore Scott like a second skin, mirroring the way he’d speak and the way he’d moved. He reached for the spacer, pulling him close to kiss him. Don’t break character. “I understand.”
He left without another word or any understanding of the pain he left in his wake. He didn’t get far before he was almost yanked off his feet. The Raider shoved Scott against the wall, rifle digging into his gut. “You!” She hissed, enraged. “What the hell is going on with my ship?”
“I don’t know!” He sold his confusion, eyes wide and staring at Derek like the moraduke was going to be able to help him. “Something’s wrong, I was trying to get to Stiles and Liam. They’re in the medical bay. Please, you have to let me go. I need to get to my family.” Scott pleaded until the woman sighed and released her grip. “Get to the medical bay and stay there until you hear from me. Whatever’s going on, we’ll take care of it.” The android swallowed hard, nodding frantically. “Be careful!”
She dismissed the bartender without a second glance and in hindsight, should have followed her gut instinct. She didn’t even see the blow that came from behind, sending her sprawling unconscious. Derek barely had a moment to react before the Synth took him down with strength that shocked the moraduke. Terrans were never so strong! Scott dragged them into a nearby residential room, strapping the limp forms into the jump straps and heading to the medical bay to do the same to the still unconscious body of the doctor. Hunting Kira in engineering was tricky, the young woman terrified but sensed something was off and fought back. A metal spanner to the face slowed him down, but he still cornered her and strapped her down.
By the time he found Liam, black blood had dried down his cheek and the boy recoiled away from him. “Scott? A-are you okay?”
“I’m fine, we just need to strap in, we’re going to be making a jump. Your Dad’s gonna be bringing us somewhere.”
Liam was suspicious, but let himself be strapped in as Scott hit the com system. “Ship secure.”
Stiles’ fist curled into the front of the android’s shirt, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pull him closer or push him away. He’d beg if he thought it would make a difference. In was in the way Scott spoke, the words he chose, the stresses he didn’t use. But he still held Stiles the same way, and it left the spacer shaken, looking for an alternative explanation where there was none. Come back, he wanted to say.
"I love you."
He didn’t think the android had the capacity to care (he hoped, to every deity he wished existed, he hoped).
The doctor was examining Liam when he returned, her brows furrowing as she noticed Stiles’ red-rimmed eyes. He didn’t let her do much more, pistol whipping her across the skull until she crumpled to the ground, head banging against a cabinet. Liam gasped, covering his eyes, but otherwise, he remained perfectly still. That was the person Stiles turned his son into. He pressed a finger to his lips, and bound the doctor, stuffing her mouth with gauze and medicinal tape before hiding her in her cabinet. Liam was shaking now, and when Stiles pulled him into his arms, his shoulders were tense. All it took to get him to yield was a kiss to his brow. “I wish there was another way,” he said. “But you have to get back to our room, and we’ll make sure no one can get in. Okay?”
There were no safe places left, but at least their cabin was familiar. Stiles just got his son back. “Don’t open the door for anyone,” he told Liam, features twisted with remorse as he gave his son his last bottle of water. If he never saw him again - well, Stiles hadn’t been thinking about long-term plans for this long. Why start now?
"Scott, I’m on my way to the bridge. Initiate lock down and take off mechanisms, and identify all crew present on board. We have a job to do."
In her private room, still tangled with her partner, the Raider was just starting to drift off.
“Understood.” He would have been frustrated at his own slow reaction time if he was capable of feeling anything at all. Scott attempted to lock down the ship but struggled to get his own sluggish programming to comply with the queries from the ship’s mainframe. It was a sophisticated computer, not sentient but with enough protections to make it stubborn. His thoughts skipped and he had to refocus, carefully picking his way back through the launch procedures until the ship finally complied with his requests.
He brought up a three dimensional view of the ship behind his eyes, pinpointing the signatures of current organics by tapping into the life support systems and tracking their body temperature. Most of the ship was abandoned still, there would be less crew to kill should the need arise. He tracked Stiles as he moved through the hallways, identified Liam and removed them from the map. They were allies, no need to file them under potential threats. There was one still in the medical bay, it must be the doctor Erica. She could be useful if his family was injured along the way. There were two others together in the living quarters and another in engineering. “Stiles, there are four additional life signs onboard. Preparing to disengage.”
The Raider knew every inch of her ship and bolted upright as she heard the banging as the landing clamps retracted. Someone was trying to steal her baby right out from under her and that was not going to stand! She rolled Derek out of bed with a sleepy protest, tossing him a weapon as she grabbed a blaster rifle for her own. “We have thieves.” It was all the explanation she needed, Derek immediately had her back. Even with his own grief and his inexperience with weapons, he would follow her lead if she needed him. Whoever was stupid enough to cross her was going to end up a smoking pile of slag. No one stole from the Raider.
There wasn’t enough air in the room. Stiles’ knees buckled, and he wrapped his arms around his husband, tucking Scott against his side. They weren’t awake, Scott told him once. The other androids could answer just like they’d been programmed to, but they weren’t awake. Scott had held him, just like this, less than a day ago, and Stiles was so, so sorry.
"Correct," he whispered, dragging in ragged breath after ragged breath. Stiles had to make a decision now, and between the unknown lands of Narsedt and a known evil, he knew what he was going to pick. "I want you to hack into the ship’s mainframe," he whispered, pressing the words into Scott’s cheek. They’d done this before too, except Stiles had spoken of unknown worlds and the brightest dreams. They’d traded kisses like currency, laughing in between. Stiles wished he could keep those memories as they were. "Check refueling operations. If over 75% capacity, prepare to initiate lock down and take off on my signal."
His voice warbled, but Stiles didn’t pull away. “Are you capable of that, Scott?”
The android’s arms wrapped tight around Stiles to keep him standing. He was careful, gentle hands tracing along the human’s back likes Scott’s had always done. When he pulled back to look at the man in his arms, he was smiling. It seemed so much like the one he’d always worn but there was something missing. There weren’t words to describe it, some spark that couldn’t be named. He seemed real and acted exactly as he should, but whatever it was that was Scott had flickered out.
Hacking the starship shouldn’t be too taxing, even with his compromised systems. The ship was well made and reliable at least, they could get back to Consortium space without hopefully attracting the attention of the rebels. Scott nodded into the other man’s neck. “I understand. I can get the ship under our control, Stiles. I will get to the bridge and wait for further instruction.” He had picked his allies well, the Terran was always reliable. Scott pressed a kiss to the curve of his husband’s cheek, a reflexive act as he let Stiles go without a word and headed up to the bridge to carry out the request. With everyone enjoying their shore leave, he didn’t run into anyone who would stop him.
The ship wasn’t as easy to hack as he anticipated, though he should have suspected that a pirated vessel would have internal security. He plugged in, trying to communicate with the ship’s mainframe to break through the firewalls and coded traps as he wormed his way past the defenses. His hands twitched and Scott stared sightlessly ahead, lost in the data stream. If he’d been fully operational, this wouldn’t be as difficult as it was, they needed to return to Consortium space as quickly as possible.
And in the face of such adversity, Stiles didn’t know what to do. The robot should have sounded like Scott. It had his voice, but it was all wrong, and Stiles couldn’t saw why. It felt like his skin was trying to crawl off his bones. Scott wanted to return to the Consortium. Scott never should have wanted that, not when it meant a lifetime of imprisonment and broken dreams.
"If you go back they’ll kill you," he pleaded, before he could censor himself. Proof was staring him in the face, but Stiles couldn’t shake the idea that Scott had to be there. They’d just been talking. He’d left for Liam!
Negative, the machine was property of the Consortium and they were the only ones who would be able to repair his damaged hardware in order to keep him function. He was created to serve their goals, even if he didn’t know what the mission might be. Stiles didn’t like them and they’d been running from the Consortium, though Scott didn’t understand why. The idea of freedom and independence seemed foreign. Stiles would be rewarded, he was an ally. A husband, it was his ideas that helped Scott maintain his cover. They would pay the spacer well for his return.
"Please return to the nearest Consortium outpost." He repeated, sure the human just didn’t understand. "Significant repairs required, core systems malfunctioning." If the Terran didn’t agree to help, he would find his own way back. It would be more difficult, but there couldn’t be a delay. Perhaps Stiles was confused, he could reengage the cover personality? The android shifted, rigid posture relaxing into something more natural. He slipped into his scripted human responses, manipulation was always a major component of covert affairs. Scott wrapped his hand around the back of Stiles’s neck, thumb tracing down the man’s cheek. "Is this better? I can be this if we need to pass. Requesting mission parameters."