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The Expanse

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The comms cracked to life next to Alec’s head where he lay asleep and groaned at the incoming call.

“Hey, shift is up, come replace me,” his brother’s voice carried through from the ops deck.

Eyes still closed, Alec rolled over and felt along the wall until he hit the response button.  “Okay,” he croaked out. “Be there in five.”

“Oh, and Cap’n wants to see you before we switch,” Jace added.

Alec furrowed his brow.  Why would the Captain need to speak with him?  “Uh, yeah, okay.”

The comms clicked off. Alec waved his hand and the lights came on in his room.

He cleared his throat and tried to rub the sleep from his eyes.  He stretched in his bed, feeling his muscles loosen as he woke up more.  Wearing nothing but the black boxer briefs he sleeps in, he pads to his window on the opposite side of his empty bleak and grey room, running a hand through his already sleep tousled hair.

The vastness of space greeted him with open arms, just as it did whenever he looked outside.  Billions of stars lit up the black void and slowly passed by as their station eased along at a steady cruise back through the asteroid belt.  

“Beautiful morning,” he murmurs to himself with a small grin.  Growing up, Alec had always dreamt of being among the stars, free from the restraints of his parent’s tight, militaristic grip on Mars.  Now, he hauled ice to people living on the asteroid belt who had no access to water. This was his eighth year serving on The Institute, a rust bucket of an ice hauler ship, but it got the job done.  

Zipping up his navy blue jumpsuit, The Institute logo stitched on the back, he walked through the zig zagging hallways of the station with ease.  

But before he got his ass chewed out for something his siblings probably did, he needed coffee first.  Taking a right into the kitchen area, he brewed up two cups of mediocre coffee and tamed his hair. Personally, he didn’t mind plain black coffee, but he knew the reaction he was going to get from the person he made it for and couldn’t help his lips tipping into a small smile.  

He lifted the two mugs into his hands and set off for the med bay.  Taking a sip and letting the warmth settle in his chest, he nodded his head in greeting at fellow crew members passing by.

Being deep in space, the only light they had was provided by the lights in the station.  Some places were too dark, like the ops room and hallways, and others were too bright, like the med bay.  

There were only a few people in the med bay as Alec scanned his eyes looking for the owner of the bland coffee in his hand.  He spotted him sitting at a corner desk dealing with a patient, his spiked hair distinguishable from every one else on the station.  If he had to admit it though, Alec could easily spot him in a crowd. The man stood for everything this station wasn’t; elegant, strong, rare, colorful, unwavering...beautiful and-

“Ah, Alexander, come to gloat about last nights loss?”

And a total pain in Alec’s ass.

Alec rolled his eyes as he handed Magnus his cup.  “Ease up, Bane. It was a card game.”

Magnus transferred to The Institute almost a year ago.  He and Alec hadn't liked each other at first, bickering and butting heads anytime they were in the same room.  Martians didn’t get along with anyone outside of Mars, but Alec was different, his siblings were different, and they fought hard against every misjudgment about the ways of Mars and their military.  That was why they kept where they were from a secret. But when he met Magnus, he saw him doing the exact same thing, and couldn’t help but wonder why an amazing man like him ever needed to hide from his past.

He smirked up at Alec as he took his coffee.  “Exactly, it’s just a game, no need to get so...uptight.”  He was always teasing Alec about being too uptight and serious all the time, that was one way he suspected Alec used to be a Martian Marine, but he never actually confronted Alec about it to figure out if it was true or not.  If he really was a Marine or was just seriously too uptight. But Alec wasn’t uptight, he just took his job seriously and always had. He liked things organized and plans laid out to the point. Alec was thankful he didn’t ask personal questions and respected Magnus’ privacy just as much.    

Alec tried not to laugh as Magnus’ shit eating grin turned into a grimace as he took a sip of his coffee.  “Oh, god that’s awful,” he said tightly but took another sip, his nose scrunching up as he closed his eyes to swallow the caffeine and Alec held back a smile.

Since Magnus came from the Downworld, a station on the outer reaches of the Belt, people treated him differently.  Anything beyond the inner planets, Earth and Mars, was considered lower class. They were the workers for the inner planets.  The restraint of water and air was used against them anytime tensions ran high. Air and water out here was more valuable than gold, and people had to work hard for it.  Even though he grew up a warlock, Magnus didn’t dress or act like a Downworlder. He studied hard to become a Doctor, traveling from station to station offering his help wherever he was needed.  Alec admired his hard work and wasn’t afraid to stand up to anyone who dare use slurs against him. He played with the idea of things going further, but Magnus was scheduled to leave to another station soon.  

Alec peeked at what was left of the patient’s arm, he lost part of it during an accident a few days ago and Magnus has been working non stop at keeping this man alive.

“How’s it feel, Raj?” Alec nodded toward his fellow crew member who sat patiently watching the exchange, his limp arm laying across the surgical table and under a light as Magnus worked stitches into it.  

“Eh, it’s okay.  Medical coverage says i can get a robot arm on the next station we stop at, so i’m not that worried,” he said nonchalantly as he looked down at his injury.  It wasn't uncommon for people to lose limbs when handling thirty-ton blocks of ice. Get your arm pinned, and it snaps right off.

“Right,” Alec muttered.  He’d never get used to the advancement of technology nowadays, but even more so the unfair advantage other planets had over people who lived in the Belt or beyond.  With new laws restricting medical expenses, Raj would be lucky enough to even live with an injury like that, he might even need help through the black market, but thankfully he had one of the best doctors in the Belt looking after him.

“What’s the verdict today?” Alec asked as Magnus took another gruesome sip of his coffee.

He pondered for a moment and hummed in thought.  “Humdrum,” he finalized.

“Humdrum?”

“Yes, Alexander.  It means drab, dreary, mundane, just like the clothes you wear,” Magnus quipped with a smirk.  He and Alec were competed to find new words to spice up their conversations. “Your coffee,” he said, “is humdrum.”

Alec squinted his and tilted his head.  “I guess it’s better than ‘contaminated’ and ‘how dare you serve this to me.’”

Magnus smiled and opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by Alec’s hand terminal beeping.  He pulled out the thin glass screen from his pocket to see a notification from Jace telling him to move his ass.

“Shit,” Alec hissed.  “I gotta go. See you around, feel better Raj.”  He nodded his goodbyes to them and hastily made his way to the Captain’s office.

Another crew member held the door the elevator as they saw him jogging down the hallway.

“Thanks,” Alec said breathlessly and tried to calm his nerves on the ride up.

Knocking on the Captain’s door, he waited to hear the okay to come in.

“Enter,” he heard and opened the door.  The office was small. Hard, gray metal walls made it darker and more industrial than was necessary.  The lack of chairs was appropriate, seeing as this was a poorly put together ship. Alec grabbed one of the multiple crates in the room and slid it in front of the Captain’s desk.  He greeted the Captain with a nod and sat down.

“Alec,” Hodge greeted him.

Alec held up a hand to stop him before continuing.  “Before you say anything, whatever my idiot brother did, i’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

Hodge chuckled.  “Relax, you’re actually here for a different reason.”

Alec’s shoulders relaxed. “Oh.”  His brows knit in confusion. “Then why did you request a meeting?”

Hodge reached into one of the drawers in his desk and pulled out a small pendant, he placed it in between them. Alec’s heart sped up at the symbol branded on it, second in command.  His eyes widened as he looked back at Hodge.

“Captain-”

“I don’t want to hear it, Alec,” he said gently.  “People on this station respect you, they look up to you.”

Being dishonorably discharged from the Martian Military was the best thing to happen to Alec, he learned to live for himself and took his life into his own hands.  He loved not being in the high ranks where people looked at him and always expected greatness and hard work, to bend at the boot of the military and concede to orders he didn’t agree with.  Here, he was just like everyone else and he didn’t want that to change.

Alec shook his head.  “I’m just doing my job, sir, like everyone else.”

“You were born to be a leader, Alec.  I’ve been holding on to this for a while now, but really you deserved it the first year you were here.”

Alec sat speechless, staring at the pendant.

“The fact that you don’t think you deserve this only proves to me more that you do,” he said with a soft smile.  Hodge stood from his chair and tossed the pin at Alec.

Alec fumbled but caught it and looked up with wide eyes as Hodge began to leave.  “Just hold on to it for a few days, see how it feels.” Hodge shrugged a shoulder with a grin, opening the door for Alec.

Alec stood with the pendant in his hand, eyes hard as he looked at the man who took him in when he was at his lowest.  “Thank you, Captain. I’ll try to be worthy of the position.” And he would.

Hodged clapped him on the shoulder with a soft look.  “You already are.”

 

-

 

“How are we lookin, kids?” Alec asked as he joined some of his crew in the ops room.

“About fuckin time,” Jace said from his chair.  The only source of light came from the multiple screens filled with drive diagnostics and flight paths, highlighting his face.

Alec continued to sip his coffee as he hits the back of Jace’s head and walked to his seat.  Jace made a noise of offense and rubbed at the spot.

“Rude.  What did the Captain want?” he asked as he rubbed his head.

Alec ignored him and sat down next to the pilot.

“How are we looking, Simon?” Alec asked as he leaned over to look at their flight path.

The pilot removed his headphones and placed them around his neck, pulling up their flight path.  “All good, nothing around for a few million clicks. We should arrive to the Dumort station in two days, just as scheduled,” Simon answered, pushing his glasses up his nose as he pointed to the screen.  

He was a good kid.  Young for his abilities, but one of the best pilots around.  He would sometimes go on rants about old comics and superheroes he grew up hearing about on Earth and it annoyed Alec to no end, but he wouldn’t admit he actually liked the guy.

Alec nodded his head.  “Perfect. Any problems?”  He took a second to stop and realize what he was doing.  It’s not that he was doing anything different, he always asked for updates on the ship and crew, but his earlier conversation with the Captain flashed in his head as Simon answered him.

Simon smiled at him quickly and looked back at the screen to pull up any incident and accident reports, not showing anything new.  “Besides the accident with Raj, everything has been fine. There are a few repairs Izzy and some other engineers are handling, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

People on this station respect you, they look up to you.

Alec nodded his head once in thanks and turned back to his screen, sipping his lukewarm coffee.

His eyes stayed focused on the screen as Jace wandered into his personal space and sat on his desk facing him.  “Did you get in trouble? Was it about me? I told Izzy not to-”

“Not everything is about you,” Alec dragged but couldn’t help his small grin at Jace’s nerves.  He was always getting into trouble. He and authority didn’t get along well.

“Well, then what the fuck happened?”

“That’s no way to speak to the second in command,” Hodge’s voice carried from the entryway of the ops room.

Jace balked and looked from Hodge to Alec, then again.  The Captain raised his brows, expecting Jace to fight him on this, saying he deserved the position.

“Took you long enough, Cap’n,” Jace grinned and patted Alec on the shoulder.  Alec released a breath he didn’t know he was holding and smiled up at his brother.

“Well, i’m gonna go get some sleep.  Wake me when my shift comes up,” Jace said, turning to leave the room when the alert system beeped loudly.  

Everyone whipped their heads to look at Simon’s screen.  Brows furrowed, Simon tapped away at his screen to pull up the incoming alert.

“It...it’s a distress call,” Simon muttered in surprise.  

Hodge stood behind Simon’s chair and examined the information before them.  “Play the message.”

Simon pressed the screen, but only static came through.  Everyone listened attentively for a minute, trying to pick out any distinct words, but nothing came clear.

“Location?” Hodge asked.

“Uh, yeah, give me one sec,” Simon muttered as he tapped away, pulling up footage of a lone ship abandoned in the asteroid belt.  Everyone leaned in closer to get a better look, squinting their eyes. “About 480,00 klicks out in the Belt.”

“It doesn’t look like anyone is even on there.  No lights, their reactor is turned off and it looks like a huge hole was blown in on the side,” Jace said as he pointed to the gaping hole on the side of the ship.  

“Probably the work of pirates,” Hodge muttered before heaving a deep sigh.  After a moment of collecting his thoughts, he ordered, “Wipe the logs. We never got this distress call.”

Alec sat up straight.  “Captain, we can’t just-”

Hodge held out his hand to stop him.  “We have a shit load of ice to haul to the Dumort and we are actually on schedule this time, that means getting paid what we were promised with no late deliveries.”  Alec opened his mouth to intervene but Hodge continued. “Now, I know how this sounds,” he says looking at his crew. “But i’m not risking the lives of my people and fuel that we don’t have to travel to a what seems to be empty hauled out ship.”  

Alec’s face is of a man in turmoil, his brows creased with worry.  He opens his mouth, but nothing comes out.

“Look,” Hodge said.  “In these situations, nine times out of ten, it’s pirates.  And i’m sorry, but there is nothing we can do for those people now, that’s the harsh reality of it.”

Alec, Jace and Simon could only stare at their Captain, not daring to speak against him.

“Wipe the logs,” Hodge ordered Simon before turning around and leaving.

The room remained silent, no one moved.

Simon sighed, turned in his seat toward his screen and went to press the delete button.

“Wait,” Jace pleaded.  “What’s the name of the ship?”

“Um,” Simon said as he squinted his eyes.  “It’s hard to tell, it’s in the shadow of an asteroid.”  He took a beat of silence. “We could...wait until it’s in full view before deleting the log.  We should at least know the name of the ship if anyone is looking for someone or it’s reported on the Dumort.”  He looks at Alec for a confirmation.

Alec knew this was disobeying orders, but they should at least know the name in case anyone was looking for family members.  Alec nodded his head and slid his chair back to his screen. “That’s fair. Let me know when you find out. I’m gonna keep listening to this distress call, see if i can identify any languages.”  He pulls up the audio and plays it again.

 

-

 

Alec sighed and rubbed his tired eyes, scrubbing his hands down his face to rest his chin on his fist again.  He had been listening to the distress call for hours and everyone had gone to bed.

He swears he can hear words entangled in the mess of static, he just needed to find a way to get a better signal.

He taps on his screen for to upteenth time to replay the message.

“Knock knock,” he hears gently behind him and swivels in his seat, brows raised in surprise at someone up at this hour.  His breath hitched at the sight of Magnus out of his work clothes, adorning a black button down with a maroon vest, necklaces dangling all the way down to his abdomen.  Even at this late hour, he still managed to dress like a rich powerful man on Earth, not a doctor on an ice hauler ship out in the asteroid belt.

“Hey,” Alec says, his tiredness clear through his soft tone.  “What are you doing up?”

Magnus shrugs and Alec just now notices the cups of coffee in his hands.  “I don’t usually sleep well anyway, walking the station sometimes helps tire me out.  I passed by earlier and saw you in here, figured you could use a cup of this.” He walks over to Alec’s chair and passes him the cup of steaming coffee.

Alec sniffed it before taking a small sip and sighs at the warmth encapsulating his tired body.  “Thank you,” he breathed out. “You’re a life saver.”

Magnus chuckled.  “It’s what I do, darling.”

Alec’s heart tripped at the term of endearment but reminded himself that Magnus said that to a lot of people, right?

“Have you eaten today?” he asked softly.

Alec shook his head.  “Haven’t had time.”

Magnus scoffed.  “It’s my job to keep everyone on this station alive and for some reason you want to make that difficult for me.  Do I have to force feed you, Alexander?”

Alec held back a smile at Magnus’ worry for him.  “No,” he laughed softly. “No, i’m okay with this.”  He gestured to the coffee.

“Fine, settle for your mediocre cup of black tar,” he teased and Alec smiled.  “What are you working on?”

As second in command, it was Alec’s duty to uphold the responsibilities placed upon him by the Captain.  He had already disobeyed a direct order to delete the message, and he was sure he was breaking another by informing members of the crew about it.  But even though he had only known Magnus a few months, it came to him as a surprise at how much he trusted this man. Alec placed his coffee on the desk and nodded at his screen.

“We received a distress call a few hours ago.  Captain thinks it’s pirates, but…” Alec shook his head.

Magnus sat down in the seat next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.  Alec turned to see his brows furrowed with worry, his eyes reflecting just as much.  “What is it?”

Alec sighed.  “I just...have a gut feeling that this is something more than pirates.”

“Well, what did Hodge say?” Magnus asked, removing his hand to place it back in his own lap, leaving Alec missing his touch.

“He wanted me to delete the call, wipe it from the logs so it’s not reported that we didn’t act when called upon for help,” he muttered, his voice lacing with annoyance, shaking his head in obvious disagreement.  “It just- it doesn’t feel right. So i've been trying to decode this message all day, but it’s just static.”

Magnus hummed.  “Can you play it for me?”

“Yeah, sure.”  Alec replayed the message again.

Magnus looked off in the distance, eyes hard as he focused, listening for anything unusual, then hummed again.  “Have you tried slowing it down?” he asks.

Alec purses his lips in thought.  “Now that i think about it, i don’t think so, just tried different platforms and ran it through language simulations.”  He tapped on the settings to slow it down, then played it again.

They both brought their heads closer to the screen to listen, almost cheek to cheek.

“Stop,” Magnus said.  “Play it again from right here,” he muttered and pointed at the screen.

Alec nodded and played it again, the room silent as they both listened.  The soft sounds of someone whimpering came through just barely.

“Is that someone crying?” Alec asked, his brows knit tight as he played it again, ear to the screen, practically touching his nose to Magnus’ cheek.  He focused his mind on the message but blush still lightly colored his cheeks.

“He….us…” a voice came through and Alec’s heart raced.  He and Magnus made eye contact, sharing the same ‘what the fuck’ look before playing the message again.

“...lp….us….”

Playing it one more time, a woman’s voice quivered through tears.

“Help us.”

Alec and Magnus stared at each other with wide eyes before Alec jumped into action pulling up the footage from the ship.  “It had a hole blown in the side which means the ship should have been in total vacuum, there shouldn’t be any air let alone survivors, which i’m sure is why Hodge wanted to wipe the message.  There’s no point in going on a rescue mission to an empty ship,” Alec said quickly as he connected the dots.

“But…” he looks back at Magnus.  “There’s survivors on that ship,” he breathed out.

Magnus’ features turned hard as he nodded.  “And we’re going to get them.”

 

-

 

“You disobeyed a direct order, Alec,” Hodge’s harsh voice came through the comms and echoed through the small ship.  Alec sighed as he stopped zipping up his space suit and looked around at his crew, but they were already staring back, guilt in their eyes.  They were currently flying on one of the small cargo ships from the Institute, just big enough to sustain the life of his crew, long enough for them to go on a rescue mission.  Izzy, Simon and Magnus were wearing their normal jumpsuits while Alec and Jace were suiting up in their gear for a space walk to the abandoned ship.

“Not only did you take one of my ships, we will no longer be on schedule since I have to stop and wait for you to come back.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t have done this-” Simon said from the pilot’s seat with furrowed brows but Alec cut him off.

“If it was us out there…”  He sucked in a ragged breath and shook his head.  “Look, you guys heard that message. Someone out here needs our help.”  

Hodge’s heavy sigh filled the ship.  It was quiet for a moment, and then, “Don’t play the hero, Alec.  If you see anything out of the ordinary, you get your asses back here double time.  I’m not losing any of you.”

In the eight years the Lightwoods have worked on The Institute, Hodge had unknowingly weaved his way into their family, taking each of the siblings under is wing and taught them everything they needed to know about life in the Belt.

Alec swallowed past a lump in his throat.  “Understood, Captain.” The comms clicked off.

Alec tried reaching behind him to better situate the oxygen tank on his back when a hand to his bicep stops him.

“Here,” Magnus said softly and Alec tried not to get lost in his deep brown eyes, rimmed with charcoal that made them pop even more.

He couldn’t speak, so he nodded his head and allowed Magnus to continue.  There is some shifting on his back, then a click and hum in approvement.

“I may not go on a lot of space walks, but don’t worry, I watched a lot of videos,” he teased and patted Alec twice on the shoulder to let him know he was done.  He could hear the smile in Magnus’ voice.

“Ha ha,” Alec replied sarcastically.  He knew Magnus could tell he was nervous and was trying to ease the tension with his jokes, a trait Alec picked up on after being around Magnus after a few weeks, and he was thankful for it.  His shoulders lifted as he inhaled a deep breath, then sagged as he released it, trying to relax his muscles. It had been a long time since he’s had to go outside.

Magnus gave him a small smile, but it didn’t fully reach his eyes.  They could joke all they wanted, but when it came down to it, they stole a ship to rescue people they didn’t know who may or may not still be alive or taken as hostages by pirates.

He handed Alec his black helmet.  Alec took it from him and gave him a tight smile back before lifting it onto his head and clicked it into place.  The lights flickered on inside his helmet and illuminated his cheeks and forehead.

“Can you boys hear me alright?” Izzy’s voice came through his and Jace’s helmets.  

“Loud and clear,” they both replied.

“Okay everyone,” Simon announced as he pressed more buttons on his flight control screen.  “We are docking Raziel.”

Raziel, the assumed to be abandoned ship.  The ship Alec might just lose his job over.

“What’s the radar say?” Alec asked his pilot.

“We are clear for a few million clicks.  There’s no one around so it’s not like we are going to run into anyone,” Simon confirmed.

Alec nodded and met the eyes of his crew before heading down the ladder.

Alec released one last shaky breath and wrang out the nervousness from his arms, Jace by his side as they headed down to the lower level to the airlock door.  Once they reached it, Alec pressed the button on the wall to close the door behind them and depressurize the room, waiting for the airless vacuum of space.

“Room is locked and ready to go,” Jace confirmed.

“Copy.  Opening the airlock doors now,” Izzy’s voice carried through.

Slowly, the door slid open.  Even holding onto safety bars, Alec and Jace’s feet lifted off the floor.  Alec nodded at Jace, then gently pushed off and out of the ship. When ship’s dock together, they are attached by a tunnel, almost a safety net, that allows them to easily cross over to the next ship.  Alec and Jace used the small metal bars attached to the walls to propel themselves forward toward Raziel.

As he floated forward, Alec couldn’t help but look around him.  He didn’t have the walls of the Institute blocking his full view, but seeing the endless blackness of space, even with billions of stars lighting the way, was dissorienting.  His heart sped as a wave of dizziness passed over him.

“Alec,” Magnus’ voice came through his helmet in warning.  Everyone had an important job on this mission, and it was Magnus’ job to keep everyone calm and alive.  He knew he was staring at a screen of Alec’s heart rate picking up and he was going to tell him to just keep looking straight ahead of him, he couldn’t afford to use up his oxygen with quickened, nervous breaths.

“Yeah, yeah,” he sighed.  “I got it, doc.”

Magnus chuckled and Alec’s chest warmed at the sound.  He wondered if Magnus could see that on his screen as well.

Floating towards the airlock door of Raziel, Alec and Jace reached out their arms to steady themselves as they reached the ship.  Jace rotated the manual lock on the door and Alec helped him slide it open. Taking the ladder down, they turned on their outer helmet lights to light the way in the seemingly dark and dead space craft.  As soon as they touched the floor, they clicked their heels to turn on their magnetic boots that kept them stable on the ground.

Taking a look around the hallway, everything was dark and empty, not a soul in sight.  A shiver ran down Alec’s spine at the dead silence. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jace pull out one of his smaller pistols, then nodded at him to keep it out before they both started walking through the ship.

“What happened here?” Izzy’s breathed out in wonder and fear.  Everyone on the ship could see exactly what Alec and Jace were seeing through their helmet cameras.

“I don’t know if I want to find out,” Simon muttered softly.

Alec understood their nerves as he weaved slowly through the dark hallways with caution, Jace right at his side and watching his back.

“Let’s just see if there are any signs of life and if we can find where that distress call came from,” he ordered.

“How’s it looking?” Hodge’s voice came through his helmet and Alec steeled himself from actually jumping in surprise.  He huffed out a breath to calm his nerves.

Seeing Alec on edge, Jace answered.  “Nothing so far, Cap. No signs of life, especially with a big ass hole blown in the side of the ship,” he replied as they shined their lights on the gaping hole in the wall they passed by.

“Head to the flight deck and see if you can turn anything on, maybe pull up information about the ship or the last outgoing messages,” Izzy suggested.

Alec nodded.  “On it.” He and Jace made their way up another level to the flight deck, not a single sign of life.

Their lights flooded the control room as they looked around for any buttons on the panel to pull up information.  Alec leaned down to peak underneath the desk for anymore buttons and froze.

A black square with a small red light blinked right at him.

“Jace,” he breathed out and his brother crouched down next to him.

“What the…”

“You don’t think that’s a-”

Jace reached out and yanked the black box from the wall.

“Jace!” Alec shouted, heart thumped against his ribs as he scrunched his eyes tightly closed, waiting for an explosion.

But nothing happened.

“If it were a bomb, we’d be dead,” Jace informed him not so comfortingly.

Alec released a ragged breath, hearing his crew join him as they sighed in relief.

“Don’t do that again,” Magnus warned Jace and Alec huffed a laugh before standing to his full height.

“Listen to the doctor, please,” he pleaded and held out his hand for Jace to pass over the box.  “This must be where the beacon came from,” Alec muttered, flipping it around in his hand to look for any distinguishable signs or symbols, but found nothing.  Odd. He handed it back to Jace to hold on to. Alec began walking around the room slowly.

“So a ship,” he began thinking out loud, “with no one on it…” He looks around the room and takes everything in before continuing.  “With no signs of struggle and no air....manages to send out a beacon for help.”

“Right,” Jace agreed.  “But you said you heard a woman’s voice crying out for help.”

Alec nodded and turned, facing a new door.  It was slightly ajar, but it carried a soft blue glow behind it rather than the darkness the rest of the ship carried.  Furrowing his brow, he slid his gloved hand up the door and pushed it open slowly.

“So where is this woman?” Jace asked, still in the control room.

“Maybe she knew her crew would be taken and recorded a quick message and hid it for you guys to find,” Simon’s voice came through.

Izzy’s voice infiltrated their helmets.  “Jace, turn on the reactor to get the ship running.  I’m sure you can pull up information once everything has warmed up.”

Jace nodded once and began looking around the room.  “On it, boss.” It took only a minute for him to find the right switch.  Screens started to light up as the ship began to hum as it was brought to life.

“What now?” Jace asked.

The voices of his crew faded as Alec walked into the room that held the reactor, or what was supposed to be the reactor, but it looked like it was covered in something.  Since it was just turned on, the heart of the reactor should be glowing red, while the arms of it that reached out to the rest of the room would hum as it sent energy throughout the ship.  So why did it have a faint blue glow? Alec noticed small blue lights fluttered around, almost like fireflies illuminating the room as he walked the length of the short platform. Holding on to the railing, he looked out at the large room before him.  His heartbeat quickened as he flashed his lights on the weird looking object covering the reactor. Just as he did, he heard an alert go off on his ship.

“Simon, what’s happening?” Alec heard Jace ask before he heard his brother’s footsteps right behind him, then paused next to Alec in shock.  Sucking in sharp gasps, they both stood in silence at the sight before them.

“Another ship popped up on the radar right on the other side of this asteroid,” Simon rushed out.

“What?  You said there wasn’t anyone around for a fifteen million klicks, how could a ship pop up out of nowhere?” Izzy asked, panic lacing her voice.

Alec’s crew was frantic, he knew he heard his name called a few times, but all he could do was stare in horror.  Blood floated around in the zero gravity, bodies of the crew members hanging out of a thick web that encapsulated the reactor.  Blue glowing veins ran through it and pulsed like a heartbeat. It looked like a thick spider web sticking to everything and sucking out the life of the crew as their bodies lay limp at its mercy.  It was the web of a predator, and the crew were the poor prey caught in the trap. Chills crawled down Alec’s spine.

“Go,” Alec breathed out to Jace, but they were both too shocked to move.

They jumped as a limp hand hanging from the web sprang to life, clawing desperately to get free, still alive.

“Alec, get out of there now!” Magnus’ voice shouted and set him in motion.

“Go!” he yelled at Jace and they both raced back through hallways, their boots clanking heavily on the metal floors and up the ladder.  All the while, his crew yelling at him and telling them to move their asses since an unknown ship was closing in on them.

Alec and Jace’s breaths were frantic as they propelled themselves back to their ship, using the adrenaline to stay focused and not make any mistakes or slips that could cost them to slow down or blow out their oxygen.

As he and Jace landed back inside the ship, he closed the airlock doors and repressurized the room as quickly as possible.  Not even pulling off his helmet, he began barking orders. “Simon, get us out of here!”

“I would if you were strapped in,” he snided loudly through the comms but Alec didn’t have time to argue with him, grunting as he pulled himself up the ladder onto their flight deck.  His crew was already strapped into their seats and ready at their screens. “Izzy, are we undocked?” he asked, hastily moving to his seat to strap in and pull his screen up in front of him.  The radar showed the ship stopped, but Alec didn’t trust it.

“As soon as you guys were on the ship,” she confirmed and Alec nodded his thanks at her.

Double checking again that everyone was strapped in, he tried to keep his voice from shaking as he said calmly, “Simon, get us the fuck out of here.”

Simon gulped and nodded, both arms moving as he maneuvered the ship on his giant screen, taking a hold of the handles at his seat, and started up the engines.

Another alert system blared loudly and red lights flashed in the room.

“What now?” Magnus asked loudly.  Alec could hear him trying to keep his voice calm, and he wanted to comfort him, knowing he hadn’t been in this position before, but he couldn’t think of that right now.

“They launched torpedoes,” Simon answered quickly and looked at Alec for what to do.

Alec saw three little red dots on his screen flying towards their ship.  “Use the asteroids as shields!” he shouted over the alert.

Simon grunted as he quickly tried to turn the ship toward any of the bigger asteroids surrounding them.  Alec was sweating through his suit, his chest tightened at the force of the ship turning and the pressure from the engines kicking in and trying to pick up speed.  He didn’t have time to put in his mouth guard, so his teeth grind together as he clenched his jaw tight, trying to breath through the pressure.

He looked back at his screen and saw the torpedoes closing in too fast.  They had nowhere to run.

“Brace for impact!” he shouted at his crew.  

The system beeped faster as the torpedoes got closer, Alec’s heart raced in his chest, he didn’t even have time to think about all of the things he should have done in his life.  The only thing he felt was guilt for letting his crew die, allowing the most cherished people in his life join on this mission, a mission that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Alec breaking the rules.  Tears stung his eyes, so he closed them and waited for death.

But it never came.

The torpedoes flew right past them and the beeping stopped.  

Silence filled the ship.

Alec opened his eyes and blinked away the tears, brows stitched in confusion.  

“Simon?” he asked breathlessly.

“They...they weren’t meant for us?” Simon muttered through his ragged breaths.

If they weren’t meant for them, then who…

Then it clicked into place.

Alec opened the comms link to the Institute.  “Hodge! You got incoming, you gotta burn like hell!”

“Trying to, Alec!” his Captain’s voice came through with a few hissed curse words as he ordered his crew to move their asses.

Alec watched the three red dots close in on the big green dot, the Institute, his home for the past eight years.  The torpedoes got closer, but the ship had barely moved, it took a lot of energy to move a station that big, and they didn’t have the time to do it.

“Hodge!” Alec’s voice boomed desperately throughout the ship, but all that was heard were frantic orders.

Then, “I’m sorry,” Hodge breathed out.

Alec and his crew watched with wide eyes as the torpedoes hit their target, and the Institute exploded.  

A few seconds of blinding light hit their eyes from the monitors, then nothing.  There was nothing left of the station or it’s crew.

The Institute had been destroyed.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Alec’s heart thumped heavily in his chest.  Each beat he remembered the name of his fellow crew members, now lost to space forever.  He swore the torpedoes were locked on them, to destroy him and his crew, not the Institute.  Why would anyone target the Institute? How did they stay off the radar and pop up out of nowhere?  Was that kind of technology even possible? His mind and heart matched speed as adrenaline raced through his veins.

Alec has held his breath ever since the explosion a minute ago as shock ran through his system.  Silence rang heavily through their ship, no one knew what to say, what to do. What could they do?  They weren’t a battleship, they didn't expect to be tossed into a war, let alone become the only survivors of their crew.

Alec released a ragged breath, trying his best to hold back his tears.  But he and his siblings’ home for the past eight years had been decimated to space dust.  Hodge had been killed, someone who helped him and his family assimilate into life working on the Belt.  A good man who didn’t deserve this, no one on that ship did.

“Alec!”

The shout muffled in his ears.  Staring down at his screen that used to show a green dot where the Institute was, now shown nothing.  Empty as the space around them. It was the sound of the alarm blaring again that shocked him back to his crew shouting his name.

“Debris from the ship is flying straight at us, we gotta get out of here!” his pilot shouted.

Alec opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out.  He could only nod his head at Simon to get them to safety.  He needed to help his crew, he couldn’t let them die too. A surge of energy powered through him as he brought up a map on their screen showing debris from the Institute speeding towards them.  

His head rocked back against his seat as Simon sent them into a high-g maneuver to get them out of the debris zone, but it was coming at them too fast.  

Alec’s screen showed broken pieces of the Institute had already flown past them and they were now in the middle of it.  The ship snapped this way and that with every hit and Alec clenched his jaw tight, praying for nothing to be too damaged.

Whoever Alec prayed to though wasn’t on his side as a large object slammed into them and sent them spiralling.  Lights in the ship began to flicker on and off quickly, sparks flew across Alec’s face as everything shook in the cabin.

“Fuck!” he exclaimed.  Something must have come loose.  Just then, the airlock doors were flung open and air rushed out all around them as a hole tore through the side of the ship.

“There’s been an airlock breach, we need to close the hatch!” Jace ordered.

“I’m on it!” Alec gathered himself and unlocked his safety belts, only to stumble to the floor from the constant violent shake.  He glanced up and saw Izzy taking off her belt too before stumbling over to a panel on the wall with a fizzing wire hanging out.

“Isabelle!  Strap your ass back in!” Alec shouted as he climbed to his feet and headed toward his sister only to be thrown against the railing.

“Alec, close the airlock door now!  I need to fix these wires so they don’t start a goddamn fire, i’m fine!” she looked at him over her shoulder, and it was only the look of absolute resolution and determination in her eyes that sent chills down his spine.  He nodded and grabbed the railing of the stairs before descending down to the open door.

Another hit from debris veered the ship even more and Alec fell the rest of the way, grunting as he landed roughly only to be thrown sideways again.

“Alec!” Jace stood from his seat to help his brother, but the wires Izzy worked on caught fire.  He ran over to the best of his ability to help her, but hits from the debris were tossing them all like a rag doll.

With the air quickly being sucked out, more sparks flew sporadically around the cabin, it was only a matter of time before another fire started.

“Get that damn door closed!” Magnus ordered and Alec looked up to see him unstrap himself as well to help Jace and Izzy frantically putting out the fire while trying not to lose his balance.

Alec clenched his jaw and army crawled to the manual lock and rotated it as fast as he could, watching the airlock door slowly close.  With a final grunt and the last of his strength, he locked it shut and released a heavy breath.

The ship quieted down as the fires were put out and the shaking stopped, some of the lights coming back on as the rest of the cabin remained dark.  They all stood in a tense silence, only hearing the sounds of their fellow crew members panting.

Simon eased out of his controls and released a shaky breath.  “We made it,” he said in disbelief.

Alec was too exhausted and breathing too heavily to speak as he sat up to lean haphazardly against a wall.  He managed a thumbs up toward his pilot before ripping off his helmet and tossing it away, closing his eyes.  Fuck.   He took off his gloves and pushed back his damp hair from his forehead, his body practically soaked with sweat.

He heard the rest of his crew fall to the ground panting.  They needed a moment to breath.

But not Alec. No, his heart beat never had the chance to calm down as rage fueled him.  With adrenaline pumping through his veins, he stood to his feet and ascended the ladder to join his crew.

“Are the radars still up?” he asked as he made his way toward Simon.

He nodded.  “You bet your ass they are.  No one can tear this baby down.”  He paused for a moment to turn around and look at the damage caused inside the ship.  “Well...not all of her anyway.”

Alec released an annoyed sigh and bent over Simon’s shoulder to look at his screen.  “Don’t lose that ship,” he commanded.

Jace, Izzy and Magnus were all helping each other up when they froze at his words.

“W-what?” Simon breathed, wide-eyed.

“Follow that ship,” he said lowly, stone cold.

“Buddy, let’s take a moment-” Jace tried but Alec cut him off.

“We’re losing them!” he shouted at the screen as he saw the other ship fire up its engines and fly away.  

Simon flinched.  “Uh...i don’t think that’s a good-”

“I am your executive officer, that’s an order, Simon!”

“Rank doesn’t fucking matter now!” Simon shouted back before instant regret covered his face and he shut his mouth.

Everyone fell silent, no one moved.  Simon could only stare in fear.

Alec grunted and lifted Simon out of his seat by the lapels of his jumpsuit before moving him aside so he could grab the flight controls.  Everyone erupted.

“Hey!”

“Alec stop!”

“Simon don’t listen to him!”

Alec shook with fury as he spun around.  “What do you mean stop? They just killed our entire crew, some of them close friends!” he shouted in anger, looking each member in the eye.  They all looked at him as if he was the crazy one and it only made his blood pump faster.

“Let’s not add ourselves to that list then,” Magnus fired back, eyes hard as his face set in stone.

Alec clenched his jaw, grunted and turned back to the controls to start the engines.

“Izzy stop him!” Magnus shouted as he rushed towards Alec.

Izzy hesitated for a second before jumping into action, pressing a few buttons on the power grid.  The screen now flashing with “engines shut down.”

Everyone fell silent as Alec sat still staring at the screen, a statue of frozen fury, until he surged out of his seat and right into Magnus’ face, breathing heavily through his nostrils as every muscle in his body was held tight with tension, staring into his brown, charcoal covered eyes.  Magnus didn’t flinch and only clenched his jaw tighter.

“Hey whoa!  Let’s just take a deep breath!” Jace intervened as he stepped closer, as if he needed to stop a fight.  He had never seen his brother this furious before and didn’t know what could happen.

Alec and Magnus didn’t move, their glares held strong as they were almost nose to nose.  Alec knew there was a part of Magnus that was right, but now wasn’t the time to think rationally, yet he was the only one who felt this way.  He felt betrayed and alone in his rage, and it only made him angrier. No one messed with his family, but as they all looked at him with wide eyes, he came to the conclusion that maybe he was the one in the wrong.  

With that he kept his glare, flexed his jaw held tight, released a breath, and walked away.  He needed to put his mind to work, grabbing the closest thing broken and began fixing it. Everyone was still silent as they watched him.  They all looked at each other before collectively agreeing to get to work, walking around the ship to begin repairs.

-

“We have about five hours of oxygen left and a dead radio,” Izzy sighed as she sat next to an open control panel on the floor, wires strung this way and that.  Everyone was sitting in their own area trying to fix what they could. Alec hadn’t said a word since his outburst. He thought he had managed to fix some of the burnt wiring, but just ended up shocking himself which led to him kicking the entire open panel on the wall and falling unceremoniously to the ground in silent anger.  His furrowed brows haven't let up since. That was almost twenty minutes ago.

Izzy glanced over at him in worry.  He just sat, twirling a small object in his hands that held his gaze.

“How much burn do we have, Simon?” he finally spoke up, his voice low.

Simon lifted his head from his fist and looked to Izzy.  She nodded her head at him in confirmation and a small encouraging smile.

Simon sighed and nodded his head before swiveling his chair around to his screen.  Clicking a few buttons, he answered, “I can get us maybe a third of the way to The Dumort and it’s the closest station.  But honestly, we will probably all slowly go into hypoxia and die from lack of oxygen before we made it, and even if we did make it, it’s not like we will be welcome with open arms.”

“Way to keep the spirits up, Seamus,” Magnus chimed in from his position on the floor by another set of controls he was messing with.  

Simon hissed through his sigh.  “Are you ever going to call me by my actual name?  And you’re a doctor, not an engineer, do you even know what you are doing?”

“Apparently my medical skills aren’t required right this second, but I wanted to be of some assistance in anyway possible,” Magnus answered annoyed.  “Seeing though as this ship is beyond repair, we have no radio to call for help and we’re all gonna die in five hours, why even bother?” his voice rose as he threw a tool over his shoulder and began pacing the length of the ship, his breath coming out quicker.  “I don’t want to die here,” his voice shook as he emphasized his words with his hands. “We’re all gonna fucking die you know that right? And usually I can help people, take away their worries or their pain, but this..” he shook his head and furrowed his brow.

Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch him, silent as his words sunk in, saying what they all didn’t want to hear.

“I can’t fix any of this!” he shouted as he gestured around to the broken ship.  “None of you can even fix it and we’re gonna die!” his entire body shook as he gasped for air.

Alec shot up from his seat and ran over to Magnus, grabbing him by the shoulders.  “Hey! Look at me.” He tilted his head down to catch Magnus’ panicked wide eyes, his breath stuttering on his lips as he looked at Alec with absolute terror in his eyes.  Alec had never seen or expected this man to be afraid of anything. He walked with such grace and courage, he was sure there was little in the universe that frightened him.  But now he knew and he was here to help.

“Breath with me.  In and out, slowly, okay?  Match my breath with yours.”

Magnus nodded frantically and held tight to Alec’s forearms before they both started to breath together, their gazes never wavering.

After a few more moments, he finally managed to calm down.

“You good?” Alec asked in a soft tone.

He released one last shaky breath before nodding.

“We’re not gonna die, okay?  Jace and I are going to fix that radio and call for help,” Alec’s words held strong with a promise.

“The outer doors were blown off, the airlock room is done for.  How are we going to get outside?” Jace asked crossing his arms.

“We put on our suits and vent the ship to allow us to open the doors,” Alec answered as he released Magnus’ shoulders and looked around at his crew.  He walked over to the oxygen tanks on the wall. “This was supposed to be a short trip, so we’ll only have an hour, maybe two of oxygen in the tanks. That should be enough time for Jace and I to find the problem and fix it.”  He started taking out each oxygen tank and setting them down. “We’ll send out a distress call, someone will hear it and come save us. Any problems with that?” He made eye contact with each of them.

The crew looked around at each other before looking back at Alec.

“Good.  Everyone suit up.”

-

“How’s it looking out there, boys?” Izzy’s voice chimed through Alec and Jace’s helmets as they slowly and carefully walked along the outside of their ship.

“Doesn’t look good,” Jace answered as he looked around at all of the dents, scratches and holes.  “But it could have been worse.”

“It could always be worse,” Alec said as he and Jace headed toward the antenna for the radio.  Their helmet lights lit it up only to show it mangled and twisted. “Fuck,” he whispered.

“What?” Magnus’ voice chimed in next.  He could hear him trying to stay calm.

“Nothing,” he assured him.  “We got this, just keep helping Izzy.”

He heard Magnus sigh before muttering, “Right,” and turned off the channel to their conversation.

Alec and Jace gave each other a knowing look before grabbing various tools from their kit and getting to work.

-

“Magnus, can you follow this smaller wire and tell me where it goes?” Izzy asked as she floated in zero g in a tiny room of just wires.  To anyone else this would have confused them, but to Izzy, it was a puzzle to solve, one that she loved to solve.

“Sure,” Magnus nodded and gently pushed the wall to lightly float himself along the length of the wire.  She was trying to keep him busy, but wasn’t sure if taking him into a small room where you’re constantly touching a wall was the best idea for someone who just had a panic attack.  But she knew he wanted to help.

“Simon,” she called out through her helmet.

“Yeah?” he sounded tired.

“Let me know if anything pops up on the screen as i work down here, okay?”

“Youuuuuuu got it boss,” he sang lightly.

Magnus looked over at Izzy with a furrowed brow.

“Simon?”

His only reply was a lighthearted laugh followed by a long sigh of bliss.

“Magnus, see if he’s okay,” her voice held worry but her hands got back to work.

Magnus was already shooting himself up out of the engineering room and toward the pilots seat in the cabin.  Simon was sitting in his seat, his head resting on the control panels as he hummed a tune. Magnus grabbed onto the railing of the stairs and propelled himself toward the pilot.  

“Simon?  Simon!” He sat him up and shook his shoulders.

Simon came to and opened his eyes, they were glossed over, his lids held low with a goofy smile on his face.

“Hey, you said my name,” he said lightly, his smile growing.

“Simon, what are you doing?” Izzy’s voice came through.

“Um, i’m humming the theme song to Star Wars, duh.”

Magnus shifted him to look at the oxygen tank on his back.  Where it should have read an hour and half now said five minutes.

“Shit!  There must be a leak in his tank.  He’s hypoxic.” Magnus situated Simon to sit back in his seat but he slid to the ground instead.

“Dammit, how long can he hold on for?” Izzy asked as she started to work faster.

Simon hunched over and threw up, it leaked down the inside of his helmet.

“We’re losing him!” Magnus shouted as he sat Simon up against the nearest wall to take a look at him.

Izzy opened the channel to Alec and Jace.  “You need to hurry, Simon’s running out of air!”

“Shit!  Okay we’re coming back in so we can close the doors-” Alec said but was cut off

“No!  Finish the job or we’re all dead!” Izzy ordered.

“Simon, hey look at me,” Magnus said as he grabbed his helmet, but he could barely see Simon’s eyes through the vomit.  

“Keep your eyes open, okay?  I’m gonna share my air with you.”  He grabbed his medical kit and pulled out a needle and thin tube.

“Magnus,” Alec’s voice came through, “you’re just gonna kill each other quicker in the process-”

“I don’t care!  He needs air, i need to fix this and you need to fix the damn radio!” he shut off Alec’s channel and got to work hooking up his and Simon’s breathing tubes.

Simon could finally take a deep breath of air.

“That’s it, breath, we’ll make it out of this,” Magnus muttered in assurance, trying to convince himself of it too.

They leaned against each other, just breathing.  Magnus looked at Simon’s air meter that now said ten minutes for the both of them.

“Alec better move that lovely ass of his.”

-

In the stress of trying to work faster, Alec wasn’t thinking and forgot to press the magnetize button before setting down a wrench, only to watch it fly away through space.  “Ah shit!” he groaned in impatience.

“We don’t have time, we’ll figure it out,” Jace said quickly before getting back to work.

“Okay Izzy, try it now!” he said through his open channel.

Silence for a minute, then, “Nothing,” Izzy sighed.

Jace and Alec both growled and got back to work.

“How’s Simon and Magnus?” Alec asked as his hands worked quickly.

“Stop wasting your breath and fix the fucking radio, they’ll be fine.”  

Alec grit his teeth in annoyance but knew his sister was right, his mind needed to focus on the task at hand, not the possibility of losing his pilot and doctor, his friend and his..?  He didn’t know what Magnus was, but if they made it out of this, he wanted to figure it out.

“How about now?” he asked.

“Still nothing,” Izzy answered.

“God dammit ,” Alec yelled and kicked the antenna.

“Wait, it worked!  We’re on!”

Alec and Jace looked at each other with wide eyes.

“Get back in the ship so we can close the doors, idiots!  I’ll send out the distress call.” They could already hear Izzy pressing buttons and trusted her to save their asses.  Quickly and carefully they headed back inside.

Alec opened his channel.  “Magnus? Simon? We’re coming back in.”

The only answer they received was struggled breathing.  Alec moved faster, trying to stop his heart from lodging in his throat.

“Magnus!”

Still no answer.  Alec cursed as he propelled himself through the ship and waited for Jace to safely be on the other side of the airlock door before manually shutting it.

“Airlock door is closed, let the air flow through and pressurize the room, Izzy!” he shouted as he climbed up the ladder to the cabin area.  Magnus and Simon were slumped against each other. Simon’s chest was slightly moving, but Magnus didn’t make a noise.

Alec threw off his helmet and ran over to them.

“Hey!  Wake up!”  He took off Magnus’ helmet while Jace grabbed Simon’s.

Simon coughed as Jace helped him sit up.

Alec grabbed Magnus’ face, his eyes remaining closed.  “Magnus,” he breathed. “Come on,” he shook him a little, but nothing.  “You wanna do it that way, fine,” he said stubbornly and positioned Magnus in his lap to lay him down.  He plugged his nose with one hand, opened his mouth with the other and began the mouth to mouth procedure.

Simon was coming to as Izzy frantically made her way up the cabin and froze, they all watched in silence as Alec tried to save Magnus’ life.

“Don’t do this, asshole!” Alec shouted as he switched to chest compression.  

He leaned down to breath into him again when Magnus sucked in a sharp breath and started coughing into Alec’s face.  Everyone collectively sighed in relief.

“You’re okay, you’re okay,” Alec chanted in disbelief, almost as if to convince himself that Magnus really was okay.  Magnus continued to cough but let Alec gather him in his arms. His back rest against Alec’s chest, Alec’s arms wrapped tightly around his chest, leaning his cheek against his spiked hair.

“You’re okay,” he breathed out, sounding exhausted.

Simon moved closer to them to get in on the hug.

“Thank you,” he said with the utmost gratitude and wrapped his arms around them both.  Alec was too tired to move, so he pat his arm. Magnus nonchalantly flickered his hand.

“Anytime,” he gasped.

“Morons,” Izzy muttered but there was a hint of tears in her eyes as she walked over and practically fell into their hug too.  It didn’t take Jace long before he joined in as well. They eventually all sat leaning against each other, breathing in the air.

-

“So,” Simon started.  “Did you fix the radio while i was napping?”

Jace snorted.  “Yeah we got it fixed, no thanks to you.”

Alec held up a finger from where rest on Magnus’ chest still.  “Actually, if it wasn’t for these two passing out, I wouldn’t have kicked the radio in the right place and it wouldn’t have worked.  So thanks for that.”

They all released tired chuckles before falling silent again.

Alec sighed and leaned his head back against the wall, holding Magnus a little tighter as he sat between his legs.  “I’m sorry,” he muttered. “I shouldn’t have acted the way I did. I could have killed us all...i’m sorry.” Guilt tore through his chest, but somehow that dark hole filled itself as Magnus leaned his head against his shoulder, Izzy next to him cuddled up closer to Magnus and hooked their arms together.  Simon pat him on the arm and gave him a small smile.

“We know, buddy,” Jace said before leaning his head on top of Izzy’s.

“So, if i’m not mistaken,” Magnus said with an edge to his voice, “did i wake up to Alec Lightwood kissing me?”

Small chuckles filled the room.  

“Don’t get your hopes up, Bane.  I was just giving you the breath of life, no big deal,” Alec joked as he leaned his cheek down on top of Magnus’ hair.

“Hey, don’t mess up my hairdo.”  He swatted at him. “This beauty doesn’t just happen by itself you know.”

Alec chuckled and leaned back against the wall, flicking some of Magnus’ hair to tease him.

Magnus lightly hit him again while chuckling but it turned into a cough.  “Oh, I think I may need the kiss of life again, Lightwood.”

Alec snorted while everyone chuckled.  “ Breath of life.”

Magnus shrugged.  “I’ll teach you the other version someday, my dear.”

Alec blushed and decided to change the subject.

“Izzy, did you ever get a chance to look at the beacon we took from the other ship?”

She lifted her head off of Magnus’ shoulder to look at her brother.  “Oh, no not yet. Let me take a look,” she says as she climbs to her feet and walks across the ship to grab the black box.

“We should all probably get back to work anyway,” Jace pat Alec’s shoulder and went to join his sister, grabbing his box of tools and settling down.  “I’m gonna try to amplify our signal, see if we can boost it for a longer time even if we run out of air. At Least someone will know we are out here.”

“I’ll watch the map to see if anyone passes by us.”  Simon stood shakily to his feet and sat in his pilot’s seat, expelling a breath before putting on his headphones and twisting knobs to pull up multiple screens only showing the complete black void around them.

Realizing Alec was still cradling Magnus in between his legs and arms, he releases him, coughing to hide his blush as he helps the man stand.

“Uh, you good?” he asks.

Magnus gives him a small thankful smile and pats his arm before walking away to help Izzy. Alec’s heart rate elevated as he watched him.  He skin tingles and turns to see his brother watching him from his spot on the floor. Alec had never fully come out to anyone, but he knew his siblings were aware.  Growing up in the military though, Alec never had the chance to act upon it. He knew he could never have what he wanted, at least under the reign of his parents.

He clears his throat and turns to his sister.  

“Anything?” he asks as she uses her hand terminal to zoom in on the details of the black box.

“Shit,” she whispers.

“What?” Alec asked in worry as he crouched next to her, Magnus on the other side of Izzy leans in to observe as well.

“This beacon isn’t from pirates, this is top military stuff.  I’d say it’s from Earth but...” she falls silent.

“What is it then?” Simon chimes in, lifting his headphones off of one ear to listen in.

Izzy turns to look at Alec as she hesitates, but Alec already knows the answer.  He clenches his jaw and shakes his head slightly. “No, no way.”

“Alec,” Izzy tries but he’s already up and pacing the room.

“What’s going on?” Magnus asks, brows furrowed as he stands and watches Alec pace.

It’s Jace who releases a heavy sigh and answers.  “It’s Mars. They have the best military in the solar system, not to mention the League of Shadowhunters.”  Alec purposely doesn’t look toward his siblings at the mention of a past he was trying to forget.

“There’s a possibility it could also be Lycanthrope,” Izzy chimed in before it went dead quiet.  The Lycanthrope were a deadly group of Downworlders known for their gangs and abnormally sharp k-9 teeth they used to rip anyone apart that crossed them.

Simon’s gulp could be heard throughout the ship.

Izzy continued.  “There have been news reports of a spike in activity of black market deals through Jade Wolf, who knows what they are selling and buying.”

“Doesn’t help that they have been labeled terrorists either,” Simon muttered under his breath.

Everyone looks around at each other as tension grew in the room.

“Wait…” Simon held up a hand.  “You’re saying Martian Shadowhunter things or deadly half animal people blew up the Institute?  Why would they do that? And why are we the lucky ones caught in the middle of this shit?”

“To start a war,” Alec replied lowly.  His brow set as his eyes swam with disappointment, gazing off into the distance as he stopped pacing.  “I can’t say i’m surprised, the League has wanted to reign over the solar system as long as I can remember...just didn’t think they would actually do it,” his voice filters off into what little air they have left.

“And just exactly how do you know this?” Simon inquired.

The siblings looked at each other.  Only Hodge knew about their family history and military experience.

“Everyone in the system knows that, Si.  Have you been living under a rock?” Jace joked to break the tension, it didn’t work that well.

“Right,” Simon muttered in suspicion before turning back to his map.

Alec ducked his head, but his eyes were locked on Magnus’.  Maritan marines weren’t well liked by anyone but Martians. Alec knew Magnus had his suspicions, but they had never actually addressed the subject.  And with the hard stare of Magnus’ gaze, he didn’t think they would be friends anymore if the truth came out about his family and the things they’ve done.  The things he’s spent years running away from.

They both broke eye contact as the alarm system started blaring.  Everyone ran over to Simon.

“Did someone hear us?” Izzy asks, hope laced her voice and everyone’s chests as they saw a ship pop up on their screen.

“Yes,” Simon breathed and huffed out a laugh.  “They responded!”

Everyone sighed in relief and let themselves smile.  Finally something was going their way.

“We’re gonna make it,” Magnus said, hoped.  Or so they thought.

“Wait,” Simon says before pulling up the details about the ship coming to rescue them.  “It’s...it’s a Martian ship.”

Everyone leaned over Simon’s shoulders as their smiles fell away, replaced with wide eyes and a gaping mouth.

“Are you serious?”

“Oh shit..”

“Fuck!”

Alec turned away from the screen and released a long ragged breath to calm himself, running his hands down his face and closing his tired eyes for just a second.  He knew he would have to face them again someday, just not today. “We get on that ship, chances are we’re never getting off,” he muttered. Tension filled the ship, again.  He knew protocols and was all too familiar with capturing suspects on the hopes of getting information then releasing or imprisoning them, but other times he was given a different set of orders, orders to make sure people didn’t talk, especially in situations like this.  He and his crew were the only witnesses to the attack, and they could easily be taken out.

“They aren’t rescuing us...they’re coming to finish the job,” Simon expelled a shaky breath.

Alec wasn’t going to let that happen.  His mind made up, he turns around and heads towards his seat and pulls up a video feed on his screen.  “Not if I can help it.”

“Alec, what are you doing?” Jace asked.

“Buying us insurance.”  He tapped the record button and began his video.  “This is executive Officer Alec Lightwood speaking for the remaining crew of the Institute.  We have reason to believe it was shot down by the Martian military-”

“Alec!  What are you doing?” Izzy shouts as everyone runs over to stop him.  Alec held out his arms to keep them away and kept talking.

“We’ve just been notified a Martian ship is on its way to us-”

“Alec you can’t-”

“We plan to cooperate hoping that no harm will come to us.  Any action against my crew and I will only further prove the Institute station was destroyed by Mars and its League.”  He pressed send and sighed as he leaned back in his chair.

“Are you fucking insane?” Simon shouted.

“You’re gonna start a goddamn war!” Jace added and Alec swung to look at him.

“As far as we know, Mars already started a fucking war!”

No one spoke as they all panted, adrenaline running through their veins at the possibility of death, again.

“It just needs to reach one ship, then it’ll spread.  At least someone will know.”

No one could reply to that, there was a small part of them that knew he was right.  

The next thing they knew, their ship rattled roughly and knocked everyone to the ground as they were being hauled inside the Martian ship.  Everyone helped each other up and they stood side by side, watching as the marines cut through their ship, sending sparks flying everywhere as smoke surrounded them.  They covered their eyes as a makeshift door was pushed down and bright lights shined upon them, red dots from snipers set on each other their chests as they coughed and pushed the smoke away.

“You are all now prisoners of the Martian Military under the League of Shadowhunters,” one of the five shouted through their masks.  All of them dressed head to toe in high quality Military space suits, rifles loaded and ready to shoot. “Move and you die!”

Alec met the eyes of his crew and nodded.  They all held up their arms in surrender. Today really wasn’t their day.

 

 

Chapter Text

The Martians were among the top military soldiers and advanced technology in the solar system, Earth coming in a close second.  Their ships were a stealthy sleek black, designed to blend in with the void of space.  Their soldier’s black armor suits covered them head to toe, durable yet light, containing many convenient metal pockets to hold weapons that they can whip out when needed.  The only way you can tell there was a human under there and not a robot was the visibility of their eyes through their red transparent masks.  Other than that, they were completely covered, indistinguishable among a group. 

Alec remembers what it felt like to wear one of those suits, except as a Shadowhunter on his way to becoming the new commander of a ship and crew, his was even more advanced.  

He’s brought back swiftly to reality when he’s pushed from behind.  He grunts as he forms a line, shoulder to shoulder with his crew, glaring at his own reflection in the black martial masks of the soldiers and thinking how easy it would be to kick their asses.  But this wasn’t the time or place.  They were already under enough scrutiny, any sort of attempt at escape would only deem them guilty of the crimes they were undoubtedly about to be accused of. 

One of the four soldiers touch the side of Alec’s neck and looks down at their wrist, their suit giving them the identity of who they touched.  Alec’s face pops up on a small hologram hovering above the soldier’s forearm.  Alec couldn’t see their face but hopes there would be some form of discretion when they found out who he and his siblings were, if they found out who they were, who their parents were.  The soldier looks up from his readings and into Alec’s eyes, Alec gulps and holds his hard stare.  Instead of dragging him away, the soldier merely moved on to Jace.  Alec didn’t even dare sigh in relief. 

Each member of the crew was identified and told to start walking toward their holding cells.  Magnus was pushed into his cell first, a glass door sliding closed as he gained his footing.  Jace was next, then Isabelle.  

“Don’t touch me,” she hissed as she was grabbed and taken into her cell.  “Keep your hands off of me!” she yelled before being forcefully thrown into her cell and landing roughly on the floor.

“Hey!” Simon shouted the same time Alec swung his fist back as the man faced him, only to be thrown to the ground as Alec punched him.  It was only his helmet, so it didn’t do much damage, but damn did it feel good.  After escaping death multiple times today, there was nothing that was getting between Alec and his siblings.  With the information they had about the attack and the Shadowhunters to be the one to form it, he was seething with rage as he kneeled to punch the soldier again. 

A violent shock of electricity stunted him as he brought his fist down only to fall to the ground in a cry of agony as another soldier stood behind him with a taser.  

“Alec!”

“Get off of him!”

“Alec, are you okay?”

The shouts of his team members from their holding cells muffled as he seized on the floor, the aftermath of the electric shocks ran through his tensed muscles.  He didn’t even get a chance to properly breath before he heard, “Take him first,” and felt two soldiers grab his arms and lead him away from his crew.  He tried to stand but his muscles were weak from the shocks, so he settled for being dragged out.  He opened his eyes enough to see everyone behind their glass doors watching him being taken away, banging away and yelling for him. 

“Where are you taking him?”

“Alec!”

He saw one soldier approach Simon to put him in his holding cell, but after witnessing what just happened, Simon held up his hands in surrender and slowly backed into his own cell.  Typical.

Alec looked over to see Magnus watching him with wide eyes and his hands against the glass door.  With how skilled Magnus was with his hands as a doctor, Alec wouldn’t be surprised if the door magically vanished.  He thought he had seen Magnus’ fingertips glow red for a second, but clearly his mind was playing tricks on him. 

He lost site of Magnus as he was dragged around the corner, his eyes closing as fatigue overtook his body.

 

-

 

Alec groaned as his senses started to come back to him.  He went to rub his eyes but found his hands bound to the chair he sat in.  Blinking his eyes open he knows exactly where he is.  He’s interrogated people in here before, just never thought he would be on the other end of it.  Sighing, he knew how this was going to play out. 

He flexes his fingers and tries to ease the tension from his muscles as he becomes more alert.  He sits in a metal chair at a metal table, only one bright light illuminated from above, throwing the rest of the room into a dark abyss.  He rolled his eyes, so dramatic.

Cracking his neck, he readies himself as he hears a door behind him open.  Footsteps clanked on the flooring as someone came into his view and released the bindings from his wrists.  Alec rubbed each wrist as he watched his interrogator sit directly across from him, hands folded on the table, so proper in his black uniform with the letters M L S in red on the left side of his chest.  Martian League of Shadowhunters.  

The man sitting across from him was around his age or maybe a little older.  To be honest it was hard to tell.  There were no orders to smile or laugh, so no one really had wrinkles.  

The man took a rectangular case out of his pocket and opened it, never breaking eye contact with Alec.  Alec held his gaze with a mute stare, knowing what was coming.  He pulled out a small, clear circular pill, then placed it into his mouth.  The man sighed and closed his eyes as the effects set in. 

His eyes snap open, pupils dilating as he observes Alec.  Stele, a synthesized drug meant to heighten all senses to create a better, clearer focus.  Shadowhunters were trained to use this during interrogations to pick up on the subtle body movements that could give away their suspects as they are interrogated.  

The man’s lips slightly tipped into a devilish smirk.  “Let’s begin.”

 

-

 

The crew sat begrudgingly in their holding cells.

“Hopefully the broadcast got out,” Izzy sighs softly as she sat on a small metal bench hunched over, nervously twisting her hands.

“They’re gonna try to frame us,” Simon chimed in.  They were all allowed to talk to each other through the intercoms.  Izzy looks up at him.  “Think about it,” Simon continued, “they only need one false confession from someone and-”

“Yeah, and I wonder who's gonna crack first,” Jace sniped, standing with his arms folded on his chest, glaring across his holding cell at Simon.

“Real nice.”  Simon sarcastically gave Jace a thumbs up.

“Shut up,” Magnus ordered.  He leans on the door of his cell, scoping out the cameras and wondering where they could have taken Alec.  “They’re listening to us, why else would they let us talk?  They’re waiting to hear something to see if we are guilty.”

A woman soldier removes her helmet and approaches Magnus’s cell, opening the door.  “You, out,” she orders. 

Magnus hesitates.  They had no idea what they were walking into, if any of them would see each other again.  Clenching his jaw, he follows her.  He nods at Izzy as she stands to watch him leave, a small smile of comfort sent her way.  I’ve got this, he communicates with his eyes.

They turn a corner as she leads him down a dark corridor, the floor lit by lines of red lights creating a path.  He expels a long breath to calm his nerves.  Maybe he could find Alec.

 

-

 

“Alexander Gideon Lightwood,” the man began.  “Born on Mars, brother to Isabelle, Jace and Max Lightwood.  Interesting how your records hold no account of your parents.”

Alec doesn’t respond, he didn’t have to, he knew they found his proper records and discovered his identity, so he only stares back.  

Stubborn ass, Magnus’ words rang through his head and he almost cracks a grin.

The man continues in a monotone voice, his eyes never straying from Alec’s.  “You’ve been working on The Institute for the past eight years.  Tell me how someone with a military background ends up working on an ice hauler delivering water to Downworlders,” he says with clear disdain in his voice and Alec clenches his jaw.  

This is why they were divided as a species.  There were too many prejudices in the solar system for everyone to come together and understand one another.  Alec wished it weren’t true, visiting the Downworld system taught him that everyone isn’t so different, especially after befriending Magnus.  Shadowhunters and Mundanes would only view Downworlders as beings subject to their compulsive ways and nothing more. 

He doesn’t want to talk to this guy, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone.  He just wants to know why his fellow crew members and beloved Captain were killed.

“Okay, I’ll answer for you,” the man responds.  “You joined the League of Shadowhunters at the age of ten.  You worked your way through the ranks, shouldn’t have been hard with a mother like Maryse Trueblood.”

Alec’s face remains neutral, not giving away anything this guy wants.

The man’s pupils continue to grow and shrink as he searches for any hint of suspicion.  He continues.  “Someone died on your watch, and things started to change.  You became a problem, acting out against the law.  You assaulted a superior officer-”

“Not technically,” Alec interrupts, his voice low and monotone just as his interrogator’s.  “He dodged my punch and I broke my hand on a metal beam.”  He clenches his previously broken fist in his lap as the memories rush back to him.  

The man doesn’t react and continues with his interrogation.  “You were dishonorably discharged-”

“He ordered me to fire on a Downworlder ship-” Alec tries to rebuttal.

“And you disobeyed those orders by not taking out a smuggler-”

“He was smuggling people!”

“You had no way of knowing-”

Alec’s voice raises as his temper escalates.  “But I was right!”

The man leans back in surprise and for the first time says nothing.

Alec’s fists clench harder as he grits his teeth.  “Shadowhunters, Mundanes, Downworlders...we’ve been standing on each other’s necks for hundreds of years and I was tired of being the boot.”

The many suddenly leans forward and folds his hands on the table, eyeing Alec’s face as his pupils dilate.  “So you decided to switch sides and join in forces against the League?”

Alec furrowed his brow, why can’t people understand that there are no sides.  “I stopped playing the game,” he replied as if it were the simplest answer.

“You go out to Saturn, collect the ice, then head back to the asteroid belt to deliver for Downworlders.  Out to Saturn, collect the ice, back to the belt.  Saturn, ice, belt,” he kept repeating.  “Out to Saturn, stop at Chernobyl-”

“Chernobyl?  That’s a restricted moon for scientific research, I’ve never stopped there before,” Alec answers confused.  Sure, they’ve passed by Chernobyl on their way around Saturn, but they’ve never stopped on that moon before.  What was this guy getting at? He tried to switch the tables.  “Why did you blow up the Institute?”

He ignored Alec.  “How long have you known Magnus Bane?”

Alec is taken aback and blinks in surprise.  Why would they care about Magnus?  “Why does that matter?”

Again, ignored.  “How long have you known he’s an OPA operative?”

Alec sucks in a sharp breath.  OPA, the Outer Planetary Alliance that fights for rights for Downworlders against Mundanes and Shadowhunters.  To some they would be a group of freedom fighters, but to others, they were terrorists.  Magnus may have been born a Downworlder, but that doesn’t mean he actively fights and bombs Shadowhunter and Mundane ships.  No, that couldn’t be right.

“What?  What are you talking about?”
The man swiped his fingers across the desk and pulled up a holographic image of Magnus.

“Two advanced degrees in engine drive design and medical studies.  You never wondered why someone with such intellect would waste their life working on an ice hauler ship?  Not to mention the fact that he was born on the Downworld.”

Alec’s lip twitched in anger as he crosses his arms over his chest.  “I never asked.  It’s not my business.”

“Based on the desperate conditions of your shuttle, someone had to implement extraordinary improvisation to keep you alive, fix your antenna, send out a radio beacon and keep oxygen levels just enough for you to make it aboard another ship.”

He didn’t know what to say, but Magnus wasn’t the only one to partake in that.  Something was wrong.

“These are clear indicators of terrorist intelligence.  Did Magnus Bane implement those repairs?”

“Magnus isn’t OPA,” he answered simply.  “We all worked on the ship.”

“Who did it then?  Who fixed your radio?”

Alec clenched his jaw tighter.

“Was it the pilot?  No, no that’s unlikely.  Your sister then?” he asks as he swiped up an image of Izzy.  “Again, advanced degrees in mechanics and engineering wasting her life on a rust bucket ship.  Your sister was a weapons master before she left the ranks of the Shadowhunters a year before you did.  Why?  Do you know what she was doing that year?”
“Shut up.”  It was the only response Alec could think of as he tried to keep his emotions in control.

And for a second, the man did, and Alec was almost relieved.  But then he utters, “It’s not impossible for these people to be OPA spies.”

Alec’s heart rate was speeding up, this couldn’t be right.  Sure, his sister left, but he was right, he didn’t know much about what she did for that year of her life.  And Magnus, he was his friend, but for a friend, he really didn’t know anything about him or his past.

His shoulders tense up.  “I don’t believe you,” he says, holding strong to his internal truths that his sister and friend couldn’t be labeled as terrorists.

The man swiped the image of Izzy and Magnus away and leans back.

“You do now,” he almost smirks, getting up from his seat and exiting the room, leaving Alec alone with his thoughts running a million miles a second.

 

-

 

“Hey, uh, I took a class on Martian’s once,” Simon attempts a conversation with the soldier standing guard.  The soldier didn’t move let alone even blink.  Simon continues.  “Yeah I really loved learning about your culture.  You’re all so smart and have such advanced technology.”  Simon adjusts his glasses on his nose and licks his lips.  “I remember when I was little on Earth, I just wanted to escape and become a superhero on Mars-”

“Martians aren’t superheroes, Simon.”  Jace interjected as he leans against his door.  “If they were, they wouldn’t be trying to take over the system.”

The guard flexes his jaw but remains quiet as he faces forwards.  

Simon blinked in surprise, his mouth turned down in a grimace.  “Well,” he shrugged his shoulders, “I-I mean when you put it that way-” he tries to alleviate the awkward tension but Jace had another plan in mind.

Jace continued.  “This guy here isn’t even a superhero let alone Shadowhunter.  You’re just one of hundreds of guards mindlessly obeying your orders given from someone higher up than you’ll ever be, someone that can be easily replaced-”

The guard turned to Jace.  “You need me to make you shut up?” he grits in annoyance

“Oh, be my guest.”  Jace backed away from the door and motioned at the guard.  “Come on in, I’d like to see you try.”

The guard stands his ground as he contemplates before taking a step towards Jace.

The main doors slide open before another guard enters.  “Enough of that,” she orders.  “He’s next.”  She points to Simon.  The guard glares at Jace before walking over to Simon’s door, he pressed the button on the wall to slide it open.  

“Going?  Uh, heh, where are we going guys?” Simon asks through his not to subtle panicked laughter.  He holds his hands up in surrender when the guard attempts to grab him.  The guard sighs and points towards the doors.  

“Get moving.”

“Alright, alright,” Simon mutters and sends Jace a look before turning the corner.

“Her too,” the guard adds as she gestures to Izzy.

Izzy’s door slides open as she sighs and stands to leave.  Her expression is hard, but it softens at Jace’s attempts at comfort.

“It’ll be okay, Izzy,” he mutters to her as he places a hand on the glass.

She nods once and gives him a tight smile before turning to leave.

 

-

 

Magnus’ head whips up as someone opens the door behind him, he can’t turn to see who it is.  He sucks in sharp breath as the interrogator leans over his shoulder and undoes his restraints.

“Your educational background is impressive,” he murmurs into his ear.  Chills run down Magnus’ spine as he rubs his aching wrists.  He watches as the man walks around the table and takes his seat across from him.  The room is plunged into darkness, all except this very table. 

And they say I’m dramatic, he thinks to himself, barely containing an eyeroll.

The man pulls a tube out of his pocket, dispenses a pill and swallows it.  His eyes fluctuate in size.  Magnus feels exposed, as if somehow this man can now read his every thought.  But he doesn’t let is dissuade him.

Magnus lowers his hands to rest on his lap.  “I took free classes and tested through.  Education isn’t something easily accessible to us Downworlders,” he snides.

“You did all of this to work on an ice hauler?” the man asks with a straight face.

Magnus purses his lips.  “I help people that need it, that deserve it.  You use us Downworlders as slaves-”

“And were your skills required on Chernobyl?”

Magnus blinks, his brows furrowed in confusion.  “Chernobyl?  That’s a restricted moon to Downworlders and anyone living in the Belt, why would I ever go there?”

The man quirks his eyebrow as if to suggest Magnus knows why he is being questioned.

“What?  You think I’m OPA?  That we all know each other and we’re all terrorists looking to destroy Mars and Earth?”  The man doesn’t respond.  Magnus leans forward, his face drawn tight.  “I don’t believe in such causes and I will not be your scapegoat...and I won’t let you use my friends as one either,” he says in a low tone.

The man moves on.  “How do you know the Lightwoods?”

Magnus leans back, feeling like he’s getting whiplash from all these questions.  “We work together,” he answers simply.

“How close are you?”

Magnus releases a sigh of annoyance.  What does this have to do with anything?  “We’re friends,” he says.

“Really?  Is that why you all plotted to destroy the Institute together?” the man quipped.  He was baiting Magnus, trying to get him to reveal some crime he didn’t commit.

Magnus huffs in disbelief.  “What reason do we have to destroy-”

“We were hoping you could answer that.”  The man dared the corner of his lips to tip up slightly into a smirk.  

Magnus clenches his jaw.  He goes to cross his arms over his chest and as he does, he gives the Downworlder version of flipping someone off to the man.  

The interrogator notices and his smirk only widens.  “Why does Alec Lightwood hate Mars?”

Magnus furrows his brow.  “He’s from Mars, I don’t think he hates it.  But if he did, I can see why,” Magnus mutters.

“He was dishonorably discharged and left his parents behind with no regard.  All three siblings left.  Why?”

“Well seeing as you’re a Shadowhunter, shouldn’t you understand that better than a mere Downworlder?”

“Who did you leave behind when you left the Downworld?”

Magnus stiffens in his seat.  He doesn’t answer, he can’t answer.  How do they know about his life on the Downworld?

The man fully smirks now.  Magnus glares at him as his shoulders tense up.

“Why did your team leave the Institute?”

“We were answering a distress call.”

“Distress calls from out this far are more than likely to be the cause of pirates.  Why did you answer it?  Who made the order to go after it? 

Magnus remained silent.  He didn’t know what they were after, why were they trying to accuse them of destroying their own ship?

“Was it the pilot?  Unlikely, he seems a little...skittish, if you ask me.”

“Well, I didn’t.”

“The engineer?  No, she’s too smart for that.  The brute blonde brother?”

Magnus doesn’t answer.  It was in his silence that the man found what he was looking for, or thought he found what he was looking for.

“It was Alec,” the man mutters.  “He answered the distress call, didn’t he?”

Magnus could tell the truth, that they weren’t plotting to start a war, but no one was going to believe him, so he sits quietly, his expression hard as he mentally deflects any angle this man was attempting to attack him from. 

“You two are working together, somehow,” the man finalized.  He leans forward toward Magnus.  “I don’t know what your plan is, but I’m going to figure it out,” he threatens lowly before standing and exiting.  

Magnus releases a ragged breath.  What the hell was going on?

 

-

 

The Shadowhunter leading Alec through every twist and turn in the dark corridors finally stops at a large door.  He turns and releases Alec’s wrists of their cuffs before entering a code on the wall to slide the door open.  Another cell.  Alec looks at the guard, sighs and walks into the room.  It’s larger than his cell, with cabinets aligning every inch of the black walls along with five fold-out seats with straps for flight. 

Someone clears their throat and catches his attention.  Alec turns to look at the back corner of the room.

“Jace,” he breathes, happy to see his brother.

Jace smiles at him and puts down his bottle of water as he moves to hug him, but Alec stops midway as he takes in his brother’s look.  Jace is in one of his old uniforms, black and sharp.  Any sort of dirtiness from their excursion in their ship was cleaned from his face.  M L S reads down the side of his chest.

“Wait…” Alec pauses in confusion.  “What the hell is this?” he asks, his tone soft as he reels through his mind why Jace would be dressed this way, like he used to be, like Alec used to be.

Jace holds his hands out in surrender.  “Look, I know we don’t owe our allegiance to them anymore, but they let me get cleaned up, out of respect.”

“Respect?” Alec spits out in disdain.

“Alec,” Jace warns him, trying to calm him down.  “I know our lives were hell here, particularly yours…but I did serve here a long time and-”

“Particularly mine?” Alec asks.  He huffs out a short laugh.  “I served a long time too and we both burned bridges and left, but I guess I’m the only dishonorably discharged here.  How could I forget, you were the golden child, the beloved soldier who could get away with breaking the rules.” 

Jace shakes his head.  “Alec-”

“No matter how hard I worked,” Alec muttered, his soft voice filled the dark walls while the darkness filled him, “all anyone could see was a gay Shadowhunter who got his little brother killed.  They were never going to let me move up in the ranks to lead and I’d always be in your shadow.  Even after eight years, looks like things are still the same.” 

Jace’s brows furrow in guilt as he looks down, Alec kept his gaze strong, waiting to hear what his brother would have to say.

“I…” Jace tries, he looks up to meet Alec’s dark hazel eyes.  “I was so happy for you when you became Executive Officer on the Institute, Alec.  You have no idea.”  His voice laced with care that Alec didn’t want right now.

Alec licks his lips and clenches his jaw.  “Yeah, well, doesn’t really matter now does it?” he says as he looks Jace up and down.  He rolls up the sleeves of his Institute navy-blue jumpsuit. 

Jace opens his mouth to reply, but nothing comes out.  Alec can tell by the look in his eyes that he feels awful, but this entire situation is awful and it’s beginning to catch up to him.  They shouldn’t be fighting about this.

Alec huffs and turns to walk away, running a hand through his hair.  Remembering he’s in a cell, he settles for the other side of the room.  He leans his back against the wall and crosses his arms over his chest as the doors open again and Simon stumbles in.

He adjusts his glasses on his nose as he finds his footing and takes in the room.  “Oh, hey guys,” he says to them as the doors slide closed.  He stops as he takes in Jace and points a finger at him.  “Did you join?”  He looks to Alec.  “Is that an option?” his tone suggests he would totally take that option. 

Alec rolls his eyes and, before he can answer, the door slides open again as Izzy and, finally, Magnus enter the room, both rubbing at their wrists and glaring at the guards over their shoulders.

Alec doesn’t waste another second and crosses the room to collect his sister in his arms.  “Iz,” he breathes out.  She hugs him just as tight as he rests his cheek on top of her head.  He looks over at Magnus, who’s already watching them, and can’t find it in himself to feel complete and total relief.  His chest aches at the unknown life his sister lived for that year she was gone, at the realization that he really didn’t know Magnus at all.  The feeling of holding Magnus to his chest in the ship burns sharp in his memory at the thought that this wasn't the man that he had saved just a few hours ago, who had risked his life for the crew and doctored everyone back to their full health on the Institute for the past eight months.  

If there’s anything the League taught him, it was to never fully trust anyone.  You never know what someone has done, can do or will do to you or your family. 

His heart and mind race a million miles a second at the dreadful situation they were in and the possibility that it was caused by someone he knew and loved.

Releasing a breath, he grabs Izzy’s shoulders and leans back.  “Are you okay?” he asks as he looks for any injuries.  Although, from the looks of his crew, he suspects they were subjected to more of psychological torture than physical.

“I’m fine, big brother,” she says with a fond smile as she stares up at him, but the ghosts of their pasts haunt her eyes.  He nods his head in understanding, his eyes probably mirroring the same.  He kisses her forehead and sighs and she gathered him in her arms again.

“So, what did you guys tell them?” Jace asks, folding his arms.

“Everything,” Simon quickly answered.  He clearly couldn’t stand any form of pressure or lying.  “I told them everything.  I literally just kept talking and talking, I think I even made up some stuff at the end without even knowing it, I don’t know, I’ve never really been in this type of situation you know-” he rambled out in one breath until Magnus grabbed his arm to calm him.  He looks at Magnus with wide eyes, then expels a long breath with him.

Alec couldn’t stand not knowing the truth, couldn’t stand the tension anymore.  “Are you OPA?” he asks, addressing the elephant in the room.

Magnus whips his head to look at him, brown eyes rimmed with leftover black eyeliner turn wide with shock.  “Are you serious right now?” he asks with a tight voice as his jaw visibly clenched.

“Alec?” Izzy says as she leans back to look at him with concern.  But he can’t look at her right now.

“I just need to know.”  He’s not looking for a fight, just the truth.  “It’s not like we know each other’s life stories” he says to Magnus.  Everyone turns to look at him.

“That’s rich coming from you.  When were you going to tell us that you were apart of the League, hu?” Magnus raises his brows as he waits for an answer. 

“Wait, what?” Simon all but shouts, but everyone ignores him.

Alec steps away from his sister and right in front of Magnus.  “Yes, I was part of the League of Shadowhunters, I grew up on Mars.  But you?  All I know is you were born on the Downworld and now you work with us.  We don’t know anything about you.”

“Wait, you were all apart of the League?  How did I not know this?” Simon mutters in disbelief to himself, placing his hands on his hips.

“Oh, really?  Why did you leave, Alec?  Why did any of you leave Mars?” Magnus asks as he looks at the Lightwoods.  None of them respond as they stare at him with blank expressions.  Magnus purses his lips.  “Well then, I suppose we all have our own demons we’re trying to escape from.  Don’t blame me for doing the same.”  He walks past Alec and bumps his shoulder.  He folds out one of the chairs and gracefully sits in it, crossing one leg over the other as he leans back to look at his chipped nail polish.  “Not that it’s any of your business, but no, I’m not with the OPA,” he finalizes with a mutter as he looks back at Alec.

Alec turns to face him.  “Then why did you stop me from going after that ship?”

“Because you were being a reckless idiot who was going to get us all killed,” Magnus fires back.  “What, you think I go from ship to ship curing people for years while this entire plan got set up?” his voices raises and echoes off the walls.  Alec releases a heavy breath and closes his eyes, trying to expel the tension rising in his muscles.

He runs a hand through his hair.  “I’m just saying, we’re in a tight situation and if anyone has anything to confess, then now’s the time.”  He looks around the room as everyone remains quiet.  “We are all that’s left of the crew, we need to trust each other and figure out what really happened.”

“Trust goes both ways,” Magnus states and Alec looks to him.  He bites his lower lip before he nods his head.  No more secrets.

They can only stare at each other as the tension from the room begins to fade, somewhat.

Jace breaks the silence.  “Look, I’m sure they said a lot to mess with our heads.  They told me Simon was on the run from a rogue vampire clan at the Dumort station that has unfinished business with him.”

Everyone turns to look at Simon.  Put on the spot, he adjusts his glasses and runs a hand through his hair.  “Well, t-that’s true.”  He shrugs a shoulder.  “I guess you could say those are my demons I’m running from.”  He hesitantly glances towards Izzy.  “They told me you were an OPA spy as well.”

“That’s not true,” Alec interjects immediately.

“Actually…” Izzy hesitates.  Her brothers whip their heads toward her with wide eyes.

“W-what?” Jace breathes out.

“Isabelle,” Alec says in a hard tone.  “What do you mean?”

“I’m not a spy!  I just…”  Izzy’s brows furrow as she hesitates, trying to find the right words to articulate what she meant by that.  “I…I was involved with a guy, a Seelie,” she begins.  “And he ran with the OPA.”

Alec sighs and runs a hand down his tired features.  This situation just kept getting worse.  He pinches the bridge of his nose.  “What happened?” he asks as he looks back at her, his heart aching.

Izzy hated seeing the disappointment in his and Jace’s eyes more than anything.  Tears water up but she doesn’t let them fall.  She took a deep breath.  “It’s not what you think,” she says as she looks around the room.  “He was never a part of the attacks against Shadowhunters and Mundanes.  He worked more…behind the scenes, and I just wanted to help him Alec, I swear,” she begs as she looks up at her older brother who hasn’t moved an inch.  “I’m so sick of the prejudices held against Downworlders, the unfair lives they are given just so Shadowhunters and Mundanes can live better ones.”  Her words filled the small room.  “I stood up for something I believed in, just like you two taught me to,” she says softly as she looks at Jace and Alec.  When they didn’t reply, when no one replied, she tried to explain.  “Look, Meliorn never-”

“That’s enough,” Alec said gently, not unkindly, as he moved towards her holding out his hand to stop her from continuing.  He looks around the ceiling.  “We don’t know if they’re listening.  We have to be careful.”  He expels a long breath and looks down on his little sister.  “I know this was before you came to join us on the Institute, but I just need to make sure…are you still with him?”

Izzy sighs, almost in relief.  “No, no I left him and his cause years ago.  I swear, Alec, I had nothing to do with this.”

“I know, I know,” he mutters gently as he pulls her into his arms and sighs into her black ebony hair.

Jace walks over to join them.  Alec releases her as she hugs Jace and walks towards the door.

“I’m getting us out of here.  Hey!” he shouts at the door, not knowing if anyone can hear him.  “I’m ready to talk to your Captain!”

He pounds on the door until it slides open to reveal a guard with their weapon ready to shoot. 

Alec holds his hands up in surrender.

“I’m ready to talk,” he states.

The soldier grabs his hands roughly and bounds them together with cuffs.  Alec looks over his shoulder at his crew, his innocent crew that look back with wide eyes at him.

He nods at them, I’m going to fix this, I got this.

They all nod back and watch as he’s taken away.

 

-

 

Alec comes to a stop behind the guard, whose name plate reads Underhill, as they reach the flight deck.  Crew members sit in their positions behind their screens and controls as the ship moves along a steady pace among the stars.  The Captain stands in the center of the room.  She looks up as they enter and watches Alec through her transparent screen.

“Mr. Lightwood,” she says as she walks to meet them halfway, not a wrinkle in her black Martian suit nor a hair out of place as it sits atop her head.  “I’m Captain Imogen.  Right now, your face is currently being broadcast all over the system claiming that Shadowhunters were responsible for the destruction of the Institute.  This,” she pauses for a second, “is a lie.  A dangerous lie that can lead to a war.”

Alec stands tall, his hands cuffed in front of him as he takes this in.  “Based on the evidence we found and the position we are in, we can’t be blamed for jumping to that conclusion, ma’am.  Even if it isn’t true,” he addresses her.

She doesn’t react, none of these people know how to react to anything.  “I have a proposition for you,” she begins.  “You will recant your statement and say that Mars had nothing to do with these attacks and I will let you and your crew go.”

“Done.”  Alec just wanted to get out of here so they can really find out what happened.  “What’s the catch?” he asks as his eyes squint in suspicion.  This was too easy.

“You will state that the attack was implemented by Magnus Bane and Isabelle-”

“Absolutely not,” he interjects as he shakes his head.

She holds out a hand in understanding.  “Fine, I understand your need to protect your sister.  Then I will settle for placing the blame on your doctor, Magnus Bane.”

“Well I don’t settle for that because it isn’t true,” he growls.

Imogen sighs.  “Mr. Lightwood,” she motions for him to follow her as she leads him to her screen.  The footage displayed another ship flying towards them.  “You see this ship?  It’s been following us ever since we picked up you and your team.  It’s not one of ours and it won’t answer our calls when we try to hail it.”  She looks up at Alec.  “Magnus Bane is a Downworlder terrorist and this is most likely his friends coming to save him or finish the job.  We need to act quickly,” she orders.

Alec shakes his head and almost laughs at this outrageous accusation.  “Magnus Bane isn’t a spy.  If he ordered the death of everyone among the Institute, why risk putting himself in danger?  He almost died on my ship after that explosion and if it weren’t for him a few of us wouldn’t be alive.  I’m sorry, Captain, but I won’t blame him, it doesn’t make sense.”

Imogen takes a minute to think about it.  “He was just saving his own ass when he helped you fix your shuttle, I hope you know that, as was your sister,” she mutters in a soft voice suggesting that she felt sorry that Alec couldn’t see the truth about this.

He furrows his brow and shakes his head again.  “No-” he goes to argue before the alarms blare and red lights flash on the deck.  Imogen whips her head up and instantly settles back into her role as Captain as she barks orders.

“What’s going on?” her strong voice filled the cabin as the deck crew scrambled around to find the source of the problem. 

“Captain, the ship has opened fire on us!” one of the crewmen shout just before the ship veers as its hit.  Alec loses his footing and falls against a nearby wall.  His mind flashes to only a few hours ago when he was in the same position.  He sees the Institute getting blown up on his screen, hears Hodge’s voice whisper I’m sorry before turning to mere dust in space.  His breath quickens as he goes through a map of the ship in his mind to get back to his crew.

But he didn’t have a chance to leave.  Underhill grabs him quickly and forces him down in one of the fold out seats.

“Strap in!”

“I need to get to my crew-” Alec shouts, but he should have figured by now he would have been ignored.

“I said strap in, Lightwood!” Underhill shouts before the ship is hit again and everyone tries to keep their balance.

“Captain!  What do we do?” someone shouts in fear.  Captain Imogen pauses for a second before barking out orders of evasive maneuvers.  

All Alec could think of was one dreadful thought, someone really didn’t want he and his crew to talk.

Today really wasn’t their day. 

Chapter Text

 

 

Magnus, Jace, Izzy and Simon waited anxiously for Alec to return with good news.  Magnus stood with his arms crossed, leaning his shoulder against one of the many black cupboards aligning the walls.  He may have been suspicious of the Lightwoods keeping their past a secret, but he can’t blame them for doing the exact same thing he’s done most of his life.  He’s been running away from his problems ever since he found the means to escape Edom, to escape his treacherous father, but he learned he could never escape the weight of the death of his mother that carried heavily in a deep place in his heart.  

Magnus’s eyes followed Simon as he paced nervously back and forth in the confined room.

“I mean,” Simon began again as he stopped in his tracks and everyone sighed.  “I know he’s your brother and everything,” he gestured to Izzy and Jace who raised their brows at him waiting for him to make his point.  “Hell, i’ve considered him a friend even though he doesn’t like me that much.” Jace chuckled but it barely phased Simon as he continued. “But who's to say he isn’t saving his own ass right now or atleast just trying to save you two?” he pointed at the siblings again.

“Alec wouldn’t do that,” Izzy interjected immediately, the fierce black of her eyes pierced Simon as he gulped loudly, adjusting his glasses.  

“Look,” Jace started, not unkindly, “we are the only surviving crew members of the Institute.  That was our home for a while and I know you guys weren’t on it as long as us but...that’s gotta hurt Alec like it’s hurting us.  We can deal with not knowing that much about each other as originally thought after we get out of this mess, especially why Simon is running away from rogue vamps because I gotta hear that story.”  His teasing barely broke the tension barrier in the room.

Simon let out one nervous laugh before clearing his throat and looking to Magnus, the only other non Lightwood in this hell hole who was affected by Alec’s decisions just as much as Simon.  Magnus took a second to ponder, there was no need for argument right now, all that mattered was getting off of this ship so they could find out what really happened. He twisted the rings on his fingers and nodded his head at the crew.

Simon sighed but nodded as well.  “Fine, we’ll talk about it later-”

Everyone is thrown against the walls and let out painful groans as they land on the floor.

“What the hell?”

“Did someone just fire at us?”

“Why are we being fired at?”

“Can’t we catch one break ?!” Simon let out in frustration as he fixed his glasses.  Magnus helped him stand up as Jace helped his sister. They were all breathing heavily, waiting to see if anything else happened, if this was going to be a repeat of the situation they just got out of on their own ship.  It’s not long before they’re all tossed around again as the ship took on more fire.

Stumbling around, Izzy shouted, “Everyone strap in!  It doesn’t look like this is ending anytime soon.” Everyone rushed to the walls where they could fold out their emergency seats and strap themselves in.  

The straps across their chests and waists pressed heavily upon them as their bodies shook with the ship.

“Why the hell are we being fired on again ?” Magnus shouted over the rumbling of the gun cannons firing back.

“I don’t know,” Jace shouted back, “but we must be in CQB!”

Magnus grunted and held his chest restraints tighter as the ship veered, his heart pumping sporadically.  “What the fuck is CQB?”

“Close quarter battle!” Izzy shouted back.  “We’re firing back quickly while taking on heavy fire, someone must have snuck up on us like they did to the Institute.”

“Which means it’s probably the same people who destroyed the Institute!” Simon said as he held tight to his restraints and glasses.  “Don’t these people have something else better to do?!”

Jace answered, “That doesn’t matter right now, we just need to hold tight and wait for help!”

Magnus closed his eyes tight as the sound of the guns firing back overpowered the room, his breathing came out in quick gasps before he remembered what Alec told him to calm his nerves.  He remembered feeling the comforting weight of big, strong, beautifully calloused hands holding his shoulders as a voice soothed his inner turmoil, telling him to breathe. It was that same voice from that same caring man that wasn’t here right now, he was trying to help them get out of this situation.  But now, things were worse.

Another blast jerked the ship and Magnus is forced back to reality as his eyes snapped open.

His breath hitching in his throat, he muttered,  “Where’s Alec?”

 

-

 

Alec’s head whipped back against his seat as the cannons fired back.  He watched the crew take position at their stations, transparent screens displayed two incoming ships firing back at them as they buckled in and began evasive maneuvers.  Imogen’s voice boomed throughout the ship as she set out defensive orders.

Alec held tight to his straps.  They began firing back as the rattling came to a stop and he took the chance to glance at the incoming ships.

He sucked in a sharp breath.  “Those are the ships that attacked us,” he muttered to himself before looking up at Imogen.  “Captain! Those are the same ships that destroyed the Institute-”

“Great, then we can bring them in for questioning to find out what the hell is going on!” she barked before turning her attention back to the battle.

“Cap-” Alec tried to grab her attention but knew it would be pointless.  He heaved out a heavy sigh and desperately looked around for someone to get him out of here.  He turned to the right and spotted the guard that strapped him down, what was his name? Underhill.  He wasn’t necessarily positioned for the battle as he only held on to safety and watched the other crewmen, he must not be a pilot or gunman, which meant he wasn’t needed in this very moment to his Captain.

“Hey!” Alec shouted and the guard looked up from where he was holding tight to a panel.  “Take me back to my crew-”

“I told you, Lightwood,” Underhill half shouted back as he held on tight as another blast rocked the ship.  “My orders are to keep you here!”

Alec opened his mouth to resort to strong persuasive words before another blast knocked the ship.  Sparks flew as wires were released from the walls and the lights began to flicker. Alec shielded his eyes from the sparks and watched as a soldier fell in front of him.  There was a gun strapped to her holster that slid on the ground towards Alec, he could take it and fight his way out of here, this could be his chance to escape.

But Alec shook his head instead, pulled on his straps until he was released and fell to the floor with the soldier, turning her over.  He looked up to see Underhill lower himself on the other side of her and nodded to Alec. Alec pulled a bloody hand back from her torso to check her pulse.  Dead.

Alec closed his eyes in defeat and swallowed past the lump in his throat.   What the fuck was going on?  

He heard Underhill sigh heavily over the loud orders of Imogen.  “You said you’ve seen these ships before?” he asked.

Alec met his eyes through the constant flickering of the lights and nodded.  “They destroyed the Institute,” he muttered. He noticed the rocking of the ship stopped and they both looked up at the tense crew members.  “They stopped firing, why?”

Everyone on deck looked around at each other, waiting for an answer as silence filled the ship.

“It appears they’ve boarded, Captain,” one of the pilots muttered lowly, the sound of failure echoed through the walls as the crewman lowered his head, heaving on heavy breaths.

No, no this couldn’t be happening , Alec thought, his jaw clenching tight.  He needed to get out of here, get back to his crew, and get the fuck off this ship.

Imogen stood breathing heavily, a few strays hairs hung in her face, her eyes reflected that of a woman inevitably defeated in the face of an unknown enemy, but a woman who wasn’t going down without a fight.  Alec watched in tensed silence as the Captain clenched her jaw and turned towards him.

“Underhill, your orders have changed.”  

The guard quickly moved to stand in front of his Captain and saluted her.  “What do you need me to do, Captain?” he asked, his back straightening with pride.  

“Lightwood is the only one who knows what’s happened.  I need you to get him to a ship and safely back to MLS command so he can testify,” she ordered, her voice strong over the emergency alarms beeping loudly.  “I’ll take care of everything here,” she muttered lowly.

Underhill nodded, a darkness passed over his eyes as he listened to the meaning of her words..  “Understood, Captain.” He gestured to two guards who moved to grab Alec’s arms and lifted him to stand.

“Wait, hold on,” Alec tried with his hands up in surrender, but the guards only grabbed him and pushed him out of the room harder.  Alec grunted and pushed back. “I’m not going anywhere without my crew!” he shouted to Imogen before he was grabbed roughly again.

“Get him out of here and into a suit, now!” she yelled before turning back to the command panel and her crew, barking new orders at them.  

Alec had no choice but to be dragged away as he clawed for escape while Underhills remorseful eyes watched.

 

-

 

Magnus had managed to keep his surprised shouts to himself as the ship flew through heavy battle, but he couldn’t say the same for poor Simon.

The crew’s gasping breaths filled the small cell as the firing finally came to a stop.

“Did we win?” Simon gasped, adjusting his fogged up glasses.

Jace slicked back his hair and wiped the sweat from his forehead.  “Well, this is one of the best ships in the League. I’m sure it’s all over now,” he said confidently.  But before they could all unstrap themselves, a small blast tore through one of the cell walls near Magnus’ head and out through the one by Simon, who let out a high pitched squeal.  The holes began sucking out the oxygen of the room.

“Oh, shit!” Jace shouted but Izzy was already on it as she unbuckled herself and clicked her boots together to turn of the magnetization, allowing her to float through the air towards a shaking Simon.

“Magnus!” she shouted as she rummaged through the cabinets in the walls, looking for a sealant.  “We’re surrounded by vacuum, help me close these!”

Magnus paused, his hands warming up with the dormant powers of his father, powers he wanted nothing to do with.  He looked down and gasped as they began to barely glow red. He squeezed his eyes shut. No no no no, not now.  He took a deep breath and watched as his hands faded back to their normal color.  He looked back up to see Izzy grab a binder from one of the cabinets and began to seal it over the hole with a glue.  “I’m on it!” He unstrapped himself and clicked his boots together, welcoming the weightlessness of zero g as he rummaged through the cabinets to find a thick book.  

With one hand keeping him in place on the wall, he turned and held out his hand for the sealant.  Izzy finished her work and, with the right amount of force, sent it floating through the air to Magnus.  He quickly grabbed it out of the air and sealed the hole shut.

Izzy and Magnus clicked their magnetic boots back on and gently landed back on the ground.  Magnus tugged at the collar of his jumpsuit as he tried to breath properly. Jace did the same as he unbuckled himself and stood to join him, patting him on the shoulder for thanks.  Magnus simply nodded back, unable to catch his breath from the lowered oxygen levels.

Izzy helped Simon to his feet and turned back to the group.  “Both holes sucked out too much air which means they didn’t just cut through our cell, but probably the whole ship, which means we’re surrounded by hard vacuum,” she said through heavy breaths, her ebony black hair that slipped from her ponytail stuck to her lips.

“So let's open the door and get out of here!” Simon managed to say in a high pitch of panic as he stumbled to the locked door and began banging on it for help.  

“Even if we do get out we don’t have our suits!  And from the sounds of it, no one is coming to rescue us, so we’re screwed either way.  Great idea, Simon” Jace grunted as he held a hand over his heaving chest.

“You know what?” Simon’s adrenaline turned into fury fast as he spun to look at Jace, his brows drawn tight and eyes wild.  “I don’t see you coming up with any bright ideas!”

“Hey!  Let’s just calm down and take a deep breath, we can figure this out,” Magnus said as he stepped in between the two with his hands raised, ready to ward off any fight that’s been pent up between Jace and Simon.

Simon stuttered on his breath as he turned panicked.  “We can’t take any deep breaths because we’re running out of air!  Oh my god, everyone stop breathing-” He took a deep breath before holding it in.

“Simon!” Izzy exclaimed to get his attention and grabbed his shoulders.  He looked at her with wide eyes as he held onto his breath. Izzy lowered her voice.  “We can figure this out, we have about thirty minutes of oxygen left and that’s less than when we were on our ship and we somehow managed to get help then, right?”

Simon frantically nodded his head, his cheeks still puffed from the breath he held.  Izzy looked around the room. “I can fix this,” she muttered and looked back to Simon, placing a hand on his cheek.  “Breath while you still can,” she said gently.

Simon’s frantic look calmed in his eyes as he released his ragged breath slowly, nodding his head.

They began searching through the cabinets to find something, anything to help them.  Magnus paused to look at the book he used to seal the hole. Safety Regulations in Case of Emergency .  He had to huff a laugh at that, of course he would have accidentally used the one he needed.  He turned to the triumphant yell from Jace as he pulled out a tube from one of the cabinets and presented it to the group.  

“A sedative,” he said, still trying to control his breathing.

Izzy reached for it and read the tube.  “There’s enough here for one person to be knocked out and have their breathing slowed down so we won’t use up as much oxygen and give us time to find a way out of here,” she explained.

Jace looked to his sister.  “A way out of here? Izzy, we have thirty minutes.  No one is going to be worried about saving some prisoners, they’re going to be focused on saving their own asses right now.”

“Yeah, you would know,” Simon muttered below his breath.  

“Not helping, Simon,” Magnus interjected before Jace could get a jab in.  “Isabelle is right, one of us can take this and it’ll give us more time.” He sighed and reached for the tube.  “I’ll take it-”

Izzy retracted her hand.  “No, you’re our only doctor, we need you awake.  I’ll take it-”

“You’re our best mechanic,” Simon said.  “You need to stay awake too in case we come across another problem.  Jace should take it-”

“Oh, really?” Jace raised his brows.  “You’re from Earth, you use up the most air, you should take it!”

“Yeah, well, you never seem to shut up so you use up the most air!”

“If we do get rescued I can carry you, dumbass!  You can’t carry me,” Jace raised his voice through deep breaths.

Simon was stumped as he searched for an argument.  It took him a second, but he nodded his head in confidence and pointed at himself.  “I am the only pilot-”

“Izzy can fly if she needs to,” Jace interrupted him and shrugged a shoulder.

Simon let out a soft, self deprecating laugh as he looked around at the three; a doctor, a mechanic, and the muscle.  He placed his hands on his hips and shrugged. “You want me to be asleep while you all battle out whatever this is and slowly die from hypoxia?  Fine, I don’t need to watch it and i’ll probably just be in your way.”

“Simon..” Izzy tried but Simon held up his hand to silence her, then turned his palm up, asking for the tube.  Izzy sighed, and with a grateful and saddened look, she handed it over.

Simon twirled the tube in his hand as if he would a drumstick and walked over to the nearest seat.  He sat himself down and buckled in, taking off the cap and holding the needle to his neck. He looked up at the crew, his friends.  “I want to wake up,” he muttered, and there was so much held behind those simple words as his eyes shone.

Magnus moved to his side.  “You will,” he said gently as he placed a hand on his shoulder.  “I’ll make sure of it.” With a nod of confidence to the pilot, Simon released the sedative into his system.  His eyes began to droop and Magnus caught the tube before it could fall to the ground. He gently leaned Simon back in his chair, making sure all the buckles were clicked into place and watched until Simon fell asleep.  

Heaving a deep sigh, he leaned his back against the wall by Simon and slid all the way down to sit on the floor.  “What now?” he muttered, staring off into the distance, his heart hurting at the possibilities of never seeing the people he cared about again, never getting the chance to say goodbye to them...to tell them how he really felt and how he wished things were different.

The two siblings remained quiet.  The lights of the room were in a constant state of flickering, the ship jabbing this way and that as the battle continued, but it barely phased them as they all, once again in the span of barely twenty four hours, had to accept that they might not make it out of this situation alive.

Izzy heaved a deep sigh and slid down next to Magnus.  Gently, she grabbed his hand that rested heavily on his knees, curling her fingers in between his as he did the same, allowing the comfort.

Jace couldn’t stand with the constant jerking of the ship, so he joined them on the floor, sliding down next to his sister and grabbing her delicate hand in his calloused, overworked one.  They sat in silence. Distant blares of alarms rang through the hallways and echoed into their room.

“I hope Alec’s okay,” Magnus muttered, surprising himself for expressing his immediate worry for the one person who wasn’t here rather than himself or any of his fellow crew members locked away in this room.  But their defeat was imminent which meant in the next hour they will either be captured, again, or they will all be dead. Magnus didn’t know which one he preferred, all he knew was in these last moments, the one person he wanted to see, besides his dear friends living on the Downworld, was Alexander.

Izzy huffed out a soft laugh, dragging Magnus back in from his internal thoughts.  “When are you two going to admit your feelings?”

Magnus whipped his head to look at her in shock and was met with a gentle knowing smile.  He opened his mouth to lie or deny, but if they really were going to die here, what’s the point?  He shrugged his shoulders and feigned playful confusion. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, my dear.”  A small smile tugged at the corner of his lips, Izzy mirrored his smile but her eyes filled with instant sadness.  Magnus squeezed her hand to get her attention, his brows furrowed with concern.

She spoke softly into the oxygen escaping the room, so soft Magnus leaned closer.  “I just wish things were different. He’s fought his whole life against people that wouldn’t accept him.  Even if it didn’t work out with you guys, at least he would have known what it felt like to truly be himself.  That’s all I wanted for him..”

Magnus fully squeezed her hand now and didn’t let go.  In the chaos of the situation, he spoke just as softly, afraid to break the sweet sound barrier the two of them created.  “I know you wish for him to be himself, but Isabelle, I hope you know that i’m grateful for you and Jace simply because you do allow Alec to be himself.  You may not see it, but I did everytime I caught you three off duty at the same time, joking around, teasing, playing card games.” Izzy looked up into his eyes with unshed tears.  “You accepted him for he who is, and I can tell he loves you both so much, just as you love him.”

A tear fell silently down Izzy’s cheek.  She moved to lay her head on his shoulder.  “Thank you, for everything you’ve done for us,” she said.  “We don’t know what family you left behind, but you’ve made one is us.  All of us.”

Jace released his sister’s hand to wrap around her shoulders, squeezing Magnus’ in the process, a silent sentiment that he agreed with Izzy.  Somehow, through all of this hell, they’ve found each other, and that was good enough for Magnus.

 

-

 

The sound of heavy footfalls in magnetic boots clanked throughout the dark hallways as Alec unwillingly followed Underhill and his team.  The headlights from their suits and rifles lit the way as the electricity from the ship drained. Somewhere on board, the enemy was infiltrating their ship.  They took every corner turn with caution.

Leading the group, Underhill came to a stop, holding up his arm signalling an immediate halt.  The group stopped and circled up as Underhill pulled up a map of the ship on his suits forearm.

“You know what really pisses me off?” one of the guards began as he looked at Alec, his voice filtered through his mask, only his eyes visible.  “That while i’m here protecting some Shadowhunter deserter, my ship is getting pounded and my buddies are dying.”

“Then maybe you should go help them while I go help my people,” Alec countered.

“We have our orders,” the guard replied.  “Duty means something to the League of Shadowhunters,  I don’t expect you to know anything about that.”

Alec clenched his jaw tight as he let that comment go.  They didn’t have time to argue, he needed to find a way to escape.

Another guard chimed in.  “I’d be happy to leave you, I hear your people are responsible for what happened on Chernobyl-”

“I don’t know anything about Chernobyl and neither do my people!”  He had had enough of this. “If this wasn’t your doing, then someone is setting the scene to make it seem like the Shadowhunters want a war with the Belters and Downworlders-”

A loud clunk rang through the hallways as a steel grate fell to the floor forty feet away and smoke instantly seeped through.  The Shadowhunters immediately took position. The ones in front went down on their knees while the other three stood behind, all deadly silent as they took aim.  Alec held his breath, waiting for someone to make the first move.

After a few deadly silent seconds, shots from both sides rang out and Alec took his chance.  He bolted away from the battle and towards his friends, his family.

“Dammit, Alec!  Get back here!” Underhill tried but turned back to fire at the enemies with no choice but to let Alec go as he dashed around the corner and out of sight.

Alec spent a good five minutes sprinting down hallways trying to remember where his crew was being held when he stumbled upon a group of fallen bodies.  He slowly approached one of the bodies noticing they had different suits. These were the attackers, not the Shadowhunters. The mask over the unknown enemy hid the details of their face as Alec leaned down to examine it.

He searched the suit until he came upon what he was looking for, a gun.  He grabbed the gun and went to stand before a hand snaked out and grabbed his oxygen tube behind his neck.  The assumed dead man stared up at Alec with a fierce look, like it wasn’t taking much to consider killing Alec by depleting his air.  Alec immediately aimed the gun at the man’s chest.

“Let go,” he growled low and fierce.  “Don’t make me shoot you.”

“You won’t,” the man gargled.  His smile was too confident for someone who was about to die, but Alec wasn’t in the mood for mind games and pulled the trigger, only nothing happened.  He pulled it back again and again as he panicked until a shot rang out and the man released his oxygen tube. But it wasn’t from his gun.

Alec looked up to see Underhill lowering his rifle.  “Their weapons are keyed to their suits, it would have never fired for you, only him,” he said through his mask.

The only thing Alec could manage was a nod of thanks as the rest of his team filed over.

“We lost two soldiers, you asshole,” one of the guards berated him as Alec stood and walked over to join them.

He gulped.  “Look, i’m sorry about your people.  But if we don’t get mine out of here, then this was all for nothing.”

“Shut it,” Underhill ordered and proceeded to walk to the man he just shot.  “I want to talk to him.” He grabbed the man roughly by the shoulders. “Who are you?  Who sent you? Why did you destroy the Institute?”

The man simply laughed to the best of his ability.  

“Were you on Chernobyl station?  What was going on there?”

The man wheezed out a breath.  “Something...glorious,” he drawled.  Chills ran down Alec’s spine.

Underhill released an annoyed breath.  “Answer my questions and we will give you the medical assistance you require.”

“Why?” he breathed out.  “We’re all dead anyway. He will come for you..” he said, his eyes falling closed as he stuttered out his last breath.   

Underhill grunted and walked to join his team again.  A hand went up to his ear as new information was fed to him through his helmet.  He looked at Alec with wide eyes and lowered his hand. “The Captain’s set us to ground zero, she’s going to sacrifice herself and the ship.  We need to get going, now.” He moved to push Alec towards the escape ship and away from his crew.

Alec stood his ground and looked into Underhill’s eyes, the only visible part of him in the martian suit.  “Please,” he begged, he never begged. “Take me to my people and i’ll offer you a deal.”

Underhill was silent as he looked around at his team, then back to Alec.  “I’m listening.”

 

-

 

The sound of air rushing in filled the quiet room as the doors to his team’s cell slid open.  The low red emergency lights were on as Alec entered, his breath hitching in his throat at the sight before him.  Everyone was unconscious and strapped into their chairs, leaning heavily against their seat belts. The closest to him was Izzy as he rushed over to wake her up.  

“Isabelle,” he said softly, trying to control the shaking of his voice.  She coughed and sucked in a breath as the air filled the room. Alec laughed with relief and ran a hand through her hair.

Her eyes were tired, like she had been woken from a long nap.  “Alec?” she said warily and reached her arms out to him. Alec obliged without a second thought and gathered her in his arms.

“You’re okay,” he breathed out.  “Come on.” He pulled back and began unstrapping her.  “You need to get in your suit.”

Underhill entered the room as the rest of the team began to awaken.  “Here’s the deal,” he said. “You are all going to testify that the League of Shadowhunters had nothing to do with destroying the Institute and we will safely get you out of here.”  His team filed in and handed each person their suits. “The air seal on this room is temporary, so move quickly,” he ordered and exited the room.

After helping wake up his sister more, Alec rushed over to Magnus, who was sitting a few feet away in his seat coughing.  

“Hey,” Alec breathed out as he crouched down and helped release Magnus from his straps.  

Magnus blearily looked up at him.  “You came back,” he stated.

Maybe it was the constant fear of dying the past twenty four hours that made Alec so bold.  He reached out and cupped Magnus’ cheek without hesitation and grinned. “I told you i’d get us out of here.  You’re lack of faith wounds me,” he joked, hoping to get a smile out of this delicate yet strong man.

Magnus’s lips turned up at the corners, a smile only for Alec.  “You could have gotten here before we passed out from lack of air, or at least woken me up with another kiss,” his smile turned into a smirk.  

Alec snorted.  “It wasn’t a kiss.  And i’m sorry, I got a little held up, but i’ll work on it,” he promised.  This moment of light joking with Magnus released a bit of his heart from the constant state of fear he’s been in the past few hours without them.  Jace’s coughing forced him to tear his eyes from Magnus’s.

Jace stood up and grabbed his and Simon’s suits from the soldiers, walking over to Simon who was still slouched in his chair.  Alec helped Magnus stand up, one hand on his shoulder, the other holding his hand as Magnus used him for balance. “What happened to Simon?” he asked as Magnus gained his footing and was able to stand on his own.

“He took one for the team,” Jace said as he shook Simon awake.  “Come on, I gotcha,” he grunted as a he lifted a half conscious Simon from his seat and began helping him with his suit. Izzy, already suited up, helped Jace with Simon’s suit while Alec helped zip Magnus up and placed his helmet on his head.

“Thank you,” Magnus whispered through his mask as he grabbed Alec’s shoulder, the lights in his helmet lit the sincerity in his eyes.

Alec nodded and placed his hand on Magnus’s shoulder.  “The problems of our past don’t matter. I’m sorry for judging you and I hope I can earn your trust back.”

“Alexander,” Magnus said, “you’ve had it.”  They smiled softly at each other, almost getting lost in their eyes before Underhill interrupted and told them to get their asses moving.

Before he knew it, they were racing down the hallways to the battle ships bay.  With each passing minute, the ship became overrun with the enemy, and one by one, Underhill’s men fell until it was just him leading Alec’s crew.  

They approached the hangar, staying hidden by the safety of the door as they looked upon the battleship they were about to enter, just a bridge away.  They were all trying to catch their breath, especially Jace as he held onto a slouching Simon.

“Okay,” Underhill began.  “We can’t risk going at once, i’ll cover you.  Turn off your mag boots in this room, you’ll be fine unless the drive of the main ship goes out.”

Alec nodded.  “Izzy, help Jace get Simon across the bridge and onto the ship.”

Izzy moved to the other side of Simon and put her arm around his shoulder, his neck barely managed to keep his head up straight.

“Ready?” Jace asked as he held tight to Simon.

“Go!” Underhill ordered and they were off.  Shots instantly rang off as they raced across the bridge.  This area of the ship was too big and open, they were unprotected with nothing to shield them except for Underhill as he shot at the enemy shooting at them.

Alec’s heart raced as he watched his siblings drag Simon, shots just barely missing.  He hadn’t realized he’d been holding his breath until something grabbed his hand. He looked over to see Magnus looking at him, his eyes telling him to breath.  Alec nodded and took a shaky breath, preparing his body for the sprint as he squeezed his hand back.

The three almost made it before a shot hit Jace in the leg and he fell to the ground with a shout.  Izzy was unable to hold up Simon and they all fell to the floor.

“Jace!” Alec shouted and moved to help but Magnus’ hand held him back.  

Underhill aimed and shot down the person who shot Jace.  “Go go go!” he shouted to them. Jace grunted and with the assistance of Izzy they managed to make it to the safety of the battleship.

Alec couldn’t even let himself feel relief.  They next thing he knew, Underhill was shouting at them to go and he and Magnus were sprinting across the bridge.  Sparks of shots missing them danced around as they hit the metal bridge instead.

Alec could see the door to the ship and his sister on the other side shouting at them to hurry, they were almost there.  The next thing he knew, the engines of the ship stopped, forcing he and Magnus to lift off the ground and float through the air.  

“No, no, no!” Magnus shouted, unable to do anything but flail his arms as he floated through the air.  This section of the ship was too big to risk waiting to bump into something to propel them. Shots were still ringing out as Alec floated behind Magnus.  They were so close, he needed to get Magnus to safety.

He remembered a hook on his suit and is barely close enough to attach it to Magnus’s.  

“Hang on!” he shouted before planting both of his feet on Magnus’s back and pushing, propelling himself back to the bridge but also forcing Magnus farther away.  When he was close enough, Alec clicked on his boots as he landed back on the bridge and used all his energy to pull hard on the cord, forcing Magnus back down towards him.  He caught Magnus from behind as he floated back into his arms. The force almost knocked them over, but Alec held them up and made sure Magnus had his boots clicked back on before they ran the rest of the way.  

Magnus fell to his knees in a huff as he tried to catch his breath.  Alec heaved as he leaned on his knees over Magnus, unattaching the hook on his suit.  He turned to see Underhill join them before closing the doors of their new ship. Parts of his suit on his chest flared with sparks but he paid no mind to it.

“What now?” Magnus asked breathlessly, still on his knees.  

Hearing another cry of pain from his brother, Alec flung his helmet off and ran over to Jace as he laid on the ground shouting in pain,  instantly dragging him into a chair. “I got you,” he breathed as he strapped Jace in.

Underhill stumbled his way to another chair, pulling his own personal screen in front of him and hitting buttons.  He took off his mask and blood ran down from his nose while sweat dripped from his forehead. “Authorize access to every person on this ship,” he told the computer and it made a noise in confirmation.  

Simon was finally awake and standing next to the stairs that led up to the pilots seat.  Magnus ran to help Jace with his injury but they didn’t have time, the ship that their ship was on was going to blow soon.  

“Everyone strap in!” Underhill ordered and motioned for Alec to come to him.  Alec obliged as he tried to catch his breath. “We need someone to fly, i’m not a pilot,” he confessed and Alec nodded.  

He walked over to Simon and grabbed him by his lapels before launching him up.  “Go!” he shouted as Simon floated up to the pilot’s seat with a scared look.

Alec looked around to make sure everyone had a seat and they were strapped in.  Jace was trying to hold back his groans of pain, Magnus was buckling himself in and Izzy was pointing at Alec to hurry and strap himself in.  He moved to join her before Simon voiced, “I’ve never flown a battleship I don’t think I can get-”

“Get us out of here!” Alec shouted.

“You got it, boss,” Simon conceded right away, too afraid to argue.  “I just need some juice,” he muttered to himself and pressed a few buttons.  This ship was high tech with juice sealed to the back of the pilots chair that injected needles into the pilot and woke them up.  The fluid ran through its tubes and into Simon’s system. He jolted with surprise as adrenaline ran through his veins, like someone snorting cocaine and feeling the immediate effects.  “Okay girl, go easy on me,” he said before taking control of the ship.

Alec stumbled as he went to his seat and strapped himself in on time before Simon ran into something and everyone jolted in pain.

“My bad!” Simon shouted as he held up his hand.  “That was my bad.”

“Simon, fire back!” Alec shouted up to him.

“On it!” Simon answered before they all felt the rail guns take aim and take down the men still shooting at them.  With a final turn, they faced the opening exit and Simon flew them out into space.

“Okay, get us away from that ship, maximum drive!” Underhill ordered.

Before they all knew it, the force of the flight was so hard they all were pressed back into their seats as the ship they fled blew up into space dust, killing everyone aboard.  Leaving them, again, as the only survivors.

Alec’s heart would have ached for the people who sacrificed themselves for he and his crew, but the force of an elephant sitting on him pressed into his chest.  He couldn’t open his mouth, his jaw clamped shut and his crew wasn’t any better. This was a ship they’ve never experienced before with a lot more drive force than they are used to.

“Woo!  I’m actually doing it!” he heard Simon shout, sounding like he was having the time of his life while they all suffered at the expense of his fun.

Alec tried to keep his eyes open, but he was getting dizzy and it was getting harder to breath.  With one last glance at his crew, his mouth unable to force any words of comfort, his eyes fluttered shut and his head rolled to the side of his seat as he finally passed out.

 

-

 

Distant noises of distress floated through Alec’s head as he travelled in and out of consciousness. Each and every muscle ached as he felt the effects of the drive from the ship.  They must have slowed down since he can hear people walking around him. A shout of pain jolted him fully awake. He was able to slowly open his eyes. Turning his head, he saw blurry figures surrounding his brother as they tried to help him.

Jace.

“Hold him down!” Magnus shouted as he pulled a thick metal cast out from the emergency aid kit and wrapped it around Jace’s leg.  Jace immediately relaxed as a sealant spread from tiny holes in the cast and encompassed his leg.

“Isabelle, give your brother a dose of this, I think Alec is waking up.”

The next thing Alec knew, Magnus came into view as he jogged towards him, relief etched on his face.  “You’re okay,” Magnus reassured him as he crouched next to his seat.

Alec wanted to say something, anything, but his body ached and his eyes could barely stay open.

“This should help,” Magnus muttered.  “Just a quick sting, I promise.” Alec felt a needle in his neck as something entered his system and he began to finally feel alert, the pain of his muscles slowly ceased.  He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, feeling like he hadn’t been able to in hours, when in reality it was only a few minutes.

A warm hand cupped his cheek.  He opened his eyes to find Magnus’s searching his face for any other signs of pain.  “Are you hurt anywhere else? I should go get the medical kit,” he said before standing up.  Alec immediately reached out and grabbed his hand that was holding his face. Magnus stopped and looked back at him.

“I’m good, thanks to you,” he said with what little energy he could find.

Magnus expelled a breath of relief and crouched down in front of Alec again.  “I’m glad. You’re brother’s going to be okay, I got the bullet out and the cast will do the rest of the work.  Should just be a sore bruise in a few days. Sorry I didn’t come help you sooner,” he said sheepishly, lightly stroking Alec’s cheek.

The corner of Alec’s lips tipped up slightly.  “Don’t worry about it, but the least you could have done was give me mouth to mouth,” he muttered with a smirk.  He watched as Magnus bit his lip to hold back his smile.

“As a doctor, I can assure you that if you needed the assistance of my lips I would have happily obliged.  However, you were not in need of mouth to mouth.”

Alec’s cheeks burned with what he uttered out next.  Perhaps it was the drugs getting to him or maybe after almost dying too many times in one day he just didn’t give a damn anymore about holding back.  “Sorry, I meant to say the kiss of life.” He tried not to smile and failed as Magnus fully smiled back at him, his light laughter was like music to Alec’s ears.

“Mr. Lightwood, are you flirting with me?” Magnus asked playfully, but low enough that the conversation was only heard between them.

“Trying to, Mr. Bane,” Alec mumbled through a smile, trying to contain how red his face was getting, but the drugs were making his mind too hazy to care.

Magnus chuckled and licked his lips as his eyes travelled across Alec’s face.  They both turned serious as the tension grew. After what they had been through, they didn’t want to deny themselves and their feelings anymore.  They shouldn’t have in the first place, but Magnus had been scheduled to transfer to another ship soon. Now that that clearly wasn’t happening and they were the remaining survivors of now two destroyed ships, their ability to hold back has ceased to exist.  Alec wanted to learn to live in the moment, and in this moment he wanted to kiss Magnus.

Magnus leaned forward, his eyes searching Alec’s to see if this was okay.  Alec did the same as he managed to lean a little forward, toward the one destination he’s wanted to go to for months.

Their noses barely brushed together before Jace so gleefully interrupted.  “Hey, love birds, about time, but save it for later!”

Izzy looked apologetically at Alec and Magnus as they seperated.  “Sorry, I gave him a heavy dose, he’s a little out of it.”

Alec cleared his throat as Magnus stood up and did the same.  Hoping things wouldn’t be awkward, Alec held his hand out for assistance, a small smile on his face.

Magnus smiled softly back and grabbed his hands, helping lift him out of his seat and holding onto his shoulders as he swayed on his feet.

“So fill me in on what’s happened,” Alec said as he and Magnus joined Izzy and Jace.

“Underhill was shot, but his injury was much worse.  He’s down in the med bay,” Izzy said.

“There’s a med bay on this thing?” Alec asked as he finally looked around at the stealthy, shiny new battle ship they just acquired.

“Oh, just wait till I show you what this baby’s got!” Simon said with excitement as he slid down the bars on the stairs to join them.  He landed with an extra jump in his step and placed his hands on his hips, a smile plastered on his face. “She’s the perfect battle ship with rail guns all around and torpedos and I can control everything with just my panel up there when I fly,” he rushed out, adjusting the glasses on his nose.

“That’s great Simon, and i’m really happy for you, I am,” Alec said, not unkindly, but a little sarcastic “but where are we right now?”

“Ah!”  Simon went to the wall just behind Alec and pulled up a holographic screen with their location.  “You weren’t waking up and Underhill was down so i’m just keeping us at a safe distance outside of the Downworld.  We don’t know what has been heard around the Belt, but it’s best we don’t run into anyone.”

Alec nodded and patted Simon on the shoulder.  “Good job, Simon.”

The pilot beamed with pride.

“So, let me get this straight,” Jace slurred from his seat.  “We are the only survivors of two attacks from an unknown enemy, and anyone who would know where we are or where we were sent isn’t alive, right?  And our stealth ship here is keeping us out of the view of everyone else?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Alec said, his head turned down as he thought of all the fallen soldiers.

“So, who the hell just pinged our location and sent us a message?” Jace asked as he pointed to the screen behind everyone.

A notification blinked, alerting them of an incoming message from an anonymous source.  

“What the hell?” Simon muttered as he moved to play the message.

A video feed popped up with a man sitting behind a desk.  “Survivors of the Institute and MLS attacks, my name is Luke Garroway.  I am the head of operations on Jade Wolf in the Downworld. Unless you want to start a war, and something tells me you don’t, you need my help to stop something before it starts.  I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but I have a strong feeling we can help each other. It wasn’t too hard for me to find your location, it’s only a matter of time before someone as tech savvy finds you and sends the authorities.  Find your way to Jade Wolf and I can offer you asylum for the time being and you’ll give me something in return.”

The video ended, leaving everyone staring confused at each other as tension and silence filled the air.

“Wait, did you guys kiss and I missed it?!” Simon shouted as he spun around to look at Alec and Magnus with a look of betrayal.

They both sighed.  Alec ran a hand down his face.  This was going to be another long day.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Luke Garroway.  Didn’t mom and dad used to work with him?” Jace slurred through his medication.

“If this is the same guy, Lucian, then I think that’s who mom has mentioned,” Alec answered, arms crossed, and brows scrunched in confusion as to why Luke would be contacting them.  “But that was years before he was banned from the League of Shadowhunters and joined the Downworlders.”

“So, this guy runs with, what, the lycanthrope?  And why exactly would he want to talk to us?” Simon asked nervously, scratching the back of his head and running a hand through his hair.  

Alec expels a long sigh.  “I don’t know.” Looking around at his crew, the past few hours of hell hit him hard.  The only home they had known for the past few years was now destroyed. They should run, but where?  “We are the only remaining survivors of two attacks by an unknown enemy trying to start a war. We look like terrorists.  And I don’t know if we can trust Luke, but he is the only one offering us the opportunity to lay low. I think we should go to Jade Wolf, get some rest and then figure out our next move.”  He glanced around at his crew for their confirmation.

“Guess we don’t have much of a choice,” his sister sighed before walking to the stairs that lead down to the lower, unexplored levels of the ship.  “I’m gonna check this thing out, see if there’s anything that needs to be patched up.”

Alec glanced to his drugged up brother who gives him his thumbs up of approval, finally drowsy enough to sleep off the pain of his bullet wound.  He turned to their pilot.

Simon shrugged a shoulder.  “If this is our ticket out of this mess, then I’m for it.  I’ll set up a route to get there as quickly as possible,” he said before climbing the stairs to the pilot’s seat.

“Thank you, Simon,” Alec muttered with a nod of his head.  He finally turned to Magnus, only to see he’s no longer on the flight deck.  He checked that Jace was fully passed out and that Simon was busy before heading down the stairs in search of the one man whose opinion he’s come to value more than he thought.

Brows furrowed, his boots clanked loudly on the metal stairs before he reached the bottom and spun around, looking at all the possible ways he could go.  He walked past a few of the bedrooms and turned a corner to find a kitchen. His brows raised in surprise. It’s nothing huge, but enough to support them for the time being.  Alec didn’t think he’d been on one of these battleships before. They upgraded quite a bit since he’s left. He took in the steel cabinets, drawers, microwave and fridge before coming to a pause.

He sucked in a sharp breath.  A coffee machine? Could this be real?

“Yes,” he whispered in delight before quickly making his way over.  He finds a ceramic cup in one of the cupboards and places it under the spout, pressing the button to pour coffee, heart racing in anticipation.  Nothing happened except for a small alert on the touch screen flashing insert coffee grounds.

“No, no, no.  Come on, he needs this,” Alec muttered in frustration as he opened every cabinet door until he found what he was looking for and paused.  He felt like he had just opened the gates of heaven as he stared at an entire cabinet filled with coffee bags. He poured some into the machine and pressed the button.  His nostrils were instantly assaulted by the sweetest aroma as his cup filled. 

Now that he finally had a moment to take in everything, he noticed how sweaty he was from the few hours of adrenaline that coursed through his veins.  Scrunching his nose in disgust, he unzipped his jumpsuit and let the top half rest on his hips, now only sporting his black short sleeve shirt he always wore underneath.  He tied the arms of his jumpsuit around his hips and waited for the coffee machine.

Grabbing the mug, he brought it to his nose and took another deep breath.  He moaned softly in delight before taking a sip and releasing an even louder moan, his eyes closed in bliss.  Taking out another cup, he made more coffee. God, they needed this after the shit they’ve been through.

Both hands now supporting a mug, he set out on his previous mission.  He walked the hallways until he passed by another bedroom, the door open as he peeked his head in to find Magnus standing with his back to him, staring out one of the windows into the black abyss of space that surrounded them.

“Hey,” Alec said, still in the threshold of the doorway, not wanting to intrude.

Magnus turned to look over his shoulder at Alec.  Those soft brown eyes rimmed with black charcoal met his.  He smiled a small smile in greeting, but it didn’t reach his eyes.  Alec’s stomach plummeted as Magnus turned back to the window, arms crossed securely over his chest.

“You left before I could hear your thoughts on this whole thing with Luke,” Alec started and held up the mugs.  “I was looking for you but luckily found coffee first.”

Magnus spun at that and Alec met his smile with his own.  “Well,” Magnus said as he gracefully made his way over. “Why didn’t you just say that in the first place.”

Alec tried to contain his smile as he handed him his mug.  Magnus brought it to his lips before pausing.

“Am I to expect that Shadowhunters also don’t know how to make a decent cup of coffee or-”

Alec rolled his eyes and gently tilted Magnus’ cup into his mouth.  Magnus sputtered, his eyes widening in shock as he took his first swallow.  “Oh, god,” he breathed out. “Could use something a little sweeter, but this is exquisite.”  He took another sip and moaned. Alec’s stomach stirred at the noise, but he pushed it away. 

“Thought that might shut you up about Shadowhunter coffee,” Alec smirked before taking his own sip.  He gestured to the room with his mug as he swallowed the warmth. “Did you already claim a room?”

“Hm?  Oh, I guess.”  Magnus looked around the decently sized room.  “I was just looking for a quiet spot. I feel like so much has been going on I haven’t had the chance to breathe.  I almost forgot what the quiet sounded like,” he chuckled, and Alec’s chest filled with guilt.

Alec ducked his head to look at the floor and cleared his throat, tapping fingers on the lip of his mug.  “Yeah, um, I’m sorry that I got us into this mess,” he muttered before looking back at Magnus.

Magnus’ eyes widened at him in surprise.  He shook his head with furrowed brows. “Alexander, we both heard that distress call and made the decision to rescue anyone alive aboard that ship.”

“Yeah, but I was the one who went behind Hodge’s back, I’m the one who didn’t follow my orders to delete that message.  If I had just done what I was told to do, we wouldn’t be here and the Institute and everyone aboard along with all those Shadowhunters would still be alive.”  His voice raised slightly, not wanting to yell, but the frustration of the entire situation and the guilt eating away at him were becoming too much.  Alec looked away in shame, sighing heavily through his nose as he tried to calm down.

 -

The room fell silent after that.  Magnus took a moment to gather his thoughts.  He reached out and took Alec’s hand that rested by his side.  Alec looked down at their hands, then those tender Hazel eyes met Magnus’ with a furrowed brow, confused by his kindness.  

“I know that based on our current position, things haven’t gone our way at all,” Magnus murmured into the quiet room.  The topic was tender, so he spoke of it gently and with care. “But… you're not the one to blame for this. Don’t forget there is an unknown enemy who for some reason wants to start a war.  We are only trying to do our best with the situation we are in.” His thumb rubbed soothingly over the back of Alec’s hand.

Alec’s eyes filled with sorrow, a man tormented by the weight of the world he placed on his shoulders, the weight of the solar system.  Magnus couldn’t have that.

“Just because you are the Captain, doesn’t mean you have to make all of the decisions and carry all of that guilt by yourself.”

 Alec shook his head.  “I’m not the Captain-”

“You were promoted on the Institute before everything happened.  With Hodge...gone,” Alec turned away, jaw clenched, unable to look at Magnus.  Magnus continued gently. “...you’re in charge now. Rightfully so.”

Alec looked up at that.  He opened his mouth, then closed it.  Unable to formulate the words, he pursed his lips and nodded his head.  “I’ll try to be worthy of the position,” he murmured. 

Magnus gave him a small, reassuring smile.  He let his hand go after one final squeeze of encouragement.  He watched as Alec walked over to the window Magnus was previously looking through.

Magnus studied his tall figure from behind.  Sporting only his black shirt underneath his work jumpsuit, Alec’s muscular arms were finally out in the open, exposing multiple black tattoos Magnus had never seen before.  His broad shoulders lifted as Alec took a deep breath, then sagged heavily as he exhaled. Magnus could feel his guilt from here as he walked closer.

“I never asked for any of this… I don’t want any of this,” Alec said so softly that Magnus was unsure if he heard it.  Magnus could see his torn face reflected in the window as he stared out into the endless abyss of space, lost. The billions of stars reflected the storm in his eyes.  Too afraid to utter the truth to his team, so he does it here, barely, and Magnus’ heart aches at the confession.

Magnus reached out to gently placed his hand on Alec’s shoulder.  He didn’t move, still trapped in his head as he undoubtedly began his spree of overthinking and blaming himself for everything that happened to them.

“We’re all victims of circumstance,” Magnus murmured.  Alec turned his head to look at him over his shoulder, brows furrowed.  “All we can do is the best we can with what we’ve got.”

Alec nodded his head once, allowing the advice.  Magnus could see something change in his eyes though as he swallowed thickly.  “Even if that means we have to go to Jade Wolf?” he challenged.

Magnus clenched his jaw tight and slowly lowered his hand back to his side.

Alec fully turned to face him.  “I know you don’t want to go. Why?  Do you know this guy or something?” he asked, voice laced with concern.  

“Lucian is a good man.  Let’s just say he’d be surprised to see me.”

Alec’s brow furrowed at that, but he remained quiet, thinking.  This was one thing Magnus admired about Alec. Having both been formed into the people they are from the tough situations they grew up in, Alec and Magnus both understood the need to protect the people they love the most while also protecting themselves by keeping the past in the past.

Alec nodded once, mumbling, “I told you I trusted you, and I meant that.  I won’t ask unless meeting him will put our lives in danger. Will it?”

Magnus’ chest ached at the concern and respect Alec allowed himself to express out loud to Magnus.  “No,” he shook his head. “Lucian will offer us asylum, that I believe,” he answered honestly. He hesitated before continuing.  “He’d just be surprised to see me… alive,” he muttered into his mug before taking a long sip, averting his gaze from Alec’s wide eyes.

Again, Alec surprised him as he took a moment before nodding his head.  “Well, then he doesn’t need to know. We can go somewhere else-”

“Alexander,” he stopped him, stomach twirling again at the care Alec placed upon his crew.  Alec was like an iceberg; cold, showing a small range of emotions above the sea level, but underneath that iciness there was so much more to be discovered, a need to fiercely protect those he cared about.  Magnus was flattered to find he weaved  his way into that circle of trust and care. “We need to go. This is our best option and right now, I think we could use all the help we can get. Plus, Luke and I used to be friends.  It’ll be nice to see him. I can’t let the worries of my past hold me back, especially now with the insanity we’ve been dealt the past few days.”

Alec expelled a deep breath.  “Has it really been a few days?  God, everything happened so fast.”  He scrubbed a hand down his tired features and Magnus felt his own eyes begin to burn with the need to be closed, his aching body crying out for rest.

He hummed in agreement and gestured to his mug.  “This coffee was lovely, but even I don’t think it’s enough to keep me awake right now,” he said with a soft chuckle.  “I think I'm gonna try to get a few hours of sleep before we get to the Jade Wolf.” Magnus took in Alec’s tired smile, his lids hung low over his slightly now red eyes.  “I suggest you do the same.”

-

Alec gave him a tight smile and nodded his head.  “Right. Uh, I should probably…” he gestured toward the door.  

Magnus smiled back gently.  “Thanks for the coffee,” he muttered out as Alec turned to leave.  

Alec gave him a small smile and shrugged.  “It’s in the kitchen if you want anymore.” He was about to exit through the threshold of the door before Magnus uttered his name so softly he thought it couldn’t be real.

He turned back to see hesitation written all over Magnus’ face.  He furrowed his brow in question.  

“Um,” Magnus gulped before continuing.  “Can I ask a favor?”

Alec’s brow furrowed even more with confusion.  “Yeah, of course.”

It took a few moments for Magnus to build the courage to ask.  “Would you mind… staying here? I could sell you on the fact that I picked one of the nicer rooms with the comfiest mattress and best views,” he chuckled before growing serious, “but really I would just be trying to hide the fact that I’m a little freaked out to sleep in a brand new ship by myself, especially with everything that’s been going on,” he confessed the end lightly, embarrassed.  And Alec’s heart skipped.  

Magnus needed comfort, he’d been through a lot.  Alec could handle the stress because he came from a former military background.  Stress was all he knew. But Magnus? There’s no way he could have been prepared to face death more than a few times in the past couple of days and that’s no easy strain on the mind and body.

Without thinking, Alec was already walking to place down his mug on one of the metal cabinets.  “Of course,” he said before rolling a chair next to Magnus’ bed and sitting down.  

Magnus placed his cup down next to Alec’s but didn’t get in bed.  Alec looked up at him expectantly. “Alexander, you need rest more than any of us.  I was suggesting we could nap together. I’m not going to make you stay up and guard my door while I sleep,” he joked before scooting to the end of the bed that rested against the wall, a large window right above him.  

Alec’s heart sputtered in his chest, his face growing warm.  “Oh, I don’t mind-”

“Alexander,” Magnus huffed as he slipped under the covers, sitting up.  “Don’t overthink it. I’m telling you as your doctor that you need rest.  So shut up and get in, I need my beauty sleep and those bags under your eyes scream that you could use some too,” he winked and Alec chuckled.  

Alec didn’t know if this was crossing any lines, but he can’t lie and say he hasn’t thought about what it would be like to fall asleep and wake up next to Magnus.  Plus, Magnus was the one who suggested it, so he knew it was okay.  

Thinking about getting up and walking the ship to make sure everything and everyone was okay was already making his tired eyes droop more.  A few hours of rest couldn’t hurt.  

“Yeah, okay,” he conceded before slipping his boots off and sliding under the covers Magnus held open for him.  Shoulder to shoulder, they both lay on their backs, settling into the bed. His eyes closed instantly as soon as his head hit the pillow and he released a groan of appreciation.  “This bed is amazing.” And it was compared to the rust bucket he’d been on the past few years, nothing to do with the fact that he was in great company.

Magnus chuckled lowly and Alec looked over to see his eyes already closed, a small smile splayed on his lips.  “Get some rest, I have a feeling you’re going to need it, Captain,” Magnus said before sighing. Within the next few moments, his breathing pattern changed as he succumbed to sleep.

Alec’s lips lifted gently as he took in Magnus’ peaceful features.  He can’t remember the last time he’d seen him this relaxed. If Alec had any part to play in helping ease Magnus’ worries and bringing him comfort, then his job was done. 

Reaching out to the panel on the wall, he turned off the bedroom lights.  Now resting in starlight, Alec turned his head to face Magnus again and finally allowed his burning eyes the rest they have been begging for.  Taking a deep breath, his body relaxed into the bed, his right shoulder and forearm warmed as it rested against Magnus’ and diminished his worries until his brain finally stopped thinking, stopped planning, and he was finally allowed to rest.

-

After walking most of the ship, checking on Underhill and finding a bite to eat, Izzy was on a mission to find her brother.  Jace was still passed out, tucked away in his now reclined chair, Simon was taking a break eating a snack Izzy found for him while the ship ran on autopilot, and Magnus and Alec were nowhere to be found.  

She needed to ask Alec if he had formulated an official plan of what he was going to say to Luke when they landed in the next hour.  Her boots clanked on the metal staircase as she descended down to the level where the crew’s rooms were.

“Alec?” she asked as she walked the halls.  Maybe he actually managed to get some rest, but they were landing soon and needed to go over their plan.  

She poked her head into each dark room and was going to move on to the next one before she barely caught two figures in a bed, illuminated by what little light came through their window.  She paused in the threshold as she took in her older brother. She’d seen him passed out many times for over extending himself in his work, but she hadn’t seen him like this before.  

He lay on his back, Magnus resting his face on Alec’s shoulder with his arm slung around his waist above the sheets and Alec’s cheek resting on top of Magnus’ head.  She had shared a bed with him growing up when he and Jace would comfort her when she had nightmares. She’d seen him sleep with Max in his arms when he was just a toddler.  She always knew Alec had a softer side he exclusively felt for his family, but she had never seen that expressed outside of family.

Her heart beat heavily in her chest as she leaned against the doorframe, a huge smile taking over her features as tears filled her eyes at the idea that her brother is finally allowing himself to open up and do what he wants to do without fear holding him back.

Taking one last look as Magnus somehow managed to snuggle in deeper into Alec’s neck, she decided to let them have another half hour of rest before waking them up and headed back upstairs.  The smile never left her face.

-

“So it’s settled.  Once we land, only Jace and I will go talk to Luke and find out what he wants.  Until then, the numbers of our crew remain unknown and no one leaves the ship until we deem it safe to do so.  Understood?” Alec asked his team as they all stood in a circle, ten minutes away from reaching the Jade Wolf station.  Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.  

“Alright, everyone strap in,” Simon said as he ascended the stairs to the flight deck.  “I’m going to try to make this as smooth as possible, but no promises!”

Izzy giggled as she headed towards her seat and that managed to pull a chuckle out of Jace and an eye roll from Alec.  Before Alec could fully turn to his seat, he caught Magnus’ eye. The two stared at each other for a second and Alec’s cheeks instantly flamed, remembering how they woke up together.  He had never woken up so relaxed and felt so energized even after only a few hours of rest. He doesn’t want to admit it to himself, how good it felt that Magnus trusted him and found comfort in him as he slept away on Alec’s shoulder.  The need to protect this man surged through his chest as he had woken up, and it hadn’t gone away.

Magnus cleared his throat and offered a small smile.  Alec smiled back, thankful that it wasn’t awkward and they both turned to strap into their seats.  

Simon kept his promise for a smooth ride, or at least he tried to.  Alec couldn’t blame him though, he had never driven a stealth ship before and had to hand it to Simon, he was doing great for a first timer.  However, even in the vast emptiness of space, Simon managed to run into something.

Alec grit his teeth at the jarring impact.

“My bad!” Simon shouted before correcting their course to land on Jade Wolf.

Alec rolled his eyes.  I take it back, he thought.

-

The main doors to their ship hissed as they opened.  Since this was a battleship, Alec and Jace managed to find a few weapons.  They weren’t taking any chances after what has happened when they meet new people.

Alec tightened his hold on his gun as the bay doors lowered and Luke Garroway came into view, standing tall with his arms crossed and two guards on either side of him with their weapons already raised.  Luke held his hands up in surrender as he caught Alec’s menacing look through his viewfinder attached to his weapon, aimed right at Luke’s heart.

“Easy,” Luke said as he raised his hands.

“Tell your men to drop their weapons,” Alec demanded.

“Oh you assume that a face hidden behind a mask aiming a gun at your head is automatically a man?  Luke, let me shoot this bastard,” a female voice came from the guard to Luke’s left.  

Alec tightened his jaw as the tension thickened.  Without turning to her, Luke raised a hand in his guard’s direction.  “Maia, calm down.” He took a breath before directing his full attention to Alec.  “Let’s cut to the chase. We don’t trust you and you don’t trust us. Why should you?  You’ve been through a lot recently, so your reasoning for no longer trusting people makes sense.  But we are not your enemy.”

Alec let his jaw loosen a little, but still kept his gun aimed.

“You want revenge for the people you lost, same as us.  The only difference between you and I is I know who's behind these attacks,” Luke confessed.

Alec’s heart raced.  He peeked a glance over to his brother, their eyes giving him all the answers he needed.  He turned back to Luke.

“Why should we believe you?” Alec asked.

Luke sighed and lowered his hands slowly back to his sides.  “Those were my people aboard the Raziel, and you were the only ones to try and help them.  Only two of you are out here, talking big, which leads me to believe you want to hide your numbers.  The way you’re holding your weapon leads me to believe you aren’t unfamiliar in the face of danger, but your eyes and posture tell me you’re stressed.  Stressed because even though you know how to walk and talk tough, you’ve never actually had to kill anyone outside of Shadowhunter jurisdiction.”

Alec glared through his viewfinder and tightened his hold on his gun.

“You’re desperate, you had nowhere else to go,” Luke continued.  “And yet you came here, which leads me to believe that you aren’t stupid.  Neither am I. You can either shoot me and my guards will take you down along with the few remaining on that ship, you can escape and have nowhere else to go, or…” he paused, “we can all lower our weapons and you can come inside  and we can help each other out. Your choice.”

 Alec and Jace share a quick look before Alec nodded to him.  They both slowly lowered their weapons at the same time as Luke’s guards.  

Alec pursed his lips as he thought.  “Swear to me no harm will come to my crew.  We all stay together. You tell all of us your plan, not just me, we all have a say in whether or not we want to help you.  And if we don’t want to, you let us go free.”

Luke furrowed his brow.  “You’re not prisoners, so I will not treat you as such.  No harm will come to you or your crew as long as you don’t cause trouble.  I swear.”

Alec took a moment to consider it all, then nodded his head at Luke.  “Deal.” His weapon now rested fully down the length of his leg as he allowed himself to relax.  “So why do you need our help?”

“Actually, I need your ship.”

Alec furrowed his brow, glancing at his brother.  “Why our ship?”

Luke sighed.  “That message you heard on the Raziel of someone asking for help?  She’s alive, and she’s one of my best fighters. She managed to send out that message just before she escaped.  She holds vital information about the war. We lost communication, but the last time I pinged her location she was headed toward the Downworld, I just don’t know which section of it.”

Jace crossed his arms over his chest.  “I know she’s important, but why should we risk our lives when we don’t even know what we are fighting for?  Our plan was to get out of the middle of this, not insert ourselves and cause more trouble.”

Alec pursed his lips in thought.  “Unfortunately my brother is correct.  If you want our help and our ship, we’re gonna need more information about what the hell has been going on.”

Luke didn’t hesitate to answer.  “A mad scientist called Valentine Morgenstern is creating a new weapon.  We don’t know what it is or what he plans to do with it, but he’s managed all of this chaos so far while staying in the dark.  I don’t have all the answers, but my best spy does, and that’s why we are rescuing her. We need to stop him from creating this weapon.  You’re both ex members of the League, I can tell. I could use someone like you two on my side. Or, you can sit on your asses and hide from the situation until Valentine has taken over the entire system, but something tells me you boys wouldn’t allow that to happen, just like my team and I.  We leave in twenty four hours, are you in?”