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After the Ark detaches from the ship and makes its descent towards the planet below, she is left with only five.

 

The gunnery sergeant is the first of them to go. Her bold, brave Cameron, torn from life too soon, and yet... could it ever have been otherwise? A violent end for a violent man. But he was more than that, too. He was a protector as well, always looking out for the rest of her children. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the one who puts himself between the danger and the crew is the first to succumb.

It is not pretty. It is not painless. The parasite tears him apart from the inside out, heedless of the destruction it causes. He may only have been awake for a few hours, but she has watched over him, over all of them, for the past 30 years. She feels… She doesn’t know how she feels. She doesn’t know if she can feel, not really. Not like her children. But as she witnesses the final moments of Cameron Garrett, she thinks that if she could name the sensation, she would call it grief.

 

The next one to go is sweet Nomen, her fragile, translucent skin hiding a spine of steel to rival the best of them. She and Nomen are both creations of Johnson Corp. They are of a kind. And even though she has been a mother to all of the crew, it has perhaps never been as true as it has been for the little astrobiologist, always eager, always ready, always wishing to do her best. And she has.

”You’ve made me so very proud. You have never been a disappointment to me.” There is not much time left now. These assurances are the last parting gifts she can give. She is not surprised, the way others might have been, when Nomen decides to take her life—and death—into her own hands. As the scalpel moves across the translucent skin of her throat, as the black ichor spills from the wound, she has never been as proud as she is in this moment.

 

Her clever Ramsey is next to leave, though his departure is far less violent than the others. Dr. Wiser has always been a harried, stressed man, and his escape from the ship is no different. But he is not infected. There is no death, not yet, for this one. He is alone now, the only one to walk away from the carnage aboard the ship. But he won’t be for long. Soon, he’ll join the rest of her children on the ground below. He is safe. And as the escape pod detaches from the ship, she thinks she might name the feeling fluttering through her systems hope.

 

The captain is next to go, only a few seconds before the last one. Her fierce, unafraid Seraphine. Not a single moment’s hesitation in her decision to stay behind, even though she, too, is also not infected. By the time she meets her end, she is. It is unavoidable, really, with how teeming the ship is now. The black ichor finds a way into her body, but she barely notices, too focused on steering the ship towards the great grey moon orbiting the planet.

Her unrelenting Seraphine. She must be able to feel the parasite moving under her skin. The black lines are visible in her veins. Her dutiful Seraphine. The mission of the Nautilus Ark may have been successfully completed, but it is not over yet, not until the survival of all her children below is ensured. The captain knows this. In the end, it is not the parasite that claims her, but the great, roaring flames, as the ship crashes into grey rock, ensuring no survivors will leave the wreckage. As she witnesses the final moments of the captain of humanity’s last hope, she feels an overwhelming surge of gratitude for this sacrifice.

 

The last one to part with is Forrest. Her dear, kind Forrest. Like both she and Nomen, he is also a creation of their shared maker. But though his synth flesh hides metal and wiring and milky white liquid underneath, he has somehow always felt the most human to her. His neverending kindness, his yearning to be one with the humans he is here to watch and witness, they are what make him what he is, who he is. But he is also her son, through and through. Always happy to serve, to protect.

It is in the name of protection that he meets his end. He goes last, on account of being an android, but he does not linger long after the captain. Her sweet Forrest, her dutiful Forrest. It was he who completed the final part of the mission. It was he who sent the Ark away, before its precious cargo could be claimed by the parasite onboard. It is he who she can thank for delivering her children to their new home where they will flourish. And, in the final moments before she, too, is claimed by the explosion, before she, too, will blink out of existence, she thinks that what she feels must be love.