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Artificial hugs: 3 times a human held a synthetic, and 1 time they didn’t

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Early in his career, there was no way Millburn would have predicted that he’d end up here: halfway across the galaxy; on a trillion-dollar research vessel; in bed with the ship’s android. He’s never been so glad to see the back of a head. Those lively, lifeless eyes aren’t examining him. He’s spared the feeling that his forehead is transparent, thoughts visible swirling behind it. He’s not sure exactly what they did. Well, he is, objectively speaking: not a lot, and/or nothing serious. But not what it represents. (He’s not sure which one of them might be malfunctioning.)

 

--

 

The sharp-nailed finger goes tap, tap idly just below her collarbone and Call knows its owner hasn’t fallen asleep just yet. Perhaps neither of them will end up sleeping. To seem human, she’s learned to imitate the behaviour, but doesn’t require it. Her companion is human, but not like any human Call has encountered before now. The body against hers hums with barely concealed energy, ready to rend and tear at a moment’s notice. She trusts herself to the beast, because this monstrous eighth iteration of the dead woman Ripley is the only one who ever holds her like this.

 

--

 

The building shook with an intensity that implied it objected to holding together. They were safe in the conduit, but Newt clung to the back of her artificial saviour (who in turn clung to the ladder) as if they weren’t. She shut her eyes against the raging chaos, wondering how they were so strong, but felt so real. There was no tremor in the muscles and nothing would loosen that grip. Something thundered down beside them, and a hand latched onto Newt’s curled arm as she slipped a fraction. She wouldn’t be allowed to fall even if she let go.

 

--

 

“So,” Lambert says, “I thought we could… y’know… talk.” She gives him a winsome smile, and everything she’s done until this point is people-code for voulez-vous couchez avec moi? (in any language), but he’s still unresponsive. No signal received. She uncrosses her legs, and crosses them again. He blinks. He’s taking this so seriously that it’s suspicious; perhaps he’s wilfully misreading her - sending his own message that he’s uninterested in the most genuine way. But he could at least say something. Lambert tells Ripley about it later, and feels a little like she’s betraying him. But only a little.