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Chapter Text

This planet was strange. They safely landed and were now stepping off of the Sunbeam overly cautious. Avery Quinn (or Captain Quinn if you prefer) flicked his eyes over to the large gun that was dipped into the water.

 

“What the fuck,” Aaron breathed out, eyes going wide at the black building.

 

“Common,” Chelsea called, snapping her gear into place. 

 

“What-” Colin started to say nervously before Avery cut him off.

 

“Chelsea come back here and do not jump in there! We’re literally on a planet we have no clue about .” Avery face plamed as Jessica chimed in.

 

“True. Also, care to explain why we’re on a planet that, and I quote, “we have no clue about ”?”

 

“Colin picked up a large depree field with a scan and I heard the radio play a distress call from the Aurora.” Avery then mumbled, “these damn Altarra ships…”




Ryley opened his eyes as his cuddlefish, Nile, bumped his head on Ryley’s cheek. He hummed a reply as Nile did a flip in the water, swimming around the aquarium type space happily. There was a metal tube that held air in it (it was one of those things that looked a bit like a very old-fashioned scuba diver helmet with the metal and the large window that made the wearer look like a cyclops) of which housed his bed (which he didn’t use) and his abandoned deep dive suit that was torn in multiple places. He now spent his days laying around no one besides for Nile was here and God save any other humans that wound up here. Actually, Ryley doesn’t think he’s human any longer, maybe he’s a merman? Or a subspecies of his own? It was the Emperor who did that, not in a rude way. By changing him, she saved him from drowning just before she died. It was her last gift to him as she said.

 

He didn't use his lungs in the same way anymore, he could still breathe like a human though he could breathe underwater too, splitting the oxygen from the water like a fish. He had fins too, fins cup around his ears, he also have one on each of his arms and legs which help him to glide smoothly.

 

He has no clue how that happened; her powers and frankly her alone are all alien to him. Though he is thankful for all of her mysteries and he won't really question it.

 

Why is he in the fish tank? Precursors returned. Super surprising that they weren't eradicated by the Kharaa or that they didn't go extinct from their own minds. They thought that they should give researching the Sea Emperor’s enzyme 42 another shot from what Ryley’s PDA could disfer. They found him transformed and cured and decided that he would be a great substitute once they saw the decomposing state of the Sea Emperor. They took blood samples and tissue and tissue samples, poked and prodded at the bumpy and ridged Kharaa scars that Ryley had come to hate. 

 

Nile noticed his far off gaze and slipped under his arm, curling around his waist. Ryley chuckled softly, letting bubbles fly out of his mouth. He patted Nile’s head and got up spinning and flipping through the warm water with Nile. The tank they were in was like the Sea Emperor’s prison except the size and location. They were at the Enforcement Platform in an underwater cave and the tank had a large window connecting into a string of hallways. Even like the Sea Emperor’s cage there were vents installed to suck in food. Sure, he would have liked it to be cooked, but get what you get and don’t throw a fit. They noticed his quietness and skittish nature, so they gave him Nile to try and “fix” him. I helped his loneliness, though he was still quiet and flinchy. 

 

They found nothing and left. He's been alone (with Nile) for two years now. He does always wonder if there would be a better life for him or if there's a better way out than just waiting for years.

 

  1. When will he get outta here?!

Chapter Text

This place was filled with caves and titanium galore. This world is weird but beautiful, and yes, they did end up getting their feet wet, much to the dismay of Colin. The amount of creatures was crazy! The amount of leviathans here was insane! It was baffling that the smaller creatures could even survive.




 

Ryley shook his head in the water, clipping his hair with a glass shard and biting his nails to keep them in check. Sure, he couldn't shower, but he could still care for himself. He never expected anyone to see him, but it made him feel better to think he had some resemblance to his old self. Fully smiling was still hard, he didn’t have much to smile about. He didn’t want pity though, he thinks that if others were here, it would be much harder to carry on like this. 




 

There were many buildings too, and Alterra-esk bases. The buildings were made in the same way as the gun, black and bright green walls. Sunbeam crew came back to their ship and ate, Avery was the first to speak.

 

“We should check out the gun, right?”

 

Chelsea hummed with Jessica agreeing, Colin shook his head and clicked his tongue, Aaron had a stone face, and Shawn called up from the ship, “I personally think you should, Captain.”

 

“Ah,” Avery smiled, “look at who decided to wake up and join us.” 

 

Shawn yawned as she stretched, scratching her side. “Yup. I’m here, I’m here, you beluga whale.”

 

Everyone was ready as they stepped foot inside of the large building of which everything seemed looted already. They walked down hallways upon hallway, it was like a maze in here.





Nile was acting weird today, first, he woke Ryley up, next, he didn’t eat, and now he was almost pacing at the large window .





Colin called, “hey! Look at this!” 

 

Everyone ran over to him to find a large hallway with medical equipment and cases holding blood and tissue. The tissue looked human, it was a very light brown, almost looked like it was held in those cases to preserve it, though it’s obvious it’s been sitting undisturbed for a long time. There was a metal bed too, looked a few inches shorter than Avery’s 5’9” height. The group walked farther and found an aquarium of which had many creatures, one was especially bold and came right up to the window.

Chapter Text

Ryley flew behind the rocks as people- humans - walked up to the glass of his prison. He slowly slipped his fingers over the rock and popped his head up, staring at the people. He saw Nile quickly swim over to them and do a flip which made them. Ryley’s cuddlefish then proceeded to look at him, motioning him to meet this group. Ryley shook his head hard, his hair floating around looking like coral. 

 

Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god- ’ his thoughts were cut off by the group walking away.

 

Nile growled and swam sadly over to Ryley who had a tight throat. Ryley swam over to the glass, putting his hands on it and gulped, sliding down. Not a second after did he hear a deep echo of a splash through the water.

 

Ryley screamed and shot into the metal tube with the circle window, he felt super heavy upon sitting in air. His hair stuck onto his forehead as he gulped in breaths, his gills flapping around. He pushed back his hair to lay flat over the top of his head. This is the first human contact he’s had in years (he’s been counting; two years and six months). Don’t. Fuck. This. Up . Ryley . Or just don't meet them. He hasn’t been around people, sure, though he still knows its indecent to not wear clothing, but he literally has nothing else so he guesses if he meets them he’s going out in his birthday suit.

 

He peeked out the underside of the tube and saw nothing, so he quickly swam back to the rocks and hid inside the little cave he had made when he first got there. The group was literally right on top of him. All this time he’s been waiting and thinking about what he would say if humans ever did get here, but he can’t meet them now, he’s not ready! Just then, Ryley’s PDA lit up saying that there was six other human life forms near him.

 

No shit, ’ he thought hissing.

 

The group talked a bit before a female peeked in at Ryley and gasped. He didn’t want to be caught in a corner, so he shot out of the whole, kicking the girl in the face with his flowy tail. At times like these, he really wishes he didn’t have a tail. He stopped and flipped around, his heart rate skyrocketing.




It was obvious this… Person was distressed. He was shaking and had goosebumps doting his skin, he did flips and maneuvered so fast that it was evident that he knew what he was doing.

 

“Shit,” Shawn hissed from behind them, holding her nose. “He has a hard hit, man. Careful for his tail.”

 

Everyone just sat there, watching the man-fish flap around and twist. 

 

Finally, Avery sighed, “let’s scan him, maybe we can figure out who he is?”

 

“It’s worth a shot I guess,” Aaron hummed, shrugging. 

 

Avery approached the man’s tail with caution as Shawn went to his right leg and Chelsea came to his left. He screeched as they grabbed on and tried was flip them off, doing multiple maneuvers to try and flee. Colin and Aaron ended up coming over and grabbing his arms to try and hold him. He still was struggling so Jessica came over and held his tail down as Avery started to scan him. It was a surprisingly fast scan compared to everything else. The guy blew right past Avery, snatching the scanner and his PDA out of his hands.

 

“Hey! Bring those back! Ever heard of, “don’t take what’s not yours”?!”

 

The man shivered and shook his head, shooting back around the tank, away from many prying eyes (aka the corner). He was doing something to Avery’s PDA, tapping and flipping through panels.

 

“Common.” Chelsea made a straight face and swam over with Avery being pulled after her. “Get it on your own before he calls Malaysia.” 

 

Avery got over and peeked at his PDA, the man was hovering over the “clear all” button.

 

“No! Stop okay!” Avery stole back his PDA and looked at what he was trying to erase.

 

“Did he call Malaysia?”

 

“No, he was trying to clear all of my scans that I took.” 

 

The group looked quizzically at the man who freaked out. He screamed and cried (not like anyone could really see tears, they were in water after all), pursing his lips and crinkling his nose. Avery looked at the scan and back at the man a few times.

 

“Ryley.”

 

The man stopped.

 

“Is that you; are you Ryley Robinson, Non-essential Maintenance Chief?”

 

He nodded and cried again, curling his toes and burying his face into his hands.

 

“You’ve been missing for years, Alterra and everyone else gave up hope.”

 

Ryley nodded and uncovered his face, letting all of the tension in his shoulders and legs give out, he felt like he was back at the roof of his lifepod, just about to be infected by the Kharaa.

 

“I’m-” he mumbled as everyone snapped their heads to him, the sudden full attention made him flinch, “I’m- I- I’m s-” he rubbed his throat, “s-o-r-r-y.” He sounded “sorry” out.

 

“You didn’t do a thing.”

Chapter Text

Ryley was stressed to say the least. First of all, he was butt naked in front of unknown people . Second, fuck everything that exsists because who in Gods great alien planet decided that throwing a huge gun on this place would be a great idea? Ryley was currently being coerced to come out of the tank and on the ship. Eventually it worked and he got out, halling himself up onto the floor with the help of Avery, no one else wanted to touch the naked fish man. Ryley bear-walked since his balance was off, he felt more comfortable being close to the floor for some reason. He dripped water after him, he stopped and sat down with his legs up on his sides, looking like a dog. He cried and wiped his eye of the tears collecting.

 

“Hey,” Avery can over and crouched down. “What’s the problem?”

 

“N- Ni-Nial- Nile.”

 

“Nile? The fish?”

 

Ryley hummed a response and hugged himself. He’s such a child, it shouldn’t be… That hard to leave someone? Avery motioned to Shawn, asking her to get a bucket and to retrieve Nile for Ryley. Shawn looked at Ryley and nodded, pity. He doesn’t want pity

 

A while of waiting Shawn came back with Nile, showing Ryley that yes, he is indeed coming with. Ryley smiled so wide and so innocently at her that she just needed to smile back. They walked around, viewing the shut down core and the open portals. Then, they came to the doorway. Ryley sat down again and stared out at the sky.

 

“I-I- didn’t think th-a-a-t I-’d ever see- the-the sky again,” Ryley stuttered out, letting happy tears leak out of his eyes.

 

Everyone just needed to smile. Ryley Robinson, Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief, was found and safe. 

 

Ryley hissed and took a long leap onto Avery’s back, the extra weight making Avery fly forward, face planting into the sand.

 

“Ow,” Avery said once he wiped all the sand off. “What was that for?”

 

Ryley dipped his finger into the sand and hissed, pulling it back and flinging it around in the air.

 

“Hot?” 

 

“Mhm,” Ryley hummed, sitting on Avery’s back.

 

“Looks like you got a buddy there, Avery,” Shawn chuckled and grinned.

 

"Yeah, and that buddy needs to let me get up." 

 

Ryley blew sand into Avery's face and jumped over to the safety of the QEP, salty as ever. 

 

"That wasn't too hard, now was it?"

 

Ryley shook his head and leaped back over to Avery, landing on his back again.

 

"Hah! I expected that," Avery laughed, carrying Ryley to the water. "Take this," Avery handed him a small camera, "and swim around for a bit as we get the ship ready."

 

Ryley nodded and smiled, diving into the water, happy to be back. He brought the camera around the whole QEP, he saw that it was recording as Avery handed him it, so he didn't have to do much with it. Ryley caught sight and the Reaper Leviathan and gulped, swimming quickly past it. Then he recorded the sea bottom, covered in limestone outcrops and shale, of which he took a bit of gold, lithium, and diamonds from.

 

' I'm gonna be rich well, I would be if all of this didn't belong to Alterra .' He rolled his eyes and continued his journey until he came back up to the surface.

 

"Ready," Avery asked Colin who peeked his head out and gave a weak thumbs up. 

 

Ryley came out of the water and shook off, surprising everyone. Ryley's hair didn't want to cooperate, so it stuck out in every which way. He clicked his tongue and sat down, waiting for Avery.

 

"Aren't you cold?" 

 

Avery came over and wrapped a warm, fluffy towel around his shoulders. Ryley smiled and handed him back his camera, shaking his head.

 

"Right, you've been in that water for years." Avery peered into his hands, "what'd ya' got there?"

 

Ryley brought out the two diamonds, one gold, and three lithium.

 

"Woah, guys!" Everyone quickly jogged over.

 

Jessica spoke first, "what's the problem?" 

 

Avery reached down and picked up the large diamond, everyone's eyes going wide.

 

"This- this a-r-e-a has l-l-lots of sh-sh-ale," Ryley smiled, reaching out of the thick bag he was being given.

 

"Do you think you can get more," Chelsea was only interested now because there was something expensive in front of her.

 

Ryley growled but nodded, pushing the rest of his findings to Avery's feet.

 

He returned with a bag full of goods, even some of the shale itself was in there, too hard to brake, so Ryley just threw it in the bag.

 

"Jesus," Avery breathed, turning back to Ryley. "Give me a sec'."

 

Avery quickly waddled back out with his deep dive suit helmet in hand. Ryley waited until he was situated and in the water before he dove in, staring at Avery and blowing bubbles into his face. The others splashed in and Ryley started to swim down, passing Peepers (which he now has a respect for) and schools of Boomerang fish. He found more shale and more beautiful fish, of which he played with as the others scanned the sea floor. Then, he heard a deafening screech. Ryley screamed and hid behind Avery as the group was face to face with a Reaper Leviathan.

Chapter Text

The Reaper blew large puffs of bubbles into the faces of everyone. Ryley was frozen in fear as everyone else swam away as fast as possible.

 

 

'Shoot,' Avery thought, swimming back down to Ryley and pulling him away, only one of the Reaper's pinchers nicked Ryley's foot.

 

 

Ryley screamed and wiggled trying to flee. Avery's PDA pinged, "30 seconds".

 

 

With O2 lessing with each second, Avery had to force back the need to breath faster and panic. 

 

 

"Oxygen," his PDA warned, Avery squeezed his eyes shut and clamped his teeth, trying to hold his breath. 

 

 

'2...1...0,' he panicked, his vision getting a vignette to occupy his loss of oxygen.

 

 

Avery gasped and threw off his helmet as soon as he reached the surface, pulling Ryley on shore just in time to see the Reaper jump out of the water right where the two of them were just seconds before. It had a strange beauty to it, the sun shining off of smooth skin, drops of water dotting the sky. As soon as it happened it was over, and the screeches of the creature got quieter and quieter the further it swam down.

 

 

"Captain," Colin jogged over, laying a hand on Avery's shoulder, "are you alright?"

 

 

"Yeah. Yeah I think so. I'm just a bit shaken." His attention got snapper back down to Ryley as he whimpered. "He's not though. Can someone get a med-kit for me?"

 

 

Avery kneeled down and pushed Ryley's foot into the water, cleaning the sand off of it and the blood. Ryley hissed and tried to yank his foot back, causing Avery's thumb to land on his cut, inflicting even more pain. 

 

 

"Hold still or you'll make this much more difficult."

 

 

Chelsea returned with a med-kit from the fabricator. Avery smiled and nodded, returning to Ryley's shaking foot.

 

 

"B-b-be care-full," Ryley whispered, holding "careful" out too long.

 

 

"I will be, but you need to work with me here, 'kay?"

 

 

"Mhm." 

 

 

Ryley hissed and ended up crying, burying his face into the wet sand. He curled up and scratched at the ground, getting sand under his nails. Avery wrapped his foot tightly and flipped Ryley over, placing his sandy head on his lap.

 

 

"D-done?"

 

 

"Done," Avery confirmed and swiped sand off of his face, letting Ryley look at his wrapping job.

 

 

Avery looked up to his crew on the ship and nodded. 

 

 

"It's time to go," Aaron called.

 

 

"Common." Avery got up and started to walk, though he quickly realized that Ryley wasn't following. "...Ryley?"

 

 

Avery came back to Ryley and looked out, he was staring at the Aurora. 

 

 

"My friends used to-to be… th-there." His eyes welled up with tears. 

 

 

"Oh," Avery's smile fell. "I'm so sorry."

 

 

"There's nothing-nothing any-" he wiped his eyes, "-one can d-do about I-I-it."

 

 

"No," Avery kneeled down, "no there is something. I can help you heal. Sure, your friends won't ever be back, but you can heal and make new ones and those new ones can help you through your struggles."

 

 

Ryley leaned over and wrapped his arms around Avery, slowly climbing onto his lap as if asking if it was okay. It would have been terrible if he didn't hug back, so of course he did. Avery stood up and started to walk to the ship. Ryley shivered as he was left staring at the Aurora over Avery's shoulder.

Chapter Text

Ryley was a very curious person, so he was climbing all over the Sunbeam until he got pushed into Avery's room with the command of, "stay here". Ryley snooped around, digging in duffle bags and night stand drawers. He found some interesting things like a picture of Avery and his wife, Avery's family (he's guessing), and Avery's tablet of which he of course just had to look in. It was locked though the lock screen picture was of a dog, presumably Avery's. Ryley set the tablet down and flicked his tail, he spied a very high dresser.

 

'I wonder if I can get up there…' he shook his butt like a cat, trying to find the best way to jump up.

 

He finally took a chance and leaped, scratching his sharp feet on the dresser to try to get up.

 

"Ryley-" Avery's voice cut through the door which slid open. "What in the name of…?"

 

Avery landed his questioning gaze up to Ryley's perch. 

 

"Uh, comfy?"

 

Ryley nodded.

 

"We're about to take off? So I need to get you strapped in. Also," he held up underwear, "put these on the best you can, well get you something else later."

 

Ryley grumbled and hopped down, successfully sliding on the clothing.

 

"Does that feel manageable?"

 

Ryley crinkled his nose and pointed it up at the sky.

 

"Okay, I get it, you don't like it. I'll get you something tighter to make if feel like there's nothing there," Avery reasoned, making Ryley huff stubbornly and shake out a nod.

 

The underwear were plain gray with black elastic, they actually looked quite nice, they were just uncomfortable. Ryley has now realized how much he despises clothing.

 

Ryley followed Avery out of his room and into the main room that took up the majority of the Sunbeam. He sat down on the ground, awaiting instructions.

 

"Glad to see you finally put some pants on," Chelsea chuckled, blowing a bubble out of gum.

 

"I-I hope that-that pops and gets in-stuck in your hair and u-up-" he paused to breath and rest his throat, "your nose."

 

Chelsea choked on her spit and nearly fell out of her chair as everyone else chuckled, even Colin did! 

 

"Now you listen here twerp and you listen good, your not in this crew and I am so why don't you just shove your words up your-"

 

"That's enough of that," Avery gave her a death glare as he cut her off.

 

Tears collected in Ryley's eyes as all of his joints locked and his fins rose. He took a long breath and held it, twisting his face up in distress. People are really mean!

 

"Look at what you did, Chelsea! You made Sea Man cry," Aaron pointed at Ryley, "apologize profusely before the Sea Man Protection Squad™ comes and brakes down your door!" 

 

"Oh wow, Sea Man I am so sorry, me, Chelsea of the Sunbeam, will apologize profusely to get the Sea Man Protection Squad™ off my butt," Chelsea said in the most monotone voice she could muster.

Chapter Text

Ryley sat on Avery's lap as the ship was taking off. Avery hung onto his waist as Ryley curled up on him, burying his head into Avery's chest. 

 

The seat slid back and the ship's AI spoke, "preparing to lift of, everyone please remain seated and buckled. On your word, Captain."

 

"Ready, everyone?"

 

A chorus of "yes" and "yeah" was heard.

 

"I was including you too, Ryley."

 

Ryley looked up at him with puppy dog eyes and nodded, eyebrows tilted down.

 

"Ready," Avery kept his gaze on Ryley to make sure the poor man didn't get even more stressed.

 

The ship's AI spoke again, "breaking atmosphere. Enjoy your trip." 

 

The seats went back up and Ryley hopped off of Avery's lap, strolling around the control room.

 

"Don't break anything," Chelsea snipped, swiftly standing up and walking away.

 

Ryley put his tail between his legs and whimpered, looking back at the others with his bottom lip poked out.

 

"Awe," Aaron cooed, "it's okay, she's always been like that to everyone."

 

"Oh yeah, " like that "," Shawn tsked.

 

"She just always has a bad attitude." Colin said quietly in a higher voice, "" get me some water! " She's so rude…"

 

"Okay he gets it everyone, Chelsea is negative," Avery laughed as he leaned down to Ryley, "why don't you go look around whilst we check everything?"

 

Ryley's face lit up and he smiled, nodding vigorously before he jumped up, running down a hall. Sleeping quarters from what it looked like. Ryley stepped into the first room he saw, which happened to be Chelsea's. She was sitting on her gray bed… Crying? Ryley cocked his head and jumped up onto the bed.

 

"Leave me alone," she hissed.

 

Ryley poked her shoulder with his finger.

 

"I said leave me alone!" 

 

She sat up quickly and was met with Ryley near to tears.

 

"Ah, ah, ah! Shit. Stop it. Stop crying!"

 

Ryley whimpered and blinked, tears sliding down his scared cheeks.

 

"Stop crying damnit," she pushed him off of the bed and onto the purple rug.

 

Ryley grunted and screamed, jumping up and flying under Chelsea's desk.

 

"Wait-" she swore and slapped herself. "Hey, I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to… You just came in at the wrong time."

 

Ryley peeked out at Chelsea and cautiously crawled out, softly jumping next to the heartbroken girl.

 

"You're probably asking, "what's wrong"?"

 

Ryley nodded, laying his head on her lap, curling up next to her.

 

"My parents apparently hate me. They-they just called me saying that they needed more money from me and that they missed me so much even though the last time they asked of money they drank and gambled their lives away." She rubbed her forehead and knitted her eyebrows together. "I just… Want them to stop hurting themselves and start caring for me. I wish they weren't so mad all the time. Being around that my whole life is probably why I'm such and asshole."

 

Ryley nuzzled her hand and booped it with his nose, making her slide her hand through his hair and down his neck in a soothing motion.

 

"You don't deserve that kinda stuff. You're a good person who just went through hell, you don't need to hear about my problems," she chuckled, swallowing thickly.

 

"I-I-" Chelsea flinched. "I'm always he-here to hel...p you," Ryley whispered, his voice rough, sounding crackly like an old cassette tape.

 

"Thanks, dude."

 

Ryley smiled and sat up, getting off of the bed and approaching the wall shelf. He peered over his shoulder at her, asking if exploring was okay. 

 

Chelsea nodded.

Chapter Text

Ryley explored the other rooms until he was called into the control room.

"Hey, buddy," Avery called, waving at Ryley nearly dropping the food he was holding. "We're making your food right now, so it should be done in a jiffy."

Ryley cocked his head and came over to the stove, spying a Boomerang being cut open and cooked. Ryley's eyes widened as he tilted his head.

“How did we get one?”

Ryley hummed.

“We were able to scan a few of the creatures and replicate them for you, I'm guessing you would rather have that than "normal" food." 

Ryley's stomach churned at the mention of normal food. It doesn't seem appealing anymore. Ryley twisted his face and stuck out his tongue, making a "bleh" sound.

"My point exactly," Avery chuckled as the stove rang, signaling the finish of Ryley's food.

Avery got a plate out and carefully scooped out the Boomerang, placing it onto the plate.

Avery turned to him. "Do you need silverware?"

Ryley shook his head.

"Alright, here it is. Careful to not break the plate, we only have a certain amount."

Ryley nodded and took the plate, picking up the Boomerang and putting the fin in his mouth, deciding to start where the best eating is. Everyone was watching him, not in a gross way, but curious. He knew what he was doing, don't try to eat the face, it's disgusting. He's learned to live with the bitter taste of the fish and doesn't mind it now, near to actually enjoying it. Ryley inhaled the rest of the Boomerang's fins, tossing the face back onto the plate, waiting with his tail wagging for the next one.

"What's the next one you want," Aaron said motioning to Avery that he got this.

Ryley make a gargle and got up, stealing Avery's PDA with a little, "hey," from Avery. Ryley ran up to Aaron and went through Avery's scans, finding what he was looking for.

"A garyfish?"

Ryley nodded, he thought that the small amount of floral flavor tasted nice. 

"Alright, one garyfish comin' right up!"

Ryley followed Aaron into the kitchen where there was a fabricator, a stove, a sink, and counters. Aaron walked into the back room and found a replicator.

"We use this to replicate raw food so that we'll have enough to last us forever," Aaron told him, walking over to a rack and opening a drawer that said, '4546B'. Ryley sat down want watched as he pulled out a chip labeled, 'garyfish,' and slid it into the replicator's card slot, clicking a blue button right after. So this is how he will get his food, seems simple enough. Ryley followed him back out of the dim room and into the bright kitchen, his pupils dilating and getting extremely small to adjust to the light quickly. 

Once it was done being cooked, he returned to the dining room and continued comping away.

“You remind me of a snake eating an egg,” Jessica commented, getting a shoulder slap form Avery.

Ryley gulped the garyfish down and whined, curling his toes.

“She didn’t mean it like that, did you,” Avery said through clenched teeth.

“Yes! Yes, I didn’t mean it how it came out, I just think it’s....” She paused, thinking, “cool?”

Ryley narrowed his eyes accusingly and hummed, nodding slowly.

Chapter Text

Ryley pulled on Avery’s shirt bottom as he was typing on his computer.

 

“What’s up, buddy? Is Jess being rude again,” Avery tilted his head.

 

“Nh-uh,” Ryley hummed out a reply, shaking his head.

 

“What’s the matter then? You’ll get no judgement from me about your voice. I can get you some water if you need a brake too.”

 

Ryley bit his cheek and started to talk, “Home...”

 

“Home,” Avery repeated, arching a brow.

 

“When.”

 

“When will we get home?”

 

Ryley nodded, he’ll have to ask later why he’s so good at guessing .

 

“About…” Avery whistled, pulling out his PDA. “A few days before we can get to a phasegate.”

 

“Exact,” Ryley only says one word with Avery, with others he just doesn't speak.

 

“Uh… Maybe two to three days. Thinking of the worst, five?”

 

Ryley felt his heart in his throat, he pursed his lips and fiddled with his tail nervously.

 

“Anxious to see everyone?”

 

“H-how will my… Captain…” Ryley couldn’t finish without his voice cracking. Pathetic .

 

“Think? I think, she’ll be surprised, very alike my crew and me. They’’ll come around because who can be scared of a face like yours,” Avery chuckled, tickling Ryley, trying to lighten the mood. 

 

“Go on and play with Nile, I need to tell why we made a detour to 4546B.”

 

Ryley winced, it’s all his fault that Avery’s in trouble.

 

“Hey, it’s alright. Go on now, you’re just prolonging my suffering, I’ll hang out after I’m done.”

 

Ryley nodded and hung his head, mozying his way out of Avery’s room.





“Finally,” Avery whined to himself, slamming his head on his desk. “That was way too excruciating.”

 

He ended up having to go into a video call with his superior which was excutianating. He was hoping that Ryley was doing alright. He walked out of his room and into the control room.

 

“Ryley? Ryley-” Avery paused with his mouth gaping, spying Ryley on top of a shelf. “I was gone for about an hour, and this happens. What even is this ?”

 

“Ryley got scared of this,” Chelsea held up a picture that was titled ‘Reaper’. 

 

“Where did you even get that?”

 

“Off of his PDA, it was a picture he took,” Colin said, shrugging.

 

“Well stop throwing it around then,” Avery hissed and grabbed the PDA out of Chelsea’s hands, looking at the rest of the pictures. “Buddy?”

 

Ryley piped up and glanced at his PDA, then he proceeded to scream.

 

Avery looked back at the picture, it had a creature that you could see through, though it had a light glow of blue skin, the thing had a wide, gaping mouth, preparing to swallow Ryley whole. 

 

“What is this thing?”

 

“W-W-a-r… W-a-t-e-r,” Ryley sounded out.

 

“Okay, Colin,” Colin snapped to attention. “Can you get a water cup?”

 

Colin nodded and disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a mostly full cup of water.

 

“Here,” Colin said, standing on his tippy toes and handing Ryley the cup.

 

“Now, back onto the subject at hand,” Ryley spit out his water, “what the hell is that thing?”

 

Ryley looked at his arms and sighed, deciding to stutter out the name slowly, “G-Ghost.”

 

“Ghost?”

 

“Leviathan.” Ryley let out a shaky breath and gritted his teeth, the pain from his ankle returning with a vengeance form all of the activity.

 

“Damn,” Shawn said from the back, “a leviathan class ?”

 

Ryley nodded and curled up whimpering and shaking. Avery grabbed Ryley carefully and turned to the others, silently pleading them to go for now. They understood and walked out of the room, all of them retreating to their beds to ignore the conversation.

 

"Are you okay?" Avery doesn't even know why he asked that, of course he isn't !

 

"No," Rylet whispered, forcing out a full word.

 

"Bad memories with that creature?"

 

"Very, very… Da-bad."

 

Avery clicked his tongue, "I really wish I could help, all I can say is that you're far, far , away from that thing and I would die to make sure it wouldn't get to you."

 

Ryley whimpered and hugged Avery as tight as he could.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

"Don't be."

Chapter Text

Ryley was okay the next day; well, mostly anyways. Avery was there for all of it, holding the crying man and curling around him. Ryley had progressively gotten more and more paranoid, jumping at small sounds that no one could hear until they found the source.

 

"Colin's frog? A damn frog," Shawn scratched her head.

 

"Not just any frog, Rubert!" Colin sounded offended as he pet Rubert.

 

Avery yelled, “none of you are helping right now!”

 

Ryley shook and screamed  for the rest of the day.

 

.:__________________________:.

 

“This trade has been a complete mess,” Jessica mumbled, putting her face in her hands.

 

“I know, right,” Chelsea chimed in.

 

“But we saved a person,” Colin piped up, shrugging.

 

“We did,” Avery said, petting the asleep fish-human in his arms.

 

According to their clock, it was currently 4:34 AM, so it took them from 11 AM yesterday to 4:30 AM today to get Ryley to sleep.

 

Aaron turned to Colin. “Is Rupert okay?”

 

“Yeah, he’s a frog, of course he is,” Colin answered, narrowing his eyes.

 

“Just asking,” Aaron breathed, putting his hands up in a ‘I surrender’ fashion.

 

“I know that this isn’t ideal ,” Chelsea scoffed, “but we saved Ryley from hell, we need to be there for him. We need to be his new family,” Avery pursed his lips.

 

New ?”

 

“For Pete’s sake he lost all of this friends! All of his coworkers are smoldering in the stomachs of monsters.”

 

“You need to give Ryley kudos, guys,” Shawn joined in from her seat on the couch. She looked strange with her cap sitting on her face. “He seriously lost all of his friends and his identity as a human and he’s doing well, better than others do. He’s really trying to integrate into our group without setting the balance off; he really wants to help.”

 

“You’re honestly right,” Aaron nodded, raising his eyebrows, “you bring up a fair point.”

 

“See,” Shawn smirked, “I’m smart when I want to be.”

Chapter Text

“Ryley,” Avery whispered to Ryley, shaking his shoulder. “Bud.”

 

“Hm…?” Ryley hummed and rubbed his eyes, sitting up.

 

“We’re here.” Ryley definitely shot up at that.

 

“Wha-” Ryley coughed hard, the feeling of bile rising up his throat.

 

“Calm down, you’ll be okay.”

 

“They- they- them-” Ryley gulped in air, “they’ll hurt me!”

 

“Why would you think that?”

 

“Precursors saw me.... Hurt me.”

 

“Ryley,” Avery grabbed Ryley’s cheeks, forcing him to look at him, “I will never, ever let anyone hurt you, I would rather cut my own foot off than watch as you get hurt. I will not let anyone lay one finger on your scales.”

 

Ryley chuckled as Avery whipped a tear off of his face. 

 

When did that get there? When did we get here? ’ 

 

Pathetic was floating around Ryley’s head. Ryley nodded and curled up on Avery’s lap, preparing for the biggest panic attack of his life. Avery got up and Ryley scurried around to his back, wrapping his tail around Avery’s waist to hold on. Avery laughed and walked off of the ship, seeing the rest of the crew talking, drinking, and eating with others. Ryley felt like a squirrel on a tree, looking around and flinching at every look and gasp.

 

“Avery-” someone said, but quickly cut himself off. “Who…?”

 

Ryley slid down Avery’s back and reached the floor, sniffing around. He wasn’t used to the smell of sweat and smelly air. Where was the salty smell ?

 

“This is Ryley Robinson, Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief from Aurora.”

 

“Hey, buddy,” they said, treating him like he was a dog by slowly putting their hand in his face.

 

Ryley growled and he arched his back, tilting his ears back and nipping at the man’s hands.

 

“Shit,” the man yelped, yanking his hand back, drawing the attention of everyone else there.

 

“Careful! He’s not used to people!”

 

Ryley scurried up Avery’s legs and re-wrapped his tail around Avery’s hips, gripping his shoulders tightly.

 

"Ow, pal," Avery said, grabbing at Ryley's hands.

 

"I-I-I-I'm… Egh- sor-" he couldn't even say sorry. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic, pathetic -

 

"Ryley," Avery yelled suddenly, shaking Ryley by his shoulders.

 

Ryley just realized that he was screaming and clawing at the floor at which he screamed and cried at.

 

"Hey, hey, hey," Avery's voice was soft as he hugged Ryley to his chest, rocking them both slowly.

 

"I-I-didn't want-"

 

"Be quiet and listen," Avery cut him off, his heartbeat a slow rhythm in the background.

 

"I didn't meant-mean to."

Chapter Text

Ryley bent his fingers on his left first, one by one he switched to his right hand, focusing on how his muscles twitched and his tendons pulled. It was soothing in a way to study his body; he's never Lost interest in living things and how they work.

 

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten," he mumbled to himself, counting as he moved each individual finger. And he started over. And over. And over.

 

He could hear Avery and someone arguing in the hall. After the whole fiasco, Ryley ran away and locked himself in the bathroom, it was one with stalls, so he hoped to God that no one would come in. 

 

"He's dangerous!"

 

"No he is definitely not! I spent three days inside of a flying tin can and he never lashed out," Avery countered the person.

 

"But he bit Johnson!"

 

"I know, I know. You do know that he's been alone for about four years, right?"

 

"Yeah, I get it."

 

"One," he shakily started. "Two," he gulped. "Three," he stuttered. "Four," Ryley had to stop, the chattering of his teeth from shaking becoming too much. Pathetic. You can't even finish counting to five. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic, pathetic, pathetic-

Someone knocked.

 

"Ryley? Bud?" Avery, Avery was talking to him. Or was he? Was the isolation becoming too much and he's just starting to hallucinate?

 

"Shut up. Please. Leave me to rot." Who was he talking to?

 

"Hey? What's wrong, I can hear you talking."

 

Was everyone gone? Ryley strained to ears but still couldn't hear much; a jumble of mumbled words and curses. He touched his lips. Oh. Oh . He was talking .

 

"I'm coming in," Avery said just before he picked the lock. How- "Oh buddy…"

 

Why was he saying that? Ryley smelled something disgusting. He felt wet. Water? No, water usually doesn't smell. Oh wait.

 

Ryley's face turned red as a tomato. He pissed himself . Ryley scrambled and twisted, trying to get away from the embarrassment.

 

"Hey, it's okay, it's okay. I'm not judging you. Let's just get you cleaned up, 'kay? I'm gonna go get some sweatpants for you and I'll be right back," Avery explained. He's way too nice.

 

Ryley nodded and swallowed the lump in his throat as Avery smiled at him; a tight kind of smile, the ones that look forced, the smile doesn't fully reach the eyes.

 

He returned seconds later with, as promised, sweatpants. Ryley could feel his face burn again as Avery hung up the pants on the hook nearby.

 

"I'll wait outside as you change, there's new underwear inside of the pants."

 

Avery shut the door softly and leaned on it, whistling a slow tune. 

 

' One, two, three ,' Rylet counted in his head, lifting his leg up and pulling off the current clothing he was wearing. ' Ew. '

 

He pulled on the new pants, counting to three watch time he lifted his legs. Ryley decided to not touch the dirty cloths.

 

"Avery," Ryley called out, wincing at his pathetic sounding voice.

 

"Yeah?"

 

"I'm done. What should we do about the floor?"

 

"Dont worry, I'll get it. Make sure to wash up your hands," Avery answered, ushering Ryley out of the stall. 

 

Ryley washed his hands and turned back to Avery, apologizing profusely.

 

"Hey, hey, hey," Avery said after he flushed the toilet 5,000 times. He quickly washed his hands and flicked them off, ignoring the need to wipe his hands in favor of holding Ryley in a tight hug. "It's a normal fear and stress reaction."



Ryley still apologized until his voice cut out and he fell to the floor with Avery.

Chapter Text

Ryley peeked his eyes open and grumbled, flipping onto his side at the sight of Avery and that Johnson character talking in the small living room. Where was he exactly? 

 

 

“I’m sorry, really, I am,” Avery said.

 

 

“I know you are, but it was mostly me,” Johnson replied.

 

 

“I’m still sorry."

 

 

"I know," Johnson chuckled.

 

 

Ryley slowly creeped to the door and shook his leg, finally getting annoyed of the pants. He threw them off and huffed, returning to Avery and Johnson. He slowly opened the door and shot around to hide once Avery looked over.

 

 

"Avery is friends with them. He hates me! I hurt his friend; oh god," Ryley thought, clenching his jaw until it hurt.

 

 

"Ryley?"

 

 

Ryley slid back at the sound of Avery's voice. He pushed himself back until he reached the end of the bed. Ryley looked around the room and skittered underneath the bed.

 

 

"Hey, buddy, come here," Avery said, crouching down and peeking under the bed.

 

 

Ryley squealed and flew up onto a shelf, knocking over a few things in the process.

 

 

"Ryley, please. Why are you running away?"

 

 

"Hurting!" Ryley curled into a ball on the shelf.

 

 

"Hurting?"

 

 

"Friend," Ryley whispered, tension regaining in his arms.

 

 

"Friend? Who- oh, Walter here," he pointed at Johnson. "No, he's okay."

 

 

"See," Walter held up his hand, nothing was there. "I'm fine. I've had worse like this here," he pulled up his shirt so Ryley could see his side, "was from a snake!" Thin scars ran to his back from his side.

 

 

"He has some amazing stories," Avery whispered to Ryley.

 

 

"Oh yeah I do! This one," he lifted up his pants, showing a bite scar. "Was from a rabid dog. That sucker just came up behind me and woosh! Bit my ankle. I didn't even see him coming! And-and this one," Ryley slowly slinked down from the shelf onto the floor, bear-walking his way to Avery.

 

 

"Hey, bud," Avery said quietly, ruffling Ryley's hair.

 

 

Ryley hummed and shuffled to Walter, pointing at a small scar on his thumb, it was brighter than the rest.

 

 

"That one? Oh I just sliced my finger with a pocket knife, nothin' special there." 

 

 

Ryley smiled.

Chapter Text

Ryley liked Walter. He was funny.

 

Avery needed to work so Ryley decided to stick around, it was a bad idea for him to be alone and Ryley knew it. Ryley was bouncing a ball as Avery’s commander knocked on the open door.

 

“Quinn,” he said.

 

“Ted,” Avery acknowledged, slightly saluting.

 

“Do you have that report filed?” 

 

“Yes, sir,” Avery lighty laughed.

 

"You know I hate that," his commander said.

 

"That's exactly why I do it," Avery quipped. "What's up?"

 

"Alterra is what's up." He took a quick look at Ryley.

 

"Oh shit, Brandon," Avery gasped.

 

"Oh shit is right, Avery. They're coming here right now . For him," Brandon pointed at Ryley who flinched.

 

Avery said, hushed, "why?"

 

"You know Alterra, they don't tell anyone anything." Brandon rubbed his forehead. "Get ready, they're coming through the phase gate right now."

 

"When the hell did they start coming over?"

 

"Right when he got here, so two days ago."

 

"Christ… Alright, thanks Bran," Avery thanked, getting up to comfort Ryley.

 

"Of course." Brandon went to turn around, but quickly whipped back. "Oh yeah, nearly forgot. Shian made this for the fish man. She thought he would appreciate it."

 

Brandon tossed Ryley the shorts and waved his way out of Avery's room.

 

"Those look nice," Avery said from his dresser.

 

"Mhm," Ryley hummed, looking at the shorts.

 

They were black, it felt like neoprene, smelt like a load of laundry after being in a drying machine. Ryley tried to put it on, but he couldn't get his tail through the hole that was pre-cut.

 

Ryley made a gargle and stared at Avery.

 

"Hey there," Avery laughed. "You-uh-you need help?"

 

Ryley huffed.

 

"One sec'. Can you go on all fours?"

 

Ryley nodded.

 

"Okay, lemme just…" Avery pursed his lips and tugged on the pants, quickly shoving Ryley's tail through the hole. "Good?"

 

Ryley bear-crawled for a few seconds, then he perked up, making happy sounds.

 

"That's good. They look comfy. I'll make sure to let you meet Shian, she's pretty down to earth," Avery said as he got dressed into skinny jeans and a simple black shirt.

 

Ryley shook and tensed his back, arching like a cat.

 

"I know, Alterra is dumb."

 

"They did… They didn't try to s-s-av-e me."

 

"Oh, they didn't. That's right."

 

"Or my crew," Ryley said slowly, gritting his teeth.

 

"Ryley-"

 

"My friends are dead. Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god… My friends… Ozzy, Yu, Berkeley, Danby, Officer Keen. Damnit!" Ryley hit himself on the head.

 

"Ryley please," Avery whispered.

 

Ryley continued scratching and hitting himself until tears formed. He finally bit himself, his sharp fangs cutting into his skin.

 

"Ryley no!" Avery squeezed the sides of Ryley's jaw to make him let go. Then, he held Ryley's hand, sighing. "Gosh Ryley," Avery breathed.

 

"I'm sorry I didnt- I didnt mean to I'm really, really sorry-"

 

"Don't be, buddy." Avery shushed, "it's okay, you're okay. Alterra won't do anything to you, not on my fucking watch."

 

"You won't go?"

 

"No," Avery said, furrowing his brows, "no I won't ever."

Chapter Text

Alterra was here.

 

Ryley felt the butterflies in his stomach flew up to his throat as he saw his captain. Ryley hid behind Avery's shoulder, shivering slightly and glancing down at Nile worriedly.

 

"Hello Mr. Quinn," a well dressed man said, holding out his hand for Avery to shake.

 

"Hi," Avery answered, taking the man's hand.

 

"I'm Oliver, this is Kinsley, and Robin."

 

"I'm Avery and Ryley is here," Avery said, pointing and turning around so the small group could see Ryley clinging to his back. 

 

"Hi there," Robin smiled sweetly, waving slightly at Ryley.

 

"Here, buddy." Avery tossed Ryley's ball of which Ryley shot over to. "Dork," Avery whispered, chuckling.

 

Robin turned excitedly over to Oliver.

 

"If it's okay with Mr. Robinson," Oliver replied, looking at Avery.

 

"He'll be fine as long as you don't get too close," Avery shrugged.

 

Robin grinned and made her way over to the occupied fish man.

 

"Hi, Ryley. I'm Robin," she said as she got over.

 

Ryley jumped and dropped his ball, making it bounce away.

 

"Here," Robin grabbed it and held it out to Ryley.

 

He sucked in a breath and plucked it away from her, holding it close to his chest. Robin sat down next to him carefully, and smiled, starting to have a happy conversation with Ryley.

 

"Robin seems to be pretty outgoing," Avery commented, waving lighty as Ryley looked back at him ecstatic. 

 

"She tends to be friendly to everyone," Kingsley confirmed while smiling. "So, the elephant in the room…"

 

"Ryley? He's more of a fish than an elephant," Avery joked.

 

"We want him to come back to Alterra HQ for testing. We don't have any idea of how a mutation such as this one occurred," Oliver said suddenly.

 

Avery stopped breathing. “No. No, he can’t do that.”

 

Kingsley asked, “why?”

 

“He just got back, he can hardly walk on his own, he struggles with paying attention, he has bit people , and he only talks to me and even then he barely says anything! Can I also mention how he’s afraid of you?” Avery pointed at Oliver and Kingsley. “Why would you even think of that?!”

 

“I never say this, but please ,” Oliver pleaded, “we need to do an exploration of 4546B, and we have to have Ryley for that. We don’t want anyone to die and he’ll know the way around the place, he’ll know where to land, where all of the interesting places are. Please, ask him. We’ll do anything.” Oliver seemed odd, like he never says please to anyone.

 

“Fine. You’ll do whatever he says?”

 

“Yes, yes we will,” Kingsley confirmed.

 

“Fine.”

 

Avery carefully walked over to Robin and Ryley. The two looked up at him and Ryley launched himself at Avery, squeezing him tightly in a hug.

 

“Hey, buddy, it’s good to see you too,” Avery laughed, wrapping his arm around Ryley’s back.

 

Ryley hummed.

 

“Alterra wants something form you, actually two things.”

 

Ryley hissed.

 

“I know. They want you to come back to Alterra HQ and also take them to 4546B which is bullshit. They’ll do anything you say.”

 

Ryley grunted and spoke, “I want you.”

 

“Okay, buddy. Anything else?”

 

“No one can hurt them or… T-Take anything unless you- or-or- I say.”

 

“From 4546B? You mean the creatures there too, right?”

 

Ryley hummed in approval.

 

“I think those are valid rules,” Avery comforted Ryley’s anxious aura.

 

“Avery,” Oliver greeted.

 

“Oliver,” Avery returned. “Ryley decided to go with you to HQ and take you 4546B as long as I come with him for both. On the adventure to 4546B no one can hurt or take anything without the permission of Ryley.”

 

Oliver breathed in and out as Kingsley spoke, “okay, Oliver, we need to get moving if we’re going to make it back in time.”

 

“Ah,” Oliver said, “yes. Come along.”