AN: If you think about it, Megagirl is going to outlive them all. It's really quite sad, it really is.
Disclaimer: I do not own Starship.
It was the carbon-based alien life form that went by the name of 'Bug' that was the first of them to perish.
And despite the fact that she, Megagirl, with her superior scanning and technological capabilities, had been well aware that it was going to happen, his death still came as a surprise.
Perhaps, part of it was how easily he had accepted his death. When she had fought during the Robot Wars, there had been many times when her prey had begged for their lives, asking without hope for her to spare either them or another. Of course, she had never granted their requests, for it was in her programming to kill any humans that she might come across- a fact that, until she met Tootsie, had never been a problem for her. It still wasn't, but now she knew that a few of those lives, particularly those of her crew, would never be taken by her own hand.
But Bug was different. When he had come to the realization that he was at the end of his lifespan, there was none of the crying or wailing that Megagirl had come to expect. There were no tears, no pleas with the long dead god that humans still occasionally turned to, nothing that would tell someone who wasn't already aware of his condition that something was wrong. Instead, when she had off handedly mentioned to him one night while they were on night duty that she could sense his internal organs beginning to malfunction, all he had done was shrug and smile. He hadn't asked if there was anything she could do to extend his life, for both of them knew that there was not. With his time left measuring less than a week, he had put that time to good use, making sure to spend every moment of it with the humans that he had come to call his family.
He spent time with Tootsie, patiently explaining for the thousandth time why, exactly, he looked like a bug and not a human, no trace of annoyance or frustration present in his voice. All there had been was a kind fondness for the farm boy, a brotherly love much like what he had felt for Roach.
He spent time being taught slang and phrases by Krayonder, diligently working to improve on his use of the English language before he no longer needed it. Again, there was no anger when he failed, nor were there any unkind feelings towards the Ranger teaching him. There was only pride when he mastered another sentence of slang, grateful thanks towards his teacher, and friendship between the two that bound them close together.
He finally allowed Specs to run her tests on him, allowing her to take samples and measurements to satisfy her hunger for information. He answered all of her questions as truthfully as he could, making sure to sidestep any about the standard age for one of his race and to avoid anything that might result in her finding out his coming demise. When he was able, he helped her with her tests, handling the chemicals that she herself could not so that, in the end, she had all the results that she needed. Specs was almost like a sister to him, and the first time he saw her smile as one of his skin samples reacted in a way she hadn't expected, he couldn't help regret that he had made her wait for so long.
Taz, amazingly enough, he had come to see as a mother, despite the fact that, in Bug time, he was much, much older than her. That, combined with the fact that Taz had absolutely none of the qualities that humans normally desired in their female parental units, had made her a strange candidate for that position. But none the less, she was a mother to everyone on the crew, using her harsh, demanding ways and threats to keep them safe and healthy. It was just how she showed that she cared. Bug spent a lot of time with her at the range, allowing her to walk him through the best of her favorite weapons, his eyes wide and curious as she demonstrated just how each one worked. His questions actually seemed to please her, for they allowed her to show just how knowledgeable she was about the ways of war and how to win one. Even when he just sat there, silently watching as she took apart and cleaned the chamber on one of her pistols, they had bonded.
Up had been, in Bug's eyes, at least, a special case, for he had become the father the insect had never known. He had been the comforting opposite to their hardened mother, and Bug, in his last few days, made it his mission to see that the two people who had become the parents he had never known were happy. Long walks around the outer most catwalks of the ship became his way of saying good bye to the Commander that had allowed him to make his dream come true, the two talking through and working out any kinks in their plans. When, finally, Bug was able to see the two together, everything they had worked on thrown to the side at the last minute in lou of a surprise kiss followed by a stuttered explanation, he had worn one of the largest smiles he had possible, glad that his last dangerous mission as a Starship Ranger was successful.
And then there was February. Every moment that he had free, Bug was with her, his eyes still shinning in the moon-struck way that they only did when he was looking at her. He became, if it was even possible, kinder with her, more caring and attentive, hanging off of her every word as if it was to be the last he heard. Gentle touches and almost missed kisses became their norm as he tried to draw out the moment for as long as possible. He loved her, more than he had loved anything in his entire life, and it was only the guilt that he felt over the fact that he was leaving her that kept him quiet. Better, he had thought, to have what time they did together happily then to spend it dreading the moment it would end.
Out of them all, she was the only one he avoided, for he knew that she knew the exact amount of time he had left. Bug knew it too, some internal clock ticking away to tell him how close he was to the end, but somehow, for him, knowing that someone else knew as well made it that much worse. So, it wasn't until his end that he finally thanked her.
It had been a night like any other, nothing special marking the time or date, though it would later stand out in their minds for years to come. Despite dinner having already been served and cleared from the Mess Hall, for some reason no one had wanted to leave, instead steadily witling away the hours as the ship piloted itself. Krayonder and Taz had once again gotten into some form of altercation due to their clashing personalities, and the rest had decided to sit and watch the fun play out before them. Up had been leaning back in his chair, ready at a moment's notice to jump in if it looked like his beloved Lieutenant was really going to harm the other Ranger, while Specs had just slowly shaken her head at her friend's foolishness. Tootsie had once again begun to tell her the story of how his relationship with a stack of hay, who was also his cousin, mind you, had ended badly for everyone, his voice overly loud when compared to the relative silence of the rest of the room. February, tired from a day of working out and chores, had just silently sat with her hand wrapped around Bug's claw, her head cradled in the crook of the other as she waited to see whether or not Taz would finally go through with her threats. Overall, it had been a peaceful, seemingly wonderful night.
Until Bug rose from his seat and announced that he was going to bed.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he had called out each of the crew member's names, wishing each of them individually a good sleep and pleasant dreams. When he had come to her, all he had needed to say was 'Thank you, Megagirl,' and she had understood that this was his final good bye. It was time for him to expire, and Bug, the brave insect that he was, was going to do it on his own. The last thing he had done before he left the Hall to return to his bunk was kiss February long and hard, his voice slightly breathy as he reminded her that he loved her with everything that he was. Without waiting to see whether she would return his sentiments or not, Bug had swept from the room, leaving behind a group of slightly confused but otherwise undisturbed humans and one robot who, at that moment, wished that she could cry.
Megagirl had been planning on sparing the woman the pain she knew she was going to feel by taking care of the body herself, but, for once, February awoke before she finished her recharging session. As was the scientist's way, she had automatically stopped by his room on her way to the lab, which had only led to tears as she realized why, exactly, Bug wasn't waking up when she called his name.
The funeral was a simple affair, nothing more than the Commander saying a few words over the grave they had dug for him on the next moon they arrived at, but not even she could say that it hadn't been an emotional event. For once, she actually felt pity for a human, for the airheaded blonde who had somehow become a Starship Ranger, because the woman had just lost the one person she had ever actually loved after only having him to herself for one, single year. Not only that, but if Megagirl's scan was to be trusted, then the scientist had much more pain in store for her.
Not even three weeks later, February became living proof that Bugs and humans were not compatible species, for the child she gave birth to was nothing more than a mix of horrors. But not even that kept her from begging Specs to try her hardest to save its life, ignoring the fact that life had never been present to begin with. They returned to the same moon just days later to bury the monstrous nightmare next to its sire, for, in a twisted way, it had seemed right that the family should stay as close together as it could. Completely uninhabited, surrounded on all sides by the night sky, for the soil had a translucent quality that allowed the red of their friend's skin to just faintly show through, it was, they decided, the perfect place to bury them.
Bug was the first of them to die, the first of their family to leave the rest of them behind. He was the first to leave a broken and shattered heart, and the first to force someone to make the decision that they would wait for him alone until they were reunited once again at the end. Bug was the first to perish.
But he would not be the last.
The second member of their family to decide to leave them was Up.
For ten years he had been their commander, the leader that headed some of the most dangerous missions G.L.E.E., and so therefore, their strange team of oddities, had ever had to face in the history of humanity. And even before then he had been old, had spent decades fighting in the Robot War for humanity's freedom, and that war had aged him. Aged him long beyond his years, especially since his injury had almost killed him, had almost left him in the hands of the dead god. They'd been able to fix him up, save his life, but that had still shortened his lifespan to half of what it could have been.
He got slow. Slow and tired and when they were running for their lives, racing away from the giant alien creature that was trying to destroy them all, when they were waiting for him to get on the drop pod, he had just stopped.
Stopped and smiled and let the creature take him, giving Taz and Megagirl the time they needed to grab the big guns. Grab the big guns and destroy the bastard, blowing it to bits that scattered across the weathered, sandy land they had been exploring. But even with the destruction, with the quick death that had come upon the alien beast for daring to lay a tentacle on their beloved leader, it was too late.
They tried to save him, they really did. But so far away from any G.L.E.E. ship, so far from any medical facility, with almost nothing that could actually help except some medical staples and duct tape, there was nothing they could do.
He lived just long enough on the drop pod for them to get back to the ship, for him to see the stars one last time, and to say good bye.
They took him back to the same moon they had buried Bug on. It just felt right- right that their tiny little family, their little group of unwanted and failed Rangers who had somehow become heroes, stay together. Stay together and in space, somewhere they could rest without risk of being disturbed. By robots, by humans, by any little alien that might have a vendetta against them; on that out of the way moon, they were free.
They buried him there, and for the first time any of them knew, Taz cried. It wasn't obvious- she stayed silent, her tears just quietly streaming down her face as she watched the semi-translucent soil fall over him. He barely showed, not like Bug. When the hole was filled, it was almost like he was gone.
She didn't speak for a long, long time after he was gone, leaving it to Specs to plot a course, to accept their missions. She fought, when the need arrived, fought with a rage none of them had ever seen before. But otherwise? Otherwise she did little. She ate what was given to her, participated in the wars she was pointed towards, and, when it was late and they were in the depths of space, far from any civilization, she watched Karate Kid. The good one. Over and over again.
February occasionally joined her, the two of them just staring at the screen. Doing nothing but watching. Watching and mourning their losses.
It was a long while before the next one died- years. Years and years and years, the rest of their idiotic little group somehow surviving by sheer luck. Somehow, by all of her accounts, they should have been dead shortly after Up had died, left practically leaderless and lost as they were. But somehow they lived, lived until they didn't.
Lived until Specs accidently blew herself and half of the ship up, the rest of the crew only not lost because Megagirl sealed up what had survived. Lived until Krayonder accidently shot himself in the foot when his hands were shaking too hard to keep it straight, the blood loss too much for his aged, elderly body to deal with. Lived until February took off her helmet without checking the reading, just like she had a thousand times over in the past, only this time in an atmosphere that hadn't been survivable.
Lived until Tootsie, trying to settle his feud with the horses that had eaten his cousin (the human one, not the haystack one), ended up under their hooves instead, the man-eating horses of Farm Planet trampling him without a second thought. At least, until Megagirl found them.
The planet tried to rename itself after her, but a few well-placed plasma shots ended that. Because Tootsie Megagirl, named for what he did and what he loved, had been the only thing she wanted named after her.
Surprisingly, Taz has been the last. Somehow, despite the number of times she had thrown herself into battle, the number of times she had been stabbed and poisoned and almost disemboweled, she had lived. Lived to fight in a dozen more wars that had nothing to do with her, lived to see the A15 decommissioned from service only to steal it from the yard it had been sent to so she could make it her home, lived to make that trip back to that damn moon almost half a dozen times more.
Lived long enough for her own trip back, the ship put on autopilot for the drive as the two of them talked.
"I've always hated you," Taz admitted softly, a few days out from the planet's surface. "You're everything I spent my entire early life fighting against, hating- I could never get over that."
Megagirl had just nodded, nodded and waited as the old woman tried to string together the words on her mind.
"But even with that," Taz eventually added, "I'm glad you were on my crew."
Megagirl could have said something- Taz had never formerly taken command, had never actually been their leader, and so she had never been on her crew, not technically. Instead, she just leaned down and placed a kiss on Taz's forehead- a movement the woman made no move to swat away, letting her know exactly how close the end was.
"I am too."
Burying her was the hardest, perhaps even harder than Tootsie, because Taz had fought. She was a fighter, in every sense of the word, and she had expected a fighter's death. But instead she had succumbed to age, something none of the others had, and it had destroyed her. So she had fought, and if it hadn't been for Megagirl stepping in a long time ago, stepping in only because she had realized Taz was the last and she couldn't lose another crew member, she would have done something stupid.
Even as it was, she fought death to the end, figuring that if death was making her wait, she'd screw it up as much as she could. But even Taz hadn't been able to hold it off forever.
Megagirl had had to bury her, bury her next to Up, the last grave in that line of crew members that had been lost to her over the years.
And it was then that Megagirl realized that she had been wrong. For the last few years, ever since they had come to bury Tootsie, she had kept close to Taz's side, worked to keep her alive, just so she wouldn't be alone, left behind by the last of the crew of the A15 G.L.E.E. starship. But she had been wrong.
Because Taz hadn't been the last. She was. And her batteries would last another couple thousand years, leaving her alone as the last for a long, long time to come.
She was glad the moon was deserted, for if hadn't been, she would have made it so, made it so in a rush of metal and blood and screaming, screaming that still happened even without the rest, screaming that continued as she realized she was, in fact, the last of them all. The last of the crew, the last of her friends, the last of the weird little family that had been hers. She was the last.