A/N: I... I have so many theories going on here, most of them irrelevant because this is just a snippet of a brief scene. Do know that I'm using the LiS universe, so clones don't exist. The original Batch are biological brothers. :D


Some called it the final frontier. The edge of everything. Nothing but endless space and stars, enough to spend a lifetime -ten lifetimes- searching and never see everything. Big enough to swallow the tiny speck called Earth.

Yet in the blackness of space, there was life. Burning stars and blazing suns. Planets with methane instead of oxygen. Distant glimpses of animalistic herds, striding across plains of mercury.

And among it all, humanity.

Reaching into the darkness, stepping where nothing and no one should be able to live. Surrounded by stars and the vacuum of space, striding toward the impossible, eyes forward, determination pushing them onward, toward a world that seemed so impossible, on the edge of one's vision, blink and it's gone…

"Space is overrated."

Echo blinked, his gaze drawn from the floor-to-ceiling window to the man standing beside him with a cheeky grin. The woman behind him rolled her eyes and brushed past.

"Says the mechanics of the world's largest space station," Echo returned.

"Leave me out of this," Tam said. "I'm perfectly happy out here."

"So am I," protested Don, despite what he'd just said.

"You're here for the paycheck," Tam said with a knowing tilt of her head.

"True," Don said. He gave the ceiling a dreamy smile, then his attention snapped back to Echo. "You know, my job would be a lot easier if Oliver would stop messing with your Jupiter."

Echo leaned back against the glass and crossed his arms -one entirely flesh and the other half metal. "You know, I bet he'd stop if you'd just stop calling him Oliver."

"It's his name, isn't it?"

"Yeah, but nobody calls him that."

Don waved a hand. "If there's anyone on the Resolute that should be called 'Tech,' it's me."

Tam leaned closer. "You should hear what the other mechanics call you in the dining hall."

"Charming? Talented?" Don said with his usual grin.

Tam smirked and swatted his shoulder with the back of her hand. "Yeah, keep dreaming. Now come on. There's a water leak on C deck that needs our attention."

Don waved a hand. "Eh, Ava's on duty down there."

Tam walked away, making a show of checking her comm. "Her shift just ended. But if you like, I can tell her that you volunteered her…"

Terror filled Don's face. He spun and sprinted after Tam, yelling at her to wait. A few colonists gave them confused looks, but neither mechanic seemed to care.

Echo chuckled and shook his head. He turned back to space, though his gaze was drawn to his reflection.

In the trim black-and-orange uniform of the Resolute crew, Echo could almost pass as normal… if it wasn't for his shiny titanium right hand. Under the sleeve, the prosthetic extended all the way to his elbow.

A reflection joined his. Echo didn't move for a few seconds, then met the reflection's eyes.

"Hey, Sarge," Echo said.

A hand clamped companionably on his shoulder. "It's been two years, Echo, you can stop calling me that."

Echo shrugged his other shoulder. "It's not something to just forget about."

"Then I order you to stop calling me that."

"Yessir, Hunter."

Hunter lightly shook his shoulder, then released him. Echo turned to grin at him.

Hunter was five years Echo's senior, and a full inch shorter. He kept his longer brown hair tied out of his face with a red bandana with a faded skull painted on it, and half of his face was covered with a dark tattoo of a skull's visage. Like Echo, Hunter wore the standard crew uniform, though he kept a sheathed knife on his left arm and his boots bore the scuffs of Alpha Centauri's rocks.

"What are you doing up here?" Hunter asked, leaning against the glass.


Echo glanced outside to avoid Hunter's eye. Hunter could try to sound as casual as much as he liked, but Echo could see the concern in his creased brows and unwavering gaze.

A flash of light caught Echo's eye. "Did you see that?"

"Don't change the subject," Hunter said.

"I'm not." Echo turned fully to the window. "Look."

The light vanished behind a lower deck before Hunter could see it. Hunter squinted, then shook his head.

"We're in the middle of literal space. There's nothing out there but stars."

"It was moving."

"Stars move."

Echo huffed. "I've seen stars, and that wasn't one."

"What else would be out here?" Hunter abruptly grinned. "A-"

"If you say aliens, I'm telling Tech on you, Sarge."

"Hey, I gave you an order. I'm not a sergeant anymore."

A blip from both of their comlinks made them look down. A scrolling alert warned colonists and crew of a breach on B deck.

"Nothing breaches the Resolute," Echo said, confused.

"Looks like something just did," Hunter said.

A second alert joined the first.

"Security? Why do they need security?" Echo asked.

"I don't know, but we're up." Hunter tapped Echo's arm, then turned away. "Let's go."

Echo followed Hunter to the stairwell. By the time they reached the next deck, a third alert had appeared on their comlinks. The two paused, then met each others' eyes. Without a word, both of them broke into a run.

Reaching B deck, Hunter yanked open the door to flashing red lights and panicked screams. A wave of hot, rank air hit them in the face.

Hunter clapped a hand over his mouth and nose and stumbled back, gagging. Echo choked, but forced himself through the doorway.

"Go back," Echo told Hunter. "You can't-"

"I'll be fine," Hunter said. "Just… just surprised me."

Echo frowned, but there wasn't time to be exasperated. A group of people rounded the corner and ran past the pair, screaming.

"What-" Echo grabbed a passing woman. "What is it?"

"It's coming!" The woman yanked her arm free and bolted, yelling back, "Run, it's coming!"


"Let's go!" Hunter said.

Echo ran, worriedly watching Hunter. His senses were insanely sensitive since the accident, and the stench of burning was only getting stronger.

Ahead, someone fell to the floor, only halfway in view. Echo dropped to his knees beside the man, knowing in a glance that it was too late. A hole the size of Echo's fist had been burned straight through the man's chest.

"Echo," Hunter breathed.

Echo lifted his head. Ahead, more bodies littered the hall. A few people were still vanishing into far corridors, one dropping before she made it. And standing in the midst of the chaos…

A robot. Made of smoky dark metal, overlapping plates covered the glowing center of its hulking body. Four clawed arms extended from its body, spewing bright lasers that mowed down the fleeing colonists.

"What in the world?" Echo said.

The robot's face spun toward Echo's voice. At least, Echo was guessing that the glassy dome filled with sparking red lights against black was a face. Its four arms moved toward him and Hunter.

"Move!" Hunter barked.

Echo and Hunter dove in opposite directions, narrowly avoiding the robot's lasers. Echo rolled up to his feet and, lacking better options, charged the robot.

The robot seemed surprised, as it stepped back. It didn't try to dodge, though, and Echo slammed into the robot with all his strength.

The robot didn't budge.

Of course it didn't. It was metal and big enough for its head to scrape the ceiling. It was like trying to physically roll an ATV.

Echo kicked away, ducking under the robot's swinging arm. Hunter leaped up from the other direction, his knife flashing. There was a shriek of metal on metal, then Hunter dodged under and to Echo's side.

"It didn't even scratch it!" Hunter said.

The robot gave a deep, thrumming growl and clomped forward. Echo rolled away, wondering whose brilliant idea it was to ban all guns but one on the Resolute, because Echo really wanted to just shoot the thing in its glowing face.

"Try it's face!" Echo said, hopping to his feet.

Hunter looked skeptical, but sprinted toward the robot. Echo feigned another charge, keeping the robot distracted while Hunter dodged around to the side.

The robot growled and stepped forward, swinging both left arms. Hunter ducked the upper arm, then shouted when his feet were swept out from under him. He hit the ground hard, knocking the wind out of him in a harsh exhale.


Echo ran up to the robot. It ignored him, reaching out a clawed hand toward Hunter. Echo yelled and spun, one foot lashing out-

And jerked to a stop. The robot had caught Echo's foot without turning, holding Echo still in his awkward, one-legged position. Echo flailed his arms for balance and jerked his foot, but the robot's grip was tight.

The robot's face turned slowly to Echo, who swallowed. The robot's lights swirled oddly, then its upper arm dropped.


Echo hit the floor with an unconscious shout. Hunter yelled his name. Boots thudded against the floor, then Hunter was dragging Echo backwards. Echo looked at Hunter, then followed his gaze to the robot.

The robot had briefly forgotten its attack, it seemed. It stared, unmoving, at the half of Echo's leg still in its lower hand.

"Echo, Echo, you're okay," Hunter said unsteadily.

Echo blinked and turned his head. Hunter, already pale from the smell, had gone as white as a sheet.

"Don't hurl," Echo said.

Indignation replaced Hunter's worry. "I'm not going to throw up."

"Yeah, unlike that time Cody gashed his face-"

The clang of Echo's titanium leg -because that's what it was- hitting the floor broke off their banter. The robot, losing interest in Echo's prosthetic, stalked closer.

After one step, its head jerked back as a bullet hit its dome. It growled and its arms arched threateningly. It stepped forward, twitching as two more bullets hit it, but did nothing.

"Get up!" called a thoroughly annoyed voice.

Echo might have been offended that his almost dying was such an inconvenience if Crosshair didn't always sound that way.

Hunter hauled Echo to his feet. Echo grunted, having to lean heavily on Hunter to avoid falling over. Both retreated quickly from the robot to Hunter's younger, silver-haired brother.

Crosshair's eyes slid to him. "Saving your butt again, little bird, huh?"

"Took you long enough," Echo panted.

"I was curious on what you'd try next. Punch it, maybe?"

"Enough," Hunter said.

The three of them were steadily moving backward. The robot followed, not slowing as Crosshair continuously shot it, but also not making use of its lasers.

"What's the plan, Hunter?" Crosshair asked. His voice was calm and level, as if he regularly confronted alien robots with impenetrable armor.

"Keep this thing's attention," Hunter said. "The colonists are evacuating. Once civilians are out of the way, we can-"

A scream cut Hunter off. The robot stopped, then slowly turned. Echo's breath caught when he saw two girls standing frozen in the hall. They must have run into the hall on their way to their Jupiter.

Or they were curious. Echo recognized the blond-haired girl in front as Omega Smith from when she and her friend wandered down to the lower decks where colonists rarely ventured. She was bright and inquisitive, and insanely brave.

Emphasis on the insane. Omega held her arms out protectively in front of her friend, a wide-eyed, brown-haired girl named Samantha Marier. Omega didn't flinch when the robot stepped toward them.

"Run, kids!" Hunter yelled.

Omega grabbed her friend's arm, but Samantha didn't budge. The robot bore down on them, even when Crosshair resumed firing. Hunter pulled away to run after the robot, and Echo fell against the wall, reaching uselessly out.


There was a bellowing shout, then another form hurled in from another hall. Echo's breath caught at the sight of metallic arms, then he let out a sigh when the form crashed into the robot. Both went down in a tangle of metal limbs.

Hunter dodged around the two fighters. He scooped up Samantha, spoke quickly to Omega, then both ran past the fighters and joined Echo and Crosshair.

Omega stepped into Echo's reaching arm, and he happily gathered the girl closer. He could feel her shaking.

"You were very brave," Echo told her.

"Who is that?" asked Samantha.

"The robot? I don't know," Hunter said. Still holding the girl, he herded the group further from the fight.

"No, the other guy," Samantha said.

Omega squinted, then her eyes widened. "Isn't that Wrecker?"

"It is." Raising his voice, Hunter called, "Wrecker, be careful!"

The eldest Batcher brother responded with a reckless laugh. He tumbled across the floor when the robot tossed him, but was right back on his feet. He turned to check on the others.

Wrecker had a tall, brawny build, and his usual cheerful grin that offset the harshness of the scar taking over the left side of his face. When he moved, the titanium exoskeleton over his EMU moved with him, protecting and strengthening his frame.

"Stop messing around!" Hunter scolded.

Wrecker scoffed, then pressed a button on his comlink.

"Combat mode engaged," said the cheerful computer voice.

Omega's eyes got wide. "You have a combat mode?!"

Wrecker laughed and flicked out his arms. The exoskeleton extended, encasing Wrecker's feet and lifting him a foot into the air. The arms raised off of the suit and thickened as metal plates folded open. Metal clicked into place out of the suit's back to settle over Wrecker's bald head like a battle helmet.

"Come on!" Wrecker yelled, charging at the robot again. "Hunter, get them out of here!"

Hunter nodded. Taking Omega's hand, he hurried down the hall. Crosshair slung his rifle over one shoulder, then put Echo's arm over his shoulder. Echo watched Wrecker and the robot collide, then ducked out of sight with Crosshair. They hadn't gone far when they heard a woman's voice.



Samantha squirmed free as a woman appeared from the next hall. Relief filled the mother's face, and she knelt to gather Samantha into her arms.

"Oh, Samantha, where have you been?" Mrs. Marier asked.

"Dad said he was going to show us the air scrubbers," Samantha said, her voice muffled in her mother's shoulder. "But he wasn't there, so we played in the lower decks until Mr. Vos told us to go to our Jupiters. Mom, what's happening?"

"I don't know, but it's going to be fine."

Hunter looked at Omega. "Where's your Jupiter? We'll take you there, then deal with our… visitor."

Mrs. Marier quickly raised her head. "Her Jupiter's too far; I'll take her to ours. It's just around the corner."

Omega shook her head. "Captain Radic said that if there's ever an emergency evacuation, we need to go to our family's Jupiter so my family knows we're safe."

"I… I spoke with you mom, honey," Samantha's mother said. "She wanted… she knows you're safe with me."

Omega still looked uncertain. Mrs. Marier met Hunter's eyes, then Echo's.

Echo exhaled slowly, seeing in the woman's eyes what she couldn't bring herself to say. Not while alarms still blared and the clatter of combat continued from behind. With effort, Echo lowered himself to his knees and took Omega's shoulders.

"It's okay," Echo said. "Go with Mrs. Marier. You won't get in trouble."

"Oh-kay…" Omega said uncertainly. She quickly hugged Echo, then stepped back. "That's for Wrecker, for saving Samantha and me."

Echo smiled. "I'll tell him."

Echo stood with Hunter's help, ignoring Crosshair's baffled frown. The trio followed the Mariers and Omega far enough to ensure they safely reached the Marier Jupiter, then turned back.

"Something on your mind, Crosshair?" Hunter asked.

Crosshair scowled and shook his head. "The kid's Jupiter is just down the hall, why-

Echo interrupted, "I'm not letting a little girl go to an empty Jupiter."

A loud crash echoed through the hall, then the sounds of fighting abruptly stopped.

A few seconds later, a screech of metal on metal came from ahead. The trio stopped in ready stances, eyeing the intersection ahead.

Wrecker slid into view. He was groaning with effort, his body and exoskeleton straining against the robot's arms. The exoskeleton's claws were dug into the floor, leaving deep gashes as Wrecker was pushed further along. The robot continued walking, barely hindered by Wrecker's efforts.

"Why couldn't it be a smaller robot?" Echo complained.

"Don't worry, guys, I got it!" Wrecker said, completely unconvincingly as he was pushed out of sight.

Crosshair unslung his rifle and fired, hitting the robot in the shoulder. The robot twitched and stopped moving, then slowly turned its head.

"Never thought I'd say this, but I think we should run," Echo said.

Crosshair fired again, his bullet ricocheting off the robot's face. "Fly away anytime, Bird."

Echo took his eyes off the robot for a second to glare, then Hunter was suddenly shoving him to the floor. Echo didn't have time to see why before Wrecker slammed into them.

Echo's face hit the floor hard enough to make his ears ring, but he instinctively forced his knees under him. He lifted his head, quickly locating a stunned Hunter with Wrecker on top of him and Crosshair flat on the floor.

"Guys, move!" Echo yelled, jerking his gaze around.

But the robot was gone. Echo blinked, listening to the retreating clatter of metal feet and his teammates untangling themselves.

Character notes: Omega's the grandaughter of the real Dr. Smith, and I pulled Mrs. Marier's name from the actor who plays her. :D