His Host dropped the tablet on the floor and quickly pulled a gun out of his pants, pointing it at the Captain. "Don't move!" Ira's Host said.
It was a stalemate. For a moment, nothing happened. Then the other people who had barged into the bridge pulled out the guns as well. Two of them pointed their guns at Ira's Host while the last one, the highest-ranking medical officer on the ship, pointed her gun at the Captain.
"Easy now," the medical officer said. "You don't know what you're messing with."
The Captain scoffed, "I don't need to know what, to know that you're doing something shitty that will screw the rest of us over."
The medical officer narrowed her eyes and waved the gun threateningly. Ira noted that both her and his Host were using guns with actual bullets, as opposed to the laser guns the rest of the crew had. So he had been right then. Those people Silas had killed had been involved in a conspiracy.
"I'm doing what best for us," the medical officer insisted. Considering that she was threatening to shoot a gun, Ira was not very surprised that nobody believed her.
The Captain decided to ignore her. "Give me the USB and the tablet," the captain ordered Ira's Host. His Host narrowed his eyes and glared hatefully back at him. He didn't say anything, he just kicked the tablet behind him with his foot and stared straight back at the Captain. Nobody moved.
Ira regretted the fact that he didn't have popcorn.
This was a prime popcorn moment.
The silence was broken when a nameless officer who had entered the room with the Captain shot his gun. The laser struck to the left of Ira's Host and left sparks in its wake. The medical officer shot him in retaliation and he died.
"You fucking hypocritical asshole!" said the Captain and shot at the medical officer. Unlike his subordinate, his aim was true and headed straight for the medical officer. She flinched back and got hit straight in the shoulder instead of the part the Captain had been aiming at. That part would have been lethal.
"Like I said, you don't know what you're up against," the medical officer hissed out and forced herself to keep aiming her gun. Ira assumed that she knew that if she lowered it, she'd die. Nevertheless, her aim moved from the Captain to his surviving subordinate.
Ira didn't recognize this subordinate either and wondered how quickly they'd die. His interest level had risen during the course of this confrontation. He was, in fact, so interested that he wandered back to the cafeteria while the confrontation was taking place in order to get some popcorn.
They were certainly taking their time. With the medical officer hit, they knew that the Captain was serious in getting the USB drive back and had no intention of turning away. With this, neither the medical officer nor Ira's Host had a choice left. For some reason, they had to stand their ground and fight. The conspiracy really had to be worth something for them to waste their lives on it.
Since he was the inventor, it was simple and fast to find the popcorn and he popped it in the microwave in a second. He kept half an eye on his host and the other on a microwave to make sure that his popcorn wasn't being ruined.
His Host... well Ira wasn't sure if he should be disappointed or not. He had no idea what this conspiracy business was about but it came down fundamentally to the failure to complete the mission. And the mission was not to uncover conspiracy or save the world or whatever, it was about getting off the planet. And nothing his Host had done had indicated that that was his goal. As such, this mission was a complete failure.
His Host had gotten distracted by this business with the conspiracy and in turn, failed to do the actual mission. A letdown, honestly.
Ira hadn't had actual hopes for this Host but considering the ease with which his Host had managed the last world, he supposed that he had expected something more. Then again, these were very different worlds. At the last one, all he had to do was just laze about and make the alpha jealous and just— do nothing basically. Biology took care of the mission for him. In this world though, a lot more action was required, a lot more pro-action was needed. Sitting around and waiting for the mission to be over wasn't enough anymore, he had to do it on his own. And in this, he had failed.
The microwave chimed to announced the popcorn was ready. Ira pulled the popcorn bag out of the microwave and tore it open, pouring it down into a sparkling metal bowl. Then he started walking to the bridge.
His Host was still pointing the gun at the captain. His arms were shaking; it was obvious that holding up a gun for so long was a bigger strain on him than he'd realized. Ira didn't know how much he, but he knew that holding your arms up for a long time started to hurt after awhile. At this point, it was basically a contest of who had stronger arms.
While Ira had been distracted, the medical officer had apparently patched herself up somewhat. Her shoulder wound was bleeding through the bandages, but she didn't let this slow her down. She made another attempt to speak to the Captain, "If you just let us go, it'll be like none of this ever happened. It's not like there's somebody around for you to report this to. We're all alone out here. So what's the harm?"
"You're right," the Captain said. "There is no harm. But there's no benefit either. So why are you so desperate to do this?"
The medical officer frowned. "Aren't you curious about what's on it?"
"Not at the cost of my life."
"Stop being so noble, it's not gonna save you."
Neither of them said anything after that. Ira munched on his popcorn on the way to the bridge. He walked through the hallways without worrying about being seen and people figuring out his true identity. At this point, he was simply waiting for the Mission Failure sign to blast across his consciousness.
A waiting game, one might call it.
And the end came even sooner than he had expected. Just as Ira had reached the bridge and was about to enter it, the Captain ran out of patience and shot Ira's host. He died pretty much instantly. Immediately afterward, with nary a second's delay, the words Mission Failure blared across his mind.
Ira sighed and bit down on his popcorn angrily.
Silas still wasn't back from whatever it was that he was doing, Ira had forgotten what. Wandering the ship maybe? Regardless, Ira was a little pissed that he wouldn't be seeing Silas before he left and so decided to delay leaving for the tiniest bit. Searching his map, he found that Silas was only a quick walk away and immediately veered off to find the man. It wasn't hard tracking him down as Silas was staying in one place. After a while, he even started moving in Ira's direction.
When Ira finally reached Silas, he was munching on the last of his popcorn. This was the popcorn he had made and even though the mission was over he was still determined to eat it. Otherwise, it would have just been a waste and he couldn't stand that. Popcorn was too good to waste.
Silas's eyes lit up when he caught sight of Ira. His eyes flickered between the empty popcorn bowl and Ira's mouth. In an instant, he traversed the rest of the distance between them and stood in front of Ira. He was silent for a moment, just staring. Ira didn't really feel like waiting for him to make a decision to do something, and so he simply threw down the popcorn bowl to the floor and stepped forward, hugging Silas tightly. That warmth that he'd gotten used to, that warmth that has snuck up on him and made him uselessly fond of it, embraced him. Ira closed his eyes and decided to just enjoy the moment.
So what if his Host was a stupid fat who had died uselessly. That didn't matter. Ira didn't care about his Host and had never pretended to.
The important thing was that he got his promised share of cuddles before he left. He didn't know how long his break would be between missions but he had decided that he wanted to take some time off in order to re-watch a couple of his favorite old movies. So it would likely be a while until he saw Silas again. This meant that he was simply stocking up on cuddles while he still could.
Silas squeezed him tightly, his arms warm around Ira. Ira could feel Silas breathing against him, could feel the beat of his heart. He could hear it too when he raised his hearing ability in curiosity. Silas's heart was beating so fast that it almost worried him. He was fairly certain that that speed wasn't normal.
For several minutes, they simply hugged in silence. Then Ira decided he had just about had enough with all this cheesiness and this warmth; it was almost too much. He wasn't used to it yet. Silas's hugs were soft and comfortable enough that he certainly intended to get used to them so that he could bask in this warmth whenever he wanted to. But right now, something itched below his skin and he shuddered a little in disgust. He hated this weakness in himself. This need of his to be liked. To be spoiled.
But then he also didn't care what other people thoughts and he found it funny to spit in their faces and shit all over those stupid opinions. In the face of that, being weak was fine. It was a nice simple way to spite people that thought it should be 2 motionless for this weakness of his.
"I have to go," Ira said. He didn't say anything more than that, didn't offer any explanation.
He didn't feel the need to and Silas wouldn't understand him anyway.
But he supposed that some of his meaning must have gotten across in his body language or something, as Silas picked him up and started walking away. Literally, he just picked Ira up and started walking in the direction of the alien ship. Ira didn't mind, rather, he should have gotten Silas to carry him around earlier. Who knew if Silas would be strong enough to do that in another world?
While Silas was carrying way, Ira simply let the man move. It wasn't entirely comfortable, being carried around. But it was comfortable enough that he didn't mind.
Patting Silas on his shoulder, Ira made a small attempt to comfort him, "Don't worry, don't worry, we'll see each other again."
Of course, Silas didn't understand him. Sometimes it wasn't about people understanding him, it was simply being able to speak his mind and knowing that somebody was listening. They don't need to understand him or agree with him or even like what he said, it was just the very act of being listened to itself that was so pleasant to him.
Silas was very good at that. At listening. Even when he couldn't understand a word Ira said, his body language still conveyed the attention being paid to him. And Ira was not ashamed to say that he liked that.
Silas continued walking, exiting the downed human spaceship. Ira leaned his head on Silas's shoulder and breathed steadily as he slowly untethered his soul from this body. This time when he left, it was a much more quiet affair with much less fanfare than usual.
End of Arc 6.
I have made new Patrxon goals!
50 patrons: I'll write an IWL extra arc, a retelling of arc 1 in Silas' POV. We'll finally find out his origins, his true nature, and what made him so attached to Ira!
400 patrons: I'll cave in to my urge to write a Thin Ice spin-off, a whole new standalone novel featuring Calla's adventure in Cale's original body. Because yes, they switched bodies.