There was a certain possibility, a certain probable event that frightened her. Seeing as he took so many risks, it was also a highly likely event.

The event of losing her pilot.

This had happened before, many years ago. Certainly, it was an entirely different Lombax, but the result had been the same: she ended up having to dwell in an unbearable loneliness that could only be filled by his presence, which was hopelessly out of her CPU's grasp at that moment. He had jumped out of her while she was fighting in the air, shooting at the Cragmites as they dared to tear her and her home apart, and he had run off toward the Court of Azimuth – and her sensors never picked him up again as she was shot out of the sky, slamming into the earth below.

She missed him, dearly. And she hoped that it wouldn't be the same for her new pilot. If only she hadn't picked up another risk-taker.

Said risk-taker was busy tinkering with an old computer (she had no idea why since the darn thing was inoperable under any circumstances), pulling his elbow back and forth as he twisted with his wrench. Clank and the ship watched him, both with equal fascination (aka, none) and she was just about to tell him that they should just go ahead and pick up Angela and forget the stupid thing when Clank beat her to the punch.

"Ratchet, that computer has not run for several decades," he told the stubborn Lombax with slight exasperation – and Aphelion couldn't blame him, because Ratchet had persistently went at trying to save it for several hours now. "Perhaps we should just leave it to rest. We have to reach the Bogon Galaxy by midday tomorrow, or else Angela will be fairly ill-tempered. You know what happened last time."

Aphelion shuddered. She remembered that all too well. To this day she wondered how Ratchet survived that blow to his skull.

"Relax, Clank," the Lombax replied flippantly, and Aphelion inwardly seethed. If there was one part of that dumb Lombax that the ship hated, it was that stupid attitude of his. Never picking up any subtle hints that they were actually supposed to go somewhere and always giving them a hard time… she wondered how Clank could have put up with him for almost ten years. "I'll get this computer up and running in a few minutes. Just hold on a sec'."

"Ratchet, you said that several hours ago," Clank sighed.

"And an hour after that," Aphelion added helpfully. Ratchet shot the both of them a glare, and the ship inwardly laughed. One thing that amused her endlessly was the fact that Ratchet was easily annoyed – pushing his buttons was a rather fun activity, and she was surprised Clank hadn't taken advantage of it more often.

"Well, several hours ago I didn't know how to fix it, okay?" The Lombax turned his back on the both of them as he reached his hand around the back of the computer's monitor. "Now just shut up and let me finish this."

That did it. Suddenly, the now-enraged Aphelion slammed into the Lombax's back, sliding open her canopy and tilting backward, throwing Ratchet right into her pilot's seat totally upside down, his legs flailing in the air and his tail slapping the cushion. Optics widened, Clank leaped into the passenger's seat right before the ship shut herself, trapping a now-furious Lombax, who struggled valiantly against the window above him. Clank sighed, lightly touching Ratchet's shoulder, causing him to relax slightly in his seat, grumbling.

That was one aspect of Ratchet that really surprised the ship at times – and she reflected upon it as she took off, her own steam starting to settle. Clank always managed to calm him down, no matter what. She wished she had that power over him.

Silence passed over the three of them, which allowed Aphelion plenty of time to reflect as she cruised over to Bogon. Distantly she was aware of Ratchet and Clank descending in a conversation, and it reminded her of her old pilot – granted, his companion was organic, but in the same fashion, he had a companion that lasted him a lifetime. However, at the same time, she could see that although there were parallels between her old pilot and Ratchet when it came to a partner in crime, she could also see distinctly different characteristics with their partners. For one, Clank was eternally loyal and, while not always agreeing with Ratchet, always seemed to know to do the right thing just by instinct – meanwhile, her old pilot's companion often would get into spats with her and her Lombax, mostly about who they should trust. One similarity remained between the two of them, though – they were simply too trusting.

If Aphelion could have frowned, she would have. She hoped what had been the downfall of her old pilot wouldn't be Ratchet's. Trust was a very delicate rope to walk across, and one slip could mean the whole circus of order crashing down on all. Not the greatest metaphor, she admitted, but it provided a point.

She realized that Ratchet was speaking to her when he gently pressed his palm onto her yolk with a rather impatient expression crossing his face. Irritation spread throughout her as she remembered that no matter what, she definitely preferred Clank over him simply because of how annoying he could be. "Aphelion, I asked you a question!"

"Yes?" the ship returned, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice. She knew that it didn't work well when Ratchet crossed his arms in response.

"Excuse me? What did I do to you?" The Lombax shifted in his seat so he could lean against her wall, which she really wished he would stop doing, because she had a feeling he would jump out whenever he did that. "I don't need the sass, in case you haven't noticed, Aphelion. I already have Angela who will probably saw off my head regardless if I'm late or not."

Electronic sigh. Same old, same old. "Just repeat your question."

Ratchet rattled on like as if he hadn't started a rant merely five seconds ago about her being "sassy." "I was asking you if you remembered yet. You know, about who your pilot was and stuff." He shuffled his feet, like as if he had just asked the unmentionable. She turned her attention to Clank, but all she saw was bright curiosity within those LED green optics – he had apparently been the one to urge the Lombax to ask such a question, she thought.

A question she wasn't really ready to answer. A question that she was hoping Ratchet would let die before it passed his lips. Especially so soon after he had lost General Azimuth.

"No, I don't," she lied. She hated lying to him, but she knew that he wouldn't be able to handle what information that she told him, at least not so soon after he had just lost a father figure to him and nearly lost his very best friend.

And the expression on Ratchet's face directly afterward made her have to strain to keep her "mouth" shut.

"Oh."

Silence.

"He was a risk-taker, like you." She honestly didn't know what made her say that. She wasn't quite sure what made her continue, either. "I grew… rather attached to him."

Ratchet's ears perked. He didn't look up from staring at his knees, but he certainly perked up a bit from her last answer. While she mentally berated herself for being so stupid and letting her words slip, he surprised her by asking the last question she ever expected him to ask: "Like me?"

She knew he wasn't just echoing her first statement.

"I guess you could say that."

And that's why I'm afraid for you.


Not my best.

Aphelion needs more love. xox