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                   Bearer of the Beast
        It begins with peace and sleep.  Then distant, 
   brilliant  light approaching.   Just as  it  always 
   had.  As it must.   
                        CHAPTER 1
        "...hhMMm?"    The  Richard's eyes   fluttered 
   open,   locking upon the  face hovering above  that 
   curiously regarded him.            
        "Hi." She smiled.  
        Richard's eyes shut.
        "Hey,"  A  hand tapped the boy's  face,  light 
   but  insistent.   He squeezed his closed eyes  even 
   tighter as he turned away,   aranging himself  back 
   into   the   sleep   from   which   he'd   emerged.  
        Denial  worked just fine,  right up  till  the 
   hands grabbed his shoulders and hauled him up.
         "Hey damnit!"  This woman was shouting  right 
   into his face.   "What's the matter with you?"
        One eye,  reluctantly,  opened.  Regarding her 
   again.   Then  both  eyes were  open  and  flashing 
   about,  fitfully  assimilating the sights over  her 
   left shoulder before returning to the woman who had 
   never  stopped regarding him.      
        She tilted her head in query.
        Richard wiped his nose absently  "This.."   He 
   was speaking to himself,  "'s a detailed one."  His 
   voice was thin as a breath.
        "It  speaks."   She  tried  her  smile  again.  
   "Which means you can tell me how you feel?"
        He only stared at her, blankly.
       "Let me try."  A man's voice, behind them, said.  
        The    boy's     heart...     clutched,     in 
   an understanding ignited by that familar  locution, 
   he turned slowly,  impelled instinctivly,  to  face 
   the  source of his suuden comprehention  and  fear, 
   this voice.
        Richard met those eyes.      
        With a jolt he was off the examination  table, 
   IV's and diaprobes popping.   He fell to the  floor 
   in a flailing tangle of sheet and limbs.  Trying to 
   spring to his feet,  he only staggard back, balance 
   strangly  unfamiliar,   and  fell  again.  Crawling 
   backwards mecanically,  methodically untill a  wall 
   stopped him,  his gaze still fixed to the center of 
   the room by the motionless man with the steel  grey 
        "Hey,"  The   woman was   calling   after   in 
   soothing tones.  "Your... ok now."
        The  boy levered himself upright  against  the 
   wall,      flashing     her     a     glance     as 
   her hands raised, threatlessly.
        "We'll  stay  back."  She began  as  the   boy 
   snapped his attentions back to the man,  a  bead of 
   sweat  shaking down his forhead as his eyes  darted 
   back and forth, as if seeking to pin them both with 
   the threat of his notice.   
        "She's  right,"   The man was  edging  closer. 
   "Now listen, now, You've nothing t--"
        "Keep away from me!"  the boy shrieked wildly.
        The man whispered something to the woman.
        "What?"  The boy was trembling,  he looked  to 
   the woman. "What'd  he  say?"  
        The  man's  brow  furrowing at  the  boy  with 
   unknowable estimations, he eased himself across the 
   room.  Arrays of campartments and trays of  medical 
   impliments suddenly lay within his reach.
        "What'd...He...Say!"    The   boy    repeated, 
   clearly panicking.   Eyes locked still with the man 
   that  continued,   rather  sincerly,   to  NOT   be 
   selecting a dermal spray.
        "It's awlright Ash."  The  woman held  up  her 
   hand,   never   quite   turning   away   from   the 
   boy.  "Don't do anything.  Everything's ok.   Let's 
   just CALM down."
        "I'LL be calm!"  The boy skreached desperatly,   
   "When he.... is OUT of HERE!" 
        The woman considered the boys  face carefully.  
   "Ash,"   She  said softly, "Leave us  alone  here. 
   It's ok, I can handle it."
        Ash gazed coolly at  them  both.   "I'll fetch 
   Dallas."  was  his cliped responce as he walked  to 
   the  medlab's  exit.   No one noticed the  comm  he 
   thumbed  as  he  walked quietly   out through   the 
       "'Dallas...'"   The  boy repeated  the  name 
   like a preposterious notion.
        The   woman   stepped    smoothly,    casually 
   backwards.  She glanced out the medlab doors before 
   shutting them, then returned to where she had stood 
   before, by the examination table,  but no closer.  
        "Gone,  see?  He  wont  come  back  if  that's 
   what  you  want.    So just   relax.  Everything's  
   going to be fine."
        "--yeah."  The   Richard  seemed   almost   to 
   chuckle.   Spent, he slid down the wall and slumped 
       "My name,"  She tried again,  a keenness in her 
   gaze  as  she knelt to face his  rapidly  deflating 
   attentions, "Is Ripley."
        "I know  that!"   The boy snapped.  The  woman 
   tilted her head skeptically.
        "I know."  He said again.
        Then the boy pinched his arm.  Hard.
        He sighed,
        He took several slow  breaths,  deep and slow.  "Ok,"  
   He looked up.   "'m naked."  he informed her.
        "I'm told you didn't have any clothes benieth  your 
   suit."  And she rose from her crouch.
        "Ahh."     he    obsorbed    this     blankly,  
   "Right.  Well, 'Ripley' can I have the sheet back?"    
        "One  second."  She was  picking  through   an 
   overhead cabinet  and  chose a grey  one-size-fits-
   all  jump suit.  She tossed it to him.
        "No underwear?"  He answered  finally  as   he
   finished steping into the jumpsuit,  it fitted  and 
   sealed itself around him.
        "Your  welcome."  She returned to  her  chosen 
   spot  on the floor and sat down this time,  as  the 
   boy sat, knees to her chin.  "What's YOUR name."
        For  some reason,   he  had to   think   about 
   that, it seemed   all...     slipery for a second.  
   "I'm Richard." 
        "Who?"  She coaxed.
        "Richard Magyar."
        With  a woosh the   lab doors  opened,  Dallas 
   strode carefully in.
                  *         *         *
        (Harsh overhead pov from a camera in the corner 
   of  a  square metal room,  looking  down  on  three 
   spacesuited  individuals  sitting  along  a  molded 
        "Ok  Ash,"  (Dallas' voice)
        (Now suddenly pov has jumped to look out  from 
   the camera beside a helmeted head, the view pans to 
   address a large lens mounted high against a cieling 
   corner, then back to the bare wall oposite.)
        "We're set here.  Open the outer hatch."
        Suddenly  one of the walls slides away  and  a 
   furious wind screams in.  (Dallas stays  motionless 
   long  enouph  for the pov to default  back  to  the 
   airlock's  overhead,)  All  three  suited   figures 
   stand  frozen for a long  moment.   The   airlick's 
   outcycle strobe working with red and eirie silence. 
        "Everybody  set?"    Dallas brakes the  thrall 
   with  his relaxed tennor,  (the pov jumps  back  to 
   him.)  "According to Ash's atmospheric, it's mostly 
   inert  nitrogen,   high  concentration  of   carbon 
   dioxide crystals, plus methan and frozen amonia."
        "Throw in the lava based rock, the deep cold-- 
   it's   almost  primordial."   trilles   Ash,   (pov 
   unchanged by HIS participation,).
        "Swell."  Lambert mumbles,  (summoning the pov 
   as  she  looks  out  over  the  edge  of  the  lock 
   platform, to the Zeno-Firma 20 meters below.)
        Slowly, a   light  frieght   gantry    loweres 
   the suited  spelunkers to the ground.  Outside  the 
   ship,    accelerated   plasma  blazes  across   the 
   enormous   frieghter's  belly  as  the   Nostromo's 
   navigation  array presses outward a  stronghold  of 
   light against the darkness.   The immediate area is 
   exposed  for what it is.   A mad,  bent  landscape, 
   shifting  before  their very eyes  by  the  behmoth 
        Up one immence flank of the Nostromo,  Ash  is 
   waving and saying hello from his transparent perch.  
   One of several crows nest,  overlooking the loading 
   arena below and amidship and more commonly employed 
   in  all  manner  of  cargo  shuffling.   Above  and 
   watching,   Ash   appeared  to  be  well   in   his 
        Kane waves back.
        "One  more  thing,"   Dallas  glances  to  his 
   companions  in  turn,  the anonymous  suit  to  the 
   right  undoubtedly being Kane and the  shorter  one 
   Lambert, "keep away from your weapons, unless I say
        Lambert, ignoring Dallas in favor of her suits 
   forarm  displays,  promptly turns off most  of  her 
        "SKrEEEkerkkkkKKKK       aKKsrrrrr RIIiBSSSh", 
   skreeches  over  the link.   As Lambert  twists  to 
   determin the the strongest reception of the  beacon 
   she's routed to her suit's headset.
         THAT way,   she inclines,  for the benefit of 
   the two men.
        "OK Lambert,"  Dallas nudges, "You first." 
        Her  vicious mumble christens their  march  as 
   she  plodes ahead of the two men,  picking  a  path 
   over the queer landscape.   Bare vocanic formations 
   frozen  in  mid eruption.   Heavy  ash  and  strata 
   flakes  lying behind the formations in  treacherous 
   lee-clutches  or bourn aloft in  madening  subsonic 
   volleys.   Walking grows frusterating and the three 
   find  it  to be a  popular  dicussion  point.   The 
   further  they venture out,  the less  clearing  the 
   Nostromo's  landing blasts accomodate them and  the 
   harder it's going.
        "It's  not so bad--"  Kane  encourages  between 
   pants,  "--as it could be. I'd say...this--"
        "Dallas,"  Lambert interupts,  "I  can't see a
   goddamn thing  beyond the ship's floods!"
        "Quit griping."  
        "I like g--"
        "--Christ!"  They hear Kanes scream.    Once
        Everyone  yelling,  some glimpses benieth  the 
   sands.  Kane is down.  They're all running.
        Lambert unjacks her handgun and pivots as  she 
   skids to a halt and brings it level. 
        Kane  is  motionless as he gestures  at  their 
   feet.  "Don't move!  Look.  Down."
        "Shit."  Dallas observes calmly.   
        "Yah.   Nostomo's  blowoff must've exposed  it 
   when we landed."  Kane agrees excitedly. 
        "Is  it Integral?"  Ash's voice inquires  over 
   the link.
        "Yes,"  Ripley's voice--a new participant  in 
   these  events--  suddenly  joins in  the  link.  
         Dallas shoves   it,     hard!     For several 
   seconds they  wait  anxiously.
        "It's    got  feet."    Lambert  confirms  as 
   she fingers  into the loose soils  with her  unarmed 
   hand.   "Could still be sealed."
        "Look here."      Kane directs    his     hand 
   light onto a part of the leg.  The top half of which
   seems  erribly eroded, but the lower area appearing 
   nearly untouched.    "It doesn't look as    if it's 
    moved  in decades."
         "Maybe."   Dallas is guarded.  "Maybe  these 
   winds could score a suit like this in an hour.   No 
   way of knowing really."  He glances for a moment at 
   Lambert and Kane, then he's moving forward, leaning 
   in over top their discovery.
        He   hovers above it push-up fashion  for  an 
        uncertain moment.   Then eases closer 
   towards  the  head,  stopping   as   it's 
   faceplate  lay  scant millimeters from his.    With
   apprehensive curiosity,  the man peers  deep  into 
   the scored helmet's depths.
        Dallas  gags  in  shock, spastically launching
   backwards away from  the  figure, landing on his back.
        "God!"  Lambert skrieches.
             "Ok.  I'm  ok."     Dallas growls,     "I  
    knocked                faceplates."                
   Breath  returning, he rises steadily  to  his 
   feet.  "I was,  just startled."
        Lambert's "HAH!" goes largly unacknowleged.
        "What did you see."  Ash persists. 
             "Nothing."  Dallas shrugs.   "The 
   faceplate is too badly scored.  It's
   totally  opaque."   "Can't find readable markings anywhere."
        "There may be more like this."
        "If the beacon's coming from a downed ship  or 
   lifeboat  or  something  Ash  wouuld've  picked  up 
   something  on  the  way  down."   Ripley,  who  had 
   refrained from unnessicarily distracting the  three 
   outside,  nevertheless interjected with this, "Or I 
   would  have.   Core-splash,  Resonance,  something.  
   Right Ash?"
        "Yeah"  Dallas staring at the still figure.
        "Impossible  to  know  for certain untill  you 
   find                  the                  beacon's 
   source."   Ash  comments.  "Sensors just     havn't 
   been   capable  of  the  nessicary  resolutons   in 
   this  maelstrom.   Dallas I recommend that
   Ripley and I go out and retrieve your discovery 
   whilest you continue after the signal, yes?"
        "Kane."   Dallas speakes.   "Brake out  the 
        gurney.   We're bringing it back."  Then the  captain 
   turns  to  Lambert, her gun still in hand.
        "You can holster that now, dead-eye."
        Then they pause in mid step, frozen. 
        Dallas  looked  away from the  monitor  thet'd 
   been  watching and regarded the boy sitting  across 
   the room.
        Richard  glanced from the now frzen  image  on 
   the screen to Dallas and Ripley as they awaited his 
        "I've  seen  the  movie,  that's  not  how  it 
   happens.  And what I asked you was how I got here."  
   He said.
        "You  just saw the how.  That was you in  that 
   suit."  Dallas reexplained.
        "Me"    Richard  repeated  somewhat   thickly.  
   "Why  would I be in a space suit buried  under  the 
   sand in this movie?"
        "That's   my  question  isn't   it."    Dallas 
   reponded,   "Why  WERE you out there in  the  first 
   place?  Why  are you on this planet?   Why is  your 
   distress  beacon so strange?   Did  you  crash?  --
   Feel free to interupt with answers any time."
        Richard began to protest,  considered Dallas's 
   words  a moment  more,  then;  "If  that's...  what 
   happened,  I'm more confused than before I...  This 
   is  just  a dream,  I mean it's a movie."   He  was 
   nodding at them assuredly, "Right?"
        Minutes later,  Ripley and the  man,   Dallas, 
   still spoke in hushes across the room from Richard. 
   He couldn't make out what they were saying,  though 
   Dallas seemed angry with her for something.
        Richard just... watched them.
        He watched as them as if he'd come upon a pair 
   of movie stars inexplicably chating in his bedroom.      
        And this was not his bedroom,  it was madness!  
   And  he was lucid as all hell.  It was all so  very 
   real.   He pressed his hands on  the floor,  traced 
   the  seams  in the tileing to reassure  himself  of 
   this hard fact.   He felt giddy  suddenly!   Wildly 
   excited,  and insane, then terrified again, because 
   if  this was real (it wasn't--couldn't  be)then  he 
   was presently exposed to perhaps the most  horrible  
   danger he could imagine.  These people too.  Course 
   this can't be right?   I'll wake up in a minute and 
   laugh at myself.
        And Richard watched the people standing there, 
   right before his eyes, waiting to wake up.  
        "Um, excuse me."  it was almost a whisper, but 
   Ripley and Dallas fell immediatly  silent,  finally 
   ceasing to peep at him in guarded sideglances,  and 
   just plain look at him.  Richard tried to smile, it 
   wasn't something he was good at.   "Uh, I think I'd 
   better  say something here.   I think you'd  better 
        Immediatly,    they   were   listening    like 
   gangbusters,  and  the  young man  squirmed  a  bit 
   before  this  extream  attention.    "You'll  never 
   believe  me."   he  muttered,  a sqeeky  bubble  of 
   laughter  escaped  him before he could  swallow  it 
   back.  "Nobody... EVER believes  people  like me in 
   the movies!"
        "Try us anyway,"  Ripley   said,  arms crossed 
   in  an  advocate's  bearing.   She  stepped  up  to 
   Richard.   "I  GARRANTEE we'll  listen.   Tell   us 
   everthing you can."  She held out her hand  to him, 
   and he   looked   up at  her.
         She had a reasonable, composed look,  Richard 
   thought.   Pre-alien.   Still  whole and  sane  and 
   without  the  horrible emotional scars  yet  to  be 
   inflicted upon her.   Cocky.   He could see  it  in 
   her eyes.   An  innocence of a sort.  It was scary. 
   SHE scared him, a bit, her being right there.
        Ripley  still held her hand out in invitation, 
   and Richard grabbed it.
        "Yeah.  Right."  He accepted her help to  his 
   feet.   She was strong for a woman.
        Sudden astonishment whirled  through   him.  
   "Hey,"   He  regarded  her  puzzeled  brown   eyes.  
   "I'm...     taller    than you!"      He    shifted
   exploritivly   opon   his   own   legs.   "I   just 
   never thought about it.   I mean..,  on  screen you 
        Ripley regarded him perplexedly. 
        Richard    laughed,   a  sqeeky  wild   laugh.    
   "You    know,    this   could    actually  be fun."  
   His grin darkened quickly upon them.
        "I  want to figure out the    best    way   to 
   tell."  He groped aloud.   Suddenly and with  clear 
   deliberacy,  he turned away  from  The  woman   and 
   addressed    Dallas   instead.     "I'm going    to 
   describe something.    The  things   I    remember.  
   okay?  Just hear me out.  Till the end.  Please."
        Dallas  spread his arms  magnanimously.   He'd 
   resighned to play along.
        "The   last  couple  of  hours  I   remember,"  
   Richard  began,  "Me and a friend of mine had  went 
   and seen a movie--a... show.  It was called Aliens.  
   This  show  was  a  sequel.   You  know...  like  a 
   continuation of the original story?"
        They nodded patienty.
        "The origonal story, was called Alien.  That's 
   where we are now--" 
        So Richard went on.  Reciting as best he could 
   all  he was able to remember of  the  tale.   Often 
   having to stop and plead with Ripley and Dallas  to 
   listen--To wait till he was finished.   A half hour 
   later he was done.
        "...and that's all of it.   The only ones left 
   alive are you, Ripley, in  the  emergency  shuttle.  
   You and your cat.  Everyone else is killed."
        Dallas rubbed his face   exhaustedly,   saying 
   nothing.   He  quietly  abandoned  the  wall   he'd 
   listened  against,   walked to Ripley,  and  leaned 
   knuckle-down   into  the  cousioned  tabled  beside 
   where  she  sat,  internal debates evident  in  his 
        "Anyways.    That's  all  I   remeber."  
   Richard was trailing off,  with Dallas's back turmed 
   to him.  "But like I said.  This is 
   like  some hallucination or something,  I'm IN  the 
   story with you.   I just..  don't understand it.  I 
   don't remember anything short of coming home  after 
   seeing the movie,  then somehow I'm waking up on  a 
   hard  table and seeing you"  He looked  at  Ripley. 
        "I  just dont..  undestand how I could  be  in 
   here  just  WARING you and  all..  and..."  and  he 
   traced a groove in the floor again.
        "Dallas," Ripley spoke sidlong to the captain,
   "He's not any danger, I--"
        "Please think!"  Richard pleaded,     suddenly 
   envigored   by   the  thoughts   he'd   just   been 
   exploring.  "How  can I
   know what  happened  on this  ship  even before you
   brought  me  on board!   Hmm?  Ripley how  would  I 
   know  you  have a  cat, I've  never met any of you! 
   Richard edged nearer.   "How can  you   NOT  check!
   Maybe... I really work for the...  Company, somehow
   or, or... I don't know!  Just go to  that--  MOTHER
   computer of  yours--like  Ripley  did in the story.
   Ask IT about your real purpose!  Please!  How  hard
   would be!"   The boy was shaking again.   "THEY are 
   OUT there!  This is your shot at not letting it all 
         Dallas eyed the boy untill he sat back down.
         Richard  slumped heavily    to    the deck. 
     "Fine,  die
   like stupid  dumb  fucks."   He  spit  the   words, 
   deflating.   His head drooped and he stared at  the 
   floor, "That's how you all die anyway."
        Dallas slowly walked to the lab's door.  Ripley
   followed him out of the boy's earshot.
        "Do you think you can handle him for a  little 
   while?"  Dallas spoke softly.
         "Well... sure,"    Ripley answered the Captains 
   quiet voice in kind,  "He's paranoid,  not anything 
   violent         or         dangerous,           But 
   I'm no psyctech or babysitter.
   Let  Kane or someone watch him.   Or put him  under 
   again, I have work to do."
        "No.  You thawed him, you voulenteered."  
        "And what about the signal, then." 
        "I have Ash on that." 
                    The P.A. trilled.
        Dallas  sighed  with  burden.   He  turned  to
   Ripley again.  "All I'm  asking...  is just keep an
   eye on him, just for a while.  He seems to  respond
   to you.  Watch him.   How he acts, if     he speaks 
   even          one          sane           word, for 
   the next few hours. Then we'll decide how to handle 
   this. Kane's good at cute reg-  interpretations,  & 
   he's never locked  me out of my own ship."
        "Listen,"  She  hesitated,  "I was  right  you 
   know,  The  boy  SHOULD have undergone  the  24  hr 
             "God,"  he gave her a rare smile, "My 
   it's just a job.   Something else,  none  of this  is  to  be 
   discussed with the ANY of the others until I call a 
   meeting.  Especially that shit about Ash, got it?"
        He  moved  to leave  but she  grabbed his arm.  
   A pensive  gaze that drew his eyes,   "You know  he 
   really BELEAVES everything he said."
        "You mean, will we check it out?"
        The captain looked to the boy, who was quietly 
   looking at them. 
        "Hell   yes."  He said   softly.    And Dallas 
   walked out the door.
                    *              *
        Ripley sealed the door behind her,  turned and 
   smiled stiffly at Richard,  then walked over to sit
   herself before  a  terminal built  into one of  the 
        "So what now?"  Richard asked despondently.
        "You make yourself comfortable,"  Ripley said, 
   "And I get some work done."  She looked over to the 
   the    boy    sitting  sullenly   on   the   floor.  
   "Also,"  she  pursed  her lips   thoughtfully,
   "You can tell me some more."
        "More what?"
        "About the fates I suppose."
        "Fates?    That's  cute.    I  wouldn't   have 
   expected that."
        Ripley looked down at him.  
        "Why should I say anything."  He looked up  in 
        "Because   you  desperatly  want   to."    she 
   answered casually,  "And because I  believe   that  
   you do know  something, Richard."   She  said now
   concentrating  on  the screen before her.  "I'm curious."
        The boy perked up.   "You've got  good  sense, 
   lady."   He said.   "I  guess that's  why  your   a 
        "How so?"
        "The  sequel.   It's all about you,  your  the 
   heroin in it.   Do you...  even  know what a  movie 
   is?"  He asked.
        "I have some idea."  She teased him.
        "Ok then.  I just saw this movie so it's fresh 
   in my mind.   Imagine this huge action packed movie 
   all about you."
        "Why me?"
        "I  told you.   Your the only survivor of  the 
        "Not yet."  She reminded him once more. 
        "Right."  He nodded, the significance not lost 
   upon him.  "Anyway you go running  around  with this
   huge   gun   blowing the aliens away--"
        "Hardly,"  She interjected, "I hate guns."
        "Believe  me Ripley,"  Richard  half  laughed, 
   "You get over it."
        "Progress?"    Dallas   bent  to   watch   the 
   flickering  symbols  rise  into the  top  of  Ash's 
   screen.  The bridge hummed quietly about them.
        "MOTHER's getting bogged."  Ash said over  his 
   shoulder.     "We  know  the   beacon    references 
   trigonometric correlations to this planets diameter 
   as a common bassis for comunication.   The crux  of 
   it  is a  don't-cross-this-line sort of thing.   To 
   that  end it demonstrates planetary  orbit.     But 
   that's all we  have,   so far.    It's  diabolicaly 
   foriegn.  Terribly facinating."
        "Keep on it."     
        "Well  there's the  problem,   I  called   you 
   because the damn thing is fading.  And without that
   signal  to  follow,   in  these  conditions,"   Ash
   gestured to the bridge's main ports as the abrasive
   tempests   raged  beyond,   "it  might take   days, 
   even   weeks   to  actually find   the  source   on 
   foot.  I  don't  need  to  tell  you  our  cost  in 
   the consumables are--"
        "Damnit.    How   long  before  it  goes   out 
        "No idea.   Eratic degradations began over  an 
   hour ago."
        "Why?"  Dallas was shaking his head,  "I don't 
   get it.  The beacon's broadcast envelope is decades
   in radius, at least!  Why suddenly fail just now?"
             "I'd say we caused it.   Mother has  been 
   beaming  respoces  at it for over ten  hours  now.  
   Maybe shutting off is it's way of telling us we got 
   through.    Perhaps it would be wise  to 
   send out a search party after all?   Before it goes 
   out altogether, yes?"
        Dallas paused at that.   He looked down at his 
   science officer with cold appraisement.  "My orders 
   stand."  He stated with cool precision. 'Unless you've
   got a hell of a better reason,  under no cercomstances
   are  we  approaching something that expressly warns 
   us to stay away."
        "We've already defied the warning, we landed."
        "I said no Ash." 
             Ash                               sighed.   
   "And the signal source?"  He seemed  unaware 
   to the captains tense posture towards him.
        "Yeah..."   Dallas exhaled,  "Uplink with  the 
   Refinery  and  triangulate a location as  best  you 
        Lambert spoke without looking 
        up.   "Already done.  Location maped at 3.3 to 
   3.8 kilameters distance.  With an arc tolerance  of 
   .002 seconds.   That works out to search an area to 
   search   just  over  1  and  one   eighths   klicks 
   square."  She sat at a nearby station, fully absorbed in 
   a   notebook   full  of   scribbled   computations.
        "On foot?  That's horrible."  Dallas scoffed.
        "Clean  this  'mosphere and a  straighten  out 
   that  beacon,   I'll  give  you  better  tolerance" 
   Lambert shrugged.    A cigarret gripped tightly  in 
   her lips.   "So tell,  Dallas,  what's the story on
   the kid?  Ash says he's  up  and  talking.   Is  he 
   really crazy?"
        "Yes,"  Ash looked up from his work,  "has  he 
        provided us any answers?   He  seemed...  less 
   than lucid."
             Dallas eyed Ash suspectively.   "Keep  me 
   posted  on the beacon's status"  Then he turned  to 
   Lambert  and answered carefully  "The boy has  said 
   almost  nothing.   He's delirious,  maybe worse.  I 
   don't     know    really.      I    have     Ripley 
   keeping him under observation for now."
        Lambert  laughed.   "Serves her  right."   She 
   shot Dallas a sarcastic look.   "I'm gonna go  down 
   and  meet him."  She began to untagle herself  from 
   her station.
        "No."   Dallas  cut her off,  then in  a  more 
   anounciary   tone he lied,     "Listen,    I'll 
   be calling a crew meeting soon.  Everyone can  meet
   then,  and we'll decide how we deal with our guest.  
   untill  then I want no unnessicary...  breaches  in 
   the quarentine."
        Lambert  rolled  her   eyes.    "Where'll  we  
   keep him?  He  can't stay awake on the trip  in, 
   any  more than we can, and he sure  as  hell  can't 
   have MY capsule."
        "We   could  put  him  down  in  one  of   the 
   Narcissus's freezers."  Kane said.   Dallas  turned 
   to  see Kane entering the bridge,  a fresh  cup  of 
   coffee in hand.
        "That's what I figgure too."  Dallas agreed.
        Satisfied  with the  solution,  the  navigator 
   took a deep drag on her cigaret,  and  returned  to
   her notes. It was a pension of Lambert's to recheck,
   on paper, her navigational calcs whenever  she  had
   a chance.   "So when are we out of here?   I'm sick 
   of  compensating  for this shitty  ball's  wobbles.  
   Consumption gonna suck.   Stupid JOB!"  She snapped 
   after the captain, imitating Dallas's favorite dig. 
        "New invention Lambert,"  he said as he stepped
   by the testy navigator, "Called a computer."
        "Fuck you, SIR." She mumbled around her cigarett
   and continued her laborious calculations.
        He resisted smiling as he turned to Kane. "What
   is the word from Parker?"
        "Nothing in the past hour,"  Kane replied, 
         Down in the Engine  Room  a   beeper  whooped
   over  the noise of heavy labor.   A  sweaty  Parker 
   cursed the tone and stepped up to a comm box.
        "What!"  he barked in annoyance.
        "Dallas.   How's it coming gentlemen."
        "S'  comin'  as  fine  as can   be   expected.  
   Mostly puttin' things back  together with spit  and 
   solder, but it's gettin' done."  
        From  behind a power  Cell,  Brett grinned  at 
   his partner.
        Parker grinned back,  "Also Brett and I  would
   'preciate some beer, if you don' have nothing to do 
   but chat."
        Dallas listened patiently, 
    "Just make sure you keep to Ripley's 15
   hour deadline."
        "Hey."   Parker hastened.   "Whats  the  story 
   with  this kid we found?  Kane says Ripley and  Ash 
   woke  'im  up  after the rest of us  got  tired  of 
   lookin' at him sleep."
        Word traveles fast on a ship of 7 people.
        "You'll see him once you two finish down there."
        "Way'll shit,"  Parker snorted, "we'll actually 
   start working then.."
        "Don't fuck with me Parker."   Dallas  sounded 
   tired.  "Not today.  I want us orbit-ready  pronto.  
   And I want to to know the minute we are."  He broke
   the connection.
        cursing, Parker walked back  to  the  exposed
   erj cells he'd been working on.
             Brett succeeded in both smiling
   and talking while never once droping the  cigarrett 
   from the corner of his mouth.  "Show me our  pronto 
        "Heard that, man."
        Brett pondered   his  next  inscision  as   he 
   reignighting  his cutter.  "Asshole."  The thin  man 
   shook his head.
        Parker                                    just 
   studied   a   charred   surge    link 
        "Why  so  jumpy?"   Ash  studied  the 
   captain out the corner of his eye.
        Dallas smiled quick.  
        "Just covering my ass."      he       mumbled.  
   "Kane," He said hoarsely,  "Give me a hand
   with the coolant for the Narcissus's freezers.   We
   also need to review any policies--"
        "--Our mystery boy. Right!"   Kane gulped down
   the last of his coffee, "What IS the scratch on 'im
        "Don't ask."  Lambert called  sarcastically 
   as they left.  "He wants to get to call a meeting."
        "We'll talk on the way."  Dallas said.  But as
   he and Kane entered the  hallway,  Dallas  stopped,
   turned, and studied Ash one moment more.
        The captain snaped about and strode  down  the 
   corridor,  a sudden  purpose fueling   his  stride.
   Kane followed  quietly.  Dallas slowed  suddenly as 
   they passed a narrow side tunnel.
        "What  is  it?"  Kane asked.  Dallas continued 
   staring down the corridor   that   led   to    the 
   Nostromo's brain.
        "Kane,  see  what you can get done in the  pod 
   without   me for  now.   Run the Narcissus  systems 
   up,  ok?  I wont to make sure ALL it's freezers are 
   up           to           it.             I've just 
   remembered something I have to do first."
        "What?  Mother again?"
        "Use  the full checklist."  Dallas continued.
   "I'll be along to help in a while."
        "...,  All  right."  Kane  obeyed  hesitantly. 
   "Whatever you say."
        Dallas  watched  the  executive  officer  turn 
        off,  through the Nostromo's dinning room.  
   Then  Dallas turned back  down the corridor  they'd 
        The  side  tunnel  led  to  a  bulkhead  which 
   opened  to the same corridor leading  direcly  from 
   the  bridge to Mother's core.   He glaced left  and 
   heard Lambert and Ash discussing  something.   With 
   an  aukward  stealth Dallas stepped  into  this  next 
   corridor and crept to it's far end.  It, too, ended 
   with a bulkhead,  opened with a simple tap to it's 
   controls  and  closed behind  automatically  as  he 
   moved  through.  Dallas was now confronted  with  a 
   bulkhead  yet  again.   This one  however  required 
   thumbing  a  print  scanner and typing the  his  ID 
   code into the pad.
        MOTHER spread wide for him.
        The  captain  eased into  the  Nostomo's  tiny 
   nerve center.   It's sole furnishing,  a generously 
        cushioned   chair        mated        smoothly 
   with the  master  terminal.   MOTHER's  maximum 
   security  door  slid  firmly  closed  at  his  back 
   and Dallas soaked in the comfort and 
   security  this small room lavished.  The  sigh  of
   the computer core's dedicated venilation dispelling 
   the  tension that'd been gathering in his neck  all 
   damn day.
        "Ok MOTHER," he said,  "I've taken a big  bite 
   and I need some help chewing it."  His fingers move 
   like  lightening over the keyboard as he  began  to 
        "I  don't  know,"  Richard  answered  Ripley's 
   question unconfortably,  "That's just where it ended.  I 
   guess you and Hicks might've went on to raise  Newt 
   and  live  happily ever after  together  on  earth.  
   Something  like that.  That's how I imagined it."
        "That  would've been nice."  Ripley  reflected 
   wistfully.  "Unrealistic, but nice."
        Richard picked at the corner of a floor  tile.  
   "Why unrealistic?"
        "Lots of reasons."
        "What WOULD you have done."
        "Oh,  mad as you make me?   I'd probably go to 
   the Net with my story.   Blow the lid off the whole 
        "I  got  the impression these guys'd  kill  to 
   stop that."
        "The Company does't need to kill."  She  said. 
   "But then, I'm the invincable star here, right?"
        Richard condsidered that. 
        "Why do you call it 'The Company' without ever 
   saying it's name?"
        "It's  just  slang,  for  whichever  corporate 
   thing you slave for."
        "That being, 'THE COMPANY'?"
        "No, look,  Wehland owns the Nostromo,"
        "Yeah!   Oh right 'Wehland-Yutani'. I remember 
   now.  That was the Company's name!"
        "No.   Never  heard of any Yutani."
        "Oh...  so you... Contract right?  Contract to 
   work for Wehland?"
        "I'm  ICC talent,  licenced to bid  myself  as 
   freelance to ANY shipper in the Network.  This time 
   it's Wehland.   The shipper cuts the deals with the 
   governments  or Guilds or whomever,  and I get  the 
   percentage  I contracted for out of the  run's  net 
   profits.  That's it."
        "Your a trucker."
         "Your  young for your  position  too,  right?.   
   Astronaut on a star ship,  second in  command."
        "Third.   I'm third ranking officer."
        "Oh, what's your rank?"
        "This isn't the military Richard,  and I'm  no 
   astronaut.  We're all just haulers."
        "You don't have a title or anything?"
        Ripley sighed.   "I'm the Warrant  Officer on
   this    run."      She  stated,  almost     entirly 
   without pride in the admission.
        "So,  what  do you do with all this  iron  ore 
   your shipping."
        She stared at him a moment before shaking  her 
   head.   "At  no point did anyone tell you  we  were 
   hauling ore"
        "No, I just remember it from the movie"
        "Mmm.    Well,   Antarctica  gets  the   cheap 
   processed  ore  and  the Solomans  Belt  got  cheap 
   consumables,  water  and oxygen,  from the  ice  we 
   hauled out."
        "A glacier"
        "Neat.  How long this whole thing supposed  to 
        "This  was  supposed to be a  13  month  round 
   trip,  but now that we've been diverted here,  plus 
   the  fuel  expended,   Our  navigator  slotted   us 
   for a slow burn home in ten months."
        Richad thought a bout that a bit.  "How do you 
   deal  with being away from everything  for  what?-- 
   years ata time?"
        "Not years, not usually, I mostly contract for 
   flights of less that 1 projected year."
        He  nodded.  "But that's not an  answer.   Who 
   takes care of your kid while your gone?" 
        Ripley's head snapped to face him.
        "In  the book version--I read that too--,"  he 
   hastened to explain,  "It mentions that  you had  a
   kid, a girl.  She was dead by the second movie  but 
   since this is the first I figgure--"
        "--Amy?"   She stared shocked and confused  at 
        Richard felt oddly like one of the  characters 
   he'd   been  describing,   "I  said  you  were   in 
   hypersleep  for  over 50 years."  he  reminded  her 
        "Hold  it!"  Ripley's eyes flared  with  rage.  
   "I'm a good MOTHER and I do the best I can!--"
        "--don't like my life being picked apart  like 
   I  don't  exist!   I  didn't ask  for  it  to    be 
   like this.   Amanda came later,  but I love her and 
   I've worked  my  ass off to make sure  she'll  live 
   right,  she  UNDERSTANDS  why I'm  away  every  few 
        "Ok!  I'm sorry.   I didn't  realize... Ok?"
        Ripley's  teeth  were still  clenched  as  she 
   fixed her rankled scowl back onto her  screen.   "I 
   don't  like  how you know so much about  me."   She 
   stated flatly.  "Like some damn clerk."
        Richard  sat there on that floor feeling  like 
   a  scolded  puppy.   "Sorry."  He mumbled  after  a 
        "I'm  all alone here.   I can't afford  to  be 
   making   enemies.      I   was   just    talking... 
   thinking  in  terms of charecters,  and  plots  and 
   things.   It's hard to accept all this,  ok!  And I 
   think I'm handling this preaty damn well!"
        She was ignoring him.
        So  Richard stood.   "You have  to  understand  
   that I DO know  a lot  about  you.    About all  of 
   you.    About what's happening.   But...  as  words 
   in a book!   See?   As  pictures  on a  screen,  or 
   Starlog    articles.   I don't   know you as actual 
   flesh  and blood people who I talk to,  and  meet,"  
   He  streached over the console and tilted his  head 
   to  look  straight into  her  eyes,  "and be taller 
         He  watched her for  moment,  then  sat  back 
   down.  "It's  real hard  to  bealieve that I'm  not  
   actually  here   talking   it   up    now    with -
   -Sigourney  Weaver,  somehow."  He mumble,  more to 
   himself than to her.
        She listened, and Ripley's gaze droped finally 
   from the screen she'd fixed on.  She looked down at 
   the boy,  and  evenly let out the breath she'd been  
   holding.  "Sig-- who?" The woman asked, letting her
   anger go.
        Richard looked up,  "Yeah,"  He  smiled a bit.
   "Sigourney Weaver.  It's the name  of  the  actress
   that...  er, played you--in both  the movies."
        "Odd name,"  She said.  "That's from The Great
   Gatspy isn't it?"
        The boy turned, confused.
        "Sigouney May?   The Great Gatspy is one of my
   favourite books from childhood.
        He  blinked  in astonishment.  "I  never  knew 
   that."  He said slowly.
        "Good."  She replied.
        Ripley thought quietly  a  moment, then asked,
   "What'd this actress look like?"
        That surprise the boy even more.   "Just  like 
   you."  Richard answered with reflection.   "Exactly 
   like you in every way.   In fact, you even talk the 
   same.  Snobby 'O's and all that.
        "Oh."  She said, somehow disapointed.
        "Hey,  Y'know," he realized suddenly.  "What's 
   YOUR name?   I mean your first name.  It seems dumb 
   now but I don't think they ever mentioned it in any 
   of the movies, or the books."  
        "I  bet."  She jut out her chin  in a wry  and
   thoughtfull expression.  Her tone  was filled  with 
   sarcasm.  "Personals   are'nt  used   much   around  
   here."  She turned to Richard and saw his unmalicious
        "... Ellen."  She confessed reluctantly.
        Richard looked truely shocked.
        "It's not that bad."  she  sniffed  with 
   unaccostomed  self-consciousness.  
        Richard eyed the far wall.    "It's a  nice 
   name."   Was  his  reply.   "You DO  look  like  an 
   'Ellen'.     I   just   expected   something   more 
   glamourous, or futuristic, or something."
        "So did I."  She agreed, tossing the pen away 
   and forgetting it. "Maybe I should try Sigourney?"
        They both smiled.
        Ripley turned back to her keyboard.
        "And you ask a lot of damn qoestions."
        "Yeah." he agreed   with   a   nod,   "I   do.  
   Makes  me feel 
   less...  out of control, I think."   He looked over 
   her   shoulder   at    the   terminal   with   mock 
   interest.   "How   long  you  gonna pretend  to  be 
   doing something with that termal  screen Ellen?"
        She stopped tapping at the keyboard.
        "You're just babysitting me aren't you?"
        "In a way."  She said honestly.   "Don't  call 
   me Ellen."
        "How much do you really believe me?  Honestly."
   His    voice   unleashed   new    intensity,     "I      
   mean, if I'm right, what will  you  do?       Those  
   things are  really out there  --Ripley.   And  what 
   about Ash?"
        She studied the boy for a moment.
        "Your not  stupid  Magyar."   She 
   said.   "I  wont tell you Dallas or I believe  you.  
   Hardly any of it.  But we're not stupid either,  we 
   listen to warnings."
        He  considered that, turning  to stare at  the   
   table   he'd  woken   apon.    Quietly imagining  a 
   man named Kane lain  apon that  table, a man   with 
   a hidious thing latched to his face.  A thing  that
   pulsed with insidous purpose.  
   A beast.
        "Good."  Richard whispered.   "Don't  call  me 
   that though, just Richard ok?"
        "Anything else?"  she asked, sarcastically.
        "Um...,  Yeah,  actually."   he said  after  a 
   moment.  "what... year is this?"
        Ripley  typed a button or two on  the  closest 
   console and gestured for Richard to look.
        It read
        "T.G.I.F."  She added.
        Richard  sat back down.
        Slowly Dallas had been making progress.
        "God."  He kept whispering to himself.
        With  a totally illegal Command Override  he'd 
   broken  through MOTHER's securities.  They  weren't 
   strong.   No  one'd  ever expected these  types  of 
   questions  to  be asked.   Dallas had  been  hoping 
   dearly that he'd find nothing, but to his horror... 
   there it was.
             A620 D-6392------------------------------
             INVESTIGATE LIFE FORM GATHER-------------
             SPECIMEN PRIORITY ONE-------------------
             ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS-----------------
             ALL PRIEVIEOUS PRIORITIES----------------
        It's all true.
            "Sonofabitch!"  Dallas seethed with 
   Spontaneous rage consumed him and  he  slammed 
   his fist against a padded wall.   It barely made  a 
        sound.   Betrayed!   By  someone
   in his command!
        Fury smoldered in his eyes.
        Only  by  force  of will did  he  swallow  his 
   bitter  anger.   The  man pivoted  his  chair  back 
   towards the terminal.  "What about us damnit?"   He 
   typed furiously.
                  CREW EXPENDABLE---------------------
        "There  is  an  explanation for all  this  you 
   know."  Ash spoke softly.
        Dallas's  heart skipped it's beat.  The  voice 
   was right behind him.  He turned his head  minutely 
   and  out of the  corner of  his eye   saw   Ash  in 
   the  now-open doorway.   The  Science  Officer bent 
   down to examine the console before them both.
        "How  the  hell  did you get in here?"  Dallas 
   had  remained  compleatly  motionless,   rage   all 
   forgotten now.  
        "Well," Ash began melodically, his entire body 
   beginning to surge with spastic twitches,  "Perhaps 
   you  should   first join Lambert,  yes?.    You see 
        Dallas  bolted  as fast as  he'd  ever  moved, 
   leaping  back from his chair and hitting  the  deck 
   running.   Impossibly,  Ash was faster.   Something 
   struck   Dallas  across  the  back  of   his   head 
   incredibly hard.   He careened,  bounced off a wall 
   and  kept  running.  
        Despair swelled in him as Dallas was forced to 
   stop, to wait as the next bulkhead opened.
        Then  Ash  had  him.
        Snagging his arm and yanking Dallas around  as 
   the man tried to bolt though the doorway.   It  was 
   only  partially  by  luck that  Dallas  slamed  his 
   shoulder  against the bulkhead's controls  as  he'd 
   spun.   Ash's other hand fisted and blurred through 
   the air,  striking Dallas down in the same  instant 
   the  massive  door pistoned closed with  a  whoosh, 
   utterly crushing Ash's hand to the Nostromo's deck.
        Dallas could hear no sound at all.
        Androids don't scream.
        Fingers  still gripped  Dallas's  sleeve,  but 
   whatever  else  remained  of  the  Ash's  hand  lay 
   crushed benieth,  or on the other side of,  the now 
   closed  door, milky blood oozed along the floor  to 
   meet  Dallas's  cheek as he lay panting  and  dazed 
   against the deck.   
        Dallas ripped his clothing free,  staggared to 
   his                    feet                     and 
   ran,   never  looking  back.  
   Something warm trickled down the back of his  neck, 
   into his shirt.  His head was spinning.  Vaguely he 
   thought  he heard the bulkhead far behind him  open 
   once  again as a worsening stager delivered him  at 
   last  to the bridge.   The bestrucken man pawed  at 
   the bridge access until he found the buttons.  Slowly, 
        ever  so  slowly,  an  emense isolation  wall 
   emerged  from  the  floor and cut  off  the  entire 
   bridge   area   from   the  rest   of   the   ship. 
   last, sealed safely  within  the  bridge's 
        quiet  recesses,   Dallas 
   leaned securely  against  the 
   wall that could only be opened again from his side.
        "...Lambert?"  He croaked.  He swayed heavily 
        and  tried to calm         his          ragged 
   breathing as he felt the back  of 
   his  head.   "Ash,  he's..."   His hand  came  back 
   soaked in blood.   Dallas collapsed upon the  deck, 
   never  realizing that niether Lambert,  nor  anyone 
   else, had ever answered.
  • * *
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