Bearer of the Beast
It begins with peace and sleep. Then distant, brilliant light approaching. Just as it always had. As it must.
"...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 eyes. "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 doors.
"'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 there.
"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. "OowW!" 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 bench.) "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 winds. 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 element. 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 otherwise."
Lambert, ignoring Dallas in favor of her suits forarm displays, promptly turns off most of her telemetries. "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. Nothing. "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. Bam! 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 comments. "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 listen."
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 always..."
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 expression. "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 happen!" 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." DALLAS, REPORT TO THE BRIDGE PLEASE 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 decon--" "God," he gave her a rare smile, "My dear, 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 ships-consoles. "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 anoyance. "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 surviver." "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 Nostromo." "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 entirely." "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 can." 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 clause." "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 thoughtfully. "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 now?" "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 past. 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 dig. "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 thing." "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." "Hauler." "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." "Ice?" "A glacier" "Neat. How long this whole thing supposed to take?" "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 him. 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 carefully. "Hold it!" Ripley's eyes flared with rage. "I'm a good MOTHER and I do the best I can!--" "Hey--" "--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 years." "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 moment. "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 than.". 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 curiosity. "... 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 13:42:26/01-17/2223/(Solis)-------------- "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.
NOSTROMO REROUTED TO COORDINATES---------
A620 D-6392------------------------------ INVESTIGATE LIFE FORM GATHER------------- SPECIMEN PRIORITY ONE------------------- INSURE RETURN OF ORGANISM TO ML-SO LAB--- ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS----------------- SECONDARY-------------------------------- ALL PRIEVIEOUS PRIORITIES---------------- RECINDED---------------------------------
Sonofabitch... It's all true. "Sonofabitch!" Dallas seethed with rage. 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 we've--" 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. At 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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/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/archive/stories/beast.txt · Last modified: 1999/08/28 14:16 by 127.0.0.1