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Chapter 3

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The doors to the building are aged and weathered, Haruki pushes them open to reveal a wall of metal. There is a retinal scanner to the left which he moves close to so that it can read his eye, the wall splits apart automatically to a dark space behind. He leads the cats inside with Asao awaiting Adam's acceptance.

"Sir?" Annalise asks her boss. "Is everything alright?"

Adam turns from the evening sky and straightens his suit. "I just hope I'm not making a mistake. I'm glad you're here Anna."

"Thank-you, sir."

They follow through the doorway and Asao smiles as they pass him. Inside is a dimly lit room, two armed guards stand either side of this lobby, dressed in black combat suits with closed visored helmets.

The doors close behind, thick metal locking shut with internal steel rods. The walls and ceiling are metal, narrow lines of lights illuminate the way forward a few metres to a glass-panelled elevator. Adam's eyes search around this confined space, no apparent doors or alternate exits, two imposing security personnel.

"How do we get to the rest of the temple?" He asks.

Asao steps into the lift through the left-hand side, "Just follow me."

The group stand inside, Annalise watches the cats rub against Asao's leg as the glass panels close.

Adam keeps his sights on the motionless guards as the compartment begins to lower through the floor. The foyer rises up around them as foundation walls of manufactured concrete guide the way.

"So, we're going down then." Adam mutters.

The concrete is soon replaced by a shiny black stone, marked with vertical lines by the creation of this deep shaft. After thirty feet of this miner-like descent, a dull blue light source begins to seep through at the edge of the floor, gliding up as the shaft opens out through the ceiling of a massive lower area.

Way down below is a glowing passage entrance. The light shines out across the surface of this deep, cylindrical main hall, reflecting dully upon the walls of the fifty-foot tall chamber. The lift continues down the back wall, within its encasing glass column to the bottom. At the base, the shaft ends at an encasing surround of concrete which has an exit to the left.

The doors open, letting in a breath of ice-cold air. Haruki leads the group out, their steps resound on the shiny stone floor and echo up into the cave-like atmosphere above. They walk single-file along the path of light towards the arched passageway opposite the elevator.

A woman emerges from the light, dressed in long white medical overalls. She greets Haruki who passes her the leads of the two cats, Asao stands still as his son leaves with her back into the passage. He gives his guests time to adjust to the strange environment.

Adam and Annalise stand side-by-side. In the dim shadows around the edge of chamber, strange shapes and faces look out from the darkness. At eight points around the hall, where the curvature is formed by giant adjoining slabs, a suit of ancient Japanese armour is displayed. Arranged on black metal figure stands, they resemble the guards above in the foyer; quiet and motionless but reflecting a sense of deadliness. Colours of red, brown and green, decorated chest, leg and arm pieces topped with helmets, a belt with a Samurai sword to one side.

"These suits are from my personnel collection," Asao explains. "This seemed the perfect place to present them, in respect of the legacy they represent." He looks up high past the decorative markings of the walls, "This was a combat chamber."

"So are these suits to honour Japan's ancient history of defence and martial arts?" Annalise asks.

"Yes," he responds. "But I respect the achievements of all countries, not just those of Japan. It seems that human kind has been most creative when our freedom and safety is threatened. The inscriptions on these walls tell of a time when we were merely slaves to the plans of others, my artifacts stand here to oppose that."

"You say that this area was used for combat?" questions Adam. "Who built it? Where the hell are we?"

Asao moves a few steps closer to him. "We are standing in the central chamber of an ancient alien temple. These remains were hidden for thousands of years by the jungle which grew up over it's stepped walls, forming an artificial mountain."

Adam listens with a puzzled look. "And the building above?"

This site was originally respected by mankind who were forced to worship its alien architects. In recent centuries it became a religious place, and the current structure was built on its peak."

"Where are those people now?" Asks Annalise.

"Superstitions of the demons returning forced them to flee. They deserted their sanctuary a long time ago."

"But now you're here." She remarks.

Adam stares at the wall markings. Mesmerised by the images of skulls, sacrifice and giant beasts. "Did this structure have a heat-bloom like the one in Antarctica?"

"No, this has no power-source," Asao explains. "You'll be surprised to hear that there were many structures from their civilisation around the globe. Most are now just a few crumbling blocks or pillars, but they remain the places most visited by the Yautja species."

Adam interrupts."I'm no historian Asao, I am a businessman. You talk of monsters from the stars, all I see are drawings."

"I too required proof, and I offer it to you freely. Please, let's continue."

Asao beckons them into the corridor. The roof seems low as they take a few steps down . The way leads straight along a wide channel, the walls are angled where they meet the floor and ceiling. The markings here are merely for decoration, the surfaces have a dark gem-like shine, guiding onwards along the subterranean network.

Asao stops walking for no apparent reason, he faces the left side of the passage and waits. A resonating rumble sounds as a large block begins to move, opening back as a doorway to a side tunnel.

"This way," he tells them.

The passage has modern repairs at the far end, where there are two glass doors and a white room beyond. The Millennia-old rock is crumbling here, with the floor surface replaced by smooth, white tiling which continues under the doors.

"What happened here?" Asks Adam.

Asao stops again by the left-hand wall. "This side of the temple had collapsed, don't worry though, it is stronger than ever now."

A sound murmurs through the air as another hidden door swings open beside him. The three watch the darkness inside as a succession of panels

light up around the edge of a circular room. The floor slopes down in the middle, marked with grooved channels to a small hole in the centre. The walls have chrome panels built in front, backed with grids of aluminium plating. Each panel forms a separate unit with its light shining down from above to illuminate the objects mounted beneath.

Adam and Annalise stand in wonder at the sights before them. There are pieces of metal armour and weapons, beautifully detailed and formed in unusual shapes. They appear to be masks, spears, blades and tools, but not from a familiar culture, all are rich gold, silver or bronze.

"These were left behind by the Yautja," Asao explains. "Either by mistake or through injury, they should have been taken with them or destroyed. Humans were not supposed to find them, but they misjudge our efforts."

Adam walks slowly past the collection of Asao's prised finds. He stares hard into the eyes of one of the mounted helmets. "These things are really real?"

Asao quietly nods. "Your father was killed by an extraterrestrial hunter. Their species visit earth to stalk the most worthy game, and humans are often top of their list."

"You call them Yautja?" Asks Annalise.

"Yes, the two alien races Charles Weyland's expedition encountered are described on these temple walls. The hunters are referred to as Yautja, and the serpent-like creatures they breed are Xenomorph."

"Where did these pieces come from?" Adam inspects the other displays closely. "I've never seen anything like them."

"I doubt you have," replies Asao. "When they hunt, they are heavily armoured and equipped with these incredibly advanced weapons. They aim to leave with everything they bring, but if their prey has injured or killed them then some items may be forgotten. Whenever possible, a dying Yautja will detonate a self-destruct device to avoid capture, this would also destroy all trace of its superior technology."

Annalise examines a twin-bladed gauntlet weapon, "Is that technology the reason for your secrecy?" As she speaks, she touches the blade edge and finds that it is still razor sharp.

"I'd be careful my dear," Asao warns her.

"These items were fashioned for killing. In fact, this room was originally where they skinned and displayed their trophies."

To the right side of the room are two more glass doors, he heads that way and watches his staff at work inside the next room. "This technology will prove essential in mankind's pursuit of space exploration, but since they continue to threaten our species, it is necessary that we fight back."

Adam approaches him, "What's through there?" He asks.

"The labs. These temple remains are now the headquarters for Yutani Corporation research and development."

The door panels slide apart. Inside, the area is pure white, built along the side of the temple ruins as a concrete bunker. There are a handful of personnel here, dressed in medical overalls and working at counters along the outside wall.

"These are the science laboratories," Asao explains. "This department studies both the weaponry and the biological samples we have found."

Before Adam can ask, two metal freezer doors hiss open on the very end wall beside them. They are marked with "secure containment" warning signs. A gush of misty gas flows out at floor level and the air inside smells of chemicals.

The group enter the room as large jars and tanks become visible through the clearing fog. Liquid filled and connected to thick wires and hoses, each has a small control panel attached to monitor the contents. Every unit has an object floating in a clear liquid and held in place by leads.

Annalise is led by curiosity to peer into the first tank. The sample is a creature's hand and forearm, positioned reaching upwards with sharp black claws and reptile-like markings on hairless skin. The arm ends half-way down from the wrist at a smooth, clean cut.

Adam joins her to look, peering through at the different body parts. There are segments of skin and bone, teeth and organs. The largest unit (built into the far wall) has two larger samples: a creature's burnt skull and a disembodied head.

The face on the head is fierce, with a mouth of fleshy creases and four pincer teeth folded across the front. The eyes are deep in their dark sockets, gazing back with menace. Short spines poke from the leathery skin, up around the forehead to a crown of ridges baring a pattern of colourful, snake-like markings. From the back of the head flows a mane of thick black tendrils. Like smooth rubbery dreadlocks they protrude out in graceful lengths giving the appearance of a dignified warrior.

The two visitors stare on in awe. Before them is undeniable proof of other-world life, and after seeing the weapons these creatures use- the universe is not a welcoming place!

At the doorway, a lab worker speaks to Asao, who glances back to his guests before turning to walk away. The technician moves to follow but pauses at the sight of Annalise leaning forward by a container.

"Quite a sight," he nervously comments.

She looks up and sees the young man. "Excuse me?" She asks.

"Oh, the samples," he replies. "A rare find, truly unique!"

Annalise smiles, unsure if his comments are really about the decaying flesh in the jars or some form of flirting. She reminds herself of why she is here.

"Where did they all come from?" She asks.

The man checks behind him and moves closer. "From all over, many different countries. It's essential to preserve them like this so that we can research the blood and tissue."

"What have you learned so far?" Adam asks.

The man seems insecure about answering, especially when confronted by Adam's confident character. "They have an incredible tolerance for pain. A hide tougher than a rhino, and they breath hydrogen along with a mixture of gases for heightened strength and reflexes -a simulated adrenalin if you like."

"Thank-you Mr Phelps." An English accent speaks from behind him in the lab, he stops quiet at the command. As a shorter man walks around him to address the guests, the technician quickly skulks off.

"I must apologise. Mr Phelps is easily distracted and a little too sociable for laboratory work. I am Dr Ashley Foster, head of this department."

"Phelps was answering some queries." Adam tells him. "I'm assuming you've learned a lot about this race doctor. What are their weaknesses? How do you kill them?"

"Mr Weyland, I understand your feelings after the death of your father. These warriors are much more resilient to threat than we are." The doctor checks his watch before beckoning them to follow him through to the rest of the labs.

"They have an incredibly high immunity to germs, diseases, bullets."

Walking past staff at work stations, there are vials of liquid and complex testing equipment. Further into the facility to a more spacious area, where Haruki is consulting with staff beside a frozen window on the temple-side of the labs.

"The one thing the Yautja do fear," the doctor continues. "Is the Xenomorph. Bred to be the ultimate test in battle, an insect-like species with the strongest instincts to build a hive and protect it."

"But the pyramid was destroyed, along with the hive." Adam reminds him. "They aren't a threat to us anymore."

Dr Foster steps to one side, revealing the view ahead to a massive round containment device. Once again, the two guests approach the sight before them, following a mass of cables along to a curving wall which leads round a thick tank of reinforced glass.

Crouched inside, submerged in liquid and tubes is a the shiny black body of an Alien Queen. Its arms arch forward between legs bent up tight, with a great head of hellish design resting low in a graceful bow.

The tank continues into the ceiling, allowing for this enormous crest of armoured bone. A light in the roof shines a dull glow down into the preserving substance.

Adam cannot believe his eyes. Of all the frightening and wondrous sights of the past few moments of his life, this had to be the most shocking.

"Is that thing dead?" He asks.

"Yes, yes Mr Weyland, quite dead," assures the doctor. "Miss Woods and the Yautja warrior made certain of that. We reclaimed her from the icy depths, she has proved fascinating."

A female lab assistant approaches him. "Are we ready?" he asks her.

The woman nods. "Yes sir. And Mr Yutani would like to proceed as soon as possible."

With the steely grin of the Queen behind them, everyone returns to where Asao is waiting with his son. A row of seats has been set out opposite the frosted glass panel. They cannot see inside and there is a security-sealed door on the right side of it.

Asao sits down with his hands resting on the cane head. "Come, take a seat." he invites. "We are about to see the future of Earth's defence."

He watches as his staff check display panels before them. "As well as the queen Xenomorph remains, we discovered that she hid two eggs outside in the snow. She must have rescued them to ensure the survival of her hive. The eggs were preserved in a dormant state in the ice where she sheltered from the detonation blast."

Annalise is first to question his intentions, "And what are you going to do with them?"

Dr Foster looks up from a handheld computer-board to answer. "We will hatch the eggs and grow ourselves two warriors, as protection from the Yautja."

Adam sits open-mouthed, "Do you realise what you're suggesting? They'll take over if they escape!"

Asao comforts them, "Dr Foster has been studying the Xenomorph samples since we rescued them from Antarctica. I am confident that he knows what he's doing."

The container starts to thaw. The glass begins to clear, gradually revealing a view to the two eggs inside resting on a temperature-controlling, gridded base.

Annalise moves to whisper to her boss, "Adam, they need two hosts to grow the creatures in. Is that why we are here?"

Adam's eyes widen in response to her suggestion, his heart beating hard to the warning. He wants to trust the Yutani's, after all, they didn't have to reveal their secrets. But was that because they never intended him to leave?

Annalise waits for a signal from him, a sign to say that they are in trouble. She prepares herself, but his next words are aimed elsewhere.

"Now you have got to be kidding!" He utters aloud.

His assistant looks round where he is looking, realising instantly Asao's true intentions. Masaki and Masami, the twin Siamese cats, are being walked towards the egg chamber.

"Preferable to human hosts," Asao remarks. "I'm sure you would agree."

"The Xenomorph species assimilate the strongest attributes of their hosts," Dr Foster explains. "This gives them an advantage in whatever environment they are born into."

He directs his staff members as they prepare the feline pets. Their collars are removed and an injection is given to each to help calm them.

"But won't they be smaller if you use cats?" Asks Adam.

"The size of the host is not a factor," the doctor assures as the animals are led through the security door. "These soldiers will be tall, strong, fast, and most important of all- obedient!"

Adam isn't worried anymore, after all, Asao is running the show. The things done here are beyond comprehension, but these people don't seem concerned about it, they have no morals. "They're crazy!" He tells himself. "I have no power here."

On the wall, a metal panel at the bottom of the glass lowers slowly to reveal more to the spectators. They can now see the cats inside, sipping contently from a drinking bowl in front of the warm grid. Everyone watches in silence as the eggs resting on top show signs of movement within. Dr Foster monitors the temperature carefully as the room is completely thawed.

Annalise shudders with fear as one of the cats hisses and backs towards a corner. Its twin also responds, pointing its tail up straight, arching back on four stretched legs. The muffled noises change to unsettling whines as the animals sense the danger before them.

The group stare at the window as each of the eggs peels back a cross-split opening at the top, revealing glistening surfaces coated in gooey residue. The pods tremble as something moves inside.

The cats dart helplessly around their cell, knocking the bowl over and clawing at the walls. Over the edge of the open eggs creep two sets of pale, bony fingers. The long digits feel to climb over the gaping lips, waiting to sense the life of a suitable victim. One last moment of anxiety before the inevitable. Long, spider-like forms leap into the air towards the screams, projected and directed by muscular whipping tails. A violating tube reaching from the underbelly, feeling for a throat to slide into. Silence.

Dr Foster is first to move, he checks the control panel before eagerly peering through the glass to observe. "Everything is fine sir," He reports confidently. "Just as predicted."

The four onlookers rise from their seats and step forward to see what has happened. Inside the chamber, the eggs are standing open and empty. While on the floor lie the resting bodies of the cats, covered tightly by the hugging spiders. The fingers reach far around the animal's heads, interlacing either side for a bold grasp. The fleshy, ribbed tails are wrapped many times around the furry bodies like a snake holding its prey. Both sets of creatures show shallow movements of rhythmic breathing.

Adam looks to Asao with an accusing look. The man simply smiles back. "Before we entered the base, I asked if you were ready," the businessman reminds him. "Dr Foster will keep us updated to their progress, shall we continue the tour?"


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