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Chapter 5

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Night-time in the facility is chillingly quiet. Like a tomb, the musty air creeps through the deep dark, past the impenetrable stone walls holding back strong against the massive build-up of earth above.

Along the main corridor an occasional "click" trembles through the silence. Up a grand length of hand-cut steps is Asao's sombre styled office. With his high-backed chair turned away from the entrance, the power-hungry businessman rests back in a trance. One hand still holding his cane, the other operates a computer mounted into a desk of pure black marble.

He bides his time through the restless hours, occupied only by re-reading technical entries and video evidence related to his immediate goals. The screen shines white across his face as his weary eyes remind the amazing truths which he has come to accept without question. Tales of visitors to our planet, hauntingly vicious slayings throughout history which most witnesses choose to forget. But those who embrace the truth can harness its strength, and wield it to forge their own future.

Whether the others can sleep or not is of no consequence. Some empire leaders may prefer to gorge on the fruits of their work, but Asao knows he can rest when he's dead and his work is his life.

A blue button lights up on the desk intercom. A dull crackles sounds before the voice of Dr Foster.

"Mr Yutani. I believe it's time," he says. "Any moment now."

Asao stands with vigour and answers the message.

"Thank-you doctor. I'm on my way."

He turns to leave, but remembers his guests. Activating a set of monitors on the left wall, the screens show camera views of all areas of the facility. He selects the sleeping quarters of Adam Weyland and is pleased to see the man awake, clothed and lying on an unmade bed looking up at the ceiling.

"Adam, I'd appreciate your company in the laboratory -bring a strong stomach!" Asao's voice calls out of a console in Adam's room.

Alert in an instant, he calms his tired head and seeks Annalise to join him. A few minutes later in the labs, the group are gathered again to witness a very rare event.

Three technicians organise the area while Dr Foster stands calm ahead of the compartment. Behind the glass, the cats are awake and lapping water from a metal bowl. Annalise watches the staff members arranging equipment at a counter on the opposite wall. Adam follows her as she inquisitively wanders over, they have both noticed a tray laid next to a selection of chromed tools.

In the tray lies one of the lifeless Facehuggers, legs stretched out evenly, spread on its back to show a complex expanse of fleshy layers. One of the lower sacks by its tail has been slit open, it is held with a pincer to show waves of internal material surrounded by gloopy yellow liquid.

They return to Asao and the doctor.

"I assume that your sample over there is safe, with no risk to us from exposure." Adam voices his concern.

Dr Foster gives a smile. "It's of no harm to us now. The acidic blood neutralises at death -it is totally benign."

"And what about the other one?" Asks Annalise.

The doctor pauses to scribble on his pad before giving an answer.

"Cold storage. No reason to dissect them both."

Asao is distracted, having noticed that his son is absent.

"Didn't anybody notify Haruki to be present?"

The doctor realises the mistake. "I'm afraid he was overlooked. Shall I call for him now?"

"No, let him sleep." Asao says sternly.

Their attention is beckoned to the glass by a "hiss". One of the cats stops drinking and backs away from its brother. It sits down low, facing forward as the other yawns and roams the floor with uncoordinated steps. Flopping sideways as an ill pain throbs deep within its body. The other animal rocks gently, feeling the same pulse of aching movement awakening inside.

The doctor crouches by the window to view the event closer.

"They appear to be synchronised." He comments aloud.

Adam holds a fist against his mouth to hide his unease at the sight of the cats writhing around in pain. They wave the air with out-stretched claws, backs arched and mouths wide as a ripple of spasms rolls beneath their skin.

Their stomachs pull tight as their chests push forward. The unwilling hosts scream whining calls as the creatures implanted in their bodies curl around, pushing head-long through the warm meat to seeks their escape.

A spray of blood spills down the side of one before its rib-cage punches apart to show a glossy pink form force through. It wriggles out eagerly as another splash of blood soaks the air, leading the way for the next form to burst forth from the second cat. A long body reaches up from the twitching feline, with a sleek tail uncoiling over the torn furry skin.

The first alien creature has settled on the floor, lying curled on its side as its host's innards drip down from a punctured, gaping hole. A tiny rod-like tongue stretches from its mouth while the tail and limbs unwind.

Asao waits for the doctor to stand. "Well? What's your prognosis?"

"Both are warriors sir," he answers. "Soldier Xenomorph."

"What does that mean?" Asks Adam.

Asao turns and heads back to his office. "It means that we start training them tonight." He calls behind him.

Dr Foster nods in agreement. He re-checks his notes and sees that the guests are waiting for more information. He thinks, and clicks the button on his pen.

"Someone should wake Haruki." He says, marching away.

Annalise looks at the newly born monsters within the chamber. They are exploring their surroundings, brushing past the broken carcasses which unknowingly nurtured them, stepping about on four nimble legs with tails arched high behind. The cat's bodies are still warm as the aliens begin to feed.

Billions of miles away. Reaching long into the furthest reaches of our galaxy, where Earth's sun is a lost speck within a mingling cloud of sparkling light, a sleek Predator shuttle sweeps through space.

The pale silver vehicle moves with two thruster engines beside an oval, shell-shaped pod. Like an armoured bug, the craft shows off smooth flowing ridges and an orange glow illuminating from inside.

On-board, highly advanced mechanics steer its path to take the sleeping passengers to their hunting grounds. The coordinates are pre-programmed, returning time after time with unblooded warriors to kill their first human prey.

The ship is highly alert to recognise inconsistencies in the planetary geography, readily updating to include meteors and gravitational shift. The outboard navigational scan notifies the presence of an unexpected object approaching along this same course. The sleeping cycle is interrupted to awaken two experienced Predators on-board who act as chaperons to the three youth.

In the navigation cockpit are two armoured helmets mounted high on

telemetry pillars. One is metallic blue in colour, with smooth channels flowing along sharpened curvature to the face front where the right eye hole is sealed flat. The muzzle has a split gap fashioned down the middles, ending as two bladed prongs.

The second face shield has a rich polished gold finish, furnished with a crown of horn-like spikes leading around the temple region, with two more either side below the cheek curves.

These masks face a raised column display console, processing the data and relaying it to their owners. A red hologram brightens to illustrate the nearby planets, stars and the floating shape closing in to meet them.

The shuttle gently slows as a great wreckage comes by. The hulk of twisted metal is only recognised by its elemental properties. The burnt jarring remains of a lost Predator Mothership hold the memories of a tribe which never returned home.

The helmets continue to relay data as the shuttle moves closer to the wreckage. Destroyed by a massive internal explosion, the hull is torn wide, exposing the charred remains of the structure inside, twisted and contorted, flayed open like a gutted beast.

As the survey finishes, the two warriors enter the control deck to manually pilot the craft to bank around the remains tightly to where one rear docking port appears intact.

The surface here is scorched, with the cowl-shaped manifold leaning inwards preventing the shuttle from fitting inside. A thick, hollow umbilical tube extends from the belly of the shuttle, snaking towards the boarding hatch with laser-guided accuracy. As it makes contact, multiple prongs protrude from the outside edge and hinge to bite down tightly to lock onto the docking port. The line then retracts a little to move the shuttle as close as possible beside the overshadowing vessel.

The programming systems now read the flight logs recorded during the mothership's final voyage. Displayed as holographic projections, the Antarctic pyramid is shown, with each stage of the ritual process as it happened. In the crypt chamber a group of trespassing humans are shown removing three cannon weapons which are reserved only for use by the chosen predators.

This theft starts the events which led to the Queen Alien's escape, as well as the destruction of the sacred hunting site. All Predators are taught that it is forbidden by sacred law for one of their kind to be implanted with an alien foetus, because the resulting hybrid warrior is an uncontrollable demon. To their anger, the final recording shows the late detection of a Hybrid Alien on-board the mothership.

The loss of the vessel and its honoured crew is judged to be the effect of human interference. The Predator race knew that it was inevitable that Earth's people would evolve to become more equal opponents, but their desecration of the hunting code will be punished.

The three unproved youth on-board were to be dropped alone at ancient sites on earth -as it has been done every decade since its species were discovered. But the leading warriors have changed the plan, this time the clan will hunt together!

The umbilical's grip loosens and disengages its hold, slinking away and retracting back into the shuttle's under-belly. As the engines' glow brightens, a scattering of small devices is deployed to float out towards the remaining wreckage.

The shuttle accelerates away, leaving the jagged tomb to return to its lonely silence. With the smaller craft now only visible as tiny flicker, the devices activate. Laser sights interact to unify their positions to span a spherical orbit around the blackened grave. The spectacle holds for a few brief moments before discharging into a collapsing ball of engulfing energy, cleanly erasing all remains.

Haruki dowses his face in a sink of cold water.Standing in the bathroom of his private quarters, he looks ahead to stare back at himself in the mirror. As the drops roll down his cheeks and into the emptying pool, his thoughts wander to question his role in the future of the Yutani Corporation.

Always striving to please his father, obediently taking orders while yearning to speak out and be counted on for his own opinions. But surely it's too late now, after all the years of acting on his parent's wishes, doing as they had planned for him. Now in the adult years since the passing of his mother, where does his father consider him best suited, at his side?

There are often benefits from dealing with other organisations like your own, firstly, you have one less rival. But the Weyland birth-line has been forced to the younger generation, perhaps faster than Asao was ready for. The younger ideals are in many ways threatening to an old professional, set in his ways and comfortable with traditional business challenges. Shouldn't he be coaching Haruki to take his place? Or maybe Adam will be offered the chance to replace an unreliable son.

Haruki ties his shoes and reaches for his neatly hung jacket. Wherever these experiments are leading, perhaps the best position to hold is that of a silent partner. Better not to speak, than to object and not be heard. He steps out into the hallway and pulls the door shut.

In the bright white laboratory, chimes of testing strikes beat through the walls. The glass doors part as Haruki arrives, the knocks attract his attention and lead him to the secure compartment. He sees his father talking with Dr Foster by the far wall-counter, hopefully he can avoid a lecture for not witnessing the births.

Annalise stands with Adam by the glass front, keeping a good distance as the bangs continue inside. She smiles uncomfortably to Haruki who makes a slow approach.

The chamber shudders slightly, the small aliens inside are exploring their space and determining its strength to hold them. Their tails whip around clumsily as they balance to climb the walls. Haruki's gaze at the ferocious little beasts draws him closer.

"You missed a real treat earlier." Adam says sarcastically. "If you were sleeping, you were better off for it. I keep hearing those cats screaming."

He is sickened by the memory. Haruki bends near to the chamber, trusting the barrier as the killers roam behind.

"They've doubled in size since they, came out." Annalise adds. "And they're a lot darker now too."

"Nice of you to join us." Comes the voice of Asao.

Haruki stands up straight. "Is all as you planned father?"

"Everything but your absence. Now that you are here Haruki, the real tests can commence."

Two of the facility guards enter the area, uniformly dressed in black armour, each holding a large heavy-impact prototype weapon. Haruki shares a surprised expression with Annalise and Adam as they question the intrusion. Annalise stands to block the way to her employer. But Adam acts less threatened, placing a calming hand on her shoulder.

"Why the execution squad?" He asks.

Asao makes his way to one of the metal chairs.

"Please everyone -be seated. Since Haruki is the only one of us who got any rest, it seems fair to me that he volunteer to assist the doctor's experiment."

As three of the seats are filled, Haruki is guided to stand to one side as Dr Foster prepares a chilled pot taken from the nearby refrigeration unit. The guards position themselves at either side of the chamber while the aliens watch from inside.

Dr Foster gently stirs the gloopy substance with a spatula until it resembles the consistency of a gel. Asao explains the idea to his bemused guests.

"Now that we have two impressionable subjects to work with, we can demonstrate the invaluable worth of the Queen's remains. Haruki, move to the glass and let Masaki and Masami react to you."

Annalise's mouth drops open. "Um. Are you naming them after the dead cats?" She remarks in disbelief.

"Do you have a better suggestion Miss Richards?" He replies. "At least this way their hosts will be remembered."

He turns his attention back to his son who has little choice but to do as he's told. The Aliens crouch with their arms forward, backs arched and heads pointing upwards to lock sight with Haruki's nervous eyes. They show off needle-sharp, shiny silver teeth, menacingly stretching out long punching tongues which bare another set of drooling jaws.

Dr Foster takes the pot to the front of the room.

"I think it's fair to say that you're not making a good impression. Of all the things that I've learnt from the remains of the Xenomorph Queen, this substance was the most fascinating. It appears that she can communicate to her brood by means of this royal jelly secreted within the frontal lobe of her highly conscious brain."

Haruki ponders the doctor's plan for the substance. "And what are you going to do with that?" He asks.

"It allows the queen to telepathically command her warriors. We need to see it it will do the same for us."

Dr Foster waits for Asao's approval and reaches the laden spatula towards Haruki's sweating forehead.

Adam and Annalise sit and stare as the man has the slimy alien residue wiped thickly across his brow. Haruki looks furious, the anger welling up inside him as he is humiliated.

Asao sits proud as his wishes are played out. "Now approach the glass again."

His son turns and looks down at the creatures with disdain. The Aliens watch him with little response, choosing instead to rub past each other with docile steps.

"Well at least they've settled down," Adam comments.

For a few moments all seems calm. The room watches as the sense of danger filters away. The guards stand ready awaiting their orders, and, when nobody expects it, Asao silently nods to each of them.

Haruki is knocked to his knees. As he moves to defend himself the second guard jars his rifle barrel into the helpless man's neck.

"Freeze!" He orders.

As Haruki looks to his father for help, Annalise is once more ready to protect Adam, moving in front of him as she determines the danger. Asao leans forward and points his cane at Haruki.

"I do not forgive traitors," he warns.

"Father, what's going on?" Haruki calls out, pleading for an explanation. He sees Asao looking at the guards.

"Do it!" Asao shouts at them.

Both men aim their weapons. "Yes sir!"

WHAM! The reinforced glass cracks with a concentrated impact. Everyone looks at the chamber to sees spits of acid land on the inside surface opposite the guards' heads. They lower their weapons and back away from the compartment leaving Haruki nervously shaking in front of it. He turns to see the Aliens following his eye-line and hissing gently in low, easy breaths.

"Excellent display gentlemen," Asao congratulates the guards. "Very believable!"

Annalise grimaces at the idea of such a cruel show. While everyone was distracted by the apparent threat to Haruki, they had forgotten that this was an experiment. Dr Foster hands a towel to Haruki to clean off the jelly. He snatches it angrily, wiping his whole face as he drips with sweat.

The doctor is happy. "As we hoped, the Xenomorph recognised you as something to protect. When you believed yourself to be threatened, the jelly allowed your fear to be transmitted as a call for help."

He points to the weakened pane. "They responded as your own personal bodyguards."

"So they can be controlled," replies Adam. "This is outstanding!" he responds with a smile on his face.

Asao approaches his son to make amends. "No hard feelings? Come on, you know deep down that I would never doubt your loyalty. If anything, this experience will make you stronger."

Haruki nods calmly before bowing his head. "I'm going for a shower."

As Haruki marches away to return to his room, he passes the two guards who are now posted at the sliding doors. All that the group hear is a loud "thump", turning to see both guards slumped on the floor -knocked out cold.

"My son is a useful man to have around," Asao remarks to his two guests. "He was never in any danger you understand. This test was a vital step, now that we know that our Xenomorph can be controlled, we have the perfect weapon!"

Adam is blind to the objections of his assistant. Any doubts he had have been dissolved, he listens to Asao with deep admiration.

"The Yautia will soon think twice about hunting here again." He adds.

Annalise watches the doctor examining the acid burns and cracks on the reinforced glass.

"How big will Masaki and Masami grow to doctor?"

"More than two metres tall." He sees that they are shedding their first skin. "They'll be fully grown by sunrise, this chamber won't hold them much longer. Mr Yutani, we should move them soon!"
Annalise considers the notion. "Move them? Where to?"

Asao rubs his cane through his white cloth without a worry on his mind.

"Continue as planned doctor. Release them into the habitat chamber."


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