DEEP SPACE

A backdrop of blackness, darker than a New Moon night, accompanied by an unnerving silence. Thousands of white mottled spots tell us of a distant sea of glittering stars across the void of unending space, shining like the love of God, cold and remote.

An enormous object slowly CREEPS towards us, taking form as it grows larger. A massive military transport ship, stamped with a half-faded Emergency Response Unit logo. It is ugly, battered - - functional.

Her hull is bruised, forever-scarred with black streaks, minor damage caused by being struck in past battles.

As she first approaches, she appears lifeless, an abandoned ship forever adrift in the enormous expanse of space. But slowly, a soft blue glow emitted from the Bridge forward windows and tiny portholes comes into view as she moves closer, giving us a sense of some kind of life.

Just as we come to find the light, the starship becomes more defined as it approaches. Indents, curves, metal paneling.

Sunlight from a nearby sun SWIMS across her massive, shadowed bow, displaying the name painted in stark white; "UNSCTT Sulaco" (Short for: "United Nations Space Command Troop Transport: Sulaco")

FLIGHT DECK - SULACO

An enormous chamber, cavernous and dark. Squatting in the shadows are two Dropships. Heavy machinery all around them; cranes, loading equipment.

Empty. No movement.

BRIDGE - SULACO

Interior lights are dimmed to blue.

This is a grand circular room, jam-packed with instrumentation, all surrounding a single pilot chair. Three giant, thick glass windows are centered at the forward sides, making up the entire forward bulkhead of the Bridge.

Above head-level, the ceiling is lined by several holographic-screens, all of them off for the moment

Vacant. What seem to be two space helmets resting on the only pilot chair, though of course they're not of that purpose.

A sudden high-pitched TRILLING accompanies a sequence of lights on the helmets which begin to signal one another. An alarm. Moments of silence. An electrical HUM. A green light goes on in front of one helmet. A mechanical CHIRP emits. Another electronic HUM. Electronic PULSING. A red light goes on in front of the other helmet. A series of mechanical sounds, an electronic conversation ensues, a language of speech that only another computer could understand.

Then silence.

CLOSE ON -

FLICKERING instrumentation. Readouts and displays PURR in the background. Machinery CHUCKLES softly.

Abruptly, a BEEPING SIGNAL disturbs the silence, and the machinery begins to awaken from its sleep. Lights blink on and off, circuitry switch power modes.

A monitor FLICKERS on and begins to scroll data.

UNSCTT SULACO

REG#: F2-91-35-71

MISSION / RYUSHI / DEPART

- Contain and neutralize threat

- Protect civilians

- Retrieve Project-X Corporation property

STATUS: GREEN

- All Systems Normal

We PULL OUT to REVEAL more and more of this machinery, banks of info-panels, fluttering gauges, until we reveal:

HYPERSLEEP VAULT - SULACO

A stainless-steel room. No windows. The walls are packed to the maximum with instrumentation. The main lights are dim and the air is frigid.

Occupying the entirety of the floor are horizontal sarcophagic capsules with plexiglass lids. Hypersleep Chambers. Ten in total.

Inside each chamber, a dim glow of light seeps through the plexiglass lid, exposing the dark shape of a naked human body, rimmed with frost. Oxygen masks are frozen to their faces, IV lines of liquid nitrogen feeding into their arms, legs, and chests. Each capsule has a nameplate attached: Sarge, Reaper, Slayer, Goat - -

CLOSE ON -

a small electronic Bio-Monitor hooked to the side of one Hypersleep Chamber: EEG, EKG, and other graphic life-function readouts. It BEEPS steadily as the blue line jumps and falls with the heartbeat of the occupant.

HERNANDEZ - Active

[staff-sergeant]

HYPERSLEEP CHAMBER - HYPERSLEEP VAULT

Slayer lays inside, unmoving, undisturbed. From the four corners of the Hypersleep Chamber's interior, steams of gas WHEEZE out. The buildup of ice on the lid begins to thaw.

Slayer's chest suddenly, ever so slightly, expands and contracts, blood resumes to pulsate through his veins.

FOOM! FOOM! FOOM! With LOUD EXPLOSIONS of pressurized gas escaping it's confinement, white gases SPEW from the opening crevices around the plexiglass lids and a dense pale mist flows out, spilling over the edges of the capsule.

Several of the Hypersleep Chambers pop open - - including this one.

Slayer just lays there for several moments, ice continuing to thaw around his body. Suddenly, his muscles begin flinching, breath quickening - - and HE BURSTS TO LIFE, eyes SHOOTING open, mouth INHALING deeply as he sits up. His pores open, dripping massive amounts of sweat, and he drops back down.

HYPERSLEEP VAULT - SULACO

Slowly, suddenly groggy, Slayer sits back up, pale, on the edge of the Chamber.

Slayer rubs the sleep from his eyes. He pulls away the IV lines and the Bio-Monitor, feeling no heartbeat or brain activity, quickly alters to Inactive. An alarm SCREAMS for attention.

Slayer bends down and shuts off the Bio-Monitor. He tries to get to his feet, but his legs wobble underneath him, collapsing. He slowly gets back to his feet, muscles twitching. Looks around. Stretches. Looks at the other Hypersleep Chambers.

"God, I'll never get used to that."

From the intercom speakers, a mechanical voice intones.

"Welcome back. While you reacclimate, you may want to have a seat. It may take a moment for your eyes to adjust to the light. While you have been given fluids during your hibernation, it is strongly recommended to drink two hundred and fifty-six ounces of water in the next six to eight hours."

Slayer ignores the message and moves off.

GALLEY - SULACO

Slayer comes into the Galley and taps several buttons on a food replicator. A low HUM as it reorganizes molecules.

HYPERSLEEP VAULT - SULACO

FOOM! Another lid pops open and Reaper sits up.

"What time is it?" He asked, stretching.

Again, the mechanical voice intones.

"Welcome back. While you reacclimate…"

GALLEY - SULACO

Slayer inhales the sweet fragrance of his coffee, 3/4 coffee, 1/4 whole milk, and a spoon-full of sugar. Behind him, Reaper walks into the Galley. Programs himself a cup.

HYPERSLEEP VAULT - SULACO

Two more lids pop open.

"Oh…God…am I cold…" He-V said from inside one Chamber.

"Is that you, He-V?" Duke asked.

"I feel like shit…"

"Yeah, it's you all right."

They yawn, stretch, and shiver. They look at each other.

"The vampires rise from their coffins." Duke said.

This draws a few woozy chuckles from those who are awake.

Another lid opens behind them.

"Good morning, Sarge." He-V said.

"Welcome back. While you reacclimate…"

MESS HALL - SULACO

The forward bulkhead is adorned with several giant glass windows that give us a magnificent view of the galactic expanse outside.

Slayer enters from the Galley and sits at a table, enjoying a freshly-brewed cup. Warmly dressed in a sleeveless hoodie, he still looks cold. He cradles his cup of coffee.

Another moment. And then the sound of another lid opening.

Everybody is nursing a coffee, waiting for eggs from the food replicator.

ARMORY - SULACO

Sarge enters with Slayer and bellows.

"Atten-shun!"

The Squad SNAPS to attention from their lounging among the racks of high-tech weaponry.

"At ease. I'm sorry we didn't have time to brief before we left Grand Strasophus Spaceport but this is a Level Five Breach Emergency…"

"I only need to know one thing." Kit-Kat said.

"Where they are."

Kit-Kat coolly points her finger, cocks her thumbs, and blows away an imaginary enemy.

"Somebody said alien, he thought they said illegal alien and signed up." Reaper snickered.

"Go fuck yourself!"

"Only if you watch me."

"Am I disturbing your conversation, Reaper?" Sarge asked, icy.

Reaper settles down, smirking.

"Are there any questions?" Slayer asked.

Goat motions himself with a hand.

"Goat?"

"What exactly are we up against?"

"We'll be going in blind. Project-X Corporation didn't give us much information except this."

Sarge scoops up a remote for the jumbotron-sized holo-screen that hangs from the ceiling.

CLICK! He presses the "ON" button and a fuzzy image appears.

CLOSE ON -

the wrinkled face of a sixty-year-old man, terrified for his life.

"This is Dr. David Roberts, Classified Research, Island Laboratory, ID 7599!"

A steel two-inch double-door behind him is SLAMMED repeatedly. The metal panels of the door buckle, but they do not break. The door hinges bend and curve, but they do not give. There are ROARS and SCREAMS outside, muffled by the steel. Given the circumstances, the double-door is clearly designed to be secure, with heavy automatic-sliding bolts on the top and bottom, all controlled by a wall unit off to the side.

"We've had a Level Five Breach Emergency! All local security personnel have been killed! Implement quarantine procedures immediately!"

The steel door is smashed again. Again. Again. And again until it gives way. He looks back, straight into a pair of blood-red eyes peeping through the crack from the darkness beyond.

"Requesting immediate instructions to override system and shut down the lab! My office is sealed off from the rest of the laboratory, I should be okay for now but I only have a week's rations of food in here, and am in need of immediate evac…"

The steel door finally gives and SMASHES open! Dr. Roberts lets loose a shrill SCREAM as he is pounced by a tall, black figure, bashing him right into the computer - - and the screen goes static.

ARMORY - SULACO

"According to this, there's a quarantine situation on the Island." Sarge said.

"We received this…when the research team stopped responding to all communications with HQ…"

Goat looks up from his Bible.

"You gonna forward the code to shut down the Island Laboratory?"

"And strand a bunch of valuable personnel underground? We neutralize the threat and retrieve Robert's team."

Slayer stares at the heading on the screen.

"Hernandez Island Labs?" He asked softly.

"Only way in." Sarge replied.

Sarge squeezes Slayer's shoulder, turns back to the Squad.

"All right. I want this to go smooth and by the numbers. I want DCS and tactical database assimilation by 0830."

Reaper groans.

"Dropship prep details will have seven hours…"

BRIDGE - SULACO

Alpha Foxtrot sits in the only pilot chair, expertly maneuvering the Sulaco into orbit.

He speaks into the grille of the comm unit built into his console.

"Attention. This concluded final maneuvering operations. Thank you for your cooperation. You may resume work."

FLIGHT DECK - SULACO

Intense activity throughout the cavernous Flight Deck. Squad-members on foot or driving tow-mowers, overhead loading arms - - all in motion. Slayer checks off items on an electronic manifest.

ARMORY - SULACO

Reaper, He-V, and Goat are fieldstripping weapons with precise movements. Around them, in racks, is an arsenal of advanced personal artillery.

CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! Reaper likes the feel of the guns, the weight - - the authority. His hands move without hesitation.

PAYLOAD - DROPSHIP-1

The intensely armored military unit files into the ship and takes seats facing each other across a narrow aisle. A klaxon SOUNDS, signalling depressurization of the Flight Deck.

Reaper prowls the aisle, his movements predatory and exaggerated.

"I am ready, man. Ready to get it on. Check me out. I am the ultimate badass, state-of-the-badass-art. You do not want to fuck with me."

Slayer, standing at the front of the payload, grabs Reaper by his bulletproof vest and pulls him into a seat.

His voice is low, but it carries.

"Save it."

"Sure, boss."

Motors WHINE and the craft lurches.

SULACO - FROM SPACE

Dropship-1 lowers from the Flight Deck on a massive launch rig.

COCKPIT - DROPSHIP-1

Alpha Foxtrot runs rapidly through the switches.

"Initiating release sequencer. Three. Two. One. Mark!

DROPSHIP-1 - FROM SPACE

Hydraulic WHINE. Clamps SLAM BACK. The ship drops.

PAYLOAD - DROPSHIP-1 - DAY

He-V stuffs extra magazines in his bulletproof vest, an extra ammunition chain slung onto his broad shoulder; Goat trims his goatee with a combat knife while reading his well-thumbed Bible; Duke adjusts his bulletproof vest; Doc rechecks his medical pouch; Kit-Kat, wearing sunglasses so dark you can't tell whether she's staring at you or not, snores loudly in her seat; First-To-Die sits quietly and alone, keeping to himself.

He-V turns his attention from shining his gargantuan six-barrel rotary machine gun, which takes up his entire lap and the seat next to him, to First-To-Die.

"So, First-To-Die, how do you feel about your first mission?"

"Please, don't call me that."

"Hey, kid, at one point when we first joined we were all called that." He-V said, now feeding armor-piercing bullets into his machine gun.

"He-V!"

At the back of the chopper, Sarge emerges from the shadows. Making his presence felt.

"Shut up."

"Yes, sir." He-V groaned.

Reaper leans in to First-To-Die.

"You know kid, it's funny. Couple weeks ago I told Sarge I could use a little pussy. Next day, he brings you onto the team."

"Reaper!"

"Come on, Sarge! He looks like he just got his first pube last week. I mean, look at…"

From the shadows beside Slayer leans forward.

"Don't give me an excuse, Reaper. No one will miss you."

Reaper flips Slayer off. For a moment, everything is quiet, all you can hear is the communication between Alpha Foxtrot and the Operations Building.

"Assume mission heading one-four-seven degrees to location Lemur Zulu Foxtrot one-four." A man on the cockpit radio said.

"Roger, Kilo Six." Alpha Foxtrot said.

"Badger Three-Niner out."

"Copy, Badger Three-Niner. Assume mission heading of one-four-seven degrees to location Lemur Zulu Foxtrot one-four."

"Kilo Six, this is Badger Three-Niner. Inbound on one-four-seven degrees, Lemur Zulu Foxtrot…"

Sarge moves down the aisle, addressing his squad:

"Alright, men, you know the drill. Let's lock-and-load!"

He opens a panel on the diamond tread aluminum sheet floor to REVEAL a small armory of weapons that had been loaded by Reaper, He-V, and Goat earlier, all with modified grips to read their palm swirls.

Sarge (Legal Name: Gunnery-Sergeant Asher Mahonin) shakes Kit-Kat awake and unclips an automatic assault rifle off the armory, wrapping his fingers around its handgrip.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified." The weapon spoke.

"Handle Identification:…Sarge."

A soft CLICK as the trigger-lock unlocks. He straps a holstered semi-automatic pistol to his belt and a sheathed combat knife to his vest.

He-V (Legal Name: Sergeant Gannon Roark) - - a humble man trapped inside the body of a world-wrecker - - admires his shining machine gun and kisses it.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Heavy."

"Say my name, honey!" He-V said.

Kit-Kat (Legal Name: Sergeant Katsuhiko Kumanosuke Takaashi.) pulls a pair of semi-automatic pistols off the rack, "Adios" and "Bitch-Killer" scrawled to their sides. She takes her bolt-action sniper rifle.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Kit-Kat."

Goat (Legal Name: Corporal Eric Fantom) sets down his bible, tugs a knee brace on a leathery leg, grabs a heavy-duty shotgun.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Goat."

Doc (Legal Name: Doctor Mallard DuFresne) takes a semi-automatic pistol.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Doc."

Reaper (Legal Name: Corporal Richard Grimm) straps a sheathed combat knife to his vest and grips his automatic assault rifle, hefts it's mass in his arms. It makes him feel tougher.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Reaper."

First-To-Die (Legal Name: Private Stephen Dantalian) grabs a pair of semi-automatic pistols and straps them to his thighs.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…First-To-Die."

He looks at it.

"You too?" He asked, incredulously.

He straps a sheathed combat knife to his vest, grabs a pair of handheld semi-automatics. The built-in hand-scanner says:

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…First-To-Die."

Duke (Legal Name: Sergeant Gregory Schofield) lights a cigarette with one hand, grabs his semi-automatic pistol with the other. Keeps twirling the pistol on a finger:

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Duke."

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Duke."

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Duke."

He looks at Sarge.

"I love the way this weapon says my name. If this weapon had a pair of lips, I'd marry it."

They pass around a roll of masking tape and a pen, and scribble their blood types on the bottom of their boots. The roll comes along to Slayer, the only Squad-member who hasn't "logged in." He is silent for a moment, pensive.

"How long's it been?" Sarge asked.

"Ten years…"

"Sure she's even still down there?"

Slayer's silent for a moment. Only the voices of the cockpit.

"Roger, Badger Three-Niner. We have you on visual."

"Engaging illumination now."

Finally, Slayer nods.

"Yeah."

"You up for this?"

"I don't know if I can go back down there, Sarge."

Slayer worries his scar. Suddenly, the room lights up with red bulbs as Dropship-1 begins to descend.

"Copy, Kilo Six. We've got a visual on Lumur Zulu. ETA - - nine-zero seconds. Standby."

"So, stay with the Dropship." Sarge said.

A pause.

"But sooner or later, you're gonna have to face your demons."

Slayer (Legal Name: Staff-Sergeant John Hernandez) grips his automatic assault rifle, steels himself.

"UNSC Special Ops clearance verified. Handle Identification:…Slayer."

"Six-zero seconds to Lemur Zulu." Alpha Foxtrot said.

KA-BLANG! Suddenly, the cockpit explodes and Dropship-1 drops like a stone. As Dropship-1 comes down, the ride gets bumpier and bumpier as it spins and twirls through the air like a directionless bird.

Slayer holds onto First-To-Die's seat the best he can as Dropship-1 spins, everyone screams for their dear lives, but in the end, Slayer is thrown back against the big rear door.

SLAYER POV -

as he slowly slips into unconsciousness, tumbling around the payload like a sock in a dryer. Eventually, he SMASHES into the wall unit that controls the big rear door, hitting the "Emergency Eject" button with it. The big rear door BLOWS OFF and Slayer goes flying out the back. His vision goes blurry, he blinks once - - but his eyes don't open back up.