by Fallarin

An Alien v. Predator fanfic

Author's disclaimer: I do not own the copyrights, intellectual or otherwise, to either the Alien or Predator franchises. This piece is written purely for self-indulgence, and published here in the hopes of entertaining others with similar interests. Unless some bigwig at Fox stumbles across this story and loves it so much that he (or she) wishes to contract me to write professionally for the franchise, I have not and will not make any money from, nor attempt to sell, my creative writing about AVP. Rating is T for violence at the time of initial publication, but may incur a stronger rating in later chapters. Oh, and that whole thing about a Fox executive somehow finding me is as big a fantasy as this story. Without further ado, enjoy!

Chapter 1 - Rebel

The wind had carved tortured patterns into the vast barren plain of rock and sand: twisted streaks of brown, ochre, and black. The small car that bumped and rattled across the old road was a bright splash of robin's-egg blue in that bleak and unforgiving landscape. It was the only thing that moved except the wind.

"The winds can get quite fierce here," the driver said in heavily-accented English to his silent companion. They were a long way out from Beijing, and although they had crossed into Mongolia more than two hours before, they had longer still to go before they reached Ulan Bator. The driver had heard that Americans liked to talk, but the woman in the passenger seat of his old car had not spoken since she'd muttered an obscenity at the Chinese border guard who had lingered too long over her passport and travel papers.

"In the spring," the driver continued, eyes on the ruts ahead, "The sandstorms come. They make the desert very dangerous." He drove in the center of the road, avoiding the worst of the drifts that had blown onto the shoulders. The car's heater chugged and wheezed to keep them warm. The Gobi is a cold desert.

The girl's face, pale and long beneath dark hair, turned to look at the driver. "It's May," she said. Her face showed disbelief.

Yetko, the driver, bared crooked teeth and laughed. A gust of wind pounded the side of the car as it bumped along. The girl shook back her long hair and pushed her shoulders deeper into the seat, and said nothing. Yetko grimaced. It was their second day of travel, with two more ahead of them. This woman was paying him well to drive her to the capital of his country, but it would be a dull journey if he couldn't get her to talk.

The American, Siaran Moss, closed her eyes. She could still feel the car shudder when the wind slapped at it, angry cat's paws of air-tossed sand. It hissed and pattered against the windows, louder now that she was not using her eyes. She let her thoughts drift with the motion of the car.

In less than a week, the Tae Kwon Do World Championships would be held in Ulan Bator. Eight days ago, Siaran had arrived in Beijing, planning to spend the extra time before the tournament as a tourist in the country that had birthed martial arts. She had not been allowed to do so. One visit, observed and documented, to a clandestine Buddhist temple, and suddenly she couldn't go anywhere. She had arranged travel to the Shaolin Temple before she left the States. Its walls had seen the first of the warrior monks; it was the one place Siaran most wanted to see before competing for the most prestigious title in Tae Kwon Do.

The Chinese government had revoked her travel privileges, had made it clear that the only road in China that she was welcome to take was the one leading out of it. North, in her case, through one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet: the Gobi desert, following the unpaved road that was the only direct overland route to Ulan Bator.

A stillness outside made Siaran open her eyes. Straightening in the plastic seat, she frowned out at the desert. Yetko's car was still moving, but the wind had stopped. The sun was brassy and distant, low on the western horizon beneath a high gray sky. A shiver, small, just a frisson along the nerves, caught her. She turned her head, about to ask Yetko whether there was some village or settlement where he planned to stop for the night, and found him watching her. Before she could speak, he asked, "Why do you hate the Chinese so much?"

It was his first impolite question, as he saw it. He asked it mostly to see how she would react. Yetko knew where Siaran was heading and why; he knew she had had some trouble with the Ministry of the Interior over travel papers. Yetko thought she should not have been surprised by that. In China these days, no one was permitted to go where he pleased. He supposed Siaran was used to more license in the United States, and was beginning to think, based on limited experience, that Americans took too much for granted.

So Siaran's answer surprised him. "Because they run over unarmed people in tanks." She spat the last word, then pulled her long dark hair back from her face and began to plait it from the base of her neck, fingers working violently. "They do that, and then they just go on. No remorse. No reaction to public outcry. Not even compensation for the families of the people they killed."

Yetko blinked. She looked too young to remember Tianenmen Square with such wrath.

"I was nine years old," Siaran said unexpectedly, making Yetko blink again at this anticipation of his unasked question. "My parents didn't try to shelter me from what I saw on the news." She was quiet then for so long that Yetko wondered if she'd fallen asleep. The light was bad and he needed to watch the road. Then, in a slow voice empty of emotion, Siaran spoke again. "They were doctors." He heard her turn her head toward him. "My parents. They were killed six years after Tianenmen Square, in the border fighting between Zimbabwe and Mozambique." Audibly, she swallowed. "They were training medical staff at a temporary camp in the jungle. They had no weapons."

Yetko, listening, hardly breathing, had slowed the car to a crawl. "The soldiers from Zimbabwe sent their ears and tongues to the American embassy." Her hand flashed out, a pale knife edge in the twilight gloom, and thumped the dash. There was no self-pity on her face.

After a pause, Yetko said, "I think your parents taught you as best they could. You are a very self-sufficient young lady." Siaran looked out the side window and did not respond. "The Gobi is also merciless." He shook his head. "Even the great Khan did not stray too far inside it. And we have stories, eh? Old tales, that sometimes there are things in the sandstorms. Things with claws and teeth, that come with the snow and sand and kill anything they find." Yetko laughed shortly. "But just stories, Ms. Moss! We are here, eh? We survive. If you know the desert, it will not harm you. And that makes it different from a man."

Yetko had intended to make her feel better with this piece of wisdom, but Siaran was no longer listening. On the eastern horizon, she saw a boiling mass of black cloud, darker than the darkening sand and sky. It grew as she watched, coming closer, and she thought she heard a roar like distant thunder. Taking a breath, she pressed her palm flat against the window. "Yetko," she said, "What's that?"

Yetko looked, and stopped the car with a jerk. He reversed across the road and lined up the car with its nose pointing west, so that the mass of darkness was now behind them. "Sandstorm," he said flatly. "Lock your door, please, Ms. Moss. Best thing to do is sit tight until it's over." He tried to smile. "Don't be afraid. Sandstorms happen here all the time." He set the parking brake and turned off the engine. In spite of his words, his breathing was harsh and quick. Siaran, determined not to panic, slowed her own breathing, pulling air deep into her belly and relaxing her shoulders. The simple exercise helped keep her mind clear.

There was sweat on Yetko's face, and he muttered something in his own language. Maybe this was a bigger sandstorm than he had expected. Siaran could feel the car shake, could hear the distant roar grow louder. The temperature in the car had dropped sharply without the heater on. A moment later, a high shrieking of wind overlaid the roar of sand and earth. Siaran fought down the urge to break out of the car and run. That was the hindbrain talking, the primitive ape who shivered before the fury of the storm and sought to go to ground.

The roaring grew, and with it came the spitting hiss of sand driving horizontally against the car. The ground shook, and the car's body trembled and groaned on its springs. Yetko yelled something; Siaran looked at him and saw only the whites of his eyes before the darkness overtook them. Her hands groped for something to hold onto, something solid and reassuring in the roaring, screaming dark, and found only empty air.

The storm hit.