Hello, ya'll! This is a WIP that I'll work on between free time, I promise! This first chapter is just the prolog, but I hope it catches your attention and makes you crave more ;D. Tell me about any errors or such you spot and please review! I love me some good criticism, mmm-mmm-mmm. I'd also like to say I have not read the AVP comics or books, but I've researched Yautja culture for a while and can accurately portray them.
Survival of the Fittest
A lot of things can happen when you're this deep in space, meteor storms, air breaches, mechanical and technical malfunctions, cabin fever. Maybe their captain had a break down, maybe he couldn't take the pressure on his shoulders anymore. All I know is if something goes wrong out here on the outer reaches of what man knows, there's less than a percentage of staying alive.
It smells like oil, a cheap imitation cologne for the real men back home. My protective suit is sweltering, sticking to my skin; but on the outside I know it's nearly absolute zero - - the point where everything on the molecular scale stands still, frozen. The static of the com in my ear makes my head ring and builds pressure in my sinuses, but I have to leave it open, protocol dictates so.
The military vessel Titan sent out a distress signal, which by default it was received months afterwards - - the S.O.S. had to travel a vast distance. The recording wasn't long, just a small snippet of guns firing, someone screaming "oh God!" and then absolute silence.
The silence is what gets people out here, the vastness of black. No one hears screaming in space, and when they do, like the Titan, it's too late to do anything. Anything but figure out what happened so it could be prevented in the future.
That's where I come in, my jolly intergalactic-junk-towing skiff, the crew, captain, and I. After the Titan's distress signal came in, it was determined by the Marines that our ship was the closest to help, commandeered and sent on our merry way - - even then we were months away. We're almost to their last known location, but it would help if our own ship wasn't suddenly on the fritz.
"See anything yet, Gwyn?" the static voice of Taylor echoed in my head gear. "The leak should be in that sector."
I breathed the filtered air deeply, as if it would help with my impending migraine. The outside of our small reckon ship, The Betsy Daisy (which had the misfortune to be named after two of our captains former wives), modified transport class, was a dull steel gray, helping to keep the shine of the planet below to a minimum. On the side a pinup woman sat on a red rocket, flashing her ridiculously proportioned body. To Captain Mason's chagrin it'd nearly been scorched away. As a woman, the rest of the crew didn't get my sympathy. I didn't need to wander in on them jacking off to fantasies about that babe.
Tilting my head back, I immediately regretted the action as a wave of vertigo swept into my stomach. Our craft was rotating fast around its horizontal axis, like a tumbler ride on old earth, watching the planet below our ship appear and disappear at frightening speeds.
It really was a pretty planet, lush greens and blues spread out over massive mountains and a canyon that cut across the surface before molding into desert. The best part: it wasn't terraformed by the Company. Too bad my brains felt like they were going out my ears.
"Damn it, Taylor, you said Dukes had stopped our spinning!" I snapped into the com, gripping the safety cord that attached my hip to the ship so tightly it hurt. Vomiting in space wasn't exactly on my to do list today - - it looses its humor when its me and not Taylor, or the other boys.
"Oh, you can take it; what happened to all that bravado?" the impetuous man laughed, I could hear his smirk through the link. "You're almost there anyway. Patch Betsy Daisy up and we'll have a drink to a job well done."
I swore, picking up my magnetic boots from the hull and clomping forwards, eyes on the metal and nothing else. Sweat dripped down my brow, stung my eyes, but I still saw the remaining stream of blue colored coolant, leaking lazily into the reaches of space before freezing. A few more steps and I was right on top of it, a small hole impacted into the dense metal.
Upon closer inspection, I pressed the console on my wrist to phone Taylor home. "El Capi'tan Mason didn't install new equipment, did he?" Uneasy, I knelt and swatted chunks of iced coolant from the area, letting them drift off; something metal had dug itself into the ship, into the thick pipes. It was the size of my fist and flashed red every few seconds, like a beacon. "Do you see this?"
The quiet was long in between signals, deafening. I dared to let go of the safety line to adjust the camera scope on my helmet. The static was suddenly welcomed as I unlatched the sealant from my hip, shaking the container to make sure the chemicals were well mixed.
"Yeah," Taylor's crackling accent finally replied, frustrated. "I see it. He knows he's supposed to tell us whenever something new gets put on this rig. God-damned though, they did a job of installing it, whatever the hell it is! Put a plug in and get back here, Gwyn, we'll try a test run and see if that leak fixes."
"Copy that," I let go of the com link and carefully applied the soldering mixture, letting it harden quickly in the cold space before reapplying. 'There,' I finally stood straight, looking over my work critically. The beacon still bothered me, its red flashes circling around the contraption slowly.
Something caught my eye, just a quick flash from above. By the time I looked (and wished I hadn't, because that vertigo came back full force) I thought I saw another ship, something large enough to make USCMC shuttle class. When the rotation brought me round again, there was nothing there but dark black space. Empty as ever.
My heart pounded in my chest, my neck was tense. I wanted severely to wipe my brow. I swore there was something there.
Too many things can go wrong out here, and I wasn't ready to put delusions on my long list.
Inside, it was better. I was happy to be on solid ground, without the prospect of floating into oblivion. It was also cooler than the space suit, much to my enjoyment. Taylor caught me in the process of slipping from the leggings, and knocked his knuckles against the door frame. He was a cowboy, to put it blandly, dark stubble on his chin at all hours, no matter if he'd shaved a couple hours before; the hat was what did it though, there was no reason to wear the damned thing.
"How about that drink?" I could tell he was severely annoyed about the beacon topside. Couldn't blame him really, he was the chief mechanic - - no one so much as looked at his baby skiff wrong without him having a say.
"I'll take it, as long as you promise Duke's not getting any," and I was still pissed about the rotary thrusts that shouldn't have happened. My stomach was in knots, but the alcohol would cure that.
Taylor laughed shortly as I walked past in my underclothes straight to the mess hall, throwing back into a rickety chair that'd seen heavier loads than me. He waltzed straight to the stash of cheap booze that could fuel a car, taking a whole bottle for a swig as he sat down, passing it to me. Chief sighed as I grimaced, then took a mouthful and attempted to swallow.
Boy shorts and a thin tank weren't noticed around here; I was one of the boys in their eyes. Sometimes it really got to me, being the only woman out of six. Other times I was extremely grateful they didn't take double looks, like during communal showers for example. On the off chance we landed for repairs they were busy spending all their credits on cheap whores, smokes, booze, guns, and food. In that order; it truly only bothered me when I came back to the ship and it smelt like old sex and piss. I could handle the idea that they didn't find me attractive, because rarely they attracted me.
Mr. Cowboy motioned for the booze again as I finished another swig, laughing at my inability to take it like a man. Excuse me for having a squishy butt and internal reproductive organs, he could shove it up his prostate if that's what he wanted. I told him as much and he had another laugh before sliding the liquor across the table, right into Herrick's waiting hand. He must've just slipped in. Damn if the bubbly in my stomach didn't feel good though.
"Taylor," the newcomer started with a quirk of the lips, raising the drink with a thankful nod, "you're not supposed to be drinking this early in the shift." But he raised the rim to his mouth anyway, and drank down as much as he could. My eyes followed the motion of his Adam's apple, bobbing up and down.
Herrick was our "smart guy," the guy who knew everything about anything and then some; secondary pilot and arms expert, junk skiff bodyguard. He was also the only one of us who'd ever actually been to earth, not that there was much left to see but an industrial wasteland. He had a hooked nose and sharp black eyes, a wiry body, and a nice ass. I'd say out of all five of 'em he was the only man I wouldn't mind a tumble in the sheets with, if he ever offered. It's just too bad that our relations were strictly platonic.
He finished, setting the bottle before me as he sank languidly into one of the four remaining chairs. His hand automatically went down to fiddle with the antique handgun on his thigh, "not a bad way to start off a cycle though."
But I'd had enough, and sent the booze straight back to Taylor. I'd like to say that out of all of us, I knew when enough was enough because the rest of the crew ran off it like water. Taylor and I still had to test out the coolant, and I wanted to be sober when Duke came off shift; he was in for a sleep cycle of hurt.
Talk of the Devil.
Duke, thick headed muscle man, something up his ass 24/7 a cycle, opened the cockpit's door and wandered in. He gave a callous smirk, "Nice ride there, Gwyn?"
"I'm not cooking your rations for the next twenty shifts," I boldly stated, "you can burn them yourself."
Slap to the face. Gwyn 1, Duke 0.
To make his situation worse, I deftly stole the booze bottle back from Taylor and determinately chugged the remaining amber liquor. Take away a man's meals and he'll go hungry, take away a man's daily booze and he might as well die. I felt mighty high of myself after that, slamming the empty bottle on the table and standing up-
A loud deafening BOOM rent the air. I collided into the table with a painful smack, the bottle hit the floor and shattered. My vision swam, unfocusing, not registering the fact that people had been violently thrown from their chairs, or smashed into walls. A spray of smoke shot forth, an alarm blared above my head. Sparks, warning lights, atmosphere leak!
I gasped and stumbled up, clutching at my bruised side. It felt raw and wet; a hiss escaped my clenched teeth.
Then I spotted the chief, cowboy hat across the floor and a horrible gash to the side of his skull, "Taylor!" I shook his shoulder, "Taylor wake up! Your baby's in trouble!"
Heat of a fire on my skin; Herrick stumbled into the cockpit, rushing to strap himself down. He disappeared from my line of sight, but I heard his rough curse, and the system check he ran through, pulling down handles to equalize the pressure.
"Come on!" Duke helped grab Taylor under the arms, "get him up!"
Another explosion, and Taylor lurched forwards from my grasp as I stumbled to keep balance, glass cutting into my feet. It hurt badly, but there was no time for the pain. I caught hold of Taylor again and helped Duke strap him into a flight chair.
"Where the fuck is Doc?" Duke roared and sped down the hall, "Doc, Doc, you lazy son'of'a'bitch!"
Something behind me banged, the sound of metal grating on metal, ripping down the side of the ship!
"What the hell are you doing to her, Herrick!" I shrieked as I stumbled into the cockpit, just in time to see- "Sweet mother of god!" -the main engine drifting away. Even as we watched, the planet's gravity drew its course, letting the main thrusters burn into nothingness. The Betsy Daisy was falling from the sky, and there was nothing we could do about it!
We would be the same in the matter of moments.
"I'm dumping our cargo!" Herrick reached above his head to a red handle, "It's our only chance!" The crank came down with a push, and I knew the locking mechanisms that held the crew part of the ship to the business part had disengaged, but we were still moving forwards. Duke took the copilots chair, hitting switches and releasing flaps on the ship to increase drag.
I hated myself for thinking the planet was beautiful half an hour before. I hated that I was going to die in this cramped space, nothing left but ashes burnt up by entering the atmosphere. I knew either it would hurt a lot or not at all.
Things that happen like this, this far out in the reaches of mans known universe you never come back from. Alive, that is.