Disclaimer: The author does not own Aliens.
"Passenger ship Moebius now disembarking at gate twelve," drawled the automated voice of the space stations PA system as the gate opened and the crowd of passengers entered Titan Station. The crowd moved as one bustling, jostling mass of humanity as it flowed to and fro. One in the crowd, though, was different.
"Hey! Watch it, Mac!" said a man in a suit as he shoved the young man aside. The young man watched as the man disappeared into the crowd and shook his head.
"Some people . . .," he mused as he adjusted his backpack and headed deeper into the station.
The young man was a little on the tall side, but was fairly thin, giving him a slightly lanky appearance. His short, sandy blonde hair hung low over his green eyes. His torn blue jeans and faded green jacket made him look very ordinary, and that was how he liked it. He made his way to a café and bought a bottle of water from a machine before sitting down. He sighed as he set his backpack down and opened his water. He watched the people rush about. He watched people go about their routines for a few minutes before he fished out a slip of paper from his pocket and read it.
KYLE T. WILLIAMS, TECH-ENGINEER, WEYLAND-YUTANI CORP. NO.110-209-9369.
TITAN STATION, APARTMENT 104, DISTRICT 7.
He took out the keycard to his new apartment and looked at the shiny piece of plastic before putting it and the slip away. He drank the last of his water in silence before he stood and headed for District Seven. He tossed the empty bottle into the recycling bin with unerring aim as he walked by.
This was Kyle's second transfer in two years, but, that was the life of a W-Y tech. As he walked, nobody paid him any mind. They never did. Kyle was the kind of person who didn't really stand out. A fact he was grateful for. In his experience, being noticed hadn't led to good things. He walked through the sprawl of Titan Station for what seemed like hours before he finally found his destination. Like all apartments on a space station, they were small and crammed together as tight as they could manage. With a weary groan, he slid his card in the slot and opened the door of apartment 104.
The small apartment was just big enough for one person. The only furnishings were a bed, table and one chair. Kyle dropped his backpack by the bed and checked the kitchenette and bathroom. After washing his face, he removed his jacket and jeans and climbed into the small bed. The apartment felt cold and still. It wasn't very cold, but it felt that way. Kyle closed his green eyes as he tried to get to sleep. He had to be up early for work the next day. He vaguely wondered, for a moment, why he felt cold at night, but quickly shoved the thought to the back of his mind. Kyle tended to avoid introspection for one very good reason:
It was far too painful.
The next day, Kyle arrived at work bright and early, his ID card hanging around his neck from a lanyard. He quickly presented himself at the Tech Office and met his new manager.
The rest he was well-used to: learn the areas he was to attend to, where everything was, who he reported to and the usual. Kyle wasn't too surprised his shift was the longest, but that suited him fine.
Kyle took to the new routine and workplace with well-practiced expertise. He was nothing, if not adaptable. Kyle was a little surprised that a few of the people actually said hello, but he only politely waved before continuing his duties. In Kyle's line of work, he rarely had to do anything really difficult, although such things were well-within his capability. Most of it was menial labor, the technological equivalent of a janitor. This suited Kyle just fine. Soon, the young blonde had developed a relatively comfortable routine.
Although some of his co-workers were interested in the new transfer at first, they quickly moved on as he blended in and faded into the background as he usually did. Kyle approached his duties calmly and silently. Indeed, apart from what was needed to report, he never said a word to other people at work. Kyle always took his lunch later than the others and alone. Kyle became something of an enigma that nobody particularly wanted to solve.
Days began to melt into weeks, then months. Despite the comfort of a routine, with it came the extra time for his mind to wander; something Kyle loathed, as his mind usually wandered into subjects he tried not to think about. One of them was his past, the other, which his damn fool mind was currently on, was where he was going in life. Kyle had joined W-Y at eighteen, and been a tech-engineer for three of the five years he was employed. He lived a fairly austere lifestyle. He didn't drink, use drugs or other stupid things, but he also didn't hang out or have friends.
He had tried that with nearly-disastrous results. He spent his money carefully, and saved wisely, but he never knew for what.
As he sat at the table in the lunch room, the thought pounded in his head particularly hard.
Where was he going in life?
He didn't have friends, or family. He didn't really have dreams or aspirations. His only hobbies were reading and, on occasion, painting. Kyle frowned as he crushed the plastic bottle in his hand. He hated it when his mind wandered like that.
"Hey, you all right?" Kyle looked up at Tom, the janitor. Kyle blinked before shaking his head.
"Yeah. Just . . . lost in thought, I guess," he said as he scooped up his PDA and tossed the crushed bottle in the trash. Tom nodded, his bushy gray brows furrowed.
"Let me guess: Girl trouble?" Kyle stopped dead in his tracks and looked at Tom, one sandy blonde eyebrow raised. Tom, the elderly janitor, was one of the very few, if not the only person, who paid him any mind on a regular basis. Kyle shook off his surprise and shook his head. Tom only smiled. "Or is it a lack of a girl?" Now Kyle was really befuddled, his head tilted to the side as he eyed the old man.
Tom chuckled in his peculiar way as he returned to his cart. "A nice lady to spend your nights with makes this mean old world a little less cold. Trust me." Tom looked at Kyle and winked. "You'll find her. Or, maybe, she'll find you . . ." With that, Tom disappeared to his duties, the same as Kyle did.
For a few weeks after that, Kyle thought on what Tom said. It wasn't that the thought hadn't crossed Kyle's mind before, but no women had ever shown interest in him before, nor had any particularly caught his fancy. As such, Kyle was shocked when his mind suddenly collected all the disparate, scattered thoughts and feelings into one, solid and inescapable conclusion:
Kyle stopped in the middle of screwing the ends of two cables together when the thought hit him like a star-freighter. He was shocked, bewildered, embarrassed and confused all at the same time. He shook his head and he gave a growl as he finished screwing the cables together and took his lunch break. This was just the sort of thing he tried so hard to avoid thinking about.
However, there was no escaping his mind's logic. Kyle wanted to deny it. Oh, how he wanted to. He took a sip of his water and sat there for untold minutes as his traitorous mind hammered the point home even harder.
At last he shook his head and tossed the bottle away. He stood and ran his fingers through his hair. Kyle huffed as he returned to his duties, determined not to let this new train of thoughts get the better of him.
The next day, Kyle came to work a little later than usual. That night, he had dreamed of walking down a road in a forest, someone holding his hand. He had felt so warm and comfortable. Kyle was not the sort of person who dreamed very often, so this new development had shaken him, somewhat. Perhaps it was his shaken and irritated mien, perhaps it was the recent rash of unwelcome realizations, whatever the case was, Kyle had been distracted enough from his duties that he actually checked the notices on his PDA about things other than downed terminals or broken wires that needed his attention. As he scrolled through the notices, one caught his eye.
ATTENTION EMPLOYEES: A SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT IS AVAILABLE IN THE SCIENCE DIVISION! NOW ACCEPTING VOLUNTEERS! EXTRA CREDITS FOR ACCEPTING! HURRY WHILE THIS POSITION IS OPEN!
(NOTE: CANDIDATE MUST PASS SCIENCE OFFICER'S REQUIREMENTS)
Kyle raised an eyebrow at this as he blinked. Kyle had always had a bit of a knack for science.
As he worked, he kept thinking on the notice. By the time his lunch break came, he made up his mind. Instead of taking lunch, he headed for the manager's office.
Before that day, Kyle had only been in the manager's office when he first came to work there.
Naturally, Fred, the manager of the Tech Division, was surprised to see him. He looked up from his screen and looked quite surprised to see the person most people had come to call "Spook" in his office.
"Oh, Kyle. What brings you into this neck of the woods?" Fred asked. Kyle cleared his throat as he stood in front of the desk. Kyle was actually much taller than Fred had ever known, standing a good three inches taller than him. Fred, a man in his late thirties with thinning brown hair, adjusted his glasses as Kyle stood in front of his desk.
"I came about the special assignment in the Science Division." Fred stared for a few moments before he recovered.
"Oh, right. Well, uh . . ." Fred rooted around for a second before he fished out three pages stapled together and handed them to the tall blonde. Kyle looked the forms over and thanked Fred before turning and leaving.
Over lunch, Kyle filled out the forms and returned them to Fred before returning to his duties.
Kyle never expected such quick results.
No sooner had he arrived for work the next day, than he was asked to come to Fred's office. Kyle was a little surprised to see a stranger in the office. The man was not quite as tall as Kyle was, and had short white hair and a trimmed beard. Fred was talking with him when Kyle entered. "Ah, Kyle!" Fred motioned to the man. "This is Dr. Alan Reinhardt, the lead Science Officer on the project." Dr. Reinhardt shook Kyle's hand and then seated himself.
"So, young man, I hear you want to volunteer for our little project?" Kyle simply nodded.
Dr. Reinhardt looked over several pages in his hand. "My, my, you've been with us quite a while, my boy! Very impressive." Kyle blinked but remained standing where he was. Dr. Reinhardt flipped through the pages and eyed Kyle, as if sizing him up. "I don't see any medical records here, Mr. Williams," The Dr. stated. Kyle gave a small shrug.
"I don't get sick that often," he replied. Dr. Reinhardt gave a small smile, but Kyle felt it was far from friendly. Something about Dr. Alan Reinhardt felt . . . off for some reason.
"Well, that is good to hear. However, we do need to have you checked out before we accept you. Would you object to a physical?" Kyle inwardly cringed but hid it well.
"Not at all." Dr. Reinhardt once again smiled. It seemed self-assured, even a little cocky.
"Very well, then." Dr. Reinhardt wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to Kyle. "Report to Medical for your check-up. As soon as you pass, we'll file the necessary paperwork."
Kyle nodded and left for the Medical Division.
Kyle had hardly ever been as relieved to be out of someplace as he was to be out of the doctor's office. He was pretty sure the doctor was a closet sadist. He rubbed his sore arm and frowned as he trudged back to Fred's office, wondering if the extra credits were worth it. As he walked, he wondered just what in all the cosmos had possessed him to volunteer for this. He didn't really need the extra money, did he? The thought of ducking out crossed his mind, but, oddly enough, he rejected it. Despite himself, he smiled as he returned to Fred's office that afternoon. Sometimes a change was needed, and this was a big change indeed.
Kyle was a little surprised to find that Dr. Reinhardt was still there, reading over the fax the doctor at the Medical Division had sent. Dr. Reinhardt smiled that same smile that made Kyle uncomfortable as he entered the office. "Well, you pass, my boy! You'll ship out to our facility tomorrow." Kyle raised an eyebrow at that.
"What facility? Isn't this being done here?" Kyle asked. Dr. Reinhardt smiled as he patted Kyle on the back.
"Ah, my boy, such scientific excellence needs to be done in its own environment. It's an art form, you know . . .," said Dr. Reinhardt as he placed the papers in his briefcase. He handed Kyle a slip of paper with a map. "The ship is docked at gate four. Be there at eight o'clock sharp." With that, Dr. Reinhardt left the office. Kyle sighed and looked at the map. At least he wouldn't have trouble finding it. He looked at Fred, who looked vaguely worried for some reason. Fred smiled at Kyle.
"Sorry to lose you, Kyle. You've been a great worker." Kyle blinked, not used to being complimented.
"Um, thanks. It's been nice working with you." For some reason, Fred looked even more worried at hearing this, but he quickly hid it.
"I had your last check deposited in your account. You should go get ready." Kyle nodded. With that, Kyle left the office and headed for his apartment. He didn't have that much to pack, so he spent the evening reading. Kyle had always loved mysteries and spy novels. He finally managed to get to sleep a little past midnight.
The next morning found him at gate four right on time. He couldn't help raising an eyebrow at the name of the ship. The U.S.S. Proteus. Kyle didn't know why, but he felt a shiver go down his spine at the sight of the massive vessel through the window. He felt like he was crossing a threshold of some sort, and there was no going back. He took a deep breath, straightened up, adjusted his backpack, and walked down the boarding lock. He was greeted by three men in white lab coats. He showed them the papers and was ushered in as the Proteus moved away from the dock and began its journey. Once they were underway, he was shown to the Cryogenic chamber. Kyle gave a groan as he put his clothes and backpack in a locker. He really wasn't a big fan of freezers. He always felt cold, stiff and miserable when he woke up. As he put on the electrodes to monitor his vitals, he felt his heart was a little faster than normal. He shook his head as he climbed in and the tube closed around him and the lights dimmed. He sighed as he felt himself drift off to sleep for the duration of the voyage.
It seemed like no time at all had passed when he awoke to the sounds of people talking and lights turning on. He groaned as he sat up and coughed. He rolled his head as he felt his sense of balance return. Yet another thing he loathed about freezers was they seemed to make him dizzy when he woke up. He stayed where he was, picking off electrodes as he let his equilibrium return. When he was certain he wouldn't fall over, he stood and retrieved his clothes. Once he was dressed, he followed the guides through the maze of passages and hallways.
He wasn't quite sure where he left the Proteus and entered the . . . wherever he was, but he was sure whoever designed it had to have been drunk. He never saw any windows, so he wasn't sure if he was on a space station, or a planet. There wasn't anything unusual about the gravity, or the air to suggest he was on a planet, nor was there any sign he was in space. Finally, the lab coated guides stopped in front of two glass doors as Dr. Reinhardt approached, reading something on a clipboard. He smiled when he saw Kyle. Despite the obvious months that had elapsed, the man's smile still made Kyle uneasy.
"Ah, Mr. Williams. Welcome to our laboratory. If you will follow me, we'll get you settled for your stay with us . . ." Dr. Reinhardt turned and led the way, not even looking up from what he was reading. Kyle let his eyes glance around as he followed, taking in the general feel of the lab. The walls were all white, while the floors and ceilings were gray metal. The doors were mostly the sliding glass types, but some were made of metal.
"So, might I ask what I'm here for?" Dr. Reinhardt looked back and smiled again.
"We need tissue samples for an experiment in growing new organs, my boy. But, very few people can meet the very specific genetic requirements we need. Fortunately, you do. Consider yourself very lucky, my boy, you're about to make history!" Kyle raised an eyebrow at that.
"What kind of tissue do you need?" Kyle asked, a little intrigued, but still having a strange feeling in his gut about the whole thing. Dr. Reinhardt motioned for Kyle to enter the room before him. Kyle walked into the room and knew it was a room for a medical patient.
"Organ tissues. Some from the lymph nodes, but especially some from the heart, lungs, liver and spleen. These are they key, you see!" Dr. Reinhardt chuckled at his joke, and Kyle shivered. Kyle decided that Dr. Reinhardt was a creepy man through and through. His smile, the way he walked, even his laugh made him nervous.
"Um, how much tissue do you need?" Kyle tried not to sound nervous. Dr. Reinhardt patted him on the back.
"Not much. You'll hardly miss it. But, since it is surgery, you will need to be anesthetized." Kyle gave a soft groan and rolled his eyes at the thought of being knocked out again, but he was in too far to go back. Dr. Reinhardt smiled as he held the clipboard under his arm. "Don't worry. You'll get plenty of ice cream." Dr. Reinhardt winked and Kyle felt another shiver go through him.
"Thanks. Uh, when do we do this?" Kyle asked, hoping the Doctor would just hurry up and leave.
"Tonight. For your information, that's four hours from now. So, why don't you make yourself comfortable in the mean time?" Kyle nodded and couldn't help a relieved sigh when the Doctor finally left. Kyle set his backpack on the bed and sat down, pulling out a book to read. He shook his head as he pulled out one of his spy novels and opened it to his bookmark.
Elsewhere in the lab, Dr. Reinhardt was walking through the hallway as a woman in a lab coat with long brown hair came up to him.
"Everything is ready, sir. We can begin anytime," she said calmly. Dr. Reinhardt looked at her briefly before he looked back at the papers.
"Very good. How is the specimen?" he asked.
"Still in stasis. Is the host suitable?" she asked. He shot her a cold look.
"You know as well as I do the host is largely irrelevant. The end result is all that matters, Catherine . . . " She nodded as they walked. They stopped at a large metal door and Dr. Reinhardt held his ID in front of a scanner, which beeped, and the door opened. They walked into the slightly dim room and stopped in front of a narrow window. Dr. Reinhardt smiled at the sight within.
A large, leathery oval, about three feet tall, sat on a table, enshrouded by a beam of blue light. His smile turned into a toothy grin. "This is all that matters. The very last of its kind. I can still hardly believe our luck . . . " He watched as the leathery ovoid pulsed with inner life.
"If it's a queen, as we hope, it won't be for long . . . "
Kyle had been reading for what only seemed like minutes before a woman came in.
"Hello. My name is Catherine. I'm the head surgeon here. We're prepping for surgery, so if you would get into the surgical gown in the drawer, we'll get you ready." Kyle slid his bookmark back in and swung his legs off as he stood. Catherine was about average height for a woman. Her long brown hair was unbound and her smile was a world better than Dr. Reinhardt's. She looked a little surprised that Kyle was as tall as he was.
"My, my. Tall one. Take after your father?" Kyle flinched at that. He cleared his throat as he slid his book into his backpack.
"Don't really know. Never knew him." he replied flatly as he took out the hospital gown and set it on the bed. Catherine's smiled faded.
"I'm sorry." Kyle shook his head.
"Just let me get dressed." Catherine nodded and turned to leave.
"Just press the call button when you're ready." With that, she left. Kyle sighed and shook his head as he undressed and slid the hospital gown on. He left his boxer shorts on.
Once he was satisfied, he pressed the call button. Catherine reappeared and instructed Kyle to follow her. He followed her to the surgery suite, where she had him lay on the bed. The room was filled with state-of-the-art devices and gadgets of all kinds.
Catherine switched on monitors and screens as she attached electrodes to read his vitals to his chest and neck. Kyle felt nervous as she wheeled him into the surgery room. She hooked up the small computer at the side of the bed to a larger one as she took a mask and turned some knobs on a tank. "Okay, Kyle. Take a deep breath for me." Kyle sighed and inhaled the strange gas. He immediately felt woozy as the room began to blur. "Now, Kyle, I want you to count backwards from one hundred," Catherine instructed.
Kyle began to count, the world getting fuzzier as he did. He was dimly aware of the door to the surgery room opening. He could just barely make out the shapes of two men wheeling a cart of some sort. His vision was hazy, but it looked to his eyes like it had a blue glow to it. As he fell asleep, he vaguely saw the glowing cart next to his bed.
Author's note: I want to thank my good friend LadeeKittee for her help, inspiration and insight. The title was her idea. Thanks, Kit!