Science Fiction Aliens: Eternal Lie
The following is the product of several slow days at work. The way it was written does not include all the behind the scenes mechanics, but I assure you, I was on the edge of my seat awaiting the results of dice rolls, I hope you will be too. This is part one of several.


"That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die."
    -HP Lovecraft

The frigid void of space clung all around, its glittering assortment of stars holds little comfort in this black place. Passing through it like a dark ripple on a still pond. a ribbed, egg shape passed. Its glistening frame both a rigid mechanical design, and some kind of perverted mockery of life. A bone machine shaped and twisted into a bio-mechanical shell and then cast into the abyss.
Alongside, dwarfed by its scale, glided the rough and boxy frame of a United States Colonial Salvager, the Fidanza like a remora to a shark.
The distance between the ships was enormous, but shrinking steadily. As the kilometers closed, the egg-thing’s gross size difference became obvious.
Ogling the thing through inches of artificial diamond viewports stood a man named Rogers. Roger’s cold blue eyes fixed on the thing, unblinking, almost uncomprehending.
“Captain Rogers? Sir?”
The voice was enough to break his gaze, a simple blink and the ominous shape became another silhouette on the star field.
Rogers was a naval man, from a naval family. Fishermen back on Earth, here by Kodiak the trawling tradition continued, in this case, deep space salvage instead of fish.
“Sir, Talby still can’t raise Kodiak on the long range.”
“Alright," Rogers said, again fixing his eyes on the strange shape.
“Sir?” The first mate remained. “Any idea what it is?”
Rogers stared at the silent ovoid as it loomed larger in the viewport. “I’ll tell you this much Doolittle,” Rogers said, “we’re about to find out.”
Less than an hour later, the Fidanza was docked with the ovoid. As they had been unable to locate an appropriate docking orifice, the crew of the Fidanza had used the automated cutter arms mounted on the side of their ship to slice a circular gash in the derelict hull, finalizing the connection with inflatable seals and grappler arms. Thus attached, the away team geared up to board it.
Rogers stood framed in the doorway, his four crewmates stood around him, testing flashlights and scanning tech, quiet murmurs and uneasy jokes did little to alleviate the tension that was palpable in the air. The dark circle of the derelict interior now stood before the team, stretching out like a horizontal wellshaft.
Rogers looked around the small cargo room to the other salvagers on his team and pulled on his rebreather hood, “Alright guys, check your seals and let’s go. Pinback,” Rogers said, now addressing his radio system, “Keep the ship warm for u.”
His radio replied affirmative. Rogers then keyed the panel on the side of the airlock hatch that activated the automatic scout drone.
With a low rumble, the drone rolled ahead to check the ship and the salvagers followed after it, beams playing across the walls of the alien vessel as they entered it.
“Let’s stay close” Rogers said, his breath echoing in his ears, “Get to the heart of this thing and find out what it’s worth,”
The salvagers trudged past him into the ship, examining the bizarre designs on the wall, hoping to make sense of something.
"Really just dumb luck we found it, eh cap’?" One asked as he stepped past Rogers.
The captain looked up at the rib-like wall braces. "Yeah, dumb luck." he muttered, turning away from his ship and following in the wake of the dancing beams of light as they pressed into the shadowy belly of the vessel.
The Featherstone Systems office was cramped and its style already looking a bit outdated, especially when compared to the central offices on Earth, or even the orbital branch on Gateway. Lieutenant Paris suspected that this was because the branch office he was currently sitting in, was on Kodiak, about as far from Earth as you could get and still be within the Network. As far as Featherstone was concerned, it was a nowhere placement, however the Colonial Marine Corps viewed the situation differently.
As a military branch, the Marine Corps was much more concerned with the demarcation line very near Kodiak, the border, commonly known as "the Pale" that separated the "American Arm" from territory controlled by the New Danzig Pact. The Pact began life as a colonial separatist movement, a mining rebellion that seized control of a number happened during the collapse of the so-called "Deep-Space Bubble" when many of the colonial corporate powers suffered enormous financial loss brought on by over speculation.
While on earth, stock markets were crashing and company shareholders were clamoring for blood, on New Danzig, the on-world miners staged a series of protests for more company shares that culminated in a revolt that led to the Danzigians seizing a number of neighboring worlds and declaring a mutual defense pact to prevent the return of Colonial control and denying any corporate presence.
Ever since then, the NDP had been a thorn in the side of American colonial authorities, frequently bankrolled by rival colonial powers.
Somewhat surprisingly, Paris had not been invited to the Featherstone Systems office because of the Pact, at least, not directly.
The company man slid a manila file folder across the mirrored, obsidian black surface of his desk to Paris.
The Marine officer read the label aloud. "Fidanza?"
The branch manager gave a grim, harried smile. It was a look that said his work was more important than this simple Lieutenant's would ever be, and that he was too busy to explain even the smallest details. Despite this, he saw an explanation was expected.
"The Fidanza is a colonial salvage ship,” The company man began, “Based here, out of Kodiak Starport. It’s equipped with a state of the art detection suite and propulsion system, both designed and financed by Featherstone Systems. It went missing while doing a routine trawling expedition near the pale."
"How can the Marines help you, sir?" Paris asked, already knowing what the manager wanted.
"Fidanza is a large investment on our part, not just in material, but in manpower, there are fifteen people on that ship including a direct employee of Featherstone systems. The colonial patrol is stretched to the break point just watching for smuggling operations over the Pale. We are asking your ship to join the search for the Fidanza to bring them back safe before it is too late."
Paris didn't hesitate, he knew his duty even if he also knew it was scut work that civilian rescuers should be handling.
"Of course sir, the colonial marine corps is happy to assist you."
The manager smiled at the answer he knew was coming. "There is . . . Another matter to discuss regarding the Fidanza"...
The USS Shadow Line was a Conestoga Class frigate, old by warship standards, but still capable. It cut a menacing figure as it sailed the void, a forest of antennas marked its nose and the bristle of weapons batteries covered its centerline. On the surface, Shadow Line was placid and calm, but inside, electronic circuits fired away madly as the shipboard computer collated data given to it by sensors dotting the ship. Radar, infrared and Lidar. All of these detection methods were currently honed in on a drifting spacecraft, identified by automated response systems as the Fidanza.
The Shadow Line was built for stealth, but was blazing like a Christmas tree from banging away with active sensors. The Fidanza was pinned in this electronic spotlight, but the enormous egg-shaped craft it was attached to was another story. At first the computer couldn't be sure it wasn't a sensor glitch, until the ship drew close enough to be verified vialightwave detection. The craft gave off no heat, and radar waves passed through like X-rays through fiberglass.
Once satisfied it had the right ship, the Shadow Line sent a tight beam message to the Fidanza, requesting general ship info.
The response it received was standard, all systems nominal, the crew was currently away from post on a salvage operation.
Satisfied, the Shadow Line central computer signaled the cryo-sleep computer to begin reviving the marine sections on board.
The hiss of gasses and a rush of warm air woke up Jonathan Baker with a shiver.

"Marines!" Sergeant Powers barked as he sat up from his cryo tube.
"Not this shit." Alvarez muttered from the tube next to Baker's.
"Rise and Shine!" Powers was now stalking the tube line, "This could be a combat wake! You want the girls of second platoon to be in position before us?"
"No sergeant!" The reply came from a few unenthused lips. Jonathan echoed the cry, his voice parched from disuse.
"Ace!" Powers shouted, addressing Jonathan by his more commonly used nickname. "Alvarez! I am sensing a lack of espirit de corps! I hear that the Second Platoon needs some education in warfare!"
Ace and Alvarez both stood on the frigid metal deck plate and braced for what they knew was coming, their apprehension marked by the snickers of their fellow Marines.
"What makes the green grass grow!?" Powers asked, his eyes alive with martial fire.
"Blood! Blood! Bright red blood!" Both men shouted in unison.
"Goddam right!" Powers laughed, "Now come on guys, this ain't a combat scenario, let’s gets prepped and ready to save these salvagers."
Ace followed his platoon to the ready room where they began to dress and suit up. The roof was littered with flashing alert lights, informing the marines of the nearby contact that pulled them from hyper sleep. Under ordinary procedure, the marines would wake and eat before they arrived at target, with the contact a random chance, they had to rely on the computer to determine the need to wake the marines.
Ace was pulling on his combat armor when Lieutenant Paris stood up on a nearby cafeteria table.
"Alright marines, you read the briefing materials, we talked over this before we left Kodiak,"
Ace finished buckling up his shin guards and straightened up.
"We have positive identification of the Fidanza, no response from the crew, but life support is active, we'll be conducting a boarding procedure and assess the situation form there. This means we go in vacuum suits and bring rescue gear."
Here, Paris paused. "The Fidanza isn't alone."
A quiet murmur went through the ranks.
"Hey, Vassilli," Ace whispered to the lance corporal beside him. Vasili Cherdenko was a bad ass, Russian immigrant, formerly of the Russian Colonial Marines who instead migrated to American Space and changed his loyalties. "Does this mean Pact?" Ace had been living beneath the shadow of Pact incursion long enough that the chance to finally throw down appealed to him.
Vasilli just grunted.
"The contact exhibits stealth properties we haven't seen before, it’s a miracle the Fidanza discovered it at all."
"Lucky bastards," Corporal Jessica Fall said from Ace's other side. Her characteristic sarcasm laid on thick and heavy.
"Because of these unique properties, recovering this other craft is a priority." Paris finished. "Layouts are standard boarding action, we'll be forgoing smart guns, those who carry them will be bringing additional incinerators and shotguns.
"Hoorah!" The Marines cried in unison, storming out of the mess hall and into the armory, weapons were distributed and zero-g vacuum suits put on under their armor. Ace was not a fan of the suits which were of minimal use in combat, although in the event of a sudden de pressurization on the ship, it could save his life.
Both platoons once suited up, each boarded a drop ship which were both detached and began the short flight to the Fidanza. In the cargo hold, Powers' platoon stood, waiting to debark and holding cargo straps, trying to remain standing.
Once the drop ship had come near enough, it matched velocity with the Fidanza and dropped its ramp.
Framed against the still silence of space hung the malformed egg ship and Fidanza attached to it like a parasite.
"Jesus Christ," Ace said in a low exhale.
"No way that's the Pact," Alvarez said "you ever seen anything like that?"
"I've . . . Heard stories," Corporal Fall said, her usual bravado sucked away by the sight of the thing.
Powers clicked on his radio to broadcast to the whole unit. "1st Platoon in position, ready to begin boarding procedure."
"Affirmative, 1st platoon move in and separate by squads, we'll enter by the ventral air locks,” Paris replied.
In unison, the platoon disengaged their magnetic boots and pushed off toward the Fidanza. A volley of magnet grapples sailed forward to latch onto the distant hull.
"Fall, take your squad to the near airlock," Powers said, "I'll take Patterson and her squad around to the far airlock. This is an Ikari-Soryu made salvager, so we should be able to follow the passages to the main crew quarters and link up."
Ace hung firmly to his grapple as it reeled him toward the Fidanza. His breath rasped in the confines of his fishbowl helmet.
Ace's standard M4 pattern helmet was clipped to his armor, jangling against his kit as he floated forward. "This is nuts," Ace said.
"Yeah? Well now your nuts are leading the way, Ace," Fall said.
Ace swore quietly "You got it, Fall" he said. Seconds later, the squad, had landed on the hull of the Fidanza.
Ahead of him, Alvarez landed, the hand-painted apple on his back maintaining its vivid redness even in the harsh glare from Ace's helmet lights. The small detail of the worm poking from the apple was barely visible, the caption at the top and bottom "Eat the Apple, Fuck the Corps" washed out in the high lights.
The four man squad began the slow crawl across the surface of the Fidanza until they reached the airlock hatch. From the squad's perspective magnetized to the side of the hull, the hatch was on the floor.
"Okay, Ace," Fall said, unhooking her pulse rifle and angling it down at the door. "You're up."
Ace seized a hold of a handle near the airlock and disengaged his boots, dropping down to hang in front of the hatch. He carefully keyed the hat h release on the access panel.
"Corporal, the door is locked down, it looks like the whole ship is on lock down."
"Let's blow the god damn thing," Vasili said.
"Belay that," Fall replied, "Ace, can you bypass it?"
Ace reached behind his back and carefully unclipped his hacking tool and brought it around in front of himself.
Using a spare carabineer clip, Ace secured himself to the hand hold so not to drift off and used both hands to free the access hatch below the panel, revealing the emergency release handle and inner circuits of the door mechanism.
If he had to use the release handle the air lock may stop functioning correctly which could mean a harder time getting inside the ship if there was a risk of venting the entire atmosphere.
After a moment of careful button pushing, Ace grinned behind his face plate as the lights on the console flashed to green.
"Yo, Fall!" Ace said, "I got it!" He turned his head and saw the corporal standing over him, the two "Dia de los Muertos" style skulls on her shoulder plates grinning down on him and framing the scythe drawn on her chest plate. "Time’s up" written under its handle.
"Good job, Ace. Celebrate by taking point." She replied. The four man squad shuffled into the airlock and cycled it. The hiss of air drowned out all sounds in the suit and then Ace could hear the movement of the Marines around him. The flamethrower and shotgun slung on his back clattered together as he shifted in position while artificial gravity took hold.
"Alright, Ace, Vasilli, let’s go." Fall said.
Ace took point and opened the door with another key push.
The passageway ahead was silent and sterile, branching to both the left and right.
Without being asked, Vassili took out his motion tracker and keyed it on. The distinct sonic tapping started up, echoing in the silent ship.
"Hello?" Fall called. "This is Corporal Jessica Fall, United States Colonial Marine Corps! Permission to come aboard?"
Silence greeted her. She turned to Vassili. "Anything?"
Almost before age asked, a rhythmic pinging sounded.
"Yes, movement," Vassilli said, "Seventy Five meters."
Fall waved her arm ahead and the Marines trudged forward down the hall.
"Powers? We have movement on the ship, hard to lock on the contact, but it looks to be coming from utility storage on B deck."
"Affirmative, go check it out, I'll take 2nd Squad and head for the bridge, see if we can pull the flight recorder or find some record or the crew. Weapons free, but check targets,"
"Got it," Fall said.
"And stay alert Marines, keep those triggers clear. We don't know if we're dealing with a Pact ship or not." Sergeant Powers added.
"Okay boys,“ Fall said, turning to look at the squad, "let’s go live."
Ace could see a thin sheen of sweat on her forehead. In the chill of recycled suit air, no way she could be hot, Fall was nervous. He'd only seen her nervous once before, on one of Sirius-B's moons, Costaguana, with the bugboys breathing down their necks and a fresh volley of mortar fire coming in, she had looked nervous. Now on this quiet ship, she was sweating.
"Weapons free?" Ace asked, "That’s not procedure on a rescue operation."
"Sergeant knows what he's doing," Fall replied automatically.
"This have something to do with what happened out on Zeta Reticuli?" Alvarez asked.
"Nothing happened out there but an accident." Fall replied.
Vasilli grunted, Ace wasn't sure if it was agreement or derision.
"An accident? Is that what happened to the Sulaco?" Alvarez pushes, "all those Marines."
"Bug stories?" Ace asked half joking.
"It's a load of bullshit," Fall replied, "chickenshit colonists have nothing better to talk about."
"What about the Merry Celestial?" Alvarez asked, still eying his tracker nervously as they approached the access ladder to lower and upper decks.
"The Merry Celestial?" Ace asked.
"Long distance cruise ship, pushing for Charon en route from Perdition's Flame. Never arrived, it passed through the Reticuli system too, just like Sulaco. Salvagers found it in deep space, crew and passengers all gone, lifeboat missing and food still cooking in the galley." Alvarez finished and eyed the squad.
"For fuck's sake, Alvarez-" Fall began.
"Private Alvarez, clear the channel, official discussion only," Paris broke in on the radio.
"Sir," Alvarez replied, turning to Ace he mouthed ‘Cover up’.
Ace wasn't sure he bought Alvarez's conspiracy theories but he suspected Fall might at the way the color drained from her face when he brought up the Lost Colony at Acheron and the Merry Celestial.
The team walked in silence until arriving at the ladder way. Alvarez peered down the hatchway, the lower deck was lit, but the motion was closer now, moving and stopping periodically.
"Ace, hop to it," Fall said, covering the hole with her pulse rifle.
Ace swallowed hard and traded a look with Alvarez. He swung his incinerator around by the strap until it hung on his back beside the shotgun. Once stowed, hand over hand he climbed down.
At the bottom he turned in a tight circle, drawing his flamethrower and again clicking it on with a push of his thumb. The hallway extended in three directions from here, most were partially obscured by steam discharge from the cooling state that lead to the server room on the ship.
"Ace?" Fall called down.
"Yeah I'm cool," he replied, trying to check every direction at once, expecting Pact commandos to storm from the shadows, or maybe even Alvarez's bugs, compound eyes and fangs and waggling antenna.
Instead, nothing happened.
"We're cool,” Ace finished and exhaled slowly.
Alvarez was the next to climb down.
"You two check the contact, could be a civie, Vassili and I will keep the line covered." Fall said.
Again the two Marines traded looks. Alvarez raised his pulse rifle and waved Ace on ahead.
Ace leveled the flamethrower forward and proceed into a cloistered hallway. Halfway down they reached the doorway to the utility storage. The door was half closed, held almost a foot off the floor. Ace wanted nothing more than to torch the room before opening it. Instead he and Alvarez moved into position and counted down. On three Ace slapped the open button and whirled into the room.
A cat sat on a bench in the tiny room. The cat meowed at him.
"Motion is a false alarm, platoon," Paris said over the com system, probably watching the squad's headcam units. "We have no other motion contacts, so let’s regroup on the bridge. Second section will begin boarding now."
The cat approached Alvarez who picked it up and scratched its head with a gloved hand.
"You heard him boys," Fall said, "quit screwing around and come on."
Ace rolled his eyes but dutifully started back for the ladderway. He looked back and saw Alvarez carrying the cat. The thing looked half starved and in poor shape. Patches of fur were missing and it was filthy, its fur matted and tangled.
"Are you bringing that nasty thing?" Ace asked.
Alvarez looked puzzled that Ace would ask him that. "It's just a cat, man," he said.
Ace laughed it off, tension easing somewhat, and clicked off his igniter.
The rest of the ship was searched in minutes, cryotubes, galley, crew quarters, all silent and empty. Ace ultimately found himself on the bridge of the ship. It was cramped and dark as was typical of starships of this type. A bank of control consoles overlooked a geodesic nosecone built of industrial-grade, artificial diamond.
Alvarez was seated at the astrogation console, the cat, “Fleabag”, seated in his lap, Fall and Vassili stood overlooking the control area.
Second platoon was also on the bridge and in the nearby galley milling around. The atmosphere was tense as they waited on the last sweep to finish up.
Second Squad under Corporal Selena Patterson was finishing rounds of the utility bay on the bottom of the Fidanza.
The Marines had taken off their helmets and life support gear once they had verified the ship was empty save the scraggly cat.
"Uhhh, okay Powers, we're clearing forward cargo storage." Patterson was saying over her mic. "Keep it loose people."
Ace leaned over the communications station beside him. He read the name plate silently.
There were pictures of women and tropical beaches and some of both. Ace tried to stay focused on Patterson's void. But he couldn't help wondering who the people on this ship were, and what happened to them.
"Zippo, watch that rover, watch for blind spots," Patterson guided her squad. "Alright, Sergeant Powers, we're nearing the last hatch and then we'll be in the docking ring."
"Keep it up, Patterson," Powers said, leaned over the console he was seated at, hand pressing his headset tight.
"Alright," Patterson said, "Okay, let’s do it. Zane, get the hatch."
There was a brief pause as her team got in position.
Ace could hear the apprehension in her voice. It was the same uncertainty he saw in Fall's face.
"Nichols," Patterson said, "Pop it."
"Aw fuck," Zane said.
"What the fuck is that?" Zippo added.
"It ain't the Pact, that's for sure." Patterson said in awe, to her credit she quickly recovered, "Uh, sir are you seeing all this?"
"Affirmative corporal," Lieutenant Paris entered the bridge at a rapid stride followed by the platoon's synthetic, Einfield. Paris was carrying a portable tv display showing the headcam feed of Patterson's squad. "Do not proceed into the alien craft-"
"Alien?" Ace exclaimed.
"-Einfield, get our tactical feed patched into the ship's computer."
"Of course," the Synthetic replied.
"I fucking knew it!" Alvarez blurted.
"Stow it!" Paris replied sharply. "Our mission objective remains the same, but now second objective, recover the ship, has a bit more clarity."
Einfield sat beside Ace and began tapping away at the console board, realigning transmitters and patching feeds with mechanical precision.
"Patterson, set up a remote motion tracker and get your team back up here."
"you're the boss" Patterson replied.
Paris assembled the two sections in one cramped meeting in the Fidanza's galley, 16 Marines, two sergeants, a lieutenant, a synthetic and a cat.
Patched in via radio were the two drop ship crews, four men total.
"I'm sure most of you have heard the rumors," Paris began. "About the colony at Acheron and the Sulaco. Well so has Marine Command. I was briefed on the possibility of encountering previously unreported alien life and technology."
There was a murmur in the ranks.
"We’ve had sketchy reports at best, including details of some sort of crashed ship alien on Acheron colony. However, with the accident on LV-426, Weyland-Yutani is exercising corporate non-disclosure to investigate the situation on the planet, but with the marine corps' discovery of this ship, we have a chance to discover the truth about these things."
The Marines were silent.
"I've filled the noncoms in on the details. As I've said, our mission is the same, find and rescue the salvagers, and recover the alien craft."
"What's on board sir?" A marine, Romeo, from second section asked.
"That's what your section will be finding out," Paris replied, Sergeant Waters will be taking his team across the umbilical, and into that ship. I suspect the salvagers are over there, and for reasons unknown can't or won't return."
Ace again thought of Alvarez's bug stories.
"Sir?" He called out. "What about the rumors of predatory xenomorphs?"
Paris looked at Ace for a moment and then cracked the smile.
"Is anyone in my platoon afraid of a few bugs?" He asked.
"Sir! No, Sir!" The platoon shouted in what was close to unison.
"Excellent, we'll be gearing up and going in, First section, you are going to finish up a more detailed sweep of the ship, and set up a command and triage station here."
Powers nodded.
"Sergeant Waters, take your section down to the utility bay and get prepped for a boarding action," Paris said.
Waters quickly whipped his section into shape and had them on the move.
Minutes later the section under Waters was assembled at the airlock door that led to the alien vessel. There was quiet conversation as helmets were donned and life support systems re engaged.
"Listen up team," Waters said while hoisting his pulse rifle. "Let’s get in there and get these people back."
"Hoo-rah," the Marines replied, slapping each other's backs and sometimes helmets as they assembled to go in.
Now they opened the airlock door and entered the alien ship.
"Hey corporal," Romeo said, gesturing to the hole carved into the ship by the cutting laser. "You ever see an edge like that?"
Corporal Verhard knelt by the edge, he noticed Romeo was right, what should have been a flat, smooth cut was rigid and lumpy.
"No way no laser cut that," Romeo insisted.
"Look's like its growing back . . . " Verhard answered.
"Man, let's go," Snow said, patting the back of Verhard's suit. "This place is fucking creepy,"
The three Marines stood and left the doorway, following the rest of the section down the ribbed, high arched hallway, more of a tube than anything else.
Klepacki, a marine in the front of the group shortly stepped into a sticky, webbed substance on the ground.
"Aw what the fuck," she moaned.
"Probably some kind of lubricant," Waters said quickly.
"wonder if it was to lubricate the salvagers," Hutchinson sniggered.
"Enough," Waters said, "Let’s get our shit together. Lieutenant, we're pushing on, this corridor . . . Or whatever it is, goes on quite a ways, we're following it in deeper."
On the bridge of the Fidanza, Paris nodded as he cycled through the headcam footage from second section. "That's affirmative, Waters."
"We're walking through some sort of viscous substance," Waters added, failing to keep his disdain out of his voice. "it’s clear the salvagers went this way, one of their probes left tracks."
The minutes wore on and the Marines wandered deeper into the ship. As they went further, transmission quality began to deteriorate more and more, and soon Paris lost communication with them.
"Something in that vessel is dampening all of our communication, so second section is going on alone. They have orders to report back within the hour," Paris said.
Fleabag meowed.
Alvarez quickly hushed the cat and resumed putting him.
"In the meantime, I want us to begin preparations to tow or fly this hulk back to Kodiak," Paris said.
"Sir," Powers said suddenly, "I may have an idea on how to boost our transmission power." He clasped his hands behind his back at parade rest and paused, "If Einfield and I could travel back to the Shadow line, it may be possible for us to reroute tactical come through the long range and get a stronger signal."
"Make it happen Powers," Paris replied, but quickly added, "Just get back asap, you know what we're up against"
Powers saluted. "Sir!" He spun in his heels and marched quickly out of the bridge, tapping Einfield who followed him.
Powers and Einfield were soon in the airlock on the port side of the ship.
Powers keyed in a private frequency on his radio.
"Martin," he said "Yeah, Einfield and I are here, come pick us up."
On one of the circling dropships, gunnery officer Peter "Puke" martin reached forward to tap his pilot.
"Val, we're moving. Powers needs a pickup," as Puke said it, he fought down panic. He usually slept like a baby in hypersleep, but for some reason he'd woken up with nightmares. Not just from what Powers had told him before they left Kodiak, but from something about the egg shaped craft that the Fidanza was attached to.
He dreamt, even before he had seen it somehow, that it split open and monsters came out.
"On it," Val said, all business.
As she fired rockets to approach the Fidanza, he saw the other olive drab insect buzzing around the Fidanza. He tried not to think about Jade and Harper on board. Everything would pay off in time, he decided.
Back on Fidanza, Paris was dividing up the team.
"Zippo, Nichols, I want you two conducting standard inspection of the engineering section, make sure everything is up and running," Paris began. "If there are any surprises, I want to know about them before hyper sleep."
Through the wide bridge window, Ace watched Valkyrie's drop ship sailing back toward the Shadow Line.
"Zane, corporal Patterson, you are watching the docking umbilical for anyone from Waters' team returning."
Second squad acknowledged, and began moving out.
"Fall, you'll hold bridge and galley, let's get Ace on the ship's computer to put together a timeline for the crew." Paris continued.
"Sir," Fall replied, "hop to it, Ace."
Ace adjusted his grip on the incinerator strap over his should and picked his way across the bridge to the primary ship's computer node.
After punching in the emergency override code provided by Featherstone Systems,he stepped into the small AI room.
After some adjustment of his gear, requiring him to shed both his shotgun and flame unit, Ace sat in the chair, rotating to face the small display unit ahead. A scuffed plaque above listed it as MOTHER v3.21 3730.
"Crew status, Mother," Ace typed.
Ace worked away minutes in silence, probing the ship's computer for any information that may be pertinent to the crew's survival.
Ace was able to ascertain the crew was all, in fact, off the ship, but not for what purpose or their last known condition. Mother's information was rather vague.
Ace sighed. It looked like the only way to find out what happened to the salvagers was to do exactly what Second section was doing, go into the ship.
Valkyries's drop ship redocked in Shadow Line's bay after just a minute of flight time.
Behind Valkyrie, Puke stood up.
"I sure hope this flight time is worth it, let's just say I'm glad I don't pay the corps' fuel bill," she said, pulling off her gloves.
"Sorry Val," Puke said, his voice heavy.
He fingered off the safety on his side arm and pumped two rounds into her back, between her shoulder blades.
She jumped twice in the seat, fighting for her buckle, eyes and mouth wide with confusion.
Puke swore and put another round into the back of her flight helmet.
Val's blood splashed across the windshield and flight console, and then everything was silent.
Puke was shaking as he re-holstered his pistol.  "I am sorry." He said, trying to think of the juicy, big company shares he was promised.
Satisfied his pilot was now dead, he opened the hatch to the passenger hold.
"You do it?" Sergeant Powers asked, peeling off his space suit.
"Yeah," Puke replied, "wasted."
"We should keep moving," Einfield said in his usual liquid calm voice. "Lieutenant Paris may call in for evac when he realizes what he has on his hands."
"Keep your shorts on," Powers replied as he finished changing out of his gear. "We've got time."
"Hey, maybe the robot is right, huh?" Puke said, "I mean, we do this wrong, no shares."
Powers ignored him. "Who made you anyway Einfield? Seegson? Tyrell?"
Einfield seemed mildly wounded. "Seegson has long been out of the android business, the marine corps contracts out with Hyperdyne."
"Hyperdyne huh?" Powers said, dropping the ramp of the ship with a few key presses. "Doesn’t it feel weird for you to work for Featherstone if you were made by a rival company?"
Einfield paused, "I don't feel anything about it."
Powers laughed as he led the trio onto the flight deck of the Shadow Line. "That's the thing about you synthetics," he said, pausing to spit on the deck plate he walked on. "No loyalty."
Ace stepped back onto the bridge of the Fidanza and saluted Paris.
"Nothing sir, whatever happened, the ship computer has no knowledge of it."
Paris swore but keyed on his radio. "Powers, any luck with the transmission boost?"
Powers cursed.
"Einfield and I still working on it sir, give me a few more minutes," Powers said, killing the com. "Einfield, we need those point defense weapons up, now!"
The synthetic said nothing as he continued typing on the console in the darkened bridge of the Shadow Line.
"Port side laser is online," Einfield said.
Puke pressed his face to the viewport to look at the tiny drop ship that still circled the Fidanza.
Powers hated to do it this way, he would have rather convinced both drop ship crews to join him, but Puke was the only one he trusted to follow his wild scheme.
"Target the drop ship, but let's wait until we're sure we need to take it out," Powers said.
Einfield looked at him for confirmation.
"Do not fire yet!" Powers reiterated.
Fleabag gave a low meow and began growling in Alvarez's arms.
"Whoah, it's okay buddy!" Alvarez began stroking the cat to try and relax it.
"Alvarez, if you can't handle the thing, go let it out," Fall said.
Fleabag suddenly began yowling and thrashing in Alvarez's arms, his fangs were bared and his claws extended, he was unable to find purchase on Alvarez's microweave suit however, and Alvarez dropped him.
"Christ!" Alvarez shouted.
"Get that fucking thing off my bridge!" Paris ordered.
Rather than land on its feet, the cat landed on its side and with another cry, sprayed blood from its mouth. The cat started to convulse on the ground.
Ace watched in horror as the animal's ribs rolled and expanded, like something was moving behind them.
Vasilli stepped forward to try and remove the animal.
"Wait!" Ace shouted to him.
Fleabag's skin ruptured in a fountain of blood and a small, black and slick thing burst out.
"Oh my god!" Ace cried.
"What the fuck is that?!" Fall shouted.
Alvarez was scrambling to bring up his pulse rifle.
The thing thrashed itself free of the cat's body which it was only slightly smaller than. Ace saw it gnashing silver teeth in the air as it fought its way loose.
Fleabag now lay still, his eyes open and unfocused.
Vassilli moved, stepping forward and lifting a booted foot to crush this creature.
The thing tried to escape but wasn't able to disentangle itself from the cat quickly enough.
Vassilli's heel came down on its back with a crunch. It shrieked and thrashed tiny arms. It's back broken, Vassilli brought his foot up, and then down on it again. This time it burst like a balloon, yellow fluid splashing the floor.
At first triumphant, Vassilli began howling in pain.
Ace saw acrid smoke rising from the dead creature, the Russians's boot, and his leg. He staggered back and fell over frantically clawing at his boot.
"It burns!" He shouted, "Get this off!"
The marines raced to him, Fall was trying to cut his pants off with her combat knife and Ace tugged at what part of the boot wasn't smoking with acid.
Vassillis' cry's started to get weaker and soon his eyes glazed over.
"He's going into shock!" Fall shouted.
"Get the medic up here!" Alvarez shouted to Paris.
"Nichols, get back here on the double!" Paris demanded on the radio, "We’ve got a marine down from some kind of chemical burn."
"Moving, sir!" Nichols replied.
"He's going into shock!” Fall shouted again as she finished cutting his suit open around his leg. "Oh, God." Fall stood up suddenly.
Ace looked over, he saw that the acid had burned straight through his left leg, severing it at the shin.
Vssilli's breath became shallow and short.
"Stay with us Vassilli! Russians don't quit!" Ace shouted at the marine.
The acid cauterized his amputation and led to no bleeding, just a scorched black stump. Wherever the acid blood had splashed, the deck plate melted and warped, in places burning straight down to the lower deck.
Alvarez put two fingers on Vassili's jugular. "He's gone, man."
Fall punched the console next to her and swore.
The Marines on the bridge lapsed into silence.
"What if that's what happened to the crew, man?" Alvarez asked.
Paris didn't answer and instead turned away, keying his mic again, "Powers, leave Einfield on the Shadow Line, we need you back here as soon as possible. Things are getting out of hand."
Well, no one has yelled at me for not having dice rolls and things included, so I'll go ahead with part two!


On the Shadow Line, Powers was starting to sweat and his hands trembled. This was the point of no return for him, Puke's hands were dirty for sure, but there was still time for Powers to disengage.

"what's going on ,sir?" The sergeant asked.

"Vassilli is down and we may have positive contact with the xenomorph's reported on Acheron."

"Vassilli?" Powers repeated.

"Sergeant?" Puke said, "we gotta start the plan before they evac to drop ship 2."

Powers thought about the shares he was offered, enough to retire on earth and live comfortably.

"We'll be back in a minute, let me get Val to fire up the drop ship," powers replied.

"Powers-" Einfield began.

"Stow it!" Powers snapped, "A little more time."


Nichols came into the room out of breath, his med kit at the ready.

Right away he saw he was too late.

"Fuck," Nichols said.

On a display behind Paris, the readout of a motion tracker started to read movement.

"Patterson? Report," Paris called.


In the entry way to the derelict ship, Patterson held up her motion tracker just to verify what she was reading. A single contact barreling toward them

"something moving on the alien ship sir!" She said, "coming our way."

Zane racked a shotgun round into his under barrel attachment.

"fuck this, I don't get paid enough," he said.

"check your fire," Paris instructed, "you are not to fire until you can confirm the target."

"whatever it is, sir, its big, man-sized." Patterson said.

"come on baby, closer now," Zane sighted in his rifle.

They heard it splash through a puddle of sludge. Now a sillouet was visible running toward them.

Patterson let her motion tracker fall and hang by the sling, she raised her own rifle.

"Halt! Identify!" She barked.

The shape fell into her light.

"Romeo?" She asked.

"Don't shoot!" The marine cried, his armor was covered in the same slime as on the floor, his eyes wide in fear. "Help me!"


Minutes later, Patterson and Zane escorted the hysterical Romeo back to the galley where Nichols gave him a mild sedative, Zippo also arrived, marking a gathering of the remaining Marines on the Fidanza.

"Start from the beginning, Romeo," Paris said.

The young marine swallowed and stammered for a moment before starting again.

"That damn ship is a maze from your nightmares," he said. "Everything on it is just wrong, angles and twists . . . We weren't sure if we were going in or coming back half the time. Waters said we had to keep going . . ."

Ace shivered as Romeo recounted the tale.

"After a while, they mud have found us-"

"They?" Fall asked.

"Fucking bugs man, or serpents, I don't know what. The fucking things on the ship!" Romeo shouted. "They don't show on infrared, just came out of nowhere.

"It was small at first, Klepacki disappeared, we stopped our search for the salvagers to search for her . . . Then Fairfield screamed and we started getting motion contacts."

Romeo's eyes were watering, but he didn't seem to care or notice.

"Everyone was firing . . . Waters was screaming for us to fallback, but they were everywhere. Some . . . Thing, a parasite got on Sutton. We tried to regroup, but, there were too many and . . ." Romeo trailed off. "Next thing I realizes I was running for my life."

"You left your squad?!" Fall asked.

"you want me to be dead in there with them?!" Romeo shouted back.

Fall had no answer.

"they're all fucked! Those salvagers are fucked, that ship is fucked. This whole mission is fucked!" Romeo shouted, spittle flying.

"Agreed," Paris said. "lets get off this bucket and back to the shadow line to figure out what we can do next."

The Marines said nothing and Paris got on the com. "Mueller, Scrappy, get back here and sit at standby, we're evacing."

The drop ship confirmed.

"Powers, stay on Shadow Line, but send Valkyrie back as an auxiliary."

Powers made no reply.


"they want to come back man!" Puke exclaimed. They get on board, there go our shares!"

Powers thought for a moment, "alright he said. "Einfield, do it."


A burst of light flashed from Shadow Line's port laser cannon and the second drop ship exploded in a cloud of debris.

Onboard the Fidanza, the com unit squelched suddenly from the electrical discharge on the drop ship.

"what the hell?" Fall said, and then the ship rocked with debris from the drop ship, the expanding cloud of fragments had lost coherence but maintained direction and velocity.

Ace fell to his knees and then flat on his chest. Alarms blared and smoke began filling the bridge.

In front of him, Alvarez struggled back to his feet. Ace could see the bridge viewport behind Alvarez and watch the tail of the drop ship spiral past, he caught a glimpse of the skull and crossbones on it.

"Are we breached?" Paris asked.

Fall pulled herself to a console and hammered keys, "No, we still have pressure.

Ace and Romeo grabbed extinguishers from wall mounts and fought the flames.

"Powers? What the hell is going on out there?" Paris asked.


"We did it!" Puke shouted, seeing the drop ship explode near the Fidanza.

Powers exhaled. "nice work Einfield-" he looked over his shoulder and caught a forearm to the cheek.

Powers spun from the chair and dropped to the floor.

Puke whirled around and saw Einfield hovering over the sergeant. "Christ! What are you doing?"

Einfield knelt over Powers, lifting him up by the collar of his armor and driving his fist into Powers' forehead, again and again.

The sergeant didn't even have time to cry out, on the third bone shattering strike, blood spurted from his nose and his eyes rolled back.

Puke fell over himself trying to back away. Einfield caught sight of him and stalked after him.

"Y-you can't do that!" Puke insisted. "you're a goddam synthetic!"

Einfield said nothing as he picked up Puke by the lapels.

"What about our shares, man?! We did what the company wanted!"

Puke said nothing more when Einfield. thrust the marine's head against the bulkhead with enough force to dislocate a shoulder.


There was no reply from the Shadow Line.

Ace pulled himself into a chair and hammered in a series of commands. "That came from our ship!" He exclaimed. "the port side laser destroyed the drop ship." After he said it he looked to the distant dark shape through the Fidanza's viewport.

"I can't raise the ship sir," Fall added from the communications station.

Paris chewed his lip and thought. "Damn," he finally said. "I was worried about this."

"Worried?!" Romeo exclaimed and barked humorless laughter. "Worried we would get torn a new asshole by big ass bugs?! Worried our ship would turn on us?!"

"Watch your tone with the lieutenant," Patterson warned.

"what are you gonna do? Demote me?! My section is fucking dead!" Romeo shouted back.

"I was worried Featherstone would try to establish a contingency plan if we found the ship before them," Paris answered, his tone heated.

Behind both of them, Zippo lit a cigarette with shaking hands and took a long drag.

"You're heartless! We have to get off this ship! Spacewalk to the Shadow Line-" Romeo continued.

"Fuck that!" Alvarez interjected, "If the company paid off Powers or anyone I am not going to go out there and see what a multi-megawatt laser does to a human in a pressure suit!"

"Stay here then and feed the fucking bugs!" Romeo said.

"Hey, come on!" Ace said, standing up and placing himself between the two Marines, we're already fucked up, okay? We gotta stay cohesive."

Alvarez toned down, "You're right Ace."

"I'll do whatever gets me off this ship faster." Romeo said and turn away.

"Alright," Paris started, trying to reassert control of this situation, our first priority is secure this vessel, we have to make sure we can keep those things from getting onboard."

"Detach the umbilical," Patterson said. "We can drift away from the alien ship."

"wait," Ace said, "what if the Shadow Line is only holding its fire because we're attached?"

"We still have maneuvering capability," Fall answered, "we'll just keep the alien ship between us."

"Romeo, are you sure there's no way no one else got away?" Paris asked, "If there's even a chance they are alive-"

"I don't know, okay? I just ran! You weren't there! But if they lived how come they aren't back here?" Romeo asked.

"Alright, we'll begin detach procedures-"

A rhythmic beeping from a console interrupted the discussion. All attention turned to the console.

Ace sat and checked it. "It's the remote motion tracker we set up by the umbilical . . ." He said. "two contacts coming on board."

Paris keyed on his mic, "Is anyone coming on board the Fidanza?"

Silence followed.

"Maybe their headsets are damaged," Patterson suggested.

"Or those things found the ship," Romeo said.
I too am interested in the tool to inspire writing.

All I did so far was a random test though, equivalent of a single page of text, but I liked the result and the process very, very much.

I used the rolls very sparsely though, only to give inspiration or clear interesting doubts. Mostly I just ask it for ideas or pull those 50/50 yes/no rolls. I like to keep system at minimum if possible.

Here's what I did, I'll do some more again, with a longer campaign:

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