Published on April 8th, 2012 | by gareth0
Alien: The Return of Ripley: Part 2
Compared with last grilling she received from the company, Ripley was shocked at how routine her debriefing was. The assembled collection of suits seem to take everything she said in stride and didn’t even raise an eyebrow with her report on the alien Queen, death of Carter and the rest Marines, as well as the loss of the colony. She had expected them not to have too much regret the loss of human life given her past experience of loss and the Nostromo and its crew, but expected a roomful of bean counters to certainly question their role in the distraction of the colony.
As had been previously agreed to, the company had agreed to restore her flight status but suggested that she consider taking some assignments closer to home after her experiences with her last two deep space missions. Ripley had been prepared to fight this suggestion but after giving it some thought she realize that some peace and quiet and routine on or near terra firma might make for a nice change of pace after what she’d been through.
The only real tragedy to her situation was very little time that she was able to spend with Newt in Hicks. They had all been debriefed separately and managed to see each other briefly for meals and some downtime, but very shortly after the debriefings ended, Hicks was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to a unit, and Newt was sent to stay with her grandparents in California.
The weeks after passed routinely as aside from her regular visits to her psychologist and the occasional visit from Carter Ripley had pretty much settled into a life of boredom and routine. Jones, the big orange tabby, was a surprise guest when he paid a visit one her old supervisor from the loading dock checking to see how she was doing. After 57 years and hyper sleep Ripley did not have the luxury of friends and family but the considerate supervisor who was kind enough to give her a job after her scathing denouncement from the company was as close to a friend she had and she kindly agreed to keep an eye on Jones during her absence and provided Jones a state and stable home.
For a moment it was easy for Ripley to forget all that had happened to her as the tranquil purring of the cat made it very easy to think that such things as chest bursting, acid spewing, death dealing, and monstrosities actually exist.
Ripley had accepted a job at a deep space communications center working the late shift. It was a far cry below her usual career as a flight officer, but the peace and tranquility it offered as well as the flexible schedule was definitely something she desired.
Ripley taken great pains to keep her recent nightmares out of her psych reports as often as she could and the and the late hours she worked allowed her to readily embrace sleep once her shift ended. Ripley it at first dismissed the nightmares as a holdover from the very detailed and unusual one she had and hyper sleep, and although shorter in duration the subsequent ones have been as vivid and disturbing as anything she had ever experienced.
She had tried to contact Hicks as much as possible, but naturally the nature of his work would make him unavailable for weeks at a time.
She had hoped he was safe but would console herself what the far too infrequent and brief messages he sent as well as the precious messages from Newt. Ripley was already counting the days until she would take some time off to travel to Earth to spend with Newt and her family.
It was amazing how her mind wanders with the routine monotony of her job.
Routing messages coming in from all points of deep space from colonies, ships, stations, satellites, and other locales did bring her some satisfaction. The station essentially received, cataloged, and relayed messages.
When a message is traveled several light years, it’s vital that things get where they’re going especially when factors such as atmospheres, and solar flares, and other cosmic phenomenon can interfere with or degrade a transmission.
After several weeks on her job Ripley had gained the trust and aberration of her supervisor to the point where she was left in charge of the center for long periods of time. While much of it was automated, the company still liked to have flesh and blood people making the decisions and overseeing things as certainly helped various suits have someone to yell at when their precious report from the outer colonies was delayed.
The fact that they were able to get real coffee aboard Gateway was a real plus in more than made up for the drop in pay that she was used to receiving.
A quick check of the monitors showed that everything was in the green safer one light which indicated a problem with the transmission.
The fingers dancing over the keyboard, Ripley was able to pull up the transmission and saw that it appeared to have been degraded yet oddly was using some sort of encryption.
Few minutes of tinkering soon became couple of hours and just when Ripley had given up hope she was able to play transmission. Lines of static outlined the picture but it was very clear that the person speaking looked extremely frightened and was on the verge of hyperventilating. “They are loose, and have broken through the defenses, we need more help and an immediate evacuation this is a code red priority, repeat a code red priority”.
Whatever else the man was saying was drowned out by the deafening cacophony of gunfire pulled by a flash of movement and in static as the camera went dead. Intrigued, Ripley replayed the transmission at a slower rate and applied filters to mask out the gunfire and speaker. Very primal and angry shriek was picked up around the moment the gunfire erupted. A sound too many could have been easily ignored but one that said replace nerves on end as she knew her nightmares were becoming a reality and that the terror appears to have returned yet again.
…To be continued….