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Published on March 20th, 2018 | by gareth

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Aliens: The Return Of Ripley: Part 9

(I figured that enough time has passed and with just a line or two of an intro that came to me this morning, I was able to craft up the first draft of the story in a couple of hours.  I hope you like it).

If one were to look at the complex series of variables that went into life in space; Mankind would likely have never ventured beyond their solar system and stayed firmly on Terra Firma. However a sense of exploration fueled by economic greed and a necessity for more raw materials than could be found on Earth ended this notion quickly.

Objects made of metal and plastic hurtling through an endless void at speeds that are unfathomable to most is bad enough and compound that with the number of things that can go wrong would boggle the mind.

At least this is what Richard Sanker told himself as he groggily emerged from his Cryotube. Sanker was an Insurance Adjuster and no matter how many times his work took him out into space, he kept  telling himself that he belonged safely secured in his office as generations of  his kind had been for  well over two centuries. However with the huge investment in colonies, space stations, and ships that have been made during the colonization of space, it was at times necessary to send agents to process claims. At least he was not forced to live on some of the colony sites like others but thanks to his reputation and experience, Sanker was able to delegate and remain safely on Earth except for extremely urgent business. When his firm landed Weyland Yutani as a client it was seem as his crowning achievement and a way for him to fast track his retirement.  But one thing Sanker quickly learned when dealing with “The Company” is that when they call you directly over a concern; he had better jump and handle the issue personally.

As he made his way to the locker area to get showered and dressed, Sanker began to wonder what was so urgent that he was needed to leave immediately. There were agents stationed closer to the colonies and many were eager to take an off-world posting as it was often the price required for advancement within the firm.

He also wondered why they were going in with a military escort. This was not the commercial or company transport he had expected but one of the new Stealth Cruisers that his firm had been underwriting since their announcement.  Although classified as a company ship, the new vehicle known as “Nightshade” operated technology that the Colonial Marines would love to get their hands on and was used to transport top level executives and VIPS in a safe and ultra-secret way.

The crew of the ship was made up of contractors and what Sanker figured were Mercenaries but he would have to be blind not to notice the armada of military ships that were escorting them as it was clear every time he looked out a window.

He made his way to the hangar area and was quickly seated as he watched various members of the crew fill in around him. It did not take him long to pick out the Company shill who was escorting him on this trip as his immaculately groomed hair and custom made clothing made him stand out amongst the very casual attire of the crew.

Sanker knew the man was named “Rigsby” but beyond that he did know much more than he would be serving as his on-site liaison.

As they began their descent, Sanker mentally prepared himself for what he expected with be some damage to a new colony or building. He had seen everything from impact damage caused by falling debris to reactor failures and even military related damage during his career and the sense of urgency was always there as The Company was eager to make sure their plans were not delayed and their investment was recouped as they would not stand to lose any ground to the competition or look weak to their Shareholders.

The shuttle settled with a soft thud and followed with a whirring sound as the ramp dropped and Sanker could feel his body adjust to gravity different than what he was used to on Earth and one that was slightly different than what was set as ship standard.

 Rigsby piped up to remind the assembled team that their Non-disclosure clauses were still in place as they stepped onto the landing platform. The area seemed nice enough as the tropical weather and clear skies made it seem more like a luxury resort planet than a Shake and Bake colony which is what the company had been investing so much of their time and resources in of late.

The large structure in front of them seemed to be made from crystal and marble which would be unheard of not only due to the cost of said items but the insanely high cost of shipping said items from Earth. Nevertheless, as they moved into the building, it became clear that this was some sort of luxury hotel as Sanker had stayed in more than a few during the course of his work and during his vacations.

From the fixtures to the flooring; the entire place screamed class but Sanker could tell that something was not right. The stillness of the place was eerie as it was clear that this was not a new facility. He noted this by the labels on the bottles lining the bar as some of them were clearly before the recent merger which saw several smaller luxury brewers consolidated by a major conglomerate.

As they made their way from what he assumed was the lobby to the inner atrium, Sanker could see the Mercenaries growing more and more cautious and alert. The lifted their guns to a more accessible position and clearly seemed to be expecting trouble. Rigsby even slowed his pace as he seemed to have lost much of his arrogant and carefree manner that he had displayed since they left the ship. Rigsby in fact seemed pale and very flustered and refused to take another step further. The Mercenaries that flanked him began to advance down the hall and their weapons were ready with the safeties off. They too looked very distressed which made Sanker very concerned. A whirring sound soon broke the silence as one of the team behind him had released a drone which was now making its way down the halls in front of the team and the operator was fixated on the controls and display screen that they held in their hands.

After a few moments of tense silence, the team slowly began to move forward and Sanker could see what had caused the disruption and concern. The hall lead into what looked to be a large conference room and it was littered with carnage and devastation.

The walls and floor were splattered with blood and body parts and it was all he could do to not turn away and vomit. His early days as an adjuster had exposed Sanker to accident victims but nothing he had ever seen had compared to this scene while looked to be ripped from the depths of Hell. The vast conference room was lined with elaborate chandeliers in the massive ceilings and he could see body parts hanging from several of them. What could rend a person to scrap yet fling the remains so high in the air and to what purpose?

The team began to fan out and look through the room as it was clear they appeared to be looking for someone or something in particular. After several minutes, a Mercenary who Sanker took to be the leader declared the room clear and his team lowered their weapons and relaxed a bit; at least as much as one could in a setting of such carnage.

Making his way the speaker’s podium, Rigsby moved to the control panel there with renewed vigor and inserted a data stick into the slot. He then entered a series of strokes on the adjoin keypad and seemed pleased with himself that whatever he had begun to transfer to the storage device was still there.

Sanker had more questions than answers but knew from his time dealing with Weyland Yutani that in situations like this, you did not speak unless spoken to. His calmness and utter discretion is one of the main reasons he had been able to gain such a lucrative contract from larger firms and he was not about to rock the boat now.

Rigsby activated a com unit and demanded a secure line back to Earth.  The nature of communication in space requires that any message sent back home is delayed due to the vast distances involved. Techs had attempted to lessen the time needed successfully but it still took several hours and even days for a transmission to be received and replied to. Knowing this it was very curious to Sanker how Rigsby seemed to be having a conversation in real time as there was clearly replies coming from the voice to whatever Rigsby was saying. It was almost like a dance as Rigsby would speak in short clips and the voice would reply with a longer series of words which would in turn have Rigsby start the process anew.

While he could only make out a few of the words, Sanker could her “obtained”, “recovered” “secured” and “containment” being uttered by the mysterious voice on the other end of the transmission. The reason he was able to hear them above all the others was that they were uttered with a much louder tone and clarity than the other words in the communication so as such, they were audible.

Rigsby ended the transmission and without a word; rapidly made his way from the room and lead the team back to the landing pad from which they came.  Sanker began to wonder what exactly his purpose would be now but upon reaching the landing pad, he noted a series of shuttles in the skies overhead. Rigsby finally decided to speak to Sanger and told him that he is to remain here with the containment team as the mission priorities have changed.  Before he could form a reply, Rigsby and his team were making their way skyward and ships began landing all around him. The men and women who came pouring out of the shuttles seemed like a mix of scientists, technicians, and mercenaries, as they quickly made their way into the buildings with a large amount of equipment following them. An attractive woman dressed in a stylish business suit made her way towards him and introduced herself as Caroline Walsh. Caroline apologized to Sanker and thanked him for his patience and told him that he had been requested to validate the life insurance policies that had been taken out on several key executives as well as the damage to the facility. Sanker was told that as soon as positive ids were completed he would be summoned to complete the necessary documents and then begin he claims process for damage to the facility.

As he was escorted to a luxurious room to wait to work, Sanker began to think again about his musings earlier in the day as to why anyone in their right mind would ever leave the safety and comfort that he had back on Earth.

 

To be continued…

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