He couldn't breathe. He couldn't move. And all he could hear was a loud hysterical scream. It was a child. Girl. Screaming for her life.
"Watchit! She bites!"
What was her name?
We called her...Rebecca. Newt.
He felt something hot and wet on his cheek. Tears.
There was just too much pain.
He couldn't do anything and he hated himself for that so badly... But there was just too much pain.
Suddenly the girl's scream and mad, painful image, both faded away. He winked. Once. Twice.
First he could see a grey ceiling. Beneath his aching back – highly uncomfortable bed.
Hicks woke up in a prison. Just like he did every single day for the last eight months. The same as he's gonna do probably for the rest of his life.
"Good morning, SnowWhite."
He knew that mischievous voice very well. For the first time he heard it 8 months ago, when he was banned and since then he's been haunted by him no matter if he wanted or not.
Nevertheless...he knew about the voice's boss less than he thought he knew.
"Shut up. I wanna sleep," mumbled Hicks, but left his eyes open.
"Sure you want to. You love sleeping, don't ya?"
Hicks looked in the direction where there was sitting on his bed, bald and bored, another prisoner.
"Not your bussiness, Morse."
But he was right. Hicks spent almost every possible hour of the day in the gym, torturing himself and pushing the limits, risking collapse. Just to sleep without dreams. Without nightmares.
Morse knew, what it was. Suffer by dreams. By mistakes which you cannot take back. Fucking hell.
After he, Ripley, Newt and the poor rest of Bishop, returned from LV – 246 everything went wrong. Terribly wrong.
He felt his head aching.
They were the worst minutes...when he had time for thinking. Sometimes he looked for skirmishes, just to forget...But other prisoners were avoiding that man with the awful scarred face and chest, and dangerous light in his eyes. They were very careful around him.
Ripley...What a tough woman. And the girl...
Now he saw Hudson, saving Newt from facehugger...
Enough! Screamed his own mind. Enough of useless memories. It's gone. Hudson is dead, Newt...who the hell knows where. It doesn't matter. It's gone!
"I love when you're talking so much, buddy."
Morse, after those long months, in some way, became against the former marines's will, something like his friend. That was the only reason why Hicks changed his mind and didn't kick his ass immediately.
He was so tired. Tired from waiting for something what never will come. He almost smiled.
It's that horrible thing – hope. It's keeping you alive, no matter if you want it to or not. But why? What would wait for him in a stinky hole like this one? Fighting, surviving, bad food, Morse's awesome presence and remembering...
Live fast, die young and leave a nice corpse... so the others can also have fun.
He had lived very fast before LV- 426. Not drugs, sex and rock'n'roll but he had many things to remember. And not only what he had left in Alabama when he joined the marines...
Yeah, he had lived fast. But he didn't die. Unfortunately. Just something inside him died. Something what was giving him a faith in a good future, in justice.
Hicks closed his eyes.
Suddenly they could hear the footsteps of armed guards resounding somewhere close. Nothing special. But they stopped right by their cell.
"It looks like you have a visitor," Morse commented.
"You're the better looking one."
And you're the loony one, Morse...
They frowned, highly surprised, when they were told that a visitor is waiting for both of them.
"And it's not even my fucking birthday," Morse shrugged.
They took them to a small, empty room divided into two by a big, massive window embedded both tho the floor and ceiling. It definitely wasn't the usual room for visitors.
The guards closed the door and kept them standing, bounded and with very bad feeling in their stomach. Hick's marine instincts were screaming in anger. He hated being powerless...He clenched fists, thinking what would he do if...
That window is bulletproof.
But shit happens.
Then, on the other side of the window, a tall, dark-haired man, maybe 45 years old, entered the room.
He had an extraordinary face – long, thin lips, big nose and gimlet look of big blue and intelligent eyes.
He smiled briefly and sat down on a prepared chair. The man had the moves of a big wild cat, hidden in an elegant dark suit.
"Who the hell are you?" Morse asked suspiciously, viewing the strange guy.
"It's not important. Not now. I've got a reasonable job offer for you both."
"Hey, cool. Do you know we're banned, right ?" asked Morse roughly.
The man ignored him.
"Say yes and you'll leave this prison in ten minutes as employees of the organization I represent here."
"And if we say no?" almost mumbled Hicks, facing calmly that highly self-confident guy.
"Then you're gonna die soon. Probably."
He left them starring at him for quite a while.
"It's not an offer but a threat," Hicks finally growled.
"No one is gonna hurt you, corporal. We are that the good guys, if you want it that way."
"I'm not corporal anymore," Hicks retorted.
"Oh yes, sure. It doesn't matter. For us you're still very valuable former marine..."
"What's the offer?"
"Revenge. Nothing more or less."
"Really?" Hicks grinned.
"How we gonna die?" Morse suddenly asked.
"Regards from Weyland – Yutani," the man gave him a wide smile. Very calm one. He didn't like Morse or Weyland – Yutani. Or both.
"And you're sent by Weyland – Yutani?"
"No," visitor frowned. He looked somehow offended.
Then he checked his watch.
"So, gentlemen." Now they knew for sure he was English. "My time here is not for free. You have to make your own decision. Risk, going with me and kicking some bastards ass...Or spend the rest of your life, which won't be so long, here? I'm taking risk just to sit here and talk to you."
They stood in silence for a while.
"It's about xenomorphs, right?" Hicks asked quietly.
The visitor nodded.
"How can I trust you?"
Hicks's blood was boiling. Words about revenge sounded to him damn good.
"Ripley is still waiting for that engagement."
After a while Hicks grinned and looked at Morse. "I didn't know you could keep a secret?"
"If it's mine..."
"Taste for adventure?"
"You bet, buddy."
"Okay then...We're yours, sir."
I can always escape.
Hicks and Morse left the prison as the visitor promised. It was odd. It was quick. And obviously dangerous. But if he did mean it....Revenge. For Hudson, Vasquez and the others...oh, yeah...He'll go for it! And if he lied, Hicks can always escape.
In the back seat of the car there was just him and Morse.
Where the hell did that thief meet bugs?
"Where do you think they're taking us?" Morse asked. He didn't seem to be scared.
"No idea. And you?"
"No, and I don't give a shit. But I'm for Florida."
"Then it'll be Alaska."
"Anything better than that fucking prison."
But when they get out of the car, they could see a small and probably private airport.
The quiet visitor let them board a luxury small plane and after a short while they entered airspace.
"Now you gonna tell us, what the hell is going on here," Hicks started.
"First let me introduce myself. My name is Morton. I'm really glad we made a deal. So are my employers."
Both men were listening to him and ignoring the good looking lunch they got.
Morton, sitting opposite them, took a thin folder of the table and started to read:
"Hicks, Dwayne. Corporal. After LV – 426 incident spent several months in hospital. Fired from US Marines. Probably due to deal between marines and Company. Judged by a civil court for destruction of Company's expensive colony and...funny...murdering more than 150 people. Including other marines... There was information that could save your ass, in memory of the android called Bishop. But it, or he, suddenly disappeared. Sentenced to a life in prison."
"I'm not impressed," Hicks frowned, fists clenched.
"It was a farce, corporal. From the beginning to the very end. You were sentenced in at the same time you reached Getaway."
He knew. All the time...
"So whats' there about me?" asked Morse, curious and interested.
Morton smiled. He had perfect teeth, like in a TV spot.
"Mister Morse and his glittering career. Let's see...Brawler, thief, rogue...But quite smart one. You've written a book, right? About events in Honduras."
"Right," Morse replied, grinning widely. "But those fuckers confiscated all the copies."
"Honduras?" It was Hicks.
"Right. Mister Morse joined an expedition sent by the New York Museum of Natural History. Expedition to the very heart of wild and unexplored Honduras. But they found more than expected. A pyramid which they've never seen before. Old and strange. There was no way to find out, that there were aliens inside. Don't worry, corporal," he pointed at the folder," you'll get all information available. "Now all you need to know is, that just a couple of them returned – including Morse. And that's why he is valuable. And in serious danger."
"You're so sure we're in danger. Even if we spent the last months," looked at Morse," or years in prison and nothing ever happened."
Hicks tried not to think about what he just heard. Aliens on Earth. God...
Morton's face was suddenly serious, calm.
"Yeah, we are."
"Who is -- we?" Hicks continued.
First pyramid was discovered by Charles Bishop Weyland himself in Antarctica, beneath the white mass of ice and snow. He couldn't have known, that he would pay with his own life for fulfilling his life long dream.
All members of theexpedition died, killed by aliens or some fascinating species called Predators or hunters. Exceptt one.
Lex Woods. Woman of Ripley's kind. Smart, strong, self-confident. She told nobody what really happened. Except Weyland's heirs, asking them for help. She knew, that there could be more pyramids...
They thought she was nuts. Just one person believed her. Weyland's granddaughter, Paula. She loved that old man and also inherited quite a lot of money from her beloved grandfather after his unexpected death.
The same year Weyland 's company was taken over by Japanese Yutani. They got information about aliens and recognized it's potential.
But also Lex Woods's and Paula Weyland's new foundation was doing well. They made some good business deals, earned money thanks to new nature medicines... And it was still searching for other pyramids.
They hired mercenaries, retired soldiers,reliable people. It was hard. It was almost impossible to find an inactive pyramid. They focused on yet unknown places in Africa, South/East Asia...and places like Honduras.
But Woods knew, she couldn't let Weyland-Yutani win.
A few years later Weyland-Yutani centered it's attention to space. Finally - neither aliens nor Predators were earthly creatures. Out there, with no rules...big chance.
So called "Cydonia incident" was one of their worst efforts. Mankind had never been so close to extermination... Woods/Weyland foundation stopped them.
Then followed long period of peaceful quiet.
Till satellites got a strange signal from small planet called Acheron. LV – 426. At the same time, interstellar tug Nostromo, was somewhere out there, ready to leave and make it's way to home...
Hicks and Morse didn't say a word. Hicks was looking out of the window, not moving, barely breathing. Not just a few bastards on Earth. But colonies all around the world...Jesus. He was flexible but it was really too much.
Morse didn't look so cool. He watched Morton for a while, then : "Shiiiiit!"
"Really," Morton smiled briefly.
The plane started to shake a bit.
"And what do you want from us?" Hicks. His voice low.
"We offer you protection. It took a long time and to get to both of you. The company is still keeping an eye on you. But Foundation protects other...," he stopped for a while and something strange flashed through his eyes. " Other victims of alien species."
"And we want just your help. No one will push you into something you don't want to do. But we still need advisors...or soldiers to our so called hunters units. You'll have your time to choose. To think about it. Don't worry. Till then...be our guests."
Hicks, still frowning, leaned towards Morton. "How did you get Ripley?"
"It was easy."
"We offered her our help to find her granddaughter."
It was much easier than he thought. To leave it all. Start something new somewhere. In fact, he didn't have anything to loose. Marines – it was his family and his friends.
And you disappointed them.
Now Hicks faced future with no fear, cause he had absolutely nothing to loose...
Hicks made his decision long before their plane landed.
Surprisingly...it was England. Many smaller W/W operations centers were mobile, settled all around the world but always ready to disappear. But the true brain of all of it resides in good old England.
"Why here?" Morse asked.
"It's quite out of Weyland – Yutani control. England is trying to keep it's independence, even in the economic sphere. And there's also some unofficial hostility because of Yutani's 'secret'deals with France...It's all politics, you know."
"Cool," Morse grinned. "Home sweet home!"
At the airport waited two black, polished cars of indefinite type.
"Now I'll take you to our center. You'll get accomodations, new documents, meet some people...But unfortunately I can't let you know where exactly we are going to." Morton explained apologeticaly.
"Scarf over eyes?" Morse quipped.
To Morton it sounded suspiciously like sarcasm.
"No," he shrugged. "Just darken the back windows. Don't worry. Follow me, mister Morse."
And the former prisoner did, though very reluctantly.
Hicks was told to get in the second car. There was no other choice. He could see all the invisible snipers. They obviously weren't underrating his skills.
Inside the car it was gloomy and pleasantly chilly. But mainly...Hicks wasn't alone.
He was so surprised, that he couldn't even say a word for a while. His lips opened and then shut again.
"Hi, Ellen," he replied finally, it sounded almost like a groan.
She was still the same. Maybe a few new wrinkles...but her strained eyes were as penetrating as he remembered. That self-confident sound of her voice and sad smile...
Suddenly he felt like all those previous months, months after their return, never existed. It was like a physical shock.
Hicks perceived Ellen's wistful glance on his face, his scars.
"It's good to see you again," she told him with her deep voice and he realized, she feels the same...
"I've changed," the former marine told her, not knowing why. Maybe more roughly than he wanted.
She'll understand. She's the only one who can...
Ripley stood quiet for a minute.
Then : "Yeah, I know. We both changed, didn't we?" nodded without criticizing.
She didn't try to touch him nor to say something impersonal. Not a mention about LV – 426.
"I'm glad you joined, Dwayne. Can I still call you 'Dwayne'?"
"You're the only one who can. And ... I haven't decided yet." It was a big lie and from the sound of her voice it was obvious it hurt her a bit. Or annoyed?
"Don't lie to me. Please."
"What do you want to hear?"
Hicks diverted his gaze. "I'm with them cause I want to wipe all those fuckers out."
"That's much better. That's something I understand. See...talk to me, Dwayne. Cause now we will fight together."
"Do you have a cigarette?"