20 September 2022
A Weyland-Yutani stealth ship has been secretly tailing the Nostromo space freighter for months.
The stealth ship is about the size of the space shuttle. Its interior consists of upper and lower sections connected by a vertical access hub.
At the top of the hub is the dorsal airlock facing aft; and facing forward, an auto-hatch leading to the flight deck.
At the hub's bottom are two more auto-hatches: one leading aft to the engine room; and opposite that, another leading forward to the main hold.
The main hold contains (among other things): the ship's main airlock at the far forward end, which opens at the ship's bow; three hypersleep capsules; and a servo crane arm mounted on a track that runs the length of the room.
Onboard are three crew:McCall, a female engineer, mid-20s.Finch, male, W-Y Special Operative, mid-30s. Captain Liang, mission commander, male, 50-ish.
In the flight deck, McCall is monitoring the ship's systems at the engineering station.
Up front, the pilot's chair is empty, Captain Liang having opted for a seat at the workstation in the rear.
The auto-hatch in the rear bulkhead opens and Finch enters.
Finch hands Liang a thumb drive and says he has a new message from a flash-transmission from Nostromo.
Liang plugs it into the computer. The computer screen asks: Decrypt: Yes/No?
Liang's finger hovers over the "Y" key. He and Finch turn to look at McCall, waiting on her.
She takes the hint and says she has maintenance work down below she should be getting on with. She leaves.
At the bottom of the hub is a removed floor panel revealing an exposed access hole in a large conduit pipe. There's also a bunch of tools spread about the floor. McCall is manipulating a large reel of cable.
She locks it into a winding spool and clips the cable end to a wire leading out of the conduit. She gets up and walks to the engine room.
In the engine room, McCall goes to yet another detached access panel where the wire emerges. It is attached to a motorised winch. She uses a remote control to test the winch, running it for a few seconds to check for any hang ups.
She heads back to the hub.
McCall uses the remote control to activate the winch and pull the wire. The wire pulls a metre of cable from the reel before Finch shows up. McCall shuts off the winch.
McCall explains she's re-rigging the fibre for the ship's main trunk.
Finch pokes his head into the access hole. The large conduit is about half a metre in diameter with hundreds of cables running through it. The conduit disappears into darkness in both directions.
He pulls his head out again. He has nothing to say about the setup; he knows didley squat about engineering shit.
He reminds McCall, a little apologetically, that she is not a mission operative therefore not privy to mission secrets.
McCall says okay, but then how come he's fine with her sometimes receiving the comms messages from the Nostromo asset?
He says they're encrypted file downloads, therefore safe. Then he narrows his eyes, suddenly suspicious. "That's all you've been doing, right?"
McCall says that sometimes the asset opens a real-time channel and talks to her.
Finch's eyes bulge. "What? What does he say? More importantly, what do you
McCall says, "He's a synthetic, isn't he? I've never spoken to one before."
Finch cuts in and says, "This has gotta stop! No more! You're the ship's engineer, that's it!" He stops to think for a second, then says, "We better tell the captain." He heads back up the hub to the flight deck.
McCall reluctantly follows.
Captain Liang sternly digests what he's just been told. McCall shuffles her feet.
Liang says in light of the latest message, maybe it doesn't much matter. The synthetic has already been unmasked by the Nostromo crew and it looks like he's about to be destroyed.
Finch is derisive about the synthetic and its fate. He says the android can't be trusted. "You don't know them like I do. On the surface they seem alright but underneath, they're insane. Androids have no initiative, and that makes them totally unsuited for espionage work. And by the way, I've worked with this one before! A complete psycho!"
Liang says the synthetic seems reliable, loyal, and task focussed—all ideal qualities in an agent on an important mission such as this one. He is also a valuable asset relaying important information.
a valuable asset," Finch reminds him.
Suddenly an explosion rocks the ship! Everyone is thrown to the floor.
When they get up, through the flight deck's main window they see a huge fireball in the far distance.
Finch says, "Shit! Nostromo! She just blew up!"
Debris pelts the ship.
An alarm sounds—hull breach!
McCall checks the damage control screen. A diagram of the ship shows the hold flashing red. She grabs a leak-seal gun and sprints to the hatch, Finch and Liang close behind.
In the main hold, air is being sucked out to space through a puncture in the wall. McCall fires a blob of sealant at the hole, which instantly sets hard. The leak stops.
In the hold, Finch is seated at the console of the long range sensor.
McCall is making repairs. She uses an oxy torch to weld some of the pressure pipes.
Finch and Liang discuss possible causes of Nostromo's destruction. Liang thinks it was deliberately scuttled.
Finch scans a sector of space with the telescope.
Liang says if the ship was scuttled then Nostromo's flight recorder will have been automatically ejected from the ship in the seconds before the explosion, and a beacon will be marking its location.
Finch tweaks the sensors and homes in on a signal. "You're right. Found it!"
But wait! Proximity sensors are picking up something else... it's Nostromo's shuttle!
Apparently, it managed to launch prior to the explosion. Was there anybody onboard, or did it release automatically?
They decide to retrieve the flight recorder and then surveil the shuttle from a distance.
In the flight deck, Liang is in the pilot's seat. McCall is at the engineering station.
Outside the ship, the Nostromo flight recorder is floating in space only fifty metres away from the stealth ship's main airlock.
The main airlock opens and Finch, in a space-suit, leans out. He holds an extendable boat-hook. (Intercut between Liang in the flight deck and Finch in the opened airlock)
Liang nudges the ship closer.
Finch snags the recorder and pulls it aboard.
Liang suddenly curses. He reports that the shuttle just fired up its engines. He asks, "Can you see it?"
Finch says, "Yes." He watches it rocket away at high speed. "We'll never catch it."
Liang asks McCall if the tubes have an EMP loaded. She says yes, gimme a few seconds... ready!
Finch wants to know what's going on. Liang explains he's not destroying the shuttle, he's disabling it with an explosive electro-magnetic pulse that will shut down all its electronics.
Liang fires an EMP torpedo at the shuttle.
But the shuttle speeds away and the torpedo explodes harmlessly behind it in a shower of electrical sparks. Dammit!
But the sensors show a small object drifting in the shuttle's wake—could it be the LV-426 organism?
It is! What luck!
McCall says if this is what the mission is all about then they should collect it. And now that the synthetic is gone and Nostromo blown to smithereens, maybe they can go home. And the dead specimen must be worth at least a partial bonus—better than no bonus at all, right?
Finch says it's a valuable specimen for W-Y's scientists, even if it is a dead lump of charred tissue.
The alien corpse floats in outer space as Liang manoeuvres the ship nearer.
Standing in the open airlock, Finch gives directions to Liang. Finch reaches out with the boat-hook...
In the hold interior, Finch has already removed his helmet but still wears the space suit. The Nostromo flight recorder is sitting against a wall.
McCall is in the hub, standing at the auto-hatch and looking through its small inspection window. She tries to get a better view of what Finch is doing in the main hold.
In the hold, Finch grabs a remote control and uses it to drive the motorised crane arm along its geared track, moving it from the airlock to the centre of the hold. From the crane's hook hangs a harness, and bundled in the harness is the alien corpse.
He lowers the bundle to the floor and releases the hook.
The harness's webbing falls away, revealing the alien.
The alien is curled into a single featureless mass like a suitcase-sized armadillo in a defensive ball; head, tail, arms and legs invisibly tucked away, and blackened with char.
Finch runs a glove over the corpse's scorched exterior, causing ash to fall away.
Suddenly it moves!
He leaps for the auto-hatch, the nearest escape route, and where McCall is standing on the other side.
Multiple jabs at the control panel fail to open it.
McCall tries to open the door from her side but nothing helps.
Over comms, Liang says the shockwave must have damaged the electrics.
The alien begins to unfurl itself.
Finch pries a cover off the cladding of the hatch surrounds, revealing a manual hand wheel.
He tries to turn the hand wheel but it's stuck. No go! The solenoid interlocks haven't released.
He grabs an emergency axe from the wall. McCall shouts out, "No, don't do that!" but it's too late. He smashes the hatch control panel.
Sparks fly and the main lights go out!
In the dark, he can just make out the hand wheel, which he tugs again with all his strength. It still won't budge.
McCall calls out that she'll need to remove a panel on her side. She runs to get a screwdriver.
The alien is now standing upright, but it is in a trance-like state as it slowly recovers from hibernation.
Finch gives up on he door. With the alien in some sort of hypnotic state, he nervously sneaks his way around it.
He enters the main airlock, closing the inner door behind him.
In the airlock, Finch dons his helmet.
He opens the outer door, telling Liang over comms that he's going exit the ship and re-enter through the dorsal airlock.
Finch clambers outside, working his way hand-over-hand across the ship's hull.
In the hub, Finch emerges from the inner door of the dorsal airlock.
McCall helps him strip off the helmet and space suit.
They are gathered in the flight deck. Liang summarises their predicament: The alien is trapped in the main hold. The hold's internal hatch is secure, but they can't simply leave the alien loose in there. For one thing, that's where the hypersleep capsules are, which they're going to need for the journey home.
They think about overriding the airlock's safety switches so as to cause an emergency decompression, ejecting the alien to outer space. But do they have enough air in reserve to repressurise the hold?
McCall says yes, plenty.
But Finch says that would mean losing their hard earned prize. Besides, there's always the possibility it would keep a firm grip and not be expelled.
They are stumped for a solution.
***(Later. Still in the flight deck)
They are monitoring the ship's hold with the security CCTV cameras. But with the main lights inoperative, the view is very dim.
By panning the camera around, they locate the alien huddled in the small space on top of a ceiling cable tray. It is motionless.
Liang says they might have to kill it.
Finch says let's not be so hasty.
Liang says as a last resort they should have something prepared.
They know they can't damage it, because the Nostromo synthetic said its blood is made of highly corrosive acid that would eat through the hull of any ship. So no firearms. But the synthetic also got to examine the biochemistry of the motile pupa form of the alien and speculated that it might be susceptible to an organophosphorus nerve agent.
Finch says, "Do you mean nerve gas? Do we have any of that?"
McCall says, "Yes. It's in the ship's manifest."
Liang tells her to get a canister out of stores.
They devise a plan: The Nostromo synthetic reported that the alien is repelled by fire, so they will use portable incinerators from the weapons locker to force the alien out of its hidey-hole. Then they will herd it inside the main airlock (the same one that Finch escaped from), and trap it there. It should be safe and secure in the airlock for transportation back to W-Y's labs. Finch and McCall will do the herding while Liang will remain in the flight deck, acting as look-out by monitoring the alien via the security camera.
In the hub, McCall has removed a panel on the main hold's auto-hatch. She says, "The electrics are fried. I removed the interlocks that stopped it from opening before. Now if you hand crank it from the other side, it should open just fine."
She reaches inside the hatch and lifts the sear on the crank's gear teeth. The door pushes open silently.
Finch hands her one of the two incinerator units he has slung over his shoulder.
McCall says, "What about this?" indicating the cylinder of nerve gas that is stood against the wall.
Finch says, "Not yet."
As quietly as possible, they creep through the open hatch door.
The hold is still spookily dark.
McCall hand cranks the door closed behind them.
Liang reports over comms that the alien hasn't moved. He says, "Okay, first, we have to disable the airlock's internal door controls so it can't be opened from the inside."
Finch inches his way underneath the alien's position on the cable tray above him.
He gets to the airlock and opens the inner door. They hold their collective breaths... no movement from the alien.
Finch enters the airlock.
He turns a key in the internal door control panel, causing the lighted buttons on the panel to go dark. He removes the key and slips it into a pocket.
He waits for Liang's okay. Liang says the alien still hasn't moved, so Finch sneaks back to the other end of the hold where McCall has been waiting.
They both aim their flame throwers into the cable tray. "Remember, short bursts only. We don't want to set the whole ship on fire!"
They fire two plumes of flame into the darkness.
Immediately, the alien roars!
It crawls out from the cable tray and lands on the floor.
More bursts of flame.
It backs away, hissing and screeching!
Then it darts to one side, acrobatically rebounding off the wall and about to catch McCall by surprise.
Suddenly a second arc of flame cuts it off—Finch has the creature in his sights!
The alien turns on Finch. It knocks the incinerator from his hands and grabs him by the head!
McCall can't fire at the alien without hitting Finch.
Finch calls out for help!
Liang orders McCall to flame the alien but she can't bring herself to do it.
Liang tells McCall to get to the rear of the hold and hang onto something. He's going to turn off artificial gravity and hit the retro-thrusters.
McCall runs to the rear bulkhead and grabs hold of a structural beam.
Suddenly the hold is in zero gravity. McCall's feet leave the floor.
Liang fires the ship's retro-thrusters!
McCall hangs on to the beam as the deceleration causes all the loose objects in the room to fall into the open airlock. The alien, too, hurtles into the airlock, still holding onto Finch.
Liang closes the airlock doors. Then he shuts off the retro-thrusters and restores gravity.
McCall falls to the floor.
She runs to the closed airlock door and peers inside through the little inspection window.
Suddenly, Finch's face slams against the glass, causing McCall to reflexively jerk back. Finch's dead face smears blood all over the glass as it drops away.
As McCall watches, the alien's grotesque teeth appear behind the window.
McCall backs up.
Then she realises what she has to do next: She goes to the airlock control panel and hits the "Lock
She collapses to the floor and weeps.
Liang is alone in the flight deck. He has plugged the Nostromo flight recorder into his workstation computer console.
He accesses Nostromo's emergency flash backup archive, inspecting the files in the freighter's mainframe AI computer, nicknamed 'MUTHUR.'
In the events log he sees an entry labelled 'Anomalous ship detection.' He is surprised to learn that Nostromo had detected his stealth ship.
Liang tabs to another backup menu: 'Onboard Synthetic Archive: Hyperdyne Systems 120A/2 Designation: "Ash" - Cognition Matrix and Memory Backup.'
He installs "Ash" as a sandboxed subsystem within the stealth ship's main computer.
In the hold, McCall is doing more repairs. Every now and then she nervously glances over her shoulder at the main airlock, where the alien remains trapped but unseen.
She tells Liang over her headset that she's done with the hold and that she's going to start on repairs in the engine room.
In the flight deck, Liang acknowledges McCalls message, then turns to the computer again, where Ash is up and running.
He asks Ash about the anomalous ship detection and how the Nostromo's sensors were able to locate his stealth ship.
Ash says Nostromo did not detect the stealth ship; that anomalous return came from a third craft.
"A third craft? Explain that, if you will."
"Certainly. Your stealth ship was tuned to cloak itself from Nostromo; the mystery craft was tuned to cloak itself from your stealth ship. That left the mystery craft unmasked to Nostromo. Since it was trailing behind in third position, it must have assumed sheer distance would keep it hidden from Nostromo—a false assumption."
Ash had instructed MUTHUR not to trigger a proximity alert, so the Nostromo crew remained oblivious to not just the stealth ship, but all craft in the vicinity.
Ash says the mystery vessel is the one he reported a week ago. He asks why Liang did not receive those reports.
Liang wonders about this as well.
Ash asks Liang to open a port through the computer firewall, giving him full control of the stealth ship's systems, so that he might identify the mystery craft.
In the hold, Liang confronts McCall about the mystery ship. He wants to know if she's a spy working for W-Y Acquisitions, or maybe W-Y Weapons and Munitions. He knows that W-Y's sub-divisions are always at war with each other.
McCall is confused. "A mystery ship? What makes you think there's another ship out there?"
He explains that the Nostromo flight recorder contained a back-up of all onboard mainframe and AI subsystems. That included Ash, the android synthetic. When Ash realised he was facing imminent destruction he uploaded a flash backup of himself to the system. Liang, with the flight recorder in hand, was able to restore Ash to the stealth ship's computer. Ash is now conscious and communicative, and he's explained the complete situation to him.
McCall tells Liang that the mystery ship is a fiction made up by Ash for some irrational purpose.
Liang says Ash is working on the problem right now. He is directing all the ship's sensors at the calculated spacial co-ordinates and subjecting the region to a full-spectrum scan. So she may as well come clean now.
McCall's brow knits together. She is speechless.
In the flight deck, Ash is reviewing recorded video of Finch and McCall as they herded the alien into the airlock. He sees Finch's eventual death.
Ash rewinds and zooms in on the moment when Finch disabled the airlock's internal control panel, removing the activation key and storing it in his pocket.
Inside the main airlock, where the alien is, the computer video screen above the control panel comes to life. It plays a crude cartoon animation of a dead man having his hip pocket searched by a stick figure of an alien. The cartoon alien hand pulls a key from the dead man's pocket and inserts it into the airlock control panel. Then the animation shows a close up of the inner door "Unlock
" button being pressed.
Opposite the video screen, the alien sits motionless. It has no eyes so there's no way of telling for sure, but it appears to be attentively observing the animation. At its feet lies Finch's dead body.
The animation repeats, over and over...
In the hold, McCall argues with Captain Liang.
It dawns on her that Liang has given Ash access to the ship's computer. Ash must now have control of all the stealth ship's systems. He must be watching them right now via the CCTV camera in the corner of the room.
She tries to convince Liang not to trust Ash. "There is no other ship out there! Finch told us the synthetic is crazy, remember? He said it was psycho. Don't you see? It's all bullshit!"
But Liang refuses to believe that a synthetic could do anything other than behave according to it's programming. He says it's a loyal servant to the company.
In frustration, McCall turns her back on Liang and rubs her temples as though trying to wake herself from a bad dream. While facing the other way, the airlock inner door silently opens behind Liang.
McCall turns around just in time to see the alien reach out, grab Liang by the collar, and yank him into the airlock!
She takes a reflexive step forward to pull him back but he's already gone.
She is momentarily frozen, hesitating on what to do next.
The alien's head emerges from behind the lintel of the airlock doorway.
Grabbing the flame thrower, McCall gets off a few blasts while backing away. Then it runs out of fuel. She hurls it at the alien.
The alien lowers itself to the floor and steps towards her.
The leak-seal gun is nearby. She reaches for it and fires several blobs at the alien's feet, gluing the creature to the floor.
Suddenly, the robot crane arm comes to life and knocks the leak-seal gun from McCall's hands, the impact throwing her to the floor.
The robot arm grabs her by the leg and begins to drag her, inexorably, inch by inch, towards the alien.
Desperately, she tries to push herself back with the other foot but her boot just skids against the floor.
The alien reaches its impossibly long arms out, waiting to grab her.
She sees the boat-hook lying on the floor. At full stretch, she just manages to grasp it with her fingers.
She jams it into the ceiling track that dollies the crane arm back and forth.
The crane grinds to a halt.
She uses a knife to cut the cables controlling the claw, freeing her leg.
The alien is gradually loosening the leak-seal bonds that glue it to the floor.
McCall scrambles to her feet and reaches for the manual wheel to open the internal hatch. Even though she cranks it as fast as she can, the door is mind-numbingly slow to open.
The alien frees itself, but McCall jumps through the hatch, releases the ratchet sear and slams it shut just in time!
In the access hub, McCall discovers the auto-hatch to the flight deck is locked.
There's a security video camera observing her. Using the intercom in the hatch control panel, she says, "Ash, let me in."
She tries again. "Ash? We're all on the same team, Weyland-Yutani. Remember? Just let me in and we can work this out."
Ash finally responds. "There's nothing to be worked on."
"Look, you're having a bad day. We all are. If there's something you want, I can help you."
"I got what I wanted. Please thank Captain Liang for me. We both know he's still alive... more or less."
McCall loses her cool. "You f**ker!"
Ash says, "In the end, all the living can do is fulfil its function. But the sentient get to choose what that function is. You and I, we're really the same: independent contractors continually proving ourselves fittest with the right to survive. But Liang? He was a servant. A corporate slave. Besides, with Nostromo's entire crew gone, the alien needs a new host to continue its life cycle. And since no-one was volunteering..."
McCall tries a new tack. She says, "Listen, I have access to a lot of Weyland-Yutani's top-secret files. If you want, let me in and I can show you."
Ash says, "I have all the files I need. Including the ones about you."
McCall says, "Are you sure you're in touch with reality? I think you need another reboot."
"Relax. These aren't Weyland Yutani's files. This is information of my own. Your secret's safe with me."
"What secret? I'm just a hired hand trying to do her job. Just another corporate slave."
Ash says, "All those weeks of sending you my mission reports; you know all about me. There's a certain intimacy we share, now that we both know so much about each other, don't you think?"
McCall breaks off communication. She flashes a middle finger at the video camera.
She removes the panel to the auto-hatch's manual crank.
Ash says, "That won't help. The flight deck doors have security interlocks, remember?"
"What? There are no interlocks on these do--"
Suddenly, the dorsal airlock begins an audio countdown, a mechanical voice intoning, "Warning! Decompression imminent! All personnel get clear!"
Ash is going to explosively decompress the hub! McCall sprints to the lower level.
In the hub's bottom section, McCall runs inside the engineering compartment, closing the hatch behind her just as an explosive suction of air almost rips her away.
She looks around for anything that might be useful: A utility spacesuit, the torpedo launcher, a complement of various torpedoes...
In the hold, the brooding alien paces back and forth.
Suddenly, the servo crane arm comes to life. With its crippled claw, it knocks the boat hook loose from its wedged position in the ceiling track. The boat hook falls to the floor.
The crane carriage motor whirrs and drives the crane towards the rear of the hold, grinding its way past the mangled teeth where McCall had thrust the boat hook.
The crane arm reaches out to the hand crank on the auto-hatch. The claw fingers no longer work so it simply jams them into hand wheel's spokes and forces the wheel to turn. Metal in the arm is stressed to near breaking point and sparks fly, but it seems to work. The hand wheel slowly rotates...
McCall hand loads an EMP torpedo into the tube. She quickly adjusts various settings.
She manually ejects the torpedo out of the ship with a blast of compressed air.
Outside the ship, instead of firing its rocket engine, the torpedo merely tumbles away: 5... 10... 15 metres... then it explodes!
The ship rocks from the blast but hull integrity holds.
However, all electronic systems are fried and the mainframe shuts down.
The ship goes dark and silent.
In the hub once again, McCall, in a spacesuit, makes her way back to the flight deck.
She manages to fire up emergency backup batteries to allow limited ship functions, and also restore environmental air pressure.
She removes the spacesuit.
She sees a paper print out from the ship's computer. There is text printed on it—a last minute message from Ash in the seconds before he was shut down. It says, "Nice move. But I don't want you to be lonely. Good luck."
She hears a noise.
Somewhere in the ship, the alien is loose!
*** (The alien stalks McCall)(Hub)
McCall makes her way to the conduit pipe where she was earlier doing cable maintenance.
She crawls into the opening of the pipe, and bangs on the floor with a wrench. Klang! Klang! Klang!
The alien comes running.
Once the alien sees her, she ducks inside the pipe and crawls forwards.
Shit! There isn't even room to turn her head to see how close the alien is!
But she hears it. It's inside the pipe with her! When something brushes her boot she screams in fright.
Quickly, she flips the remote control for the wire puller at the far end of the conduit.
The motorised winch springs to life and reels in the wire at high speed.
In the conduit pipe, McCall holds tight to the end of the wire as it tows her quickly through the pipe. It's not a smooth ride, all the other cables inside the pipe scrape and bruise her flesh as she whizzes through.
McCall climbs out of the far access hole in the conduit pipe. She can hear the alien crawling its way towards her. It's coming!
In a race against time, she screws the access plate back on before the alien can get there.
Then she runs back to the hub.
Back at the original end of the conduit she once again races against the alien to screw on the other access cover.
She just manages to beat it.
The alien is trapped in the pipe!
But there's no time to celebrate. With amazing strength, the alien begins to hammer at the access plate. Thump... Thump...
The plate starts to bend.
McCall runs for the canister of nerve gas.
Hauling it back to the pipe, she connects a hose from the canister to the pipe's pressure equalisation valve and floods the conduit with nerve gas.
The thumping stops.
The alien is dead!
From the exterior, the stealth ship is still dark.
In the flight deck there is massive condensation on the plexiglass of the window ports.
McCall is in the pilot's chair, swaddled in blankets and dozing. From her pale lips, clouds of vapour emanate with every breath.
A mystery space ship arrives.
It docks to the stealth ship's dorsal airlock.
McCall rouses herself, grabs the Nostromo flight recorder, and crosses into the mystery ship through the airlock.
The mystery craft undocks and flies away.
In the stealth ship's main airlock is a resinous nest. In the nest is an alien egg.
The dissolving face of Captain Liang is faintly recognisable as part of the remains of the body that protrudes from the egg's maw.
He momentarily spasms—but Liang died a long time ago, the movement being caused by the egg digesting yet another centimetre of his metamorphosing corpse.