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Чужой/ Alien

FADE IN:

EXTREME CLOSEUPS OF FLICKERING INSTRUMENT PANELS. Readouts and digital displays pulse eerily with the technology of the distant future.

Wherever we are, it seems to be chill, dark, and sterile. Electronic machinery chuckles softly to itself.

Abruptly we hear a BEEPING SIGNAL, and the machinery begins to awaken. Circuits close, lights blink on.

CAMERA ANGLES GRADUALLY WIDEN, revealing more and more of the machinery, banks of panels, fluttering gauges, until we reveal:

INTERIOR - HYPERSLEEP VAULT

A stainless steel room with no windows, the walls packed with instrumentation. The lights are dim and the air is frigid.

Occupying most of the floor space are rows of horizontal FREEZER COMPARTMENTS, looking for all the world like meat lockers.

FOOM! FOOM! FOOM! With explosions of escaping gas, the lids on the freezers pop open.

Slowly, groggily, six nude men sit up.

ROBY Oh... God... am I cold...

BROUSSARD Is that you, Roby?

ROBY I feel like shit...

BROUSSARD Yeah, it's you all right.

Now they are yawning, stretching, and shivering.

FAUST (groans) Ohh... I must be alive, I feel dead.

BROUSSARD You look dead.

MELKONIS The vampires rise from their graves.

This draws a few woozy chuckles.

BROUSSARD (shakes his fist in the air triumphantly) We made it!

HUNTER (not fully awake) Is it over?

STANDARD It's over, Hunter.

HUNTER (yawning) Boy, that's terrific.

STANDARD (looking around with a grin) Well, how does it feel to be rich men?

FAUST Cold!

This draws a LAUGH.

STANDARD Okay! Everybody topside! Let's get our pants on and get to our posts!

The men begin to swing out of the freezers.

MELKONIS Somebody get the cat.

Roby picks a limp cat out of a freezer.

INTERIOR - CONTROL ROOM

This is a fantastic circular room, jammed with instrumentation. There are no windows, but above head level the room is ringed by viewscreens, all blank for the moment.

There are seats for four men. Each chair faces a console and is surrounded by a dazzling array of technology.

STANDARD, ROBY, BROUSSARD, and MELKONIS are entering and finding their seats.

BROUSSARD I'm going to buy a cattle ranch.

ROBY (putting down the cat) Cattle ranch!

BROUSSARD I'm not kidding. You can get one if you have the credit. Look just like real cows, too.

STANDARD All right, tycoons, let's stop spending our credit and start worrying about the job at hand.

ROBY Right. Fire up all systems.

They begin to throw switches, lighting up their consoles. The control room starts to come to life. All around the room, colored lights flicker and chase each other across glowing screens. The room fills with the hum and chatter of machinery.

STANDARD Sandy, you want to give us some vision?

MELKONIS Feast your eyes.

Melkonis reaches to his console and presses a bank of switches. The strip of viewscreens flickers into life.

On each screen, we see BLACKNESS SPECKLED WITH STARS.

BROUSSARD (after a pause) Where's Irth?

STANDARD Sandy, scan the whole sky.

Melkonis hits buttons. On the screens the images all begin to pan.

CAMERA MOVES IN ON ONE OF THE SCREENS, with its moving image of a starfield.

EXTERIOR - OUTER SPACE

CLOSE SHOT OF A PANNING TV CAMERA. This camera is remote controlled, turning silently on its base.

CAMERA BEGINS TO PULL BACK, revealing that the TV camera is mounted on the HULL OF SOME KIND OF CRAFT.

When the pullback is finished, WE SEE THE FULL LENGTH OF THE STARSHIP "SNARK," hanging in the depths of interstellar space, against a background of glimmering stars.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

ROBY Where are we?

STANDARD Sandy, contact traffic control.

Melkonis switches on his radio unit.

MELKONIS This is deep space commercial vessel SNARK, registration number E180246, calling Antarctica air traffic control. Do you read me? Over.

There is only the HISS OF STATIC.

BROUSSARD (staring at a screen) I don't recognize that constellation.

STANDARD Dell, plot our location.

Broussard goes into action, punching buttons, lighting up all his instruments.

BROUSSARD I got it. Oh boy.

STANDARD Where the hell are we?

BROUSSARD Just short of Zeta II Reticuli. We haven't even reached the outer rim yet.

ROBY What the hell?

Standard picks up a microphone.

STANDARD This is Chaz speaking. Sorry, but we are not home. Our present location seems to be only halfway to Irth. Remain at your posts and stand by. That is all.

ROBY Chaz, I've got something here on my security alert. A high priority from the computer...

STANDARD Let's hear it.

ROBY (punches buttons) Computer, you have signalled a priority three message. What is the message?

COMPUTER (a mechanical voice) I have interrupted the course of the voyage.

ROBY What? Why?

COMPUTER I am programmed to do so if certain conditions arise.

STANDARD Computer, this is Captain Standard. What conditions are you talking about?

COMPUTER I have intercepted a transmission of unknown origin.

STANDARD A transmission?

COMPUTER A voice transmission.

MELKONIS Out here?

The men exchange glances.

COMPUTER I have recorded the transmission.

STANDARD Play it for us, please.

Over the speakers, we hear a hum, a crackle, static... THEN A STRANGE, UNEARTHLY VOICE FILLS THE ROOM, SPEAKING AN ALIEN LANGUAGE. The bizarre voice speaks a long sentence, then falls silent.

The men all stare at each other in amazement.

STANDARD Computer, what language was that?

COMPUTER Unknown.

ROBY Unknown! What do you mean?

COMPUTER It is none of the 678 dialects spoken by technological man.

There is a pause, then EVERYBODY STARTS TALKING AT THE SAME TIME.

STANDARD (silencing them) Just hold it, hold it! (glares around the room) Computer: have you attempted to analyze the transmission?

COMPUTER Yes. There are two points of salient interest. Number one: it is highly systematized, indicating intelligent origin. Number two: certain sounds are inconsistent with the human palate.

ROBY Oh my God.

STANDARD Well, it's finally happened.

MELKONIS First contact...

STANDARD Sandy, can you home in on that beam?

MELKONIS What's the frequency?

STANDARD Computer, what's the frequency of the transmission?

COMPUTER 65330 dash 99.

Melkonis punches buttons.

MELKONIS I've got it. It's coming from ascension 6 minutes 32 seconds, declination -39 degrees 2 seconds.

STANDARD Dell -- show me that on a screen.

BROUSSARD I'll give it to you on number four.

Broussard punches buttons. One of the viewscreens flickers, and a small dot of light becomes visible in the corner of the screen.

BROUSSARD (CONT'D) That's it. Let me straighten it out.

He twists a knob, moving the image on the screen till the dot is in the center.

STANDARD Can you get it a little closer?

BROUSSARD That's what I'm going to do.

He hits a button. The screen flashes and a PLANET APPEARS.

BROUSSARD (CONT'D) Planetoid. Diameter, 120 kilometers.

MELKONIS It's tiny!

STANDARD Any rotation?

BROUSSARD Yeah. Two hours.

STANDARD Gravity?

BROUSSARD Point eight six. We can walk on it.

Standard rises.

STANDARD Martin, get the others up to the lounge.

INTERIOR - MULTI-PURPOSE ROOM

The entire crew -- STANDARD, ROBY, BROUSSARD, MELKONIS, HUNTER, and FAUST -- are all seated around a table, with Standard at the head.

MELKONIS If it's an S.O.S., we're morally obligated to investigate.

BROUSSARD Right.

HUNTER I don't know. Seems to me we came on this trip to make some credit, not to go off on some kind of side trip.

BROUSSARD (excited) Forget the credit; what we have here is a chance to be the first men to contact a nonhuman intelligence.

ROBY If there is some kind of alien intelligence down on that planetoid, it'd be a serious mistake for us to blunder in unequipped.

BROUSSARD Hell, we're equipped --

ROBY Hell, no! We don't know what's down there on that piece of rock! It might be dangerous! What we should do is get on the radio to the exploration authorities... and let them deal with it.

STANDARD Except it will take 75 years to get a reply back. Don't forget how far we are from the Colonies, Martin.

BROUSSARD There are no commercial lanes out here. Face it, we're out of range.

MELKONIS Men have waited centuries to contact another form of intelligent life in the universe. This is an opportunity which may never come again.

ROBY Look --

STANDARD You're overruled, Martin. Gentlemen -- let's go.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

The men are strapping in, but this time it is with grim determination.

STANDARD Dell, I want greater magnification. More surface detail. I want to see what this place looks like.

BROUSSARD I'll see what I can do.

He jabs his controls. The image on the screen ZOOMS DOWN TOWARD THE PLANET; but all detail quickly vanishes into a featureless grey haze.

STANDARD It's out of focus.

ROBY No -- that's atmosphere. Cloud layer.

MELKONIS My God, it's stormy for a piece of rock that size!

ROBY Just a second. (punches buttons) Those aren't water vapor clouds; they have no moisture content.

STANDARD Put ship in atmospheric mode.

EXTERIOR - "SNARK" - OUTER SPACE

The great dish antenna on the SNARK folds down against the main body of the ship, and other parts flatten out, until the ship has assumed an aerodynamic form.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

STANDARD Dell, set a course and bring us in on that beam.

EXTERIOR - SPACE

The SNARK's engines cough into life, and send it drifting toward the distant dot that is the planetoid.

CAMERA APPROACHES THE PLANETOID, until it looms large on screen. It is turbulent, completely enveloped in dun-colored clouds.

The SNARK drops down toward the surface.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

STANDARD Activate lifter quads.

BROUSSARD Activated. Vertical drop checked. Correcting course. On tangential course now, orbiting. (brief pause as he studies his instruments) Crossing the terminator. Entering night side.

EXTERIOR - "SNARK" - IN ORBIT

Beneath the orbiting SNARK, night's curtain rolls across the planet.

Descending at an angle, the SNARK drops down into the thick atmosphere of the planetoid.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

ROBY Atmospheric turbulence. Dust storm.

STANDARD Turn on navigation lights.

EXTERIOR - "SNARK"

Hydroplaning down through the pea-soup atmosphere, a set of brilliant lights switches on, cutting through the dust, but hardly improving visibility.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

BROUSSARD Approaching point of origin. Closing at 20 kilometers, 15 and slowing. Ten. Five. Gentlemen, we are directly above the source of the transmission.

STANDARD What's the terrain down there?

BROUSSARD Well, line of sight is impossible due to dust. Radar gives me noise. Sonar gives me noise. Infrared -- noise. Let's try ultraviolet. There. Flat. It's totally flat. A plain.

STANDARD Is it solid?

BROUSSARD It's... basalt. Rock.

STANDARD Then take her down.

BROUSSARD Drop begins... now! Fifteen kilometers and dropping... twelve... ten... eight and slowing. Five. Three. Two. One kilometer and slowing. Lock tractor beams.

There is a LOUD ELECTRICAL HUM and the ship shudders.

ROBY Locked.

BROUSSARD Kill drive engines.

The engines fall silent.

ROBY Engines off.

BROUSSARD Nine hundred meters and dropping. 800. 700. Hang on gentlemen.

EXTERIOR - SURFACE OF PLANET - NIGHT

The night-shrouded surface is a hell of blowing dust. The SNARK hovers above it on glowing beams of light, dropping down slowly.

Landing struts unfold like insect legs.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

BROUSSARD And we're... down.

EXTERIOR - SURFACE OF PLANET - NIGHT

The ship touches down, heavily; it rocks on huge shock absorbers.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE

The whole ship VIBRATES VIOLENTLY FOR AN INSTANT -- then all the panels in the room flash simultaneously and the LIGHT'S GO OUT.

BROUSSARD Jesus Christ!

The lights come back on again.

STANDARD What the hell happened?

ROBY (hits a switch) Engine room, what happened?

FAUST (over, filtered) Just a minute, hold it, I'm checking.

ROBY Has the hull been breached?

BROUSSARD Uh... (scans his gauges) No, I don't see anything. We've still got pressure.

There is a BEEP from the communicator. Then:

FAUST (over, filtered) Martin, this is Jay. The intakes are clogged with dust. We overheated and burned out a whole cell.

STANDARD (strikes his panel) Damn it! How long to fix?

ROBY (into microphone) How long to fix?

FAUST (over, filtered) Hard to say.

ROBY Well, get started.

FAUST (over, filtered) Right. Talk to you.

STANDARD Let's take a look outside. Turn the screens back on.

Melkonis hits buttons. The screens flicker, but remain black.

BROUSSARD Can't see a blessed thing.

EXTERIOR - SHIP - NIGHT

Only a few glittering lights distinguish the ship from the absolute darkness around it.

THE WIND MOANS AND SCREAMS. DUST BLOWS IN FRONT OF THE TINY GLIMMERING LIGHTS.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - NIGHT

STANDARD Kick on the floods.

EXTERIOR - SHIP - NIGHT

A ring of FLOODLIGHTS on the ship come to life, pouring blinding light out into the night.

They illuminate nothing but a patch of featureless grey ground and clouds of blowing dust. The wind shrieks.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - NIGHT

ROBY Not much help.

Standard stares at the dark screens.

STANDARD Well, we can't go anywhere in this darkness. How long till dawn?

MELKONIS (consults his instruments) Well... this rock rotates every two hours. The sun should be coming up in about 20 minutes.

BROUSSARD Good! Maybe we'll be able to see something then.

ROBY Or something will be able to see us.

They all look at him.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXTERIOR - SHIP - NIGHT (MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE)

The floodlights on the SNARK fight a losing battle against the darkness and the storm. MAIN THEME MUSIC BEGINS, EXTREMELY OMINOUS.

THE TITLE APPEARS:

ALIEN

RUN TITLES.

Gradually, the screen begins to lighten as the SUN RISES. The silhouette of the SNARK becomes visible, like some strange insect crouching motionless on the barren plain. The floods shut off. Dense clouds of impenetrable dust shriek and moan, obscuring everything and reducing the sunlight to a dull orange.

END MAIN TITLES.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

CLOSE ON A SCREEN - it shows nothing but swirling clouds of orange dust.

PULL BACK FROM SCREEN. The men (Standard, Roby, Broussard, and Melkonis) are sitting and standing around the room, drinking coffee and staring at the screens, which reveal only the billowing dust.

ROBY There could be a whole city out there and we'd never see it.

BROUSSARD Not sitting on our butts in here, that's for sure.

STANDARD Just settle down. Sandy, you get any response yet?

MELKONIS (pulls off his earphones) Sorry. Nothing but that same damn transmission, every 32 seconds. I've tried every frequency on the spectrum.

BROUSSARD Are we just going to sit around and wait for an invitation?

Roby gives Broussard a black look, then stabs a button on his console and speaks into the mike.

ROBY (into mike) Hello, Faust!

FAUST (over, filtered) Yeah!

ROBY How's it coming on the engines?

INTERIOR - ENGINE ROOM

Faust is seated at an electronic workbench, brightly lit, speaking into a wall intercom.

FAUST I never saw anything as fine as this dust... these cells are all pitted on a microscopic level. I have to polish these things smooth again, so it's going to take a while. Okay?

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

ROBY Yeah, okay. (puts down the mike)

STANDARD Sandy... how far are we from the source of the transmission?

MELKONIS Source of transmission is to the northeast... about 300 meters.

ROBY Close...

BROUSSARD Close enough to walk to!

STANDARD Martin, would you run me an atmospheric?

ROBY (punches buttons and consults his panels) 10% argon, 85% nitrogen, 5% neon... and some trace elements.

STANDARD Nontoxic... but unbreathable. Pressure?

ROBY Ten to the fourth dynes per square centimeter.

STANDARD Good! Moisture content?

ROBY Zero. Dry as a bone.

STANDARD Any microorganisms?

ROBY Not a one. It's dead.

STANDARD Anything else?

ROBY Yeah, rock particles. Dust.

STANDARD Well, we won't need pressure suits, but breathing masks are called for. Sandy -- can you rig up some kind of portable unit that we can use to follow that transmission to its source?

MELKONIS No problem.

BROUSSARD I volunteer for the exploration party.

STANDARD I heard you. You want to break out the side arms?

INTERIOR - MAIN ARM LOCK - DAY

Standard, Broussard and Melkonis enter the lock. They all wear gloves, boots, jackets, and pistols.

Broussard touches a button and the inner door slides silently shut, sealing them into the lock.

They all pull on rubber full-head oxygen masks.

STANDARD (adjusting the radio on his mask) I'm sending. Do you hear me?

BROUSSARD Receiving.

MELKONIS Receiving.

STANDARD All right. Now just remember: keep away from those weapons unless I say otherwise. Martin, do you read me?

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

ROBY Read you, Chaz.

INTERIOR - MAIN AIR LOCK - DAY

STANDARD Open the outer door.

Ponderously, the outer lock door slides open. ORANGE SUNLIGHT streams into the lock, and clouds of dust swirl in. We hear the MOANING OF THE WIND OUTSIDE.

A mobile stairway slides out of the open hatchway, and clunks as it hits the ground.

Standard walks out into the storm, followed by the others.

EXTERIOR - PLANETOID - DAY

The three men trot down the gangplank to the surface of the planet. Their feet sink into a thick layer of dust and loose rock.

The men huddle together, looking around. The wind screams and tugs at their clothes. Nothing can be seen.

STANDARD Which way, Sandy?

Melkonis is fiddling with a portable direction-finder.

MELKONIS (pointing) That way.

STANDARD You lead.

Melkonis walks into the blinding dust clouds, followed closely by the others.

STANDARD Okay, Martin. We're on our way.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

Roby is the sole occupant of the bridge. He is huddled over his console, smoking a cigarette and watching three moving blips on a screen.

ROBY Okay, Chaz, I hear you. I've got you on my board.

STANDARD (over, filtered) Good. I'm getting you clear too. Let's just keep the line open.

EXTERIOR - PLANETOID - DAY

The three men plough their way through a limbo of yellow dust and shrieking wind. With their rubbery masks and deliberate movements, they look like deep-sea divers at the bottom of a murky ocean.

Melkonis leads the column, following the compass on the direction finder.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Can't see more than three meters in any direction out here. We're walking blind, on instruments.

They wade on, following Melkonis. Abruptly he halts.

STANDARD (CONT'D) What's wrong?

MELKONIS My signal's fading.

He studies the direction finder.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

Roby is listening intently to the dialogue from the helmet radios.

MELKONIS (CONT'D) (over, filtered) It's the dust, it's interfering...

His concentration is so great that he does NOT NOTICE HUNTER COMING UP BEHIND HIM.

MELKONIS (CONT'D) (over, filtered) ... Hold it, I've got it again. It's over that way.

Standing DIRECTLY BEHIND ROBY, Hunter speaks.

HUNTER What's happening?

Startled out of his wits, Roby GASPS and whirls around to face Hunter.

ROBY (startled silly) Hell!

Hunter stares at Roby, whose momentary terror dissolves into embarrassed anger.

EXTERIOR - PLANETOID - DAY

The three men push their way through the storm. Melkonis stops again, studies the direction finder.

MELKONIS It's close, real close.

STANDARD How far?

MELKONIS We should be almost on top of it. I just can't quite...

Suddenly, Broussard grabs Standard's arm and points. The others stare in the direction he is pointing.

REVERSE ANGLE - THEIR POINT-OF-VIEW

Through the dense clouds of swirling dust we can just barely make out some kind of HUGE SHAPE.

As we watch, the dust clears slightly, REVEALING A GROTESQUE SHIP RISING FROM THE SHIP LIKE SOME GIGANTIC TOADSTOOL. It is clearly of non-human manufacture.

ANGLE ON THE MEN

They are struck dumb by the sight of the craft. Finally, Standard finds his voice.

STANDARD Martin, uh, we've found it.

ROBY (sharply -- over, filtered) Found what?

STANDARD It appears to be some sort of spacecraft. We're going to approach it.

They start toward the alien ship.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

STANDARD (CONT'D) (over, filtered) There are no signs of life. No lights... no movement...

Roby and Hunter are listening with hypnotic concentration.

STANDARD (CONT'D) (over, filtered) We're, uh, approaching the base.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF TOADSTOOL SHIP - DAY

A strangely shaped DOOR yawns open at the base of the ship. Dust and sand have blown in, filling the lower part of the entrance.

With great caution, the men approach the entrance and group around it.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Appears to be a door hanging open, the entrance is clogged with debris.

BROUSSARD Looks like a derelict.

STANDARD Martin, we're going in. I'm going to hold the conversation to a minimum from here on.

INTERIOR - ALIEN SHIP - DAY

The doorway is a glowing geometric blur of light against blackness, spewing dust. In the darkness of the chamber are huge, formless shapes.

Standard, Broussard and Melkonis appear silhouetted against the doorway. They switch on flashlight-like devices called "DATASTICKS", and step in.

Carefully, peering around, they pick their way past the indistinct machinery.

MELKONIS Air lock?

STANDARD Who knows?

BROUSSARD Let's try and find the control room.

As they move their lights around, they can see that the walls, ceiling, and machinery are FULL OF HUGE, IRREGULAR HOLES.

MELKONIS Look at these holes. This place looks like Swiss cheese.

Broussard shines his light up into a huge hole in the ceiling.

BROUSSARD This hole goes up several decks -- looks like somebody was firing a military disintegrator in here.

They all peer up the hole into darkness.

STANDARD Climbing gear.

Standard draws out a stubby spear gun with a graplon attached to it. He aims it up into the hole and fires.

The graplon is launched up into darkness, trailing a thin wire. There is a dull CLUNK, and the wire dangles.

BROUSSARD I'll go first.

STANDARD No, you'll follow me.

Standard attaches the wire to a powered gear box on his chest, and presses a button. With a mechanical whine, he is pulled up into the hole, using his feet for leverage where he can.

Broussard attaches the wire to his own chest unit.

INTERIOR - CONTROL ROOM OF ALIEN SHIP

This chamber is totally dark as Broussard arrives at the top of the hole.

Standard stands with his flashlight/camera ("datastick") tracing a beam through the hanging dust.

Broussard unclips himself from the climbing wire, then raises his own light. At that moment, Melkonis arrives at the top of the hole.

THEIR LIGHTS SCAN THE ROOM. The beams are clearly visible as columns of light in the floating dust. They reveal heavy, odd shapes.

Broussard stumbles over something. He shines his light down on it.

It is a large, glossy urn, brown in color, with peculiar markings. Broussard stands it upright. It has a round opening in the top, and is empty.

Suddenly, Melkonis lets out a grunt of shock. Their lights have illuminated something unspeakably grotesque: A HUGE ALIEN SKELETON, SEATED IN THE CONTROL CHAIR.

They approach the skeleton, their lights trained on it. IT IS A GROTESQUE THING, BEARING NO RESEMBLANCE TO THE HUMAN FORM.

MELKONIS Holy Christ...

Standard shines his light on the console at which the hideous skeleton is seated. He moves his light closer and peers at the panel.

STANDARD Look at this...

They approach.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Something has been scratched here... into the veneer. See?

Traced raggedly onto the surface of the panel, as by the point of a sharp instrument, is a small triangle:

Hearing something, Broussard flashes his light across the room. As the beam scans the walls, it briefly touches on SOMETHING THAT MOVES.

Melkonis convulsively yanks out his pistol.

MELKONIS LOOK OUT, IT MOVED!

Standard knocks his hand down.

STANDARD Keep away from that gun!

Standard shoulders himself in front of the others. Then, slowly, he begins to move toward the far side of the room.

They approach a console on the wall, training their lights on it. There is a machine. On the machine, a small bar moves steadily back and forth, sliding noiselessly in its grooves.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Just machinery.

BROUSSARD But functioning.

Melkonis looks down at his direction finder.

MELKONIS That's where the transmission is coming from.

He throws a switch on the direction finder -- with a crackle and a hum, the UNEARTHLY VOICE fills their earphones.

BROUSSARD A recording. A damned automatic recording.

EXTERIOR - PLANETOID - SUNSET

SINISTER ANGLE ON THE SNARK. As we watch, the sunlight turns the color of blood, and then the sun is down, leaving murky blackness in its wake. The ring of floodlights on the ship flares into life, feebly combatting the darkness and the storm.

INTERIOR - MULTI-PURPOSE ROOM

The entire crew is seated around the conference table, watching holographic pictures projected onto a screen. These are photos taken by their "datasticks" (flashlight/cameras).

Standard is commenting on the changing slides.

STANDARD ... This is the control room...

Two or three pictures click onto the screen in succession, showing the suited men standing against banks of machinery.

STANDARD (CONT'D) ... Some details of the control room...

The SKELETON appears on the screen. The men react with mutters.

STANDARD (CONT'D) ... This is the skeleton... another view of the skeleton... the transmitting device...

The triangle that was cut into the alien's console appears.

STANDARD (CONT'D) ... This is a closeup of the triangle we found scrawled on the console in front of the skeleton...

Standard changes the slide. The screen goes white.

STANDARD (CONT'D) ... And that's it.

He turns off the projector and brings the lights up.

HUNTER Phenomenal. Staggering.

BROUSSARD We've got to go back and take a lot more pictures, holograph everything.

MELKONIS And bring back as much physical evidence as possible, too. The rest of the skeleton. Some of the machinery. Written records, if there are any.

Roby is slumped in his chair. He has said nothing.

STANDARD Martin?

ROBY I agree. This is the single most important discovery in history.

STANDARD But?

ROBY What killed it?

BROUSSARD Hell, that thing's been dead for years. Maybe hundreds of years. The whole planet's dead.

FAUST The way I figure it, they landed here for repairs or something, then they couldn't take off again. Maybe the dust ruined their engines. They set up an S.O.S. beacon, but nobody came. So they died.

ROBY He died.

FAUST What?

ROBY Not they... he...

They all turn to look in the direction of Roby's nod. CAMERA MOVES OVER TO REVEAL THE ALIEN SKULL SITTING ON A TABLE.

ROBY (CONT'D) ... There was only one skeleton.

There is a moment of silence.

STANDARD Jay... how's it coming on the repairs?

FAUST Well... I'm going to have to blow the engines out...

STANDARD And when will you be ready to do that?

FAUST Oh -- I'm not near ready yet.

STANDARD Then why the hell are you sitting around here?

FAUST Right.

The men rise and begin to disperse, but Roby remains seated, deep in thought, staring at the skull. Melkonis lingers in the room with him.

MELKONIS And there sits man's first contact with intelligent life in the universe.

EXTERIOR - SHIP - NIGHT

ANGLE ON THE SHIP, its spotlights cutting into the gloom.

INTERIOR - ENGINE ROOM

A room throbbing with power, enormous pulsing engines capable of releasing unimaginable energies.

Faust has a complicated arrangement set up at the base of one of the engines, with spotlights on it. He is wearing goggles and thin gloves.

FAUST You ready up there?

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - NIGHT

Broussard and Melkonis are seated at their consoles, conversing with Faust while they watch their instruments.

BROUSSARD Sure, we're ready.

INTERIOR - ENGINE ROOM

FAUST Okay. I'm going to start the extraction procedure now.

He pauses to wipe his brow.

INTERIOR - MULTI-PURPOSE ROOM

Roby is alone in the room, slumped into a chair, watching the photographic slides on the screen. He is clicking slowly through them. He stops on an angle of the skeleton, and stares at it.

The alien's misshapen skull is sitting on the table next to him. He picks it up, holds it up to the screen for comparison, and studies it.

Standard appears in the doorway.

STANDARD Alas, poor Yorick.

Roby STARTS, puts down the skull. Standard sits at the table.

STANDARD (CONT'D) (nodding at the screen) Find anything we missed?

ROBY (shrugs) I don't even know what I'm looking for.

STANDARD Still worried?

ROBY Oh well... you know me.

STANDARD I've always respected your opinion, Martin. If something worries you, it worries me.

Roby reaches over and changes the slide, to the one of the CRUDELY DRAWN TRIANGLE ON THE ALIEN CONTROL PANEL.

ROBY What would you say that was supposed to mean?

STANDARD Well... it's obviously intentional... some kind of attempt at communication... maybe it's a symbol that means something to them...

ROBY But why draw it on the wall?

Roby switches off the projector, sits up, and rubs his face wearily.

He rises and goes to the coffee machine.

ROBY (CONT'D) (picking a hair out of the coffeepot) This ship is full of cat hair.

STANDARD Tell you what, Martin. As soon as the engine's fixed --

BEEP! The communicator interrupts Standard. He leans across and presses the button.

STANDARD (CONT'D) This is Chaz.

BROUSSARD (over, filtered) Chaz, this is Dell. Can you come topside for a minute?

STANDARD What's up?

BROUSSARD (over, filtered) Well, the sun just came up again, and it seems the wind's died down. It's as clear as a bell outside. There's something I think you ought to see.

STANDARD I'm on my way.

He and Roby head for the door.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

Broussard is alone in the control room when Standard and Roby arrive.

STANDARD What is it?

BROUSSARD Take a look.

EXTERIOR - SHIP - DAY

The dust no longer blows. The day is crisp, clear, and silent.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

BROUSSARD I was scanning the horizon to see what I could pick up. Look there, on that screen.

STANDARD What is it, I can't --

BLIP! Broussard enlarges the image.

The screen now shows a TAPERING STONE PYRAMID on the horizon.

They all stare at the image for a long moment. The silhouette of the PYRAMID IS INSTANTLY SUGGESTIVE OF THE SCRAWLED TRIANGLE in the alien ship.

Standard presses the nearest communicator and speaks into the grille.

STANDARD This is Chaz. All hands topside. Now.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY - A LITTLE LATER

ANGLE ON A VIEWSCREEN. It shows the PYRAMID on the horizon. CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal all the men, sitting and standing around the room.

STANDARD Doesn't seem much doubt about it, does there?

MELKONIS That creature sure must have considered it important... using his last strength to draw it...

BROUSSARD Maybe they built it.

FAUST As what?

BROUSSARD A marker for buried instrumentation?

HUNTER Or a mass grave.

BROUSSARD Maybe the rest of the crew is in there -- in some kind of suspended animation, waiting to be rescued.

MELKONIS It wasn't necessarily built by them.

On the screens, a puff of DUST blows in front of the pyramid.

ROBY Here comes the dust again.

EXTERIOR - SHIP - DAY

WITH A SHRIEK, THE DUST STORM RETURNS, completely obscuring the SNARK.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

STANDARD Well, does anyone else agree with Martin that we should not explore it?

Everyone looks around the room, but no one volunteers.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Then the sooner we get moving, the better.

EXTERIOR - PLANETOID - DAY

LONG SHOT OF THE STONE PYRAMID, dust blowing in front of it. It is a crumbling, ancient edifice, made of eroded grey stones, windowless, tapering toward the top.

Standard, Broussard, and Melkonis, wearing the protective suits, approach the pyramid. As they draw near, it becomes clear that the pyramid is roughly 50 feet tall.

STANDARD We can't make out any details or features yet... but it's definitely too regular for a natural formation...

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

Roby and Hunter are present. They are listening to Standard's VOICE ON THE RADIO.

STANDARD (CONT'D) (over, filtered) ... There's one thing I can say for sure though...

BUZZZZZ! Standard's voice is DROWNED OUT BY STATIC.

ROBY Now what's wrong?

HUNTER I've completely lost their signal.

ROBY Can you get them back?

HUNTER I'm trying.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - DAY

The three men come to the base of the massive structure. Dust and sand have piled thickly around the crumbling, grey stones that form the base.

MELKONIS This looks ancient.

STANDARD Can't tell -- these weather conditions could erode anything, fast.

They walk around the base.

BROUSSARD There's no entrance.

MELKONIS Maybe the entrance is buried. Could be under our feet.

STANDARD Maybe there is no entrance; the thing may be solid.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

ROBY Well, there ought to be some way we can get through to them --

The INTERCOM BEEPS. Faust's voice is heard.

FAUST (over, filtered) Sorry to interrupt, but I'm gonna charge up the engines for a minute, okay?

ROBY Yeah, okay. Go ahead.

A LOUD, POWERFUL THROBBING BEGINS, drowning out all other sounds, as the engines are tested.

A light on Roby's panel is FLASHING. We can see that it is the COMPUTER ALERT.

Irritably, Roby throws the switch.

ROBY (CONT'D) Yes!

COMPUTER I have a temporary sequence on the monitor --

ROBY Hold it, I can't hear a damn thing!

He puts an earphone to his ear and switches the computer's voice over.

ROBY (CONT'D) Go ahead!

There is a PAUSE while Roby listens to the computer. His eyes widen.

ROBY (CONT'D) You mean... you've translated it?

Another PAUSE as he listens to the earphone.

ROBY (CONT'D) Well come on, come on! What does it say?

Another PAUSE. Roby's face changes; he looks CHILLED TO THE BONE. His mouth works.

Abruptly, THE ENGINES SHUT OFF, LEAVING A RINGING SILENCE.

HUNTER (looking over at Roby) What? What was that?

ROBY The computer just translated the goddamn message. It's not an S.O.S. It was a warning.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - DAY

BROUSSARD Maybe we can get in by the top.

STANDARD You want to try?

BROUSSARD Sure.

Broussard takes out the graplon-gun, and fires the hook up toward the top of the pyramid. It catches. He clips himself to the wire.

BROUSSARD (CONT'D) You guys just wait down here till I say it's okay to come up.

Broussard turns on the climbing device, and begins to walk up the side of the pyramid.

OMINOUS ANGLES showing Broussard climbing the pyramid, the dust blowing, the wind shrieking.

EXTERIOR - TOP OF PYRAMID - DAY

The peak of the pyramid is in extreme disrepair. Broussard arrives at the top and clings to the jagged, crumbling stones.

BROUSSARD There's a hole at the top.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - DAY

STANDARD Can we come up?

BROUSSARD (over, filtered) No, it's too small, only room enough for one person.

STANDARD Can you see anything in the hole?

EXTERIOR - TOP OF PYRAMID - DAY

Broussard leans over and looks into the hole. He sees only blackness.

Freeing one arm, he unclips his datastick from his belt, switches on the "flashlight" function, and shines it down into the hole.

BROUSSARD I can see... partway down. It just goes down like a stovepipe. Smooth walls. I can't see the bottom -- light won't reach.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

Faust comes trotting up the steps, a questioning look on his face.

FAUST Yes? What is it?

ROBY Jay, we've got a problem. I was wondering if there was any way you could shortcut the repairs and give us immediate takeoff capability.

FAUST (quickly) Why, what's wrong?

ROBY The computer's translated the alien signal, and it's kind of alarming.

FAUST What do you mean?

ROBY It couldn't translate the whole thing, only three phrases. I'll just read it to you the way I got it: (reads from a strip of paper) "... HOSTILE... SURVIVAL... ADVISE DO NOT LAND... " (looks up at the others) And that's all it could translate.

EXTERIOR - TOP OF PYRAMID - DAY

Hanging from the lip of the hole, Broussard is unclipping gear from his belt.

STANDARD (over, filtered) Dell, you want to come down, we can figure out where to go from here.

BROUSSARD No, I want to go in.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - DAY

Standard and Melkonis exchange a glance.

STANDARD Okay, Dell, but just for a preliminary look-around. Don't unhook yourself from your cable. And be out in less than ten minutes.

EXTERIOR - TOP OF PYRAMID - DAY

BROUSSARD Right.

Broussard has rigged a tripod across the mouth of the hole. He unspools a couple feet of wire from the device, and attaches the end of it to his chest unit.

He climbs over the lip and drops into the hole. He is now hanging by the wire, with his head and shoulders out of the hole.

BROUSSARD (CONT'D) Okay, I'm in the mouth of the chimney now, and I'm starting down.

STANDARD (over, filtered) Take care.

Broussard activates the climbing unit and lowers himself down into the hole.

INTERIOR - PYRAMID - DAY

Bracing his feet against the rough stone wall of the vertical tunnel, Broussard switches on his datastick and points it down into the depths.

The beam penetrates only thirty feet or so, then is lost in darkness.

BROUSSARD It's noticeably warmer in here. Warm air rising from below.

He starts down, paying out the line and moving down in short hops, pushing off each time with his feet.

He stops to catch his breath. His breathing rasps loudly in his helmet.

A little sunlight filters down from above. Looking up, he can see the mouth of the hole, a glowing spot of light.

Standard's voice comes over his earphones.

STANDARD (over, filtered) Are you okay in there?

BROUSSARD (gasping for breath) Yeah, I'm okay. Haven't hit bottom yet. Definitely a column of warm air rising; it keeps the shaft clear of dust.

STANDARD (over, filtered) What was that Dell, I lost you, do you read me?

BROUSSARD Yeah, but this is hard work. Can't talk now.

He kicks off and continues down, taking longer and longer hops as he gains confidence.

Pausing for a moment to regain his breath, he shines the light on his instruments.

BROUSSARD (CONT'D) I'm way below ground level.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - DAY

STANDARD What'd he say?

MELKONIS I couldn't make it out -- too much interference.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - DAY

Roby and Hunter.

HUNTER I'm getting nowhere. The whole area around the pyramid is dead to transmission. I think we should go after them.

ROBY No.

HUNTER What do you mean, no?

ROBY We're not going anywhere.

HUNTER But they don't know about the translation! They could be in danger right now.

ROBY We can't spare the personnel. We've got minimum takeoff capability right now. That's why Chaz left us on board.

HUNTER Why, you chickenshit bastard --

ROBY Just can that crap! I'm in command here till Chaz returns! And nobody's leaving this ship!

INTERIOR - PYRAMID - DAY

Broussard resumes his downward climb. SUDDENLY, HIS FEET LOSE THEIR PURCHASE AS THE WALLS OF THE SHAFT DISAPPEAR.

The tunnel has reached its end. Below him is an unfathomable, cavernous space.

BROUSSARD (huffing and puffing) Tunnel's gone -- cave or something below me -- feels like the tropics in here; air is warm and humid... (consults his instruments) ... high oxygen content, no dust, it's completely breathable --

Puffing with exertion, he releases his purchase on the stone walls and begins to lower himself on power. Now he is dangling free in darkness, spinning slowly on the wire as the chest unit unwinds.

Finally, his feet hit bottom. He grunts in surprise and almost loses his balance.

INTERIOR - TOMB - DAY

Broussard is standing on a dusty stone floor, with a feeble column of sunlight shining down around him from the tunnel above. Around is solid darkness.

He flashes his datastick around. The beam reveals that he is in a stone room. STRANGE HEIROGLYPHICS are carved into the walls. They have a primitive, religious appearance. Row after row of pictograms stretch from floor to ceiling, some epic history in an unknown language. Huge religious symbols dominate one wall.

Spaced at intervals are stylized stone statues, depicting grotesque monsters, half anthropoid, half octopus.

BROUSSARD It's unbelievable! It's like some kind of tomb... some primitive religion! Hey, is anybody there? Do you read me? Standard!

Annoyed, Broussard yanks off his breathing goggles, and leaves them hanging around his neck. He takes a deep breath of the wet air.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - LATE AFTERNOON

Standard and Melkonis are standing around nervously.

STANDARD If we don't hear from him soon, I think we better go in after him.

MELKONIS Sun will be down in a minute.

INTERIOR - TOMB - LATE AFTERNOON

Face bare, Broussard approaches the center of the room, which is dominated by a large, broad pedestal. On the pedestal are ROWS OF LEATHERY URNS OR JARS, EXACTLY LIKE THE ONE BROUSSARD STUMBLED ACROSS IN THE ALIEN SHIP -- EXCEPT THESE ARE ALL SEALED.

He walks around the urns, studying them. They all have sealed lids. He shines his light on one of them; then he lays his gloved hand on it.

He lifts his mask radio to his lips.

BROUSSARD I don't know if you can hear me, but the place is full of large bottles or jars, just like the one we found on the other ship -- except these are all sealed. Also they're soft to the touch.

He peers more closely at the leathery object.

BROUSSARD (CONT'D) Another funny thing -- I just put my hand on it, and now there are these raised areas appearing where my fingertips were.

EXTERIOR - BASE OF PYRAMID - DAY

THE SUN DROPS BELOW THE HORIZON, throwing the landscape into gloom. Standard and Melkonis switch on their lights.

STANDARD Let's go.

He attaches his chest unit to the wire and starts up.

INTERIOR - TOMB - NIGHT

Broussard is moving his light along the rows of heiroglyphs on the wall. They depict stylized drawings of strange monsters.

He pauses to quickly change the film clip in his datastick; then he turns back to the "urn" he was examining -- BUT NOW THERE IS A HOLE IN THE TOP OF IT.

He shines his light on the floor at the base of the "urn." There lies the "lid" -- the stopper that had filled the hole. He picks it up and studies it. It appears more organic than artificial; the inside surface is spongy and irregular.

Then he turns the light to the now-open "urn."

He bends over the mouth of the "urn" shining the light in, AND WITH SHOCKING VIOLENCE, A SMALL, OCTOPUS-LIKE THING LEAPS OUT AND ATTACHES ITSELF TO HIS FACE, WRAPPING ITS TENTACLES AROUND HIS HEAD.

With a MUFFLED SCREAM, he launches himself backward, tearing at the thing with his hands.

EXTERIOR - TOP OF PYRAMID - NIGHT

The dust blows and howls as Standard and Melkonis arrive at the top, lights bobbing in the darkness.

STANDARD (puffing with exertion) Here's his line. We can haul him out of there if we have to.

MELKONIS It'll yank him right off his feet if he's not expecting it. The line could get tangled in something.

STANDARD But what can we do? He's out of radio contact.

MELKONIS Maybe we should just wait a few more minutes.

Standard hesitates, clinging to the lip of the hole.

STANDARD (making up his mind) No, I told him to be out in ten minutes. It's been much longer. Let's get him out of there.

Standard pulls himself up and crouches precariously on the edge of the tunnel. He begins to fiddle with the winch mechanism from which Broussard's line dangles.

STANDARD (CONT'D) The line's slack. Christ, do you think the idiot unhooked himself?

He switches on the winch motor. With a whine, it begins to reel the line in. After a moment, the line TIGHTENS WITH A JERK -- and the motor slows down, laboring under the added weight.

STANDARD (CONT'D) There, it caught!

MELKONIS Is it still coming up, or is it hooked on something?

STANDARD No, it's coming.

MELKONIS Can you see anything?

Standard shines his light down into the hole.

STANDARD No, I can't see far enough. The line's moving, though.

For a moment, the two men hang to the narrow top of the pyramid, saving their strength, while the line reels in and the wind howls. Then Standard shines his light back down in.

STANDARD (CONT'D) I can see him! Here he comes!

The winch begins to LABOR HEAVILY.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Get ready to grab him!

Broussard appears at the top of the pit, dangling limply from the wire. Standard reaches for him -- then RECOILS SHARPLY.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Look out! There's something on his face!

Melkonis attempts to come to his aid.

MELKONIS What is it?

STANDARD Don't touch him, watch it!

In their panic and confusion, the men teeter momentarily, finally regain their balance. They shine their lights on Broussard.

He appears to be completely unconscious -- AND THE OCTOPUS THING IS STILL WRAPPED AROUND HIS FACE, MOTIONLESS.

MELKONIS Oh God, oh God no.

STANDARD Help me -- I'm going to try to get it off.

With his gloved hands, Standard grasps the tentacled mess and tries to pull it from Broussard's head.

STANDARD (CONT'D) It won't come -- it's stuck.

MELKONIS What is it?

STANDARD How the hell should I know? Come on, give me a hand, let's get him out of there!

The two men grapple with Broussard's limp body, lifting him from the hole.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - NIGHT

Roby and Hunter are sitting moodily, silent. There is a long moment while nothing is said, then:

HUNTER I've got 'em! They're back on my screens!

ROBY (leaps to his feet) How many?

HUNTER Three blips! They're coming this way!

Roby grabs a microphone.

ROBY (into mike) Hey, can you guys hear me?

STANDARD (over, filtered) Yeah, we hear you! We're coming back!

ROBY Thank Christ! We lost you! Listen, there's been a new development --

STANDARD (over, filtered) Can't talk now; Broussard's injured. We'll need some help getting him into the ship.

Roby collapses into a chair, suddenly limp with apprehension. He's feared something like this all along, and now it has begun to happen.

ROBY (to himself) Oh no.

HUNTER (into intercom) Jay, this is Cleave! Meet me at the main air lock!

Hunter dashes from the room.

Roby remains where he is, seated at his console. He is stunned, his mind racing. CAMERA MOVES IN ON HIS FACE.

INTERIOR - CORRIDOR OUTSIDE AIR LOCK - NIGHT

Hunter comes racing down the steps and hurries up to the inner lock door.

He presses the wall intercom.

HUNTER (into intercom) Martin, I'm by the inner lock door! I'll wait here for you to let them in!

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - NIGHT

ROBY (strangely quiet) Right.

INTERIOR - CORRIDOR OUTSIDE AIR LOCK - NIGHT

Faust comes running up, covered with grime.

FAUST What the hell's going on?

HUNTER Don't know -- Broussard got hurt somehow.

FAUST Hurt! How?

HUNTER Don't know -- maybe we'll be real lucky and he just broke his neck. (a beat) I knew we shouldn't of come down here.

INTERIOR - BRIDGE - NIGHT

Roby is seated alone in the room, listening to the transmission from Standard and Melkonis.

STANDARD (over, filtered) Martin, are you there?

Roby leans forward and speaks into the microphone.

ROBY Here, Chaz.

STANDARD (over, filtered) We're coming up now, open the outer lock door.

ROBY Chaz -- what happened to Broussard?

STANDARD (over, filtered) It's some kind of organism, it's attached itself to him. Let us in.

Roby does not reply.

STANDARD (CONT'D) (over, filtered) You hear me, Martin? Open the outer door.

ROBY Chaz, if it's an organism, and we let it in, the ship will be infected.

STANDARD (over, filtered) We can't leave him out here, open the door.

ROBY (urgently) Chaz, listen to me -- we've broken every rule of quarantine. If we bring an organism on board, we won't have a single layer of defense left.

STANDARD (over, filtered) Martin, this is an order! Open the door!

Hating it, Roby leans forward and throws the switch.

INTERIOR - CORRIDOR OUTSIDE AIR LOCK - NIGHT

A RED LIGHT goes on, on a console on the wall. The whine of a large servo is heard, followed by a solid metallic CLUNK.

HUNTER Outer door's open.

After a moment, they hear the motor sound again, followed by another CLUNK. The outer door has closed again. The red light goes off.

The inner door slides open, and Standard and Melkonis stagger through, carrying the sagging body of Broussard. A cloud of choking dust follows them out of the lock.

STANDARD (pulling off his mask) You men stay clear, there's a parasite on him.

Hunter and Faust RECOIL.

HUNTER Oh -- God -- oh --

FAUST Is it alive?

STANDARD I don't know but don't touch it. Give us a hand here, let's get him up to the Autodoc.

Hunter and Faust move in carefully to help with the limp burden.

INTERIOR - INFIRMARY

One of them flicks on the lights as they come shuffling into the medical room, carrying Broussard.

Revealed is a rather small cubicle whose walls are lined with machinery. The principle item of interest is a mechanized bunk bed, which rests in a cradle and slides in and out of a slot in the wall.

STANDARD Help me, come on, let's get him up here.

They slide the man onto the bunk.

HUNTER That thing, God almighty, didn't you try to get it off him?

STANDARD It wouldn't come.

Standard yanks off his gloves.

STANDARD (CONT'D) Medical gloves.

They pull thin elastic gloves from a dispenser in the wall, and pull them on.

Gingerly, they approach Broussard.

Standard places his hands on the octopus-thing that is slowly pulsing on Broussard's face. He grasps the tentacles in his hands and tries to pull it free.

STANDARD (CONT'D) It's really on there tight.

FAUST Here, let me try.

Faust takes a pair of pliers from a rack, and carefully grasps the tip of one of the tentacles. Squeezing tightly, he leans back with all his weight.

STANDARD (grabbing Faust's hands) Stop it, you're tearing his face.

A trickle of blood begins to ooze down Broussard's cheek.

MELKONIS It's not coming off -- not without his whole face coming off too.

STANDARD Let's let the machine work on him.

Efficiently, they strip Broussard naked, then Standard presses a couple of switches on the wall. The machine lights up, and Broussard is sucked into the slot in the wall.

He is visible inside. The machine immediately sprays a cloud of disinfectant on him, then sterilizes him with a blinding pink light.

A bank of video monitors pops on, revealing X-ray images of different parts of his body. Sensors begin to scan, relays chatter.

ROBY APPEARS IN THE DOORWAY.

Standard turns and looks at him. For a long moment, the two men regard each other, then STANDARD STEPS FORWARD AND SLAPS ROBY ACROSS THE FACE.

The others are shocked.

HUNTER Hey now, what is this?

STANDARD Ask him.

ROBY (slowly puts his hand to his cheek) I understand why you did that.

STANDARD Good.

MELKONIS He wouldn't open the lock; he was going to leave us out there.

HUNTER Yeah... well, maybe he should have. I mean, you brought the goddamn thing in here. Maybe you deserve to get slapped.

FAUST (embarrassed) Excuse me, I've got work to do.

Faust exits.

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