>>/ Aliens

/ Aliens. .

: / Aliens.

/ Aliens

FADE IN

SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE - SPACE 1

Silent and endless. The stars shine like the love of God...cold and remote. Against them drifts a tiny chip of technology.

CLOSER SHOT It is the NARCISSUS, lifeboat of the ill-fated star-freighter Nostromo. Without interior or running lights it seems devoid of life. The PING of a RANGING RADAR grows louder, closer. A shadow engulfs the Narcissus. Searchlights flash on, playing over the tiny ship, as a MASSIVE DARK HULL descends toward it.

INT. NARCISSUS 2

Dark and dormant as a crypt. The searchlights stream in the dusty windows. Outside, massive metal forms can BE SEEN descending around the shuttle. Like the tolling of a bell, a BASSO PROFUNDO CLANG reverberates through the hull.

CLOSE ON THE AIRLOCK DOOR Light glares as a cutting torch bursts through the metal. Sparks shower into the room.

A second torch cuts through. They move with machine precision, cutting a rectangular path, converging. The torches meet. Cut off. The door falls inward REVEALING a bizarre multi-armed figure. A ROBOT WELDER.

FIGURES ENTER, backlit and ominous. THREE MEN in bio-isolation suits, carrying lights and equipment. They approach a sarcophaguslike HYPERSLEEP CAPSULE, f.g.

LEADER (filtered) Internal pressure positive. Assume nominal hull integrity. Hypersleep capsules, style circa late twenties...

His gloved hand wipes at on opaque layer of dust on the canopy.

ANGLE INSIDE CAPSULE as light stabs in where the dust is wiped away, illuminating a WOMAN, her face in peaceful repose.

WARRANT OFFICER RIPLEY, sole survivor of the Nostromo. Nestled next to her is JONES, the ship's wayward cat.

LEADER (voice over; filtered) Lights are green. She's alive. Well, there goes out salvage, guys.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - TIGHT ON RIPLEY - GATEWAY STATION 3

She's lying in a bed, looking wan, as a female MED-TECH raises the backrest. She is surrounded by arcane white MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. The Med-Tech exudes practiced cheeriness.

MED-TECH Why don't I open the viewport? Watch your eyes.

Harsh light floods in as a motorized shield slides into the ceiling, REVEALING a breathtaking vista. Beyond the sprawling complex of modular habitats, collectively called GATEWAY STATION, is the curve of EARTH as seen from high orbit. Blue and serene.

MED-TECH And how are we today?

RIPLEY (weakly) Terrible.

MED-TECH Just terrible? That's better than yesterday at least.

RIPLEY How long have I been on Gateway station?

MED-TECH Just a couple of days. Do you feel up to a visitor?

Ripley shrugs, not caring. The door opens and a MAN enters, although Ripley sees only what he is carrying. A familiar large, orange TOMCAT.

RIPLEY Jones!

She grabs the cat like a life preserver.

RIPLEY (cooing baby-cat talk) Come here Jonesy you ugly old moose...you ugly thing.

Jones patiently endures Ripley's embarrassing display, seeming none the worse for wear. The visitor sits beside the bed and Ripley finally notices him. He is thirtyish and handsome, in a suit that looks executive or legal, the tie loosened with studied casualness. A smile referred to as "winning."

MAN Nice room. I'm Burke. Carter Burke. I work for the company, but other than that I'm an okay guy. Glad to see you're feeling better. I'm told the weakness and disorientation should pass soon. Side effects of the unusually long hypersleep, or something like that.

RIPLEY How long was I out there? They won't tell me anything.

BURKE (soothing) Well, maybe you shouldn't worry about that just yet.

Ripley grabs his arm, surprising him.

RIPLEY How long?

Burke gazes at her, thoughtful.

BURKE All right. My instinct says you're strong enough to handle this...Fifty-seven years.

Ripley is stunned. She seems to deflate, her expression passing through amazement and shock to realization of all she has lost. Friends. Family. Her world.

RIPLEY Fifty-seven...oh, Christ...

BURKE You'd drifted right through the core systems. It's blind luck that deep-salvage team caught you when they...are you all right?

Ripley coughs suddenly as if choking and her expression becomes one of dawning horror. Burke hands her a glass of water from the nightstand. She slaps it away. It shatters with a SMASH. Jones dives, yowling. Ripley grabs her chest, struggling as if she is strangling. The Med-Tech hits a console button.

MED-TECH (shouting) Code Blue! 415. Code Blue! 4-1-5!

Burke and the Med-Tech are holding Ripley's shoulders as she goes into convulsions. A DOCTOR and TWO TECHS run in. Ripley's back arches in agony.

RIPLEY No...noooo!

They try to restrain her as she thrashes, knocking over equipment. Her EKG races like mad. Jones, under a cabinet, hisses wide-eyed.

DOCTOR Hold her...Get me an airway, stat! And fifteen cc's of...Jesus!

AN EXPLOSION OF BLOOD beneath the sheet covering her chest! Ripley stares at the SHAPE RISING UNDER THE SHEET. Tearing itself out of her.

HER P.O.V. as the sheet rises. A GLIMPSE OF the CHITTERING HORROR...IT SCREECHES.

TIGHT ON RIPLEY screaming, snapping up INTO FRAME. Alone in the darkened hospital room. She gasps for breath, clutching pathetically at her chest. There is no demented horror rigging itself out of her. Her eyes snap about wildly, slowly focusing on the reality of her safety. Shuddering, bathed in sweat, she kneads her breastbone with the heel of her hand and sobs.

A VIDEO MONITOR beside the bed snaps on. A MED-TECH's face.

MED-TECH Bad dreams again? Do you want something to help you sleep?

RIPLEY (faint) No.. I've slept enough.

The Med-Tech shrugs and switches off. Touching a button on the nightstand she opens the viewport, REVEALING Gateway and the turquoise Earth. She hugs Jones to her and rocks with him like a child, still shattered by the nightmare. Shivering. Sleep is far off.

RIPLEY We made it, Jones. We made it.

But at what price?

CUT TO:

EXT. PARK 4

Sunlight streams in shafts through a stand of poplars, beyond which a verdant meadow is VISIBLE.

EXTREME F.G. Jones stalks toward a bird hopping among fallen leaves. He leaps. And smack into A WALL.

RIPLEY (voice over) Dumbshit.

WIDER ANGLE as Jones steps back confused from the HIGH-RESOLUTION ENVIRONMENTAL WALL SCREEN, a sort of cinerama video-loop. Ripley sits on a bench in what we now SEE is an ATRIUM off the medical center, still somewhere in the bowels of Gateway Station. Benches. Some unenthusiastic potted trees. The sterile corridors VISIBLE beyond glass doors b.g.

Burke ENTERS in his usual mode, casual haste.

BURKE Sorry...I've been running behind all morning.

Ripley seems healthier now, but still a bit brittle.

RIPLEY Have they located my daughter yet?

BURKE Well, I was going to wait until after the inquest...

He opens his briefcase, removing a sheet of printer hard copy, including a telestat photo.

RIPLEY Is she...?

BURKE (scanning) Amanda Ripley-McClaren. Married name, I guess. Age: sixty-six ...at time of death. Two years ago. (looks at her) I'm sorry.

Ripley studies the PHOTOGRAPH, stunned.

The face of a woman in her mid-sixties. It could be anybody. She tries to reconcile the face with the little girl she once knew.

RIPLEY Amy.

BURKE (reading) Cancer. Hmmmm. They still haven't licked that one. Cremated. Interred Parkside Repository, Little Chute, Wisconsin. No children.

Ripley gazes off, into the pseudo-landscape, into the past.

RIPLEY I promised her I'd be home for her birthday. Her eleventh birthday. I sure missed that one. (pause) Well...she has already learned to take my promises with a grain of salt. When it came to flight schedules, anyway.

Burke nods, a simpatico presence.

RIPLEY You always think you can make it up to somebody...later, you know. But now I never can. I never can.

Let's get one thing straight...Ripley can be one tough lady. But the terror, the loss, the emptiness are, in this moment, overwhelming. She cries silently.

Burke puts a reassuring hand on her arm.

BURKE (gently) The hearing convenes at 0930. You don't want to be late.

INT. CORRIDOR - GATEWAY 5

Elevator doors part and Ripley emerges, in mid-conversation with Burke. DOLLYING AHEAD OF THEM as they move rapidly down the corridor.

RIPLEY You read my deposition...it's complete and accurate.

BURKE Look, I believe you, but there are going to be some heavyweights in there. You got Feds, you got interstellar commerce commission, you got colonial administration, insurance company guys...

RIPLEY I get the picture.

BURKE Just tell them what happened. The important thing is to stay cool and unemotional.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM - ON RIPLEY - GATEWAY 6

She's not cool. Not unemotional.

RIPLEY Do you people have earwax, of what? We have been here three hours. How many different ways do you want me to tell the same story?

She faces the EIGHT MEMBERS of the board of inquiry at a long conference table. Gray suits and grim faces. They aren't buying. Behind Ripley on a large VIDEO SCREEN, PARKER grins like a goon from his personnel mugshot. His file prints out next to it. BRETT's face and dossier replace it, and then the others as the SCENE continues... KANE, LAMBERT, ASH the android traitor, DALLAS. VAN LEUWEN, the ICC representative, steeples his fingers and frowns.

VAN LEUWEN Look at it from our perspective. You freely admit to detonating the engines of, and thereby destroying, an M-Class star-freighter. A rather expensive piece of hardware...

INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR (dryly) Forty-two million in adjusted dollars. That's minus payload, of course.

VAN LEUWEN The shuttle's flight recorder corroborates some elements of your account. That the Nostromo set down on LV-426, an unsurveyed planet, at that time. That repairs were made. That it resumed its course and was subsequently set for self-destruct. By you. For reasons unknown.

RIPLEY Look, I told you...

VAN LEUWEN It did not, however, contain any entries concerning the hostile life form you allegedly picked up.

Ripley sense the noose tightening.

RIPLEY Then somebody's gotten to it... doctored the recorder. Who had access to it?

The ECA (Extrasolar Colonization Administration) Representative (ECA REP) just shakes his head.

ECA REP Would you just listen to yourself for one minute.

Ripley glares at the ECA Rep, a woman on the ungenerous side of fifty. Van Leuwen sighs with exasperation.

VAN LEUWEN The analysis team which went over your shuttle centimeter by centimeter found no physical evidence of the creature you describe...

RIPLEY (losing it) That's because I blew it out the Goddamn airlock! (pause) Like I said.

INSURANCE MAN (to ECA Rep) Are there any species like this 'hostile organism' on LV-426?

ECA REP No. It's a rock. No indigenous life larger than a simple virus.

Ripley grits her teeth in frustration.

RIPLEY I told you, it wasn't indigenous. There was an alien spacecraft there. A derelict ship. We homed on its beacon...

ECA REP To be perfectly frank, we've surveyed over three hundred worlds and no one's ever reported a creature which, using your words... (read from Ripley's statement) ...'gestates in a living human host' and has 'concentrated molecular acid for blood.'

Ripley glances at Burke, silent at the far end of the table. His expression is grim. Her mouth hardens as a bit of the old nail-eating Ripley surfaces.

RIPLEY Look, I can see where this is going. But I'm telling you those things exist. Back on that planetoid is an alien ship and on that ship are thousands of eggs. Thousands. Do you understand? I suggest you find it, using the flight recorder's data. Find it and deal with it -- before one of your survey teams comes back with a little surprise...

VAN LEUWEN Thank you, Officer Ripley. That will be...

RIPLEY (louder, stepping on him) ...because just one of those things managed to kill my entire crew, within twelve hours of hatching...

Van Leuwen stands, out of patience.

VAN LEUWEN Thank you, that will be all.

Ripley stares him down, glowering at the board.

RIPLEY That's not all, Goddamnit! If those things get back here, that will be all. Then you can just kiss it good-bye, Jack! Just kiss it goodbye.

Ripley turns sharply away, trembling with frustration and anger. Dallas looks back at her from the video screen, his eyes burning from the photograph, as we:

CUT TO:

INT. CORRIDOR 7

Ripley kicks the wall next to Burke who is getting coffee and donuts at a vending machine.

BURKE You had them eating out of your hand, kiddo.

RIPLEY They had their minds made up before I even went in there. They think I'm a head case.

BURKE (cheerfully) You are a head case. Have a donut.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM - TIGHT ON RIPLEY - LATER 8

Van Leuwen clears his throat.

VAN LEUWEN It is the finding of this board of inquiry that Warrent Officer Ellen Ripley, NOC-14672. has acted with questionable judgment and is unfit to hold an ICC license as a commercial flight officer.

Burke watches Ripley taking it on the chin, white-lipped but subdued.

VAN LEUWEN Said license is hereby suspended indefinitely. No criminal charges will be filed at this time and you are released on own recognizance for a six month period of psychometric probation, to include monthly review by an ICC psychiatric tech...

INT. CORRIDOR 9

DOLLY BACK as the conference room door bangs open and Ripley strides through. She shrugs off Burke's restraining arm and catches up to Van Leuwen walking down the corridor.

RIPLEY (insistent) Why won't you check out LV-426?

VAN LEUWEN (condescendingly) Because I don't have to. The people who live there checked it out years ago and they never reported and 'hostile organism' or alien ship. And by the way, they call it Acheron now.

RIPLEY What are you talking about. What people?

Van Leuwen steps into an elevator with some others, but Ripley holds the door from closing.

VAN LEUWEN Terraformers...planet engineers. It's what we call a shake 'n' bake colony. They set up atmosphere processors to make the air breathable...big job. Takes decades. They've already been there over twenty years. Peacefully.

The door tries to close. Ripley slams it back. People are getting annoyed.

RIPLEY How many colonists?

VAN LEUWEN Sixty, maybe seventy families.

RIPLEY (low) Sweet Jesus.

ELEVATOR PASSENGER Do you mind?

Ripley's hand slides off the door, strengthless.

TIGHT ON HER FROM INSIDE the elevator as the doors close like fate on her lost expression.

EXT. ALIEN LANDSCAPE - DAY 10

A hideous, storm-blasted vista. Tortured rock forms. Bleak twilight at midday.

PAN SLOWLY ONTO a CORRODED METAL SIGN set in concrete pylons, which reads:

HADLEY'S HOPE - POP. 159 "WELCOME TO ACHERON"

Some local has added below in spray-can graffiti "Have a nice day." Gale-force wind SCREECHES around the steel sign, driving a freezing rain.

The COLONY, b.g., is a squat complex with lots of floodlights.

EXT. COLONY COMPLEX 11

The town is a cluster of bunkerlike metal and concrete buildings connected by conduits. Neon signs throw garish colors across the vaultlike walls, advertising bars and other businesses. It looks like a sodden cross between the Krupps munitions works and a truckstop casino in the Nevada boondocks.

Huge-wheeled tractors crawl toadlike in the rutted "street" and vanish down rampways to underground garages.

ANGLE ON THE CONTROL BLOCK the largest structure. It resembles vaguely the superstructure of an aircraft carrier...a flying bridge.

VISIBLE across a half kilometer of barren heath, b.g., is the massive complex of the nearest ATMOSPHERE PROCESSOR, looking like a power plant bred with an active volcano. Its fiery glow pulses in the low cloud cover like a steel mill.

INT. MAIN CONCOURSE - NEAR CONTROL BLOCK 12

A central space, laid out like a scaled-down shopping mall with no styling flourishes. We SEE a cross section of the types of people who have come to live on Godforsaken Acheron. Tough. Pragmatic. "Grapes of Wrath" faces. Calloused hands. Not too many interior decorators. Some children race in the corridor on things that look suspiciously like "Big Wheels."

INT. OPERATIONS ROOM - CONTROL BLOCK 13

Jammed with computer terminals, technicians, displays... most of the business of running the colony flows through here. It's high tech but used and scrungy. Papers piled up. Coffee cup rings.

DOLLY AHEAD OF LYDECKER, the Assistant Operations Manager, as he catches up to the harried Operating Manager, SIMPSON.

LYDECKER You remember you sent some wildcatters out to that plateau, out past the Ilium range, a couple days ago?

SIMPSON Yeah. What?

LYDECKER There's a guy on the horn, mom-and-pop survey team. Says he's homing on something and wants to know if his claim will be honored.

SIMPSON Christ. Some honch in a cushy office on Earth says go look at a grid reference in the middle of nowhere, we look. They don't say why, and I don't ask. I don't ask because it takes two weeks to get an answer out here and the answer's always 'don't ask.'

LYDECKER So what do I tell this guy?

SIMPSON Tell him, as far as I'm concerned, he finds something it's his.

EXT. ACHERON - THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE - A SIX-WHEELED 14 TRACTOR - DAY

It roars across corrugated rock, blasting through soggy drifts of volcanic ash.

INT. TRACTOR 15

At the controls, intent on a PINGING scope, is RUSS JORDEN, independent prospector. Beside him is his wife/partner ANNE and in the back their two kids are playing among the heavy sampling equipment.

JORDEN (gloating cackle) Look at this fat, juicy magnetic profile. And it's mine, mine, mine.

ANNE Half mine, dear.

NEWT, their six-year-old daughter, yells from the back...

NEWT And half mine!

JORDEN I got too many partners.

NEWT Daddy, when are we going back to town?

JORDEN When we get rich, Newt.

NEWT You always say that. I wanna go back. I wanna play 'Monster Maze.'

Her older brother TIM sticks his jeering face close to hers.

TIM You cheat too much.

NEWT Do not. I'm just the best.

TIM Do too! You go in places we can't fit.

NEWT So! That's why I'm the best.

ANNE Knock it off! I catch either of you playing in the air ducts again I'll tan your hides.

NEWT Mom. All the kids play it...

JORDEN (reverently) Holy shiiit!

ANGLE THROUGH FRONT CANOPY ON a bizarre shape looming ahead. An enormous bonelike mass projecting upward from the bed of ash. The tractor slows.

Canted on its side and buckles against a rock outcropping by the lava flow, it is still recognizable as an EXTRATERRESTRIAL SHIP. Bio-mechanoid. Nonhuman design.

JORDEN Folks, we have scored big this time.

EXT. TRACTOR 16

Jorden and Anne step down, wearing ENVIRONMENT SUITS. Carrying LIGHTS, PACKS, CAMERAS, TEST GEAR. Their breath clouds in the chill air.

ANNE You kids stay inside. I mean it! We'll be right back.

They trudge toward the alien derelict.

ANNE Shouldn't we call in?

JORDEN Let's wait till we know what to call it in as.

ANNE (nervous) How about 'big weird thing'?

They pause at a twisted gash in the hull. Blackness inside.

INT./EXT. TRACTOR 17

Newt has her face pressed to the glass, steaming it. Watching her parents enter the strange ship. Tim GRABS HER from behind. She SHRIEKS.

TIM Cheater!

EXT. LANDSCAPE - NIGHT 18

The tractor and the derelict are dark and motionless. The wind HOWLS around them.

Tim is curled up in the driver's seat. Newt shakes him awake, trying hard not to cry.

NEWT Timmy...they've been gone a long time.

Tim considers the night. The wind. The vast landscape. He bites his lip.

TIM (quavering) It'll be okay, Newt. Dad knows what he's doing.

CRASH! Newt SCREAMS as the door beside her is RIPPED OPEN. A dark shape lunges inside!

Anne, panting and terrified, grabs the dash mike.

ANNE Mayday! Mayday! This is Alpha Kilo Two Four Niner calling Hadley Control. Repeat. This is...

As Anne shouts the mayday Newt looks past her, to the ground. Russ Jorden lies there inert, dragged somehow by Anne from inside the ship. There is SOMETHING ON HIS FACE. An appalling MULTILEGGED CREATURE, pulsing with obscene life. Newt begins to SCREAM hysterically, competing with the shrieking wind which rises to a crescendo as we:

CUT TO:

INT. RIPLEY'S APARTMENT - GATEWAY - DAY 20

Silence. Ripley, looking haggard, sits at a table in the dining alcove contemplating the smoke rising from her cigarette. The place is modest, to be charitable, and there are few personal touches. Though it's late in the day Ripley is still wearing a robe. The bed is unmade. Dishes in the sink. Jones prowls across the counter. The WALLSCREEN is on, blaring vapidly.

VOICE FROM VIDEO (o.s.) Hey, Bob! I heard you and the family are heading off for the colonies!

BON (o.s.) Best decision I ever made, Bill. We'll be starting a new life from scratch, in a clean world. No crime. No unemployment...

The door BUZZES. Ripley jumps like a cat. Jones doesn't.

INT. CORRIDOR 21

Carter Burke stands in the narrow, dingy corridor with LIEUTENANT GORMAN, Colonial Marine Corps. Young and severe in his officer's dress-black. The door opens slightly.

BURKE Hi, Ripley. This is Lieutenant Gorman of the...

SLAM. Burke buzzes again. Talks to the door...

BURKE Ripley we have to talk. (pause) They've lost contact with the colony on Acheron.

The door opens. Ripley considers the ramifications of that. She motions them inside.

INT. RIPLEY'S APARTMENT - A LITTLE LATER 22

Burke and Gorman are seated, nursing coffee. Ripley paces, very tense.

RIPLEY No. There's no way!

BURKE Hear me out...

RIPLEY I was reamed, steamed and dry-cleaned by you guys...and now you want me to go back out there? Forget it.

We SEE that she's gut scared, covering it with anger. Burke sees it.

BURKE Look, we don't know what's going on out there. It may just be a down transmitter. But if it's not, I want you there...as an advisor. That's all.

GORMAN You wouldn't be going in with the troops. I can guarantee your safety.

BURKE These Colonial Marines are some tough hombres, and they're packing state-of-the-art firepower. Nothing they can't handle...right, Lieutenant?

GORMAN (cool) We're trained to deal with these kinds of situations.

RIPLEY (to Burke) What about you? What's your interest in this?

BURKE Well, the corporation co-financed that colony with the Colonial Administration, against mineral rights. We're getting into a lot of terraforming...'Building Better Worlds.'

Burke is revealing his early days in sales.

RIPLEY Yeah, yeah. I saw the commercial.

BURKE I heard you were working in the cargo docks.

RIPLEY (defensive) That's right.

BURKE Running loaders, forklifts, that sort of thing?

RIPLEY (shrugging) It's all I could get. Anyway, it keeps my mind off of... everything. Days off are worse.

BURKE What if I said I could get you reinstated as a flight officer? And that the company has agreed to pick up your contract?

RIPLEY If I go.

BURKE If you go. (pause) It's a second chance, kiddo. And it'll be the best thing in the world for you to face this fear and beat it. You gotta get back on the horse...

RIPLEY (frosty) Spare me, Burke. I've had my psych evaluation this month.

Burke leans close, a let's-cut-the-crap intimacy.

BURKE Yes, and I've read it. You wake up every night, sheets soaking, the same nightmare over and over...

RIPLEY (shouting) No! The answer is no. Now please go. I'm sorry. Just go, would you.

Burke nods to Gorman who rises with him. He slips a TRANSLUCENT CARD onto the table, heads for the door.

BURKE Think about it.

EXT. ACHERON LANDSCAPE - NIGHT 23

As the wind HOWLS through tormented rock, BUILDING IN PITCH until we:

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT 24

Ripley lunges INTO FRAME with an animal outcry. She clutches her chest, breathing hard. Bathed in sweat she lights a cigarette with trembling hands. Do we hear a faint, desolate wind?

TIGHT ON PHONE CONSOLE as Ripley's hand inserts Burke's card into a slot. "STAND BY" prints out on the screen and is replaced by Burke's face, bleary with sleep.

BURKE (on video phone) Yello? Oh, Ripley. Hi...

RIPLEY Burke, just tell me one thing. That you're going out there to kill them. Not study. Not bring back. Just burn them out...clean ...forever.

BURKE That's the plan. My word on it.

CLOSEUP - RIPLEY taking a deep slow breath. It's time to look the demon in the eye.

RIPLEY All right. I'm in.

She punches off before Burke replies, before she can change her mind. She turns to Jones sitting on the bed and her tone becomes admonishing...

RIPLEY And you my dear, are staying right here.

Jones blinks, cynical cat eyes..."count me right out."

CUT TO:

EXT. DEEP SPACE - THREE WEEKS LATER 25

An empty starfield. Metal spires slice ACROSS FRAME.

A mountain of steel following. A massive military transport ship, the SULACO. Ugly, battered... functional.

INT. CORRIDOR TO CARGO LOCK 26

An empty corridor, seemingly miles long. No movement. The THRUMMING of hyperdrive engines.

INT. CARGO LOCK 27

An enormous chamber, cavernous and dark. Squatting in the shadows are two orbit-to-surface shuttles. DROP-SHIPS. Heavy machinery all around them... cranes, loading equipment.

INT. BRIDGE 28

Dark electronic womb. CAMERA DOLLIES SLOWLY among murmuring instrumentation. A sudden high-pitched TRILLING accompanies a sequence of lights. An alarm.

INT. HYPERSLEEP VAULT 29

Blackness, until a bank of indicators lights up. Hydraulics lift a grid of equipment from a row of horizontal HYPERSLEEP CYLINDERS. It reaches the ceiling. Locks.

CLOSE ON RIPLEY'S CAPSULE as trickles of water run down the frosted canopy.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HYPERSLEEP VAULT 30

Lit up, white and sterile.

The canopies of the row of capsules are raised. Ripley sits up. Rubs her arms briskly. Next to her Gorman and Burke are stirring and beyond them the troopers, wearing shorts and dog tags. They are:

MASTER SERGEANT APONE UNIT LEADER

CORPORAL HICKS B-TEAM LEADER

CORPORAL DIETRICH (female) MED-TECH

PFC HUDSON COM-TECH PFC VASQUEZ (female) 'SMART-GUN' OPERATOR

PRIVATE DRAKE 'SMART-GUN' OPERATOR

PRIVATE FROST TROOPER

PRIVATE CROWE TROOPER

PRIVATE WIERZBOWSKI TROOPER

CORPORAL FERRO (female) DROP-SHIP PILOT

PFC SPUNKMEYER DROP-SHIP CREW CHIEF

The ship is fully automated in interstellar flight so there is no crew, except for EXECUTIVE OFFICER (ECA) Bishop, who supervises planetary maneuvering.

GROANS echo across the chamber.

SPUNKMEYER Arrgh. I'm getting too old for this shit.

SPUNKMEYER says this sincerely, though he must have enlisted underage not long ago. Looking surly, DRAKE sits up. He's young as well but street-tough. Nasty scar curling his lip into a sneer.

DRAKE They ain't payin' us enough for this.

DIETRICH Not enough to have to wake up to your face, Drake.

DRAKE Suck air. Hey, Hicks...you look like I feel.

HICKS, an older lifer-type who keeps his own counsel, just snorts good-naturedly.

Ripley scans the group as they shuffle past her to a bank of lockers. Though not supermen they are lean and hardened...tough, capable, jaded. They combine the specialized techno-combat training of the twenty-first century fighting man with those qualities universal to "grunts" through the ages. SERGEANT APONE moves down the row of freezers.

HUDSON This floor's freezing.

APONE Christ. I never saw such a buncha old women. You want me to fetch your slippers, Hudson?

HUDSON Would you, Sir?

Ripley steps back as the troopers shuffle past nodding cursory hellos. She feels isolated by the camaraderie of this tightknit group.

VASQUEZ eyes her coldly as she passes. Like Drake, Vasquez is younger then the rest and her combat-primer was the street in a Los Angeles barrio. She is tough even by the standards of this group. Hard-muscled. Eyes cunning and mean.

HUDSON Hey, Vasquez...you ever been mistaken for a man?

VASQUEZ No. Have you?

She slaps Drake's open palm and it clenches into a greeting which is part contest. It gets rougher. Painful. Until she cuffs him hard and they break with vicious laughter. Dobermans playing. Conscripted from juvenile prison, the two of them were trained to operate the formidable "SMART-GUNS." That is part of their bond.

BISHOP is helping everyone like a valet. As he passes close to her Ripley notices a strange TATTOO across the back of his left hand...an ALPHA-NUMERIC CODE.

FROST Hey, hand job, you take my towel?

SPUNKMEYER (overlapping) I need some slack, man. How come they send us straight back out like this? We got some slack comin', man.

HICKS You just got three weeks.

SPUNKMEYER I mean breathing, not this frozen shit.

DIETRICH Yeah, 'Top'...what about it?

APONE You know it ain't up to me. (louder) Awright! Let's knock off the grabass. First assembly's in fifteen...let's shag it.

INT. SHOWERS 31

High pressure water jets and a blast of hot air when you step out...a drive through car wash for people. Through the swirling steam Hudson, Vasquez and FERRO are watching Ripley dry off.

VASQUEZ Who's the fresh meat again?

FERRO She's supposed to be some kinda consultant... (exaggerated) ...She was an alien once.

HUDSON Whoooah! No shit? I'm impressed.

APONE Let's go...let's go. Cycle through!

INT. MESS HALL 32

An unconscious segregation takes place at the troopers assemble at one long table while Gorman, Burke, Bishop and Ripley sit at another. Everybody is nursing a coffee, waiting for eggs from the AUTOCHEF. Among the troopers dress discipline is lax...fatigues customized and emblazoned with patches. Drake's tunic is cut off to a vest and has "Eat the apple and fuck the Corps" stenciled on back. "Peace Through Superior Firepower," "Pray for War" and "I've Served My Time in Hell: Cetti Epsilon NC-104" are some others.

HUDSON Hey, 'Top.' What's the op?

APONE Rescue mission. There's some juicy colonists' daughters we gotta rescue from virginity.

Apone is stocky, grizzled, with peregrine eyes. He runs it loose and fair, but only because he knows his people are the best.

SPUNKMEYER Shee-it. Dumbass colonists. What's this crap supposed to be?

WIERZBOWSKI Cornbread, I think. Hey, I wouldn't mind getting me some more a that Arcturan poontang. Remember that time?

HICKS (low) Looks like that new Lieutenant's too good to eat with us grunts.

WIERZBOWSKI (glancing over shoulder) Yeah. Got a corn cob up his ass, definitely.

Across the room, at the other table, Gorman sits with his creases perfect...the consummate strack NCO. Bishop takes a seat beside Ripley, who pointedly gets up and moves to the far side of the table. He looks wounded.

BISHOP I'm sorry you feel that way about Synthetics, Ripley.

Ripley spins on Burke, her tone accusing.

RIPLEY You never said anything about an android being here! Why not?

BURKE Well, it didn't occur to me. It's been policy for years to have a synthetic on board.

BISHOP I prefer the term 'artificial person' myself. Is there a problem?

BURKE A synthetic malfunctioned on her last trip out. Some deaths were involved.

BISHOP I'm shocked. Was it an older model?

BURKE Cyberdyne Systems 120-A/2.

Bishop turns to Ripley, very conciliatory.

BISHOP Well, that explains it. The A/2's were always a bit twitchy. That could never happen now with out behavioral inhibitors. Impossible for me to harm or, by omission of action, allow to be harmed a human being. (smiling) More cornbread?

WHAM! Ripley knocks the plate out of his hand, halfway across the room.

RIPLEY Just stay away from me, Bishop! You got that straight?

Burke and Gorman exchange glances.

Wierzbowski, at the next table, shrugs and turns back to the other troopers.

WIERZBOWSKI She don't like the cornbread either.

INT. READY ROOM - TIGHT ON APONE - ARMORY 33

bellowing.

APONE Tench-hut!

WIDER ANGLE as the troops snap to from their lounging among the racks of high-tech weaponry. Gorman enters with Burke and Ripley.

GORMAN At ease. I'm sorry we didn't have time to brief before we left Gateway but...

HUDSON Sir?

GORMAN (annoyed) Yes, Hicks?

HUDSON Hudson, Sir. He's Hicks.

GORMAN What's the question?

HUDSON Is this going to be a stand-up fight, Sir, on another bug-hunt?

GORMAN All we know is that there's still no contact with the colony and that a xenomorph may be involved.

WIERZBOWSKI A what?

HICKS (to Wierzbowski; low) It's a bug-hunt. (louder) So what are these things?

Gorman nods to Ripley, who stands before the troops. She sets some RECORDING DISKETTES on the table.

RIPLEY I've dictated what I know on these.

APONE Tease us a bit.

SPUNKMEYER Yeah...previews.

RIPLEY Okay. It's important to understand this organism's life cycle. It's actually two creatures. The first form hatches from a spore...a sort of large egg, and attaches itself to its victim. Then it injects an embryo, detaches and dies. It's essentially a walking sex organ. The --

HUDSON Sounds like you, Hicks.

RIPLEY (controlled) The embryo, the second form, hosts in the victim's body for several hours. Gestating. Then it... (with difficulty) ...then it...emerges. Moults. Grows rapidly --

VASQUEZ I only need to know one thing.

RIPLEY Yes?

VASQUEZ Where they are.

Vasquez coolly points her finger, cocks her thumbs, and blows away an imaginary alien.

DRAKE Yo! Vasquez. Kick ass!

VASQUEZ Anytime. Anywhere.

HUDSON Somebody said alien...she thought they said illegal alien and signed up.

VASQUEZ Fuck you.

HUDSON Anytime. Anywhere.

RIPLEY (icy) Am I disturbing you conversation Mr. Hudson?

Hudson settles down, smirking. Ripley locks eyes with Vasquez.

RIPLEY I hope you're right. I really do.

BURKE (to all) I suggest you study the disks Ripley has been kind enough to prepare for you.

GORMAN Are there any questions? Hudson?

HUDSON How do I get out of this chicken-shit outfit?

Gorman scowls then, thanking Ripley with a nod, takes over the predrop briefing.

GORMAN All right. I want this to go smooth and by the numbers. I want DCS and tactical database assimilation by 0830. (some groans) Ordnance loading, weapons strip and drop-ship prep details will have seven hours...

EXT. SPACE - ACHERON 34

They have arrived. From orbit the planet looks serene ...Pearlescent cloud cover masking the environmental torment beneath. The SULACO floats, its MANEUVERING JETS FIRING. A bluish glow. Then twice more, rapidly.

INT. BRIDGE 35

Bishop is installed in his command seat, hemmed in by instrumentation.

BISHOP (into mike) Attention. This concluded final maneuvering operations. Thank you for your cooperation. You may resume work.

INT. LOADING BAY - TIGHT ON MASSIVE FORKS - CARGO LOCK 34

sliding into a heavy ordnance rack with an echoing CLANG. PULL BACK as the rack of tactical missiles is lifted, REVEALING two powerful hydraulic arms.

Spunkmeyer, seated inside a POWER LOADER, swings the ordnance up into a belly nacelle of the DROP-SHIP where it locks into place. As he exerts pressure with his hands against the servo-controls the hydraulic arms move correspondingly...but with a thousandfold increase in power. The forklift-style CLAWS on each arm can crush with tons of pressure. The loader has an open ROLL CAGE to protect the operator, and is supported by squat HYDRAULIC LEGS which also move correspondingly with the driver's movements.

You have never seen anything like this before. Advanced as it is to us, it's only an old forklift to them...battered and well used. Covered with grease. Repainted many times. Across the back is stencilled "CATERPILLAR."

Spunkmeyer's machine swings out from under the drop-ship and we become aware of the intense activity throughout the cavernous loading bay. Troopers on foot or driving TOW-MOWERS, OVERHEAD LOADING ARMS...all in motion. Hicks checks off items on an electronic manifest.

INT. READY ROOM - ARMORY 37

Wierzbowski, Drake and Vasquez are fieldstripping light weapons with precise movements. Around them, in racks, is an arsenal of advanced personal artillery.

Vasquez likes the feel of the guns, the weight...the authority. Her hands move without hesitation. CLACK. CLACK. CLACK. She swings one of the SMART-GUNS out on a work stand. Using a body brace and GYRO-STABILIZED SUPPORT ARM, it is a computer-aimed, video targeted automatic weapon. The futuristic equivalent of a .30 caliber light machine gun. Sort of a steadicam that kills.

INT. LOADING BAY - ANGLE ON BURKE AND GORMAN 38

with pre-flight activity b.g.

BURKE Still nothing from the colony?

GORMAN Dead on all channels.

Ripley watches the drop-ship being loaded. A cross between a Huey Aircobra gunship and the space shuttle might describe it. An orbit-to-surface troop carrier, heavily armed for the close support of ground missions. She watches a six-wheeled APC, ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER, being raised hydraulically into the ship's belly. Ripley looks around as Frost wheels a rack of incomprehensible equipment toward her.

FROST Clear, please.

Ripley jumps aside, nodding apologetically. She turns. Steps hastily back. Hudson cruises by with a laden forklift.

HUDSON Excuse me.

ANGLE ON APONE standing with Hicks, as Ripley approaches him

RIPLEY I feel like a fifth wheel here. Is there anything I can do?

APONE I don't know. Is there anything you can do?

RIPLEY (pointing) I can drive that loader. I've got a Class Two rating. My latest career move.

Apone turns. A SECOND POWER LOADER sits unused in an equipment bay.

TWO SHOT APONE AND HICKS skeptical. Considering.

TIGHT ON POWER SWITCH as Ripley's finger punches it on. A RISING WHINE of power.

TIGHT ON THE HYDRAULICS as the massive machine stirs to life.

FULL, as the loader starts. Ripley is strapped into the safety cage, her arms and legs inserted in the servo-sensor assemblies. She takes a step. BOOM! Two tons of hardened steel takes a step.

Ripley spins the wrist servos. The huge claws swing, open...slide smoothly into lifting brackets on a cargo module, nearby. She raises it deftly.

RIPLEY Where you want it?

Hicks looks at Apone, cocks an eyebrow appreciatively.

INT. READY ROOM - ARMORY 39

The troopers are suiting up for the drop. Strapping on their bulky COMBAT-ARMOR...interlocking plates like football padding. They tape their wrists. Draw on segmented boots. The sole cleats CLACK like hooves on the deck plates. Lockers SLAM.

WEB BELTS. PACKS. HARNESSES. HELMETS. COM-SETS. Their fingers move methodically over the fastenings. It has its own rhythm...CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.

APONE Let's move it, girls! On the ready line. Let's go, let's go.

INT. DROP-SHIP - APC 40

Ripley, wearing a flight jacket and headset, files into the ship with the hulking troopers. Inside they pass directly into the APC we saw loaded earlier and take seats facing each other across a narrow aisle. They will drop already strapped into their ground vehicle for rapid deployment. A KLAXON SOUNDS, signalling depressurization of the cargo lock.

Hudson prowls the aisle, his movements predatory and exaggerated. Ripley watches him working his way toward her.

HUDSON I am ready, man. Ready to get it on. Check-it-out. I am the ultimate badass...state of the badass art. You do not want to fuck with me. Hey, Ripley, don't worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you. Check-it-out...

He slaps the SERVO-CANNON controls in the GUN BAY above them.

HUDSON Independently targetting particle-beam phalanx. VWAP! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart-missles, phased-plasma pulse-rifles, RPG's. We got sonic eeelectronic ballbreakers, we got nukes, we got knives...sharp sticks --

Hicks grabs Hudson by his battle harness and pulls him into a seat. His voice is low, but it carries.

HICKS Save it.

HUDSON Sure, Hicks.

Ripley nods her thanks to Hicks. MOTORS WHINE and the craft lurches. Burke, next to Ripley, grins eagerly like this is a sport fishing trip.

BURKE Here we go.

She looks like she's in a gas chamber waiting for the pellet to drop.

EXT. SULACO 41

The drop-ship lowers from the cargo-lock on a massive launch rig. The night side of Acheron yawns below... enigmatic.

INT. COCKPIT 42

Ferro and Spunkmeyer run rapidly through the switches.

FERRO Initiate release sequencer on my mark. Three. Two. One. Mark!

EXT. SULACO - DROP-SHIP 43

Hydraulic WHINE. Clamps SLAM BACK. The ship drops.

INT. DROP-SHIP - APC 44

Apone, stalking the aisle, snatches for a handhold. Bishop, Burke and Gorman groan at the sudden gees. Ripley closes her eyes...the point of no return.

EXT. DROP-SHIP 45

It screams down through the stratosphere, plunging into dark turbulence.

INT. COCKPIT 46

Beyond the canopy is gray limbo. The craft shudders and lurches.

FERRO (icy calm) Switching to DCS ranging.

SPUNKMEYER Two-four-o. Nominal to profile. Picking up some hull ionization.

FERRO Got it. Rough air ahead.

INT. HOLD - APC 47

TIGHT ON HICKS asleep in his harness.

FERRO (voice over; filtered) Stand by for some chop.

TIGHT ON GORMAN as the ship begins to buck, his eyes closed. Pale. Sweating. He rubs his hands on his knees repeatedly.

RIPLEY How may drops is this for you, Lieutenant?

GORMAN Thirty-eight...simulated.

VASQUEZ How many combat drops?

GORMAN Well...two. Three, including this one.

Vasquez and Drake exchange do-you-believe-this-shit expressions. Ripley looks accusingly at Burke.

INT. COCKPIT 48

FERRO Turning on final. Coming around to a seven-zero-niner. Terminal guidance locked in. Where's the damn beacon?

EXT. DROP-SHIP 49

It emerges from the low cloud ceiling. From the twilight haze ahead the distant colony LANDING BEACONS become visible.

INT. HOLD - APC 50

Stumbling as the ship pitches, Ripley makes her way forward to the MOBILE TACTICAL OPERATIONS BAY (MTOB), a control console lined with monitor screens. She joins Burke watching over Gorman's shoulder as the Lieutenant plays the board like a video director.

TIGHT ON MONITOR CONSOLE REVEALING screens labelled with the names of the troopers. Two for each soldier. The upper screens show images from the IMAGE-INTENSIFIED VIDEO CAMERAS in their helmets. The lower screens are BIO-MONITORS: EEG, EKG, and other graphic life-function readouts. Other screens show EXTERIOR VIEWS.

GORMAN Let's see. Everybody on line. Drake, check you camera. There seems to be a...

CLOSE ON DRAKE as he whacks himself on the head with an ammo case. A familiar malfunction.

GORMAN (o.s) ...that's better. Pan it around a bit.

APONE Awright. Fire-team A. Gear up. Let's move. Two minutes. Somebody wake up Hicks.

A clatter of activity as they don backpacks and weapons. Vasquez and Drake buckle on their smart-gun body harnesses.

Ripley watches the AP station loom on the exterior screens.

RIPLEY That the atmosphere processor?

BURKE Uh-hunh. One of thirty or so, all over the planet. They're completely automated. We manufacture them, by the way.

EXT. SHIP - AP STATION 51

The tiny ship circles the roaring tower. A metal volcano thundering like the engines on God's Lear jet.

INT. HOLD - APC 52

Gorman plays with the controls, zooming the image of the colony.

GORMAN (to Ferro via mike) Hold at forty. Slow circle of the complex.

RIPLEY The structure seems intact. They have power.

On the screen the colony buildings loom in and the low visibility like wrecks of freighters on the sea floor.

GORMAN (to Apone) Okay, let's do it.

APONE Awright! I want a nice clean dispersal this time.

Ripley turns as Vasquez squeezes past her.

VASQUEZ You staying in here?

RIPLEY You bet.

VASQUEZ (turning away) Figures.

GORMAN (to Ferro via mike) Set down sixty meters this side of the telemetry mast. Immediate dust off on my 'clear,' then stay on station.

APONE Ten seconds, people. Look sharp!

EXT. COLONY COMPLEX 53

Landing beacons sweep harsh light across the wet Tarmac. The ship roars down, extending the loading ramp. Slams down on hydraulic LANDING LEGS. The APC hits the ground a moment later, pulling away from the ship as it leaps up in a cloud of spray and peels off, circling.

The APC pulls to the edge of the complex. The CREW DOOR opens. Troopers hit the ground running. Spread out. They drop behind immediate cover. Apone scans with him image intensifier visor lowered.

APONE'S P.O.V. through the starlight-scope visor. Bright as a sunny day, though contrasty and lurid, we SEE the colony buildings. Trash blows in the street. No other movement.

GORMAN (voice over; filtered) First squad up, on line. Hicks, get yours in a cordon. Watch the rear.

APONE Vasquez, take point. Let's move.

Sprinting in a skirmish line, Apone's team advances on the colony main entry-lock. Parked tightly across the doors are two heavy-duty tractors. Vasquez reaches one of the tractors, looks inside. The controls are ripped out, as if by a crowbar or axe. She moves on.

EXT. COLONY BUILDING 54

Vasquez reaches the main doors, Drake flanking on the right. Apone tries the door controls. Nothing.

APONE Sealed. Hudson, run a bypass.

Hudson, all business now, moves up and studies the door control panel. He pries off the facing and starts clipping on the bypass wires.

APONE First squad, assemble on me at the main lock.

The wind roars around the bleak structures. A neon sign creaks overhead. Hudson makes a connection. The door shrieks in its tracks and rumbles aside. It jams partway open. Apone motions Vasquez inside. She eases over the wrecked tractor, through the doors. The others follow.

GORMAN (voice over; filtered) Second team, move up. Flanking positions.

INT. COLONY - MAIN CONCOURSE 55

DOLLYING SLOWLY FORWARD, following Vasquez and Apone as they move into the broad corridor. A few emergency lights are still on. Wind moans along the concourse. Pools of water cover the floor. Farther down, rain drips through blast holes in the ceiling. Evidence of a fire fight with pulse-rifles.

ON VASQUEZ moving forward. Taut. Alert. Her smart-gun cannon swinging slowly in an arc. She studies the video aiming monitor, looking down rather than ahead. Their footsteps echo.

INT. APC 56

Ripley watches as the bobbing images reveal the empty colony building.

GORMAN Quarter and search by twos. Second team move inside. Hicks, take the upper level. Use your motion trackers.

INT. MAIN CONCOURSE - SECOND LEVEL 57

Hicks leads his squad up the stairwell to second level. They emerge cautiously. An empty corridor recedes into the dim distance. Hicks unslings a rugged piece of equipment. Aims it down the hall. He adjusts the "gain." It remains silent.

HICKS Nothing. No movement.

They pass rooms and offices. Through doors they see increasing signs of struggle. Furniture overturned. Papers scattered...floating sodden in the puddles.

INT. APC 58

Ripley et al watching.

BURKE Looks like my room in college.

Nobody laughs.

INT. SECOND LEVEL 59

Hicks' group passes several burnt-out rooms. There are no bodies. In several offices the exterior windows are blown out, admitting wind and rain. Hicks picks up a half-eaten donut beside a coffee cup overflowing with rainwater.

INT. LOWER LEVEL - QUARTERS 60

Apone's men are searching systematically in pairs. They pass through the colonists' modest apartments, little more than cubicles. Hudson, on tracker, flanks Vasquez as they move forward. Hudson touches a splash of color on the wall. Dried blood. His tracker BEEPS.

Vasquez whirls, cannon aimed. The BEEPING grows more frequent as Hudson advances toward a half open door. The door is splintered partway out of its frame. Holes caused by pulse-rifle rounds pepper the walls. Vasquez eases up to the door. Kicks it in. Tenses to fire.

Inside, dangling from a piece of flex conduit, a junction-box swings like a pendulum in the wind from a broken window. It clanks against the rails of a child's bunkbed as it swings.

INT. DROP-SHIP - APC 61

Ripley watches Hicks' monitor.

RIPLEY Wait! Tell him to... (plugs in headset jack) ...Hicks. Back up. Pan left. There!

TIGHT ON MONITOR as the image shifts, revealing a section of wall corroded almost through in an irregular pattern.

TIGHT ON RIPLEY knowing what it is.

HICKS (voice over; filtered) You seeing this okay? Looks melted.

Burke raises an eyebrow at Ripley.

BURKE Hmm. Acid for blood.

HICKS (voice over; filtered) Looks like somebody bagged them one of Ripley's bad guys here.

INT. FIRST LEVEL 62

Hudson is looking at something.

HUDSON Hey, if you like that, you're gonna love this...

WIDER ANGLE showing the trooper standing beneath a gaping hole. Another hole, directly beneath, is at his feet. The acid has melted right down through two levels into the maintenance level. Revealing pipes, conduit, equipment...eaten away by the ferocious substance.

APONE Second squad? What's your status?

HICKS (voice over; filtered) Just finished our sweep. Nobody home.

APONE (to Gorman) The place is dead, Sir. Whatever happened, we missed it.

INT. APC 63

Gorman turns to the others.

GORMAN All right, the area's secured. Let's go in and see what their computer can tell us. (into mike) First team head for operations. Hudson, see if you can get their CPU on line. Hicks, meet me at the south lock by the up-link tower...

INT. FIRST LEVEL 64

GORMAN (voice over) ...We're coming in.

HUDSON (cupping his mike) He's coming in. I feel safer already.

VASQUEZ (sotto voice) Pendejo jerkoff.

EXT. COLONY COMPLEX 65

Lights arc across the dormant buildings as the APC turns onto the "main drag." It trundles down the rutted street, throwing up sheets of filthy water as the massive wheels hit pondlike potholes. Windblown rain lashes across the headlights.

Hicks emerges from the south lock just as the APC rolls up close to the entrance. The crew-door slides back. Gorman emerges, followed by Burke, Bishop, and Wierzbowski. Burke looks back to see Ripley stop in the APC doorway, eyeing the ominous colony structure. She meets his eyes. Shakes her head "no." Not ready.

HUDSON (voice over; filtered) Sir, the CPU is on-line.

GORMAN Okay, stand by in operations. (to those present) Let's go.

INT. APC 66

The crew-door cycles home with a clang. Ripley sits in the dark interior, lit by the tactical displays. The wind howls outside, an incredibly desolate sound. She hugs herself. Alone. Unarmed. She knows she's in a tank, but remembers the acid. Leaps up. Hits the door switch.

EXT. APC - SOUTH LOCK 67

The crew-door opens and Ripley emerges. In time to see the lock doors rumbling closed.

RIPLEY (shouting) Burke!

The wind snatches her words away. The crew door whines shut behind her. She walks to the exterior lock door-controls and studies them. She punches some unfamiliar buttons. Nothing happens. She looks really nervous, alone in the howling wind. She hits another button. The door-motors come to life and she relaxes a little. Glances behind her. AND SCREAMS! There's a face right there! Right at her shoulder. She jumps back, gasping for breath.

WIERZBOWSKI Scare you?

RIPLEY Christ, Wierzbowski!

WIERZBOWSKI Sorry. Hicks said to keep an eye on you.

He gestures for her to precede him inside.

INT. CONTROL BLOCK CORRIDOR 68

Ripley catches up with the others as they move into the bowels of the complex.

GORMAN (to Burke) Looks like you company can write off its share of this colony.

BURKE (unconcerned) It's insured.

ON RIPLEY as they move along the corridor...reacting to the fact that she is back in alien country. She sees the ravaged administration complex. Fire-gutted offices. Hicks notices her looking around nervously. He motions to big Wierzbowski with his eyes and the trooper casually falls in beside her on the other side, rifle at ready. a two-man protective cordon. She glances at Hicks. He winks, but so fast maybe it's something in his eye.

Trooper Frost emerges from a side corridor ahead.

FRONT Sir, you should check this out...

He leads the way into the corridor.

INT. CORRIDOR 69

This wing is completely without power. The troopers switch on their pack lights and the beams illuminate a scene of devastation worse than they have seen. Her expression reveals that Ripley is about to turn and flee.

FROST Right ahead here...

They approach a barricade blocking the corridor, a hastily welded wall of pipes, steel-plate, outer-door panels. Acid holes have slashed through the floor and walls in several places. The metal is scratched and twisted by hideously powerful forces, peeled back like a soup can on one side. They squeeze through the opening.

INT. MEDICAL WING 70

They pack-lights play over the devastation of the colonists' last ditch battle. The equipment of the med labs has been uprooted to add to the barrier. The walls are perforated by pulse-rifle fire and acid. Scorched by untended fires to bare metal. A few instruments glow with emergency power.

WIERZBOWSKI Last stand.

GORMAN No bodies?

FROST No, Sir. Looks like it was a helluva fight.

TIGHT ON RIPLEY transfixed by something.

RIPLEY (low) Over there.

The others turn and approach, seeing what she sees. She has entered a second room, part of the med lab area. In a storage alcove at near eye level stand seven transparent cylinders. STASIS TUBES. They glow faintly with an eerie violet light given off by the field which preserves the specimens inside.

They look like jars containing SEVERED ARTHRITIC HANDS, the palsied fingers curled in a death-rictus. Structurally they are more like spiders with sickening translucent skin, a flacid scrotal body, gill-like organs underneath drifting in the suspension fluid. Something you definitely do not want on your face, for example.

BURKE Are these the same...?

Ripley nods, unable to speak. Burke leans closer in fascination. His face almost touching one cylinder, is lit by its glow.

RIPLEY Watch it, Burke...

The creature inside lunges suddenly, slamming against the glass. Burke jumps back. From the palm of the thing's handlike body emerges a pearl-escent TUBULE. like a tapered piece of intestine, which slithers tonguelike over the inside of the glass. Then it retracts into a sheath between the "gills."

HICKS (to Burke) It likes you.

Only two of the creatures seem to pulse with life. Burke taps the other stasis cylinders but the hand-things remain inertly clenched.

BURKE These are dead. There's just the two alive.

On top of each cylinder is a file folder. Ripley takes a folder from above one of the live specimens. Inside is a medical chart printout with handwritten entries.

RIPLEY (reading) Removed surgically before embryo implantation. Subject: Marachuk, John L. Died during procedure. (looking up) They killed him getting it off.

HICKS Poor bastard.

They are startled by a LOUD BEEP. They turn. Hicks is intent on his motion tracker, aimed back toward the shattered barricade. BEEP. BEEP.

HICKS Behind us.

He gestures at the corridor they just passed through.

RIPLEY One of us?

GORMAN (into headset) Apone...where are your people? Anybody in D-Block?

APONE (voice over; filtered) Negative. We're all in Operations.

Vasquez swings the smart-gun to ready position on its support arm, locking it with an authoritative CLICK. She and Hicks head toward the source of the signal, the others following.

INT. CORRIDOR 71

Hicks' tracker is reading out more rapidly. They turn into the kitchens, a stainless steel labyrinth.

Ripley hangs back. Then realizes there is nothing behind her but darkness. She catches up to the group.

INT. KITCHENS 72

The troopers enter, their lights bouncing around the stainless steel surfaces.

HICKS It's moving.

Vasquez is scanning, gaze intense. The other troops grip their weapons tightly.

VASQUEZ Which way?

Hicks nods toward a complicated array of food processing equipment. They move forward, weapons leveled.

Ripley shuffles forward in the dark. Wierzbowski trips over a metal cannister, sending it CLANGING. Ripley half climbs the wall.

Hicks' tracker beeps steadily. The beeps merge. Become a solid tone. CRASH. Something moves in the dark, toppling a rack of stockpots.

ON VASQUEZ pivoting smoothly to fire. In the same instant Hicks' rifle slashes INTO FRAME. Slams Vasquez' barrel upward. A STREAM OF TRACER FIRE rips into the ceiling, the rounds SEARING LIKE LIGHTNING.

VASQUEZ You fuck!

Hicks ignores her, moving past and aiming his light under a row of steel cabinets. He gestures to Ripley, who steps forward. Trusting his judgment. She crouches beside him.

RIPLEY'S P.O.V. lit by Hicks' pack-light...a tiny cowering figure. A very dirty, very terrified NEWT JORDEN. She clutches a plastic food packet in one hand, its top gnawed partway through. In the other hand she grips the HEAD OF A LARGE DOLL, holding it by the hair. Just the head. Eyes staring. Newt is pathetically emaciated...fragile-looking as Dresden china, her hair tangled and matted.

RIPLEY (soothingly) Come on out. It's all right...

Ripley moves toward her, reaching slowly under the cabinet. Newt backs away, trembling visibly, her vision fixated like a rabbit blinded by headlights. Ripley's hand almost reaches her.

The kid bolts like a shot, scuttling along beneath the cabinetry. Ripley scrambles to follow...to keep her in sight. Crabbing frantically sideways. Hicks makes a grab, catching one tiny ankle. He snaps his hand out a moment later.

HICKS Ow! Shit. Watchit, she bites.

The girl reaches a ventilation duct set in the baseboard, its grille kicked out. She scrambles inside, her tiny body barely fitting, wriggling like a fish.

In his bulky armor Hicks knows he'll never make it into the tiny duct. Ripley dives. She squirms into the duct without thinking. Just ahead she sees Newt enter a dark space and slam a steel hatch. Ripley pushes the hatch open before the child can latch it, and crawls in after her.

Newt is backed into a cul-de-sac in the tiny steel chamber. Ripley shines her light around in amazement. It is a NEST. A nest built by a child. Wadded up blankets and pillows line the space, mixed up with a haphazard array of TOYS, STUFFED ANIMALS, DOLLS, CHEAP JEWELRY, COMIC BOOKS, EMPTY FOOD PACKETS, even a battery operated TAPE PLAYER. All foraged from the wrecked colony. Ripley marvels at the child's incredible adaptability, the ability to functions even in this nightmarish environment.

Newt edges along the far wall and dives for the hatch.

Ripley grabs her, controlling her in a bear hug. The kid struggles wildly, like a cat at the vets. Eyes wide, hands lashing out in a frenzy...but silent. No scream.

RIPLEY It's okay, it's okay. It's over... you're going to be all right now... it's okay...you're safe...

Newt goes limp, almost catatonic.

CLOSE ON NEWT'S TRAUMATIZED, VACANT STARE her lips are white and trembling, her eyes track wildly and she flinches from unseen terrors. We READ a dark nightmare world in her eyes.

Ripley's light falls on something amidst the debris... a FRAMED PHOTOGRAPH of Newt, dressed up and smiling, a ribbon in her hair. In embossed gold letters underneath it says:

FIRST GRADE CITIZENSHIP AWARD REBECCA JORDEN

INT. OPERATIONS - ON NEWT - MANAGER'S OFFICE 73

sitting huddles in a chair, arms around her knees. Looking at a point in space.

GORMAN (o.s.) What's her name again?

DIETRICH (o.s.) Rebecca.

WIDER ANGLE REVEALING Gorman sitting in front of her while Dietrich watches the readouts from a BIO-MONITORING CUFF wrapped around Newt's tiny arm.

GORMAN Now think, Rebecca. Concentrate. Just start at the beginning...

No response. Ripley enters, carrying a coffee mug.

GORMAN Where are your parents? You have to try...

RIPLEY (sharply) Gorman! Give it a rest would you.

Gorman stands with a sigh of dismissal.

GORMAN Total brain-lock.

DIETRICH (shrugs) Physically she's okay. Borderline malnutrition, but I don't think any permanent damage.

She unsnaps the bio-monitoring cuff.

GORMAN Come on, we're wasting our time.

Gorman and the others exit, leaving only Ripley with Newt. Through the window of the office, out on the main floor of the operations room, we SEE Gorman join Burke and Bishop at a computer terminal.

Ripley kneels beside Newt, brushing the girl's unkempt hair out of her eyes in a gentle, maternal fashion.

RIPLEY Here, try this. A little instant hot chocolate.

She wraps the child's hands around the cup. Raises it to her lips for her. The girl drinks mechanically, spilling down her chin.

RIPLEY (soothing) Poor thing. You don't talk much do you? That's okay by me. Most people do a lot of talking and they wind up not saying very much.

She sets the cup down and wipes the child's chin clean.

RIPLEY Uh oh. I made a clean spot here. Now I've done it. Guess I'll just have to do the whole thing.

She pours water from a squeeze bottle onto a small cloth and gently washes the little girl's face. Newt's eyes seem to focus on her for the first time.

RIPLEY Hard to believe...there's a little girl under all this. And a pretty one at that.

Newt gazes at her. Ripley smiles.

>>>

/ Aliens.
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