Planet terraforming was now the norm, over one hundred had so far been successfully established throughout the explored universe, and so far there had only ever been one problem, and that was little known and never mentioned. Zeus was a small lifeless planet about half the size of the Earth; days on Zeus were measured in what was called cycles. extremely rich in minerals and the ore’s that were used to make the metals that formed the amour plates for spacecraft and in different grades for virtually every vehicle or craft in use today, Zeus would one day repay its investment hundreds of time over. The terraforming on Zeus was well under way and the initial atmosphere had formed, the air was thin but that would continue to improve.
Whilst the atmosphere was developing rain would fall constantly and with the air pressure changes strong to gale force winds would form, this helped to spread the atmosphere but would also make going outside not a pleasant experience, eventually this would all settle down of its own accord but depending on the planet size this could take many years to work.
On Zeus the outpost was named Freedom's Rise.
Stanley Bishop sat in his office looking over a schematic on his data pad of a geological rig that had just been dropped off at the outpost he was boss, he had watched with great interest as the freighter was unloaded on Freedom’s rises lone landing pad, in fact there were two rigs both identical to one another. They were an impressive bit of kit nothing in his small vehicle fleet came anything close to them.
Six massive all terrain wheels, a sturdy chassis, armour plated bodywork, jammed with all types of bolt on’s and a fusion power core that came with its own onboard life support system, Bishop couldn't help but be impressed this was obviously a derivative of some military vehicle and he could only imagine the cost of one, let alone two of them.
His admiration for the rigs was only interrupted by the sound of a beep on his door intercom, his desk view screen showed two people waiting outside, one man and one woman. Bishop flicked a switch on his desk and the door swished open with a low humming noise.
Standing from his chair Bishop held his hand out "Come in and welcome", he said gesturing for them to take the two seats the other side of his desk. The office was small with a window behind Bishop, bare metal walls with a few trinkets and pictures to try and make it more personal, but it was a task doomed to fail.
The man average height and build with a dark hair and a full beard, Bishop guessed about 30 years old took one seat and a taller stick thin woman, plain looking with short blonde hair, around the same age took the other seat, Bishop was the head man of the outpost but he had little authority other than where he was right now so he had no personnel file on the two, his workers would have full background files but these two were not under his jurisdiction, they were employed by the company but independent of the outpost, anything he was going to learn about them would start in this office.
Still standing he offered his hand "my name is Stanley Bishop, I’m the boss man of this facility"
The man leant forward taking his hand "Jake Riley junior geologist", he said
Bishop looked to the woman who didn't take his hand, "Lena Davis, senior geologist", she said coldly.
Bishop slowly withdrew his hand realizing it was wasted where it was, he took his seat once again and was about to speak when Lena interrupted before he could do so, "I would like to be shown to the lab facility as soon as possible," she said.
Slightly taken aback bishop stuttered, "Oh right o.k. I can arrange that, I warn you there is not much equipment as its really not used here by ourselves, “he said, again he was interrupted.
"We have our own equipment," Lena added again a little coldly.
"Great said Bishop, but first I have a couple of questions if you don't mind"?
With that Lena Davis stood up and made her way to the door, "I don’t have time, Jake will answer any questions, I will find the lab myself, have my belongings sent to my room I will find that later," the door swished open again and she left.
Bishop looked at Jake, "is she always like that"? He asked
"No idea this is my first outing with her, we didn’t speak much in the flight," Jake answered.
"you are in for a fun time then," Bishop chirped.
"Seems so," Jake replied, "anyway I will be glad to answer your questions, however you are aware we are independent of your facility and I may not be able to answer some of your questions, to be honest I don't know too much myself," he added.
Bishop smiled, "thank you, it’s only basic stuff really, you have the freedom of the facility, all I ask is you keep the safety of this outpost as a priority, I would also like your movement plans in advance outside of the plant if that is ok, and please when you go out keep your comms open, I still have a duty of care to everyone, you included".
"I can get you our planned in an out times but as for the locations that’s not down to me so you might have to make do with that for now, we will be sure to keep the comms open I don't see any issues there, those rigs are pretty tough so I don’t see this little rock causing too much of a problem to traverse and we will only use one at a time," said Jake
"That's good as my vehicles are short range only, if something went wrong out there we would have to use your spare to get to you," said Bishop
"I don’t see that being needed but I will get you the codes for the rig as a precaution," said Jake
"those rigs are pretty impressive, "Bishop remarked, "I would love to look them over a little closer up", he added
"If we get time, I will be delighted to show you", said Jake, "but you know what she is like we might not get time," he added.
"Indeed", said Bishop frowning.
Two hours later Jake was unpacking his belongings, in his line of work you travel light because you are never based in one place long enough to become attached, The outpost was large but space was a premium, the larger quarters went to the families and if you were alone the room was basic at best with a bed, wc, shower and a table and chair that held a datapad, some had windows but that again was for the family quarters and the view wasn't great even then with the terraforming constant rain as if blew out its atmosphere evolving gasses. At that moment his door comm beeped, Jake open his door and Lena brushed past him into the small room.
"Come in", Jake said slightly sarcastically
Lean turned abruptly, "what did you tell him"? She asked.
"Relax", Jake replied, "he actually didn't want to know too much, just our timetable of movements for safety reasons and he was interested in the rig's that's all, besides if you were that concerned you could have stayed".
"I didn't have time for idol chat and welcomes, we have work to do", Lena retorted.
"well as I say he didn't want to know anything in detail, they can't track us and giving him our ins and outs and staying on comms isn't anything irregular is it”? Said Jake
"I suppose not", Lena replied and with that she was gone again
Jake smiled and shook his head, "stress head," he muttered to himself, he was done unpacking so left the room to head towards the lab and show some willing, as he had noted that Lena headed back there rather than towards her room.
The outpost followed a linear setup with corridors joining each section together, this meant you needed to move through certain sections to get to the farther out installations, the hab blocks tended to be centrally placed so they could service all areas quickly and efficiently, no real rat runs were setup for shortcuts as it was simply a waste of time and effort if the outpost was designed in a certain way. Jake had happened upon the hab mess hall when making his way to the lag and had decided to take advantage of the free food and hospitality lounges, although the outpost was a large majority family based there were the odd singletons about. This was done to elevate boredom and keep people as settled in their work as possible. Some positions though were not always easily slotted by a family and on Freedoms Rise there were two, the head of the medical center was a short stocky grey haired woman in her late 50's named Elena and a tall skinny bald man in his mid-40's named Steve who worked at in the power plant as a technician, the pair had teamed up early as drinking buddies during social times. Jake had joined them and chatted for a couple of hours before taking his leave, mostly a lot of small talk but also Jake had picked up a great deal in how the outpost was run, details he didn’t need to know but he did find interesting all the same. Eventually he had said his goodbye and left for the lab, to his surprise when he got there Lena was not there, assuming even she needed to rest Jake finished up what little she had left to do and made his way back to his room, he cheekily unplugged one of Lena's consoles as he left, knowing it would annoy and not delay her but he chuckled to himself all the same.
Two cycles later and the two geologists were on their first journey out in one of the rigs, Jake had given their timetable to Stanley Bishop before they left and assured him that their comms would be on throughout the time they were off the outpost boundaries. Zeus’s surface was pretty flat with hardly anything that could be described as more than a hill so the rig covered the ground with ease, there was also not as yet any surface water mass further out but that would change in time. The first 50 miles were covered quickly.
"We are approaching our mark", Jake said
"good, I will prepare the drones for launch and we can start to scan the area", Lena replied
the rig was covered with ultrasound scanners but it only scanned around the rig and where it had already travelled, the scans were better and clearer than a drones but the drone’s area of scan was much greater and much quicker to do whole sectors.
"I'll park up the rig in two miles", said Jake.
Jake did as he said pulling the rig to a halt and flicked off the main drive motor, he then flicked a series of switches that brought to light several different heads up screens across the front windshield of the rig, "all set", he said
"Deploying drones," Lena said flicking several switches herself on a console setup behind the two forward seats at the rear of the cabin.
Two small hatches opened at the rear top of the rid and two small explosions sent up two drones in folded form, the drones were like two tubes, but as they reached a certain height this all changed as a set of rotors sprung open and immediately started to rotate levelling off the drones into stable flight, a bottom tubing fell away revealing on one drone a scanner and camera, the other very different, this one had a conical shaped spine bottom, the kind of thing used to burrow into the ground.
"Scanning," said Jake, within 30 seconds images started to appear all over his screens, each screen giving off different feedback data.
"The surface is as we hoped," he reported", mostly a buildup of layers of soil types, no hardened surface areas at all, kind of strange compared to the rest of the planet’s surface", he added.
Zeus was going to be heavily mined in the future as its rich mineral and metallic makeup was highly desired, the planet would pay for its investment many times over once exhausted in hundreds of years’ time.
"There is definitely something below the surface, it’s not perfectly clear from the drone scans but it’s certainly a large cavern or hollow space not far below the surface, I can define rough sizes and depth, sending the data to you now", said Jake.
Lena flicked a switch on her console and grabbed hold of a joystick in her right hand, "sending in the second drone now," she said, guiding the drone via the joystick.
The burrowing ended drone suddenly darted towards the ground adjusting slightly as it went, once it hit the ground it immediately burrowed into the surface, a few seconds later Lena announced, "detonating now", as she pressed a red button on top of the joystick.
The ground around the drone erupted into a flying mess of debris that cascaded up and outwards from it center point, the explosions was designed to do just that, there was little downward force everything was forced up and out of the surrounding area. Debris began to settle and a dusty haze was all that was left, gradually it cleared and the scanner drone moved into the hole that had been created. its rotors spun rapidly as it descended into the unlit exposed cavern below, the drone had exploded at one end of the cavern, a deliberate act so as to disturb as little inside as possible, small pieces of loose surface continue to fall into the cavern but nothing of any significant size.
The drone’s lights lit up all around itself breaking through the darkness beyond revealing some of the hidden spaces secrets as it hovered along.
"Are you seeing this"? Jake asked in wonderment.
"I'm suiting up and going down, keep the feeds coming collect as much data as you can", Lena almost sounded excited by what they were looking at.
"Ok," said Jake, "I’ll move us closer to the edge".
"Not too close we don’t know the strength of that surface, the suit will handle the distance easily enough", replied Lena, as she flicked the drone into autopilot.
The two had been looking at what could only be alien, the whole cavern space walls, floors even the ceiling were covered in great sweeping tentacle like formations, spiraling from its center like some multi armed octopus reaching out and covering every inch with its tentacles, intricate patterns decorated each tentacle as the trailed off in a seemingly never ending formation, everything was dark in color almost black which added a strange eeriness to the whole scene, this was not a human creation that was clear. Then at its center protruded some kind of podium looking object, this was where Lena was heading, straight into the heart of the structure.
The atmosphere on Zeus was at its infant stage so the air was very thin, not good for physical excursion so Lena had suited up into what was like the rig military grade equipment, de weaponized for civilian use, but all of the armor and servo assisted elements were still working, this allowed he to complete massive jumps and move quickly over any terrain. Lena had made the short distance to the opening and was looking into the abyss of the cavern, darkness hid the bottom but her suit read the distance and fed back the data, she could see the drone lights in the distance as it scene the outer edges of the cavern. The distance was easily manageable by the suit as she dropped into the darkness, he suits lights auto lighting as she fell revealing the immediate view around her, inside her helmet the view screen filtered out the darkness giving Lena an almost perfect daytime view of everything within her lines of sight, her screen lights all read green as she landed and with one leap she was heading towards the center of the structure.
"The drone is sending us good data", Jake reported, "but the structure is nothing known to us, some kind of resin is my best guess, the patterns seem to be deliberate but they are not smooth, more functional than with any artistic intent", he added.
"It’s wonderful and amazing", Lena was now full blown excited.
Jake smiled at her comment, maybe she was human after all.
"like nothing I have ever seen", again Lena commented.
Lena arrived at the center of the structure, the pedestal was larger than twice her full height, she took a few moments to look around before climbing up to it, no words could describe her feelings or what she was seeing so she remained silent, the pictures she was sending back would be enough for now and the data collected could do the rest.
Lena climbed the pedestal structure easily in her suit and then when she stood on top of it looking down it had a large hole in its center. The podium was about 20 feet across and the hole took up roughly half of its surface. Lena slowly walked over to the edge of the hole. there was some kind of messy covering over the hole she noticed, kneeling down she pulled it away to reveal the inside, the lights from her suit lighting it up.
"It looks like," Lena was cut off half way through her message as a jolt of pain seemed to hit her lower back, red lights in her suit started going crazy, Lena had no breath to talk as the jolt had more than winded her, she looked down into the hole through the flashing warning lights. The suit was desperately trying to repair the damage, injection drugs to ease the pain and trying to stabilize Lena. Then another jolt hit her square in the back throwing her forward across the span of the hole, she rolled onto her back as she hit the surface on the other side.
the screen lights seemed to flash even greater as the suit started to lose its fight to keep Lena alive, she looked up through her view screen as life began to fade, there stood Jake with a plasma rifle in his hand, "It’s an egg", he said, "I’m sorry it had to be this way, but I have my orders," he said and with that he fired one last shot into Lena’s helmet.
Jake threw the rifle to one side and turned towards the hole, "there you are, I’m going to look after you for a while, then I guess the rest will be down to you", he said as he looked down on the egg that lay waiting, as big as the tallest of men the egg cocoon sat dormant as if waiting for its time to hatch.
Henrik Weyland, average height, augmented body implants to help make him look young and well-toned, dressed in the smartest suits money could buy, head of Weyland-Yutani Corporation. A member of his family had been head of the corporation since its origins going back some 250 years. Its sheer size gave it the economic and political strength of a small independent planet, but its arms stretched out across known space allowing to have its influence at nearly every level of interplanetary government.
That fact alone was born out of what had happened 60 years previous and indeed 57 years before that and the company was even bigger now. Hadley’s Hope a terraforming outpost on a exomoon LV-426 a small moon orbiting a gas giant. The moon was being readied for colonization when suddenly all contact had been lost. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation had used its influence to have USS Sulaco and a company of special force space marines sent to investigate, along with Ellen Ripley and company man Carter Burke. Nothing was known of the expedition, a drone satellite ship had been sent and the recordings had shown a massive nuclear explosion had occurred on the surface at the location of Hadley’s Hope, no sign of the USS Sulaco was found either. The heads of Weyland-Yutani had used all of their influence and political connections to have the whole moon marked as out of bounds and the whole affair had been brushed under the carpet as an unfortunate accident, no mention of the location of USS Sulaco was ever mentioned, that again was simply listed as missing and with no connection to LV-426. Few questions had ever been asked and the few that were had been stone walled until they finally died away.
Henrik Weyland was looking out of his vast office window over the view of the Hudson Bay, the spectacular city of New York was all to be seen from the top of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation HQ, the office itself was large and lavishly decorated with all sorts of trinkets and treasures from over the centuries, along with various models of ships and outposts of the company’s fleet. Henricks desk alone cost as much as a small habitat for the normal city dwellers and was serviced by his own fully automated hand stitched leather chair and two adjacent equally as well made guest chairs, to his left against a wall was a white leather sofa, dressed with furs and fronted by a lavish bear skin rug from a now extinct animal. On the sofa sat Thomasi Yutani, his right hand man of Chinese origin and the elder son of the founder of the Yutani company that had long ago joined forces with Weyland to become one if not the biggest independent company on Earth. Thomasi spoke perfect English and had been away from his homeland so long now that any accent was gone, to be replaced by a weak American accent. Thomasi was quietly reading from his data pad, legs crossed as he lounged on the sofa.
Henrick still looking out at the view of the city said, "still no word from Zeus"?
Thomasi didn't look up from his data pad as he answered," there could be a hundred reasons why, our man is due for a full report".
"I don't like not knowing", said Henrick.
"Too used to having control," Thomasi smiled as he replied, “that’s why our man is coming", he added.
"And if he doesn't know"? Henrick asked
"Let’s wait and see before we get stressed over nothing", Thomasi said calmly.
"Fine", replied Henrick
"Besides we have dealt with this kind of thing before", said Thomasi.
"That was my father not me", Henrick snapped.
"It’s no different, what we have tried is no different to what your father attempted, the rewards always outweigh the risks, and the situation can be handled the same if need be", Thomasi spoke calmly with little emotion,
"And the families and people that worked the outpost"? Henrick sounded for a moment as if he cared, no answer came his way, instead the desk comm chimed.
"Josef Lewonski to see you sir", reported a woman’s voice.
Henrick flipped a switch on his desk, "Send him straight in Barbara", he ordered politely.
"Yes sir, anything else"? Barbara asked.
"No that will be all", answered Henrick, "and no disturbances", he quickly added.
"yes sir", Barbara replied before the comms clicked off.
Over the many years since space flight had progressed to the point of moving off world the ideals and even religions of the world changed, over a hundred years or so of the early evolution of these times countries gradually merged into one and became continental based, the only exceptions were Britain and Israel that had insisted on being alone the former had declared a neutral stance and developed heavily on technical advances and although small in territory was the world’s leading technological inventors. Israel had chosen a different route, they became the espionage and dark ops experts, if it was secret, dirty or just needed doing there would be some kind of Israeli input.
Josef Lewonski was Israeli and a top ranking officer in their special forces covering both on and off world activities. he was six-foot-tall and muscular in build, a gaunt face with a dark complexion and close shaved black hair, his face looked unshaven even when it was. He walked into the office of Henrick Weyland wearing an all-black suit, even his shirt and waste coat was black. Joseph took one of the seats adjacent to Henrick's desk.
Henrick was a very powerful man with a tremendous amount of political and industrial might behind him, but even he felt slightly intimidated by the presence of such a dangerous individual, but this man was under his orders and on his payroll so whatever inside butterflies fluttered they were not going to show on the outside.
"what news have you Joseph, I hope it is good"? Henrick asked
Joseph sat upright, his voice was deep and as monotone as his dress colour, "the initial mission was a success, our man acquired the object and took care of the woman", at this time Josef had no idea what had been retrieved, indeed Henrick and Thomasi wasn't one hundred percent sure what they were retrieving if anything. "he took the object back to the outpost and told his story to cover the loss of the woman, no mention was made of the find, the site was totally destroyed and the rig was deliberately damaged beyond repair, the second rig our man has placed totally out of bounds for the colony".
"and they believed his story"? asked Henrick
again Josef coolly replied, "they have no choice, even if they suspected they have no way of checking it out, and why should they not believe a shocked and upset junior geologist"? A question that didn’t need reply.
"That’s good then, so tell me what is happening right now"? Demanded Henrick
for the first Josef showed some facial movement, "as you know the plan was to ship our man and the rig with the object off on the next scheduled freighter, and that is due in two days from now, but I have instructed it to hold in high orbit and await further orders", he said.
"Why would you ask it to hold off"? Henrick said firmly.
Josef now looked over to Thomasi who nodded to him and then spoke, "we lost contact with the outpost 5 days ago".
"FIVE DAYS"!!! Henrick shouted, "what the".
"Henrick calm down its all under control", Thomasi said calmly.
"Under control, no contact, what the hell is under control"?
Thomasi looked at Josef, "we have a team of specialists making ready and a ship to leave as soon as you give the go ahead", said Josef.
"this is a disaster," Henrick blasted, "it’s happening all over again".
Thomasi now raised his voice, "Henrick its all under control, we are sixty years on from the last time, everything is so much more advanced, the team will go in and sort it out, that’s if it’s even needed".
Henrick calmed his voice, "it could be just a downed comms system, but the timing if so couldn't be worse"
"The team will be ready in less than a day and on location within the week, the freighter will hold orbit and if possible try to make contact from short range radios, some freighters have scanner tech so maybe we might even get a look down there", Josef said
Henrick was much calmer now having gotten past his surprise, "I want you with them Josef and you too Thomasi, and before you complain Thomasi you kept this a secret for days so you can now take control and sort this mess out, I need people I can trust on the ground clearing this up and you two are those people for now", he ordered.
Josef left the office straight away to make his way to meet up with the special forces, Thomasi was going to argue his point but had decided against it, he silently left a few minutes later leaving Henrick who had gone back to looking out of his window again.