Hudson and Vasquez turned off their welding torches as their cutting flames met. And Hudson grinned widely. “Sealed up tighter than a drum! All we need now is a six-pack, a pizza, and a deck of cards!”
Hicks came running around the corridor. And he groaned. “Rescue team on the way down,” he said scowling at the door. “ETA is about nine minutes.”
Hudson threw up his hands and he started to curse, he stopped and started to say something to Hicks, but then he bit his tongue and turned around, relighting the torch. “Nine minutes—we can’t cut through all of this in nine minutes.”
“Maybe we don’t have to,” said Vasquez. “Get the rest and meet me in Operations,” she said as she took off running.
“What is she thinking?” asked Hudson, and Hicks shoved him.
“Does it matter? Grab everyone and get to Operations! NOW, Marine!”
Gorman looked up from the monitors as Hicks and Hudson rushed in and began to grab the weapons piled on the table. “Where’s Burke, Ripley, and the girl?” he asked.
The Lieutenant, who had woken up only a short time ago stood and he grabbed a pistol and chambered a round. “Ripley and the girl are in Medical—Burke had to go to the can. Have they got in?”
“Negative, Lieutenant,” said Hicks. “Bishop called in—a rescue party will hit the landing pad in . . . eight minutes, thirty seconds.”
Gorman’s face melted in a look of relief and he holstered the pistol and picked up some of the excess weapons and gear. “Vasquez?”
“Meeting her in Operations—Hudson, get this gear there, now. Lieutenant, are you with me?”
“Operations? There is no exit to the outside in Operations!” Gorman said as he slung a flame unit and a satchel of grenades.
“She thinks there is, Sir,” Hicks slammed a magazine home and chambered a round and he headed out of the small room towards Medical. “Get going, Hudson—we’ll meet you there!” Gorman shouted, actually getting the name right this time.
Hudson opened his mouth and then he shook his head. “That’s right, just leave me to haul all of this SHIT!” And then he slid the gear into a backpack, picked up the other flame unit and his pulse rifle, along with the medical kit and the comm and flares and he stumbled with his arms full and staggered down the corridor towards Operations.
Carter J. Burke looked through the clear doors of medical at the sleeping Ripley and Newt. And then, with shaking hands, he looked over at the two stasis tubes holding live face-huggers. “I’m sorry,” he said—he whispered—to the two sleeping forms on the other side of the glass. “But this is more important than a washed-out pilot and an orphan.”
He turned and took three steps and he laid one hand on the stasis tube, and for a moment, he paused. But then, he gritted his teeth as the alien inside began to writhe in an attempt to get to him.
Burke put his second hand on the tube and then he spun around as he heard the clatter of boot steps. Gorman and Hicks charged in and the Marine officer stopped and looked at Burke. “I thought you were in the can?”
“I-I was,” he stammered. “Then I came down to check on them. What’s wrong?” he asked as Hicks barged into Medical and roused the woman and child inside.
“Rescue team is landing—get to Operations. We are leaving this nightmare,” Gorman said.
Burke swallowed. “We cannot leave them, Lieutenant,” he said, gesturing towards the stasis tubes. “Their value to the Company is inestimable—we have to take them with us.”
Gorman stared at the junior executive from Weyland-Yutani and he shook his head. “Out the question, Mister Burke—now MOVE.”
But Carter J. Burke stepped forward and put his hand on Gorman’s chest. “Your superiors are well-paid to do as the Company asks, Gorman. Now I am ordering you to take those tubes with us.”
The thunder of a pulse rifle exploded and Burke ducked down on the floor, his arm covering his head, as first one and then the second of the tubes—and the alien specimen inside them—exploded.
“Like hell we are,” said Ripley as she pointed the smoking pulse rifle at Burke’s stomach.
“Do you have any idea how much those specimens were worth?” Burke exclaimed.
“The Company can bill me; I’m already running a tab,” she said.
The exec balled one fist, but then he heard the click of a hammer cocking into place and felt cold metal pressing against the back of his head. “Don’t even think about it, Burke,” the Marine said in a very cold voice. “NOW MOVE!”
Hicks entered Operations carrying Newt in one arm and his pulse rifle in the other—Hudson was shaking his head and backed up against the far wall, “No man, hell no, she’s crazy, she’s lost it.”
Vasquez was laying out overlapping lines of plastic explosive across the expansive windows—she finished and embedded a detonator and then raised the interior shields.
“This is your plan? It’s thirty feet to the ground, Vasquez!” Hicks exclaimed and she threw him a pack.
“I recovered twenty meters of climbing line from the ruins of the APC, Corp,” she said as she wired the detonators to the clacker and she smiled, “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” She yelled and then pulled the trigger twice.
The BOOM of the explosion rocked Operations and she hit the controls—the interior shield slid back down into the floor—and the armored windows were GONE. Only fragments remained.
Hicks looked around the room and he tied off one end of the line to a support beam, and he nodded. “GO.”
Vasquez vaulted up to the rim, the wind howling like mad, and tossed the coil over the side. She grinned and then she jumped and slid thirty feet to the ground below.
“Hudson,” said Gorman, but the short-timer didn’t move. “HUDSON!”
“Man, oh man, oh man,” he whined as he slung his rifle and the heavy pack and slid down—but unlike Vasquez, he wound up landing on his ass.
“Ripley,” Hick instructed.
“Newt,” she began, and Hicks nodded.
“I’ve got her, GO!”
And she slung the rifle over her head and one shoulder and then zipped down to join the other two.
Gorman looked up and he tied the final knot in a sling and he stepped up to Newt. “Put your legs here and here, and one arm here,” he ordered, and the girl did, and then he lifted her up and put the final loop over Hicks head and shoulder. “I’ve got the rear, Corporal Hicks,” he said as he helped the Marine up.
Hicks nodded and he looked down at the girl. “Close your eyes—it’s just like an amusement park ride, honey,” he said—and when she did, he jumped away from the edge and slid down the nylon line.
“Your turn, Burke,” Gorman said as he turned around, and then he cursed. Burke was gone. “BURKE!” he yelled. And he swore. He leaned over the edge. “GO ON! I’LL GET BURKE AND JOIN YOU!”
Hicks waved and then he and Ripley, and Vasquez and Hudson began to move towards the distant landing pad—keeping a careful eye on the surrounding terrain in the fading light of the gas giant overhead.
He turned, and Burke staggered back in hold one tube with a dead alien inside. “It’s dead—but it is worth millions,” he said.
Gorman sighed. And he shot the tube, splashing the goo and the dead alien on Burke’s suit. “Down the line, NOW,” he snarled.
“You’re making a big mistake,” Burke growled as he grabbed the line and stood in the window. “When we get back, I’ll have you bro-KEEEENNNNNNNN!” Burke screamed as Gorman pushed him off the edge and he slid down the line to the ground, where he managed to land on his face.
“Damn if that didn’t feel good,” he said as he hopped up and joined the idiot below.