Burke awoke with a pounding headache—and he couldn’t remember a thing. Nothing since he left Joe’s Bar on the museum pod. And then he caught a whiff of the odor emanating from his body—a mixture of stale alcohol, sweat, and urine.
“Well, the sleeper awakes,” said a voice—a voice that Burke suddenly recognized. He sat bolt upright—and slammed his head into the metal upper bunk above him. When the stars quit flashing in his eyes, he sat up slower, swinging his legs out.
“Mister Danes . . . I-I wasn’t aware . . . how long have I been out?” Burke stuttered and stammered.
“Three days, Mister Burke,” the head of Weyland-Yutani Beowulf Operations said with a fixed expression on his face. “You have put the Company in a very
difficult position, Mister Burke. In addition, your criminal negligence and sheer incompetence has cost the Company quite
an investment—of personnel and finances—into Acheron.”
Burke tried to swallow, but his dry throat made that difficult. His heart was pounding, his head was pounding, and he shook his head. “I was on the verge of getting them to sign! Exclusive rights for Weyland-Yutani, Mister Danes!”
“Really? Mister Burke, these people have given us a complete briefing on your activities here. Your drunken state is not representative of our executives—and your actions on Acheron and prior to that Earth require an immediate response.”
“Carter J. Burke—you are fired,” Danes said bluntly. “Pursuant to your employment contract, we are seizing all of your financials and assets to off-set in part the monetary loss that your actions have caused Weyland-Yutani to suffer. In addition, the ICC wishes to have you appear before them to answer charges for the criminally negligent deaths of one hundred and fifty-seven colonists and eight Marines on Acheron.”
Burke blinked as Danes stood up. “I believe, Mister Burke, you had best pray for a sympathetic defense attorney—you cannot afford one yourself, not anymore.”
“Look, I did what you people wanted! I came out here to get those creatures for Weyland-Yutani!”
Danes shook his head. “All of your personal files and communications are being forwarded to the ICC—they confirm that you were acting on your own. You were operating as a rogue agent, perhaps mistakenly believing that Weyland-Yutani would whitewash your crimes in exchange for the fruits of your criminal dealings. The truth of the matter, Mister Burke, is that if you testify before the ICC, you will be found guilty and sentenced to a penal colony for the remainder of your natural life. Accusations against the Company require evidentiary proof, Mister Burke—there will be no
“You cannot do this to me! I have been loyal! I have paid my dues! I have . . .,” but Burke was cut off by the cold, condescending voice of Danes.
“You made the fatal mistake of being caught
, Mister Burke. Caught in a nightmare that you
organized, a web of lies wherein you
misrepresented yourself to the Company in hopes of receiving a promotion. The felons on your penal colony—a male only colony, Mister Burke—will enjoy your company, I believe.”
Danes smiled slightly and he nodded to his guard. The burly man waited until Danes was at the hatch and then he drew out one gun—holding it pointed at Burke—and laid a second, smaller weapon on the table.
“It has one cartridge, Mister Burke. I would suggest that you do the honorable thing; I—and the Company—wash our hands of you regardless of your decision,” Danes said as he stepped through the hatch, followed by his guard, who closed the hatch behind him and then sheathed his weapon. Danes nodded and he followed by the bodyguard began to walk down the hallway. They did not stop when on the sixth step they heard a single shot echo within the closed compartment.