Chapter 2: The Newcomers
Cloudwatch Colony - Surface of LV-639
A redness illuminated the clouds as the immense metal shape penetrated the planet’s atmosphere, gradually coming into view and throwing a shadow over the ground.
The Colony Administrator sighed and turned to the microphone, switching it to address the ground crew who were, he hoped, already waiting to receive the new research team. ‘Attention ground crew, attention. The UCRS Galileo has entered the atmosphere. Prepare to aid in landing.’ He switched off the microphone, and winced at the feedback.
‘Do we really need a research team?’ one of the colony’s technicians asked.
The Administrator turned on the technician, his one eye piercing the man. ‘It’s company policy. Every colony needs to have a research team present for some time, just in case there are any discoveries to be made.’
The technician swallowed heavily. ‘So…they’re going to be exploring the planet?’
The Administrator turned away and leaned over a console. ‘How am I supposed to know? I received a transmission a couple of months ago telling me to expect a research team. When I asked why, the only reply I got was “Company Policy”, so that’s that.’ He did not turn to face the technician. He remained in place over the console. Some time passed, and eventually the technician turned and left the room.
Now alone, he stood up straight and looked out the window again, seeing the ship come in to land, filling the landing bay entirely, almost twice the height of the colony’s tallest building. He had no idea how big this research team was, or how much equipment they needed…but was such an immense ship necessary?
He sighed and switched on the microphone, this time setting it to address the entire colony. ‘Attention colonists. We are receiving a research team as a matter of company policy. I expect you to treat them well whilst they are here.’ He switched off the microphone once again and leant against the console. He hoped the research team wouldn’t be present for too long.
The colonists didn’t need a company presence. Not after so long.
Weyland waited for the ramp to descend, the research team assembled behind him. A few members of the ship’s crew were amongst them, having negotiated to join the research team on the planet for the duration of their stay. They stood with pistols at their waists.
They didn’t expect any violence, but as a matter of policy they were required to take all precautions.
Once the ramp had fallen Weyland led his team out onto the planet’s surface. There was a considerable breeze, which set their coats flapping, yet despite this the air was hot and heavy. A group of men wearing sleeveless shirts and goggles approached the team, one or two carrying pistols of their own.
‘Welcome to Cloudwatch,’ said one of the goggled men, smiling. He held out one hand to Weyland. ‘You must be Dennis Weyland.’
Weyland shook the man’s hand. ‘I am. And you are?’
‘Begging your pardon, sir. I’m Officer Hamish Jacques,’ the man replied. He turned to his comrades. ‘And these are the rest of the ground crew. I’ll leave them to introduce themselves another time.’
‘A pleasure to meet you. This,’ he said, indicating his team, which was gradually making its way off the ship, ‘is my research team. I expect we already have quarters prepared.’
Jacques paused and forced a smile. ‘I believe we do, sir,’ he said eventually. ‘Let me…let me just check with the Administrator.’ He maintained the smile as he moved away, turning on a small communications headset. ‘Sir…’
Weyland, not caring to eavesdrop, turned to address his team. ‘Unload all essential equipment that can be carried by hand. We will collect any other equipment we require once we have settled in.’
The team barely responded, giving little more than a nod of acknowledgement.
He sighed, frustrated, and returned his attention to Jacques, who was now approaching again. ‘Well?’
‘The Administrator says that there is an empty block a short distance from the main colony that should serve as an appropriate base of operations,’ Jacques replied. He called over a couple of the ground crew. ‘These men will take you there.’
‘You’re not going to accompany us?’ Weyland asked, frowning.
‘No, sir. The Administrator wants to see me,’ Jacques replied, forcing yet another smile. ‘I’m sure you’ll see me around, though.’
Weyland sighed and nodded. ‘Very well.’ He walked over to his team just as Bishop wheeled out of the ship and down the ramp. He maintained just enough traction to avoid rolling down the ramp too fast, and stopped at the bottom mere inches from Weyland. ‘Ah, Bishop.’
‘Mr. Weyland, sir,’ Bishop said. He coughed, though in reality he was adjusting his vocal processor. ‘This planet is intriguing.’
‘It is, isn’t it? I look forward to finding out what this planet has in store for us. I have a good feeling about it,’ Weyland said. He clapped a hand on Bishop’s shoulder. ‘I trust you have a good team.’
Bishop smiled. ‘I do, sir. They seem very promising.’
‘Excellent. I’ll let you go. I want you to be the first at the site.’ Weyland prepared to walk away, but Bishop grabbed his arm.
‘Sir…don’t you want to be the first there?’ he asked.
‘Not this time. I need to talk to the Administrator,’ Weyland replied.
Raymond picked up two metal cases, each one containing a microscope, and prepared to make the walk. He had no idea how far it was to the site, only that it was somewhere outside of the main colony.
Whilst he waited for his fellow scientists he took a look around at the ground crew. He was quite amused by their uniforms – if they could be called uniforms – as he had never seen the like. No doubt they were suited to the warmth of the planet, but they didn’t look incredibly practical.
There was suddenly a loud noise as a small buggy-type vehicle pulled up nearby. The ground crew started to load equipment on board hastily, sometimes almost throwing crates onto it. Eventually, though, all of the essential small items were either being carried or were on the buggy, and they started their short – Raymond hoped it would be short – trek to their site.
‘What do you think we’ll discover?’ Jerry asked, walking up to Raymond’s side. ‘I haven’t seen any life here, yet. Aside from these guys.’ He pointed at the ground crew.
‘Something worthwhile, I hope,’ Raymond replied. He looked into the sky, hoping to see a bird, but saw nothing but the thick cloud cover. ‘Maybe it’s too hot down here for water…all the water is up in the clouds, meaning no life but human life can survive down here,’ he suggested, absently. He had not been asked on his opinion on that matter, but it seemed important.
‘Maybe…’ Jerry had little else to say regarding the matter. ‘It is bloody hot down here, though. I mean…shit.’
Raymond chuckled. ‘It is.’ As the team moved along, Raymond took a moment to put down his cases and remove his coat. He soon caught back up with Jerry. ‘Maybe that’s why the colonists haven’t shown up. They probably have goddamn air conditioning or something.’
His newfound friend smiled. ‘Quite likely. Hopefully the building we’re occupying has some of that goddamn air conditioning.’ He pondered for a moment, looking up into the sky. He tripped slightly, almost dropping the case he had claimed, but managed to keep his footing; he laughed. ‘One thing’s for sure. The ground out here is pretty damn uneven.’
Raymond laughed with him, and looked into the distance. Appearing on the horizon, which was growing closer, he saw what looked like a two-storey building, which shined silver in the light that, by some miracle, penetrated the cloud cover.
‘It’s very simple, Mr. Weyland. You are only here because the company gave me no choice but to accept you. They did not tell me that you had to be present within the colony to carry out whatever research you will be doing, and as such you will not be within it. Is that clear?’ the Administrator explained, absently rubbing the space where he should have had another eye.
‘It is clear, sir, but you must understand that as a Weyland-Yutani research team we will need access to the colony,’ Weyland pressed. To the Administrator he almost sounded like a spoilt child. Then again, as a Weyland he probably was.
‘Very well, Mr. Weyland. You will be allowed access to the main colony, provided you disturb the populace as little as possible. We’re a very quiet community, you see. If you do disturb my colonists, there will be hell to pay,’ the Administrator replied. He sighed and paced across his office, running his hand along the metal desk. ‘Now get out. Go to your site, and stay there as much as possible.’ He called Jacques over, who had been standing by the door. ‘Jacques, please take Mr. Weyland to the site.’
Weyland went to the door with Jacques, but turned as he went. ‘Don’t push me, Administrator. I have influence in the company, and if they think, for any reason, that you haven’t been cooperative…’ He smiled and winked. ‘Let’s just say, this colony might come under new management.’ And then he left the room.
The Administrator’s fist clenched, and he punched his desk. ‘That bastard!’ he snapped, when he felt Weyland would no longer hear him. ‘How dare he make threats?’ He slumped down into his seat and sighed, taking deep breaths to calm down. It was okay. He was only going to be there for a month. It was unlikely the research team would find anything. The planet wasn’t really anything particularly special.
Not in his opinion anyway.