GATEWAY

Miller looked the cargo-hold of the transporter over that would carry his precious load away from Earth, nodding to himself. There were no air-vents bigger than a hand, so the aliens couldn't break through them. The walls were made of reinforced steel and the doors had the same quality as airlock-doors. The floor was covered with one inch of a special gel, which also covered the walls and ceiling to prevent the aliens from using their acid on either. All in all, Miller was quite satisfied with the arrangements he had made. The ship would take the aliens to their new home and a science-base would be established in orbit around the small moon that had a breathable atmosphere and not much more. The moon had been chosen because of its secluded position. It was nowhere near any of the trade-routes and the location of the moon was classified information. Nodding to his people, Miller turned and left the hold again. In two days time, the aliens would be on their way and Miller would follow shortly to make sure all his arrangements were respected. The moon would be a breeding-ground and he already had plans for hosts for the aliens. With a smile, he headed toward the tube that would let him back onto Gateway. He had barely cleared the tunnel, before he was stopped by security guards. Van Leuwen stood a few steps behind them, staring at him.

"What is the meaning of this, Dirk?" Miller asked, pushing past the guards.

Van Leuwen looked slightly put off by something. "If you don't know that, Jake, I can't help you,” he replied, his tone of voice disclosing what he felt. Rage would be too strong a word, but was the only way to describe it properly.

"What are you talking about? I was inspecting a ship. Is that a federal offence now?" Miller asked cynically, glancing back at the guards.

Van Leuwen snorted, folding his arms over his chest. "You have broken quarantine rules, our non-alien agreement, hazardous organisms-rules. You name it, you've broken it. And, in a few days, I will have the proof to support that. So, I just wanted to warn you. You're in for a degradation. A big one, Jake. Take heed. I'll bury you five feet under." With those not very kind words, van Leuwen turned around and strode away, followed closely by the guards.

Miller watched him go, his expression carefully set. "So, you'll bury me, eh?" he muttered, turning toward another corridor. He would show van Leuwen who would get buried first. The first thing he had to do was to get the aliens off Gateway. Preferably tonight. If that was not possible, early tomorrow morning. Determined, he quickly returned to his office to make the final arrangements. The people who knew about the project would accompany him to the new home world of the aliens. Those he could trust and who shared his enthusiasm concerning the aliens had already been assigned to various positions. Those who seemed to be chickening out on them, would come along too. He had promised them a glorious reward and they all seemed willing to participate. Of course they would have second thoughts when they received the reward, but at that time they would have no chance of changing their minds.

***

Later that day, all arrangements concerning the move of the aliens was prepared. A tube was connecting the entrance of the freighter with the entrance of the aliens' chamber. But, apparently, the queen had other plans. She didn't budge and her warrior just sat close by, its head turned toward the opening. It was obvious that it was eager to get going, but the queen held it back.

Miller stood in the surveillance-room, staring at the monitor. "Come on. What are you waiting for?" he urged. It took him a while to realize that the queen felt secure in her chamber and had no intention of moving. "You won't abandon your chamber?" For a long moment, he considered what to do. Then, nodding, he made up his mind. He left the surveillance-room and headed for a door at the far end of the corridor. Opening the first, he stepped into the space between the air-lock doors and waited for the first to close. Then, he opened the second door and step into the damp, hot chamber of the aliens. The queen turned her head in his direction when he entered. Miller was quite aware that she could kill him instantly, but he had given orders for a situation like that. If anything happened to him, the aliens would be destroyed.

Stepping up in front of the queen, he looked up at her. "Listen. You have to get out of here. If you don't, they will kill you. I can take you to a place where you can build an army, my dear. You can live forever on that world. It's ideal." The undertone of urgency in his voice obviously had more effect on the queen than his words. Her bared teeth vanished when she lowered her lips down over them and slowly got up. Miller smiled, turned toward the tube and started to walk. There was no doubt about that the queen and her warrior were right behind him right after she had disengaged herself from her egg-sack. She understood the situation, but Miller would never go as far as to think that she was only bidding her time. That was the only reason for that she didn't kill him instantly. When Miller reached the end of the tube, he opened a small door in it and slipped out, closing it securely behind him. The pounding steps of the two aliens moved past the door and vanished into the tube that would lead them into the freighter. Miller smiled, reaching up with a handkerchief to wipe his brow. Even though he would never admit it, he had been scared of the giant.

The hatch of the transport-chamber closed after the warrior had entered and both queen and warrior settled down, making no fuzz. Those who had monitored the approach of the aliens, had been first baffled and then awed by Miller's courage. At the present time, those who were loyal to him would now die for him if he asked them to.

***

VAN LEUWEN'S OFFICE

Van Leuwen sat motionless, staring at Bishop with an unreadable expression on his face. Bishop had told him about Miller's plans and that he was about to leave. "So, he has moved the aliens to the ship?" he asked after a long moment of silence. Bishop nodded, standing between the two chairs, his hands behind his back. "And he will take them away from Gateway and Earth tonight?" van Leuwen asked on and again Bishop only nodded.

The managing director of the Company looked down at his desk top for a moment, a multitude of feelings running through him. His greatest pleasure would be to send a security team to stop Miller, but getting the aliens off Gateway was essential. As a matter of fact, getting the aliens killed was essential. Eyeing the almost empty table top for a while, he weighed the pros and cons, trying to find the best way of doing that. Blowing up the freighter in space was no option. He would have too much explaining to do.

Looking up again, he leaned forward. "Do you know what plans Miller has?" he wanted to know.

Bishop nodded again and sat down. "Yes, sir, I do know what his plans are. To a certain point. He has found an uncharted, desolated moon, where he will set the aliens free and leave them to build a home for themselves. I have the co-ordinates,” he replied, handing van Leuwen a data pad.

Van Leuwen looked down at the numbers displayed there for a moment, then looked up again. "How will he make them reproduce? As far as I understand, they need living hosts to reproduce,” he said, tapping a finger on the data pad in his hand.

Bishop looked at the little machine, then nodded once. "That is true, but he has found a way to deal with that situation, sir,” he said, meeting van Leuwen's eyes. Sometimes, van Leuwen thought that Bishop had gotten a little too human, but then again, his programming was very elaborate. "The information you require is all stored in the data pad,” he added after a moment.

Van Leuwen again looked down at the data pad, gently rubbing its right side with his thumb. "How much data have you stored on this? Enough to charge Miller with breaking the rules?" he asked after a moment, looking up again.

Bishop nodded. "Enough to get him convicted for willful manslaughter. The incident with both Holden and his attempt on Mr. Hicks' life is stored on that pad, sir,” he said.

A small smile spread over van Leuwen's lips. "Is that so?"

***

L.A.

Hicks took it easy for a few days before returning to the bar to get on with the work. Ripley, Hudson and Marlee had been there on a daily basis. Hicks and Ripley had agreed on, that they would tell neither Hudson nor Marlee about Hicks' discovery, but both Hudson and Marlee were aware that something wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Ripley and Marlee had taken a break and had retired to the office to sit down for a while.

For a while, both men just carried on with their work, but eventually Hudson stopped his paint job and climbed down from the ladder after having glanced at Hicks a couple of times.

Stopping beneath the ladder where Hicks was working on his part of the ceiling, Hudson wiped his hands on a towel while looking up at his friend. "Say, what's up, man? What happened on Gateway?" he asked.

Hicks stopped the spray gun and looked down, his expression set. "What do you mean? -- Nothing happened. As I told you before nothing's going on." His tone of voice was slightly defensive and that wasn't like him at all. Sighing, he climbed down too, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. "It's really nothing, Will. Don't you think I would tell you if I knew something?" he asked, trying to keep his tone of voice neutral.

According to Hudson's expression, he didn't succeed. "What do you think I am? Fucking stupid?" Hudson asked after a moment. "What did you find up there? More of those things? Tell me, man". Hudson took a hold of the ladder, looking at him, and for a long moment, they remained silent.

Hicks didn't know what to do, what to say. Lying was not his best ability, but he felt reluctant to tell Hudson anything about what was going on on Gateway, since he knew how his friend would react. Hysterical could barely cover the outburst that would escape him if he knew. Eventually, Hicks sighed again. "No, Will. As I just said, I found nothing. I've been chasing shadows. I feel like a fool,” he finally replied, dropping his eyes.

For a long moment, Hudson said nothing. Then he snorted. "I don't believe you, man,” he told Hicks, who shrugged in response, looking up again.

"I don't care what you believe, Will. Now, drop the subject, okay?" With those words, he climbed up the ladder again and started the spray gun up again.

Hudson watched him for a moment longer, then, shaking his head, he returned to his work too.

***

In the meantime, Ripley and Marlee had done nothing more than just sit around and relax. For a long time, none of them spoke.

Then Marlee cleared her throat. "Ellen, what happened to Dwayne?" she asked.

Ripley didn't look at her. She kept her eyes fixed on the window in the small office. "He cut himself. He should be more careful,” she replied, feeling slightly angry at the whole situation. Her life had started to look so good. Closing her eyes for a moment, she shook the thought. She had promised Hicks, that she wouldn't wallow in it and, most importantly, that she wouldn't tell Hudson and Marlee about it.

She noted that Marlee was watching her and knew that the girl knew something. Maybe not exactly what was going on, but she had a hunch. As if to confirm Ripley's thoughts, she asked the same question that Hudson had asked Hicks.

Ripley sighed, looking at Marlee with an expression devoid of emotion. "No, Marlee. There are no aliens on Gateway. There are no aliens anywhere but in Dwayne's head. He said he had been chasing shadows and I believe him. Why should he lie?"

Marlee got up and walked over to the window to take a look out into an alley that ran along the backside of the building. "I don't know, Ellen. But I think he is lying. And so are you. I think he told you something and you're not telling us, because you know how Will reacts,” she said, turning around to face Ripley. Ripley had learned to keep a straight face and she used it at that point. Marlee was very perceptive. "You know he'll go up the walls if he hears that there are aliens on Gateway. -- There are, aren't there?" she added.

Ripley just looked at her, then got up. "We should be getting back to work. We'll never get finished, if we just sit around and chat,” she replied, ignoring Marlee's attempt to dig out the truth.

For a moment, Marlee just gaped at her, then she nodded, a sullen look on her face. "Sure. Let's get back to work and forget about the important stuff,” she grumbled, pushed past Ripley and vanished down the hallway.

***

Ripley stopped dead to look at the scene, when she reached the bar again. Something about it seemed so tranquil, that she wished she would be able to freeze time and preserve this image. But, under the surface of the seemingly peaceful room something waited to explode. She looked up at Hicks, who had stopped in turn to look back at her. When their eyes met, she knew that he'd had the same trouble with Hudson as she had with Marlee. Hudson looked as if he had received some bad news, but when Ripley sent Hicks an inquiring look, he shook his head and returned to work. Ripley went up to the wall she had been working on and picked up the spray gun. At that instant, something made Hicks change his mind about not telling Hudson and Marlee about Gateway.

He stopped painting and climbed down the ladder. "Hey,” he said and the others turned to look at him.

Ripley could see on his expression what he was about to do, but she didn't try to stop him. She put the spray gun back down on the floor, folded her arms and waited. Hudson and Marlee were equally aware that Hicks was going to reveal something and they both had a hunch about what it could be.

Looking around at them, Hicks searched for the right way to say it. "What I told you about Gateway wasn't the truth,” he finally said. Marlee stuffed her hands into her pockets, looking expectant and scared at the same time. Hudson's expression was unreadable. "Bio's ...,” he began, but stopped, looking a little lost.

"Bio's has an alien. Two, as a matter of fact. A queen and a warrior from what Dwayne has told me," Ripley finished his sentence after a moment.

Both Hudson and Marlee looked at her, their expressions slightly surprised. Even though they had expected it, it still came as a shock. "Why didn't you say anything, man?" Hudson wanted to know, looking from Ripley to Hicks.

Hicks shrugged. "I don't know. I didn't think ... well, I thought maybe ...,” he tried, then sighed deeply. "I don't know,” he added.

Hudson looked back at Ripley, expecting an explanation from her. "I didn't think it was worth it. Besides, there's nothing we can do about it anyway,” she said, looking calm and collected. For a long moment, neither of the two spoke or moved.

Then Marlee exploded. "You didn't think it was worth it? What do you want? For them to destroy Earth like they did Acheron? Is it that what you want? I'll damned well prove to you that there is something we can do,” she yelled, ran into the office to get her jacket and raced out of the door before any of the others could say or do anything.

Ripley glanced at Hudson, who so far had said nothing else. He just stood rooted to the spot. "Where will she go?" she asked, but Hudson shrugged, showing that he was quite aware of what was going on.

"I don't know, man. Home, maybe,” he replied and then looked directly at Ripley. "Aliens on Gateway, huh?" he then asked and when she nodded, he sighed and dropped down on the floor. "I have had nightmares about this, about them coming to Earth. But I never thought it would happen like this. I mean, I imagined an invasion or something. Not a subtle hinting at that they were here." His voice trailed off and he looked up at her again for a moment. Then he turned his head to look at Hicks, who stood leaning against the ladder, a thoughtful expression on his face. "You could have said so from the beginning, you know. I don't lose my head so easily anymore,” Hudson said to him.

Hicks smiled a little, nodding. "I've noticed. But, I have seen you go through the ceiling one time too many. I guess that's why I didn't want to tell you. Sorry, Will."

Hudson nodded, getting up again. "I think we should call it quits for today, don't you?" he asked, looking at Ripley and Hicks. Both of them nodded.

***

When they arrived at the apartment, they were surprised to find Bishop waiting for them. Hicks gaped at him, not actually having expected to ever see him again. "Bishop?" he asked.

Bishop smiled a little as he looked at them. "Corporal,” he said, nodding to Hicks. "I've tried to get a hold of you ever since you got off Gateway,” he added, approaching Hicks.

Hicks glanced at Ripley, who in turn glanced at Hudson. Hicks looked back at Bishop. "Say what?" he asked, having a feeling of what Bishop wanted.

"Well, I tracked you until I knew you were on the shuttle. I had to talk to you. It's about Miller,” Bishop answered, as Ripley opened the door and they all stepped inside.

"Miller? The managing director of Bio's?" Bishop nodded and at that, Hicks realized who had been behind the attempt on his life. "You prevented him from going after me, didn't you?" Hicks asked, eying the android thoughtfully. There was something very human about him now.

Bishop nodded, glancing at Hudson and then he nodded at Ripley. "Yes, I did. I tried to prevent him from going after you in the first place, but he just wouldn't listen. It's a good thing you got away on your own. I would have had to interfere if you hadn't and that would have blown my cover,” Bishop replied.

Ripley frowned at that, as they stepped into the living room. "You're working undercover?" she asked and, when Bishop nodded, she added "I didn't think a syn ... an artificial person could do that."

Bishop smiled again and Hicks realized that the smile no longer seemed so artificial as it had before. "True. Normally I wouldn't be able to, but since they removed my BI, I have the choice to do that,” he replied.

Hicks frowned. "Who removed your BI?" he asked before Ripley could say anything.

"The Company had it removed before Bio's gave me a new body,” Bishop explained. "Since then, I have actually been working for the Company, providing van Leuwen with information about Miller. I just reached a point where I started considering where my loyalties lay,” he added, frowning a little. All three humans glanced at each other.

Ripley looked closely at Bishop for a moment. "What is a BI?" she wanted to know.

Bishop hesitated and Hicks anticipated him. "A Behavior-Inhibitor. It controls their behavior,” he said.

Ripley's expression turned stony, when she looked from Bishop to Hicks and back again. Bishop noted the expression and recalled their conversation on the Sulaco. He vividly remembered her reaction, despite the fact that it should have caused her to relax to know that he couldn't harm her in any way. Now, that the BI was gone, he feared she might return to her previous hostile attitude toward him.

"I know what a Behavior-Inhibitor is, Dwayne,” she eventually said, looking back at Bishop. "So, where does your loyalty lie?" she added, her tone of voice causing Hicks to frown at her.

"Right here,” Bishop replied. "Bio's made me, but they don't consider me to be anything else than a tool. I worked for the Company and by removing the BI, they gave me a new kind of life, but to them I'm nothing than a tool either. But, you. You saved my life ... or whatever you want to call it. You made sure that I would continue to exist. You treated me as if I was human, as if I had a right to live. If I help anybody, I will help you."

Ripley watched him closely, her expression still stony. Bishop could guess what she was thinking and hoped that she would reach a decision that would be beneficiary for all parties. At the present time his continued existence depended on what she decided. Eventually, Ripley sighed. "How else should I have treated you? I'm glad to know that you are on our side,” she said and everybody relaxed. She had accepted Bishop once again. He nodded, smiling. At that point, he also noted the scared expression on Hudson's face.

"Hey, Dwayne,” Hudson said and Hicks turned toward him. "What did Miller do to you?"

Hicks looked at him for a moment and glanced briefly at Ripley in the process. "He wanted me to meet his ... pets,” he replied. Ripley glanced at the ceiling, her expression resigned.

Hudson looked from Ripley to Bishop to Hicks, still feeling very confused. "His ... pets?" he asked and Hicks nodded.

"Yeah, the aliens, Will. There are two aliens, as Ripley said. If I hadn't managed to get away ... there would be three,” Hicks said, then looked back at Bishop. "How the hell did he get them anyway?"

"Mr. Burke has returned to Gateway. He was carrying the alien queen. Mr. Miller had it removed and is set on breeding them."

They all sat down, Ripley and Hicks on the sofa and Hudson and Bishop on the two armchairs.

"So ... what are we supposed to do now?" Hudson asked after a moment. Ripley raised an eyebrow at that and Hicks frowned. "I mean, shouldn't we do something? Anything?" he went on. "We can't let them use those things. They'll destroy Earth or something,” he added.

At that, Bishop interfered in the conversation. "No, they won't. Not presently, at least. Miller left Gateway the day after Corporal Hicks escaped. He took his ... pets with him. He has plans of raising more on a desolated, out-of-the-way moon,” he said.

Hudson, Hicks and Ripley lost interest in all else and looked at him inquiringly. Hicks was the one to ask the essential question. "How does he plan to raise more?" He didn't really want to hear the answer, but then again, he felt he needed to.

Bishop looked at him, his expression serious. "His plan is to intercept prisoner-transports. He's only going to use prisoners, who face life-long imprisonment. He has contacts all over Gateway who can provide him with that kind of information. When the transports leave, how many prisoners there are and so on. Those who are willing to aid him, will find employment with him. Those who are difficult will be fed to the aliens. One way or another, he will breed them. Miller is capable of using his own staff if he should run short. And he will do what he can to get obstacles out of the way. That's why I'm contacting you now. You need to be very careful. All of you,” he explained.

Ripley had turned deadly pale, Hudson was blushing with anger. The only one who kept a cool head was Hicks. As usual. "We have to prepare ourselves,” he said, already starting to make plans.

Bishop raised a hand. "There is more,” he said. "Van Leuwen more or less asked me to contact you. I had been trying to do that for the past few days, as I said, but he asked me yesterday. He wants to see you. All of you."

For a moment, none of them moved. Then Hudson started to shake his head. "No, uh-uh. No way, man. What does he think we are? Morons? What does he want with us?" he asked.

Bishop looked at Hicks, then at Ripley. "I'm not sure, but I think he wants you to help him deal with this problem. He's very upset about what has happened,” he then said.

Ripley snorted. "Oh, he's upset, is he? And what does he suggest we do? Go kick ass or something?" she wanted to know and Hicks was slightly surprised at her tone of voice. She sounded like a marine.

Bishop nodded in response to her question. "Yes, I think that is the general idea,” he agreed.

Hicks raised his hands at that. "Wait a minute. What is going on here? Does van Leuwen suddenly need our help, because he screwed up in preventing Miller from getting those things onto Gateway? What does he think we are? The cleaning-squad? He can clean up his own mess. This is none of our business,” he said, sounding annoyed.

Ripley looked at him, surprised. She didn't really know what she had believed, but somehow she had thought, that Hicks would agree to go out there again. Bishop and Hudson seemed equally surprised.

"Well, he can't force you. But, I think he is willing to make a deal. Any kind of deal,” Bishop said after thinking it over.

Hicks again shook his head. "Forget it, Bishop. I'm not going out there again. Not after what happened on Gateway. Do you have any idea of how scared I was? Do you?" he snapped. Bishop didn't reply. "No, I didn't think so. Well, the fact is pretty clear to me. Tell van Leuwen, that either he blows up Miller and his fucking aliens, or he'll live to regret it. For a while, anyway,” he added, got up and strode out of the room.

Ripley watched him go, suddenly aware of how sensitive he actually had become. His meeting with the aliens had been too much for him to deal with. "Wait here, Bishop. I'll be right back,” she said and hurried after Hicks. She found him in their bedroom, lying on the bed face-down, his face hidden in a pillow. Sitting down, she put a hand on his shoulder.

"Don't even try to persuade me. I'm not going. Period,” he said into the pillow.

Ripley let her hand drop away. "I'm not going to try to persuade you, Dwayne. I know how you feel. I really do. I just never realized how scared you actually were,” she replied, watching him.

He turned around and looked up at the ceiling for a moment before closing his eyes hard. "I can't shake the nightmares. I can't shake the feeling of those claws digging into my chest. I was so close to becoming a living incubator, Ellen. I can't face that once more,” he said, forcing the words out between clenched teeth. "I've looked Death in the eyes a million times at least, but never in this shape. It was always something that I could deal with,” he added, opening his eyes again and looking at her. "I can't deal with this."

Ripley looked into his eyes, knowing that he meant every single word he said. For a long moment, she just sat there, staring at him. Then, she sighed. "What about those people he's going to use? They may be prisoners, they may be killers, but they're still human beings. What about them, Dwayne? Can you live with the knowledge of their deaths? Can you?" He looked at her for a moment, then turned his head away. "I am not thrilled about this either, Dwayne, but I would not be able to live with myself if I didn't at least do what I could to prevent it from happening again. Think about the colony. Think about those people. And my crew. They died for nothing, if Miller gets his way. And what about Vasqueze and Drake and Frost and the others? Is this really a monument they deserve?"

Turning back to face her, she realized that he was angry now. "Shut up, Ellen. I don't need to hear that. It's not my problem anymore. The Company kicked my ass, they treated us both like dirt and now you want to help them? They did this. Let them deal with it,” he snapped. "I can live with this if I have to. It's better to be alive than dead." With those words, he pushed himself off the bed, strode into the hall again, picked up his jacket and left the apartment again.

Ripley stayed where she was for a moment longer, staring straight ahead of herself.

***

L.A.
- BELL'S PARK

The light of the early morning was subdued, but not so much that the island in the middle of the lake wasn't visible. Hicks stood on the shore of the small lake, looking across the calm water at the island. Somewhere nearby, a blackbird was bidding the morning welcome in loud, warbling sounds. Hicks had been walking around L.A. all night, never once stopping to sit down or to talk to anyone. He needed some time on his own to think about what Ripley had said and what Bishop had told them. He knew that he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he just ignored what was happening and went on with his life. He had become a marine because he would be able to do something about things like that. His soul reason for being a law-enforcer in outer space.

Snorting joyless at that thought, he turned around and headed back toward the gates of the park. He had reached a decision. It hadn't been easy and it wouldn't be easy, but it was the only thing he could do. He headed back toward his apartment-building and nodded at the doorman, who wished him a good morning in return. He took the elevator up and slowly walked down the hall toward the apartment. After stuffing the sec-card into the slot, the door clicked open. He had barely gotten one foot inside the door before the living room door opened and Ripley stepped out, looking tired.

"Marlee has vanished,” she said. "I thought you might have, too,” she added.

He walked up to her and hugged her, holding her close for a moment. Leaning back, he looked into her eyes. "I'm sorry about what I said yesterday. You were right, of course,” he said and she nodded.

"You don't have to feel sorry for that. I fully understand. But we have to find Marlee. She might be in trouble,” she replied and he nodded.

***

After spending half an hour discussing what they should do, they decided that Bishop, who had stayed the night, should return to Gateway and look around up there. He might have a better chance of getting some help if she really was in trouble. Hicks, Hudson and Ripley would stay in the apartment and wait, just in case she decided to pop up again. Bishop took his leave of them and Ripley decided to down a bottle of scotch, even though she didn't like scotch. She didn't even get partly through it.

Hicks took the bottle away from her and gave her cup of coffee instead. "Drink this instead. Getting drunk solves nothing,” he said and that caused her to laugh.

She remembered their conversation when he had tried to do the same. "Look who's talking," she replied.

He smiled a little. "Yeah, I know,” he replied, glancing at Hudson who sat on an armchair with a lost look on his face. Marlee was really special to him. "Will, lighten up. She's gonna turn up. I know she will,” he added.

Hudson focused on him. "Yeah, man. In a body bag,” he grumbled, grabbed the bottle of scotch and downed half of it in one gulp. Hicks shook his head with a sigh and poured himself a cup of coffee.

Talking to Hudson about anything right now would be impossible. Ripley looked at Hicks for a moment, then turned to Hudson. "Why do you believe she's dead?" she wanted to know, causing Hudson to almost choke on another gulp from the bottle.

"I don't think she's dead, man. But the chances are there, aren't they?" he grumbled, raising the bottle. "We're fucked. That's it. This is the end of the line."

Hicks rolled his eyes. "Don't start that shit again, Will. You're so depressing. We don't need that right now,” he replied.

Hudson glared at him. "Why don't you shut the fuck up, huh? You're not in command any more, man. I'm not one of your little soldiers anymore." Hicks sighed, not letting Hudson's attitude get to him. "She's my girl, not yours. You would react the same way if it was Ellen who'd gone missing, man,” he added.

Hicks looked at Ripley, knowing that Hudson was right about that. But, then again. "Ellen wouldn't rush off like that,” Hicks replied. Hudson grumbled something unintelligible, keeping his thoughts to himself.

***