Fandom: Alien series/Heroes
Characters/Pairing: Ellen Ripley/Sylar
Word Count: 3,346
Spoilers: All for Alien with some background revealed in the Director's Cut of Aliens. Vague for S3 of Heroes (for Sylar’s powers, that’s it).
Warnings: Disturbing imagery
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Notes: This story is set about halfway through Alien. This was written for ewinfic.
Summary: Ripley knows she has to do something to save her crew.
The ship loomed above her, its misshapen horn-moon form an unwelcome reminder of a home that was still almost a year away. Ripley could feel her breathing speeding up even over the screaming wind, the cooling regulators puffing dry air onto her faceplate to keep it clear. She almost wished it could stay fogged. If she didn’t have to look at the ship, she wouldn’t have to contemplate why she was here.
Ripley shook her head and started to climb up the uneven slope. Kane needed her to do this. He was the one lying in sick bay with an alien stuck to his face, some part of it shoved down his throat, and only Ash’s cool scientific curiosity to help him. The only real answers that existed were here, where it had started. God, Dallas would kill her for violating safety protocol like this… Ripley felt a surge of anger at the memory of him and Lambert screaming at her to let them inside. Oh yes, he would order her to violate quarantine, Lambert would try to claw Ripley’s eyes out for trying to follow that very necessary law, and Ash had not even blinked in letting them inside. Let Dallas try to lambast her for trying to discover what was attached to Kane; he had endangered them all. When they got back to Earth, they’d spend another two or three months in quarantine, and that was assuming Kane even lived.
She climbed carefully, feeling the roughness of the alien rocks even through her bulky suit. The ships seemed to lean towards her, its arms embracing her, welcoming her in. Ripley took a deep breath and let it out slowly; if she thought too hard about this, she’d scare herself before she’d even gotten inside. One of the portals where Kane and the others had gone in beckoned from further along the hull, but Ripley hesitated. She wanted answers, not risk making herself another victim. The bridge. Where was the bridge?
The wind took on a new note of shrillness, and she looked up. There – the upper middle of the ship, it was the most likely place. She’d have to dare the portal and climb up instead of down.
Even the cooling systems in her suit couldn’t combat her nervous sweat as she crawled inside, playing her light over the organic, rib-like walls. Seeing them from the safety of the Nostromo’s monitors was different from seeing them with her own eyes, and just added to her sense of unease. She had to put the light down as she climbed up an uneven slope, and realized that she could still see. Ripley looked up, briefly turning off her helmet light to see faint illumination frosting the innards of the giant ship. The damned thing had been broadcasting a warning beacon for some unknown length of time, so there must still be some power. She turned her helmet light back on and dragged out her radiation monitor. It twitched fitfully as she aimed it at different areas of the room, and decidedly went up when she waved it in the direction of the melted hole in the floor.
Why in the name of God had Kane decided to go down there? He hadn’t known that melted hole was caused by acid of some alien creature, but… Ripley looked over her shoulder at the mummified remains of some other alien strapped to a chair, its abdomen ruptured from within. Once you’d seen that, Dallas, you should have thought about exploring this hulk with only three crewmen untrained in salvage, with crappy vid feedback and no rescue gear. What the hell were you thinking? That message was a warning; I told you that!
Ripley turned away from both hole and old victim, a sense of foreboding closing in on her. She needed answers, not recriminations. If Dallas and Ash wouldn’t do anything about it, then she would. The ship was still alive, active, and she had to find some kind of access terminal. Did the alien pilots of this ship leave their lights on on purpose, or was the ship merely breaking down? Kane had seen live eggs, and the weather here was brutal, but it took time to form the kind of weathering and build-up she’d seen on the hull of the ship.
The Nostromo traveled some pretty intense galactic distances to deliver its cargo, but Ripley had never even heard of a ship like this before. Not this size, not this type, never an alien race of enough sophistication to build anything like this. She’d have to figure it out as she went.
She set her hands and feet into the steep, curving walls and began to heave herself up to where the faint lights betokened a second level. There was a regularity of the protrusions here; she thought it was meant to be some kind of access, like a ladder or staircase. The corridors and rooms here were wide, the rooms tall, these rungs widely spaced. If the ancient alien in the chair had been typical, then the race that had built this ship was big, very big. But why the eggs in the belly of the ship? Why had what come out of them looked nothing like the victim downstairs? The little spider-crab attached to Kane wouldn’t need rungs like this. Did they grow into something bigger? Or were they totally unrelated to the ship’s creators?
Ripley’s questing hand finally found a flat surface above her, and she pulled herself up the last few feet onto the upper deck. The pale light was stronger here, with wisps of vapor visible, pooling on the floor and obscuring her footing. Her breathing was too loud in her ears, her booted feet curiously quiet on the deck. The corridor stretched before and behind her, the ends curving away into infinity. She looked left, then right, and froze. A spill of stronger light from an open portal illuminated the corridor ahead, where it climbed from the tilt of the ship. It hadn’t been open when she’d first looked.
Her heart hammered in her throat as she slowly walked towards it, the floor rough under her boots, providing plenty of grip even against the upward slope. As she put out a hand to steady herself, she realized the walls were as rough as the floor, even in their organic elegance. Warily she panned her handlight across the walls and ceiling, curving and perfectly symmetrical, like the throat of some enormous beast. It was as if the inhabitants of this place climbed on any surface in defiance of gravity.
“God,” she whispered to herself, and kept walking towards the portal. The light was enough to see clearly through the fog, and Ripley crowned her handlight on her belt. She pulled a stun rod from her backpack and gripped it hard in her hand. Even in the depths of space there was a chance one of the crew could get out of control, and the Nostromo had more than a few weapons to choose from. It would be useless if the egg-creatures attacked en masse (the thought gave her the shuddering horrors until she shunted it aside), but it was enough to fend off one from a safe distance. She’d been afraid to bring a projectile weapon; God only knew what could happen in here if she severed some active circuit.
She took a deep breath and held the stun rod in both hands, covering her faceplate. “Don’t let me end up like Kane,” she whispered to herself. She turned the corner to face the illuminated room. “Fuck.” The rings of raised, lit bumps in the organic-looking walls of the room might have been controls, but Ripley had no eyes for them. Her attention was taken up by the egg in the middle of the floor. It must have been three times as large as the ones Dallas and Lambert had described, and this one seemed to pulse ever-so-slightly. The wet-lipped folds at the top of the egg shifted with every movement of its thick, leathery skin. Her suit speakers let her hear the liquid pops and smacks as whatever was inside shifted.
She needed a gun. Christ, she needed to blow this thing apart, now. She didn’t dare try to get into the ship’s systems while that thing was writhing behind her. Ripley swallowed hard and allowed herself one step inside the room. A simple strike would do nothing, a knife, scarcely more. Ash’s experiments on the creature attached to Kane had proven it to be immune to all but the most severe forces. Maybe a forcible stun before it emerged… or it could just anger it. But she had to try. She owed it to her crew. If Dallas was going to hide in his captain’s chair so he could feel righteous about saving his own skin while endangering everyone, then screw that. Someone had to take responsibility. Ripley took another step in, and held her breath as the egg pulsed again, a much more violent tremor.
She thought her head was going to explode from the strain as she waited, her muscles tense and aching. Last time the egg had opened from Kane getting too close, examining it too tactically. She glared at the alien thing, daring it to open, hoping it wouldn’t.
The fleshy petals suddenly peeled open smoothly, and Ripley could scarcely breathe, the stun rod held across her faceplate so it couldn’t get at her.
“Come on,” she hissed. “Come on, you bastard.”
She waited for the first tentative view of a muscular tail, or a pointed leg, ready to stun the little horror into oblivion. There was a small cargo case in her pack; if nothing else maybe she could take video of a live specimen back to Ash before she killed it for safe transport. If I don’t die, she thought. Don’t die. You promised to be home for her birthday. Amanda’s counting on you…
Her head throbbed, and she had to take a deeper breath.
The egg moved.
Something from within gripped the edges of the opening, slick and shiny with the ropes of slime inside the egg. Ripley hesitated before striking; it almost looked like…
“Christ,” she breathed. She needed religion right now, because what was gripping the edges of an alien flesh-egg on the bridge of an ancient crashed alien vessel on an uninhabitable world hostile to human life was a hand. A human hand, with short fingernails and dark hair sprinkling the back. It slithered down the side as if looking for something, the attached arm long and muscular, and finally curled around the flap. Another hand and arm emerged, pushing free of the slime, a right to the first’s left. It found its place on the opposite side, its fingers flexing idly, as if testing themselves.
Ripley felt her knuckles go white within her suit gloves as she tightened her grip on the stun rod.
The egg pulsed again, like a womb straining to give birth.
Please no. Please let this be a dream… No such luck. They hadn’t had that kind of luck since Mother woke them up.
The hands tensed and pulled, a sleek, dark-haired head came free of the clinging muck, strands of slick clearness coating its- no, his –pale skin. Under the amniotic goo was a human man with heavy, dramatic features, its flesh gleaming under the alien lights. He stood slowly, struggling against the confines of the egg that had birthed him, until he could face her, still waist-deep in the rugose embrace. His hand came up, wiping the slime from his face, and he took a deep breath, shocking loud in the small room. His eyes opened, deep brown in the light coming from the walls, and shockingly human.
If he were human. Below the waist he could still have a tail and crab-like legs. Ripley suppressed a slightly hysterical giggle at the thought; fear was making her giddy. She brought the stun rod down to chest level, wanting to make her meaning clear. Any unauthorized movement was going to result in an electrical stab. Ripley took one hand away to activate her external suit speakers.
“Do you understand me?” she asked, slowly and clearly.
His gaze suddenly became focused, riveting on hers, vague and blank confusion becoming laser-intense purpose and intelligence. Ripley’s breath caught; this wasn’t some kind of puppet grown to distract her, this was a person.
Ripley swallowed hard. His voice was deep, slightly rough, like a man woken from a long sleep. Had he been brought here by the ship’s creators? Or captured long ago by the egg-creatures?
“Do you have a name?”
“Sylar.” He looked down at her, his eyes hooded, and smiled slowly.
Ripley curled her fingers on the stun rod. Sylar might be intelligent, might be human, but that didn’t make him any less dangerous. A human could do plenty of damage on his own. Ash had managed to possibly contaminate the whole ship just by a push of a button.
Sylar moved, slick sounds filling Ripley’s ears as he tugged his legs free of the egg to stand on deck. He was decidedly human-looking, all the way to his feet. And also decidedly male. Ripley flushed a little and dragged her eyes back to his face; the slime on his body slowly evaporating, or maybe being absorbed into his skin.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“Ripley,” she said shortly. “Second mate of the Nostromo.”
“You’re an awfully long way from home, Ripley.” He sounded amused, as if this whole situation was just a mere social exchange planetside, rather than in this hellish place.
“Where are you from?” she asked, feeling her hands begin to sweat inside her gloves. He unnerved her, breathing this poisonous air, yet speaking English, emerging from an alien egg, yet appearing perfectly human.
“Where we’re all from.” He extended an arm, one hand pointing at her, and twitched it sideways. The stun rod was wrenched from her grasp by an irresistible, invisible force, and flung out the door. She could hear it skittering down the tilted hallway through her suit speakers.
Sylar stepped forward, leaving wet footprints behind him, a scowl on his face. In the light, he looked dangerous, evil, ten times more so now that she’d seen what he could do. Ripley knew she needed to run, but reached out instead to hold onto the doorway. Not to prepare herself for flight, but to block his path. She’d come here for answers, and wasn’t leaving until she’d gotten them. If he tried anything… she at least still had the cargo case. Let him deal with it trying to seal itself on his arm or head; it would keep him busy enough so she might be able to find what she needed to save her crew.
“One of those spider-crabs attacked Kane,” she said. “He’s unconscious, with that thing clamped to his face and its tail around his throat.”
Sylar paused, just two steps away from her, a curiously haunted expression on his face.
“I have to figure out how to help him,” Ripley said, not quite pleading. Her free hand was reaching for the cargo case.
“He’s already dead,” Sylar said sharply. “You can only try to save yourself.” He closed the gap between him and laid one hand along the side of her faceplate, his body tight against hers. She could almost feel the heat from his flesh through the space suit, and that scared her to death.
“He was stable when I left. We can do more than ‘save ourselves,’” she snapped, using bravado to cover her fear.
Sylar looked delighted by her audacity, and stooped closer to meet her eyes through the lights in her helmet. His expression sobered as he stared at her, as if memorizing the lines of her face.
“I doubt it. I couldn’t.” The haunted look was back again, along with something like pain. One finger traced the curve of Ripley’s helmet, and she could actually feel the touch, like a caress on her cheek. She gasped slightly, and looked over his shoulder at the discarded egg.
“How were you-? Why were you-?”
“They ran out of the pilots. Then the ship crashed, and there was only me to use. They couldn’t have survived this long otherwise if they hadn’t kept me. I…” A full body shudder ran through him, and Ripley could feel the same kind of horror and revulsion in him that she had felt when Kane had been brought on board. Sylar took his fingernail and cut the edge of his chin, blood welling up and then abruptly stopping as the skin sealed itself.
A few things came together abruptly: the alien in the chair downstairs with his abdomen burst, the thing on Kane with something shoved down his throat, Sylar being alive on this alien world. God, didn’t the Company have some kind of bio-weapon program? Why else would they direct Mother to set them down on this uncharted, hostile rock, risking the Nostromo’s entire payload, to investigate a warning? No one aboard was trained for this!
“Do you see?” he asked. His hand traced around her faceplate, and she could feel the touch circling her face.
Ripley nodded, an entirely different kind of fear and loathing welling up inside her, focused back on the shuttle, on the thing killing Kane, and down in the belly of the ship, the things that had been keeping Sylar here.
“I have to destroy it,” she whispered.
Sylar leaned forward and rested his cheek against her helmet, his breath fogging her vision. “Thank you.”
The faceplate abruptly swung away; free of her helmet in a way it sure as hell wasn’t designed to do. Hot, foul air flooded her lungs, smothering her, and Ripley choked, reaching for her emergency air. Sylar took ahold of her hands, stilling them, and closed the gap between them to nothing. His kiss was abrupt and all encompassing, devouring her mouth, his air pouring in her.
Suddenly she could breathe again. Like Kane could breathe with that thing attached to him. She screamed into Sylar’s mouth, and he let go of one of her hands to touch her face, his touch as light as the phantom caress earlier.
“It’s ok,” he said quickly. “Ripley, it’s ok.” Air flowed between them, hot and thick but breathable, no longer tainted with the foul smells of the ship. Sylar wasn’t shoving anything down her throat, just kissing her hard, his lips moving over hers slowly. She felt a spark of something, heat jolting her low and deep inside, and gripped Sylar’s arm with her gloved hand.
She opened her eyes to see him watching her from a few inches away, more than a little desperate and wanting, also relieved and determined. Ok, she thought, and ran her thumb down his arm, now mostly dry of the slime that had covered him. Ok, we can do this. We can get out of here. We can do this. We can stop them.
Ripley shoved back lightly, and Sylar pulled away, putting her faceplate back where it belonged. A few seconds later, her air began to flow again, cooling her skin of the nervous sweat that had slicked it.
Sylar touched the side of her helmet again, the physical sensation of him running fingers through her hair making her flinch in surprise, her nerves still strung far too tight.
“We need to go back,” she said, realizing her hand was still on his arm. She didn’t let go. He covered her hand with his, entwining his long fingers with her gloved ones.
Sylar smiled at her, a bare-toothed grin of someone who’d just been told he’d just received everything he’d ever wanted. In that moment he looked twice as dangerous as the acid-blooded horror attached to Kane. She started out the door, and he came with her willingly.
She’d come for some way to save her crew. And she’d found it.