Traveling as fast as it could, the Avellan fired several salvos of its primary cannon at an oncoming asteroid all while continuing on its original course with no stopping.
“Mic,” the ship’s computer called, “We are approaching LV-223. Shall I wake the crew?”
“No, Mother” Mic answered as he sat at the flight controls. “No need to wake them only to put them through what might be a bad landing.”
With his new programming, Mic, even with no rank, was given most of the responsibility of the Avellan and its systems. The crew mostly served to respond to distress signals and tended lightly to the ship’s maintenance. It was all done for the sake of efficiency.
Ever since the Prometheus disappeared, its lifeboat broadcasted one last SOS to whoever could receive it. Weyland-Yutani merged and decided to launch a rescue mission only after receiving the transmission. Nobody knows the details of what happened, only that a signal was received.
“Mother,” Mic called. “Run the AHF scan again.”
“Scanning,” Mother said. “Signal triangulation confirmed, no life forms detected. The lifeboat has suffered catastrophic damage. Debris detected.”
Mic took control of the ship.
The Avellan descended into the planet’s atmosphere. The weather was violent, then calm, but rainy.
As he had done a dozen times before, Mic expertly navigated the Avellan to a slow landing.
“Mic,” Mother called, “Recommend you proceed with caution. The debris pattern indicates the wreckage of a much larger ship.”
“Ok, thank you, Mother,” Mic said as he stood to leave down the hall. “Wake everyone up per standard procedure.”
The hibernation chamber lit up as the pods came online to open and reveal their occupants.
The crew slowly came about. Wearing only enough clothing to cover themselves up modestly.
Mic walked in with the stimulants and cups of water on a tray. “Hello again everyone,” he said. “It’s been one year, two months, five days, seven hours, four minutes, and eighteen seconds. We’ve arrived at LV-223. SOS beacon has been successfully triangulated.”
Kai approached Mic. He was still groggy but a little more self-aware than the others.
“May I assist you Lt. Kai?” Mic asked, then handing over a stimulant pill and a small cup of water for him to immediately ingest.
“Nothing else,” Kai replied. “Thanks, did you scan for survivors?”
“None were detected, Sir,” Mic answered.
“Have we already landed?” Kai asked.
“Yes, Sir,” Mic said. “We are within one kilometer of the Prometheus’ lifeboat.”
Shaw approached them, almost eagerly, and then took a stimulant.
“Sgt. Shaw,” Mic continued. “I’m sorry to report we’ve detected no life signs.”
Rubbing her eyes more awake Shaw said. “I suppose the best we can hope for is a clue of where to find my sister. Let’s hurry.”
Kai placed a hand on Shaw’s shoulder to calmly say. “Slow down, Shaw. If she’s here, she’s not going anywhere. By the book, remember that.” He then called. “Layton.”
Layton immediately came over and stood somewhat at attention and said. “Sir?”
“Gather everyone up in the airlock,” Kai said. “Make sure they’re ready to go, Cpl. We haven’t detected any survivors. No life signs, but I don’t want to take any chances. Equip everyone with a pulse rife and tell Zima to take a motion tracker just in case.”
“Yes, Sir,” Layton said, taking a stimulant and then leaving to spread the word.
All of them, except Mic, had taken a stimulant and then quickly got dressed. It was only their combat fatigues with an environmental suit over that.
Zima made sure to grab a motion tracker and call. “Eastman. You can pay when we get back to base?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Eastman said.”You’ll get your money. I still think it wasn’t fair, the call was real, they just exaggerated the problem. There was no leak, but it was their converter.”
“And now?” Zima asked. “You bet?”
“Let’s see,” Eastman said as he double-checked to see if his pulse rifle was loaded.
Being an earlier model and given that they were a rescue team, the rifle had no grenade launcher, instead, in its place was a powerful light used in searching for any survivors.
“We got debris,” Eastman continued. “A lifeboat, no life signs…”
“Guys,” Shaw called. “Let’s not bet on this one. Ok?”
Zima and Eastman both acknowledged Shaw with a “Yes, Sgt.”
The bet had been to see if the reported problem was the actual problem.
Layton shook his head and chuckled before turning to Shaw to speak in a low voice. “Those two will never stop.”
“Well,” Shaw whispered and shrugged. “Eastman was right. Those people did get very sick from breathing bad fumes.”
Layton chuckled again. “Could have been bad wording. They even said it was the converter. It just can’t technically ‘leak’.”
Kai walked in, suited up, and placed a helmet on before grabbing a pulse rife.
Being a DSRV, the Avellan only had a small armory consisting of a pulse rifle for each member, one smart gun, and one flame unit. The former two items were considered too heavy-duty to ever be used and were normally left in their rack. To one side was extra equipment to help with the job.
“Shaw,” Kai called. “Grab the topographer. I got feeling well need it with all that debris and ship out there.”
Shaw nodded “Sir.” She said as she went over to grab the topographer, a tool that resembled the motion tracker, but instead of detecting motion, it was used for scanning the ground or an object’s exterior. It could help greatly in sifting through debris.
Kai went to the door’s control. “Alright everyone,” he said. “Get ready, staggered formation, Shaw, take point. Layton, bring up the rear. Everyone else, keep your eyes peeled.”
The door opened to reveal a landscape littered with the remnants of the Prometheus. Beyond a few low-lying rocks, the lifeboat could easily be seen near a crashed Engineer ship.
Shaw led the way, minding the topographer as it read off what was natural and not only what was once part of the Prometheus but what exactly it was and where on the ship it went.
All the helmets were equipped with an interconnected radio, so anyone could talk and hear anyone at any time. Even a whisper could be heard by all.
Eastman looked carefully for anything out of the ordinary as he walked. “Zima,” he called. “I know you love a good mystery. What do you think happened here?”
Zima wasn’t too far away doing the same thing. “Beats me,” she answered.”Looks like a core meltdown and they broke up in the atmosphere.”
“Eastman,” Layton said. “You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you?”
Right behind Shaw, Kai kept his eyes forward as he said. “Layton, it’s a good question considering all this mess.”
At the lifeboat, the group found an open airlock several feet off the ground. It wouldn’t be a big deal to climb the rubble up to it.
“Shaw,” Kai asked. “How’s it look?”
Reading the topographer, Shaw replied. “First door is open but not the second one. Wait, looks like there’s another way in, ground level, around the left.”
“Lead the way,” Kai instructed.
Shaw easily found the opening made by the Deacon. “We can get in through here,” she said.
Kai gently moved Shaw aside. “I’ll go first,” he said. “Stay right behind me.”
Inside was the typical layout of a lifeboat. There was a large room surrounded by much smaller ones. The only light came from the group’s helmets as they searched for any survivors.
Kai repeatedly tried touching a panel to bring on the lifeboat’s lights. “Powers dead,” he said. “Layton, take Eastman back to the Avellan and bring a power generator. Shaw, Zima, let’s keep looking for clues.”
Layton left with Eastman, while the rest slowly moved through the lifeboat. It didn’t take long to find the decayed remains of the Trilobite and what little was left of the Engineer.
Of the Engineer, Zima asked, “What do you think this was?”
“I haven’t the slightest clue,” Kai replied. “Too little to decide. Might have come from this other thing here.”
Shaw had gone over to find a data terminal. “This might tell us what happened,” she said, “Needs power though.”
Eastman jogged alongside Layton. He couldn’t stop looking over at the crashed Engineer ship and the facility nearby “Hey Layton,” he called. “Doesn’t that look like a building or something?”
Layton looked. “I don’t know,” he said. “Look, there’s another formation over there.”
“It’s the same,” Eastman replied. “For some reason, they just don’t look natural.”
“Mic,” Layton called. “We need a power generator ready to go. I’m coming back with Eastman to pick it up.”
“It’ll be ready,” Mic responded. He got up from the monitoring station and went down to the storage area to easily pick up a generator and carry it. As he reached the airlock, the men walked in to take it in hand.
For a synthetic, the generator’s weight was nothing. It wasn’t too heavy for one person as much as it was awkward. Two people carrying it, one on each side, made it very easy. Layton and Eastman walked at a brisk pace while carrying the device.
“So,” Eastman asked. “You think we’ll find any survivors?”
“Don’t know,” Layton answered. “Judging by this debris and that lifeboat. A lot of time has passed so I’m doubtful.”
Hearing everything via radio. “Fat lady hasn’t sung yet,” Kai replied, even though he was inclined to agree with Layton.“Let’s wait till we know for sure before jumping to conclusions.”
Shaw carefully searched the room. It was difficult with only their helmet-mounted lights.
Zima was doing the same when part of the bulkhead suddenly gave way, spilling out a few loose hoses.
Slightly jumping himself as he watched. “Careful,” Kai said. “Zima, you ok?”
Eastman and Layton walked in.
“Good, you’re here,” Kai said. “Get that thing hooked up right away so we can get some light in here.”
“Sir,” both men said as they carried the generator to one side of the room before setting it down and plugging its connectors into the proper receptacles in the wall. In a moment, the lifeboat surged back to life with lights and monitors turning back on.
Shaw went over to a terminal and began pressing buttons to coax any information from it. “Here,” she said. “The final message.”
Everyone gathered around the terminal to hear: “Final report of the vessel, Prometheus. The ship and her entire crew are gone. If you are receiving this transmission, make no attempt to come to its point of origin. There is only death here now, and I’m leaving it behind. It is New Year’s Day, the year of our Lord 2094. My name is Elizabeth Shaw, last survivor of the Prometheus, and I’m still searching.”
Kai placed a hand on Shaw’s shoulder saying. “She lived,”
Layton studied the monitor closer. “Doesn’t look like that transmission got out,” he said. “Only a basic SOS right before the system went offline.”
Shaw gasped as she furiously typed into the monitor. “It doesn’t say where she is,” she cried out, continuing to type. “Hold on, according to this there’s some kind of facility here.”
“Those formations we saw outside,” Eastman said. “I thought they looked funny.”
“Saddle up people,” Kai said as he began walking away.”They ain’t payin’ us by the hour. Let’s move, we’re going in.”