Had a musing the other day about this part of the events before “Alien” and decided to do a Short Story on it. I hope that you like it.
The deep and seemingly endless dreams of Cryosleep have been described differently by those who frequently experience them. Some have only pleasant memories while others have darker dreams that would often require some intense Psycho Analysis to interpret. Others have short and fleeting dreams which they cannot remember and there are those who simply pass their Cryo time in blissful ignorance devoid of dreams of any kind.
One thing all space travelers who regularly use Cryosleep can agree upon though is the harshness that returning to reality brings with it. Going from a deep and sustained sleep to a cold room filled with bright lights and having to move muscles that have not been used in months is never a pleasant experience.
For many it comes with the job and when Kane sat up in his Cryobed he saw that as usual; he was up before the rest of the crew; many of which had not even started to stir.
As was his routine; Kane arose, put on his robe, and made his way to the Kitchen to prepare the coffee before he cleaned himself up and dressed.
Arthur Dallas arose, dressed, and made his way silently to get his coffee before heading to check in with Muthur as was his established routine upon waking. Kane saw his Captain enter but knew from past trips that it was best to let him and other members of the crew have their first cup and in some cases a smoke before engaging them in even the most basic of greetings or conversation.
Dallas keyed in his inquiries and saw that it had been a very routine voyage from Earth and the Nostromo was entering the Thedus system slightly ahead of schedule. He thought back briefly to his time on the UAS Archangel and how that “routine mission” to put down a revolt by the Minors had gone so wrong but he had managed to survive and stay gainfully employed upon leaving the Colonial Marines.
Snapping back to reality; Dallas logged off and entered the main lounge to check in with the crew.
Brett and Parker were complaining as usual. While they could be annoying beyond belief; Dallas knew that finding a better pair of Engineers would be tough especially those willing to ride out on Towing runs. Kane was efficient as always and a solid XO. Lambert could be cold and sarcastic but she could navigate a ship like no other and that more than made up for any shortcoming in the personality department. This was his first time shipping our with Ripley but he had enjoyed getting to know her before leaving Earth and she was a very efficient and skilled part of the crew even if she was strongly opinionated at times. She kept him on his toes and he appreciated that when she spoke she had valid points even if he did not agree with them.
Finally there was his Science Officer Jacobson. Dallas had shipped out with him a few times before and found him a very capable and likeable person. He knew his job and did it well but was not above taking advice nor orders without an argument. It was this combination of factors that made Dallas very happy when they were assigned the mission as getting to know new crew and their various quirks was taxing at times as Dallas wanted things to run smoothly as the fewer complications the better.
After they finished eating and drinking and conversation; they made their way to the Bridge to finalize their arrival and after going through the routine, the Nostromo settled onto a landing platform overlooking the sprawling Weyland Yutani campus.
The crew would now get a few days of downtime to relax, socialize, shop, or indulge in whatever legal vice they wanted while they waited for the refinery to be fully loaded and ready to connect to the Nostromo for their voyage home.
Once they left the ship, Dallas was greeted by a man in his 30s in a tailored suit which underscored his administrator status. “Captain Dallas can we have a moment of your time” asked the man. Knowing it was a rhetorical question Dallas obliged and was informed that a new regulation required the crew to undergo a brief health check at each end of their journey now versus only upon completion. Dallas gave a token complaint as did the crew upon hearing the news but knew they could not fight the machine. Thankfully they did not have to wait long as a team of medics were waiting for them just inside and they were questioned, scanned, and tested before being on their way a few moments later.
The next few days passed pleasantly enough as the crew enjoyed their downtime and Dallas caught up on the news, sports, and entertainment he had missed out on during the last few months of the trip. As was his custom he visited the site of his incident with the Archangel and reflect upon those in his squad who did not make it.
After paying his respects Dallas rushed to a local restaurant to meet the crew for dinner as it was his tradition to buy them Dinner before the last leg of the ship. He had established this as upon docking at Earth there was often no time for much conversation as people were rushing off to go on vacation, see family and friends, and plan what to do with their next bonus. Some also had a quick turnaround on another ship.
Dallas had arrived early at the Orbiter and found he had a message waiting for him to call into Dispatch. Dallas had hoped they were not delaying or rushing his departure as the only thing worse than a delay was being rushed to depart ahead of schedule.
Dallas checked in and was surprised to be transferred not to the usual dispatcher but to the executive who greeted them at the platform. “Captain Dallas; I will not keep you but we need to make a crew change”. Before “Dallas could voice his complaint he was told that there was an irregularity in Jacobson’s tests. “Nothing serious Captain but it looks like a virus about to enter the infectious stage so we have placed him in isolation and given him the needed inoculation.” “Unfortunately he will need about a week to be cleared; perhaps two and we cannot justify delaying the launch”. Dallas voiced his displeasure with not being able to have a say in the replacement and was assured that Ash was a very capable Science Officer and that since they would be sleeping for most of the trip back there was little concern.
Dallas broke the news to the crew that evening and there was the usual grumbling and company related grousing but they all knew who made the rules and who controlled the money.
Parker made a joke about how Jacobson and his replacement will have to split the bonus as there is no way he is going to let a person get a full share for a half journey.
As the Nostromo prepared to lift off and dock with the refinery, Ash made a very short and to the point introduction to the crew and set about his work. Some people seem eager to get to know their shipmates and others are no-nonsense. Ash had this detached and cold mannerism about him but Dallas figured it likely had to do with him being assigned late and as long as he did his job did it really matter.
The docking with the platform went smoothly and Lambert had their course plotted back to Earth with her usual efficient manner. 59 light years from home and as the ship made its way out of the system before accelerating, the crew made their way to the Cryochamber after doing all final checks. Dallas checked in with Muthur to ensure all systems were green before turning everything over to her and then joined the crew. Most had already stripped down and were in their Cryobeds. As the lids closed; Dallas wondered what he would dream about as sleep started to embrace him. He soon drifted off and thought about how nice it would be to get to Earth and spend some much needed time off.
With the crew safely asleep; The Nostromo accelerated to safe cruising sped for the several months it would take for the ship to get back to Earth. As Muthur began her numerous checks and procedures during the trip, she checked in with Thedus to confirm ship and crew status and their successful departure from the system.
After a brief delay the screen displayed the response “Special Order #937 Implemented; Science Officer’s eyes only”.
With that the screen went dark and the Nostromo and her sleeping crew drifted deeper into the void of space.