Alien: The Cignus Incident

Here is my latest Alien story. It was intended to be much longer but I opted to shorten it considerably and use some of the characters in a future story.


The pulse from the audience grew and Larry could sense the energy coming from them. Their frantic energy fed him, encouraged him, and gave him the strength to keep going even after three straight hours of performing. His latest album topped the charts as had the five before it; and the future was now as far as Larry Armstrong was concerned.

Sold out shows, money, women, constant adoration – Larry once had it all; until a tragic accident that cost him half of his band, as well as some key executives at the record company and corporate sponsors.

Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing by the authorities, the sharks had their day with Larry and after years of lawsuits and countersuits, he found his fortune, fans, and career were long gone.

But none of that mattered now, a little over a decade later, as Larry basked in the warm adoration that surrounded him. Nothing cures the ills like 30,000 adoring fans screaming your name. Well, a big stack of money also does not hurt, but that goes without saying.

A whirring of servos snapped Larry awake, as did the cold air and bright lights of the Cryobay of the Cignus en route to his next show.

With his finances in ruin and a toxic public image, mounting a comeback was near impossible without the backing of a record company, the money to record, and no means of viable publicity. The writer’s block that followed also didn’t help.

But then came the unexpected. Larry found himself accepting an offer from Weyland Yutani to go on a tour of various colonies and corporate sites with the promises that once it was completed; he would not only have a solid financial base and company stock for the future; they would back his return to the industry if he so wished.

Larry had often wondered about Weyland Yutani’s motivation, and in his darker moments thought that it could be a roundabout thank you due to some of their competition’s big executives going down in the accident, which allowed them to make big financial gains and complete takeovers in the resulting chaos from the accident.

With great effort, Larry managed to sit up and opened his eyes to see that the members of his band were still sleeping but the crew of the Cignus had already moved out of the bay and started their routines.

“Good morning Mr. Armstrong” intoned a friendly voice. Larry looked up and saw that his assistant and ship Synthetic, Jade, was being her usually efficient self as she had a hot cup of coffee and his robe ready for him. Larry took to his feet and managed to slip on the robe and sip his coffee with a dexterity that conflicted greatly with his Cryo hangover.

The arrangement has been first class as far as Larry was concerned. The Cignus was a modern and well-maintained ship; Jade was a great asset who made his life easier; and the money was really good. As his financial planner told him, earning interest while you sleep between gigs is not a bad deal and the fact that his three-year run involved a few weeks of sleep between a week or two up doing shows, and then repeat.

With about nine months left on his tour; Larry looked forward to hitting up some of the bigger corporate sites on the way home and there had even been talk of doing a Net show of his final performance to set the stage for his return to Earth.

Making his way to the dining area, Larry loaded up his tray and made his way to an empty seat while Jade accompanied him. He saw Captain Studdard had finished eating and was making his way to the bridge with his First Officer and Bridge Crew to prepare for their approach.

Jade spoke up and informed him that they were set to land on Titus on schedule and that he can expect a large crowd and some media coverage. Unlike some of the “Shake and Bake” colonies that Larry visited to tune up his show, all the while helping give the company the appearance of caring for their colonists, Titus was a major Corporate planet and, aside from Thedus, was far and away the most developed and advanced stop on this leg of the tour.

Titus was a massive collection of large buildings that covered a scenic landscape according to the videos that Larry had seen. He had always prided himself on knowing as much as he could about every place he played prior to going on; from a dive bar in his early days to massive stadiums. He believed it was a sign of respect and has been part of his prep from day one.

Titus grew at a phenomenal rate in large part to their numerous high-tech production hubs which attracted many of the big names in R&D for the company. Naturally with so many patents and lucrative constructs happening; oversite was huge and the Company had many executives eager to be stationed there to pad their bank accounts and move up the ladder.

There was also a decent security team and a USCM orbital base in the system. With so many valuable assets, the need for security and protection was second only to profits as far as Weyland Yutani was concerned.

After dressing and eating, Larry and the band made their way to a storage area on the ship where their gear had been stowed. The instruments were already setup, which allowed them to use the time on approach to a new gig to dust off the Cryosleep and work on the setlist.

Launching into “Winner in You” Larry and the band were like a well-oiled machine and he took pleasure in seeing some of the crew still came around to watch them despite hearing the songs non-stop since they left Earth.

Life on the road regardless of being on a tour bus, aircraft, or space ship was all about established routines and Larry was not about to disrupt his second chance.

The band finished their set and settled in to send some messages to update friends and family that they were well and that they would be home in a few months with plenty of time off and money to spend.

In time Larry, Jade, and the band stepped off the shuttle into chilly air while the Cignus went to a dock on the edge of the system for updates and maintenance. The group was met by a small group of corporate suits and Larry mused silently how the names and faces may change but the same slick suits and hairstyles gave away their true identities. A neon sign screaming “Corporate Phony” would be less obvious.

The rest of the day was filled with the usual meet and greets with everyone claiming to be a huge fan of his music with offers to take care of anything that they need while they are there. This was naturally followed by a tour of the venue and at long last their rooms to settle in before the usual mix of parties and dinners all hosted by overly eager corporate types eager to get their face time in for the news outlets.

At times like this Larry always thought about what he would do when the tour ended and he was back on Earth. He had earned a considerable amount of money and not being in a position to spend, it continued to accrue interest at a considerable rate which combined with his stock bonus at the completion of the tour would make him very wealthy.

Larry dismissed those thoughts, knowing he would need some rest before more dog and pony shows started. Adjusting to a day/night cycle planetside after life on a ship still took some time.

As he drifted off to sleep eager to experience some rest that was not the result of a Cryobed, Larry dreamed his last peaceful dream before the nightmare began.

Like most facilities on Cignus, the main complex was a sprawling mini mega-city that captured the sunlight to maximum efficiency to create an inspiring and impressive-looking facility at all times to help foster morale and establish the dominance of the company.

Out of view was a series of underground locales where work not suited for public view took place. Where secrets that could not fall into wrong hands were kept.

It was in the darkest recess of a connected pipeline in this hidden facility, so remote that security cameras were not even deemed necessary, where a meeting took place as Larry slept. Buck Weaver was what old books and movies used to call a Frontiersman, an individual who had only a lust to wander and made his way with whatever work he could find, honest or not.

As he waited patiently for his buyer to arrive, Buck glanced over at the cart he hovered into place. The fact that he was able to find Bio Samples in the hull of a breached ship in orbit of a moon had been a stroke of luck in and of itself. Buck scanned the crates and knew there was content inside but he made sure not to open it as many of his buyers wanted sealed content to ensure value and only unsealed it during a sale to provide verification.

Jake “Skip” Johnson arrived none too happy to be in the dark recesses of the compound but eager to make a purchase. His work on the docks made him the go-to man for shipping and receiving things for customers that did not want annoying details such as manifests, inspections, and taxes to get in the way. Contraband, big or small, was his game as long as there was money to be made, and Jake had more than a few buyers eager to take on samples of anything biological from off-world.

With price being a formality since it was established prior to the meeting, it was a quick exchange. Jake took his bounty while Buck took his leave, as he had a schedule to keep several systems over with another buyer interested in his other more legitimate salvage.

Jake, being the cautious person he was made sure not to open the sample as the scans he conducted verified he had something of value, and he was eager to unload it to the Company and enjoy the financial windfall that came with it. What it was did not matter to him; only that it was a BioSample and that payment was huge.

As Jake went out to celebrate his windfall, he was blissfully unaware that the cargo handlers that his buyers had drafted into service were a few drinks past sober. Unsurprising, given they were recruited from the local bar for some quick after-hours work at triple pay, and no questions asked.

One worker, Thompson, was too busy trying to decide which woman he should woo with his unexpected bonus, and instead of paying attention to the clearance levels, brushed the top of the sample container against a low-hanging beam as he and Talbot, his coworker attempted to load the cargo into a ship docked away from the usual hub of activity.

“No harm, no foul,” he figured. A tiny bit of sealant and nobody would be any the wiser; at least not until they were far away and busy spending the money.

A finger-like appendage, followed by another, looking almost like a grotesquely long and abnormally colored hand curled over the lid of the box which made Thompson pause in confusion. As he took a careful step for a closer look, he had barely a moment to shout a warning to Talbot when lid shifted and the hand suddenly launched from the box and firmly attached itself to the face of his fellow worker. Talbot went down fast and hard after a brief struggle.

“Oh, this is not good!” a horrified Thompson gasped to himself, but not only because he believed Talbot was just killed by some creature, but because he knew too many questions would be asked and his secret employer would likely withhold his money.

He decided to soldier on and blame the poor unfortunate victim for the damage and in doing so let the help he needed be a problem for someone else to sort out; a win-win if he ever heard it.

With that, he dialed up the number he was given on his Compad and reported the incident, and waited for help to arrive along with his payment.

The response was swift and Thompson saw Talbot whisked away by a Med-Team wearing what looked like HazMat suits. He was paid double what he expected and warned to keep what he had seen and done quiet, to avoid any complications down the line.

Thompson decided that fate and luck were on his side tonight and ventured home to dream about his windfall and which woman to call first.

While there was debate about taking the specimen and host off-world, the decision to stay on Cignus remained with Dr. Walter Wednesday. He wanted to waste no time with his scans. While he knew only that their sample was potentially dangerous, he was captivated by the data and fixated on why any creature would affix itself as it did with no clear goal other than to immobilize. It was not interested in feeding and simply kept the host stable. When it appeared to disattach on its own and die, Dr. Wednesday was briefly concerned that he may have screwed up and missed an opportunity to learn more about the creature.

His concern did not last long as his subject soon woke with lots of questions and a desire for his payment, claiming he had no memory beyond getting ready to load cargo.

Dr. Wednesday convinced the man simply known as Talbot to get some rest and they would have him home and paid soon enough. Dr. Wednesday even offered to call Talbot’s dock boss to say that his shift would be covered as he was doing something of an important nature.

Talbot seemed more than fine with this deal and eagerly ate and drank the morning away until a sharp and intense pressure began in his chest. He had just had a physical and was said to be in top condition, so his first concern about cardiac issues did not add up as the doctor had just given him a sterling bill of health. The intense pain wrenched a scream from him as he heard sounds of ripping and suddenly there was so much blood everywhere. The last image Talbot’s brain registered as his vision dimmed was of Dr. Wednesday rushing into the room as a ghastly snake-like figure erupting from his chest.

Dr. Wednesday could not believe what he had just witnessed, and while he quickly made sure the recorders were running; it was more of a C.Y.A. situation than an effort to control the situation. Whatever had emerged had vanished into a vent and left him with a mess to clean up.

He ordered a team to look for the new arrival as he figured it would at least make up for any blame he was likely to endure but for now he would just take things as they came as what else could he do. Besides, retirement was not a bad option if it came to that.

A few hours later Larry took the stage to a packed venue for the first of his shows on Cignus. He had the usual safety briefing and found some uncomfortable humor in the warning not to prime the backup. Apparently, in the unlikely event of a power loss, priming the backup would likely produce a wave of high voltage due to some circuits needing replacement.

The reason given was that the odds of the power going out and then being in a conductive environment were so rare that the company decided the risk was not worth the cost of replacing the circuits. Regardless, Larry made sure that he and the band kept an eye on said area.

The set was going without a hitch and Larry took the stage for his final encore to close the show with a tradition of his, a solo song in a spotlight where he thanked the audience.

Just as he finished to rousing cheers, a wave of dark liquid doused him and the cheers of the audience became screams of utter terror as the audience rushed towards the exits.

Unsure of what happened, Larry looked up as he was rushed from the stage amid guards firing into the rafters. What he glimpsed seemed like a nightmare come to life, as a big and dark shape seemed to be holding a man in the overheads, moving with a speed and agility usually associated with creatures much smaller. Before what he saw could fully register, a thud brought him back to reality as a grotesque figure with an impossibly elongated head landed on the stage, and before he knew what happened next, a barrage of screams, gunfire, and gore filled the air.

As more guards entered the venue, Larry knew he was in serious trouble and when the overhead sprinklers came on, the situation went from bad to worse. People were slipping all over one another as the deadly dance continued until no guards remained between Larry and the death dealer in front of him.

The eyeless head with a mouth full of glistening red and metallic teeth turned toward him and extended what looked to be a smaller incisor-laden jaw. In a move of desperation, Larry threw caution to the wind and primed the backup before jumping to the floor of the venue. Aside from a loud buzzing sound, nothing appeared to happen and the creature advanced on him through the water and bodies that littered the stage.

As if by a miracle, blue archs of energy enveloped the creature which hissed at ear-piercinh volumes that were secondary to the screeches that followed, for what seemed like an eternity, before it dropped to the stage a silent but smoking mass.

The next few days were a blur as Larry was treated and prepped for his return to Earth. He and his band, who were thankfully safely backstage when “the incident”, as it was being called by the Company, happened, were more than ready to be done with this tour.

Larry was reminded of his non-disclosure clause and told that he and the band would be paid double what they had been promised. They would be back on Earth in a few weeks and that he would be booked to play several shows on Earth and in the system in the coming months.

As the chill of the Cryochamber enveloped him, the nightmares were only beginning, but at least Larry would be safely back on Earth with his restored career and plenty of funds to help him along.


To Be Continued…..


Here are some of my others that you may like.

Alien: Special Order #937 Short Story


Alien: Snowbound

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