SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE - SPACE: Silent and endless. The stars shine like the love of God...cold and remote. Against them drifts a tiny chip of technology.
CLOSER: It is the Narcissus, lifeboat of the ill-fated star freighter Nostromo. Without interior or running lights, it seems devoid of life.
The ships computer comes to life, reflecting off a hypersleep capsule. The screen flashes PROXIMITY ALERT and the coordinates of the intruder. The ping of a ranging radar grows louder, closer. A shadow engulfs the Narcissus.
The tiny ship is put into perspective as a massive dark hull descends toward it.
INT. NARCISSUS: Dark and dormant as a crypt. Outside, massive metal forms can be seen descending around the shuttle. Like the tolling of a bell, a basso profundo clang reverberates through the hull.
CLOSE ON THE AIRLOCK DOOR: Light glares as a cutting torch bursts through the metal, moving with machine precision, cutting a hectagon path. The torch cuts off. The door falls inward revealing a bizarre multi-armed figure. A robot welder. It backs away leaving the door clear.
A scanner then enters the shuttle, supported by a metal arm. The large machine floats in and begins scanning the room.
Its blue laser playing over all the equipment. As it passes over the hypersleep capsule, it stops and slowly scans it once more. The laser's blue line contours a sleeping woman’s face. The scanner turns off its laser and backs out of the room via the airlock door.
Figures enter, back-lit and ominous. Three men in bio-isolation suits, carrying lights and equipment. They approach the sarcophagus-like hypersleep capsule, f.g. The leader's gloved hand wipes at an opaque layer of dust on the canopy.
ANGLES INSIDE CAPSULE: The leader's light stabs in where the dust is wiped away, illuminating the woman, her face in peaceful repose. Warrent Officer Ripley, sole survivor of the Nostromo.
Man IN BIO-ISOLATION SUIT (O.S.): Bio-read outs are all in the green. Looks like she's alive.
Nestled next to her is JONES, the ship's wayward cat.
LEADER: Well, there goes our salvage, guys.
EXT. SPACE / EARTH ORBIT : PANNING across the serene blue curve of the Earth as seen from high orbit onto Gateway Station, a sprawling complex of modular orbital habitats.
In f.g., a viewing portal opens in a vertical wall of the Medical Section. Harsh sunlight fills the room from the viewing portal. A female med-tech turns from the window. She crosses to a bed in which Ripley lies, looking wan, amid an array of arcane white medical equipment. The tech exudes practiced cheeriness, but Ripley isn't buying it.
MED-TECH: How are we today?
Ripley begins to sit up. Her voice is barely audible.
MED-TECH: Oh, better than yesterday at least.
RIPLEY: Where am I?
The med-tech comes around to the side of the bed and repositions Ripley's pillows for her.
MED-TECH: You're safe. You’re at Gateway Station. Been here a couple of days. You were pretty groggy at first, but now you’re okay.
The tech glances up as the door opens o.s. She smiles, saved by the distraction.
MED-TECH: Looks like you have a visitor.
A man crosses the room carrying a familiar large, orange Tomcat.
RIPLEY: Jonesy! Come here!
Ignoring the man, she grabs the cat and hugs it to her. Jones seems none the worse for wear and begins to purr.
RIPLEY: Hey, come here. How are you, you stupid cat? How are you? Where've you been?
The visitor sits beside the bed and Ripley finally notices him. He is thirty-ish and handsome, in a suit that looks executive or legal, the tie loosened with studied casualness. A smile referred to as 'winning.'
MAN: I guess you two have met, huh? I'm Burke. Carter Burke I work for the company, but don't let that fool you I'm really an okay guy. I'm glad to see you're feeling better. They tell me that all the weakness and disorientation should pass soon. That's just natural side affects of such an unusually long hypersleep or something like that.
RIPLEY: What do you mean? How long was I out there?
BURKE: Has no one discussed this with you, yet?
RIPLEY: No. But, I mean. I don't recognize this place.
BURKE: I know. Okay, it's just that this might be a shock to you. It's long...
RIPLEY: How long? Please.
BURKE: Fifty-seven years.
Ripley is stunned. She seems to deflate, her expression passing through amazement and shock to realization of all she had lost. Friends. Family. Her world.
BURKE: That's the thing. You were out there for fifty-seven years. What happened was you had drifted right through the core systems and it's really just blind luck that a deep-salvage team found you when they did. One in a thousand really. I think you're just damned lucky to be alive, kiddo. You could be floating out there forever.
While Burke is talking, we have pushed into a tight close-up on Jones, who begins to hiss and struggle in Ripley's arms. We go into subtle slow motion. The cat leaps to the floor, bounding away.
Ripley coughs suddenly, as if choking. Her expression becomes one of dawning horror. Burke, unaware of what is coming, hands her a glass of water from the nightstand. She slaps it away. It shatters with a smash on the floor. Jones dives, yowling, under a cabinet. Burke hits a console button.
BURKE: Nurse! Please! Someone get in here now! NOW!!
Ripley grabs her chest, struggling as if she is strangling. The Med-Tech and a Doctor run in for assistance.
DOCTOR: Hold her... Hold her...
Burke and the doctor are holding Ripley's shoulders as she goes into convulsions. Ripley's back arches in agony.
RIPLEY: Pleeaassee...kill me!
They try to restrain her as she thrashes, knocking over equipment. Her EKG races like mad. Jones, under the cabinet, hisses wide-eyed.
Ripley looks down at her chest and pulls back her gown to reveal her stomach. She stares at the shape pushing up under her skin. Tearing itself out of her...
RIGHT ON RIPLEY, yelling, snapping up into frame. Alone in the darkened hospital room. She grasps for breath, clutching pathetically at her chest. There is no demented horror ripping itself out of her. Her eyes snap about wildly, slowly focusing on the reality of her safety. Shuddering, bathed in sweat, she kneads her breastbone with the heel of her hand and sobs. A video monitor beside the bed snaps on. The Med-Tech's face appears.
MED-TECH: Bad dreams again? Want something to help you sleep?
RIPLEY: (faint) No. I've slept enough.
The tech shrugs and switches off. Ripley hugs Jones to her and rocks with him like a child, still shattered by the nightmare.
CUT TO: EXT. PARK: Sunlight streams in shafts through a stand of popular, beyond which a verdant meadow is VISABLE. Backing away, we see that the forest is really a high-resolution environmental wall screen, a sort of cinerama video-loop. Ripley sits on a bench in what is an Atrium off the medical center. Just as she turns off the video, Burke enters in his usual mode, casual haste.
BURKE: Hi. I'm sorry I'm late. I've been running behind all morning.
RIPLEY: Is there any word about my daughter?
BURKE: I really think we should worry about the hearing now. Because we don't have a lot of time. I read your deposition and it's great. If you just stick to that, I think we'll be fine. The thing to remember is that there are going to be a lot of heavyweights in there. You've got Feds and Interstellar Commerce Commission, Colonial Administration, insurance company guys....
RIPLEY: Do you have any news about my daughter?
BURKE: Well, we did come up with some information. Why don't we sit down. I was hoping to wait until after the inquest.
They sit down on the bench and he opens his briefcase, removing a sheet of printed hard copy, including a telestat photo.
BURKE: Amanda Ripley-McClaren. Married name, I guess. Age: sixty-six...and that was at time of her death. Which was two years ago. (looks at Ripley) I'm real sorry.