ALIEN: ENGINEERS

Written by Jon Spaihts



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A L I E N: Engineers
Written by Jon Spaihts

FADE IN: EXT. EARTH - DAY (12,000 B.C.) - The world turns below us, vast and slow. A rumble. A shadow sweeps over the land. We move with the shadow. We cast the shadow. Landscapes slide by. Reduced by altitude to abstractions: river deltas, forests and flood plains. A raw natural world. No trace of civilization. The shadow glides over mountains and glaciers. Across an ocean and a pale beach. Over lowland plain at the foot of a volcanic mountain it stops.

EXT. LOWLAND PLAIN - DAY THREE - Figures walk out of the shadow. They are men - and yet not men. Their skin is snow-white. Their features heavy and classical - as if Rodin’s Thinker had risen from his seat. Their smooth heads are earless and hairless. Their glittering eyes entirely black. Against the stark land their height is impossible to judge. They are Engineers. Two of them are cloaked in dark robes of strange design.

The third is naked. One of the cloaked Engineers opens a featureless black box: inside lies a cake of dark, sticky material. The naked one lifts the dark cake with ceremonial slowness. It hums and buzzes. Foams into iridescent spheres. He raises the seething cake to his mouth like the sacrament. Black scarabs boil out of the dark material. Swarm over his lips. Glittering insects that chitter and bite. Under the swarm his lips melt away. A horrific vision of teeth, black blood, dissolving bone. They are devouring him.

FLASH ON: A fevered glimpse of the microscopic: cells rupture and bleed. Protein chains unfold. A DNA spiral unravels. The scarabs fill their bellies with genetic material. The Engineer ...spreads his arms. Stands cruciform, nearly headless. The scarabs swarm his shoulders, his chest.

When they reach his hips, he collapses sideways, toppling majestically like a felled tree. Engulfed. The two cloaked Engineers watch impassively. Behind them, a vast black SHIP hangs in the sky. As if blown by a great gust of wind, the scarabs disperse in their millions in all directions. Living DNA on the wing. Where the sacrificial victim fell, nothing remains.

EXT. FOREST - DAY - A pristine wilderness. The volcanic mountain in the distance. A primitive woman stands on a height, staring in amazement: far off a great dark ship hovers over the plain. A black scarab lands on the back of her neck. Bites deep. Injecting its cargo of DNA into her blood.

FLASH ON: A microscopic invasion. Cells pierced and infused. DNA strands twining and mating.

CLOSE ON THE WOMAN - Pupils dilating with shock, breath hissing into her lungs. She slaps the back of her neck. Looks at her hand. The scarab lies in her palm. As she watches, it crumbles to dust and blows away.

FADE TO BLACK. ON BLACK - Drifting motes of light against the dark: a starscape. An excavator floats into view: a sturdy vehicle equipped with robotic arms. Bright floodlights beat at the darkness. Inside the cockpit - a bubble of glass - sits a beautiful woman. This is DR. JOCELYN WATTS, 32, a precocious scholar of many disciplines. A scientist accustomed to field work.

The cockpit is sweltering: she wears shorts, boots, a T-shirt - and still her arms and legs gleam with sweat. Watts works the controls. The excavator descends toward a rocky surface. Silt billows up as the excavator approaches: we’re not in space at all, but deep underwater. The excavator’s thrusters are cowled propellers. The “stars” are plankton shining in the floodlights.

INT. EXCAVATOR - CONTINUOUS - Watts steers the excavator to a steeply sloping cliff wall. A sea-trench yawns below her, its depths lost in darkness.

WATTS: Moving to survey site B... closing on object four.

The large oblong. She watches the screen of a ground-penetrating radar system. A bright signal return: something hidden in the cliff in front of her. Something big.

WATTS: There you are.

EXT. SEA TRENCH - CONTINUOUS - Watts carves into the cliff with the excavator’s digger arm. Silt and boulders fall into the yawning trench below. She brings a water cannon to bear: uses its jet to blast away loose silt and stones. The cliff face collapses: a muddy landslide into the deeps. Watts backs away from the collapse, thrusters whirring to keep her out of the turbulence. A cloud of silt clears. In her floodlight beams, the Obelisk stands revealed - its outlines worn by the ages. Easily thirty feet tall. Watts stares at the obelisk, stunned. Her voice is husky:

WATTS: Martin. Here.

A second excavator glides out of the dark. At the controls: PROFESSOR MARTIN HOLLOWAY, 48, visionary genius and archaeologist. Dark-haired and lean, with the rangy build of a frontiersman. He’s dressed in work trousers and a T-shirt. Stubbly chin. He plays his floodlights over the obelisk.

HOLLOWAY: Look at that.

INT. WATTS’S EXCAVATOR - Watts floats her excavator down the front of the obelisk. Scanning the alien text. Suddenly she stops. Grips the obelisk with her excavator’s arms to anchor herself in place.

WATTS: You need to see this.

HOLLOWAY: (V.O.) Coming.

EXT. SEA TRENCH Holloway pilots his excavator expertly up to Watts’s. Mates the two vehicles at their aft hatchways.

INT. WATTS’ EXCAVATOR - Behind Watts, a hatch opens with a splatter of water. Holloway climbs in. Squeezes into her cockpit. A tight fit. He’s distracted by her body, pressed so close - but she has eyes only for the inscrutable writing outside the glass.

WATTS: Same thing again.

HOLLOWAY: What do you see?

WATTS: An ephemeris - a star map. (pointing) Radius, inclination, azimuth...more data here...

HOLLOWAY: If we can get epoch and equinox out of that...

WATTS: Can we raise this thing?

HOLLOWAY: (shakes his head) Hundreds of tons.

EXT. MEDITERRANEAN SEA - DAY - A research vessel at anchor on a turquoise sea. Bright sun. In the distance, a coastline dotted with villas. The horizon is dominated by the volcanic peak - the same peak we saw in the distance in the prologue. Aboard the research vessel, cranes lift Watts and Holloway’s excavators out of the sea and onto the deck.

INT. RESEARCH VESSEL - AFT DECK - DAY - Under an awning, prints of the obelisk’s faces are stretched on the deck - fifteen feet long. Watts and Holloway crawl over the alien text, red markers in hand. Parsing, translating, calculating. They’re tanned, fit, the wind in their hair. The Mediterranean coast in the distance. It’s an idyllic way to work. But they’re utterly absorbed in the task at hand.

AFT DECK - NIGHT - They’re still at it. Lights illuminate the workspace. The obelisk prints are blanketed with markings and annotations. Holloway sits at a table. Watts sits on the marked-up prints. Both working through calculations on electronic slates. Holloway looks up.

HOLLOWAY: I have a solution. A single match.

WATTS: Me too. Checked it twice.

HOLLOWAY: You first.

Watts holds up her slate: it displays a set of stellar coordinates. A detailed star map. Holloway holds up his own slate: an exact match. They lock eyes in electric excitement.

WATTS: What do we do now?

HOLLOWAY: We go there.

EXT. WEYLAND’S WHEEL (EARTH ORBIT) - A gleaming space station like a five-spoked wheel rotates grandly against the Pacific Ocean a thousand miles below. Black letters on the white metal read: WEYLAND’S WHEEL. A round shuttlecraft approaches the station.

INT. SHUTTLECRAFT (ZERO GRAVITY) - A spacecraft no bigger than a private jet. Holloway and Watts sit strapped into acceleration chairs. The only two passengers aboard. New to space travel, Watts tears her eyes from the spectacle of Earth outside the window. Holloway plays with a pen, batting it from hand to hand in the zero gravity.

WATTS: What’s first? You do climate, I do genetics?

HOLLOWAY: Archaeology first. Let our ancestors tell the tale.

WATTS: You think he’s serious?

HOLLOWAY: Serious enough to send his private shuttle.

WATTS: Weyland can send his shuttle out for pizza. (delicately) Martin. If this meeting goes like the others, maybe we should...

HOLLOWAY: It won’t go like the others.

WATTS: How do you know?

Holloway plucks the pen from the air. He points out the window, where the crescent Moon shines like a toothy grin.

HOLLOWAY: Heaven smiles on our enterprise.

EXT. WEYLAND’S WHEEL The shuttle docks with the Wheel’s hub - a perfect fit.

INT. WEYLAND’S WHEEL - SPOKE ELEVATOR (ZERO GRAVITY) - A gleaming capsule elevator with windows to the stars. Holloway and Watts float weightlessly inside, moving from handhold to handhold. The door closes. Watts grabs Holloway by the collar. Pulls them roughly together. They kiss. Not for the first time. They have a way. Watts’s hair and clothing float free: she’s a naiad in Holloway’s arms.

EXT. WEYLAND’S WHEEL The elevator descends along the spoke to the rim.

INT. WEYLAND’S WHEEL - RIM - FOYER - A luxurious lobby. Tasteful lighting. Eames-era furniture in wood and chrome: the past’s vision of the future. At the rim, the Wheel’s rotation supplies gravity. An elevator door opens. Watts and Holloway step out - Holloway with a sleek metal folio slung over his shoulder. The floor is the outer surface of the Wheel: in both directions it curves upward out of sight. The walls are all windows: on one side, Earth rotates lazily. On the other, a wheeling field of stars. David, an android, stands waiting for them. He’s cunningly built, but no one would mistake him for a real human being.

DAVID: Professor Holloway. Dr. Watts. My name is DAVID.

WATTS: Hello, David.

DAVID: Mr. Weyland’s eager to meet you.

He strides off across the foyer. Watts and Holloway exchange a wondering glance and follow. EXHIBIT HALL - David leads past models of planets, moons and asteroids. Holographic labels and data swirl around them.

DAVID: These are all the planetary bodies on which Weyland Industries has mining claims.

The end of the hall is dominated by a huge globe of Mars. Markings indicate widespread surface activity.

DAVID: And Mars. Weyland’s crown jewel.

HOLLOWAY: How is that going? The terraforming.

WATTS: They say you’re getting diminishing returns. It’s not working.

DAVID: It’s the greatest engineering project ever attempted. Challenges are inevitable. Mr. Weyland’s a determined man.

WEYLAND’S OFFICE PETER WEYLAND sits behind a mahogany desk. He’s a Warren Buffet type: a country sage, horse-sense and hard knocks. He might be seventy years old, or a hundred and seventy. Behind him stands DIRECTOR LYDIA VICKERS, a slim woman of 45 in a costly business suit. Shrewd and watchful. Once a great beauty, she now trades in ruthlessness. David stands against the wall. Watts and Holloway settle into chairs in front of Weyland - Holloway holding the metal folio.

WEYLAND: Professor Holloway. Ms. Watts.

WATTS: Doctor Watts.

WEYLAND: Forgive me. Peter Weyland.

He notices Watts looking curiously at David. He smiles.

WEYLAND: Ah. David, he’s a prototype. Our 80 series. One of a kind for now, but if he performs, he will be legion. (his smile fades) What do you want here?

Holloway looks at him, startled.

HOLLOWAY: We sent you a prospectus that...

WEYLAND: Assume I know nothing.

Holloway swallows. Lays the metal folio on Weyland’s desk.

HOLLOWAY: I’m an archaeologist.

He touches a tiny remote. Holographs appear in the air over Weyland’s desk: the folio is a three-dimensional imager. Pictures of a younger Holloway in the field: excavating ruins in Egypt, China, Peru, Greece.

HOLLOWAY: In my studies I discovered a pattern I couldn’t explain. Every eleven hundred years, sudden advances in agriculture, tool use, technology. Inventions. Something caused a great leap forward. Every eleven centuries. The pattern holds as far back as our data goes. Tens of thousands of years. I had to understand this. It became the focus of my work.

Weyland nods. Holloway glances at Watts and forges on.

HOLLOWAY: Dr. Watts was a student of mine.

Watts touches her own remote. The holographic display turns to scientific diagrams. Images of a very young and beautiful Watts in the laboratory.

WATTS: I was analyzing historical changes in human DNA. I found the same pattern. Every eleven centuries, a pulse of new information in the genome of the human race. All over the world. Evolution can’t do that. Something was changing us. Changing the DNA of our species.

HOLLOWAY: Humanity’s been visited. Visited by...beings from somewhere else.

Behind Weyland, Vickers can’t suppress a scowl of disdain.

VICKERS: You mean aliens.

A beat. The others had forgotten Vickers was there.

WEYLAND: Lydia Vickers, Director of Operations. Practically my right hand.

HOLLOWAY: They guided us to civilization. Lifted us up, again and again. I call them the Engineers.

WATTS: Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s amazing how the evidence falls into place.

Photographs flicker through the display: Holloway and Watts in the field, excavating new sites. Intimately close. Their finds: columns of writing on stone tablets in Egypt, China, Cambodia, Peru. Patterns of lines, curves, and dots.

HOLLOWAY: This is the writing of the Engineers. We’ve found it on every continent. And last year, we found our Rosetta Stone.

The display shows the Engineer obelisk under the sea.

WATTS: The writing is a formula giving the location of a single star in our sky.

WEYLAND: Which star?

HOLLOWAY: We’re keeping that confidential for now. But that’s where we want to go.

WEYLAND: You want me to pay for an interstellar research expedition!

HOLLOWAY: It’s a chance to be part of a revolution in scientific...

WEYLAND: Don’t sell me, professor. You’ve been turned down by every university and government agency under the sun. Nobody’s going to gamble that kind of money on your hunch.

Holloway deflates. Watts winces. This is a bloodbath.

WEYLAND: Nobody but me. (he grins) I’ve read your research.

HOLLOWAY: That’s impossible. Our research is

WEYLAND: Quantum encoded on secure servers, yeah. We have an A.I. division, you should know. Doing impressive things. (he leans across the desk) I know which star you’re wishing on.

The scientists stare at Weyland.

WATTS: You’re bluffing.

WEYLAND: Zeta Two Reticuli.

He regards their shocked faces with satisfaction.

WEYLAND: You know how I got this rich? I ask myself: what does God spend his time doing? And I go and do that.

Watts laughs incredulously. Stifles it. Weyland’s not joking.

WEYLAND: Biotechnology was good to me. Fusion power. Lately doing well with gravity systems.

He swivels his chair toward the window. Earth shines outside.

WEYLAND: But what’s the first thing God did?

WATTS: He made the Heaven and the Earth.

Weyland jabs a finger at her like she’s won a carnival prize.

WEYLAND: That’s what I’m talking about. You left out my favorite part. The piece about Earth. David.

DAVID: For eons, Earth’s climate swung from hothouse to ice age. Explosions of life, then mass extinctions. But twelve thousand years ago the swings stopped. The Holocene Epoch began - a period of anomalous tranquility. The rise of civilization began only then.

Holloway and Watts stare at David with new appreciation.

HOLLOWAY: That’s right.

WATTS: And that change coincides with a visit by the Engineers. They didn’t just change us. They changed our world.

WEYLAND: That’s the piece I mean. Engineering Earth. God stuff.

He swivels back to his desk. Rummages in a drawer.

WEYLAND: My people checked your science. They say it’s solid.

He pulls a thick contract out. Drops it in front of Holloway.

WEYLAND: I’ll give you your expedition. Ship and crew, supplies, support. One condition.

Holloway picks up the contract with the cautious joy of a man double-checking a lottery ticket. His voice is husky:

HOLLOWAY: What’s that?

WEYLAND: You get the discovery. Control of the site. But any technology you find? Anything at all. That’s mine.

Holloway reaches out slowly and picks up the contract. Riffles the pages of small-print legalese.

WEYLAND: You take David with you. My eyes and ears. And Vickers...you’re going too.

Vickers stares at Weyland in shock.

WHITE LANDSCAPE - A glittering formation of white crystals. Diamond on diamond. The structures grow more complex as the view widens. Leaves and branches of crystal. A shimmering field of white jewels. A landscape of white crystals, smooth as snow.

EXT. DEEP SPACE - A black void shot with stars, far from any sun. A sturdy prospecting ship forges through space, travel-worn but built to last. It carries the Weyland Industries logo. The name painted on its hull is MAGELLAN.

INT. MAGELLAN - BRIDGE - The ship’s nerve center and control room. Six control stations, empty and quiet. Interior lights dimmed to blue. The entire forward bulkhead of the Bridge is a window: wall to wall, floor to ceiling. At the window stands the android David. He gazes at the cosmos with an expression of utter serenity. After a long moment he turns away. Massive shutters close over the window as he walks off.

CORRIDOR - David walks the ship’s long central corridor. The ship is silent. The lights dimmed to blue. He is alone.

HYPERSLEEP COMPARTMENT - A long steel room containing a dozen plexiglass sarcophagi, six on each side. Sleep freezers. Inside each freezer: the shadowy shape of a human body rimed with frost. David walks through the compartment, surveying the sleepers.

WORKROOM - David sits at a display table, moving intricate technical documents across the surface with waves of his hands. His eyes intent on his work. If he is reading, then he‘s reading at a speed no human could match.

WHITE LANDSCAPE - We pull away from the frosted crystalline horizon, the smooth white curves like snowy fields. Form becomes clear. It’s the body of a woman. It’s Watts.

INT. HYPERSLEEP FREEZER - Watts lies asleep in her underwear in a plexiglass freezer. Pale. Frost on her skin. Venus sculpted in ice. There are IV lines in her elbows and ankles. Shapes move into view beyond her, outside the freezer. Faces. Pressed to the glass.

HYPERSLEEP COMPARTMENT - All of the freezers are open and empty, save two. Holloway lies in one. In the next, Watts. Three men in blue coveralls crouch beside Watts’s freezer, staring inside. They are DOWNS, 30, a lean fidgety crewman. STILLWELL, 40, a sturdy fellow with the geniality of a labrador. And KAMAROV, 26, whose dark, brooding air belongs to a man twice his age.

DOWNS: Look at that. Kamarov opens the lid of Watt’s freezer. Leans over her. Watts stirs in her sleep, a drowsy angel.

KAMAROV: She wakes up slow.

Watts wakes to find three men looming above her. Disoriented, she pulls away. Tangles her hands in her IV lines.

HOLLOWAY: (O.S.) Get out of there!

Holloway’s voice cracks like a whip. The crewmen jump back. Holloway sits up in the next freezer over. He yanks the IV lines out of his arms and legs. Climbs out of the freezer.

STILLWELL: Just looking.

HOLLOWAY: Give us a moment, will you?

The crewmen file out: Stillwell sheepishly, Downs and Kamarov surly. Holloway goes to Watts. Gently removes the IV lines from her ankles while she plucks the ones from her arms.

WATTS: I’m out of sorts. Sorry.

HOLLOWAY: Never worry.

He helps her up.

INT. MESS ROOM Holloway and Watts sit at a table, both a bit hung over. They wear civilian clothes. Warmly dressed, they still look cold. They nurse mugs of coffee and nibble packaged snack bars. Watts hunches over, shivering.

WATTS: My head’s buzzing.

HOLLOWAY: You just slept two and a half years. It’ll pass.

WATTS: Like you’ve done this before.

HOLLOWAY: I’ve read all about it.

Two ship’s officers enter the room wearing blue coveralls with rank insignia: GLASSE, 45, a stocky man with thick black hair, and BRICK, 50, a bald man with a bristling mustache. They look at Watts and Holloway with little pleasure.

BRICK: Sleep okay?

WATTS: Yes, thanks...

GLASSE: Captain’ll see you now.

INT. MAGELLAN - CAPTAIN’S WARDROOM CAPTAIN JANEK, 45, sits at his desk. With his bristling beard and powerful build he has a swashbuckling look, like the captain of a whaling ship. Holloway and Watts sit on a steel bench in front of him. He sits scanning his orders: a plastic packet with Weyland Industries logos, cracked open. Watermarked papers inside.

JANEK: Zeta Two Reticuli was surveyed already. A hundred years ago.

WATTS: By an unmanned probe. Very crude.

JANEK: No Earthlike planets.

WATTS: No.

JANEK: So what are you looking for?

HOLLOWAY: Proof of the Engineers’ existence.

WATTS: Confirmation of Professor Holloway’s theories would change everything. There’d be science before Holloway and science after.

Janek rubs his face wearily with his hands.

JANEK: Your ticket. I’ll put the ship where you want. Run your scans.

HOLLOWAY: Captain, your crew’s been up for a week. We could’ve used the time. Why’d you wait to wake us?

JANEK: Better for discipline. (off their silence) Men ship out as prospectors for one reason: the percentage. Find a gold mine or a habitable planet, and you’re set for life. (he laughs bitterly) But this contract says no percentage. No bounty. Just triple pay. The men aren’t happy.

HOLLOWAY: You unhappy too?

JANEK: I’m always unhappy.

He stands. Presses his palm against a wall panel. A safe opens. He pulls out a massive pistol in a gunbelt. Tosses the orders into the safe. Lays the gun atop them and locks it up.

SCIENTISTS’ CABIN - Holloway and Watts take possession of their cabin: a simple but spacious room with twin beds and a window to the stars. They drop duffel bags on the bed. Holloway surveys the arrangement. Frowns. He releases the magnets that lock the beds down. Slides the beds together.

INT. SCIENTISTS’ WORKROOM - DAY - Holloway and Watts set up their workspace - a central display table and huge display surfaces on the walls. Fascinating documents slide under their fingertips: an Engineer alphabet. Ancient art. Climate and genetic data. David appears in the doorway.

WATTS: David. I wondered when we’d see you.

DAVID: I trust your database is in order. I set it up myself.

WATTS: All’s well, I think.

David turns to go. Hesitates in the doorway.

DAVID: I should tell you: the time you spent sleeping, I spent studying your research.

Holloway and Watts look at the android, his words sinking in.

WATTS: You studied our work for two and a half years.

DAVID: It’s quite a data set.

HOLLOWAY: So you’ve seen everything. Well. What do you think?

David glances over the documents displayed around the room.

DAVID: Your hypothesis is...bold. The audacity of it. Your climate data’s undeniable: the Holocene Epoch was engineered. Dr. Watts, your genetic studies are equally conclusive. Pulses of cultural change are harder to prove, but even there your case is strong. I believe in your “Engineers.”

BREAK ROOM - A utilitarian sitting room. Steel benches and table bolted to the deck. Seated here are two Weyland Industries technicians: ANDREW CHANCE, 50, a stocky computer engineer with a genial bearing and a bristling salt-and-pepper mustache. MONA RAVEL, 45, a dour, rangy woman with a plain face, her hair pulled severely back. A physicist and chemist. They wear black Weyland Industries jackets. They radiate intelligence and competence. These are pros. David leads Holloway and Watts past the break room. Holloway spots the technicians. Strides in to greet them.

HOLLOWAY: Weyland Industries! Mr. Chance. Ms. Ravel. You remember Dr. Watts.

Watts and the technicians exchange greetings.

HOLLOWAY: About the materials I gave you. Some of the technical aspects...

CHANCE: We’ll handle our end of the job.

RAVEL: If there is a job.

Holloway blinks at her. Chance explains, not unkindly:

CHANCE: We only have a job if you find something.

CORRIDOR - Holloway and Watts follow the imperturbable David down a steel corridor to Vickers’s cabin door.

VICKERS’S SUITE - An open-plan cabin like an urban loft apartment. Watts and Holloway follow David inside. Vickers rises to meet them. The walls are industrial steel - but the floors are lushly carpeted, the furniture opulent. A king-sized bed, a mahogany desk, a dining table. Gleaming machines ensure Vickers never need step outside: a private hypersleep freezer, an autokitchen, a medical pod.

WATTS: Is that a Pauling medical pod? There’s only ten of those things on Earth! I guess nine, now.

VICKERS: I told Mr. Weyland I wouldn’t compromise my standard of living. He accommodated me.

HOLLOWAY: I know, I had to cut my manifest. This used to be the number four cargo bay.

VICKERS: What can I do for you, Professor?

Holloway gestures with the slate he’s brought with him.

HOLLOWAY: We’re about to reach the system periphery. I thought you’d want to see the search protocols we -

VICKERS: No. I was set to be the next CEO of Weyland Industries. Then you came along and sold Mr. Weyland on...this. So here I am. Out of the running. I’ll go where I’m told. But don’t ask me to play along.

WATTS: But when you get back...

VICKERS: I’ll be five years behind the curve. Out of touch. Over.

HOLLOWAY: You might make the discovery of the ages.

Vickers looks at him as if she’s dealing with a child.

HOLLOWAY: You don’t believe in what we’re doing.

VICKERS: Mr. Weyland believes. That’s enough. She walks them toward the door. Interview’s over.

VICKERS: Now we’re out of communication, you can tell the crew what we’re doing.

WATTS: They don’t know? They volunteered.

VICKERS: They volunteered blind. Classified job, triple pay.

CARGO BAY - The crew - Brick, Glasse, Stillwell, Downs, and Kamarov - sit on crates in an improvised lecture hall. Holloway and Watts in front of them. Janek at the back of the room. A hologram shows ancient images of divine visitations. The crew is visibly spooked.

DOWNS: Aliens.

GLASSE: You shitting me?

Stillwell is staring at the frightening images: gods and titans towering over mortals.

HOLLOWAY: I think all our mythologies are racememories of the Engineers. Horus the Sun God. Prometheus bringing fire from heaven. A pillar of fire, a pillar of smoke. The Engineers are the gods.

Kamarov stiffens, smelling blasphemy.

KAMAROV: The mythology gods maybe. God is God.

STILLWELL: Kamarov. Let him talk.

Stillwell’s staring unhappily at the ancient images: gods towering over mortals, inhuman and terrifying.

STILLWELL: So we’re going to meet these things?

WATTS: We probably won’t meet anyone. You’d expect a star-traveling race to generate radio or laser signals. Fusion drives and gravity drives have clear signatures. But Zeta Two Reticuli is silent. And the Engineers have gone missing on Earth.

WATTS: By the pattern, they should’ve come to Earth seventeen centuries ago. And again six centuries ago. But no sign. After twelve thousand years...they stopped coming.

BRICK: Why?

HOLLOWAY: Exactly. Why?

JANEK: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

They turn. Janek grins at Holloway across the cargo bay.

JANEK: Is that the question you’ve come lightyears to answer?

HOLLOWAY: Only my first question. I have many.

EXT. MAGELLAN (ZETA2 RETICULI SYSTEM) - The Magellan arrives at the periphery of the system. A distant star like Earth’s Sun, surrounded by orbiting planets: mere sparks at this distance.

INT. MAGELLAN - BRIDGE Outside the vast Bridge window, the star Zeta2 Reticuli burns, a cold beacon in the night. Downs, Glasse and Brick sit at consoles. Janek paces in front of the window. Holloway and Watts enter - and gape at the view. Janek grins at their reaction.

JANEK: Welcome to Zeta Two Reticuli. Edge of the system. Open her eyes.

EXT. MAGELLAN (ZETA2 RETICULI SYSTEM) - The Magellan opens its eyes: two immense telescopes emerge from the ship. Irises open to expose huge lenses. Antennae deploy: unfurling like wings, gleaming and vast. Sifting vacuum for any whisper of information.

INT. MAGELLAN - BRIDGE Outside the window, the planets orbiting Zeta2 Reticuli are no more than bright stars.

JANEK: Overlay. A heads-up display appears, overlaid on the glass. The sun is labeled ZETA2 RETICULI. Markers point out the planets and trace the ellipses of their orbits. Like magic, the planets swell into colorful orbs, each labeled: Alpha, Beta, Gamma...

DOWNS: Seven planets. Two hot rocks, two gas giants, three snowballs. Nothing Earthlike.

Watts grins at Holloway, eyes shining.

WATTS: First humans in the system.

Vickers walks onto the Bridge with David.

CAPTAIN JANEK: Director. Good of you to join us.

VICKERS: What did I miss?

CAPTAIN JANEK: Just getting warmed up. (to Holloway) Professor? You know what you want?

HOLLOWAY: EMR scan, thirty hertz to three hundred gigahertz. Spectroscopic passes on every planet and major moon. Infrared and albedo scan for hot spots and light sources.

CAPTAIN JANEK: Man knows what he wants. Run it.

EXT. MAGELLAN (ZETA2 RETICULI SYSTEM) - Twin telescopes spin and zoom. Antennae flex and focus.

TELESCOPE POV The planet nearest the sun rushes closer as the mighty telescopes zoom in.

INT. MAGELLAN - BRIDGE The Magellan’s sensors peel planet Alpha like an onion and put it back together again. A river of data floods the display, bathing the watchers’ faces with light: Chemical compounds, magnetic field lines, lunar orbits, topographical data. The scan moves on to the next planet, and the next.

GLASSE: Negative on radio chatter system-wide. Nobody’s talking.

BRICK: Negative for laser and maser.

On the H.U.D., the data stream completes the last planet. Begins to illuminate the gas giants’ moons.

GLASSE: No biological markers. No artificial light. No industry or agriculture. Dead system. Like always.

DOWNS: Piss-poor, too. Low in heavy elements.

BRICK: Got a hit! A moon. LV-426.

The display centers on Epsilon, a gas giant with many moons. Data flickers around one of the larger moons: LV-426.

BRICK: Eighty-six percent Earth’s mass. Atmosphere’s nitrogen, methane, sulfates. Faint returns for a bunch of metals.

HOLLOWAY: Anything else?

The sensors complete their pass on the system’s last moon.

JANEK: That is all.

HOLLOWAY: Take us in.

JANEK: Downs. You heard the man.

DOWNS: Aye, Captain. Maneuvering. Eighteen hours to orbit.

EXT. MAGELLAN (ZETA2 RETICULI SYSTEM) - The Magellan retracts its vast antennae and telescopes. The engines fire: the ship rockets toward the gas giant Epsilon and its mysterious moon.

PASSAGEWAY - Leaving the Bridge, Holloway and Watts find themselves walking aft alongside David.

HOLLOWAY: David. Enjoy the show?

DAVID: I don’t know that I “enjoy” things. It was informative.

HOLLOWAY: It was, it was. (teasing) You know, I’ve seen more convincing humanoid robots.

Watts smiles, watching Holloway’s sport. David’s speech never varies from its agreeable tone.

DAVID: My design’s not intended to convince. Simulating humanity is a complex task that diverts resources. My designers dispensed with that burden to optimize for intelligence.

WATTS: Why look like a man at all? Why not be a box on wheels?

DAVID: Being shaped like you, I can use spaces and equipment designed for you. But I’m not so limited. I hear frequencies you can’t hear. I see wavelengths of light invisible to you. I move faster. Exert greater force.

The scientists look at David in wonder.

WATTS: You see yourself as a superman.

DAVID: No.

He turns his unearthly eyes on them.

DAVID: Not a man at all.

SCIENTISTS’ CABIN - Holloway and Watts lie on their bed in their clothes - her head on his chest.

WATTS: What if they’re really there? (off his confusion) The Engineers. They could be there. Waiting for us. What then?

He laughs.

HOLLOWAY: Then all my dreams come true.










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