This is posted for you to use as you wish. It came out in a blurt of writing on Wednesday night. It first went up on a private group dedicated to ALIEN: The Roleplaying Game, and I made some further tweaks on Friday morning.
The game presents three modes for ongoing campaign play; of the three, I’ve most liked the idea of a Space Trucker campaign, but I felt the idea that the players being a bunch of working stiffs sticking their noses where they don’t belong needed more justification, impetus and support.
I also loved the write up of the character of Paul van Leuwen, the Interstellar Commerce Commission guy who chaired the inquest into the destruction of the Nostromo, in the main book when I read it, and on Wednesday night, the two ideas came together.
I see this as occurring after the players have worked a mission for the ICC that put them in direct danger from Company operatives; van Leuwen might have been seen in the background when the players took the job or may even have given them the contract directly. This is probably the big speech that takes him from generic company / government man at the beginning of the session to potential patron when they return demanding answers.
I almost see van Leuwen with a glass of something in his hand, maybe his second; he’s a little looser than he otherwise would be.
You know the thing I remember most? The thing that wakes me up at night? That last look in her eyes.
I mean, you’d think her yelling at us right before we stripped her of her flight licence, that fury she’d been sitting on most of the inquest just bursting out, that’d be what would haunt me. It was surprising at the time, of course, but…
She wasn’t even looking at me. Not any more, just off into the distance, this look of shock, I think. I thought. She’d asked me how many colonists were on LV-426, and I told her, polite smile on my face, maybe sixty or seventy families. And I asked her, just as politely, if she didn’t mind moving the arm she’d put between me and the exit. She let it drop, like it didn’t even matter anymore.
Some warrant officer on a Company-owned M-class freighter, and the first thing she wanted to know when I told her about the colony was how many people were out there.
I thought it was nothing at the time, the unstable emotions of a delusional, disturbed individual. “Questionable judgement,” we put in her file, and privately, I thought of so many worse things I could label her.
That’s not the worst, though. The worst is that I pitied her. Whatever happened in her life or the fifty-seven years of cold sleep that made her dream up and bury herself in a story of an organism that killed her crew in horrible ways and made her blow her ship up? I felt sorry for her.
But of everyone at that inquest and… almost everyone I’ve met before or since, including the guy I meet in the mirror every day… she was the only one who had it in her to be terrified for people she’d never met.
And then, a few months later, she was gone. Her, that jumped up prick Burke who was meant to be her advocate at the inquest but pretty much sat there looking inoffensive or constipated, and a whole squad of marines.
Then the book came out. I read it, you know. I remember the part where she told a bunch of double-Y chromosome convicts that no one was coming for them. No one gave a shit about them. That they were just as expendable as the marines she’d gone to LV-426 with or her old crew. Hell, as she was.
And she still got up and fought. Still flung herself into a molten vat of lead to stop the Company from getting the… the thing she was carrying inside her. Still gave enough of a shit about everyone to give everything up.
I wish I could find whatever hole the Company threw Morse down. I want to talk to him about her. His experience of her.
When she realised how many people’s lives were in danger… and there I was, smug in a fucking suit and thinking I’d done the world a favour. And after that, after the way we treated her, after all the nightmares, she still went back out there.
I started seeing that same look at night, when I looked in the mirror. Right around the time I realized I’d been the sick one. Sick enough to sit by and let the Company do whatever it wanted to whomever it could. All the people the Company put in harm’s way because they wanted a new bioweapon. So sick I didn’t care. But she did.
So, I’m doing what I can. It’s mostly dead ends, people who just want to earn their paycheque and keep their heads down and so much of – heh – the bullshit we think is so important. All this goddamn paperwork. And the Company sees me coming and shreds the files and “redistributes” the people before I get there.
That’s why I need help. I need people the Company won’t notice. People who know the Outer Rim Territories, who see the things I can’t from my office, who can maybe ask the right people the right questions in the right way, so I can get to the people and information I need to blow this wide open before they vanish.
Here’s what I’m bringing to the table. I’ll put a little extra in your payslips. Negotiated stipend, whatever; it’ll be legitimate and won’t look like it came from anywhere near me.
You’ll also get some… additional hardware and a pair of specialists trained in using it. Someone in the Corps owes me a favour; they can muster a couple of Marines out to active reserve.
On top of those, I’ll do what I can to cover your tracks; make some noise in the ICC so people are too busy looking at me to notice you.
In return, you keep on taking your jobs and making your runs, but you keep your eyes and ears open. I’d say that’s all, but I think you’re the kind of people who’re getting as sick as I am of keeping my head down and pretending no one else matters. So… do what you can, and maybe a little more, and get me some results.
It might be enough to bring something like justice back into this world.
That’s what I want. I don’t want the crew of the Nostromo, the colonists of LV-426, the Marines of Bravo Team, the convicts on Fury 161, none of them…
I don’t want Ellen Ripley to have died for nothing.
And if I have to see that look in her eyes when I look at myself in the mirror for the rest of my life… well, maybe no one else will have to.
So. Do we have a deal?