Characters: Chloe Sullivan, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, AVP Cast, Brief John Winchester, Top Buchannan, and metion of Jack McAlister
Summary: When Weyland wants to meet with Chloe, she has no interest until she realizes that they might know something about Jack, who disappeared months ago. She and Lois find more than they were looking for while in the pyramid...as always.
Note: Written for my Paranormal25 150 Prompt Table. Prompt of the story # 89: Shrine (or temple).
Feign, dodge, parry, and strike.
Twirling and thus evading the blow of the spear thrust at her, Chloe felt her heart slowing slightly and her breathing regulating despite the constant activity as she quickly flexed her body to the right, grabbed the spear that once more was thrust at her, and pulled it out of the hand of her attacker.
Throwing the spear behind her, she dodged the punch aimed at her face and grabbed the wrist, offsetting her attacker and causing the person to lose balance and stumble long enough for Chloe to bring her knee up violently into the mouth of her attacker’s stomach, a cry of pain echoing throughout the room as she threw her assailant over her shoulder to the ground.
Getting back up with an expert flip, the attacker screamed and attacked.
Chloe back flipped and grabbed the discarded spear, and in a second she twirled and the tip of the spear was pressed against the now halted attacker, pressed against the rapidly beating pulse.
The sound of clapping caused both Chloe and her attacker to turn their gazes to the man who’d been on the sidelines watching the fight in awed silence. “Excellent.”
The blonde smiled and lowered her weapon, grinning at the person she’d been fighting. “Sorry about the kneeing thing.”
“Damn, that hurt.” Lois Lane, Chloe’s cousin, assistant, and sparring companion, grinned as she pressed a hand to her stomach. “You’re amazing, Chlo. In two months you learnt everything I had to teach, and in only five months you’ve learnt almost everything all those fighting masters Lex hired to teach you had to offer. You’re like, a teenaged mutant turtle now or something.”
Chloe’s grin deepened. “Well, I’m not so sure about the teenaged or turtle part, but I’m definitely a mutant---.”
“And a damn impressive one at that!” Lois continued as she shared a proud smile with Lex Luthor, their friend and boss. “Did you see the back flip? The girl has gone Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger on us.”
“Wasn’t it Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon?” Lex asked from besides Chloe, somewhat amused.
“Whatever.” Lois waved that off, no really caring if she had her movie titles mixed up. “The point is that we have a ninja warrior in our midst. We have the future hokage here besides us.”
Chloe and Lex’s gazes met in amusement and they rolled their eyes at the brunette. “Someone’s been watching a bit too much Naruto.” The blonde snarked with a cheeky grin.
“Shut up.” Lois blushed slightly, although she was grinning as well. “That Sasuke guy is hot.”
“Oh god…” Lex groaned.
“What?” Lois demanded. “A guy who likes to wear so much pastels should be able to get in touch with his feminine side and agree with me on this. The guy is totally hot!”
Chloe bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing.
Lex glared at Lois for that quip about his favorite shirts. “Lois, the guy’s a cartoon!”
“A hot cartoon, like Roger Rabbit’s wife.” Lois then turned to Chloe. “Do you remember that? It used to be our favorite movie.”
“Yeah,” the blonde nodded, giggling at the memory. “I haven’t seen it in years.”
“Me neither.” Lois confessed.
“Who’s Roger Rabbit?” Lex asked, somewhat confused. “What movie are you two talking about?”
Lois’ eyes widened in horror. “What sort of demented childhood did you have?” She gasped. “We have to do something about this! Chloe, you and I are renting Who Framed Roger Rabbit and we’re going to force Lex to watch it to right the wrong inflicted on him when he was younger.”
“Oh god.” Lex sighed once more.
Chloe couldn’t help it, she laughed.
When Lex and Lois were together they were comical.
Lex shook his head and chuckled, but then he suddenly brought his hand to his mouth and started to cough terribly, something he’d been doing for the last couple of months. He staggered slightly and Lois and Chloe both rushed to get him and help the young man to the chair he’d been sitting in while watching Chloe show all that she’d learnt during the last couple of months.
The blonde tightened her hold on her boss and friend and tried to activate her powers, but once again the barrier Lex had put up against her was keeping her from healing him.
When she’d found out some months before that he was dying, she’d been pissed at him and Lois for keeping such a horrible secret from her. She’d then demanded that he let her heal him, and had scoffed at the idea of him draining her powers. She’d even tried to force her healing powers onto him---anything to keep him alive---and that was when Lex’s passive meter power had become active. He had a way of blocking the effects of other people’s mutations, so she couldn’t heal him, not if he didn’t let her.
And it frustrated her; it left her without the ability to sleep most nights. Lex and Lois were two of the most important people in her lives, and the thought that she couldn’t use her powers to heal one of them, to save their life…it ate at her.
“Lex…” she whispered as Lois and her watched him as he sat on the chair and coughed violently. “Let me…”
“No.” His voice was firm despite what he was suffering. He looked so bad these last couple of months. He’d gotten paler and weaker, needing to sit down more and more, and he’d collapsed the other day and had had to be taken to the Metropolis Hospital in an ambulance, and yet he still blocked her powers from having any effect on him.
They look up as a knock is heard.
“Come in.” Lex visibly relaxed, forcing back any pain or discomfort he might be feeling.
He refused to look sick or weak in front of anyone.
Chloe squeezed his shoulder slightly in support.
His smile was more genuine when the door opened to show Mansfield, their butler. “Sir, a Mister Maxwell Stafford here who would like to speak with you.” He paused. “He says he represents Weyland Industries.”
Lois made a face. “What’s that asshole doing here?”
Chloe bit her bottom lip to keep from grinning.
Even Lex couldn’t keep from looking a bit amused at the outburst.
Relations betweens LexCorp and Weyland Industries were very fragile due to Weyland’s ties with LuthorCorp, and Stafford and Lois clashed terribly whenever Chloe had to deal with him, with Weyland calling Lois an annoying Chihuahua and Lois calling him a couple of titles Chloe was sure he’d never heard before.
“Please, send him in.” Lex addressed Mansfield regally.
“Yeah.” Lois put her hands on her hips. “And don’t give him the royal treatment, Manny. The parasite ain’t staying here long!”
“As you wish, Miss Lois.” Mansfield gave a little bow and went to retrieve visitor, his lips fighting the grin.
“Lois…” Lex finally spoke, gaze on the door.
“I know, I know. On my best behavior.” Lois pouted. “But if he says the C word I’m all up his ass!”
Lex nodded in agreement.
Chloe rolled her eyes and then turned her attention to the door when it opened, to reveal Mansfield and Maxwell Stafford.
“Mister Luthor, Miss Sullivan, Miss Lane.” The elegant and admittedly good-looking Afro-Caribbean man’s voice was liquid velvet cut with a crystal clear English accent. “I am sorry for coming without calling to set up an appointment first, but it’s of the greatest importance and I couldn’t risk someone ‘accidentally’ hanging up on me every single time I call.”
He gave Lois a narrowed glare.
“Well, you got through to us, Maxy.” Lois smirked, all self-righteous and haughty. “So tell us, what does one of the world’s biggest polluters want with us?”
“Nothing with you,” Maxwell snorted, before turning his attention back to Lex. “But Mister Weyland would like to enter into negotiations to have an alliance with LexCorp…if you, or Miss Sullivan, will meet with him.”
Lex raised an eyebrow.
Chloe could understand his surprise.
Weyland Industries was a huge, multimillion dollar business, and while LexCorp was doing amazingly on its own, association with Weyland would help them tremendously.
Lex, though, played it cool and somewhat disinterested as he leaned back in the chair and steepled his fingers. “I do not think my father will be pleased with Mister Weyland entering into business with us.”
LexCorp and LuthorCorp were bitter rivals.
Stafford cleared his throat. “LuthorCorp and Weyland Industries have severed their alliance due to personal differences.”
Things were beginning to make much more sense now.
Lex hesitated for a moment.
This was like making a deal with the Devil…or in other words…Lionel.
“When?” He finally asked.
Lois huffed. “Talk about no notice. We’re not any business, Maxy. If you think you can worm your slimy little way into LexCorp’s good graces this way then you can take your offer and stick it up your---.”
Lex raised a hand.
Lois bit down on that last word.
“Mister Weyland understands the inconvenience that this request may put you through, but he assures LexCorp that this is a venture of a lifetime, and that even tomorrow may be too late.”
Lex narrowed his eyes slightly at the wording.
Chloe frowned. “What exactly does Mister Weyland need us for, Mister Stafford? I can’t think of many things that Weyland Industries can’t accomplish on its own. So why does it suddenly need our help?”
He took in a deep breath. “I---I am not at liberty to discuss this openly, but I may say that a Mister Top Buchannan refused to work for someone he didn’t trust, and so Mister Weyland promised that you would be on board for this expedition.”
“Expedition?” Lois made a face.
“Top?” Chloe’s eyes widened at the mention of the man whom had survived that hellish cave and those monsters with her.
The last time she’d seen him he’d left with Charlie, Tyler…and Jack.
Lex stood. “I do not appreciate Weyland acting as if my representative were his to command! Just for that act alone I should refuse any meeting with him!”
Chloe felt a little desperate at the thought of losing this opportunity.
After months of rough treatments, injecting himself with vials of Chloe’s blood to try and repress the monstrous transformations in his body, Jack had just disappeared off of the face of the earth. Charlie had called Chloe to let her know the moment they’d noticed his absence and his things gone, and despite using LexCorp resources, Chloe couldn’t find a trace of Jack McAlister.
She worried daily about him.
But she decided that if he couldn’t be found it was because he didn’t want to be found.
And she needed to respect that.
And anyway, it wasn’t as if she could go see him if she found him. Just being in her presence alone made Jack worst, undoing all the good any treatment with her blood did, so they were forced to be apart.
But why couldn’t he have left them a general forwarding address to keep sending him the vials with her blood?
How was he supposed to get better if they were the only things that kept his mutation from taking control and making him into some horrible monster?
Lex seemed to understand everything going on through Chloe’s mind, because he sighed. “But since this has some personal interest for me, I will agree to Mister Weyland’s proposition. Unfortunately I already have a prior engagement, but Miss Sullivan and Miss Lane will go in my stead.”
Chloe felt relief and excitement flooding into her.
“As you wish,” Stafford turned to Chloe. “I advised you to pack for extreme cold, Miss Sullivan. We set for the Piper Maru, an Ice Breaker currently stationed in the Antarctic Ocean.”
Lois paled. “The Antarctic?”
“Yes.” Stafford nodded before sneering slightly. “I’d forgotten Chihuahua’s were unable to take the cold. You’ll just have to stay here and we’ll find a way to make it without your company.”
Lois’ eyes narrowed in fury at the C word.
Chloe stepped forwards before Lois could carry out her threat to Lex. “Mister Stafford, you better leave now if you want to remain intact.”
“I’ll take your advice, and will have a driver come for your things later.” Stafford nodded before excusing himself and leaving.
Lois turned to Chloe.
There was about knock on the door.
“Come in!” Chloe called, eager to interrupt Lois in the middle of a temper tantrum.
Mansfield stuck his head in the room. “Phone for you, Miss Sullivan.”
“Thank god.” Chloe whispered, rushing out of the room towards the first phone she could find, picking it up and placing it to her ear. “Chloe Sullivan speaking.”
“You sound breathless, were you busy?” The voice on the other end was deep and masculine.
Chloe smiled. “John! So good to hear from you, how are you doing?”
“Fine, thank you.” Like always, John got right back down to business. “I’ve come upon some artifacts that need a more secure holding place than I can give them.”
Chloe leaned up against the wall. “Let me guess. Hand of zombie cursed by a voodoo priestess that will make you die in three days if you touch it?”
There was a moment’s silence before John laughed. “Uh, no, not exactly. But it’s something along those lines. Can we meet up?”
“Hmmm, I don’t think so. I have to get packed to go to meet a potential ally for LexCorp, and I’m leaving in a couple of hours. I won’t have the time. But I could have Mansfield come get it from you wherever you are.”
“You know I don’t trust anyone else with these things, Chloe.” John sounded annoyed. “Only you.”
“And you know that I’m the sole representative of a large and growing string of successful and demanding corporations.” Chloe narrowed her eyes, not taking John’s crappy attitude or his do-it-because-I-said-so way of being.
John was the type of guy who barked out orders and expected them to be followed without a moment’s question.
Most people did exactly that.
Not Chloe though.
She questioned him.
She also made him ask a lot of questions about his own decisions.
That was one of the things he’d admitted to admiring about her.
“Chloe, this is important.” John sighed, backing down from the fight, knowing from experience that going up against Chloe meant frustration and certain defeat. “If these artifacts were to fall into the wrong hands…”
“I know John, you know I understand.” Chloe looked up at the ceiling with a sigh. “But understand that this is my job we’re talking about. Lex depends on me and he needs me to do this, plus, I have a personal reason for going. I’m sorry, but I can’t stay.”
There was a moment’s silence. “Does this have something to do with that guy?”
“Yeah.” Chloe nodded although she knew that John couldn’t see her.
“Chloe.” John sighed, and she could imagine him running his palm over his face. “This isn’t healthy, for the both of you. For his own good, leave him alone and let him disappear with some dignity.”
Chloe closed her eyes.
John knew everything about her, just like she knew everything about him.
They’d met when the apartment building complex she was looking into buying for Lex had come with a nasty little curse that’d caused the corpses of the Indians buried there centuries ago to rise up and trap her in the complex.
Even with her abilities Chloe would have surely died if John hadn’t arrived and saved her life. Together they’d worked and broken the curse, ending up burning the whole place to the ground, and cementing a strong bond between them both.
“John, I---I’m not looking for him, but I’m going to see someone who might know where he is and if he’s okay.” She sighed, bringing a hand to her heart. “If I could just know that he’s okay I’ll be happy.”
He sighed. “You need to learn to let go, to find someone else.”
“You offering?” She teased.
He chuckled. “Don’t tempt me.”
Chloe smiled, opening her eyes and twirling the cord of the phone. “How far are you from my home?”
He sighed. “An hour? Two?”
“And you’re driving as we speak, right?” Chloe asked.
“You know me. I hate staying in one place long enough to be detected.”
“Look, I’m only doing this because you’re my absolutely favorite hunter in the whole entire world.” Chloe pushed away from the wall. “Haul ass, make it here in an hour, and get to my house. I’ll take the zombie hand (or whatever) off of you and put it in the safe place while you pack my things. How about that?”
“I get to pack your clothes?” John was obviously making a displeased face at this. “How is this supposed to be in my favor?”
“I take the crap off of your hands and they’re protected.” Chloe reminded him conversationally.
“Right.” John remembered, before sighing and giving her an honest warning. “I can’t fold worth shit.”
“Neither can I.” She grinned. “See you in an hour old man.”
She hung up before he could answer that.
Lois peeked out of the room she’d been in with Lex. “Who was that?”
“John.” Chloe announced, beginning to walk away. “I’m going to go pack my stuff, so should you.”
“When am I going to meet this mysterious guy anyway?” Lois pouted.
“Go pack.” Chloe motioned her away before turning and leaving as well, trying not to be too excited.
“You can’t fold worth shit.” Chloe noted as John clumsily did the job, and she sat on the ground, in boxers and a muscle shirt, eating a sandwich she’d made.
“Neither can you.” John reminded her, motioning with his chin towards the clothes she’d messily folded before he’d arrived.
“I know.” Chloe grinned, taking another sip of her sandwich.
“My wife used to be able to pack with such neatness, it was perfection.” John smiled, stopping for a moment as he lost himself in the memory, before shaking his head and continuing with his work. “Sam, my youngest, he’s like Mary. He’s neat and used to do Dean and my clothes. Dean used to give him hell and call him Samantha
Chloe smiled, always enjoying it when John spoke about his sons. She’d never met them personally, but through John she knew all about them and about Adam, the son he kept secret from them.
“Have you thought about what we were talking about last time?” Chloe asked, getting up and taking the shirt from him, passing John the other half of her sandwich.
He gave her a grateful smile before taking a bite out of the sandwich, chewing, and swallowing. “They wouldn’t be able to accept it, Chloe.”
“I think they’d accept it better if they found out about him from you.” Chloe countered, putting the shirt in the suitcase. “They’d never forgive you if they found out about Adam some other way.”
“How would they find out about him?” John frowned.
“Secrets have a nasty way of being discovered by the people they’re being hidden from.” Chloe reminded, picking up her last piece of clothes and folded it. “Just, think about it, John. You need to do this. Think of Adam
. He has brothers out there and doesn’t even know
John sighed, finishing the half sandwich. “But Sam already hates me as it is, and Dean never really forgave me after I told Sam that if he went to Stanford to never have anything to do with us again.”
“Well, it wasn’t your greatest moment.” Chloe reminded him. “And I’ve talked to you about reaching out to your sons. They’re your legacy, and even if you get the bastard that killed your wife, the victory will be worthless if you’ve lost your two sons during the way.”
John looked up at her, obviously troubled by what she’d said. “I’ll think about it.”
“Thank you.” Chloe smiled, closing her suitcase. “You want to stay here a couple of days? To rest? I won’t be here so you’ll have the place all to yourself. There might be a hunt somewhere in the area…and I’ll feel better about leaving this place if I know you’re here.”
John looked around her home with a smile. “Sure.”
She walked over to him and surprised the hunter by hugging him tightly. “Call Sam, John. Talk to him and Dean. Get close to your boys before its too late.”
He sighed before hugging her back. “Okay.”
Reaching up on her tiptoes, Chloe kissed his cheek and grinned at him as she grabbed her clothes and went to bathe.
By the time she came back out, dressed smartly, John was going over a newspaper, obviously looking for a hunt.
They weren’t able to talk more because a limo had pulled up outside her home.
“I hope you find out about the guy…and that he’s okay.” John’s last words had made her smile.
The moment they’d landed on the Piper Maru, Lois had had to be taken to their room. The poor woman was dead drunk, something she always did whenever she had to fly. It was quite unusual since Lois was okay with flying if she was the one doing the flying, but if someone else was in the cockpit she got the fear of god and always drank herself into unconsciousness.
Thankfully Chloe had met Graham Miller, a chemical engineer, who’d showed her pictures of his boys and ex-wife, and had been fun to chat to on the flight over to the Piper Maru. By the time they’d landed she’d been anxious though, glad that Mister Weyland was ‘indisposed’ at the moment and unable to greet her.
After making sure to get Stafford to take a drunken Lois to their room, Chloe had first taken a deep, cold breath of fresh air, and then she’d called Lex as promised. As soon as she’d hung up, though, Chloe had squared her shoulders and gone off searching.
And, despite how large the ice breaker was, she easily found the man she’d been looking for.
Chloe froze for a second, her gaze falling on the handsome dark skinned man, and then her face lit up and she ran to him and threw her arms around him tightly. “Top!”
“Chloe.” He grinned, hugging her. “I was beginning to think that Weyland had been lying when he said that you’d be a part of this. How’s Lois and Mister Luthor?”
“Lex’s fine, he had another meeting so he wasn’t able to come---and Lois is skunk drunk in our room.” Chloe grinned, pulling away and looking at his face. “How are you doing, Top?”
“Fine, not much to complain about.” He responded. “After…well…Tyler continued with the spelunking business…he married Charlie and they’re expecting their first kid.”
“That’s great.” Chloe grinned.
Top nodded. “I started working as an environmental technician and guide, I’m the best in my field…which is why Weyland wants me on this gig---whatever it is.”
“So they haven’t told you anything either.” She sighed as they began to walk down the hallway.
“No, nothing, only that they want the best of the best for it.” Top admitted, before sending her a look. “When are you going to ask about him?
She gave him a guilty smile. “Five more minutes tops.”
Top sighed, running his hand over his shortly cropped hair. “Jack----he disappeared some months after we left. One day we woke up to find his things gone and no sign of him.”
“He hasn’t been in contact with even Tyler?” Chloe asked, biting down on her bottom lip, worried.
“No. Nothing.” Top stopped and turned, leaning against the wall. “Chloe, what we never told you, though, was that those months Jack really wasn’t doing too good. Even the blood stopped helping him. It was like his body had gotten too used to it.”
Chloe’s eyes widened.
“He was having these violent episodes
…his muscles would spasm, his eyes would go to that four point star design again, his veins would show up black under his pale skin…and he’d be vicious
.” Top sighed, looking pained to remember this. “I think he left just as much for us as he did for him.”
Chloe hung her head. “Why didn’t you all call and tell me when these things started happening to him?”
“Because Jack made us swear that we wouldn’t breathe a word to anyone, and we figured we owed him that and more.” Top responded frankly. “And anyway, you know that your presence there would have made it worse.”
“Yes, I guess you’re right.” Chloe whispered, leaning against the opposite wall, looking down at her shoes, fighting the tears. “I---I just worry so much about him, Top. What---what if something’s happened to him or he’s done something to hurt himself? You remember he was planning on committing suicide while in the cave! What if---.”
“I worry too.” Top interrupted. “But if Jack left it was for a good reason. We need to trust him.”
“Yes, we do.” Chloe smiled at him, wiping at her eyes. “It’s so good to talk to you again.”
Top smiled in agreement, nodding.
Together they walked to the main room, and Top introduced her around to the large group of people surrounded by thermal digging equipment. Three teams were assembled in the briefing area, waiting for Weyland to deem himself able to see them and tell them why the hell
they were all there.
The first team Chloe called ‘The Scientists’. It consisted of Top, Sebastian (an archaeologist), his right hand man Thomas, and Miller (who’d waved enthusiastically when he’d seen her).
The second team was dubbed ‘The Muscle’. It consisted of Maxwell Stafford and the Weyland security personnel, most prominently Adele Rousseau (who was sexy, tough, and toned); Verheiden, a soldier of fortune that had fought in hotspots all over the world and earned a prominent scar down his face as a souvenir; Connors, a bearded outdoorsman who looked like a chiseled version of the Unabomber; and Klaus, a big Dane built like a Viking.
The third team was composed of ‘The Drillers’. They were lead by Quinn, a muscular Texan and third generation driller, and also consisted of roughnecks Sven, Boris, and Mikkel.
Standing between Boris and Sven, Miller looked like a thread of dental floss. Excitedly bouncing around the room like a human pinball, Miller jumped inside the cab of one of Quinn’s large driller machines and began to press buttons like a kid.
Verheiden raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “Having fun?”
“First real adventure.” Miller admitted. “Can’t wait to tell my kids about all this.”
Verheiden shook his head. “This might be an adventure for you, dad
, but for the rest of us it’s a job. Get off the equipment and go back to the suburbs before you walk us all of a cliff.”
Chloe frowned. She disliked Verheiden’s attitude.
Verheiden ignored her. “Get off or you’ll be wearing your ass for a hat.”
Miller quickly moved, going to stand next to Chloe, as if seeking protection.
Chloe found that somewhat amusing.
Verheiden turned to look at his men as if asking: Can you believe this guy
? He then turned to Stafford. “Keep the beakers away from the gear.”
Miller frowned before turning to Chloe. “What’s a beaker?”
Chloe blinked a moment before answering. “It’s what they call scientists out here. You know…beaker? Like in the Muppet Show.”
“Beaker…” Miller suddenly smiled. “I kinda like that.”
Chloe sent him a smile.
Thomas approached Sebastian, sitting down. “Weyland’s cheque cleared.”
“Good.” Sebastian spoke, accent heavy and yet attractive. “We’re going to listen to whatever he has to say. We nod, we smile, and then we politely decline whatever offer he makes, take the money, and head back to Mexico.”
Apparently whatever it was that Weyland was planning, it was important for him to bribe
people to come.
That little fact raised Chloe’s interest a little.
Max looked around the room to make sure everyone was there. “Welcome aboard everybody! Please. You probably wonder why this elite team of experts was assembled here?” He paused for a moment before continuing. “Your host will give you the answer now.”
The room fell quiet.
He continued. “Mr. Weyland.”
A man emerged from the shadows behind Stafford.
Charles Bishop Weyland was in his forties, looking more like a big game hunter than the billionaire that he was.
An assistant handed a tablet PC to everyone in the room as Weyland nodded to Stafford to fire up a digital projector, illuminating a large square of the peeling metal wall behind Weyland.
“Thank you all for coming.” Weyland spoke, his voice strong. “Seven days ago one of my satellites over Antarctica was hunting for mineral deposits when a sudden heat bloom beneath the earth outlined this…”
An image came up on the wall behind Weyland. It was a pattern of interlocking square shapes.
An intense ripple of excitement spread through the room.
Chloe narrowed her eyes and took a step closer.
Weyland continued. “The red lines indicate solid walls. Through thermal mapping we’ve generated a rough three--dimensional image of the structure. It’s massive…” He paused for a second. “Containing hundred of rooms, all built around a central core. My experts tell me it’s a pyramid. What they can’t agree on is who built it and when.”
“What caused the heat bloom?” Thomas asked a very
“We don’t know.” Weyland answered honestly.
Chloe had to give him points for that.
Sebastian clicked past the photographs on his tablet PC.
Weyland snapped the slides of the three-dimensional pyramid. “One expert tells me that this feature is reminiscent of the Aztecs.” He snapped another slide. “Another tells me that this is probably Cambodian.” He snapped yet another slide. “But everyone agrees that the smooth side is definitely Egyptian.”
“Why would anyone
build a pyramid out here?” Miller wanted to know.
Thomas answered the question. “Ancient maps show Antarctica free of ice. It’s likely that the continent was once habitable.”
Stafford was watching Sebastian, who was going towards the wall. “Mr. De Rosa?”
Sebastian stepped closer to the wall, examining the pictures and comparing them with the pictures on his tablet PC. “I think your experts are right.”
“Which one?” Weyland asked.
“All of them.” Sebastian finally looked up. “The Egyptians, the Cambodians, and the Aztecs all built pyramids. Three separate cultures that lived thousands of miles apart--.”
“---With no communication.” Thomas added quickly from where he sat.
“Yet what they built was almost identical.” Sebastian continued as if Thomas hadn’t said a thing.
exactly?” Chloe finally spoke up, folding her arms over her chest.
He turned to her. “This might be the first pyramid ever built.”
“Built by who?” Top wanted to know.
Sebastian could barely contain his excitement. “The master culture from which all others are derived.”
Everyone in the room was stunned.
Weyland smiled slightly. “If it could be the first pyramid, it could also be the last. An amalgam of the ones that came before it…there’s no proof of any connection between the cultures.”
Sebastian pointed to the photo. “This is proof.”
Weyland smiled a little more. “Thank you.”
Miller cleared his throat. “Um…I can’t tell you who built it, but if I could take a sample from it, I could tell you how old it is.”
“Within how many years, Professor?” Stafford was curious to know.
“Actually, it’s Doctor.” Miller interjected. “And I’ll give you the exact
Chloe was impressed.
So was Weyland. “Well Doctor Miller, I’m offering to put you right next to this thing.”
Top made a face. “Where exactly on the ice is this?”
“Bouvetoya Island.” Weylan replied. “But it’s not on the ice. It’s two thousand feet under it.” The next picture snapped into the slide. “Directly below this abandoned whaling station, which will serve as our base camp.”
Stafford turned to the drillers. “Mr. Quinn.”
Quinn stepped forwards from his men. “Mr. Stafford, you’re looking at the best drilling team in the world. We’ll chew to that depth in seven days.”
Sven, Boris and Mikkel nodded in agreement.
“And add three weeks on top of that to train everyone here.” Top spoke up.
Weyland shook his head. “We don’t have that kind of time. I’m not the only one with a satellite over Antarctica. Others will be here soon.”
Top frowned. “Maybe I wasn’t clear. No one
in this room is ready for this trip.”
“Which is why I agreed to the terms you specified for your arrival here.” Weyland reminded him.
Top sent a look at Chloe before turning back to Weyland. “Bouvetoya is one of the most isolated places in the world. The nearest land is a thousand miles away. There’s no help if we run into trouble.”
“You’re right, it’s a no man’s land. But the train has left the station. I think I speak for everyone aboard this ship,” he pointed to the amazing imagery of the pyramid. “That this is worth the risk.”
Top looked around as a chorus of excitement was heard. It was obvious that everyone’s minds were made up.
He then turned to Weyland. “Find another guide.”
And then he walked out.
Chloe watched him go, and hesitated only a second before hurrying after him, hearing Weyland telling someone to both contact the next guide on the list…and to refuel the chopper for Top’s departure. She really didn’t pay much attention to it though, following the path Top had taken and finding him out on the deck, leaning against the railing, looking up at the night sky.
Above, a powerful X-class flare erupted from the sky, accompanied by a halo coronal mass ejection.
“It’s in the upper atmosphere.” Top spoke, obviously knowing she was there despite not having turned around. “Streams of protons and electrons from the sun are deflected by the earth’s magnetic field causing a solar radiation storm.”
Chloe joined him, leaning on the railing and watching the lights. “It’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it is.” He agreed, gaze above. “You’re going to stay, aren’t you?”
She nodded. “The sudden heat bloom, that design…something just doesn’t seem right.”
He turned to look at her. “If you think something’s wrong, then why are you going?”
“Instinct?” Chloe asked.
Top made a face. “I thought you were claustrophobic? That you were terrified of being underground ever since you’d been buried alive and all that?”
“Still am.” She admitted. “But it isn’t as strong now that I figured out how to do this
.” In seconds her eyes tickled, and she didn’t need to look at her reflection to know that her eyes were golden and feline.
Before, when she’d been newly infected, these eyes and instincts would only appear when she was in danger, but she’d learnt to control them at will and they were really handy.
“You’ve got complete control over your mutations.” Top guessed.
“Not really.” Chloe admitted. “There’s still a lot I don’t understand, but I’m okay with that for now.”
Top sighed. “If only Jack could be able to say the same…that he has some control.”
“Maybe he does.” Chloe whispered.
“Maybe.” Top nodded.
Neither were convincing.
“Will you reconsider coming with us?” Chloe asked.
“Will you reconsider coming back with me? Both you and Lois?” Top asked.
They looked at each other and shook their heads in silent answer to the questions asked.
“Mr. Buchannan.” They turned their heads at the voice, seeing Rousseau there. “Your helicopter’s refueled. They’re waiting for you.”
Top nodded to the woman with the short, choppy haircut, before turning to Chloe and hugging her. “Take care---and say hi to Lois when she gets over the hangover.”
“I will.” Chloe smiled sadly as they pulled apart, and she watched him walk away.
Sighing, she turned back and looked up at the lights in the sky.
Deep in space, a spaceship cruised slowly.
Three Predator helmets were arranged around a computer monitor. The design was distinctly techno-medieval.
Suddenly a hologram above the computer flickered into life.
The icons and language were all Predator, but the imagery it showed was recognizable---it was the pyramid
A predator targeting system activated, drawing a line between the pyramid and the surface of the ice.
The spaceship shot a beam of searing hot plasma down towards Antarctica.