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Alien Nation #3 - Body and Soul

Peter David

  ALIEN NATION™ was a ground-breaking and thought-provoking televison program that was part science fiction and part hard-hitting police drama—taking on tough social issues. Despite raves from critics as well as a loyal following, ALIEN NATION was canceled, but not before additional scripts were created. Now, Pocket Books is proud to present the novelization of one of these never-before-seen scripts.

  Matthew Sikes and his Tenctonese partner George Francisco try to unearth the truth behind the hysteria generated by the reports of the birth of the first half-human, half-Tenctonese child. Meanwhile, Sikes and his Tencotnese friend Cathy find their relationship heating up and realize they can no longer deny their feelings. They quickly learn just how dangerous human-Tenctonese love can be, and how far it can go . . .

  Cathy walked over to the crib

  and stared down. The child

  regarded her with those calm

  eyes that seemed ancient

  beyond the infant’s years.

  “She’s beautiful,” she whispered to Matt. She brought the baby over to the changing table so that she would have more room to examine her.

  “What’s the verdict?” Grazer asked.

  She didn’t reply, her attention still riveted to the baby. She was pulling a double-bellied Newcomer stethoscope out of her bag.

  Sikes watched carefully. This part should have been routine. Clearly, though, it wasn’t. There was bewilderment on Cathy’s face as she moved the stethoscope around the baby’s chest. After a moment, pure shock crawled across her face.

  “She . . .” Cathy looked as if she were trying to remember the words. “She has only one cardiovascular system.”

  Grazer, who fancied himself an expert on the affairs of all things Tenctonese, said firmly, “That’s impossible. She’s a Newcomer.”

  “Maybe she isn’t, not entirely,” said Cathy, clearly trying to sort it out as she spoke. “One heart . . . no spots. And the motor skills . . . they’re more consistent with the development of a human infant.”

  She paused as if about to leap off a high dive into a pool drained of water. “I think she might be a hybrid . . .”

  Alien Nation titles

  #1: The Day of Descent

  #2: Dark Horizon

  #3: Body and Soul

  Published by POCKET BOOKS

  An Original Publication of POCKET BOOKS

  POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  Copyright © 1993 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

  ALIEN NATION is a trademark of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  ISBN: 0-671-73601-9

  First Pocket Books printing December 1993

  POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster Inc.

  Printed in the U.S.A.

  To Kenneth Johnson,

  who pulled off the rare feat of producing a

  TV show that surpassed the movie.

  C H A P T E R 1

  THE BUILDING SAT upon a desert that was as arid and flat as any alien world . . . which, to the inhabitants of the building, it was.

  The full moon had risen, hanging there like a great, pupilless eye gazing down upon the silence. Far beyond the moon the stars twinkled through the cloudless heavens. One of those stars, so very far off, beckoned to the inhabitants of the building. But that summons would remain forever unanswered. As it was, it was simply a . . . a sort of tease. Frustrating, irritating, and ultimately unsatisfying.

  Then the silence of the desert was disrupted by the slow, steady grinding of a vehicle with an improperly fitted muffler. Its wide tires crunched across the road and then made a wide right turn into the little-used driveway.

  There a guard was waiting for them. His gaze darted around nervously, as if apprehensive that somehow, in some insane fashion, someone would suddenly manage to pop out of hiding and surprise him.

  When the truck pulled up, the headlights catching him square as if he were about to be roadkill, he squinted against it and gestured frantically for the lights to be shut off. Likewise, he made a throat-cutting motion with his other hand to indicate the motor should be cut.

  The occupants’ heads were unadorned by hair . . . or, for that matter, earlobes. The passenger resembled the driver rather closely. Indeed, the main manner in which they could be distinguished one from another was that the passenger’s chin was slightly more outthrust, and their heads were splattered with large brown and black splotches in patterns that differed.

  The driver opened the door and hopped out of the van. The passenger followed suit. They approached the guard slowly, their hands at their sides. Humans were jumpy enough around them, even under the most casual of circumstances. A situation like this, where a human with a guilty conscience was jumping at shadows, could suddenly become very difficult if not handled just right.

  The guard looked from one to the other, squinting. “You River?” he asked the driver after a moment.

  The driver shook his head. “Penn,” he said. He inclined his bald head toward the passenger. “That’s River.”

  “Sorry,” murmured the guard.

  “I know,” said Penn. “We all look alike.” He made no attempt to hide his sarcasm. All of his people were clearly such individuals to him, that it was an utter mystery how humans could be so brainless that they could not tell various members of his race—collectively known as the Tenctonese, although informally they were called Newcomers—apart.

  “What are you doing here?” asked the one called River in annoyance. “There’s no reason for you to be here. You were paid.”

  “I was . . . I was just saying good-bye to them.”

  River and Penn looked at each other incredulously, and then back at the guard. “What difference does it make to you?” said Penn after a moment. “Don’t tell me you’re getting sentimental about those . . . things.”

  “No,” replied the guard quickly. “But . . . well, look. Humans sometimes form attachments to stuff they become familiar with, just from the sheer repetition of it.”

  “I thought familiarity bred contempt in your culture,” River pointed out, with just enough of a sneer to make his own disdain noticeable.

  The guard’s lips thinned. “Depends how contemptible the thing we’re becoming familiar with is,” he said tightly.

  “You didn’t tell them where they’re going,” Penn said abruptly.

  “I don’t know where they’re going,” the guard pointed out. “I just told them they were leaving. That they were being moved. That they’d be happier because they were going to be going with some of their own people.”

  River’s eyes narrowed. “You told him he was going with his own people?”

  There was something about River’s tone that the guard didn’t like. “Yeah. What? Is there a problem with that?”

  River started to say something, but Penn held up a long, bony finger. “No,” said Penn sharply. “No problem at all. So you’ve said your good-byes. Is there any reason for you to be hanging around here?”

  “Uh . . . no,” admitted the guard. “Not really.”

  “In that case . . . good-bye.”

  The guard slowly bobbed his head. He took a couple of steps back, his gaze not leaving the two Newcomers.

  Was he a loose end that they were now going to tie off? Would there be a sudden, silenced gunshot penetrating his forehead? Or, if he turned his back, would one of the Newcomers move with that incredible speed and stren
gth that they commanded, and break his neck before he even knew what happened?

  As casually as he could, he turned on his heel and walked with measured strides to his car. He felt the muscles around his neck bunching involuntarily, as if preparing for a sharp blow to be delivered.

  There was a loud, sharp noise that sent him jumping into the air. He whirled, grabbing his car’s rear fender to stop him from falling.

  River, who had not moved an inch, had coughed.

  The guard tried to slow down his racing heart. River, utterly nonchalant, brought the edge of one hand under his nose and waved cheerily with the other one.

  The guard waved back, and then stared at his own hand as if surprised that it existed. He reached around without looking to the door handle of his car, swung it open, and jumped in. Moments later, the car peeled out, tires screeching. He checked his rearview mirror half a dozen times, and the Newcomers were already heading for the building, giving him no thought whatsoever.

  They approached the building silently, and then the back doors of the van opened. The occupant hopped out, and he did not look especially pleased. He was eminently human, with short-cropped black hair and an impatient air. “Are you guys going to screw around all night here?” he demanded.

  [“Suck a lemur.”] River said.

  “What?” snapped the human. “What the hell did you just say?”

  “I said, ‘We’re getting right on it.’ Don’t worry, Mr. Perkins. We’ll be out of here in five minutes.”

  The one he’d called Perkins regarded him suspiciously for a moment. “Well, get a move on,” he said, finally.

  River inclined his head slightly, and the two of them entered the building.

  [“You’re getting the hang of dealing with humans?”] asked Penn. [“Why bother getting into fights with them? They’re not worth it.”]

  [“True enough.”] acknowledged River. [“They’re worthwhile for grunt work. That’s about it. Did you see the way that idiot tripped over his own feet getting to his car? He thought we were going to kill him.”]

  [“He overrates his own importance”] Penn said with a chuckle. [“As a living man who was bribed, he must keep silent. His presence as a corpse could speak volumes.”]

  [“I wish he’d kept silent about telling the subject of Tenctonese involvement”] River grumbled. [“Why give a hint?”]

  [“Why worry?”] Penn said. From his sport jacket pocket, he removed a small, narrow case. He flipped it open to reveal a syringe, carefully seated in a felt outline. [“There’s one of him against the two of us. How difficult can this be?”]

  River nodded in agreement, and then he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, palming a lighter with his other hand. He started to remove a cigarette from the pack, and Penn abruptly reached over and batted the cigarettes from his hand.

  [“What are you getting involved with that human garbage for?”] he demanded.

  [“What’s your problem? These are specially made. Rates highest in tar and nicotine.”]

  [“We dress like them. Talk like them. The more time we spend acquiring their habits, the less time we’ll have for maintaining our own. Whatever happened to racial purity?”]

  River made a scoffing noise, but elected not to press the point. He dropped his lighter back into his jacket pocket and said nothing more about it.

  They made their way through the building, moving softly and silently.

  A musty smell hung as heavily as the silence. River and Penn ignored the monstrosities that lined the walls of the building.

  The target lay upon the huge, metal frame bed. Next to it was a large pitcher with water and a carton of unrefrigerated milk. The target was curled up, his back to them, his chest rising and falling slowly indicating that he was clearly asleep. Situated directly next to the bed was a crib, the small form within obscured by a pink blanket.

  There was a single window above, and moonlight streamed through, illuminating the sleeping pair.

  River and Penn approached carefully, trying to be as smooth and unnoticeable as possible. As they passed the crib, Penn cast a glance into it . . .

  And gasped.

  River shot him a fierce look, for the sound was like a thunderclap in the stillness. But the figure on the bed hadn’t stirred. River now took a glance, as well, and immediately understood what it was that had prompted the sound from Penn.

  He turned to Penn and mouthed a very human word, “Wow.”

  Penn nodded in agreement, and then turned his attention to the larger figure on the bed. He had the syringe out, and started to lean forward to make the injection. Then his eyes caught something on the wall. Something had been scribbled there in the unmistakable alphabet of the Tenctonese.

  Three simple words that spoke volumes to the two Newcomers.

  Penn turned to River, his expression one of utter mystification.

  [“How did he—?”] he started to ask.

  But he didn’t get the entire question out.

  The occupant of the large metal bed had turned with a speed that seemed completely at odds with his bulk. Still on his back, but with his eyes open and blazing, he reached out with one large hand that clamped firmly around Penn’s throat.

  River took a step back, alarmed, and as the bed’s occupant rose from his faked slumber, so did Penn rise with him as well; his legs pinwheeled helplessly. The syringe slipped from his fingers and crashed to the floor.

  River had been informed, of course, of what they would be facing. But hearing about it and encountering it firsthand were two entirely different things.

  Penn was being suspended in the air by a creature that looked, for all intents and purposes, like a Newcomer. But he was a Newcomer the likes of which had never been seen before. He was fully seven feet tall, wearing what appeared to be some sort of green jumpsuit, which was clearly too small on him.

  His expression was a mixture of fury and fear.

  [“Do something!”] shouted Penn frantically, pummeling the massive forearm that held him.

  The giant shook Penn in the way that a cat might shake a bird that it has just captured. Penn emitted a high-pitched shriek, the world spinning around him. And then the giant turned and flung Penn with, frighteningly enough, only a small measure of the strength he truly possessed.

  Penn hurtled across the warehouse and crashed into some crates. There was the sound of splintering wood and Penn lay there, a low moan being the only indication that he was still alive.

  The giant turned and faced River. The huge Newcomer’s mouth was drawn back in a grimace. Fear was vanishing from his face with every passing moment, leaving behind only the anger.

  River took a quick step to try and angle toward an exit, but the giant matched his motion. This caused River to halt in his tracks, because no matter which way he moved, the giant would manage to head him off.

  He glanced in the direction of the crib. Newspapers, rags, and an old soiled sheet were scattered nearby.

  The giant followed his gaze, his obvious concern for the occupant of the crib momentarily overwhelming everything else.

  It was at that moment that a sudden inspiration hit River. And with the inspiration, just as quickly, came the action.

  With the giant’s gaze momentarily averted, River stabbed a hand into his jacket pocket and came up with the cigarette lighter that Penn had so cavalierly dismissed. He offered up a very quick prayer to a Tenctonese god and flicked the lighter.

  The flame came up on the very first try.

  The giant’s scrutiny swung back to River, attracted by the flickering of the lighter. He frowned, puzzled and uncomprehending.

  River made a quick sideways throw, and the lighter skidded across the floor and nestled comfortably amidst the newspapers and rags directly under the crib. Immediately the trash went up.

  The giant screamed, a roar of inarticulate, horrified rage. River chose that moment to try and bolt.

  He had not reckoned with the giant’s fearsome single-mindedness. Moreover, he had not
properly taken into account the giant’s reach. River had taken three steps when the giant’s knuckles crashed squarely into his nose.

  There was the sound of shattering bone and suddenly River was airborne. He crashed to the ground, dazed, the world whirling. As it happened, he was only a few feet away from Penn.

  The sounds of the giant’s hysterical screams now mingled with the crackling of the fire.

  He grabbed at the crib, momentarily beaten back by the rapidly rising flames, and then—heedless of his own safety—one of his massive hands clamped around the crib railing, and he yanked as hard as he could.

  Truthfully, it didn’t require all that much strength. The crib wasn’t especially heavy. It skidded across the floor at the first pull, shooting safely away from the flame and ricocheting off the large bed that the giant had been lying on.

  The giant scooped the occupant of the crib into his arms. For the briefest of moments, an expression that transcended human concepts of devotion passed across the creature’s face. Then he clutched his precious cargo to his massive chest and, with a last howl of defiance, charged toward an exit.

  Perkins was getting impatient.

  He also had to take a leak—badly. He’d swilled down several beers during the long, boring drive from the city.

  “Screw it,” he muttered. If the two slags felt like they had all the time in the world, why should he have to suffer?

  He moved away from the truck to a corner of the building, discreetly blocking himself from view, and relieved himself. He gave the deep, relaxed kind of sigh that one can give only when one’s bladder is being alleviated from tremendous stress.

  And then, as he started to zip himself up, he smelled something.

  Something burning.

  At that moment, the door several feet away from him exploded outward.

  His mouth dropped open in surprise as a giant Newcomer burst out, almost knocking the door off its hinges. The creature was cradling something in his arms, and his huge head was swiveling back and forth like a conning tower.