On the nature of Praetorians
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Praetorians (Uber Warriors)
What we've seen
Its is believed that given enough time a hive could fully mature, growing well past what has been seen in the movies. Both hives witnessed were no more than a month old, and that is a stretch.
On LV-426 the hive was around 3 weeks old. It had expanded a great deal, covering large portions of sub-level 2 and 3 underneath the Atmospheric Processor. They had turned most of the man made structure into their hive. Of course USCM intervention forced xenomorph expansion to halt and capture/subdue the threat. The other time we see a hive is on board the USM Auriga. The hive was small, only a few hours old, unless of course I am mistaken. This hive is harder to explain due to the fact that the xenomorph species was gentically altered. The location was around the Waste Disposal locale.
Given the observations, outside interference does not allow xenomorph society to expand to their potential. Now there is room to speculate what would happen if a hive was allowed to expanded without any outside interference, until a latter time, then the result could be different.
With the existence of a Hiveworld, this hive should reach levels never before seen, allowing literally thousands upon thousands of xenomorphs to spawn and serve the Queen. With the hive reaching great distances it is my belief that the Queen would not be able to know all the actions of the hive at different location. Rather it could not focus on the hive in its entirety, instead, it would be forced to cycle locations of the hive, gaining the knowledge that was presented at the moment of extreme focus.
As stated earlier, a threat that occurred later on, after a hive was allowed to reach a large expanded state, by some type of species, be it Space Jockey(at a time when they were prolific) or Predator, in which where the hive was constantly under attack, then a new xenomorph caste would be filled and a stronger xenomorph would rise. Aside from the Queen we have Warriors and Drones. Their roles are very well known to everyone.
My theory comes into play for a hive that has grown to cover large ground and that it is frequently visited by a hostile species. I believe that the Space Jockey's and Predators are the only ones that know the true location of the Hiveworld. From our knowledge these two species are hostile and therefore would spur on the Queen's need for the final caste.
A Praetorian comes when the hive is constantly under attack and too large for the Queen to truly survey. They are an Uber Warrior, designed to protect the Queen, utterly annihilating any threat capable of passing the waves of Warriors and Drones. While loyal to the Queen, the Praetorian also has a more primal intelligence. It, in my opinion, is slightly less intelligent then the others. Its sole purpose is to kill and therefore relies more on its basic intelligence and superior predatory instinct.
The Warriors and Drones are separate castes, created to do a specific job for the Queen. These roles may overlap, but for the most part they are held strong. Each is capable of fulfilling the job of defense, but the enemies, Predator and Space Jockey, are able to make way their way past the droves of normal xenomorphs.
The Praetorian is produced by the Queen's genetic manipulation of the eggs. After several attacks, the Queen must rebuild and repopulate. The goal is the propgation of the species. After many attacks, the Queen creates these Uber Warriors for its own personal protection. The creature seems to share some similar appearances to both the Warrior and the Drone. It is a heavier armored Warrior, the front section of the head, to about halfway is smooth, while around the back of the banna-like structure, small ridges appear. They are slightly larger in size and contain a pair of mandible like structures on the base of its lower jaw, adding to its menacing appearance.
Stationed within the royal chamber or alcoves around it, they lie in wait for an intruder to pass by, or until they are ordered by the Queen to attack. Most enemies do not stand a chance.
For Cowl view, according to feedback received by an upstanding member of the BC&T board, the Praetorian comes into play via viral inoculation from the Queen. In times of extreme danger, the Queen uses its stinger like tail to inject a virus or genetic code that completes the adult xenomorph genetic code. The process is rather unpleasant and occurs within hours, changing the xenomorph into the Praetorian that we know.
Of course its not a true maturation cycle, most xenomorphs will turn into ridged heads and end there. This evolution is forced and decided by the Queen. Much like in the Caste view. Head shape varies on view. With this view, it was believed that the Praetorian will develop a small crown, like that of the Queen, giving it the chance to evolve into a Queen. Of course this theory leads to the disorder of the hive, where the new Praetorians, which are now Juvenile Queens, will duke it out to establish a new order based on the strongest xenomorph.
Combination of Views to support existence
A medium reached by myself and another, was that xenobiology occurs in two stages. Most occur in Caste, but at a key point, where egg development is not viable, the Queen has the ability to force adult xenomorphs to molt into Praetorians, where as once the threat is eliminated, the inoculated Praetorians, known as Juvenile Queens, fight for dominance and the strongest becomes Queen. Those that did not participate in the battle bide there time til they feel confident enough to challenge the new matriarch. After the virally enhanced Praetorians begin to molt, the Queen also lays genetically altered eggs that will produce true Praetorians, xenomorphs designed to protect the Queen and not challenge it. Once the false Praetorians are weeded out and the surviving one becomes Queen, it will have an elite warrior unit at its command to help with hive and regal defense.
These thoughts are purely speculation on their existence, but I tried to cover both Caste and Cowl view, as was discussed by Bum Burster and I. As stated above, the hive must be very large and also under attack by enemies able to bypass the waves of adult xenomorphs. Basis for Caste view is from the comics Genocide and Earth War. While the Cowl view comes from the AvP Games. Both are different interpretations, but Bum Burster and I looked for a median after we based our theories.
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