A Study of The Xenomorphs of LV-266 ‘Halcyon’

by Dr Helen Waterman
    |     AvP Universe
An extensive study of the Aliens of LV-266, as featured in 'Diary of a Xenomorph'. Introduction: I came to work on LV-266 seven years ago, under the direction of Dr Mike Harvey, I was considered by Weyland-Yutani to be a valuable addition to the Halcyon Research Team because of previous experience with Xenomorph study. What I found here was vastly different from what I had seen before, I soon realised the experimentation methods here were yielding few results that were of any value. This essay has been rewritten since the arrival of the third and current Queen, this particular Xenomorph is of special interest, and it is her and her current hive of which I shall be recording. I am using a different approach to studying them than before, starving and poking them doesn’t work. These particular Xenomorphs are of special interest as they are not descended from the ones on LV-426 at all, but are from entirely separate stock, brought here thirty-five years ago by Dr Lorna Millburn. Although they are physically similar, showing they all share the same original ancestor, these have evolved to be much more intelligent, this current Queen is fully sentient, and can communicate with us, also these Aliens have true gender. They require to mate before breeding. The term ‘Xenomorph’, meaning ‘Alien that changes’, describes these perfectly, as they are constantly evolving, this Queen is breaking the mould of what has gone before. What is contained in this report may differ from anything previously known, but concerns just this strain of Xenomorph here, and more specifically, this current Queen.
Life Cycle: Physical characteristics:
Egg: The eggs laid by this Queen differ from the ones from LV-426. There are three sizes of them, ranging from normal (around 80cm high) though larger (1m) to very large (1.2m) in height, though they all share the same four-flap opening mechanism and colouring, a muddy, yellowish-brown. She usually lays the middle sized eggs first (if any) then the smaller ones, finishing her laying season with one or two of the largest. The normal ones contain the drone/warrior embryos, the middle sized ones contain praetorians and the largest, Queens. In some seasons she has only laid normal drone eggs, and in others she has deposited mostly Queen and praetorian eggs. Why this is so, is as yet unknown, but somehow her body knows when certain types are needed. This varies from what has been observed before, where the Queen lays only one type of egg, all of uniform size, then decides at a later stage which drone is changed to what with the use of royal jelly, produced by her, in a similar way to Earth’s bees. This Queen seems to lay hers ‘pre-jelled’. Possibly something to do with the fact they have developed gender, maybe they need to be in the egg to develop this properly. She also seems able to a certain degree to decide what she lays, on a subconscious level, though she is unable to supply me with further information as she doesn’t know either why this is so. She is the first to lay pre-jelled eggs. At this stage the eggs seem to be capable of remaining viable for many years, hundreds of years, for just how long is as yet still unknown. Facehugger: The most common form of facehugger looks no different from any other, they have no variation in the rudimentary, instinctive intelligence and sensory array that allows them to find a suitable host. The huggers from the middle sized eggs are slightly larger and have a darker skin on its upper parts and are somewhat more selective when choosing a host, if given a choice, invariably going for larger, stronger individuals. The huggers from Queen eggs are larger still, darkish grey-brown in colour, spiked along the back and have a small amount of web between each of the ‘fingers’, which are also adorned with a sharp claw on the end of each one. Their tails are longer and barbed with a poisonous tip like an adult Xenomorph, the venom being more for defence than for use on the selected host. These too will select more carefully if presented with a choice of host subjects. Queen huggers remain attached to the host subject much longer than the other two types, often for days at a time. Once attached, the hugger keeps the host in a deep coma, feeding it with oxygen and various nutrients until the embryo is settled in, then it drops off and dies, its purpose complete. Chestburster: The drone chestburster will emerge from the host anywhere between several hours and three days, dependant on several circumstances, health of host, living conditions, Queen’s influence, etc. The chestburster will then eat its host’s corpse until full if the situation allows, if in danger the chestburster will simply flee. This remains true for both sizes of them. They are usually born without arms or legs, though some individuals do have them, there seems to be no particular pattern that I have observed as to which are limbed and which are not. There was one instance, controlled by the Queen where one remained inside the host for several days longer than normal, and finally emerged much larger, with well developed arms and legs and of slightly darker colouring, resembling a tiny drone more than a chestburster. Most chestbursters are of around 60cm long regardless of sex, and of a pinkish colour and once out, they grow rapidly and eat almost constantly. Queen chestbursters stay within their hosts for a week or more, again dependant on host’s health, situation, etc. She however, is born with legs and all four arms, and usually a bad temper! If the situation allows, she will eat the brain of her host – even at this tender age they are still phenomenally strong! All chestbursters undergo two to three moults as they grow to adult form, gaining in strength as they do so. Warrior Drone: These are the hive’s main workforce, they are responsible for keeping the hive clean and tidy, they do the bulk of the resin secretion, preparation of hosts and shifting eggs. They also tend to the laying Queen’s every need, feeding her regularly, keeping her and her ovipositor clean, as well as being the hive’s main defence. They stand around seven to eight feet tall when fully upright, though they vary in height as much as humans do and are more than capable of defending the hive should it come under attack. These are all sterile females, much like the bees of Earth and are unrelentingly hostile to intruders and threats and skilled at springing ambushes, using their venomous, barbed tails to stun potential hosts, killing if no other option is possible. The Queen also uses them for spying as they are small enough to get into smaller places. They can vary in appearance depending on host, but all have a black, chitinous exoskeleton and a semi-transparent ‘cowl’ covering the top of their heads which drops off when they reach about two to three weeks old. This applies to all warriors and praetorians. When in good health the chitin has a glossy appearance once thought to be slimy, but is in fact just dry, shiny skin. While it is hard and extremely tough, the chitin has a leathery feel to it and is surprisingly flexible and very warm to the touch, these are warm-blooded creatures. Even though they are all sterile, all the drones have female genitalia not unlike that of a human female and have been seen mating with the males, even though they cannot breed, this could possibly be as a result of sentience and their need for sexual recreation. I’m guessing that their breeding hormones are somehow repressed by pheromones from the Queen. Unheard of for Xenos, she has recently had twin drones, both from one facehugger, and both in the same host, these matured into smaller adults, about five to six feet tall at full height and much leaner of build. I am guessing this is just another example of this Queen’s ability to evolve. She has a way of breaking the boundaries of her kind, changing the rules. This is the first recorded incidence of twins. Praetorian: These are the royal bodyguards, and last line of defence for the Queen. They are much bigger than a normal warrior, around ten feet tall with more spikes and barbs, including the venomous tail-blade. Their heads once fully matured have a row of vicious spikes along the top. They tend to have longer fangs and larger inner jaws and a spiked tail with a larger poisoned barb. They are also invariably male, and seemingly fertile ones. They are just as unrelentingly hostile to intruders as the warriors, the Queen often has them leading assaults if needed as they are bigger, stronger and more aggressive, with a shrewd intelligence. In a similar way to many animals their genitalia is tucked away when not in use, so much so, that we did not know they were male for quite some time; when ‘in use’ they are remarkably similar to a human male though proportionally slightly larger, longer and more tapered. King: The only Xeno to change while mature, he is born as a Praetorian and is ‘promoted’ upon loss of a previous king and mating the Queen while she is in breeding condition. Usually there is just the one of these, but in this current hive, the Queen enjoys the attentions of TWO! It is for this eventuality that I suspect is the reason the males are all fertile, and dormant hormones are awakened on a successful mating with the queen while she is in season. He is massively built, slightly shorter than the Queen, but much broader, adorned with even more spikes and a long spiked tail. Cunning and extremely aggressive, he is big and tough enough to be almost unstoppable if aroused to anger. The current senior King is the oldest known Xeno at thirty-five years old, and is one of the two original ones brought here. Queen: An amazing creature, tall, reaching sixteen feet tall when at full stretch and upright, she is truly magnificent, with a large, flat head with a broad sweeping crest of glossy black chitin. She is lean and elegant with long spikes down each side of her spine, a very long tail with a large blade on the end and long, sharp teeth. Her inner jaws have a longer reach than any other Xeno, extending almost two feet from her mouth, these too adorned with long, vicious teeth. She has long, slender legs and four arms, two large arms from her shoulders, and two smaller ones attached at the centre of her chest. She is very playful, using her smaller hands to tease and stimulate her males. A couple of days after mating (for breeding purposes anyway) she starts to grow the familiar egg-sac, at this time she is fastened up, usually on the ceiling by her drones, attached by resin strands to her back spikes, as the egg-sac grows, this too is fixed up off the floor, leaving the laying tip free to move. The egg-sac and ovipositor is several times bigger than she is, for the duration of the laying she is totally immobile and completely dependant upon her drones to feed her and keep her clean. She requires large amounts of food through the duration of laying, the amount has a direct bearing on how many eggs she lays, more food = more eggs. Her laying cycles are around six to eight weeks long, during which time she will lay between 200 – 500 eggs, which continues even while she sleeps. After laying, the egg-sac shrivels and is torn off by the Queen, usually with a certain amount of impatience after so much inactivity! She is the centre of the hive, she is the hive-mind and controls every part of it – when she took control of the hive eighteen months ago she somehow passed on full sentience and some of her vast intelligence to all the other hive members. How she did this is as yet unknown. At all stages of life cycle, they have concentrated molecular acid for blood. From chestburster onwards they all have the rigid inner jaw with small teeth – sometimes referred to as ‘striketeeth’.
Feeding: Contrary to anything speculated previously, these Xenomorphs eat. They eat HUGE amounts of food, which explains how come they can grow at such speed. They are pure carnivores, eating mostly meat, ANY meat, preferably fresh, better still, alive. They will not eat rotten meat, it has an adverse effect on them, making them ill. They prey on Halcyon’s indigenous wildlife, as well as humans. They eat everything, flesh, bones and offal, leaving only the clothing in the case of humans, though they have been known to eat metal objects too. Their jaws are immensely strong, able to chew their way through bones, even some metals. They require huge amounts of drinking water, drinking several litres in a day; they drool almost constantly, so this is probably the main reason for such large water requirements. Headbiting: This requires a separate mention due to the unique effect it has upon them, this is the primary use for the inner jaws. It has been observed for many years that their preferred method of killing has been striking the victim’s skull with the inner teeth, punching a hole through the bone, this gives them direct access to living brain tissue which they then slurp up rapidly, even in the middle of hectic fighting. The benefits of headbiting are twofold, firstly it’s a very quick kill, meaning less risk of the victim fighting back, secondly the ingestion of the live brain somehow augments the Xeno’s thought process, causing faster, clearer thinking, each subsequent headbite adding to this, resulting in superior intelligence. Just what it is in live brain flesh that causes this quickening is still unknown at this point, speculation suggests it could be electrical energy, but I think there’s more to it than that. Doing this once will suffice to speed up a drone’s thought processes, but a Queen will require anything up to three or four to accomplish the same amount of speed-up. Wallwalking: This ability has long fascinated humankind since first encountering Xenomorphs, and is still not fully understood how exactly they do it. Claws and pads on their hands and feet combine to give them incredible sticking power, allowing full movement up walls and even on ceilings – they can somehow defy gravity with ease, even running at full speed upside down. They think in full three dimensions, little is out of their ability to reach. It is believed to be some kind of suction that they can switch on and off instantly, allowing them to move at speed; on walls their movement differs slightly from floor, they have at least two points of contact at all times and always use all fours. It’s powerful enough to support even the weight of the Queen who can also do it, as too can the King and praetorian males, with no loss of speed or grip. It’s also augmented by their steel-hard claws, though if they need stealth they simply lift their claws up, using just the pads. I suspect that they are somewhat lighter in weight than they appear, though this has no bearing at all on their sheer strength. Mating: This is something unique to this strain of Xenomorph. They have developed true male and female, maybe where they originated from has somehow made them lose a vital part of their genetic make up that is present in the male but not the female. These do require to mate right from the start. The Queen reaches sexual maturity at around three days old, when she comes into heat just as Terran animals do. This fires both her and the male up to violence, the first mating for breeding purposes is especially violent, it seems to spark off her reproductive system in a similar way to the way it works in cats. After that, further matings seem to be much more relaxed, and as much for the enjoyment as necessity. This usually has the effect of firing up the entire hive into a mating frenzy due to the large amounts of mating pheromones flying around and so attuned to the queen as they all are. They also mate purely for recreational purposes, there seems to be a total lack of any kind of jealousy, though it has been observed that males will fight if there is no dominant King when a Queen is in heat. The excess of emotion and pheromones will sometimes also make both King and any praetorian males hostile towards each other, though no fatalities from this have been observed, and it seems to just be more as a result of excitement than any real animosity. The warriors and praetorians will also mate with each other happily, it seems to relieve sexual tension and satisfies the large amounts of pheromones. As a hive society, they are directly affected by those around them. Play: They are very fond of water and love to swim. This was previously unknown until they got access to a large pool of deep, clear water in their current hive system. They use their strong tails to propel themselves along in the manner of lizards. They seem to be able to do this without learning, they can also stay under a long time between breaths. The Queen loves to swim just after laying, using the exercise to loosen up stiff, unused muscles. They also have been seen play-fighting, sparring with each other, it’s also now known that the older warriors train up the younger ones, their play looks not unlike that of Terran predatory animals, all intended to hone hunting and fighting skills. They also enjoy sexual play, much as any sentient creature would, even going as far as being quite experimental, especially since the arrival of this current Queen, enjoying oral sex since it was introduced to the hive by her. There has been no evidence of any jealousy, they seem to enjoy whoever they feel, including the Queen when she is not in heat. They are also strictly male on female, no same sex stuff has been observed as a part of their play. Propagation is so strong an instinct in these creatures, even though most are non-breeding, it still seems to carry over into their recreation. Resin secretion: This is done by all of the adult aliens, even the Queen can produce it, it is applied with a chewing motion of the jaws from glands just inside the mouth, it hardens using a chemical reaction similar to epoxy resin, but much tougher. It generates heat as it sets, and is often used to warm up the hive if it gets too cold, it is also used for many other purposes, such as fixing hosts in place, securing areas they don’t want invaded, and also to make the walls look as much like them as possible. This allows them to then hide in the wall, unseen until time to spring ambushes and also acts as efficient insulation. It is of the same silicon based construction as the Xenos themselves, but sets rigid, and hard as steel. It becomes brittle with age. Communication: Most of the Xenomorph’s communication is telepathic in nature, together with pheromones, body language and a large vocal range of squeals and hisses, making for very complex speech. The Queen can talk telepathically to humans without any trouble at all, but she is the only one that can do so. She can even influence dreams. They all have a complete knowledge of English however, and can understand us perfectly, they can also see into our minds to a degree that is quite alarming at times. They cannot be lied to. In addition the Queen emits pheromones just as do insects, these help her to keep control over the entire hive, but they also have the effect of stirring it up in times of high emotion, making the hive act as a single organism in times of crisis. The Hive-mind: The Queen is the hive-mind, she is the absolute centre of the hive’s universe, all the hive revolves around her. She controls every aspect of hive life, capable of attending to many tasks simultaneously, solving problems, directing any attacks or organising complex defensive strategies. She does this through telepathy and pheromones, once laying she emits dominant pheromones that leave all the hive members in no doubt as to who is running the show. Even the Kings defer to her. It has a down-side however. So strong is the connection between the Queen and her hive, that every drone’s pain and death is felt by her, I suspect this was paramount in the driving force behind her struggle to stop our previous experiments upon her kind. This was indeed powerful enough to drive the first Queen insane, and in return, the entire hive felt her die. She can make the hive become a single, powerful organism, directing it all, through the eyes of her drones she can see any part of the hive at any time and is able to make snap decisions to suit. A large, well directed hive is a formidable enemy, and one not to be underestimated. Intelligence: This strain of Xenomorphs has the highest intelligence ever seen in this species, and an IQ test done on the Queen as a bit of fun between her and myself revealed she had an equivalent IQ of around 160! She has a brilliant tactical mind, as her eventual overthrowing of our facility showed, she also has an insatiable curiosity to learn more. When she took over this hive, she somehow passed on this intelligence to a lesser degree to all the hive, along with her full sentience, almost like she had ‘upgraded’ the existing King and warriors. Even without the Queen, each hive member has the ability to think independently, which explains how a lone Alien can think his or her way out of things independently of the Queen. Even the warriors have an intelligence equivalent to that of humans, and indeed it even varies between individuals, some brighter than others. The males tend to have a better grasp of strategy and are freer thinkers than the females, apart from the Queen; she often uses these as sub-commanders in hostile situations, leaving her free to direct the rest. Emotions: They appear to exhibit a full range of emotional states, just as humans do, possibly much of this is as a direct result of their sentience. They each exhibit their own individual personalities even though they are part of the whole hive-mind. The Queen herself has a deep and humorous personality, and cares deeply about her offspring, so much so, she took enormous risks to stop the previous Chief Researcher taking even a single one of her eggs. They have proved that they feel many emotions, including anger, amusement, lust, etc, some to a greater or lesser degree than humans. Even love and hate are part of their lives. Although they cannot laugh as humans do, they can indicate they are amused telepathically, they even have a rather disconcerting grin! They seem to completely lack any kind of jealousy, possibly due to their hive existence, they share readily, they even mate with whoever they please as the mood takes them, even the Queen and her two Kings join in, only in the Queen’s breeding heat do they mate with her alone. As proven by her treatment of Dr Mike Harvey, she is capable of cruelty, showing a callousness that eventually broke him. She’s something of a control freak at times! She is as capable of torturing as we are, she learned to hate what he had done to those before her, for what had happened to her grandmother many years before, showing that she too cared deeply for her young. They have a certain amount of genetic memory which serves them well when they first burst from their hosts, this Queen knew immediately where to go to find the safety of the hive. The strength of both her emotion and intelligence led her to pull off an amazing takeover of our facility, and instead of enslaving us as was her first idea, she instead learned to make it a willing alliance, offering us peace and lack of fear in exchange for our tool-using abilities. We have both learned more from this alliance than over 200 years of thinking we were superior. All in all these are a totally unique offshoot of the Xenomorph species, and I am still learning more about them, indeed, even the Queen herself is learning more about her own kind. *Please note: This concerns only MY aliens, as I portray them in Diary of a Xenomorph and I wrote this mainly as a reference for people who have asked to use my aliens in their own works. I hope it answers a few questions, though I haven’t added the new findings about them that occur in Diary 2, as much of that is yet to be written and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

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