The Complete Record of Alien Encounters - Part 1

by SM
    |     NETWORK INTERFACE 2037
A blow by blow account of every Alien encounter in the films, including theories and extrapolations.

The purpose of this piece is to take a close look at Aliens and their behaviour in the four Alien films (though, occasionally it diverts onto less relevant tangents). If you’re looking for definitive answers in regards to the creatures then I'm afraid you'll have to keep looking. What this article provides is a blow-by-blow account of each encounter with the Aliens and constructs theories and extrapolations based on what is known about the Aliens at the time of the encounter. There are questions asked, and likelihood’s and possibilities mentioned, but as I said, definitive answers are rare. It's all based on what we see and hear in the films, so there's no 'secret' or 'privileged' information that you can't simply see for yourself. Due to the ambiguous nature of what to leave in and what to leave out, and accessibility for readers, all deleted scenes have been ignored. These may appear in another essay at a later date.

I don't expect anyone to agree fully with the theories presented. The main aim of the article is to encourage new ideas based on the data presented. All I ask is that you set any preconceived ideas aside whilst reading and that your mind is open to any and all possibilities of something that is truly Alien.

I didn’t come up with all the speculation contained herein. Some theories have been floating around the on-line community and elsewhere for many years. And as many people often come up with similar theories independent of each other, no credits for theories to individuals will be made. Those who have provided inspiration on one level or another have been thanked at the conclusion of Part 4 of this piece.

Pictures have been used at various points, mainly to illustrate points (and sometimes just ‘cos I thought they were cool). The pictures from Alien were taken from a Chinese Video CD (and a couple are stills from the Alien Photonovel). The Aliens pictures are taken from a VHS version of the Special Edition (some have been gamma corrected for clarity). Both Alien3 and Alien Resurrection also use VCD screengrabs. Simply click on the relevant ‘fig’ to view the picture in a separate window.


Contact #1-1

Kane, G.W. - Executive Officer USCSS Nostromo
Location: Derelict spacecraft - LV-426*
Date: June 4 2122
Contact with: Egg; facehugger

As Kane descends into the egg 'cave' (in reality the hold of what is widely believed to be a Derelict spacecraft – though this is not proven) we encounter the mysterious 'blue laser' for the first (and last) time. We see Kane descend with no blue laser in shot (Fig 1-1a). Another angle reveals the laser field below him is now visible(Fig 1-1b, Fig 1-1c). Did it just switch on when it detected Kane's approach? The wide angle of Kane dangling reveals a vast cavern full of eggs, arranged without any discernable pattern, but the blue laser is only visible over the clutch of eggs just below him. As Kane gets closer we notice exhalations from the eggs - the vapour seems to be coming from the tops of the eggs, but is only really visible when it reacts with the laser field (Fig 1-1d). Is the laser field in fact invisible, and therefore activated throughout the whole cavern, but becomes visible when the eggs sense the potential hosts approach and begin to 'breathe'? Kane also mention that it’s “Like the Goddamn tropics”. Are the exhalations responsible for the heat in the cavern? Ash reported that the planet was “deep cold” prior to Dallas, Kane and Lambert departing the Nostromo – yet in the cavern it is quite warm.

As Kane passes through the field it reacts with a high-pitched whine but no other visible affect. Is the laser field a stasis field with a trip alarm, and someone long dead is now being alerted that the field has been broken? After Kane slips down into the middle of the eggs, one slowly comes to life and we see the facehugger inside the translucent egg. Kane gets closer and touches it, the egg reacting with a sharp hiss – a warning? – after which we see what look to be blisters or pustules bursting (Fig 1-1e) - whether this is signalling the facehuggers imminent birth, or just a reaction to the light from Kane's torch or glove is unknown. The egg begins to glow as Kane examines it’s contents through the ‘shell’ (Fig 1-1f, Fig 1-1g). It opens and Kane looks in to see a breathing membrane (Fig 1-1h) - possibly responsible for the earlier exhalations. Suddenly the membrane ruptures as the facehugger bursts out and attaches itself to Kane's helmet with a scream and hissing sound. Without any discernable mouth it is unknown how the facehugger makes sound.

Contact #1-2

Kane, G.W.; Dallas, A.J. - Captain USCSS Nostromo; Ash, (120 A2 model synthetic) - Science Officer USCSS Nostromo
Location: Infirmary, USCSS Nostromo - LV-426
Date: June 4 2122
Contact with: Facehugger

Dallas and Ash first try to remove the hugger from Kane by using tongs to dislodge one of the creature's digitals. The facehugger merely tightens it's grip on Kane's neck, seemingly threatening strangulation and although we don’t see it, Dallas tells Ash that “It’s tearing the skin”. The hugger also makes a gutteral growling sound, as Ash prods. A bioscan reveals the hugger has a tube down Kane's throat for no discernable reason, other than Ash’s speculation that it’s feeding Kane oxygen. The next attempt to remove the creature by lasering off a digital results in a minor splash of what is widely considered to be the creature's acid blood corroding a hole through two decks of the ship (Fig 1-2c, Fig 1-2d). Note the huggers amazing healing powers as the cut made by Ash seals almost instantaneously, with little if any, burning the guaze the science officer applied to the wound, and the minimal amount of smoke usually associated with acids of a low pH (Fig 1-2a, Fig 1-2b). However there were rather acrid fumes as evidenced by Dallas recoiling from the smell when discovering the acid corrosion on B-deck – but these fumes seem to be colourless. Dallas says the only thing he’s seen similar to the blood is molecular acid. If it is indeed blood and not some sort of defence mechanism unrelated to the creatures circulatory system.

Another thing to look at here is how the facehugger was able to sustain Kane throughout the trip back to the Nostromo. Not only is it breathing for him in an atmosphere that is made up predominantly of methane, carbon dioxide and inert nitrogen, but it’s also protecting him from the “deep cold” Ash mentions when doing the atmospheric check. Kane shows no signs of hypothermia, so the hugger is not only breathing for him, but regulating his body temperature. Perhaps it somehow converts the gases in the air at an atomic level into something the host is able to breathe. Alternatively it somehow changes the hosts internal chemistry enough to make the ambient atmosphere breathable.

Contact #1-3

Ash; Ripley, E.L. - Warrant Officer USCSS Nostromo
Location: Infirmary, USCSS Nostromo - LV-426
Date: June 4 2122
Contact with: Embryo

Shortly before Ripley confronts Ash about letting Kane on board the ship, we see a large round shape on one of Ash's monitors. Is this the embryo deposited in Kane magnified several times (Fig 1-3a). While Ripley doesn't seem to pick up on this, it is more than likely Ash has a pretty good idea what's going on. Ash also says that the hugger has “an outer layer of protein polysaccharides” and has a habit of “shedding it’s cells and replacing them with polarised silicon”. This is pretty much just technobabble to Ripley. Ash sums it up by saying these elements make the hugger a “tough son-of-a-bitch”. If Ash knows any more he isn’t letting on.

Contact #1-4

Ripley, E.L.; Dallas A.J.; Ash
Location: Infirmary, USCSS Nostromo - LV-426
Date: June 5 2122

An interesting scene here where Ash, Ripley, and Dallas search for the facehugger that has recently vacated Kane's face. Ash warns Ripley away from looking in the corner - then looks there himself, looks over his shoulder (Fig 1-4a), then jabs a probe in the corner - at that same moment the dead facehugger drops out of an overhead compartment right on top of Ripley. After Ripley's previous, less-than-friendly conversations with Ash, is it possible the android was programmed to be vindictive and play practical jokes?

The three examine the facehugger’s underside closely but we really don’t get much of an idea of what we’re looking at. To the left and right are what could be muscles or gills – possibly for filtering the atmosphere for the host. Ash pokes and prods at a rounded piece of tissue which is more than likely whatever the creature had stuck down Kane’s throat, but is now retracted. If it was a tube of some sort it now appears to be sealed (Fig 1-4b).

Contact #1-5

Kane, G.W.
Location: Galley, USCSS Nostromo - transit LV-426 - Earth
Date: June 5 2122
Contact with: Chestburster

After about one minute of coughing, choking, and convulsing, the embryo - now matured - emerges from the chest of Kane. The first spray of blood can be assumed to be burster breaking the sternum and surrounding muscles, and with the second 'punch' from the creature it clears the rib cage (though it may have emerged low enough to avoid the rib cage altogther), screams, takes in it's surroundings, 'growls', then hastily beats a path across the galley table to the nearest exit. The creature appears to have arms, or at the least stumps (Fig 1-5a), though if they are indeed arms, they seem pinned to it's sides and aren’t required to assist in it's birth. We see no legs on the burster, so are left to wonder whether it ran off the table or slithered like a snake (Fig 1-5b).

At this juncture it would do to revisit the creature (aka The Pilot aka The Space Jockey) discovered by Dallas, Kane and Lambert on the Derelict. When they find the Jockey, Dallas comments that it looks like it’s been dead a long time, and they study a large ragged hole in the right hand side of it’s chest area – obviously it suffered the same fate as Kane. A hole in the floor of the Pilot’s chamber also seems irregular enough to have been made by acid.

There are many questions regarding the Jockey – Where is it from? Where was it going? Did it land? Did it crash? How long had it been there? How did a facehugger get it? Is the Derelict in fact a ship at all; is it a base of some sort? Did the Jockey bring the eggs with him, or did he find them on Acheron? Where did all the eggs come from? Were there any other crew members (a question Lambert in fact poses in the film)? Is the lower chamber where Kane is attacked actually part of the Derelict or really an underground cave? The list is endless and the answers sparse.

The last question at least has some evidence. The architecture of the Derelict and egg chamber are identical, which strongly suggests they are one and the same structure.

Contact #1-6

Brett, S.E. - Engineering Technician, USCSS Nostromo
Location: C-Deck, Landing strut bay, USCSS Nostromo - transit LV-426 - Earth
Date: June 5 2122
Contact with: Adult Alien

Brett encounters a piece of Alien skin that had recently been shed by the rapidly growing Alien. Shortly after, the Alien is spotted by Jones the Cat, as it descends from the landing strut behind Brett. How it descends is unknown. Could it be using it's dorsal tubes as 'spinarets' much like a spider does (Fig 1-6a), lowering itself on some sort of webbing. We don’t see anything coming from the tubes – though we don’t get a clear shot. Did it use one of the many dangling chains? Or did it simply float down without any regard to the Nostromo's artificial gravity field?

Brett turns around to confront something out of a nightmare. It's lips peel back to reveal rows of wicked looking teeth, then it takes Brett's head in it's hands and uses it's inner set of jaws to punch a hole in his head (Fig 1-6c). It then drags Brett to the ground, screaming and then it's gone. From the later testimony of Ripley and Engineer J.T. Parker, it took Brett's body into an air duct, and Brett was indeed dead. Why did it puncture Brett's forehead though? It's at least a foot taller than him, and seemed capable of breaking his neck without any trouble. One could speculate that the Alien perhaps gains energy from the electrical activity found in the brain. And then Brett is dragged off - dead or dying. For what purpose is also unknown, though the most obvious is it needed the Technician for sustenance.

Note here the the Alien is salivating shortly before the death of Brett (Fig 1-6d, Fig 1-6e). Is this a similarity to dogs? There is a lot of fluid that seems to be coming from the Alien’s mouth just before it strikes, but this could be the water that was showering down from the cooling ducts in the chamber and running over the Aliens head and mouth.

Contact #1-7

Dallas, A.J.
Location: Third junction, main airduct, USCSS Nostromo - transit LV-426 - Earth
Date: June 5 2122
Contact with: Adult Alien

The trackers designed by Ash supposedly picks up micro changes in air density and quite easily picked up Dallas whether he was moving or stationary. Yet it took some time to pick up the Alien, which is subsequently lost, then gained again shortly before Dallas' demise. Does the Alien exert a natural electrical (or some other sort of) field that can play havoc with instruments? Did it pass through shafts that had some of shielding, blocking the tracker from picking it up? Or did Ash not build them properly -either by accident or design?

Dallas finds some slimy substance on the ground at the third junction indicating that the Alien had been there recently, and shows us how effective the Alien is as a predator. It knows exactly where it’s prey is and how to confuse that prey.

With Navigator J.E. Lambert screaming at Dallas to run - and not in the direction he was running, Dallas swings around to find the Alien screaming and reaching out for him (Fig 1-7a, Fig 1-7b). Next thing we know Parker and Lambert have found Dallas' incinerator unit, but not a trace of blood. There would've been ample blood from when Brett was taken, yet none found after the attack on Dallas. There's not enough evidence to support Dallas being killed on the spot based on only one previous attack, so what did it want him for? Possibly for use as food later on? Or for further propogating the species? Though where another egg could have come from is unknown - possibly laid by the Alien. The Alien’s jaw was slick with slime when it attacked Dallas, it wasn’t drooling as much as it did when it attacked Brett. Is this further proof that it didn’t want Dallas dead – at least not right away?

Contact #1-8

Parker, J.T. – Engineer USCSS Nostromo; Lambert, J.E. - Navigator USCSS Nostromo
Location: C-Deck storage area, USCSS Nostromo - transit LV-426 - Earth
Date: June 6 2122
Contact with: Adult Alien

The Alien sneaks into the storage area from an overhead duct, while Parker and Lambert were busy loading coolant for the shuttle's life support system, and seems content to wait until it was noticed. It didn't rush to attack when Lambert finally noticed it, almost as if it knew that Parker could not and would not use his flamethrower for fear of hitting his shipmate, simply slowly reached out for the Navigator. When it finally did attack - it was not to attack Lambert, but Parker who was trying to attack the creature from behind using the incinerator as a club. NOW it moved fast, whipping it's tail around then pouncing on the Engineer, and just like it had with Brett, slowly peeled back it's lips and punctured his forehead with it's inner jaw (Fig 1-8b, Fig 1-8c). As with Brett, the Alien is salivating a great deal here (Fig 1-8a) – though a coolant tank or water pipe seems to have been ruptured and it may be water running off the creature, despite the fact it appears to be coming from the Alien’s mouth.

Did the Alien put itself in the position between Lambert and Parker because it knew Parker couldn’t fire without hitting Lambert?

We don’t know exactly what happens to Lambert after Parker’s death and the Alien’s tail slowly slinks between her feet. We only hear what’s happening to her over the Nostromo’s open comm channel while Ripley is racing down from A deck. From Lambert there are fearful moans, ragged breathing, words trying to be spoken, and finally a blood curdling shriek. When Ripley arrives at the C deck compartment all we see is Parker slumped over, bleeding from the forehead and Lambert’s bare leg and foot, trailing blood and baring a dislocated big toe dangling in the foreground (Fig 1-8d, Fig 1-8e). Lambert was previously wearing shoes and trousers. What has happened to them? And why were the bodies left behind? Both Brett and Dallas had been abducted – living or dead. If the Alien sensed Ripley’s approach then why did it flee? Lambert’s leg is still moving so the Alien only recently departed, but Dallas’s flamethrower posed it no threat so if it knew Ripley was armed, why run? Did the Alien somehow know what the crew were up to? Did it somehow gain access to Parker’s thoughts when it bit into his brain?

As for Lambert’s ultimate fate, and where she was dangling from exactly, is anyone’s guess. Some claim she was raped by the creature, but we’re given no indication the creature needs to copulate, and so far it hasn’t really hinted at possessing any traits such as enjoyment or desire for power. The water sprinkling into the room seems to be from the aforementioned burst coolant pipe or tank, that was ruptured during the Alien’s attack on Parker.

Contact #1-9

Ripley, E.L.; Jones, Mr. - Ship’s Cat
Location: B-Deck, Narcissus access corridor/ ladder well, USCSS Nostromo – transit LV-426 – Earth
Date: June 6 2122
Contact with: Adult Alien

After intiating the self destruct sequence on C deck, Ripley rushes up to the shuttle on B deck, rounds a corner, and is confronted by the Alien – blocking her way. Panicking she drops the box containing Jones and sprints back to engineering to override the self destruct. The Alien seems curious about Jones more than anything else, peering at him through a window in the catbox. The animosity shown by Jones when Brett was taken is not evident here.

When Ripley returns, having failed to shut the self destruct off, she finds Jones and his box still intact and apparently not tampered with – and no sign of the Alien.

Contact #1-10

Ripley, E.L.
Location: Narcissus – transit LV-426 – Earth
Date: June 6 2122
Contact with: Adult Alien

Ripley discovers the Alien has stowed away on the shuttle, cramming it’s apparent bulk into a tiny hiding spot behind a control console. In the past where the Alien was casual in it’s attacks on Brett and Lambert, the Alien displays little to no interest in Ripley. It had attacked and killed Parker and Lambert less than 15 minutes earlier, but didn’t eat Parker, and more than likely wouldn’t have had much chance to devour much of Lambert – is it possible it needs to feed to react quickly, as it did in the attack on Parker, where it had ample prior opportunity to eat Brett and/ or Dallas? As previously surmised the Alien hasn’t displayed much of an ego and the traits contained therein. Is it now suddenly displaying arrogance in the face of prey that has nowhere to run? If so it is misplaced as the while the Alien stretches it’s inner jaw – coated in slime, where it was fairly dry previously – it gives Ripley plenty of time to mount a counter attack.

Once in an EVA suit, Ripley releases a number of gas jets in an attempt to provoke the Alien out of it’s hiding spot. This is a marked contrast to previous encounters where the Alien had the upper hand. Now it is forced into attack, and fiercly protests when Ripley finds the right button to let the Alien have a blast of gas (steam?) The gas doesn’t do any visible damage to the Alien, but it does make it rather angry. However once the Alien is out of it’s hiding place, again it doesn’t move especially quickly to attack it’s prey – even prey that has it’s back turned. It slowly rises from the deck, and seconds before it attacks, Ripley opens the hatch, and the rush of decompressing air sucks the Alien out – almost. Now we see the lightning speed with which the Alien can move if it needs to. It needed to block Parker’s attack, and here it needs to fling it’s arms out to grab the hatch frame and stopped from being sucked out into space. Ripley fires a grappling hook gun, dislodging the creature (screaming in pain or rage - or both) from the hatch and lets the gun go. But not before it’s jammed in the hatch that automatically closes. The grappling hook reels the Alien back to the shuttle, where the Alien thinking quickly looks for a way back in. It uses it’s tail in a prehensile manner and drags itself ino the starboard engine. Ripley thinks quicker and ignites the engine, firing the Alien into deep space. Hard vacuum seems to have no immediate detrimental effect on the Alien, and it also should be noted the shuttle engines did not vapourise the creature, or even seem to burn it very much. The unmoving form tumbling away from the shuttle gives us no proof either way as to whether the Alien was finally dead or not (Fig 1-10c).

Also note that at various points throughout the scene on the shuttle, vague shapes and patterns can be seen beneath the Alien’s smooth head (Fig 1-10b). What these shapes are is not clear, though during one close up of the front of the creatures head, two dark spots can be seen where a humans nose and right eye would be (Fig 1-10a). The only thing concrete revealed here is that the Alien’s smooth head is in fact opaque.

A bang is heard as Ripley watches the Alien drift away, but it’s unclear what this actually was. Maybe something related to the shuttle, or the Alien explosively decompressing. If the Alien can indeed survive indefinitely in vacuum is not known as we only see it active for about 30 seconds.

* - The planet visited in Alien is not named, but referred to as “LV-426” in Aliens. The term “Acheron” is a name taken from a script and novelisation and though not used in any film, is used here for the sake of being overly technical. Also most dates are estimates and usually aren’t mentioned in the films.

Last updated: Monday, 4th September 2017 @ 21:23 BST

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