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Make no mistake about it, Alien fans have a ferocious appetite for expanded-universe takes and tales about their favorite acid-spewing xenomorphs, whether it's in video games, graphic novels, comic books, or tie-in canonical prose novels.
Hot on the heels of this year's Alien: Isolation book from Titan Books comes a frightful new adventure in the iconic sci-fi playground titled Alien: Prototype (Oct. 29), written by New York Times bestselling author Tim Waggoner — and SYFY WIRE is taking you inside its petrifying pages with an exclusive chapter excerpt and comments on the novel's origins from its orchestrator.
Prototype revolves around the questionable activities of Venture, a formidable rival to the ruthless Weyland-Yutani corporation perfectly willing to accept any extreme risk to crush the competition.
When corporate spy Tamar Prather steals a familiar, leathery egg from a hijacked space vessel, she hustles it back directly to Venture's medical testing facility on Jericho 3. The laboratory's ambitious scientists recognize their prize’s immeasurable value, but are ignorant of its deadlier qualities and quickly come to an inevitable conclusion: A human test subject is needed!
Colonial Marines veteran Zula Hendricks (first seen in Dark Horse's Alien: Defiance) is a vital member of the Jericho 3 security staff who's been tasked with training personnel to confront any threats this treacherous world can toss their way. But nothing can quicken their pulse more than the mutant extraterrestrial horror that arises in their midst, a hideous bio-mechanical creature that could wipe out all human beings on the planet.
Alien: Prototype takes place between Keith DeCandido’s novel Alien: Isolation and before the comic book series Alien: Resistance. Here Waggoner got to delve into Zula’s character more by showing her taking a leadership role for the first time and dealing with all the attendant responsibilities and frustrations it comes with.
"Zula is a badness because she won’t let anyone or anything stop her," Waggoner tells SYFY WIRE. "She was trained to be a Colonial Marine but was seriously injured during her first combat mission, and she ended up scorned by her fellow Marines for her 'failure' as well as having to deal with a long recovery from her injuries. She’s tough in every way – mentally, emotionally, and physically – because she’s had to be. She may not technically be a Colonial Marine anymore, but in her heart she is."
As a cool perk of playing in the official Alien sandbox, Waggoner also got to create his own type of xenomorph in Prototype and even name it, though if you want to know what name he came up with, you’ll have to read the book.
"I hope fans like my monster," he adds. "I also really enjoyed getting to write Zula’s character and depict her friendship with Davis. The two of them make a great team. I would absolutely write more fiction in the Alien Universe! Everyone email Fox and Titan Books and demand they let me write more Alien novels!"
Now brace yourself for our exclusive chapter excerpt co-starring Amanda Ripley for Titan Books' Alien: Prototype by Tim Waggoner, then let us know if this in-universe insanity is required Halloweentime reading when it lands on Oct. 29.
Check it out below:
“Get behind me!” Zula shouted.
With her free hand she shoved Amanda Ripley back, raised her pulse rifle and started firing. The quartet of attacking Xenomorphs scattered to avoid the rounds the weapon discharged, and ran in zigzagging patterns to make them harder to hit. They ran on all fours, low to the ground, claws scrabbling on the deck of the engineering bay. Zula had no idea how intelligent the damned things were, but they were far from being dumb animals. Too bad.
If the things were stupid, they’d be easier to kill.
Davis stood on her left, the battle synth also armed with a pulse rifle. He managed to hit two of the Xenomorphs, but the damage he inflicted was minimal, and the monsters barely slowed down. His brow furrowed slightly, and his eyes narrowed behind the lenses of the glasses he didn’t need, but wore anyway—signs of frustration that anyone unfamiliar with the synth would’ve missed. But Zula had fought at Davis’s side long enough to read his expressions, and for him, this was the equivalent of a human shouting in frustration.
Zula Hendricks, Davis, and Amanda stood in the center of Tranquility Station’s engineering bay, surrounded by lunar rovers in varying states of disrepair. Zula had shadowed Amanda as she worked on repairing the machines, and she’d picked up enough knowledge to make herself a fair engineer’s assistant, although she knew she didn’t have what it took to be a true tech-head. Still, it was nice to have something to fall back on, in case the whole wipe-out-the-Xenomorph-species gig didn’t work out.
“Keep the pressure up!” Zula shouted, and Davis acknowledged her words with a curt nod. The two coordinated their fire, targeting the aliens—if they didn’t injure them significantly, at least they were able to slow the advance.
Although pulse rifles weren’t heavy, Zula soon began to feel the strain of holding the gun. It began as a dull ache up and down her spine, but the pain swiftly intensified until it felt as if someone had jammed red-hot spikes into her muscle and bone. She’d made good progress in recovering from her back injury, and didn’t want to jeopardize that, didn’t want to have to start all over again with more operations and more rehab. But she couldn’t afford to rest now, not unless she wanted the four Xenomorphs to tear her and her companions into bloody gobbets. So she gritted her teeth against the pain and kept firing.
The gunfire began taking its toll, and the aliens bled from dozens of wounds, their acidic blood eating into the deck where it fell. The creatures took cover, darting behind rovers, using the machines as shields. Zula knew the Xenomorphs wouldn’t remain in hiding for long, though. The things possessed only two drives: kill and procreate. They would adapt swiftly to the current situation, develop a new plan of attack, and resume their assault. She and her companions didn’t have much time.
Evidently Amanda was thinking along the same lines. “We need to get out of here!” she shouted. “If we can reach the bay doors and get into the corridor before those things do, I can seal the doors and lock them inside.”
Zula didn’t like plans that began with if, but she didn’t have a better alternative to offer, and pulse rifles didn’t possess an inexhaustible ammo supply. Soon the weapons’ bullets would be depleted, and somehow she didn’t think the Xenomorphs would agree to a time-out so she and Davis could reload.
She glanced at Davis, and he gave a shrug in reply. The gesture was so human that if the circumstances had been different, she would’ve laughed. Davis was the only synth she’d known who’d taken control of his own programming, and was working to make himself more human. That was the reason he wore the glasses—to differentiate himself from the other Davis models who looked exactly like him. Zula liked the glasses. Combined with the synth’s bald head, they gave him a dignified, almost professorial appearance.
“All right,” she said, hoping she hadn’t just signed their death warrants. She nodded to Amanda. “Head for the doors. Davis and I will cover you.”
Amanda nodded and ran. Zula and Davis followed, walking backward, rifles held at the ready, their gazes sweeping back and forth as they searched for any signs of the Xenomorphs. The lights in the engineering bay were dim, and this struck Zula as strange. In all the times she’d watched Amanda repair lunar rovers, the lights had always been bright. So much so that they sometimes hurt her eyes. Zula had mentioned it to Amanda once.
“You can’t fix things if you can’t see them,” Amanda had said.
They reached the bay doors, and Amanda pressed a button on the keypad to open them. The doors slid apart, and Amanda hurried into the outer corridor. Zula and Davis followed, rifles up and ready to blast the aliens should they attack. But none came, and Zula found this more than a little concerning. In her experience, Xenomorphs could be stealthy when they wished, but one thing they never did was break off an attack. No matter what the conditions were, no matter what sort of opposition they faced, they kept coming, even if by doing so they were committing suicide. They were pure, unrelenting, savage aggression.
So where the hell were they?