The first-draft Alien screenplay by William Gibson, the founder of cyberpunk, turned into a novel by Pat Cadigan, the Hugo Award-Winning “Queen of Cyberpunk.”
William Gibson’s never-before-adapted screenplay for the direct sequel to Aliens, revealing the fates of Ripley, Newt, the synthetic Bishop, and Corporal Hicks. When the Colonial Marines vessel Sulaco docks with space station and military installation Anchorpoint, a new form of Xenomorph appears. Written by Hugo Award-winning novelist and “Queen of Cyberpunk” Pat Cadigan, based on Gibson’s never-produced first draft.
The Sulaco—on its return journey from LV-426—enters a sector controlled by the “Union of Progressive Peoples,” a nation-state engaged in an ongoing cold war and arms race. U.P.P. personnel board the Sulaco and find hypersleep tubes with Ripley, Newt, and an injured Hicks. A Facehugger attacks the lead commando, and the others narrowly escape, taking what remains of Bishop with them.
The Sulaco continues to Anchorpoint, a space station and military installation the size of a small moon, where it falls under control of the military’s Weapons Division. Boarding the Sulaco, a team of Colonial Marines and scientists is assaulted by a pair of Xenomorph drones. In the fight Ripley's cryotube is badly damaged. It’s taken aboard Anchorpoint, where Ripley is kept comatose. Newt and an injured Corporal Hicks are awakened, and Newt is sent to Gateway Station on the way to Earth. The U.P.P. sends Bishop to Anchorpoint, where Hicks begins to hear rumors of experimentation—the cloning and genetic modification of Xenomorphs.
The kind of experimentation that could yield a monstrous hybrid, and perhaps even a Queen.
ALIEN 3 TM & © Twentieth Century Films. All rights reserved.
Release date: August 31, 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Print pages: 432
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Alien - Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson
Homo sapiens had been gazing up at the stars for about three hundred millennia before they finally managed to launch themselves off the planet of their origin toward those countless points of light. It was nowhere nearly as long before interstellar space travel became as matter-of-fact as the daily commute on the freeway had been for previous generations.
By that time, humanity had been through many changes but certain things were perennial: humanity’s restless curiosity, competitive spirit, and stubborn territoriality, which had so often caused hostilities among themselves. Then humans made contact with other intelligent species and discovered to their uncomfortable surprise that as a civilization newly capable of space travel, they had an awful lot to learn, mostly about distance.
The standard for planet-dwellers was miles or kilometers. In space, however, the distances were so enormous they were measured in terms of light-speed, ranging from the light-year all the way down to the light-second. Humanity found that the old organizational models that had, in one form or another, guided the development of civilization on Earth didn’t hold up at such a large scale.
One of the biggest adjustments for humankind was in the area of conflict-resolution. For most planet-based societies, it was business as usual—war, then peace, then war, then peace, interspersed with diplomacy or political chicanery, depending.
War in space, however, just wasn’t possible. In the time it took for opposing forces to meet for combat, circumstances on their respective sides had changed and they had no reason to fight. This was due in part to the fact that although space travel had become easier, it still wasn’t cheap. In general, no government could afford, much less condone, the expense of sending out a fleet of warships just to have them destroyed.
Nor did it make sense to fight over territory when
there was more than enough to go around. Even in the remote arm of the Milky Way where Earth was located, there was a plethora of unclaimed worlds where humans could plant a flag. Many of the planets needed terraforming but there was no shortage of technology or volunteers for new colonies, either in search of adventure or simply because they wanted a fresh start on a new world.
The colonists on LV-426 were all first-wavers, i.e. terraformers who were in the process of turning a rock into a not-so-hard place. LV-426 was actually a planetoid in stable orbit around an equally stable star. But its wealth of natural resources was the real appeal for its co-financiers. Both the American Extrasolar Colonization Administration and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation agreed that it would be worth every penny of their respective investments. Weyland-Yutani had been so confident, they had requested the colony be named Hadley’s Hope, in honor of their first administrator, Curtis Hadley.
Besides terraformers and environmentalists, the one hundred and fifty residents of Hadley’s Hope also included research scientists, engineers, geologists, and warm bodies for manual labor, along with their families and a full complement of medics, nutritionists, educators, and other support personnel. Working continuously around the clock, they produced a breathable atmosphere in under forty years, breaking the previous record of fifty-nine years. Hadley’s Hope became the prime example of how a partnership between a governmental body and a corporation in the private sector could yield a success that both could be proud of, a brilliant jewel in their two-headed crown.
Or it had been, until that awful woman suddenly popped up out of nowhere after being in cold-sleep for forty-seven years claiming there were monsters on LV-426. Some grotesque creature had supposedly killed all her crewmates on a freighter called the Nostromo where she’d been a warrant officer. With the rest of the crew dead, she’d been forced to abandon ship and blow it up, saving only the ship’s cat.
The crazy cat-lady had to be trouble. Right after she showed up, Weyland-Yutani lost all contact with the colonists—as if she’d jinxed them! A rescue party of Marines was sent out, taking the crazy cat-lady
with them, and that was the end of the matter. There was no further mention in the general news outlets and the details faded from public awareness. Had anyone given it even a brief thought, it was with the assumption that the Colonial Marines had taken care of everything. They always did.
* * *
Four years later, the Union of Progressive Peoples border protection crew received an alert that a spacecraft was heading straight for them. If it continued on its course, it would enter the UPP sector in blatant violation of a treaty the unprincipled capitalists had sworn they would honor unfailingly, above all things.
Breaking promises was typical of capitalists. The UPP governing council were only surprised that it had taken them so long.
* * *
The Sulaco had departed for LV-426 with a squad of twelve Colonial Marines and the synthetic assigned to them, plus two civilians: a Weyland-Yutani bureaucrat, and the crazy cat-lady. When it reappeared four years later, there were only four passengers aboard, all in sleep capsules: one Marine, the now-forgotten crazy cat-lady, a nine-year-old girl who was the sole survivor of the Hadley’s Hope colony, and the Marines’ synthetic—or rather, what was left of him.
A human couldn’t have survived such catastrophic injuries; most synthetics wouldn’t have made it, either. But this was a particularly robust model, built for adverse conditions, skilled in the use of many different kinds of equipment, including weapons.
Unfortunately, none of these things had protected him from an enraged queen Xenomorph. But then, all the Marines’ skills, training, and weapons hadn’t done them much good, either.
And to make matters worse, it wasn’t over.
The plastic cocoon enveloping Bishop was more translucent than transparent, so even before milky-white condensation had occluded the inside of the sleep capsule, all he’d been able to see were vague shapes, and not even that much after the lights dimmed. He could barely discern the outline of the thing growing out of the ragged hole where his torso ended. But he didn’t have to see it to know what it was. He just didn’t know how it had come about.
This development didn’t line up with anything they had learned about the Xenomorphs. Apparently there was far more to this particular horror than they had ever suspected. The intelligent beings that had engineered this species were highly complex and even more deadly than their creation.
There was no doubt in Bishop’s mind that the Xenomorphs had been engineered. Humans had encountered plenty of aliens and the equally alien environments that had spawned them. On every world, Nature was a merciless and unforgiving force that had produced some pretty startling lifeforms. But Nature was also well-ordered; even the most vicious predator had an ecological raison d’être. This species’ behavior didn’t fit any known system.
The Xenomorphs weren’t territorial—they didn’t seem to possess the concept. For all Bishop knew, they didn’t even understand the idea of location, except in terms of a change in ambient conditions. No matter where they were, they were always in the same place: their killing ground.
Bishop filed that away for later study, although he had no idea if there would be a later for him. The Sulaco was so far off-course that by the time anyone found it, the growth sprouting from his innards might have already consumed the rest of him and adapted itself as necessary. It was the only known lifeform capable of such extreme, not to mention rapid, biological adaptation, all for the sake of its drive to kill.
As far as Bishop could tell, killing was the species’ first and only purpose. The simplicity was deceptive, something humans had rarely—if ever—encountered in any lifeform larger than a virus. Humans tended to equate “simplicity” with “simple,” which had caused them to underestimate the species’ capabilities and overestimate their own chances against it. There was little data on them because few people survived an encounter long enough to make any detailed notes, and those who did escape with their lives had little insight to offer beyond, Take off and nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.
But the aliens weren’t just simple—they were pure.
* * *
The sound of the alarm was slightly muffled by the sleep capsule, but it was no less discordant and unpleasant. Something else had gone wrong, but for the moment Bishop didn’t know whether it was a few malfunctioning sensors on the cargo deck, or the hull starting to buckle from damage they hadn’t detected before going into cold-sleep.
Or rather, more damage, he thought. If his unwanted bedfellow was any indication, a great deal had escaped their notice.
Abruptly, the console nearest his row of sleep capsules activated and began to transmit a copy of the message currently scrolling slowly upward on the monitor to the incident log in Bishop’s neural net:
TROOP TRANSPORT SULACO
REF # 99A655865
CAUSE: NAVIGATION ERROR
“Attention: this is a ship-wide notification. Due to a failure in the navigational system, the Sulaco has entered a sector claimed by the Union of Progressive Peoples. Auxiliary systems are now online and the course has been corrected. In the absence of Diplomatic Override, hardwired
protocols prevent—repeat, prevent—arming of nuclear warheads. On the present, corrected course, the Sulaco will exit the UPP sector at 1900 hours, 58 minutes.”
A glitch in the navigational system wasn’t good news but it was preferable to imminent structural failure. Bishop was more concerned about the spoken announcement. With all of them in cold-sleep, there shouldn’t have been one. It could have been another glitch—there was never just one of anything, especially glitches. Or someone was up and moving around. Someone or something.
Bishop knew it couldn’t be any of the three humans. A capsule malfunction would have tripped a different alarm to wake all three of them, who wouldn’t have just left him like this. No, the surprise guest had to be a Xenomorph. Despite their size and eagerness to kill, they were incredibly skilled at concealing themselves.
The queen from LV-426 had stowed away in the dropship’s landing gear without triggering any alarms, then made its presence known by driving its tail through his chest and ripping him in two like a piece of paper. Now, in hindsight, he knew they’d been foolish to assume the queen had been alone, that Ripley’s forcing it out the airlock meant it was all over. But then, they’d all been more concerned about Corporal Hicks. He’d still been in a great deal of pain from acid-blood burns and Ripley had kept him conscious only long enough to brief him.
She’d had a harder time getting Newt into the sleep capsule. When Ripley told her it was safe to dream again, the girl had looked at her with a mix of hope and uncertainty, as if wanting so much for Ripley to be right, but not quite believing it.
Ripley had tried to be as gentle as possible when she had wrapped him in plastic and placed him in the capsule, even as he had assured her she wasn’t hurting him. Pain served the same purpose for a synthetic as for humans—i.e. a warning that something was wrong—but it wasn’t the same kind of physical sensation. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation but it wasn’t debilitating in and of itself; he could damp it down to the equivalent of background noise while he continued to function.
Being torn in half by a furious alien, however, exceeded all parameters of sensation. The pain utility had overloaded and was now completely offline. What resources were left in the ruins of his body were
mostly concentrated on maintaining coherent mentation. He was programmed to continue as best he could until he had completed his mission, or his power ran out.
Ripley didn’t seem to understand this, probably because she wasn’t familiar with artificial persons made for hazardous duty. Or maybe she had simply been demonstrating that she had forgiven him for being synthetic.
It was too bad he’d been physically unable to do her the favor of putting her into cold-sleep. As traumatized as she was, she’d needed gentleness a lot more than he did. Then again, if he had been able to put her into the capsule, maybe she’d have something growing out of her midsection. And for all he knew, she did—perhaps all three of them did. There was no way to tell, no way to know if the humans were safe.
The only thing he did know was, there was never just one of anything.
His vision started to dim as his systems put him into standby to conserve his remaining energy. His last observation was that the coating on the inside of the capsule lid was becoming thicker.
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