Alien: Enemy of My Enemy
- Book info
- Author updates
While a moon hurtles toward certain destruction, taking with it a Weyland-Yutani bioweapons lab, talks on a nearby colony could lead to all-out war among the colonies.
Hygeia, an outer rim colony, is doomed as the moon on which it was built hurtles toward an inevitable collision with the dead planet Hephaestus. When a distress signal arrives from a Weyland-Yutani biowarfare outpost near the colony, a desperate plan is launched to evacuate the trapped scientists and colonists. Their destination: LV-846, a key United Americas colony where high-level talks are scheduled to address the galaxy-wide hostilities between the colonies. Once there, the evacuees, including a contingent of Colonial Marines, discover a plot that could plunge the colonies into all-out war. Their only hope may be an alliance with the deadliest ally imaginable.
Release date: February 21, 2023
Publisher: Titan Books
Print pages: 416
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Listen to a sample
Alien: Enemy of My Enemy
Sitting in a chair behind a computer terminal, the assistant felt a chill. Their surroundings did nothing to soothe the nerves. Most of the Menhit Biowarfare Science Facility on moon BG-791 was a soulless series of metallic pipes and beams, compartments and moldings of ashy and charcoal hues. Its external architecture had been designed to blend in with the tall geometric rocks that formed its mountainous backdrop.
The medlab was bathed in harsh, uneven light, with multiple recording devices capturing both video and audio from various points around the chamber. The important areas of the facility were like that—at once thoroughly modern and outfitted with the best equipment that Weyland-Yutani money could buy, but now just as harsh and uneven, failing more often than functioning. The deterioration of the moon on which the lab was located had wreaked havoc on the electrical and magnetic systems, making continued research difficult at best. Their personnel had been halved again and again until they were left with twenty or so scientists, researchers, and volunteers. The increasingly frequent storms outside the facility posed an ever-present threat to its structural integrity.
Nerves were on edge.
Still, the remaining men and women of the Menhit Lab continued with their experiments. There was important work to do, they had been told, and it had been hinted at more than once that an evacuation ship’s timely arrival—any arrival—would be largely dependent on providing the company with positive results.
The medlab itself featured four pods, three of which currently held bound test subjects. Semi-sterile metal countertops ringed the room beneath an abundance of cabinets lining the upper portions of the walls. Within those, tools and equipment of every kind were stored.
Against the back wall stood the cold storage case, where a select number of the Ovomorphs were kept. They had been chosen from the more extensive collection currently warehoused in the specimen storage area. Through the foggy glass doors of the storage case, large egg shapes were visible, haloed by a faint green glow. These were the most valuable—and expensive—items in the lab. Maybe even more valuable than—
The first of the test subjects began spitting up blood, and the dark-haired man glanced briefly at his assistant.
“It should be just minutes, now. Flip the switch on the laser.”
“Dr. Fowler…” The assistant’s eyes were fixed in horror as a second man began to struggle against his bonds, and then to shake so hard that the silicon fiber bands holding him seemed strained to the point of tearing.
The woman in the third pod began to moan, her distended chest rippling and clenching.
“Do it, Watkins,” Martin Fowler said, ignoring the sounds of pain coming through the speakers and audible through the glass. “Do it now.”
The assistant rose from his chair at the computer terminal, where he had been logging the information given to him by Dr. Fowler and coordinating the video and audio records of the medical bay’s events. Stepping across the room to the switch for the medical bay’s ceiling-mounted laser, he hesitated a moment, even knowing what was coming. Then he flipped the switch to ON.
Stan Watkins joined Fowler at the observation window just in time to see the first test subject gag and vomit. A second later, one of the newborn aliens burst from his chest in a spray of blood and shredded internal organs. It leaped to the floor, screeching as it adjusted to the change in its environment. Then it, too, began to shudder, convulsing for several seconds before steadying itself.
“An effect of the serum,” Fowler muttered, more to himself than Watkins. “Likely a result of the increase in aggression, as we predicted.” He moved across the room to a voice-activated speaker mounted near the laser’s switch. Depressing a button next to the speaker, he leaned in and issued a voice command. “Fire.”
On the other side of the glass, the laser on the ceiling beeped, calibrating and calculating as it searched for motion. When it locked on the newborn Xenomorph, it fired focused blue laser bolts, cutting the little creature to pieces. The second male test subject, nicked by the laser, cried out, his torso stretching and receding as the creature inside it struggled to escape.
The dead alien, meanwhile, bled profusely on the floor. Its blood was a fluorescent yellow with hints of green, and it smoked and bubbled as it ate through the tile beneath, the wood of the subfloor, and the metal foundation beneath that.
Watkins was about to point out the structural hazard to the facility should the blood, with corrosive effects that seemed to be spreading outward as well as down, keep dissolving the floor. Fowler seemed to anticipate him.
“No need for concern,” he said. “The alloy used in the foundation is based on Xenomorph chitin.” He glanced at Watkins’s skeptical expression and added, “It’ll hold.” Then another motion drew his attention.
“You promised,” the woman said from her pod, her voice weak as it came through the speakers. Watkins turned to look at her through the glass but her eyes, bloodshot and glistening with tears, were already glazing over. She spoke, her voice rising high and to the point of breaking. “You said you’d get them out of us. You promised…”
As the implication of her words sank in, Watkins turned and gaped at his boss.
“Dr. Fowler…” he said slowly, becoming sick to his stomach, “you said they were volunteers, terminal patients who had agreed—”
“Not now, Watkins,” Fowler said sharply. His gaze was so intense that Watkins followed it back into the medical bay.
The second test subject, the man with the laser gash in his bound arm, bucked once, and then his insides blew outward. The creature leaped onto what remained of his chest, splattering fragments of the man’s insides as it shuddered. A moment after, the laser from the ceiling cut it down where it stood. When its blood oozed and bubbled, mingling with the devastated remains of the man’s torso, Watkins had to look away.
He’d agreed to a lot in his employment with the Weyland-Yutani biowarfare lab, yet agreeing verbally—or even on paper—couldn’t balance the things he’d been asked to do over the last month. Things he wasn’t proud of. But this was a new revelation. He hadn’t known, hadn’t understood the full implications of what they were doing.
Not really, not like this.
Perhaps he hadn’t wanted to know.
“Dr. Fowler, for God’s sake—”
“There’s no other way,” Fowler told Watkins. “I’ve been there before, believe me, but this work—the results of this experiment—might save the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands in the future.”
Watkins was silent for a moment as he considered his superior’s words.
“You’re an asshole,” he muttered.
Fowler didn’t respond.
The woman in the third medpod was crying, gagging, vomiting onto her chest…
When the third of the creatures burst out of her, it jumped onto her legs, shaking off the convulsions much more quickly. It seemed larger, and Fowler murmured something to Watkins about making note of it, though he didn’t seem to notice when Watkins remained fastened in place, mesmerized by the chestburster.
Watkins had read extensively about the Xenomorphs, yet never ceased to be amazed by the sight of them in the flesh. They were the perfect predators, stealthy killers, prolific procreators. Even at so early a stage, this new one was no different. The creature was sleek, a fully formed monster. Its every body movement was agile, almost fluid, its response to stimuli nearly as sensual as it was sensory. It was a thing adapting immediately to its environment and mastering it.
It’s almost a shame, Watkins thought, that it has to die.
Another beep. The laser centered on it and fired.
The creature dodged out of the way, leaping toward the observation glass in front of Watkins. He screamed, flinching. Up close, the little Xenomorph was both terrifying and fascinating. Beneath the sheen of blood its elongated head—a shiny dark metallic gray—seemed to have no eyes or lips, but its mouth was full of tiny, needle-sharp teeth. The ridges against the sides of its head pulsed. This close, Watkins could see the delineation of each of the ribs against its chest, which moved rapidly with its steady breaths. Its unformed arms remained adhered to its sides by a viscous fluid which coated its body. The beginnings of claws scratched at the window. Its legs had yet to develop.
It was, to Watkins, the embodiment of a nightmare.
The laser rotated on the ceiling and geared up to fire at the window where the creature was perched. As if aware of the danger, it leaped out of the way and the blue light hit the glass, causing a fissure. The little creature streaked back into the chamber—Watkins was always startled by how fast they could move—and ducked under one of the medical pods.
“Do you see it? Where did it go?” Fowler shouted, hitting the alarm system button on the wall. Instantly, red lights began to strobe. A robotic voice, female, came across the overhead speaker and began to calmly talk through the lockdown procedures.
The two of them approached the glass, stepping to either side of the crack, peering into the medical bay. Watkins was afraid to lean in too closely, afraid that any attempt at assaulting the window would compromise the glass’s integrity. He sent his terrified gaze darting around the room as the robot voice droned on through emergency medical procedures.
Crimson lights blinked and blared, making the small, irregular shadows flicker and hide, jump and dash.
If the alien was still in there, Watkins couldn’t see it.
“Dr. Fowler, if the thing gets out—”
“It can’t,” Fowler replied, but he didn’t sound so sure.
“It’s a lot stronger—”
“It doesn’t matter! Don’t panic, for God’s sake. There’s no other way for it to get out of the medical bay. It’s in there somewhere.”
Watkins grabbed his sleeve. “Their maturation rate is accelerated with the serum!”
“All the better.” Fowler pulled himself loose and gestured up at the laser. “It’ll be a bigger target, then, and it’ll be cut to ribbons as soon as it comes out of hiding.”
There was a flash of movement, a gray blur, and then Watkins saw the thing, already larger, hanging from one of the laser turrets. With a yank of its tail, it pulled the contraption from the ceiling, sending down a display of blue sparks.
“Holy shit,” Watkins muttered. They were screwed, pure and simple. Several men would have had trouble pulling that laser free of the welding and bolts that held it there. The alien had done it with hardly any effort at all. It couldn’t have—shouldn’t have—been that strong, not yet. What, exactly, was in Dr. Fowler’s serum?
“That’s impossible,” Fowler said, diving for the computer terminal. He looked genuinely worried now, perhaps all out of empty reassurances. “It should never have been strong enough to…” He typed furiously, his own words forgotten. When Watkins got too close, Fowler waved and then shoved his assistant away.
“Let me finish this,” he said. “Get the guns out of the cabinet. We have to get out of here.”
He kept typing, offering the occasional voice command that enabled him to send files offworld to Weyland-Yutani. Watkins backed away, then moved out into the small alcove beyond the medical bay’s observation room. The area was lined with lockers and narrow black cabinets, each with a coded number pad on the door. He punched in the day’s code for the weapons cabinet on the back wall, and then took out two M4A3 pistols and two heavy white PMC armor jackets. He eyed the door that led out into the rest of the facility.
Beyond it was a hallway that ran away from the medical bay and its observation room. The main doors of the facility would go into lockdown shortly, and anyone still inside would be forced to proceed to the cavernous specimen storage room. That was where they kept the results of their research and, given the extensive mechanisms used to secure the space, it also could be used as a “safe room.”
It seemed possible to make it there, at least.
After all, even with accelerated maturation, it would take the Xenomorph time to grow large enough to be a threat to a grown man. That was what had Fowler told him—at least an hour, maybe two, before the creature posed any real danger. Right?
He thought about the bodies in the medbay, the way the blood of the Xenomorph had eaten through the ruptured abdominal cavity of that poor research volunteer, and shook his head as if to shake the memory loose, then cast it away.
Volunteer. That was a laugh. Had anyone really volunteered? Had anything Dr. Fowler told him about the project been on the level?
There was a crash from the room behind him, and he flinched. A meaty, crunching kind of thump followed, as if something or someone had been thrown against a wall. Watkins slipped into one of the armored jackets, gripped the gun, and slid the safety off.
There were other people spread elsewhere throughout the facility—Weyland-Yutani’s last guard, the lab’s essential personnel—and most of those people didn’t know anything about Dr. Fowler’s work. Research assistants, scientists in other departments, janitors, private military contractors—people who might never see the Xenomorph coming. They’d be unarmed, unaware, unprepared…
…and there was nothing, really, that he could do. He couldn’t save anyone. Watkins wasn’t a hero, and he knew it. He’d only die trying. All he was good for, as far as he could see, was running like hell.
When he heard another crash, followed this time by Dr. Fowler screaming, Watkins did exactly that.
* * *
In the shaft that ran between the large specimen storage room and the rest of the facility, the Xenomorph crept toward the sound of movement. Its muscles ached as they stretched—it was growing fast, its arms and legs taking shape, its claws forming—but that didn’t slow it down. The ache was dull enough and served only to sharpen its senses.
Tunnels and holes let it move in darkness throughout the metal hive. Sometimes the tunnels led to warm, living things. Sometimes they did not. Some tunnels led to a new nest. There were eggs in the nest, and it tore away the metal around them so the eggs could sense new hosts.
* * *
In the twelve years that Dr. Sarah Shirring had worked for Weyland-Yutani, she had become familiar with emergencies. Much of what the corporation paid big money for was of a sensitive and therefore secretive nature, skating along the fine edges in legal, moral, and scientific propriety. Sarah had justified her work over the years as innovative, daring, necessary to move the human race forward in its desire to populate across the stars, and that kind of work came with risks.
Often in her career, Sarah had both participated in and organized safety and emergency drills. She had been strict, almost militant in her insistence that her staff memorize the protocols and procedures put into place should an emergency arise. They worked with volatile chemicals, and one could never be too careful.
Sarah had even experienced a number of real emergencies—biochemical mishaps, perimeter breaches by well-meaning idiots only half in the know, trying to free a test subject or stop what they saw as corporate vice. She had always taken emergencies seriously. To fail to do so meant people got hurt.
Of course, that was before the last couple of months, when the impending destruction of the moon had begun to make even the most trivial systems unreliable. Plumbing had gone on the fritz. Lights flickered. Important data, when logged on the computers, could be lost to a power surge or dip. It was absolutely maddening.
Even Sarah had had enough.
When the alarm sounded and the robotic voice over the loudspeakers told all Menhit employees to make their way calmly to the storage area, she didn’t bother. Sarah assumed the catastrophe was no worse than one of the interns—they’d been left with the corporation’s B-team—spilling a vial and panicking prematurely. In fact, when the loudspeaker system crackled a few minutes into the alarm loop and the robotic voice cut off, she assumed the problem had been solved, if there had even been a problem at all.
It was, in Sarah’s opinion, a good thing the corporation was getting them off that godforsaken moon, because between the incompetent “specialists,” the skeleton support crew, and the systems failing all over the facility, it was impossible to do any real work. How much time would be lost with this most recent hiccup, sending working scientists to the storage area to hunker down when they could have been working? Maybe even locking them in there because of some electrical failure?
How many samples would go bad while unattended? How many time-sensitive experiments would fail?
When, thirty minutes later, the robotic voice began to blare the warning again overhead, Sarah rolled her eyes and went back to putting the test-tube samples back in the mini-fridge. In fact, she ignored it for another good ten minutes before that nagging little doubt in her, the part of her that still, on some level, respected protocol even on moons where protocol had fallen apart, compelled her to lock up the fridge and strip off her gloves.
The voice again instructed employees to move toward the storage area. She turned from her counter along the wall, and sighed.
There was a sound.
Before she could look up, something large and bony reached down, clamped over her mouth, and lifted her off the ground. Her eyes went wide and she struggled, but it paid her no mind. She couldn’t turn her head to see the thing but she could smell a kind of acrid scent and feel heat and a dripping wetness on her neck and shoulder.
The thing dragged her into the vent and toward the storage room, it seemed. Arriving there, it thrust her against a wall, her feet dangling, and began secreting a kind of webbing to encase her. She struggled but soon couldn’t move. The effort sapped her strength. She winced, but found she didn’t have the breath to cry out.
* * *
In the hallway to the toxicology lab, Dr. Ana Thayer, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, made her way slowly down the hall. Unexpectedly, her body shuddered. She felt a sharp pain just beneath her breasts, and at first thought the baby was kicking hard, showing her its readiness to come out. She put a hand on the place from which the pain was spreading, a cold-burn kind of pain that didn’t feel right. Her fingers felt something sharp protruding just above the swell of her stomach. She looked down.
The thing was coated with blood.
She tried to suck in a breath to scream, and found she couldn’t.
The sharp thing was the cause of the pain, coming straight through from her back to her chest, and she tried to turn but that only sent bright sparks of agony down through her stomach. The baby kicked inside of her.
Dr. Thayer couldn’t breathe or think. She tried to pull and then push the thing out of her, the sharp little segment that cut her fingers when she tried to grasp it, slick with her blood. The segment disappeared suddenly, pulled out of her. It drew all the strength away with it, and she sank to the floor. Already the room around her was getting hazy.
“My baby,” she tried to say, and looked up to see a monster. She had a moment to recognize the bloody segment as part of a longer tail before it jabbed her in the eye, and everything went dark.
Moving back into the shaft, the one which provided access between the storage room and the medical bay, the creature followed more sounds of movement and voices.
* * *
Research assistants George Miller and Lena Forster slept on the twin cots set up in the rec room. At first, the overhead voice seemed far away to Lena, cutting through the haze of sleep in urgent tones rather than words. She could have—would have—kept sleeping. It seemed lately that the changes in the gravity and magnetosphere of the moon were taking their toll, making her limbs hurt, her head hurt. She felt heavy, weighed down.
The cots had been set up specifically to offset some of the exhaustion the remaining crew at Menhit experienced, although that had been Dr. Watkins’s doing, not Weyland-Yutani’s. The company had made it clear that time was precious. It took time to get results, and results were the only thing buying the crew’s way off that moon.
The voice blared, a sound from another time, another place. It took Lena a moment to realize the voice was the lab’s warning system. It was instructing them that there was a security breach, and that all personnel were to report to the storage room. It reminded them that external lockdown procedures were already under way, and that internal procedures would commence in ten minutes and thirty-seven seconds.
“George? George, wake up.”
The man groaned in the cot beside her, and Lena shook him harder.
“George,” she said. “Come on. Get up. There’s something wrong.” He sat up, listening a moment to the robotic voice overhead. Then the sleepiness in his face dissipated and he stood with a jolt.
“Let’s go. We can’t stay here.”
“What is it, do you think?” she asked as she followed him out into the hall.
“I don’t know. I—” George’s eyes grew wide.
A silhouetted creature about the height of a man stood at the far end of the hallway. It was hunched over, shuddering. There was a large cracking sound that made Lena flinch, and the creature’s arms seemed to grow. Another round of cracks and the thing seemed to unfurl, standing taller.
Lena found her voice and screamed. As she did, the creature stopped shuddering and turned its long, curving head in their direction.
“Run,” George said in a dry, rasping voice. Then louder, “Run!”
Lena tried to run. At first her legs refused to get the message, until the thing charged down the hallway toward them, its long tail snapping back and forth. Then, Lena turned and ran.
There were more cracking and crunching sounds behind her, but this time George’s screams followed. When she turned to see why, she saw only a bony, square jaw within a much larger maw. Then there was pain in her head and blackness.
* * *
In the storage room, the Xenomorph spun those who had survived its attacks in hive-webbing, placing them near the arrangement of eggs.
When it had run out of prey, it found a way out of the metal confines of the facility. Outside, the Xenomorph discovered a different lifeform.
* * *
Along the outer south-facing wall of the Menhit facility, the majority of the generators and power grids were housed behind steel fences. The roar they produced was loud—loud enough that Wesley Lombardo, a private military contractor on guard, didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary.
A blur of gray moving swiftly along the top rail of the chain-link barrier dropped down on him. Lombardo fired off one shot, more from surprise than any real reflex, before something grabbed him by the biceps and lifted him off the ground. Twisting around, he got a look at his attacker. The elongated head had no eyes, but seemed to see him all the same. Its rictus grin, full of teeth, parted wide, and for a moment, all Lombardo could see was the salivating darkness inside.
Then, an inner mouth shot out and punched a hole in his forehead, straight through skin and bone to his brain.
Wes Lombardo’s body dropped. The alien scaled the fence and leaped down among the generators, swiping at the casings. Its long claws tore through the metal and at last, both light and sound faded.
Moving like a shadow, it made its silent way back into the facility.
* * *
Back in the chamber from which it had emerged, the Xenomorph drone, grown nearly to full size, darted back down the maze of hallways to the new nest, ...
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...