Review - The Annotated AvP: The Story, part 11

Today marks the first significant snowfall of November in Ottawa, and what better way to enjoy a cold winter’s evening than by bundling up with a blanket and a mug of rich, creamy hot chocolate and reading the latest installment in the Annotated Aliens versus Predator: The Story? Buckle up.

A group of eight Worker Aliens spread hive webbing along the cavern walls, enlarging the Master Hive. The stringy-black liquid sprayed out from their backside spines, hardening as it hit the air.
God that bit is unintentionally creepy.

Suddenly, KA-BLAM.
Man, I miss when I thought writing sound effects in all caps was cool. KA-BLAM indeed.

The Hive wall exploded, killing two of the Aliens and knocking the others across the small cave. Immediately, two Weyland-Yutani Corporate soldiers rushed in pulse rifles at ready.
“Knock, knock,” one of them said. They shot the remaining six Aliens dead, and gave the ‘All Clear’ sign.
“Who’s there?”


“This is the worst joke.”

Knowing that all was safe, Eisenberg and Rykov strolled in, the doctor kicking aside to of the dead extra-terrestrials.
“Well, that was fun,” he said. “Very entertaining, in my opinion. Don’t you think, general?”
“Hmm, the blast killed too little, but it will do,” Rykov scoffed. The two soldiers who had first entered the cave came back from their search.
Rykov was so emotionally numbed by his spinal injury he couldn’t smile unless he knew he had caused the deaths of at least five sentient beings that day.

“The next few passages are clear,” one of them said. “If the Hive Team was right, this tunnel should lead us to the Royal Chamber if we follow it.”
“Excellent. Send the next three squads out,” the doctor ordered. “General, this will be a night to remember.”
“I should believe so.”
I like to think there would be better times and places to break out the champagne, but then again I’m not raiding an Alien world.

“Errraagghh!” Rykov twitched and growled for a moment, getting Eisenberg’s undivided attention.
“Is there something wrong, general?” the doctor asked.
“This medication you gave me, it’s crap!”
I’m really liking the idea that every authority figure in my work of fiction is either drunk, buzzed or in a state of withdrawal. It really explains a lot of the executive decisions at play.

“I’m sorry, general, but I’m a doctor of exobiology, not medicine. I told you not to expect the same effects as your normal painkillers made by the labs.”
“OK, OK. Just try to find me an actual surviving surgeon, because this pain could make me rip the arm off someone.”
Eisenberg’s right forearm twitched. “Oh, well, I know you wouldn’t go that far, but I’ll try to find some remaining doctors.”
As Insane Clown Posse once said, “There’s foreshadowing up in this bitch.”

“Good. Now, let’s see if our Predator ally has any more news about the rebellious Marines,” Rykov started, switching on his headset. “Dark-Hunter, how are you doing?”
“Not good at all,” the bounty hunter said. “The Marine transport - it’s gone!”
“What?!” Rykov asked.
A couple kilometers away, near the ridge where the APC used to be parked, Dark-Hunter and his men searched the clearing.
“Let me put it this way,” Dark-Hunter explained in an ice-cold voice, as usual. “You completely underestimated these Marines. I’d think you would have been smarter than to let them be.”
“Then why did I even hire you?”

“Well, you can’t expect too much from us, as we can’t from you,” said Eisenberg. “I mean, we’ve barely learned about the other specie.”
“Speak for yourself. My people have been hunting your for the past thousand years,” Dark-Hunter objected. “Over and out.” He switched off his comlink and looked around, finally deciding that there were no Marines around. “Something seems seriously wrong here.”
“Also, awkwaarrrd.”

After over two hours of walking, Harrison, Jimrakh and Swift-Death arrived outside the main entrance into the Hive.
Segways might have helped.

The main entrance was impassable for humans and Predators, a useful Alien defense against intruders. It appeared that the closest entrance was a large hole, blasted in the wall.
“Looks like this is our only way in,” Harrison said, examining the passage behind the hole.
“Then let’s get on our way,” Swift-Death suggested, as he loaded a clip into his Spear-Gun. He was just about to take a step into the cavern, when Jimrakh laid a hand on the Predator’s shoulder.
“No. Take a look inside, first,” the Alien objected. After five seconds of searching, Harrison and Swift-Death saw a device, 15 metres away, with a blinking green light.
“Hey, that’s a Trap Bomb,” Harrison said.
Man, munitions naming practices have really lost their edge by the 22nd century.

“How does it get set off?” Swift-Death asked the human.
“Electromagnetic readings. Anything that has to do with EM energy will set off an eight-second timer. You’d never be able to run to the other side of the bomb in time.”
“That means you can’t come in,” Swift-Death said.
“That also means you can’t come in, too,” Jimrakh spoke. “Every one of us gives off some amount of EM energy. Though a small amount, a human’s energy could set the bomb off.”
At long last, we might have some tension!

“Then what do we do?” questioned Harrison.
“I pounce over to the bomb, and shut it off,” the Alien replied. “How can I disable it?”
“There’s a black cord right below the LED display. You cut it, the green light will turn red and the bomb will shut down,” Harrison explained.
“Good. Wish me luck,” Jimrakh said. He pounced 15 metres to land right in front of the explosive. Immediately, the bomb’s timer started to tick down. He slashed the black wire in half, with five seconds left.
Well, so much for that.

“Done!” he shouted. “You’re going to be thanking me for the rest of your life since I was able to pull that off.”
“Don’t get your hopes up,” said Harrison. “Knowing the Company, they probably rigged a few more of these babies. Plus, you have to do some smooth-talking to get us past your Alien brothers. They won’t be so pleased with joining our crusade, unlike you were.”
“Me? I’m still reluctant as Hell in doing this.”
“Stop squabbling,” Swift-Death growled. “There will be more explosives soon.”
“OK, OK,” Harrison grumbled. “Four-Jaws.”
“I take that as a compliment,” Jimrakh said.
Exchanges like this make me really, really wish I had gotten over my fear of swearing earlier.

The three continued further, and as Harrison expected, there were three more bombs. All of them were disarmed without problem.
And then they got to the Empress before Eisenberg and Rykov and had the bad guys arrested and all three species lived happily ever afterSERIOUSLY WHERE’S THE SUSPENSE?!?

Suddenly, they came into a huge chamber. Pillars of webbing stretched from floor to wall, wall to ceiling, and ceiling to floor. An architect could call it beautiful.
Which is why no one lets H.R. Giger design buildings.

“This is where we make a compromise with my brethren,” Jimrakh declared.
“Where? I don’t see shit,” Harrison complained. Suddenly, Jimrakh growled a word in Alien, and suddenly…
So suddenly.

…the chamber started to change. One by one, hive-like bodies detached them selves from the walls and columns. Warrior Aliens dropped from their hidings spots onto the floor, where Swift-Death and Harrison looked on in amazement.
“That there,” Swift-Death pointed out to Harrison, “that was messed up.”
That coming from a creature that regular hunts, kills and removes the skulls of various species.

Just then, five Aliens advanced toward Harrison and Swift-Death. They opened their mouths and prepared their inner set of jaws, but Jimrakh blocked them in due time. The Alien spoke harshly at the Aliens in his language. He then shouted the same words, so that every Alien could hear. The five potential attackers closed their mouths, snarled, and slunk away.
“What was that supposed to mean?” Swift-Death said.
“I just told them that you are allied with me. In other words, my brothers won’t be able to do shit to you.”
Wait, is Jimrakh actually extraterrestrial Shaft?

“He’s a complicated bug/Who no one understands except his Empress./Jim Rakh!”

There was a blaze of pulse rifle fire, and in two seconds, a hive wall was knocked down. The seven Worker Aliens who were attending to the Empress got up and ran toward the hole. Before they could reach it, five soldiers, including two androids, ran up to the Empress and pointed their weapons at her. The drones growled and backed down.
After the commotion had settled, Rykov and Eisenberg entered the Royal Chamber. Both looked in awe at the Empress hanging from the ceiling. At two metres taller and three times more intelligent than any Queen, the Empress was truly the goddess of Aliens.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” Eisenberg said in awe.
Eisenberg licked his lips. Rykov eyed him warily.

Pictured: Allan Eisenberg

“She is large,” Rykov replied. “And being large gives one power.”
“It isn’t just that. Her intelligence gives her almost mind-control over her minions. Without it, the Alien ‘society’ would crumble.”
“They have a society?”
“Never mind that. If we get this Empress off planet, the Aliens won’t know what to do, and they’ll kill themselves off.”
I just realized my explanation for the Empress’ importance is maybe the one instance in fiction—Hell, of known history and sociology—where a hive mind enabled the individual thought and decision making of all of its constituents. What the Hell?

“Why aren’t there any eggs here?”
“Since the Empress is in command of all the Aliens, she has the minor Queens do the breeding,” Eisenberg explained. “Soldiers, cut her ‘ropes’ and put her in the truck.”
“Yes sir,” one soldier said. He pulled out a long rifle and shot a tranquilizer dart out of it. It plucked the Empress in the neck without hitting any of her outer chitin. She was knocked out in only a few moments.
“Excellent,” the doctor said, as giddy as a schoolgirl.
Rykov, even more uneasy, took a couple steps away from the scientist.

The androids shot their pulse rifles again, cutting the rope-like webbing that held the Empress to the ceiling. She fell five metres to the ground without waking up. The androids, using their extreme strength, picked up the Empress and lowered her onto the truck’s flatbed trailer.
“Shall we be off?” Eisenberg asked Rykov.
“Make it so,” the general replied. They hopped into the cabin of the truck, which started up and drove out through the other entrance into the chamber.
If this scene has any redeeming qualities, it’s that I now imagine Rykov is basically Russian Jean-Luc Picard.

Half and hour later, Jimrakh, Harrison, Swift-Death and the four Aliens reached the Royal Chamber, only to discover dead Workers, cut webbing and tire tracks in the muck.
“We’re too late,” Jimrakh groaned. “They have already taken the Empress.”
“That’s quite obvious, unless you took us down the wrong tunnel,” Swift-Death growled.
“Well, from this map Ivan gave me, they’re heading for the Auxiliary Landing Complex. They’ll have to wait a while for their dropship to get there,” Harrison said, looking at a map on his mini-computer. “We can cut through this thing Tomiko calls the Artifact. Don’t know what it is, but the Company extraction vehicle can’t go through it.”
“Then come on!” Jimrakh shouted. He ran out the main entrance into the chamber, and scuttled down a secluded tunnel.
“Yo, Need for Speed, we don’t take Crack so wait up!” Harrison hollered down the tunnel.
…I know I say this a lot but what the Hell was wrong with me?

The six ran after the Alien, who had a good head start on them. As they finished running down the tunnel, they emerged into a huge cavern, three times as tall as the Royal Chamber. It was unlike any cavern they had seen before. It was perfectly rounded and symmetrical, and it appeared to be made out of green biomechanical material, unlike the Hive webbing.
“What the Hell is this?” Harrison asked. Jimrakh, who had also been standing, looking in awe at the structure they were in, hurried toward the rest of the group.
“We are in a Pilot ship!” he exclaimed.
“What?” Swift-Death and Harrison questioned.
“The Pilots! You know, who brought my species here. Amazing!”
“Completely impertinent to the rest of the plot but still! Amazing!”

As they ran down the huge cavern, Swift-Death paused, turned around, and headed for another corridor that lead into the Pilot ship.
“Where the Hell are you going?” Jimrakh asked.
“Something else has come up. I must be going now,” Swift-Death explained. “So long.”
“But. . . I don’t under. . . ah, he’s going to get himself killed,” Harrison said, shrugging it off.
So, if we’re going with the space-It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia concept I mentioned a while back, I think Jimrakh is Dennis, Harrison is Mac and Swift-Death is Charlie.

As the group continued down their chosen path, Swift-Death raced down the tunnel he had picked.
“I can sense you,” the Predator said. “You can’t hide.”
Ahhhh Christ, not this revenge thing again.

In another part of the Hive, the extraction convoy was making its way though the corridors. Just then, Rykov unlocked his door and jumped out of the truck.
“What the?” Eisenberg exclaimed. “Stop the truck!” He followed Rykov to the back of the trailer, where he unlocked a locker behind the tied-up Empress.
“What are you doing?” Eisenberg asked.
“There is something I must attend to. They are matters of my own,” Rykov said.

Seriously, did I give Rykov and Swift-Death a telepathic connection or something?

“That’s crazy. You have no idea how many other Aliens are in this Hive, waiting for someone like you.”
“I’ll be okay,” the general reassured. He opened the locker and lifted a collapsible exo-suit out. He pressed a button on it, and the machine unfolded. The general climbed inside and closed himself in. “Just wait up for me at the landing pad. I will be finished soon.”
Eisenberg stared as Rykov marched away in the exo-suit and walked into another tunnel. He shook his head and walked back toward the cabin of the truck.
“Everyone seems to want to get themselves killed, nowadays,” he complained.
…said the Alien fetishist. I know that really isn’t a point against his argument, but I felt that needed to be brought up.

So the cards are all in place for the final act, the lines have been drawn in the sand, and nobody is still making any sense. Sounds like a good enough time to leave it until next month.

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