Alien: Into Charybdis is a 2021 novel, written by Alex White and published by Titan Books. It was released on February 23, 2021. The novel is a sequel to White's earlier work, Alien: The Cold Forge, and centers around a potential political crisis between the United Americas and Iran when a Xenomorph infestation occurs in the Charybdis installation on the Iranian planet Hasanova, seemingly orchestrated by the Americans.

As well as standard print editions, the novel was released simultaneously in audiobook format, read by Shiromi Arserio and published by Blackstone Audio.

Publisher's Summary

"Shy" Hunt and the tech team from McAllen Integrations thought they’d have an easy job — set up environmental systems for the brand new Hasanova Data Solutions colony, built on the abandoned ruins of a complex known as "Charybdis".

There are just two problems: the colony belongs to the Iranian state, so diplomacy is strained at best, and the colony is located above a series of hidden caves. Charybdis has a darker history than any could imagine, and its depths harbor deadly secrets. Until their ship can be refueled, the McAllen team is trapped there.

The deeper they dig, the more Shy is convinced there's no on they can believe. When a bizarre ship lands on a nearby island, one of the workers is attacked by a taloned creature, and trust evaporates between the Iranians and Americans. The McAllen Integrations crew are imprisoned, accused as spies, but manage to send out a distress signal... to the Colonial Marines.

Plot

2184. The crew of the USCSS Gardenia, a technical team of engineers working for McAllen Integrations, are en route to planetoid LV-991, aka Hasanova, after being hired to design and install various environmental systems at the titular Charybdis complex. The Hasanova Data Solutions colony project is being undertaken by the Iranian state, a member of the Independent Core System Colonies. Kamran Afghanzadeh is in charge oversight of the HALO system to protect from noxious fumes released by Charybdis, a torrential whirlpool at the center of the colony complex. The colony is being designed for data storage and relay throughout the ICSC, with an advance data cannon suspended over the center of Charybdis. However, further construction has been halted due to the discovery of abandoned Weyland Corp site deep within the whirlpool.

After a workplace accident kills his friend and colleague, Kamran is placed in charge of greeting and managing the crew of the USCSS Gardenia, including crew member Cheyenne "Shy" Hunt. While the crew work, the Gardenia is refueled as part of the cost of the job, a process that will take several weeks. Shy and her fellow crew members quickly discover the colony is not actually new, but a project originally constructed by the Union of Progressive Peoples. Despite requesting increased compensation for the more difficult job of retrofitting the environmental systems, Kamran is instructed to refuse all demands, and leverages the cost of fuel against the Americans to ensure they will complete the environmental systems on time.

While tensions rise between the American contractors and their Iranian employers, a mysterious and unscheduled vessel lands on a nearby island, prompting the Iranian site administrators to order the Americans detained for fear of espionage. Kamran is forced to escort Shy to the ship, where it is discovered to have sections covered in Hive resin. A cave is discovered nearby with an abandoned Weyland Corp laboratory, which the ship's pilot had evidently entered. Upon exploration of the facility, Kamran is infected in his right hand by black liquid from lab equipment, prompting an unseen Alien to bit his arm and drag him further into the facility. Shy Hunt is horrified by the creature and Kamran's apparent death, but agrees to sign a non-disclosure agreement along with the rest of the crew for a large payment and release from work. However, crew member Noah Brewer alerts the Colonial Marines to events occurring on LV-991, prompting the activation of the Midnighters, a secret division specializing in Xenomorph infestations.

The Midnighters are led by Captain Kylie Duncan, who along with new recruit Lance Corporal Becker and Weyland-Yutani Corporation representative Dr. Matsushita, arrive at the Hasanova colony. Becker and other members of the Midnighters explore the unknown vessel, coming into contact with multiple Xenomorphs and a strange Queen, all of which are subdued with a special nonlethal, webbing ammunition and robotic guard dogs call "Good Boys." Becker also discovers Kamran, alive in a cryotube with his right arm severed above the elbow. After capture, the Midnighters gather Xenomorphs in special cells made of artificial hive resin in the lower levels of the Hasanova colony, and further detain all Iranian civilians in data storehouses. The American crew of the Gardenia is instructed to complete select work on the environmental systems by Captain Duncan, fixing the locks and security cameras. Shy becomes worried about the treatment of the Iranian civilians and sets up cameras to record the actions of the Midnighters and Captain Duncan.

Captain Duncan reveals to Becker that true goal of the mission is to release the Xenomorphs into the Iranian population floor by floor using the timed locks that Shy repaired for her. With entire base overrun, the Midnighters can retreat while another batch of Colonial Marines lands and clears the colony, claiming it for the United Americas. Shy discovers this ploy and confronts Captain Duncan to stop her, only to be shot to death in front of Becker. Recognizing Duncan's actions as a war crime, Becker secretly plans to stop her and the other Midnighters, recruiting both the remaining American contractors and a few marines loyal to him. Becker manages to retrieve the data drives that contain the recordings of the colony massacre and Shy's murder, but the main force of marines loyal to him are killed in an ambush by Captain Duncan.

The contractors escape an execution attempt when their Marcus synthetic releases the strange Queen, who quickly sides with Becker and the Americans to escape. It is revealed that the queen is actually Dr. Blue Marsalis, who used a modified version of Plagiarus praepotens to biologically transform herself into a Xenomorph Queen while retaining her intellect and self-awareness. She did this to escape death at the hands of the Seegson Corporation after the events of Alien: The Cold Forge. Marsalis was also reasonable for placing Kamran into storage after severing his arm to prevent mutation by the black liquid.

All the Iranian civilians are killed except Kamran, who survived while he was in the hyper sleep pod, and Tiran, a colony administrator. They escape to the Javaher Concourse, meeting with the American contractors, Becker and Marsalis in the isolated facility. The Midnighters arrive and begin to hack the entrance, resorting to explosives after Noah Brewer locks them out of the system, killing crew member Joanna Hardy in the process. After a surviving solider loyal to Becker hacks the Good Boy robots, the Xenomorphs in the colony force the Midnighters to retreat. Marsalis finds an alternate exit through an abandoned UPP tunnel, at which point Corporal Becker and crew member Arthur Atwater head to the data cannon to release the recordings of the massacre to the ICSC, while the remaining crew members, Kamran, Tiran and Marsalis start looking for a way back to the mysterious ship that Marsalis landed in, the Blackstar.

Becker and Atwater reach the Hasanova data cannon, only for Atwater to die from gunfire from the alerted Midnighters. Becker manages to finish transferring half of the recorded data drives before Duncan kills him while piloting a "Cheyenne" Dropship, destroying the Data Canon in the process. Young Xenomorphs kill Captain Jerry Fowler and Brewer, forcing Kamran, Tiran, Marsalis and crew member Mary Fowler into the lower levels of the colony complex, only for the data cannon to collapse into the whirlpool and injury Marsalis. Kamran activates the HALO system, causing power air currents that crash Duncan's dropship. Tiran is lost in the commotion, while Marsalis saves Kamran and Mary, leading them through the newly constructed hive system in the abandoned Weyland laboratory.

Captain Duncan survives the crash, and with her remaining soldiers, Dr. Matsushita and the Good Boy robots, they follow Marsalis into the hive for capture. All of the her soldiers die in the hive expect Sergeant Lee, while Captain Duncan kills all of the Xenomorphs in the hive. Duncan kills Dr. Matsushita in frustration, and with Sergeant Lee aims to kill Kamran, Mary and Marsalis, the surviving witnesses. Sergeant Lee and Duncan catch up to them in a room with a pool of black liquid and opens fire. A dying Iranian attempts to kill Duncan with the Chestburster inside of him, but is unsuccessful. The distraction allows Kamran to push Duncan into the black liquid, effectively killing her. Marsalis is able to kill Sergeant Lee, but is severely wounded in the process and covered in black liquid.

Kamran, Mary and Marsalis escape to the surface, where Marsalis dies from her injuries. Maintenance droids from the Blackstar retrieve her body, and allow Kamran and Mary to board the vessel. Mary is able to pilot the ship out of orbit with the assistance of a rogue synthetic named Father, who mourns the death of Marsalis, his liberator. After tricking Kamran and Mary into an escape pod, they are ejected into ICSC space, where they are recovered. An epilogue reveals that despite all the video evidence of Captain Duncan's war crimes, her commanding officers were not punished and the United Americas faced no interplanetary backlash, forcing the ICSC to declare war on the United Americas.

Trivia

  • In Greek mythology, Charybdis is a sea monster and is sometimes rationalized as a whirlpool. Greek history and mythology are a recurring point of reference in the Alien franchise; other notable examples include the moon Acheron, the comics Aliens: Rogue and Aliens: Dead Orbit (which contain numerous references), the ships Archimedes and Anesidora, the novel Alien: River of Pain, and references to the Titan Prometheus in both Prometheus Tech and the film Prometheus.
  • The Lone-Gunpeople are a coven of Alien super fans hand picked by Alex White to help consult on Alien Universe information.

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