|"Queen" links here. For other uses of the term, see Queen (disambiguation).|
The Queen is a large form of the species Xenomorph XX121 that serves as the mother and leader of a Xenomorph Hive. Queens are one of the largest, strongest, and most intelligent Xenomorph castes, and their appearance differs from that of smaller variants, with a pair of extra arms growing from their chest and a large head crest extending rearwards from their skull.
Queens are capable of engaging in combat and are formidable opponents, but such an event is a rare occurrence. Rather, Queens usually act as stationary Egg-layers within the Hive, tended to by Workers, and letting the Praetorians or Drones perform any defensive or offensive tasks. A Queen additionally oversees the maintenance of the nest, carried out again by the Workers (and to some extent, Drones). When laying Eggs, a Queen possesses a huge ovipositor that renders it immobile. Queens are significantly more intelligent than most normal Xenomorphs, displaying traits of wrath and vengeance beyond any purely instinctual behavior, have displayed problem-solving skills, and are also capable of issuing orders or commands to subservient castes.
Out of all the Xenomorph castes, the Queen possesses the most physical differences. Its most prominent feature is its immense size, typically standing around 4.5 metres in height, double the height of most other Xenomorphs, while some older Queens have been known to grow larger still. Correspondingly, many typical Xenomorph features are also considerably larger on a Queen, including her jaws, which are filled with razor-sharp transparent teeth several centimetres long, and her inner jaw, the maw of which can be almost as large as a human head.
Queens have large, armored, crown-like carapaces on their heads, into which they are able to withdraw their face and mouth as a means of protection, similar to how a turtle can withdraw its head into its shell. This great carapace is of disproportional size when compared to the rest of the Queen's very large body, and is thought to serve as a form of sensory "antenna", allowing the Queen to detect thermal, biochemical and bioelectric signals with great sensitivity. Queens also have double-jointed hind legs, two sets of dorsal tubes, which are more spike-like than on other Xenomorphs, six digit hands — with the third finger being much longer than the others — and an extra armored shell on their chest in the form of another carapace. In fact, a Queen's outer mesoskeleton is so resilient it is even capable of repelling sustained automatic gunfire, although it remains vulnerable to armor-piercing ammunition.
In addition to their two primary limbs, Queens also possess a second, much smaller pair of arms extending ventrally from the center of their chest; the exact purpose of these arms is not known. A Queen's tail is extremely long and segmented, with a large, blade-like tip. As with typical Drones, Queen tend to be black or black-blue in coloration.
Egg-laying Queens are easily identified by their enormous ovipositor, which extends from beneath their tail and can be up to 9 or 12 metres in length. These ovipositors are typically suspended from the ceiling of the Hive by "straps" created from the same secreted resin as the Hive itself. Owing to the size and weight of this sac, any Queen in the laying stage is immobile and totally dependent on her subordinates for assistance and protection. However, the ovipositor can be detached in a critical situation to allow the Queen to escape, although this process is apparently painful for the Queen and it is unlikely the sac can be reattached as easily, if at all. However, Queens are capable of growing a new ovipositor within a reasonably short period of time, though this too can prove painful for them. While immobilized, the Queen typically folds her legs up under her body and is instead supported by a biomechanical "throne". When laying, a Queen will typically produce up to 15 Eggs per hour.
A Queen, despite her size ratio compared to other Xenomorphs, can sustain near-limitless gunfire before having to retreat, thanks largely to her thickened mesoskeleton and additional armor. They have also been seen to survive being almost totally enveloped by fire, although prolonged exposure to heat and flame is eventually fatal. As a result of their resilience, once released from her laying stage a Queen can destroy most prey within seconds. It has also been noted that Queens display numerous signs of extreme muscle density; indeed, Queens are capable of tearing synthetics in two with just their hands. This, coupled with their great size, makes any form of hand-to-hand fighting an unwise tactic when confronting one, even for a Yautja. The Queen is fast considering her size — specimens have been clocked running at speeds of up to 40 km per hour. They are also incredibly long-lived, with some specimens estimated to have survived for tens of thousands of years. At least in very cold conditions, Queens are apparently able to "hibernate" or otherwise suspend their metabolism as a means to further extend their lifespan.
While Xenomorphs are usually said to be asexual, Queens are typically classified as female, owing to their similarities with similar female egg-laying castes in the insect kingdom. Usually, there is only a single Queen present in any Xenomorph populace. However, on occasion it is possible for multiple Queens to come into contact with each other. Such a course of events will lead to conflict, with the ultimately dominant Queen often being referred to as an Empress and ruling over any other Queens situated in her domain.
While Queens may appear broadly identical to each other, there are often subtle variations in their physical appearance that differentiate one individual from another. Whereas many lower castes are essentially indistinguishable from their fellow Xenomorphs (unless marked or visibly injured in some way), Queens may occasionally vary quite noticeably in color. For example, some older Queens, such as the Matriarch on BG-386, have had a noticeably grayer mesoskeleton, a trait that has tentatively been linked with ageing of the creatures as a result.
Perhaps the most notable area of variation on adult Queens is in the shape and features of their prominent head crest. While all examples of these crests have been see to adopt the same basic form, variations in the precise shape have been noted, relating to the overall outline as well as the absence or abundance of additional protrusions, horns, ridges or blades about the crest.
Intelligence and communication
Queens are very intelligent and have been known to operate machinery and understand and even interpret human actions at a basic level. They possess significant observational learning abilities. All of these skills were displayed when the first Queen on LV-426 ordered her Drones to back off when Ellen Ripley threatened to destroy her Eggs. This ability to interact and even "negotiate" with a human implies significant and advanced intellect. While many of these intellectual traits can be seen to some degree in virtually all Xenomorphs, it is known that Queens are vastly superior in every aspect.
Evidence proves Queens are able to communicate with and command other Xenomorphs, although the exact manner of this communication remains unclear. While examples of Queens instructing their brood via audible screeches have been documented, it is thought that their primary means of communication is substantially more complex, possibly involving pheromone release or ultrasound. Weyland-Yutani researchers have even proposed Queens and their offspring share some kind of bioelectrical hive consciousness; the fact Queens are seemingly in almost constant contact with their brood and able to communicate with them across significant distances or through considerable obstructions supports such a theory. Their large head crest may well play a part in the communication process, acting as receptor/transmitter for the whatever signals are employed.
Although they are violent and hostile monsters, Queens seem to be very caring and protective towards their offspring, particularly their unborn Eggs, and will act (or refrain from acting) if doing so will spare their spawn. However, destruction of a Queen's nest can apparently drive her into a vengeful rage; the Queen on LV-426 pursued Ripley and Rebecca Jorden relentlessly after the former incinerated her Hive, even going so far as to hide herself in the landing gear of their dropship and follow them back to the USS Sulaco. The threat of the destruction of a Queen's Eggs has also been known to impart a degree of leverage upon a Queen; there are several recorded instances whereby individuals have threatened a Queen's Eggs in order to coerce her to cooperate/spare their lives. Also, in Aliens: Earth Hive, a Queen is given an IQ test, of sorts, and receives a score of 175.
The exact means by which a Queen comes into being varies and is still heavily debated.
Royal Jelly and Royal Facehuggers
In the novelization of Aliens, Bishop theorizes that the introduction of Royal Jelly at the Egg stage may lead to the creation of a Queen (similar to how honey bee queens are created). This implies a Queen is a Queen from the earliest stages in its life cycle. This theory was to be backed up in Alien3, which originally included a Royal Facehugger that was capable of implanting a special Queen embryo into a host, as well as implanting an additional normal embryo into a second host so that the soon-to-be-born Queen would have a Drone to protect it during the critical early stages of its life. However, all of the scenes showing this were removed from the theatrical cut of the movie (although the Royal Facehugger was later reinstated in the extended Special Edition).
While the embryo within Ripley is still said to be that of a Queen in the theatrical release, it is not clarified precisely why this is so, nor is it explained how two embryos came to be when only one Egg and one regular Facehugger are seen in the movie. Alien3 also shows the Queen Chestburster itself to be physically different, with a partially developed head crest, well-developed legs and two pairs of arms, like a mature Queen.
Lower Caste Evolution
With the removal of the Royal Facehugger from the widely released version of Alien3, the Aliens novels and the Alien vs. Predator video game series developed their own method of creating the Queen, whereby they evolve from more lowly castes of Xenomorphs; specifically, the video games propose that they moult from Praetorians, which themselves evolve from Drones. Specimen 6 in Aliens vs. Predator was seen to evolve along these lines, moulting into a Queen from a Praetorian stage in the final cutscene of the game's Alien campaign.
During the Xenomorph outbreak in Gunnison, Colorado, a Predalien was shown to be capable of impregnating humans with multiple Xenomorph embryos directly. The directors of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem subsequently stated the creature was a premature Queen and that this unique impregnation method was designed to allow her to quickly build up an army of Xenomorphs before she evolves into her immobile Egg-laying stage.
In Aliens: Theory of Alien Propagation, it is said that an existing Queen receives instinctual cues in which it will lay special Breeding Eggs which contain special Facehuggers that hold queen-larvae. These eggs are quickly removed from the Queen's chamber, on account of the legendarily nasty temperament of the Xenomorph, as a Queen would see a threat in her infant daughters.
These Eggs are given the healthiest and fittest host by Drones and, upon emerging, begin violently battle each other to death while just Chestbursters, not unlike young female Hyenas. The survivor of the melee then goes on to found a hive of her own. This killing may not be Darwinian, but rather the young Queen defining its own murderous reality, according to the narrator of the comic.
While still young, the new Queen would lead a contingent of drones away from the old Hive to begin anew.
- Main article: Empress
- Main article: Queen Mother
The Queen Mother, also referred to as the Mother Queen, is a large form of the species Xenomorph XX121 that serves as the supreme controlling force of the species; even Queens and Empresses are subordinate to them. Queen Mothers have only been encountered on Xenomorph Prime, where they were protected by Palatines.
It is not clear whether a Queen will adopt some of the characteristics of its host, as with other Xenomorphs. The origins and growth of a Queen have never been thoroughly studied. The Queens seen at Hadley's Hope and on the USM Auriga were both birthed from humans (a human colonist is the only logical host in the former and Ripley 8 in the case of the latter), and both were virtually identical in appearance (except for the secondary reproductive cycle of the Cloned Queen aboard the Auriga, a side-effect of unintentional genetic contamination). However, the Predalien that attacked Gunnison, Colorado, confirmed to be a juvenile Queen, was dramatically different in appearance even at this young age, having taken on many aspects of its Yautja host. Similarly, the Queen on LV-223 was birthed from one of the local species and possessed a notably different form than usual. This would seem to imply Queens, like any other Xenomorph, will adopt traits from the host organism and differ physically as a result.
However, other examples have apparently contradicted this. Some encountered Queens have had a similar or even identical appearance to the one at Hadley's Hope even when the original host organism could not possibly have been human. A notable example is the Matriarch on BG-386, which was discovered on a planet light years from Earth and was dated to be tens of thousands of years old, putting her birth long before any humans could conceivably have been in the area.
Non-canon material such as the crossover between Vampirella and Aliens shows the Queen taking the traits of its vampiric host such as large, bat-like wings.
- H. R. Giger notably had no involvement in the design of the Queen. However, he would go on to praise the creature's look, calling it "really great".
- In Aliens, Private Hudson theorizes that the Xenomorph Queen may be physiologically comparable to ant or bee queens. However, they actually have far more in common with queen termites, including their larger size and greatly distended egg-laying abdomen.
- In Alien vs. Predator, the Queen appears much larger than the one seen in Aliens. This is most likely a result of age, as the Queen in Aliens was only very young, whereas the Queen in Alien vs. Predator had presumably lived for much longer.
- It has been shown that a Queen can ultimately evolve from a Drone, as was the case with Specimen 6.
- The Queen in the 2010 video game Aliens vs. Predator has a different appearance to other Queens seen previously, with a grey coloration to her mesoskeleton, which in many places is wrinkled and broken likely as a result of her extreme age. Many have taken this as evidence that she is in fact a Xenomorph Empress.
- In the video game Mass Effect 3, a queen for a species known as the rachni is encountered in much the same state as the Queen in Aliens — seated on a large biomechanical throne that greatly resembles that in the movie and surrounded by humanoid aliens known as Krogan who have been cocooned to the chamber's walls.
- In the video game Mortal Kombat X, a Queen appears in one of the fatality moves for the Tarkatan Xenomorph. In it, the Queen kills the Xenomorph's opponent in the same fashion as Bishop — impaling them through the chest with its tail and then tearing their torso in two.
- Sometimes, Yautja Leaders will kidnap Queens from their hives and use them as Hunt Seeders.
- Weyland-Yutani Archives (2008), 20th Century Fox [Blu-ray]
- James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens (1986), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Aliens versus Predator 2 (2001), Monolith Productions, Sierra Entertainment, Fox Interactive [Microsoft Windows].
- Aliens vs. Predator (2010), Rebellion, SEGA [Microsoft Windows].
- Marc Cerasini. Alien vs. Predator, p. 132 (2004), HarperEntertainment.
- Paul W. S. Anderson (writer and director). Alien vs. Predator (2004), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Aliens: Extermination (2006), Global VR.
- A. C. Crispin, Kathleen O'Malley. Alien Resurrection, p. 110 (2015), Titan Books.
- Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 212 (2014), Titan Books.
- Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 Special Edition (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Vincent Ward (writer), David Fincher (director). Alien3 (1992), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- "Weyland-Yutani Archives". Retrieved on 2013-04-25.
- Steve Perry. Aliens: Earth Hive, p. 136 (1992), Bantam Books.
- Prey, p. 220
- Shane Salerno (writer), The Brothers Strause (directors). Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Mark Verheiden (writer), Sam Kieth (illustrator). Aliens: Earth War #2 (1990), Dark Horse Comics.
- "Basically the Predalien's kind of a baby queen-there's a phase in between warrior alien and full-blown queen...they do this thing with embryo implantation.. the idea with that was; how does a baby queen quickly form her own little mini-drone army to get the hive built before she evolves into the final state where she can't completely defend herself?"--Colin Strause, "AvP-R: Preparing for War: Development and Production" featurette, from the Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem Region 1 Extreme Unrated Set DVD
- John Hurt, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, David Giler, Sigourney Weaver. The Alien Saga (2002), Prometheus Entertainment [DVD].
- Aliens vs. Predator: War (novel)