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Alien: The Cold Forge is a 2018 novel written by Alex White and published by Titan Books. It was released on April 24, 2018.[1] It takes place on a secret Weyland-Yutani deep space research station, on which the physically handicapped Doctor Blue Marsalis is researching the Xenomorph, ostensibly trying to develop the creatures as a biological weapon for her superiors. However, she actually harbors a secret agenda of her own, which is in danger of being revealed when a ruthless company auditor arrives to investigate the station's research projects. It soon becomes clear a saboteur is also at work on the station, unleashing Blue's test subjects and placing everyone on board in mortal danger.

Publisher's Summary

With the failure of Hadley's Hope, Weyland-Yutani has suffered a devastating setback — the loss of the Aliens they agressively sought to exploit. Yet there's a reason the company rose to the top of the food chain. True to form, they have a redundancy already in place... the facility known as

THE COLD FORGE

Remote station RB-232 has become their greatest asset in weaponizing the Xenomorphs. However, when Dorian Sudler is sent to RB-232 to assess their progress, he discovers that there's a spy aboard — someone who doesn't necessarily act in the company's best interests. For Dorian, this is the most unforgivable of sins. When found, the perpetrator will be eliminated with extreme prejudice. If unmasked, though, this person may be forced to destroy the entire station... and everyone on board. That is, if the Xenomorphs don't do the job first...

Plot

Dorian Sudler, an exceptionally ruthless auditor for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, is sent to the remote space station RB-232, known as "The Cold Forge", to review the research projects being conducted there, some of which are behind schedule and over budget. Upon arrival, he is introduced to the station's commander, a veteran Colonial Marine named Daniel Cardozo, as well as his chief of security Anne Wexler and the senior research staff. Sudler takes a particular interest in Doctor Blue Marsalis, whom he learns is severely physically handicapped on account of a degenerative terminal disease — while her real body lies in her room, she conducts her day-to-day business by commandeering Marcus, the station's synthetic.

Sudler is shown around the station, including it's three research projects, each of which has military applications — Rose Eagle, an advanced entangled communications relay, Silversmile, a computer virus designed to destroy networked systems, and Glitter Edifice, Blue's project, in which she has been breeding and studying Xenomorph specimens with the aim of developing them as a weapon. Sudler is shown the creatures, bred from captive chimpanzees, and is immediately in awe of them.

With Sudler's tour complete, Blue returns to her work. However, she is actually neglecting her company-mandated brief to develop the Xenomorphs as weapons and instead seeking to create new and immensely effective medical treatments from their unique biology, driven by a desire to cure her own degenerative illness. To this end, she is attempting to harvest a sample of Plagiarus praepotens, the virulent mutagen that Facehuggers inject into a host in order to create a Chestburster. Blue hopes this highly specialized and mutative substance can be modified for medical purposes, but has so far had no luck in securing a sample during implantation. Her assistant Kambili Okoro is aware of her actions, having helped her in her attempts to collect a Plagiarus sample, but now that a company auditor is aboard he is increasingly concerned that their deception will be uncovered. Despite his aversion, the two deduce a new plan to secure a sample, and Kambili gets to work preparing a chimpanzee host.

However, Blue's plans are derailed when Kambili is gravely injured preparing the chimpanzee host for the procedure, and her lab is temporarily shut down. Worse, Sudler informs her that her boss, who had been working with Blue on her secret research, has been arrested on Earth on charges of corporate espionage and embezzlement. Several hours later, a data breach on the station allows the Silversmile virus to escape containment and begin infecting systems on the Cold Forge. While the virus cannot reach the station's primary mainframe, it wreaks havoc inside the research labs, destroying many of the teams' files and also taking control of the vast reflective heat shield that protects the station from the star around which it orbits, threatening to open the plates over the Xenomorph kennels in order to destroy the specimens within. Blue, using Marcus' body, is forced to perform a risky EVA to secure the panels; while she locks down several of the kennels, many of the others are opened by the virus, killing the creatures within, while Marcus's body is also damaged.

In the aftermath of the incident, the station's senior staff learn that Blue has been maintaining her own secret server to store her research data — a serious breach of regulations. Hoping to recover something following the Silversmile debacle, Sudler orders the station's IT staff hack into the server and retrieve the data. Realising her files will reveal her long-running deception, Blue tries to stop him, but Sudler paralyzes Marcus with an executive override code and locks her out. However, before the server hack can be completed, the Xenomorph kennels are opened by an unknown saboteur, unleashing the creatures upon the station. The senior staff quarantine the outbreak by sealing off the Glitter Edifice labs — trapping any staff still inside, Sudler among them — before trying to jettison the entire section from the station. However, following the Silversmile breach, the release mechanisms require manual operation, forcing Blue to go outside in Marcus' body once again.

While activating the external release controls, all communications fail, leading Blue to head back inside to investigate. Upon her return, she finds the Glitter Edifice labs have been reopened, and the Xenomorphs are now loose. In the ensuing carnage, many of the station's staff are killed, including Commander Cardozo, while several Xenomorphs get aboard Sudler's ship, slaying its crew and causing the vessel to crash into the Cold Forge, venting the docking bay to space, destroying most of the station's escape pods and virtually splitting the station in two. In the aftermath, the survivors realize someone must have purposefully infected the otherwise inaccessible primary mainframe with the Silversmile virus. This is the only way the Glitter Edifice labs could have been opened after they were locked down, and would also account for the numerous other vital systems that have begun failing, including the orbital stabilizers and artificial gravity.

In order to restore critical systems, Sudler accompanies an IT tech to the station's mainframe. Gravity is restored, and as more systems begin to come back online, Sudler notices a Xenomorph approaching on a security monitor; he hides in a cabinet and watches with intent as the creature arrives and abducts the hapless technician. Meanwhile, Blue — seemingly the last crewmember alive in the living quarters, separated from the rest of the station by the hull breach — receives a message from a nearby ship, offering to extract her so long as she brings a viable Xenomorph sample with her. To this end, she takes control of Marcus, sends him into the Xenomorph kennels, now turned into a Hive by the creatures, and has him impregnated by a Facehugger; while there is no chance of a Chestburster developing within his synthetic body, the Plagiarus praepotens injected into him is safely stored within his artificial stomach.

The other survivors remaining on the station seal themselves in one of the research labs. Dorian convinces Wexler to accompany him on a supply run for food, but when they are alone he reveals it was merely a ruse to get her away from the others, and asks her to escape with him in the one remaining escape pod. When she refuses, he brutally beats her with a chair, virtually paralyzing her, and leaves her for the Xenomorphs. Blue — still piloting Marcus — learns of Sudler's actions when she accesses the station's security footage, only for Sudler to immediately apprehend her; he once again deactivates the synthetic, before beating the android's head to a pulp with a fire extinguisher — knowing that the neural connection will allow Blue to feel the pain herself. Using the station's systems to guide and lure them, he then sends the Xenomorphs after the surviving crew, toying with them. He spares only two technicians, Lucy and Nick, knowing that he will need someone's access codes for the escape pod. He goes to meet with them, psychologically manipulating Lucy into joining him and killing Nick himself.

With Marcus too damaged for her pilot, Blue orders him to get to the escape pod himself. She then takes control of the only other mechanical body on the Cold Forge she can possibly commandeer — the station's Power Loader. She uses it to collect one of the airtight crates used to store the Xenomorph Eggs before rampaging through the station after Sudler. She catches up to him and Lucy, but before she can deliver the killing blow the loader is overpowered by Xenomorphs. Sudler and Lucy continue to the escape pods, donning space suits and heading outside to access the vented section of the station. After she enters her access code, Sudler kills Lucy by pulling off her helmet, exposing her to the vacuum of space, and prepares to leave. However, when he spots the Power Loader moving by carrying the Egg crate, he deduces that Blue is trying to recover a sample and must still have a way off the station with it. Compelled by his hatred and determination to beat her, he goes after her himself.

Sudler catches Blue in the med bay, easily overcoming the handicapped woman and choking her to death before reviving her with the medical systems so that he can torture her further. The Power Loader arrives, but without Blue piloting it herself it cannot intervene. However, several Xenomorphs have followed, and one of the creatures captures Sudler. A second tries to take Blue, but it is killed by the Power Loader, revealing that Marcus had previously uploaded some of his autonomous programming into the machine. She climbs into the empty Egg crate the loader carries, revealing its purpose — without Marcus to help her into a pressure suit, she required the crate as an airtight vessel capable of transporting her through the vented section of the station to the escape pod.

Blue flees the station with the damaged Marcus, while Dorian awakes to find himself impregnated with a Chestburster; now driven utterly insane by his experiences, he relishes its birth as he dies. Some time later, Blue appears before a board of Seegson executives, revealing that it was the company's agents that had been in contact with Blue aboard the Cold Forge, and they who orchestrated the sabotage on board. Congratulating her on escaping the station with the Plagiarus praepotens sample contained within Marcus, they offer her the chance to continue her research for them.

References

  1. "AVPGalaxy - Alien: The Cold Forge – New Alien Novel From Titan!". Retrieved on 2017-09-14.

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