|Author(s)||S. D. Perry|
|Release date(s)||August 28, 1998|
|Cover by||John Bolton|
|Preceded by||Aliens: Music of the Spears|
|Followed by||Aliens: Original Sin|
Aliens: Berserker is a 1998 novelization of the comic book series of the same name, written by S. D. Perry and published by Bantam Spectra. The book follows a Weyland-Yutani "hunter/killer" team, a squad consisting of hardened convict volunteers and a lethal Berserker combat mech that specialises in Xenomorph clean-up operations, as they tackle the largest Hive in history aboard the space station DS 949.
DEATH OR REDEMPTION
It is called a Berserker team — reckless, desperate volunteers recruited by the Company to destroy Alien infestations. Based on the spaceship Nemesis, it consists of three brutal ex-cons who do all the grunt work and the Berserker itself, code-named MAX: an armed and armored exoskeleton powered by the living brain of what was once a human, configured into an unstoppable killing machine.
When the Nemesis is sent to a massive space station, D.S. 949, the team finds an alien hive, the largest in history, with nearly a thousand hapless humans cocooned and incubated. The team mission: to destroy the Aliens while leaving the terminal intact. The mission seems like suicide to the bug hunters and their small support staff. And that is perfectly fine for the Company... which wants no witnesses left to the terrifying secret of D.S. 949.
When a mining facility on the planet Traon experiences a Xenomorph outbreak, a Weyland-Yutani Berserker cleanup team under the leadership of Colonial Marine Commander "Pop" Izzard is dispatched to eradicate the creatures. While Pop and his second in command, Lieutenant Katherine Lara, observe from the surface, the ground team — consisting of convict volunteers "Teepee" Teape, "The Candyman" Pulaski and their leader Martin Jess, along with the currently comatose Berserker unit itself, nicknamed Max — enter the deep mine shafts where the outbreak has been contained.
After setting a nuclear bomb with an eight-hour countdown as a failsafe, Teepee allows himself to be captured by the Xenomorphs so that they will take him into the heart of their Hive, thereby revealing the approximate location of the resident Queen. Max is activated by the Weyland-Yutani technician in charge of the cyborg, the inexperienced but eager Brian Ellis, and the Berserker carves a path of destruction into the Hive, saving Teepee before he can be impregnated by a Facehugger and slaughtering the Queen. With Max's help, the team quickly dispatches the remaining Xenomorph Warriors and declare the mine clear, although many of the resident miners have perished. Their job done, the team load up aboard their ship, the Nemesis, and head for home, looking forward to a period of down time following another successful operation.
However, less than 24 hours after lifting off, Pop is contacted by Grigson, the team's Weyland-Yutani handler, with orders to proceed immediately to the space station DS 949, where another large outbreak has overrun the facility. Despite their disapproval and Teepee's increasingly fragile mental state, the squad has no choice but to comply, arriving at the station to find it lifeless and quiet. Jess, The Candyman and Teepee go aboard, and Lara elects to accompany them so that she can tap into the station's surveillance network, allowing her to monitor the team's progress more accurately. Pop attempts to stop her due to his unrequited feelings towards the Lieutenant, stemming from a previous sexual relationship, but concedes when Lara points out it is her job as communications officer.
After being ambushed by several Facehuggers, one of which almost subdues Lara, the squad reaches the station's command center, discovering a scene of carnage, mangled corpses littering the room. Lara carries out the necessary patch and the team regroups aboard the Nemesis, fighting off several Xenomorphs on their way out. A check of the surveillance system reveals that the station has been totally overrun and that there cannot possibly be any survivors — nonetheless, Weyland-Yutani has ordered the station be cleansed and reclaimed intact rather than destroyed with a nuclear strike, a fact that does not sit well with the ground team, who realise they will be facing hundreds of Xenomorphs, almost impossible odds.
Jess, The Candyman and Teepee return to DS 949, heading for the main Hive, located in one of the docking bays. They secure the station section by section, clearing each area before sealing it and moving on. Ellis is forced to follow behind with the comatose Max as the station's shielding will prevent the cyborg from being activated remotely. Things initially go according to plan, but a sudden communications failure just as the Xenomorphs attack en masse plunges the team on board the station into chaos. Lara rushes aboard to try and fix the problem; she is again attacked by a Facehugger in the command center, just barely managing to seal the creature inside a refrigerator unit before getting the comms systems back on line. The team reestablishes contact, but Jess reveals that during the blackout The Candyman was killed and Teepee captured prematurely. Lara orders Ellis to power up Max, but to their horror the Berserker grinds to a halt just moments after activating.
The feed from Teepee's camera as he is carried into the Hive reveals the source of the infestation aboard the station — the Xenomorphs were brought aboard on a Weyland-Yutani vessel called the Trader, revealing that the company knew and was responsible. Meanwhile, Ellis opens up Max, discovering that the human convict entombed inside has died, rendering the machine useless. When Jess is also captured by the Xenomorphs, a desperate Ellis climbs inside the empty Berserker himself and takes control, the machine agonisingly boring a neurological link into his brain. Ellis blasts his way into the Hive, saving Jess but arriving too late for Teepee, who is impregnated with a Chestburster; Jess mournfully executes him before he can experience the birth.
Pop finally reveals the reason for their suicidal incursion — Weyland-Yutani needs the flight data from the Trader so that they can cover up their involvement in the infestation. Jess and the Berserker reluctantly comply, before fighting their way back out of the Hive, Ellis struggling to maintain mental control against the computer programs governing the Berserker suit's operation. Meanwhile Pop has also come aboard DS 949, cornering Lara in the command center. As he sets a nuclear bomb to destroy the station, he reveals to the Lieutenant that there can be no witnesses to what Weyland-Yutani has done, although he has bargained with the company for her to be spared, provided they rekindle their relationship. Lara feigns interest in his proposal long enough to unleash the Facehugger she earlier trapped in the refrigerator, which quickly subdues Pop.
With Jess and Ellis on the verge of being overrun by Xenomorphs, Lara takes control of Pop's shuttle and rescues them, blasting away from the station shortly before the bomb detonates, destroying DS 949 and the Nemesis. Jess eases Ellis out of the Berserker suit, worried that his ordeal may have caused permanent brain damage but hopeful that he will recover. With only around three days air supply left aboard the short-range shuttle, the three survivors fly off to an uncertain future.
- Aliens: Berserker would be the final Aliens novel that is an adaptation of a Dark Horse comic book; the following book, Aliens: Original Sin, is an original story, as are all the subsequent novels. It was also the last Aliens novel to be published by Bantam; when the book series resumed in 2005, titles were published by DH Press.
- Berserker is one of three books in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchise from Bantam that was never published in the United Kingdom, the others being Predator: Big Game and Aliens vs. Predator: War. In fact, Berserker seems to have been printed in only limited quantities even in America, and as such it is today by far the hardest of Bantam's novels to find. Notably, all of these unpublished novels are the final books from Bantam in their respective series (meaning that the novels essentially stopped two years earlier in the UK, in 1997, with Aliens vs. Predator: Hunter's Planet being the final book released).
- The concept of the titular Berserker in fact originates from the earlier story Aliens: Tribes, which has a similar plot following a Berserker-equipped clean-up unit being dispatched to a Xenomorph-infested space station. Jess' propensity to say, "Yo," in the novel may in fact be a subtle reference to Tribes, in which the character of Point frequently says the same.