Aliens: Earth Hive, also known as Aliens Book 1: Earth Hive, is a 1992 novelization of the comic book series Aliens: Outbreak, written by Steve Perry and published by Bantam Books. It centers on Corporal Wilks, a weary, disgraced Colonial Marine, and a young girl named Billie, a troubled survivor of a Xenomorph outbreak, as they embark on an expedition to a Xenomorph-infested planet to recover a live specimen for the military. However, their mission is complicated by a corporate assassin on their tail, who has orders to stop them at any cost. Meanwhile, religious extremists unleash an Alien infestation on Earth that threatens to consume the entire planet.
Earth Hive is the first novel in the original Aliens novel trilogy — much like the comic on which it is based, it is the first part of a three-part story arc, which is continued in Aliens: Nightmare Asylum and concluded in Aliens: The Female War.
Wilks is a space marine with a near-fatal flaw: he had a heart. Billie was a child, the only survivor of a far-flung colony outpost. Thrown together in the last hellish night of an Alien invasion, Billie and Wilks helped each other get out alive.
Thirteen years later Wilks is in prison, and Billie lives in a mental institution, the nightmare memories of the massacre at Rim seared into her mind. Now the government has tapped Wilks to lead an expedition to the Aliens' home planet to bring back a live Alien.
But the competition on Earth to develop the Aliens as a new weapons system is brutal. When Wilks's team departs on their mission, a trained assassin trails them. And what follows is no less then guerrilla warfare on the Aliens' planet — and Alien conquest on Earth!
Plagued by horrific nightmares of the Xenomorphs, young Billie has been committed to a mental institution for many years, where the doctors attempt increasingly severe treatments to try and cure her of her vivid and distressing dreams. Elsewhere, Coast Guard cutter the Dutton discovers a derelict spacecraft in orbit around Earth. Upon in investigating, the ship's crew are attacked and killed by a Xenomorph and both ships are destroyed.
Back on Earth, disgraced Colonial Marine Corporal Wilks is held in military prison, his only crime being the fact he survived an encounter with the Xenomorphs on the colony world of Rim that claimed the lives of every other member of his unit. Unexpectedly, he is called to a "parole" hearing, where Colonel Stephens introduces him to a Dr. Orona. Orona reveals that he is planning an expedition to the planet from which the Xenomorph's originated to secure a live specimen for the military, who hope to study the creatures and develop weapons to counter them in light of the recent incident involving the Dutton. Although Wilks recognizes the operation as a probable suicide mission, he reluctantly agrees to lead the Marines selected for the job and is promoted to Sergeant, serving under Stephens.
In the mental institute, Billie learns that the doctors intend to lobotomize her in a last-ditch attempt to cure her of her nightmares. She is visited by Wilks, and it is revealed that she is also a survivor of Rim — she was the only member of the civilian colony to escape the planet alive, and Wilks was the Marine who rescued her. This revelation stuns Billie, who now realizes that her terrible dreams were in fact memories and not, as she had been led to believe, delusional hallucinations. Billie informs Wilks of what the doctors intend to do to her, but she is carried off by orderlies while Wilks is sent away. However, before the lobotomy can be carried out, Wilks returns, breaks into the institute and frees Billie.
With little alternative, Billie agrees to join the expedition to the Xenomorph planet and Wilks hides her in a hypersleep pod hidden in the cargo hold of their ship, the USS Benedict. Once the crew awakes near their destination and Billie's presence is revealed, it is too late for Stephens to do anything about the stowaway and the team presses on to their objective. Billie quickly enters a relationship with Bueller, one of the Marines, despite Wilks' protests. It also becomes apparent that there is a saboteur on board when some of the Marines end up dead or missing. The situation escalates when, upon reaching the Xenomorph planet, the Benedict is boarded and commandeered by a team of mercenary androids. The Marines and the ship's crew are all either subdued or killed, but Billie manages to evade capture as she is absent from the ship's manifest.
The mercenaries' leader, an expert assassin named Massey, explains that he has been hired by Bionational Corporation to stop the military obtaining a Xenomorph specimen, as the company fears this development will impact the profits from their own Xenomorph research, being carried out in secret at a lab facility in Lima, Peru. Stephens is revealed to be the saboteur and is in league with the mercenaries, but Massey points out that his duplicity makes him untrustworthy and executes him. Wilks is held prisoner aboard the Benedict while the other Marines are deployed on the planet's surface below — unarmed — to act as bait for the Xenomorphs. Despite eliminating the mercenary androids guarding them and taking their weapons, most of the Marines are killed or taken by the Xenomorphs, while Bueller leads the few that are left into a large Hive to try and rescue those that have been captured.
On the Benedict, Billie frees Wilks and the two manage to kill Massey and retake the ship, before heading to the planet to rescue any survivors. They find only three — Bueller, Blake and a Benedict crewman named Parks. However, as they prepare to leave Bueller is attacked by a Xenomorph and torn in half, revealing him to be a synthetic. Wilks confirms all the Marines on the mission bar himself and Stephens had in fact been androids, due to the dangerous nature of the operation. Billie is devastated by their deceit, but the team is able to escape back to the Benedict with the aid of an Engineer. Before heading home, Wilks razes the entire planet with a coordinated nuclear strike.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Bionational's facility in Lima has been attacked by religious extremists led by Salvaje, who views the Aliens as divine entities. The destruction of the facility allows the creatures to escape, and soon outbreaks begin to appear all over the world. As the planet's foremost Xenomorph expert, Orona leads the military response and meets the threat with initial success. However, after some time the Xenomorphs begin to adapt to human tactics and the tide turns disastrously in their favor. Billions perish as the carnage spreads across the globe, and in the final weeks Orona is cornered in a facility in Mexico; as the Xenomorphs rampage through the complex, he records a final message lamenting his failure, before committing suicide by shooting himself in the head.
By the time Wilks, Billie, Bueller and the other survivors make it back to Earth it is too late. They set down at one of Earth's last secure military installations, only to learn that it is about to be overrun and the military are pulling out, abandoning millions of civilians to certain death. Blake is shot dead when confronting the General leading the retreat, while Wilks, Billie and Bueller manage to stow away aboard an automated cargo ship pre-programmed for a rendezvous with surviving military units at an unknown location. As the ship departs the doomed planet, the survivors again encounter the Engineer in orbit, the creature having followed them from the Xenomorph planet. It communicates telepathically with Billie, and she learns of its indifference towards humanity's plight and that its intentions may be malevolent. Now heading for an uncertain destination, Wilks, Billie and Bueller enter hypersleep and wait to see where the ship will take them.
Behind the Scenes
In the original Aliens comic on which the novel is based, released before Alien3 was made, Wilks and Billie were originally Hicks and Newt, respectively. Their identities were changed in the novel to keep the story consistent with events portrayed in the film series. Bueller was also originally known as Butler; the reason for this change is less clear.
- As well as adapting the first Aliens comic book series, the novel also includes a chapter recreating the comic Aliens: Theory of Alien Propagation in the form of a presentation put together by Waidslaw Orona. Theory of Alien Propagation was in fact a spin-off short story designed to tie into the first Aliens comic, written in the form of an in-universe article by Orona.
- The fate of the Engineer orbiting Earth at the end of the story was originally explained in the comic Aliens: The Alien. However, this comic book was never adapted as a novel and later novels never mention what happens to the Engineer or why he is no longer present when Wilks and Billie return to Earth at the end of the next book, Aliens: Nightmare Asylum. As such, he simply disappears without explanation, despite supposedly having sinister intent.
- The book's cover reuses Den Beauvais' artwork from the hardcover edition of Aliens: Book Two. As such, Earth Hive is the only novel from either Bantam or DH Press not to have an original cover (not counting UK first editions of Aliens: Nightmare Asylum, which reused Dave Dorman's artwork from the Aliens: Genocide trade paperback).