|Author(s)||S. D. Perry|
|Release date(s)||March 1, 1996|
|Cover by||John Bolton|
|Preceded by||Aliens: Rogue|
|Followed by||Aliens: Music of the Spears|
On the space station Innominata the infamous Dr. Paul Church has built a maze of tunnels. Church is hiding the results of his latest experiments. His aim... to bring human and alien together as one being!
Colonel Dr. Tony Crespi has one ambition — to work with Church, a brilliant scientist. But one by one the men on Innominata have been dying in the attempt to meld alien and man. When Crespi finds his way to the heart of the labyrinth he discovers a chamber of horrors — will he ever be able to find a way out...?
USCM scientist Colonel Doctor Anthony "Tony" Crespi is sent to the research space station Innominata by his superiors, ostensibly to assist Colonel Doctor Paul Church in his research, replacing Church's previous assistant, Dr. Lennox, who recently suffered a fatal heart attack. However, Crespi's real mission is to investigate Church and his activities, as his superiors have become concerned that the doctor's methods may be unethical. Crespi is transported to Innominata along with a small contingent of Colonial Marines, including Lieutenant Sharon McGuinness, who secretly harbours her own reasons for visiting the station.
Once aboard Innominata, Crespi is initially ignored by Church and blown off by Admiral Thaves, the man in charge of the station, greatly infuriating him. When he finally secures a meeting with Church, he finds him to be arrogant and disagreeably eccentric, while Church inwardly holds out little hope that Crespi harbors the mental capacity to act as a useful assitant. However, the two nonetheless begin working together, Church revealing that he has several live Xenomorph test subjects on Innominata that are secured in electrified, pit-like cells.
Crespi's initial horror at discovering the creatures causes him to have disturbing flashbacks to a disastrous encounter with the Xenomorphs that he experienced several years previously; whilst on a search-and-destroy expedition into a Xenomorph Hive, his Marine unit was overwhelmed and slaughtered, leaving him the only survivor. Church's actions are further called into question when Crespi is approached by McGuinness, who reveals that she was Lennox's fiancé and that she suspects his death was the result of foul play. To convince Crespi, she presents him with evidence that shows far more personnel have been arriving at the station than are visibly employed there. Crespi asks her to covertly investigate further.
As Crespi continues to work alongside Church in the labs, he soon finds himself won over by the doctor's obvious genius and fruitful research into the Xenomorphs. Church is likewise impressed by Crespi's intellect and drive. Church shows his new assistant that he has learned much about the creature's natural instinctive behavior, and shows that he has even had some success in enabling man to control the creatures via their telepathic link with each other. His experiments in this regard typically involve putting the Xenomorphs into the "labyrinth", a maze-like network of dark tunnels beneath his lab, where they are presented with various scenarios involving live targets, either human or animal, and their choices recorded and studied. Human subjects are kept safe by the powerful electro-shock systems built into the labyrinth, which can shock the creatures into submission before they can harm anyone.
However, when a worker is killed by an escaped Xenomorph in what may possibly be an engineered incident, Crespi is forced to question his allegiance to Church. He offers to assist McGuinness, who sends him to the lab in the middle of the night to retrieve a datapad that will enable her to access a secret area she has discovered on Innominata. Crespi is attacked by another escaped Xenomorph while doing so. He just barely survives, and immediately confronts McGuinness, whom he accuses of trying to kill him. She convinces him that proof of her innocence will likely be found in the secret laboratory, and the two investigate. Within, they discover Church has been attempting to fuse human and Xenomorph DNA, creating grotesque abominations that are then studied as part of his research. Among the malformed bodies is that of Lennox, causing McGuinness to break down.
The pair are discovered and cornered by Church. Despite Crespi's initial rage, Church manages to convince him that the secret experiments they have stumbled upon are necessary as a means to save countless lives from the Xenomorph threat, even if they are potentially immoral. He also reveals that he too was previously the victim of a horrific Xenomorph encounter, having been on the Incunabulum when its crew — including his mother Lucian and father Jason — were captured by the creatures on an uncolonised moon. The crew were taken to the Xenomorphs' Hive, wherein Church witnessed unspeakable horrors and was eventually impregnated by a Facehugger. However, he was spared when an unknown fungal disease killed the Xenomorphs. After escaping back to the Incunabulum and removing the deceased Xenomorph embryo from his own chest, he was rescued, thoroughly debriefed by the USCM, and subsequently set up as a research leader.
Church also convinces Crespi that McGuinness is a dangerous psychotic seeking to destroy his invaluable research and that Lennox, far from being her fiancé, was in fact his own lover before his death. McGuinness flees into the labyrinth and Crespi gives chase, realising too late that Church has manipulated and lied to him — Church seals them both inside and unleashes his Xenomorphs. Crepsi is killed but McGuinness, driven on by unspeakable rage that causes the Xenomorph test subjects to spare her, escapes and brutally attacks Church, throwing him to his own Xenomorphs before being subdued by security.
Soldiers manage to save Church, who is badly injured and spends the next few weeks recuperating. During this time, he inwardly admits that the incident has affected him deeply, possibly changing his outlook on his research and methods. McGuinness, meanwhile, is detained and returned to Earth to face trial for her actions.
- ↑ At least one UK printing of the book bears the title Aliens: The Labyrinth.