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Chance Encounter is a 2017 short story written by Paul Kupperberg, published by Titan Books as part of the anthology novel Aliens: Bug Hunt. In it, the crew of a commercial starship are ordered to document a previously unexplored planet, discovering a host of strange fauna — including an aggressive alien species in which Weyland-Yutani expresses a particular interest.

Plot

The USCSS Typhoon is forced to set down on an uncharted planet in the Zeta2 Reticuli system for urgent repairs, discovering a world ripe with previously undocumented flora and fauna. The crew are ordered by Weyland-Yutani to survey the area and gather any useful data they can. The crewmembers who venture out, gambling-obsessed London and Warrant Officer Gilmore, discover huge, towering tree-like plants and giant, jellyfish-like creatures they dub "Floaters". While exploring, they also witness a voracious, black-shelled creature attack and slaughter one of the Floaters. The pair hurry back to the ship and tell the other crew about the life they have discovered, including the hostile "Leaper".

When the data is sent to Weyland-Yutani, the company orders the crew to obtain a biological Leaper sample "at any cost", additionally stressing that the lifeforms should be approached with caution. Despite their anxiety, the crew arm themselves and head back out to where the Floater was killed. London moves ahead to collect samples, and several adult Leapers, hiding within the Floater's corpse, emerge from the decaying creature's grievous wounds and attack. London is dragged away through the forest to another dead Floater, inside which the Leapers have constructed a Hive, while the rest of the creatures surround the other members of his crew.

When the Typhoon's crew open fire on the Leapers, killing several with their advanced weapons, London is abandoned while more of the creatures emerge from the Hive and run to join in the battle. Now alone, London detonates a spare oxygen tank inside the Hive, setting it ablaze in a roaring inferno. The remaining Leapers abandon their assault on the humans and rush into the conflagration, apparently attempting to save their young, giving the crew the chance to escape back to their ship and off the planet.

Unknown to the rest of the crew, London recovered an immature Egg from the Hive before destroying it, and as he dreams of Leapers in his cabin that night it hatches, releasing a Facehugger that attacks him as he wakes.

Trivia

  • The cigar-smoking Xenomorph that appears in London's dream at the end of the story is possibly a reference to the comic Aliens: Stronghold, which prominently features Norbert, a synthetic Xenomorph, smoking a cigar on the cover of issue 3.