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Dark Mother is a 2017 short story written by David Farland, published by Titan Books as part of the anthology novel Aliens: Bug Hunt. It reveals the final hours of Carter Burke at Hadley's Hope, including his capture by the Xenomorphs and his imprisonment inside the Hive at the colony's Atmosphere Processing Plant, as well as shedding light on his unhappy upbringing.

Plot

Having locked Ripley and her fellow Colonial Marines in the Operations Center at Hadley's Hope, Burke attempts to flee the area. However, he is ambushed by a Xenomorph Warrior and knocked unconscious.

Sensing that he is being carried, Burke dreams about his youth, remembering how he used to suffer from bed-wetting and how his mother used to carry him to the bath to wash him, making no attempt to mask her disgust. Coming to, Burke realizes he is being carried by the Warrior and manages to control his fear. Desperate, he attempts to reason with the creature, but it simply slams him against the wall to knock him out once more.

Burke awakens cocooned inside the Hive within the Atmosphere Processor, surrounded by the corpses of the colonists who served as hosts before him. He sees the Queen laying Eggs in an adjacent chamber, once of which is brought before him by a Warrior. He again tries to bargain with the Xenomorph, pointing out that, as a senior employee of Weyland-Yutani, he can get them anything they may desire. The Warrior ignores him, placing the Egg before him. As he awaits the inevitable, Burke realizes that his plan to smuggle a Xenomorph back through ICC quarantine could still succeed — with him carrying the embryo himself. Hoping to have the embryonic Xenomorph surgically removed once he reaches Earth, he allows the Facehugger to subdue him.

Burke again remembers his youth, this time recalling how he once saw his mother being raped by a man in his parents' apartment. When he finally plucked up the courage to tell his father, he is stunned to learn his father was well aware. In fact, his father openly admits to using his talents as a plastic surgeon to alter his wife's appearance so that she might lure wealthy, influential men into sexually assaulting her, recording the attacks and then blackmailing those responsible. The young Burke is horrified by the revelation.

Burke awakes and hears evidence of Ripley's raid on the Hive. He manages to break out of his cocoon, desperate to reach a ship before the Atmosphere Processor melts down and before the Chestburster inside him can emerge. Making his way through the disintegrating station, Burke finally reaches the landing pad, only to discover Ripley and the others have already left aboard the dropship. Defeated, he falls to his knees and dies as the Chestburster tears its way out of his chest, moments before the Atmosphere Processor detonates in a blinding explosion.

Trivia

  • Original printings of the book include numerous errors in this story, including editor's notes seemingly left within the text, and a jump from Burke being cocooned to him being free, without his escape ever being explained. He also mysteriously acquires a grenade without explanation (hinting at the deleted scene cut from Aliens where Ripley hands him one).