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Deep Black is a 2017 short story written by Jonathan Maberry, published by Titan Books as part of the anthology novel Aliens: Bug Hunt. It follows a trio of elite Colonial Marine operatives who are deployed to Fiorina "Fury" 161 when suspicious activity is detected on the surface of the long-abandoned world.

Plot

An elite three-man Colonial Marine spec ops team is dispatched to Fiorina "Fury" 161 when suspicious activity is detected on the supposedly abandoned and deserted planet. After waking from hypersleep in orbit, the team is briefed by the synthetic pilot of their ship, named Sid. Sid recounts to them the events that led to Fury being abandoned, going all the way back to Ellen Ripley's first encounter with a Xenomorph aboard the Nostromo, through the incident at Hadley's Hope, to Ripley's arrival on Fury and the subsequent Xenomorph incident at the prison colony that claimed the lives of all but one of the ex-convicts serving as custodians there. Sid goes on to explain that Weyland-Yutani sent three separate science teams to scour the planet in the aftermath of the incident, but nothing of value was recovered and Fury has been deserted for the past ten years. Until now.

Activity has been detected at the prison complex, including the presence of a highly advanced stealth starship that suggests the mystery intruders are far more than squatters or pirates. Suspecting the trespassers may have found something of value at the colony that they missed, Weyland-Yutani has arranged for the small USCM team to go in and investigate.

Team leader Master Sergeant Alyn Harper and Sergeants Lulu Hoops and Bax Patel descend to the surface, setting down some distance from the prison and heading in on foot. Upon arriving, they find the ship and realize it belongs to the Jĭngtì Lóng Corporation, as well as evidence of activity and temporary shelters set up around the wreck of the Type 337 EEV that brought Ripley to the planet a decade previously. However, the area is suspiciously devoid of human activity. Harper has Lulu runs a heat scan and she detects multiple heat sources inside the ship, but struggles to get a clear fix beyond a large group clustered around the ship's engine core.

Recognizing Jĭngtì Lóng as a ruthless competitor to Weyland-Yutani with a history of aggressive corporate espionage, Harper elects to investigate further. The team finds the interior of the EEV has been utterly stripped by the intruders. With his knowledge of past events on the planet and with mission parameters that include the recovery of any Xenomorph specimens — in whole or in part — they might encounter, Harper becomes concerned that the Jĭngtì Lóng team found something that Weyland-Yutani missed and now have access to viable Xenomorph research materials.

The team approaches the Jĭngtì Lóng ship, finding it powered down and seemingly abandoned. However, blood on the exterior ramp hints at some kind of slaughter in the recent past. They cautiously approach the ship's open rear hatch, stopping when they hear fatal screams from inside, followed by the screech of an alien creature. Realizing the Jĭngtì Lóng team has indeed recovered Xenomorph samples — and fallen victim to them — Harper elects to go against his orders to retrieve samples for Weyland-Yutani, knowing they could never hope to contain the creatures, and proposes they kill them all. When his compatriots agree the Xenomorphs must be destroyed, all three ready their Pulse Rifles and prepare to enter the ship.

Trivia

  • Throughout the story, Weyland-Yutani is erroneously shorted to W-T. Double-Y syndrome also mistakenly referred to as "double-X" syndrome.