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Empty Nest is a 2017 short story written by Brian Keene, published by Titan Books as part of the anthology novel Aliens: Bug Hunt. The story follows Lance Corporal Lombardo as he struggles to survive a disastrous encounter with the Xenomorph and escape the creatures' Hive with a lone colonist.

Plot

Dispatched to a remote colony on Taurus 7 in response to a Xenomorph outbreak, Lance Corporal Michael Lombardo is now the last surviving member of his four-man squad. Having only ever dealt with lone Xenomorph aggressors before, his unit was ambushed soon after entering the supply depot where they suspected the creatures had established their Hive. Heimbuch and Blazi had died almost instantly, while Antonio was taken soon after.

Now Lombardo stands face-to-face with a group of Xenomorphs and a lone surviving colonist in the Hive. As the Xenomorphs cautiously advance, Lombardo slowly backs in the tunnel behind him, luring them in before destroying them with a high explosive grenade from his M41A Pulse Rifle. The path now clear, he goes to the colonist, named Alice, who is mysteriously not cocooned and clearly suffering from shock. She tells him that the rest of the colonists are all dead, having all been used to host Chestbursters. Giving her his combat knife to help her focus, Lombardo begins to lead the woman out of the facility. Along the way, he learns that her life has been fraught with pain and suffering — aside from being captured by Xenomorphs and watching her colleagues die giving birth to Chestbursters, she is also dying of terminal cancer and once lost her only child to stillbirth.

As they near the exit, Lombardo expresses concern at the ease of their escape, to which Alice assures him the creatures are not following them. When Lombardo questions how she could possibly know this, she mutters, "Because they sent me instead," before slitting his throat. As he slumps to the ground, he realizes too late that Alice has been driven insane. She has been impregnated with a Chestburster herself, and now views the embryo as a chance to have the child she was denied earlier in life. Lombardo bleeds out, before the Chestburster kills Alice.