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Queen (caste)

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"She's badass, man, I mean BIG!"
―Pvt. Hudson, likening the First Acheron Queen to the ant equivalent (from Aliens Special Edition)
Promo07
The Antarctica Queen with a Drone.
Queen
Biological information
Homeworld

Xenomorph Prime, potentially any planet

Physical description
Height

15'+

Weight

10 tons

Skin color

Black, black-blue

Distinctions

Immense size, Egg sac, head crest, extra pair of arms

Other information
Affiliation

Xenomorph

Notable Individuals

First Acheron Queen
Cloned Queen
Queen (Antarctica)
The Matriarch
Specimen 6
Second Acheron Queen

  [Source]

A Queen is a large form of the species Xenomorph XX121 that serves as the mother and leader of a Xenomorph Hive. Queens are the largest and most intelligent Xenomorph caste, and their appearance differs from that of smaller variants, with a pair of extra arms growing from her chest and a large head crest extending rearwards from their skull.

Queens are capable of engaging in combat and are formidable opponents, but such an event is a rare occurrence. Rather Queens usually act as stationary Egg-layers within the Hive, letting the Praetorians (or Drones and Warriors) perform any defensive or offensive tasks. A Queen additionally oversees the maintenance of the nest, a task carried out by the Drones. When laying Eggs a Queen possesses a huge Egg sac that renders it immobile. Queens are significantly more intelligent than normal Xenomorphs, displaying traits of wrath and vengeance beyond any purely instinctual behavior, have displayed problem-solving skills, and are also capable of issuing orders and commands to subservient castes.

The Queen first appeared in Aliens, having been designed for that film by James Cameron,[1] and has gone on to become an iconic part of the Alien life cycle and appear in numerous other media. Queens also featured in the films Alien Resurrection and Alien vs. Predator, as well as numerous novels and comics and virtually every video game based on the Alien universe.

CharacteristicsEdit

Out of all the Xenomorph species, the Queen possesses the most physical differences. It's most prominent feature is its immense size, typically standing more than double the height of most other Xenomorphs, while some older Queens have been known to grow larger still. Correspondingly, many typical Xenomorph features are also considerably larger on a Queen, including her jaws, which are filled with razor-sharp transparent teeth several inches long, and her inner jaw, the maw of which can be almost as large as a human head.[1]

Queens have large, armored, crown-like carapaces on their heads, into which they are able to withdraw their face and mouth as a means of protection, similar to how a turtle can withdraw its head into its shell. This great carapace is of disproportional size when compared to the rest of the Queen's very large body. Queens also have double-jointed hind legs, two sets of dorsal tubes, which are more spike-like than on other Xenomorphs, six digit hands — with the third finger being much longer than the others — and an extra armored shell on their chest in the form of another carapace. They also have a second, much smaller pair of arms extending from the center of their chest; the exact purpose of these arms is not known. A Queen's tail is extremely long and segmented, with a large, blade-like tip. As with typical Warriors, Queen tend to be black or black-blue in coloration.

Ripley finds Queen

The first Acheron Queen on her "throne" in the Hive.

Egg-laying Queens are easily identified by their enormous Egg sac, which extends from beneath their tail and can be up to 30 or 40 feet in length. These Egg sacs are typically suspended from the ceiling of the Hive by "straps" created from the same secreted resin as the Hive itself. Owing to the size and weight of this sac, any Queen in the laying stage is immobile and totally dependant on her subordinates for assistance and protection. However, the Egg sac can be detached in a critical situation to allow the Queen to escape, although this process is apparently painful for the Queen[1] and it is unlikely the sac can be reattached as easily, if at all. However, Queens are capable of growing a new Egg sac within a reasonably short period of time.[2] While immobilized, the Queen typically folds her legs up under her body and is instead supported by a biomechanical "throne".[1]

A Queen, despite her size ratio compared to other Xenomorphs, can sustain near-limitless gunfire before having to retreat, thanks largely to her thickened skin and additional armor. They have also been seen to survive being almost totally enveloped by fire,[1] although prolonged exposure to heat and flame is eventually fatal.[2] As a result of their resilience, once released from her laying stage a Queen can destroy most prey within seconds. It has also been noted that Queens display numerous signs of extreme muscle density; indeed, Queens are capable of tearing synthetics in two with just their hands.[1] This, coupled with their great size, makes any form of hand-to-hand fighting an unwise tactic when confronting one, even for Yautja. The Queen is fast considering her size, capable of sprinting quickly across large distances.[3] They are also incredibly long lived, with some specimens estimated to have survived for tens of thousands of years.[2] At least in very cold conditions, Queens are apparently able to "hibernate" or otherwise suspend their metabolism as a means to further extend their lifespan.[3]

While Xenomorphs are usually said to be asexual, Queens are typically classified as female, owing to their similarities with similar female egg-laying castes in the insect kingdom. Usually, there is only a single Queen present in any Xenomorph populace. However, on occasion it is possible for multiple Queens to come into contact with each other. Such a course of events will lead to conflict, with the ultimately dominant Queen often being referred to as an Empress and ruling over any other Queens situated in her domain.

As with the Spitter and Runner castes, Queens are capable of spitting acid from their mouths.[4]

IntelligenceEdit

Queens are very intelligent and have been known to operate machinery and understand and and even interpret human actions at a basic level. They are able to communicate with and command other Xenomorphs through various means, apparently including the use of audible screeches, pheromone release and possibly even some form of telepathy; Queens are typically in almost constant contact with their brood, even across significant distances or through considerable obstructions.[5][2] Queens also possess significant observational learning abilities. All of these skills were displayed when the first Queen on LV-426 ordered her Warriors to back off when Ellen Ripley threatened to destroy her Eggs.[1] This ability to interact and even "negotiate" with a human implies significant and advanced intellect. While many of these intellectual traits can be seen to some degree in virtually all Xenomorphs, it is known that Queens are vastly superior in every aspect.

Although they are violent and hostile monsters, Queens seem to be very caring and protective towards their offspring, and will act (or refrain from acting) if doing so will benefit their spawn. However, destruction of a Queen's nest can apparently drive her into a vengeful rage; the Queen on LV-426 pursued Ripley and Rebecca Jorden relentlessly after the former incinerated her Hive, even going so far as to hide herself in the landing gear of their Dropship and follow them back to the USS Sulaco.[1]

In Deadliest of the Species, Caryn threatens a Royal Egg with a spear to get the Queen to release her friends; the Queen, however, begins squeezing them until they bleed, giving Caryn her own threat. Caryn then places the egg in front of the Queen telling her she (Caryn) will be a host to a Royal Facehugger if she (the Queen) lets her friends go, the Queen complies and releases the captive humans and gives Caryn a Royal Facehugger, which Caryn uses to impregnate herself. The Queen, from that point on, protects the group, though this may be instinct to protect her heir rather than actually protecting the group because of a deal. Also, in Aliens: Earth Hive, a Queen is given an IQ test, of sorts, and receives a score of 175.

CreationEdit

The exact means by which a Queen comes into being is still debated. In the novelization of Aliens, Bishop theorizes that the introduction of Royal Jelly at the Egg stage may lead to the creation of a Queen (similar to how honey bee queens are created).[6] This implies a Queen is a Queen from the earliest stages in its life cycle.

This theory was to be backed up in Alien3, which originally included a Royal Facehugger that was capable of implanting a special Queen embryo into a host, as well as implanting an additional normal embryo into a second host so that the soon-to-be-born Queen would have a Drone to protect it during the critical early stages of its life.[7] However, all of the scenes showing this were removed from the theatrical cut of the movie (although they were later reinstated in the extended Assembly Cut). While the embryo within Ripley is still said to be that of a Queen in the film, it was not clarified why this was so in the theatrical version, nor is it explained how two embryos came to be when only one Egg and one Facehugger are seen in the movie.[8] The Queen Chestburster itself is shown to have a partially developed head crest, as well as well-developed legs and four arms like mature Queens.[9]

With the removal of the Royal Facehugger from the widely released version of Alien3, the Alien vs. Predator video game series developed their own method of creating the Queen, whereby they evolve from Praetorians. Specimen 6 in Aliens vs. Predator was seen to evolve along these lines, molting into a Queen from a Praetorian stage in the final cutscene of the game's Alien campaign.

In Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, the Predalien was shown to be capable of impregnating humans with multiple Xenomorph embryos directly.[10] The directors subsequently stated the creature was a premature Queen and that this unique impregnation method was designed to allow it to quickly build up an army of Xenomorphs before it evolves into its immobile Egg-laying stage.

HostsEdit

It is not clear whether a Queen will adopt some of the characteristics of its host, as with other Aliens, largely because a Queen's origins and growth have never been properly explored in the films. In Alien3, Ellen Ripley is impregnated with a Queen embryo, but she commits suicide before the Chestburster can emerge and fully mature, leaving its ultimate form unclear.[8] If Queens do inherit traits from their hosts, then logically the Queens seen in Aliens and Alien vs. Predator must be human-spawned examples. It is likely the juvenile Queen seen in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, which includes many traits taken from its host, a Predator, would have a different appearance when fully matured. However, as it does not survive to maturity its ultimate form remains a mystery.

Conversely, the video game Alien versus Predator: Extinction makes it clear that Queens are pure Xenomorphs and do not take any traits from their host, and will thus always be of similar appearance; the only exception to this, the Predalien Queen, was created through genetic engineering rather than natural reproduction. Various expanded universe media has shown that Queens appear similar to the creature seen in Aliens even when they are spawned from non-human hosts.

TriviaEdit

  • H. R. Giger notably had no involvement in the design of the Queen. However, he would go on to praise the creature's look, calling it "really great".[11]
  • In Aliens, Private Hudson theorizes that the Xenomorph Queen may be physiologically comparable to ant or bee queens. However, they actually have far more in common with queen termites, including their larger size and greatly distended egg-laying abdomen.
  • In Alien vs. Predator, the Queen appears much larger than the one seen in Aliens. This is most likely a result of age, as the Queen in Aliens was only very young, whereas the Queen in Alien vs. Predator had presumably lived for much longer.
  • It has been shown that a Queen can ultimately evolve from a Warrior, as was the case with Specimen 6.
  • The Queen in the 2010 video game Aliens vs. Predator has a different appearance to other Queens seen previously, with a grey coloration to her exoskeleton, which in many places is wrinkled and broken likely as a result of her extreme age. Many have taken this as evidence that she is in fact a Xenomorph Empress.
  • In the video game Mass Effect 3, a queen for a species known as the rachni is encountered in much the same state as the Queen in Aliens — seated on a large biomechanical throne that greatly resembles that in the movie and surrounded by humanoid aliens known as Krogan who have been cocooned to the chamber's walls.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3  Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Paul W.S. Anderson (writer and director). Alien vs. Predator [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  4. Aliens: Extermination
  5. Ann Crispin (1997). Alien Resurrection novelization. Warner Books, Inc., 94. 
  6. Alan Dean Foster (1986). Aliens novelization. Warner Books, Inc., 212. 
  7. Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 Assembly Cut [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  9. "Weyland-Yutani Archives". Retrieved on 2013-04-25.
  10. Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Jim Thomas, John Thomas (writers) and The Brothers Strause (directors). Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  11. Ridley Scott, James Cameron, H. R. Giger, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald ShusettThe Alien Saga [DVD]. Prometheus Entertainment.

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