- "Priority one — Ensure return of organism for analysis. All other considerations secondary. Crew expendable."
- ―Special Order 937 (from Alien)
Special Order 937 was a classified retrieval order given by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation to Science Officer Ash aboard the USCSS Nostromo in 2122. The order tasked Ash with ensuring the retrieval and survival of a sample specimen of the species Xenomorph XX121, and stipulated that this task superseded all other priorities, even the safety and survival of the crew. It was Special Order 937 that caused Ash to surreptitiously work against the rest of the ship's crew and aid the Alien in its survival.
The 900 series of special corporate orders were introduced by Weyland Corp in 2095 in response to the Prometheus expedition, when it was realised the actions of human crew members could potentially deny the company opportunities to acquire extraterrestrial technologies or biological specimens. The orders ensure that any synthetic crew member(s) would prioritize the recovery of alien samples over any other considerations. While the orders themselves remained highly classified due to their potential implications, a clause requiring commercial crews to investigate any possible intelligent alien life — thereby increasing the chances of bringing them into situations where the orders would be activated — were added to company contracts in 2101. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation continued to implement such special orders following its formation in 2099.
On the Nostromo
Following the detection and partial decoding of a transmission coming from LV-426, individuals at Weyland-Yutani learned that a highly aggressive and adaptive alien lifeform would likely be found there. With this in mind, the commercial freighter USCSS Nostromo was selected to investigate and retrieve a sample. The only member of the ship's crew who was aware of this secret mission was Ash, a Synthetic sleeper agent assigned to the Nostromo two days before it left Thedus, replacing the existing Science Officer; when the ship encountered the transmission on its return to Earth, the crew considered it to be a coincidence, and duly investigated as per standard Weyland-Yutani regulations.
Ash's mission was to ensure the recovery of a Xenomorph specimen and guarantee its return, alive and intact, to Weyland-Yutani on Earth. Special Order 937 governed this secret mission, making it clear that the ship's crew was of secondary importance to the Alien, and from the moment they were woken from hypersleep Ash began surreptitiously working against his crewmates to ensure his ultimate objective was completed.
Discovery and continued influence
As Ash's role in helping the Xenomorph became harder and harder to hide, Ellen Ripley eventually discovered his secret mission and learned of Special Order 937 from MU/TH/UR, the Nostromo's computer. Ash was destroyed, but not before transferring part of his AI consciousness to the ships escape shuttle, the Narcissus. When Ripley fled the Nostromo in the shuttle, Ash took control of the vessel without her knowledge and kept it drifting undetected in space until he uncovered evidence of further Xenomorph activity on the DSMO Marion above LV-178. He duly redirected the Narcissus there, still seeking to complete his mission as per Special Order 937, but he was eventually wiped from the Narcissus' computer by Chris Hooper, thereby ending any influence of the secret directive.
- The name of the first DLC bonus mission for Alien: Isolation, Crew Expendable, is taken from Special Order 937.
- In Alien, the message on MU/TH/UR's screen says that Ash is to "INSURE" the safe return of the organism, whereas the correct verb would be "ENSURE".
- Aliens/novel (mentioned only)
- Alien: Out of the Shadows/audio drama
- Aliens: Defiance
- Special Order 939 — A similar Weyland-Yutani retrieval order.