- "First the marines broke my back. Then my spirit. Well, they tried to break my spirit and maybe they did, even for a minute. Then I met Davis, who gave it back. Hollis, too. Who looked past my five foot nothing, back-braced self, and only saw the warrior in me. Then they took them away, too. My career, my privacy, my friends, my ability to sleep through the night without any goddamn nightmares...Not that I didn't fight back. I'll always fight back."
- ―Zula (from Aliens: Defiance)
Private First Class Zula M. Hendricks was a member of the United States Colonial Marine Corps. In 2137, she was assigned to a corporate security drone squad, led by Davis One, that was sent aboard the Europa to claim the vessel as salvage for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Instead, the team discovered an infestation of Xenomorphs, an event that propelled Hendricks and Davis One on a personal mission across inhabited space to prevent the creatures falling into the company's hands.
Early life and life-changing injuries
Zula grew up in harsh conditions in a currently unknown district. She describes her early life as "survival". At some point, when Zula was eighteen, Colonial Marines were occupying the area, with a squadron managing a crowd. As one marine deals with a citizen, Zula sneaks up behind him and steals the handgun from his holster. Whilst another marine spots this and plans to shoot her, the latter stops him and queries "how hard she'll fight for it". Zula managed to avoid the marines for eighteen hours until she was finally caught by the previous marine, who convinced her that she should join them. Zula accepts and gives him back his gun, holding the trigger guard with her middle-finger and pointing it at him.
Sometime after her military training, Hendricks was dropped into her first combat operation with the USCM. Mere minutes after dropping into the combat zone, a nearby explosion lands near Zula and she loses her footing and drops her pulse rifle. She crawls up to it and attempts to reclaim the rifle before a second explosion sends her flying. Gravely injured and unable to move, Zula looks to here left and sees an unexploded shell at her side. She turns around and braces for impact as the shell erupts right next to her, her back succumbing to the full force of the blast.
Hendricks found herself facing extensive reconstructive surgery and a lifetime of regular medical procedures to help her manage her damaged spine, which routinely caused her severe pain and often hindered her mobility. Her injuries meant that she was shunned by her fellow Marines and even her superiors, who viewed her as a disgrace for throwing away years of extensive — and expensive — training just minutes into her first battle. As a result, she found herself largely snubbed by the Marine Corps and relegated to routine non-combat operations, a fact she found incredibly frustrating.
Hendricks spent time recuperating from her injuries at Tranquility Base on Luna, under the supervision of Dr. Emi Yang, who hoped to repair the physical damage to her body and return her to fighting strength, although this would be a lengthy and arduous process. While at Tranquility, Hendricks also became close with Amanda Ripley, often accompanying her on her repair jobs, even learning some electronic engineering skills along the way.
When the Seegson commercial cargo hauler Europa was found adrift in space, Hendricks was assigned as military liaison to a squad of Weyland-Yutani Davis corporate security drones sent aboard to claim the vessel for salvage. However, after boarding the ship, several Davis drones were ambushed by a horde of Xenomorphs. Zula recalled how she did not realize that synthetics could scream. During the ensuing chaos, Hendricks' compression suit was compromised and she blacked out.
When she awoke in the ship's medical bay, she was informed by the synthetic in charge, Davis One, that she had in fact been in hypersleep for almost a month whilst the surviving synthetics had dealt with the Xenomorphs and sterilized the ship. Davis had to restrain Zula just in case she tried something irrational and ended up injuring herself. Zula left the bed and had to wear a shock brace in compensation for almost a month without treatment. To her shock, Davis One later informed her that he had broken his programming, contravened his orders to return to Luna, and hijacked the Europa to hunt down the origin of the Xenomorphs on board, recognizing the threat they posed to mankind. Although initially troubled by the revelation that Davis One had developed free will, Hendricks agreed to help him when she learned that Weyland-Yutani had known about the Xenomorphs in advance, and in fact sought to capture live specimens for research.
Following leads found in the files taken from the Europa's mainframe, Hendricks and Davis took the ship to the science station LV-44-40, which they found apparently abandoned. After boarding the station, they quickly discovered a dead Xenomorph, but not other indication of the creatures' presence. After raiding the station's armory and downloading more files from its mainframe, Hendricks moved to investigate heat signatures coming from one of the storage bays, in case there were survivors on board. Instead, she found a small Hive, littered with the corpses of the crew. After barely fighting off a Praetorian and several Facehuggers that emerged from the Hive, Hendricks and Davis One fled back to the Europa and left the station burning in their wake.
AWOL and mutiny
Hendricks and Davis One had now been declared officially away without leave, and as a result Weyland-Yutani remotely reprogrammed the remaining corporate security drones on board to eliminate them and return the ship to Earth. While Davis One was himself unaffected — having hacked his own systems to remove any potential of company control — he and Hendricks were faced with a mutiny that they had to quell with force. After browsing through her terminal, Zula received a message from Dr. Yang. Yang requests Zula to return to Luna. She states that she misses her and wishes to finish her treatment so that she can make an early recovery to end her constant physical pain. She promises that, as her physician, there would be no "permanent mark on your record". Zula reconsiders, then decides to contact Dr. Yang without Davis knowing.
Encounter with Dr. Hollis
While looking for survivors in an Alien-infested fueling depot, Hendricks and Davis discover a lone medical officer and microbiologist, Dr. Hollis, hiding in the bowels of the station. Her research skills and firsthand knowledge of the Xenomorph scourge are invaluable to the mission and the two recruit her into the team. Hollis suggests that the two wait for backup, much to Zula and Davis' confusion. Hollis reveals that a heavily armed squad of Colonial Marines threatens to cut things short. Davis believes that the Marines were there to take a Xenomorphic sample back to Earth under Weyland-Yutani's orders. Zula admits to Davis that she has been in contact with Dr. Yang back at Luna. Davis angrily remarks that he had to kill an entire squad of his men to stay secluded, and although Zula tells him that she needs her help, being "physically compromised". Davis replies that they are both compromised in every sense he can think of.
The group suddenly trigger a containment event protocol. Zula and Davis become soon become separated from Hollis and Hollis becomes trapped with several Facehuggers. Hollis is able to hold them off before Zula get's the door open and Davis kills the remaining Facehuggers.
Before the Marines were able to retreat with a Xenomorph sample, Zula and Davis fired a missile into the Marine's ship, destroying it and killing the squad. They then ran the oxygen generators at overload capacity for an hour before igniting the million-plus tons of fuel on hand, essentially turning the station into an fuel-air bomb creating a massive thermobaric event.
Zula is later seen sulking in her room, depressed about having to commit fratricide against fellow marines. Davis visits her, and tells her that he has temporarily deactivated his emotional spectrum programming as it was too "overwhelming" for him. Zula requests that he turns it back on, saying that if he truly wants to relate to humans, he can't pick and choose his moments. Davis sits next to Zula and the two share an intimate moment of company.
Back on the Europa, Hollis reveals to Zula and Davis that she is pregnant with a Xenomorph Queen embryo. Hollis says that she wants to surgically remove the embryo so that she can study the specimen, hoping to find a weakness in the alien species. The surgery was a success and Davis hastily throws the Queen Chestburster into a chamber where it is cryogenically frozen. Hollis takes a sample and begins studying it.
Hollis is later resting in a quarantined bed. The aftermath of the surgery supposedly taking effect. Davis checks on the unconscious Queen and notices that it has gotten bigger. Zula is seen talking to Hollis before being interrupted by Davis, citing that there is a problem. It is revealed that the Queen is growing and becoming increasingly restless. As Davis attempt to fix the issue, Zula notices a pirate ship approaching the Europa, with numerous pirates boarding the ship with the intention of obtaining the Queen. Zula and Davis are able to hold off the pirates until Davis becomes seriously wounded. With little choice left, Zula unleashes the fully grown Queen on the rest of the pirates and the creature slaughters them with ease.
Setting a course for Earth
Because of the critical condition the Europa and Zula's back is in, not to mention the Queen now rampant aboard the ship, Zula sets a course to Earth, hoping that Dr. Yang will be able to give the group immunity to prosecution, though Davis is less than convinced given his synthetic status, believing that the company will consider him "hardware" to analyze.
As the Europa approaches Earth's moon, Zula manages to bypass Luna air defense by confirming that they have a specimen aboard the station. Meanwhile Davis attaches a fuel cell to the Queen and sends it into the vacuum of space before detonating the cell, eradicating the creature. Luna air defense responds with hostility and begins firing at the Europa, but later ceases after staff back at Luna detect another lifeform aboard the ship and let it go. Zula and Hollis are forced to abandon Davis, who is still in the Europa and eject themselves from the ship in escape pods. Zula tearfully laments over leaving her comrade and ejects the escape pod, with both the ship and the pod approaching Earth.
The pod parachutes to Earth with a sudden impact, followed by the Europa that crashes besides them. Zula expresses her dismay as the pod floats further away from the ship. Several hours pass, until Zula and Hollis are finally seen by military aircraft, where they are seized by several soldiers and sacks are put over their heads. Though Zula protests and asks for Dr. Yang, a soldier tells her to shut up.
Zula is sent to the Spirow-Dakota military hospital under heavy guard. She is being treated by an unsympathetic doctor who calls her a "junkie" due to her constant self-medicating back on the Europa for her spine. Zula asks after Hollis but the doctor is not allowed to disclose anything. After the treatment is finished, she is constantly surveyed and accompanied in the building by two marines, who goad and tease the cuffed Zula and her disability.
After being assigned a lawyer in the wake of a possible court-martial, Zula is finally able to see Dr. Yang. Yang says that no matter what happens, she will always be by her side. Zula tearfully hugs Yang.
As the days went by under the facility, Zula would attend regular therapy session with Yang, though Zula was always aware that the company had rigged the room and that she chose her words carefully.
Zula later attends a tape-recorded interview, where she confirms that she boarded the Europa under orders, that she immediately ignored all attempts at communication from Luna, went AWOL and suppressed a mutiny and killed numerous marines. When asked if she regretted her actions, she replies that although she does regret her actions, she would do it again for humanity's sake.
- "Davis made himself a better person, and i'm better for knowing him, and loving him. He and I, we made a promise to each other, to see the mission through. I might not be a colonial marine any more...And correct me if i'm wrong...But who said the mission was over?"
- ―Zula's last words
Zula is later released from the hospital after being given surgery on her back. She is seen out by Dr. Yang, who tells her she has an "open road" ahead of her. Zula recalls that she'll miss Yang, but did not tell her where she was going.
It is then revealed that Zula made contact with "less-than-legal underground organizations" that provided her with a boat on an island. Zula took the boat out with a small crew of admirers and scuba-diving gear to the area in which the Europa had crashed. Zula takes a dive into the ruins of the ship and, in her solace, manages to recover the deactivated corpse of Davis. She reaches within his head and grabs hold of his neural chip, suggesting that that she would soon be able to see her friend once again.
- "If you want to feel like we do, Davis...You can't pick and choose your moments. The bad's gotta come with the good."
- ―Zula to Davis One
Zula was a pessimistic and depressed individual, growing up in harsh conditions and constantly recalling her humiliating injury after one combat drop and the scorn that she received in the aftermath, especially after her expensive spinal surgery. This further worsened during her mission with Davis after she was forced to commit fratricide against fellow marines to stop them from taking a Xenomorph sample, wondering if she was even "worthy of the uniform". Zula did not seem to get along well with others and seemed to be quite secluded, having few friends and preferring to be alone.
Despite this, she was also very strong-willed and tough, unafraid to speak out against others if her suspicions were raised. She took a liking towards Davis, as he did not sympathize or pity her over the injury (mainly because of his programming) and the two became close allies.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Brian Wood (writer), Tristan Jones (illustrator). Aliens: Defiance #1 (2016), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brian Wood (writer), Tony Brescini (illustrator). Aliens: Defiance #4 (2016), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Brian Wood (writer), Tristan Jones (illustrator). Aliens: Defiance #2 (2016), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Brian Wood (writer), Riccardo Burchielli (illustrator). Aliens: Defiance #3 (2016), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ Brian Wood (writer), Tristan Jones (illustrator). Aliens: Defiance #5 (2016), Dark Horse Comics.