Alien: Out of the Shadows is a novel written by Tim Lebbon and published by Titan Books. Set between Alien and Aliens, the book promises to shed light on never-before-revealed secrets of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. The book was originally slated for a December 2013 release, but this was later put back to January 7, 2014 and later put back again to January 28, 2014. The novel is the first in a trilogy, and will be followed by Alien: Sea of Sorrows, written by James A. Moore and released July 29th, 2014.
The massively acclaimed Alien franchise is one of the most successful of all time, beginning with the first film in 1979. In a dramatic twist, this novel will return us to that time, to Ellen Ripley, and to never-before-revealed secrets of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation … secrets that lead into the events of the second film, Aliens… and beyond!
This story takes place 37 years after the events of Alien. The set-up is a ship known as the Marion; a deep-ore mining vessel operated by the Kelland Mining Company, which is an offshoot of San Rei, which is an apparent subsidiary of Weyland-Yutani. The ship has a crew roster of 50 and is in orbit over LV178 which is a sand-blasted, storm-ridden inhospitable barren rock. However, it is home to large deposits of a compound called trimonite which is apparently the strongest material known to man and worth a fortune. Thus Kelland have set up a mining complex down on the surface of the planet which runs nine levels underground. The first 4 levels have been completely mined out and are currently excavating level 9 at the very bottom.
There are two mining crews each comprised of 20 people who take turns to have 50 consecutive days planetside working the mine. There is an additional skeleton crew to handle the day to day running of the Marion who remain onboard at all times. The story picks up during a shift change shortly after a dropship containing the mining crew has gone down to the surface to deliver the next team and relieve the others to make their way back on another dropship, but all contact has been lost with both them and the mining complex. The 10 people left on board are mildly concerned but put it down to the electrical storms enveloping the planet. The 10 consists of Chris "Hoop" Hooper, ship’s engineer Lucy Jordan, ship’s captain, Josh Baxter, ship’s communications officer, Lachance, the main pilot and a Frenchman, Karen Sneddon, science officer, Garica and Kasyanov, both female and medical personnel, Cornell, security officer, Welford and Powell.
Things begin at a fast-pace with both dropships suddenly coming back into com range. Clearly the miners have discovered a nest of Xenomorphs in the mines and have made a bid to escape, however, several of their number have been facehugged and from CCTV cameras the crew of the Marion can see Chestbursters being born. This soon leads to accident resulting in one of the dropships careering into the side of the Marion and exploding. Not only does the resulting damage kill Cornell and Captain Jordan, it also knocks the ship out of orbit and they begin a very slow descent towards the planet where they will eventually burn up if they cannot conduct repairs. Meanwhile, the second dropship docks on autopilot but has 4 Aliens on board. The Marion's crew seal up the dropship and lock all doors leading to the docking bay, hoping to seal them inside. They watch on camera as the Aliens grow and mature before the feed is lost. Hooper sends out a distress call, mentioning the creatures.
Meanwhile, we cut to Ellen Ripley, still asleep in the Narcissus, who has been drifting now for 37 years. The Narcissus intercepts the Marion's distress beacon and docks with it. This is now 77 days after the original crash. It seems that sometime before Parker burned him alive, Ash inserted his AI into the Narcissus' computers as a contingency to carry on Special Order 937. Because Hoop's distress call mentioned the Aliens, the Narcissus automatically diverted to intercept it. When it docks, Ripley is revived and questioned by the crew while Ash secretly drains the fuel cell of the Narcissus.
Ripley soon learns about the Aliens trapped in the dropship in the hangar and works out that Ash has infiltrated the computer of her ship. The crew explain that their orbit is still decaying and that they need to do something. They decide to come up with a rather desperate plan of using the Narcissus to get back to [[Earth[[ and take turns in the stasis pod. However, they need a new fuel cell and all the spares happen to be down on the mine beneath the planet;s surface. Also, the dropship they need to get to the surface currently has 4 mature Aliens on board.
Eventually, they open up the dropship and the Aliens quickly get loose. Welford and Powell are quickly killed, but the survivors manage to kill 3 of the Aliens using primitive tools such as plasma cutters and "charge thumpers". The final Alien escapes and has the run of the ship to hide.
The remaining six head down to the surface of the planet and intend to ride the elevator down to level 4 of the mine which is where the spare fuel cells are. However, Ash (who has now infected the Marions computers) sabotages the elevator and they end up at level 9. The elevator is now smashed beyond repair but there is an identical one at the other side of the mine that will take them back up to the surface. They just have to cross through the tunnels which they suspect the Aliens have come from. Soon enough, they begin to see signs that the Aliens have been here.
Eventually they find a crack in the walls and emerge into a huge chamber. There is a primitive looking alien ship and evidence of ancient buildings, but these are not from Engineers, these are from four-legged "dog-aliens". The Aliens that have been following throughout the tunnels, slowly herd them towards the ancient ship because it is full of Eggs.
Sneddon is facehugged and they find the remains of the dead dog-alien crew as well as a stasis field containing slightly different Eggs that contain Queen. Ripley and the crew kill a young Queen in one of the tunnels.
Eventually, they make it out and back to level 4 where they retrieve a fuel cell. Baxter is killed by an Alien before the others get back to the dropship and escape back up to the Marion. Ash, who had trapped the remaining Alien in one of the storage bays, lets it loose to kill the survivors. His goal is to get Sneddon and her embryo into the Narciussus to return to Earth and believes the Alien will leave her unharmed.
They find the last Alien, but Lachance is killed before Sneddon blows herself and the creature up as her Chestburster emerges. Ripley, Kasyanov and Hoop head for the ship's med pod. Ripley decides she wants to forget and begs to have someone take the nightmares away. So as well as healing her injuries, Kasyanov programs the med pod to selectively wipe portions of her memories. Kasyanov also enters the med pod to heal her own injuries but Ash takes over and has the machine kill her. It seems Ash wanted Ripley to live following Sneddon's demise.
Ripley, now semi-conscious, is carried by Hoop and put into stasis with Jones on the Narcissus. He then uses a computer virus to purge Ash from the computer and prepares to leave with her. However, in his final act before his deletion, Ash sabotages the auto release clamp controls, meaning Hoop has to leave the Narcissus and activate them on the Marion, meaning he cannot leave with Ripley. He does so and tearfully watches her leave, knowing that she won't even remember him when she wakes up.
Just before the Marion falls into the atmosphere of LV178, Hoop escapes on the dropship. But with no stasis pod and no long-distance travel option, he appears doomed.