I am looking specifically for an in-universe canonical answer with citations such as insight from the novelization or some other form of media that might have made a reference to this stuff such as a spin-off comic or book. I am not looking for an answer that idly speculates behavior based on casual concepts of office politics or the way military culture (supposedly) operates.

Near the beginning of Aliens (1986)—in the locker room just after the Space Marines and passengers on the Sulaco come out of Hypersleep near LV-426—Private Vasquez makes the following comment about Ripley:

Private Vasquez: Hey, mira, who’s Snow White?

Corporal Ferro: She’s supposed to be some kinda consultant. Apparently she saw an alien once.

Private Hudson: Whoopee-f**kin’-do. Hey, I’m impressed.

I realize that in the film they state there wasn’t enough time for a debriefing before going off on this mission, but it seems kind of odd to me that Corporal Ferro would have some insight into who Ripley was and Private Vasquez wold be completely clueless.

Perhaps this was due to Ferro’s higher rank in the fictional Colonial Marine force and the rushed nature of the mission, but is there any citable in-universe explanation as to why one fictional Space Marine would know some vague details about the nature of the mission while another fictional Space Marine was not really informed of anything?


6 Answers 6


The Alan Dean Foster novelisation of Aliens (and indeed the film) indicates that only the officers received a briefing before leaving Gateway Station. The marines themselves weren't even defrosted, just left on their dropship after their last mission.

Spunkmeyer was up near the head of the line and still complaining. "I need some slack, man. How come they send us straight back out like this? It ain’t fair. We got some slack comin’, man."

Hicks murmured softly. "You just got three weeks. You want to spend your whole life on slack time?"

"I mean breathing, not this frozen stuff. Three weeks in the freezer ain’t real off-time."

The marines evidently remain in stasis until arriving at their destination when they're given a briefing from their officers before being dropped. In this instance it would appear that Ferro has been sniffing around the officers trying to find out who the mystery lady is, whereas Vasquez and Hudson simply haven't bothered.

She describes her info as having come from the "skipchat". I asked Alan Dean Foster what this word meant and he replied that it was future-speak for "scuttlebutt" (i.e. a nautical rumour going around)

"Who’s the freshmeat again?" Vasquez asked the question as she washed cleanser out of her hair.

"She’s supposed to be some kinda consultant. Don’t know much about her." The diminutive Ferro wiped at her belly, which was as flat and muscular as a steel plate, and exaggerated her expression and tone. "She saw an alien once. Or so the skipchat says."

"Whooah!" Hudson made a face. "I’m impressed."


"At ease." The line flexed as muscles were relaxed. "I’m sorry we didn’t have time to brief you before we left Gateway, but-"

"Sir?" said Hudson.

Annoyed, Gorman glanced toward the speaker. Couldn’t let him finish his first sentence before starting with the questions. Not that he’d expected anything else. He’d been warned that this bunch might be like that.

"Yes, what is it, Hicks?"

The speaker nodded at the man standing next to him. "Hudson, sir. He’s Hicks"

"What’s the question, soldier?”

"Is this going to be a stand-up fight, sir, or another bughunt?”

  • 1
    @JakeGould - ADF isn't word of God on this, but I asked him where Ferro had gotten her info from. He replied that it was just scuttlebutt. I assume he means that she's been asking/eavesdropping on the officers.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 20:26

I have no in-universe answer, but from my own military experience I would say it’s probably because Ferro is a pilot. In modern military, multiple briefings happen depending on what your role in the mission is, and often the pilots get more info than the grunts (they need a “bigger picture”) as well.

Additionally, if you’re delivering a mission briefing to the whole group, you've already done some amount of planning beforehand, planning which probably required you to discuss options with your technical experts, e.g. the pilot. In one of those sessions, she could have asked the question or heard someone else ask it.

This is speculation, of course, but I think well-reasoned. There’s no way the Lieutenant, company man, and their special staff would’ve delivered that mission brief without some analysis and planning, and that would require the consult I spoke of.

  • 2
    @JakeGould my point is that it's not necessarily rank but role. I don't have any in-universe answer (as I lead off my answer with) other than to say that they emulate modern military in many ways and so there could be a correlation to how these things work.
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 19:39
  • 1
    @paul - agreed. As much as this isn't an in universe verbatim answer, it is relevant to the conclusion. Any movie script of this kind (with production calibre / budget) does follow military principles which are not 'supposed' but clearly defined in the plot and script. Servicemen are employed as advisors in many cases, famously Dale Dye, former Vietnam Marine who went on to advise (and appear in) Outbreak, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon and more. Provides a sense of reality to an otherwise potentially comical monster movie. Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 13:48

Because it's just general knowledge - there's a civvie (civilian) on board the ship and whilst some of the marines don't care who she is (or had maybe not even seen her), or weren't paying attention in any briefing that might have mentioned her, others do or have done or were. I don't think it's anything that needs an official explanation.

  • Think of your own work environment - if there is an unfamiliar face walking around, some people will know who they are, other won't have read the memo. IF you job role requires you to interact with them them you'll probably know who they are; if it doesn't, you may or you may not.
    – Steve Ives
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 11:05

Well in the script from the Alien II (original treatment Page 12), Ferro is shown as a Sergeant in rank.



GORMAN . . . . . Project Officer

RIPLEY . . . . . Project Advisor


BISHOP . . . . . Executive Officer




CORPORAL LYDECKER . . . . Med-tech

CORPORAL HUDSON . . . . . Com-tech




PFC DRAKE . . . . . . . . Smart-gun operator

CORPORAL VASQUEZ. . . . . Smart-gun operator / Weapons specialist

SERGEANT FERRO. . . . . . Drop-ship pilot

PFC HAY . . . . . . . . . Drop-ship crewman

This could have played over into the movie Alien II, but she could have had privy information that the others were not aware of being that she was a Sergeant.


The Company sent the Marine rescue mission. The Company is going to keep things secret and only brief the Marines after they have left Earth- otherwise, some grunt drunk at a bar would be spilling the beans about the amazing creature the Weapons Divion wanted to get its hands on. That is why tactical database assimilation and briefings waited until the Marines had arrived at the planet.

  • Specifically, Burke arranged for the mission, and he had very specific reasons to keep things under wraps as much as possible. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 5:17

My theory: the military keeps non-needed soldiers in deep freeze/hyper-sleep to send out on missions. The military can store massive amounts of personnel this way for emergencies when they need lots of troops. They only have to pay them minimal amounts per day since the marines are asleep; it's like on-call pay; you only get full pay if called up. Maybe this is the future of the reserve. The soldiers are always trained to a fare-thee-well just before they are frozen, so they haven't gotten sloppy yet (and no need for ongoing training). The marines were only woken up when they arrived at the colony planet and so met Ripley for the first time just before they dropped.

The bean counters would love this!

  • 1
    Is there any other evidence in the canon to support this?
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 12:49
  • 2
    That's absurd, you're assuming that Initial Entry Training is sufficient for a career of service. Soldiers and Marines continue to grow their skills and train throughout their careers.
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 13:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.