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Some of the comments on the question Do all the different breeds of the Alien Franchise Xenomorph Queens lay the same kind of eggs? got me thinking. I've always assumed that after Newt's father got infected, all of the following happens off-screen:

  1. He makes it back to the colony with an alien inside him. That alien "hatches" and kills a few people.
  2. Some more people go back to the original ship looking for answers, and bring back more eggs to experiment on.
  3. Something goes wrong (probably due to the first alien), and more people get infected.
  4. At some stage the aliens go back to the ship and bring back a queen. Or perhaps the colonists do, but I always thought it was the alien.

User Beta has a different view. Beta says:

I assumed that the colonists in "Aliens" brought only a few parasites (or one) from the derelict ship, one of them became a queen, and most of the adults we saw were from her eggs

This seems perfectly valid to me, perhaps making more sense than my original assumptions.

Does anyone know for a fact where the queen came from?

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As far as I know, there is no officially canon answer for how the queen in Aliens got there. However, there are two ways a queen can come about - either from super/royal facehuggers (shown in the Director's Cut of Alien 3) or from molting (shown in the Alien vs. Predator (2010) video game).

Royal Facehuggers

In the Assembly Cut of Alien 3, it is shown that there are darker-colored facehuggers that have armor and spines whose embryo will eventually grow into a a queen. Presumably, these facehuggers hatched from eggs also laid by a queen, and can lay dormant the same way normal eggs can. It seems safe to assume that within the Space Jockey ship on LV426, there was an egg containing a royal facehugger, to hatch a new queen.

For reference, here is a picture of the prop used: Royal Facehugger

Molting

In the Alien vs. Predator (2010) video game, an alien grown by Dr. Groves named Specimen 6 actually goes through the process of molting, first into a Praetorian and then into a Queen. However, there is speculation that the Royal Jelly (produced by queens) held in containers that were destroyed by Specimen 6 throughout the game may have caused this transition. Given that the canonity of the game is questionable and there is speculation about the process, this is obviously secondary to the method above.

  • So then the most likely scenario is that the original alien to hatch in Aliens captured a host and brought them to the Space Jockey ship and impregnated them with a royal facehugger? – Xantec May 30 '12 at 14:13
  • @Xantec That, or the eggs were transported to potential hosts - we know cocooning is typical behavior, so the transport of eggs seems like it would be easier than the transport of hosts. – Ian Pugsley May 30 '12 at 14:17
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    "For reference, here is a picture of the prop used" - thanks for the nightmares! – Paul D. Waite Aug 15 '13 at 10:25
  • I don't think concept of Xenomorph molting into the queen comes from AvP game. I remember I heard about it much earliel, but i don't remember source. – user902383 Aug 4 '15 at 14:22
  • Correction: there is no Director's Cut of Alien 3. David Fincher has always refused to come back and recut the film. You're probably referring to the so-called Assembly Cut. – jub0bs Aug 29 '15 at 13:18
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In the comic book Alien - Genocide, a colony of aliens bereft of their queen, bring up a new queen by themselves, using an existing egg. So all you need are aliens + egg that's not developed yet, to make a new queen. While the story do not state it explicitly, there's probably an intended analogue with bees, where worker bees can choose to bring up a new queen by feeding it extra food.

  • I was under the impression that worker bees make queens by feeding a larva a special kind of food, not simply more food. – Wad Cheber Aug 3 '15 at 19:25
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    @WadCheber: "Royal jelly (...) is fed to all bee larvae, whether they are destined to become drones (males), workers (sterile females), or queens (fertile females). After three days, the drone and worker larvae are no longer fed with royal jelly, but queen larvae continue to be fed this special substance throughout their development." "When worker bees decide to make a new queen, because the old one is either weakening or dead, they choose several small larvae and feed them with copious amounts of royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells." – BartekChom Aug 4 '15 at 13:46
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To further complicate the argument, during Alien: Covenant, David shows the Captain Elizabeth Shaws grave, and refers to her as "Mother", once while standing on the balcony where her headstone is placed, and again when Walter confronts him while playing the flute.

What can be derived from this, is for 10 years, while trapped on the engineers world, David, dissected and utilized Elizabeth Shaws reproductive organs, and hybridized human and Alien DNA, to there by create the first QUEEN. Owing homage to Elizabeth Shaw, as "MOTHER".

David also, stipulates that while waiting and experimenting on the Engineers world, his "successes", were merely waiting.. On "Mother", which can elude to the ending scene of Covenant, where Daniels and Tennessee are put into cyrostasis, for later use as hosts.

In my opinion, the eggs on the engineer home world had to be laid, so Shaw had to provide the necessary biological components, explaining why David killed, and dissected her. Thus creating the FIRST QUEEN.

  • I can't read your post just yet, I suspect it contains spoilers ;-) – AidanO May 31 '17 at 15:28
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It's said in one of the books (maybe Bishop in the Aliens novel) that in the absence of a queen, a drone is able to moult into a queen. I'd assume the drone would cocoon some humans in Hadley's Hope, moult, lay eggs, and then produce more drones.

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