Subject: 
Internecivus Raptus (Stage 1)
A.K.A: 
Facehugger
Intelligence: 
Low - Moderate
Habitat: 
Egg/Hive Structure
Temperament: 
Hostile/Aggressive
Life Span: 
as yet to be determined
Contact History: 
2122: Zeta II Reticuli Beta IV: LV-426
2179: Zeta II Reticuli Beta IV: LV-426
2179: Fiorina 161
2382: USM Auriga

 

2.1 Physical Attributes
2.2 Leaving the Egg/Catching a Host 
2.3 Paralyzing the Host
2.4 Breathing for the Host
2.5 Existing Outside of the Egg
2.6 Impregnating the Host 
2.7 Death

Stage 1 Image Libraries

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>> Entry 2.1

Physical Attributes

Stage 1 of I. raptus' life cycle is a creature that has been likened to a hybrid of a crab and spider. It appears to be comprised of an abdomen, legs, and tail with no visible head, thorax, or sense organs. This stage is approximately 1.5 meters in length (including tail), with a long retractable mouthpart that can extend to an approximate length of 50 to 65 centimeters.

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>> Entry 2.2

Leaving the Egg/Catching a Host

This category has been divided into two sub-categories due to noticeable differences in how the Facehugger will attack, and even pursue potential hosts.

Aggressive Assault
This method seems to be what the Facehugger is best suited for when it comes to attacking and subduing a potential host.

In this assault the Facehugger is usually still inside the egg when the potential host "finds" it. The extremely powerful tail that is coiled beneath the larva is used as a spring to launch the creature from the confines of the egg toward the host organism. The Alien's expulsion from the egg is so violent and aggressive that the attack is often times overwhelming and the victim has little to no time to react, and is usually subdued within seconds.

However, should initial contact with a host fail the Facehugger then relies on its legs as a very effective means of locomotion. The creature exhibits astonishing agility and speed once on open ground. It has also displayed a certain degree of stealth while stalking mobile victims so as to gain the upper hand and potentially catch prey off-guard. As with the adult form of I. raptus - it seems to have infinite patience. It has also shown the ability to climb: while on board the USCSS Nostromo it climbed into the overhead structures of the Med-Lab after implantation was complete, and on LV-426 it used the overhead structures in of the Med-Lab to "pounce" on Lieutenant Ripley.

It has been observed that once in an open run the Alien larva holds its two forelimbs in a retracted upright position. This posture seems to indicate that these limbs are used for latching and grabbing, as well as for additional sensory input from the surrounding environment. It is very possible that these two limbs work in conjunction with the tail in initial grabbing and securing to a host organism. Once a successful latch has occurred the remaining legs snap into place around the head of the host completing the latch. This type of behavior may indicate that the two forelimbs are used as a means of judging proper positioning on the head of a host so as to insure the best possible latch and the least amount of effort in tube placement. This posture also seems to indicate that these limbs can be used as a means of touch-based exploration and understanding of the surrounding environment. Both of these ideas are consistent with reports of the I. raptus larva climbing and creeping - in such times the forelimbs are down and employed for stability and tactile stimulation.

The means by which the creature locates its victim is believed to be similar to the adult stage: a combination of thermal, auditory (both air-borne as well as through substrate), bioelectric, and to a certain degree olfactory detection. However, it is not clear where the Facehugger's sense organs are located. It is believed that the organs for thermal, olfactory, and bioelectric detection may be in the form of highly sensitive pores that either cover the creature's body, or are located in specific anatomical regions - such as along the sides and front of the body. Since no form of a tympanic membrane has been located it has been speculated that the Facehugger may rely on the vibrations caused by sound as opposed to direct auditory stimuli.

Passive Assault
In such an instance the potential host is either cocooned into hive walls, or is in some other way incapacitated and unable to move. In such instances the Facehugger has been recorded crawling from the egg, as opposed to leaping. In this manner of acquiring a host the Facehugger actually takes on the characteristics of a passive creature: its actions are slower, and seem to be executed with a certain degree of care. Unlike locating the exact position of a mobile host, the Facehugger may be responding to a biochemical trace that has been excreted by the adult Xenomorph responsible for the cocooning of the host. Such a pheromone trace would serve a duel purpose: to be used by an adult as a means of locating the host when returning with an egg from the egg chamber, and to act as a "beacon" for the larva once the egg is open. This seemingly casual approach may also be a response to the bioelectric output of the host organism prior to attack. If the host is unconscious its bioelectric signature will be at a lower frequency. This may be interpreted by the Facehugger as a "low risk" attack, thereby allowing the Facehugger to be less aggressive in its attack - there is little risk in an unconscious host attempting to escape or struggle. This would account for the Facehugger's "nonchalance" in settling on a host so as to begin the process of implantation. This would also remain consistent with the larva's emergence from its egg while Rebecca Jordan was secured to the hive walls.

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>> Entry 2.3

Paralyzing the Host

Once a successful attack has been made the host organism falls into a coma. All voluntary motor functions cease, reflexive motor functions are lessened, and the Alien larva takes on the role respiratory aide. Initial theories worked on the basis of a coma brought on by lack of oxygen - or breathable atmosphere - to the host organism, however after the infestation on LV-426 it was realized that the coma is most likely chemically induced, and that the host is held in this state until implantation is complete.

If removal of the Facehugger is successful before embryo implantation the host will go into a state of shock that will - in most cases - result in death (record: Marachek, John J./Terrestrial Survey Personnel/Hadley's Hope/LV-426/Dated 2179). Why a creature would do this is illogical. Killing a prospective host lessens the chance of reproduction - so why would I. raptus kill a host if removed prematurely? Possibly it has nothing to do with the Facehugger deliberately killing the host, but rather the host's temporary reliance on the Alien for survival.

While on board the USS Sulaco traces of an unidentified compound was recorded in Lieutenant Ripley's body during the implantation process. There was no record of such a compound present in her system at the time of entering hypersleep, nor was this compound recorded as being present in either of the other two cryo-tubes that were supporting humans. The only logical hypothesis is that the compound was introduced by the Alien larva to ensure the host would remain in a comatose state.

Weyland-Yutani records of the time are somewhat incomplete in regards to the chemical make up of the foreign compound - presumably as a security measure - but based on what information is available it appears that the Facehugger administers a toxin consisting of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen in a configuration very similar to Anhydrotetrodotoxin 4-epitetrodotoxin (Tetrodotoxin). There appear to be some variations in the molecular construction between Tetrodotoxin as it occurs on Earth and that which is used by the Facehugger, but the similarities are striking.

Tetrodotoxin affects the nervous system in such a way as to prevent the further release of nerve impulses. While it does not cross the blood-brain barrier, it inhibits the ability of nerves to send messages to other parts of the body. Tetrodotoxin is a heterocyclic, small, organic molecule that acts directly on the electrically active sodium channel in nerve tissue. It blocks the diffusion of sodium through the sodium channel, preventing depolarization and propagation of response potentials in nerve cells. All of the observed toxicity is secondary to the response potential blockage. Tetrodotoxin acts on the central and the peripheral nervous systems (autonomic, sensory, and motor nerves). It also stimulates the chemoreceptor trigger zone and depresses the respiratory and vasomotor centers in the medulla oblongata.

Among the various symptoms of Tetrodotoxin toxicity we see dizziness, sweating, salivation, numbness, decreased body temperature, decreased pulmonary activity, vomiting, convulsions, a sense of smothering (brought on by a combination of diminishing sensory input and respiratory functions), and paralysis. Victims in advanced stages of toxicity are usually put on artificial respiration due to failing respiratory abilities. If left untreated Tetrodotoxin toxicity will ultimately lead to death. A cross-reference between these symptoms and the records from the Nostromo show several similarities: Kane suffered from excessive sweating, decreased pulmonary activity, reduced body temperature, paralysis, and reported feeling that he was being smothered. Kane, as well as all lab-recorded hosts, have had to rely on the I. raptus larva for respiratory needs during implantation. The variances between Tetrodotoxin and, what is being tentatively referred to as, "TTXIR" is that there is no on onset of vomiting, no convulsions (unless the larva is removed prematurely), and the host recovers from the affects without medical assistance (if they are left to the completion of the Facehugger's cycle).

The advantage that I. raptus gains by employing such a neurotoxin is that it is fast acting, and because it never crosses the blood-brain barrier a host organism can be attacked, infected, and released with no potential for brain damage or central nervous system damage as a result of the coma. Unfortunately, however, this means that the host is most likely quite lucid for the first several moments of the attack - even if their body has already succumbed to the paralysis.

It is believed that cause of death to the host - as a result of premature removal of the Facehugger - is due to the fact that the Xenomorph is able to moderate the level of toxicity and has not yet had the opportunity to transmute the toxin from the host system. The host organism is also relying heavily on the Facehugger for its respiratory needs. Without the Alien larva the levels of toxicity are no longer kept in check and they will rise, as well as further inhibiting the ability for voluntary respiration - As a result the host dies from increased toxicity and respiratory failure.

It is a widely held belief that I. raptus administers a modifiable counter-agent that works with the host's system to rid the body of the toxin. This is not so much of an antidote, as it is a transmuting catalyst that can be administered in accordance with the physiology of the host organism. After centuries scientists still have not found an adequate antidote for Tetrodotoxin poisoning on Earth, and still rely on treating the various symptoms. One of the vaccines that Dr. Mason Wren had been charged with studying aboard the USM Auriga was just such an antidote.

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>> Entry 2.4

Breathing for the Host

With what we know of the implantation process the host's trachea is left open for the intake of air, but due to the neurotoxin administered by the Alien it becomes difficult for the host the breath on its own. It is presumed that the expanding and contracting sacs that hang from the side of the I. raptus larva are not for its own benefit, but for the host. It is thought that through these two sacs that breathable air is forced into the host's lungs and waste expelled. One of the best examples to date is in the Nostromo incident: the Alien - in an atmosphere that was completely unbreathable to humans - kept the ship's Executive Officer alive. Because of the traces of CO2 in the unreformed atmosphere of LV-426 it is possible that the Facehugger was able to break down the CO2 that it was coming into contact with into usable O2 for its host. In this manner I. raptus takes on a roll very much like an air filtration mask, and is able to filter out, or even absorb, what would otherwise be toxic to the host.

Since the events aboard the Auriga it is now known that the Facehugger can also maintain a host victim while completely submerged in water. A cloned Ripley 8 fell into the flooded ship's galley after being attacked by one of several eggs. The Alien larva showed no alarm or distress once submerged, and it is believed that had Ripley 8 not been successful in removing and destroying the larva before implantation ever began that a successful implantation would have followed. These events would indicate that the parasite is able to filter out dissolved gas from liquid in order to keep a potential host alive. This takes our understanding of the creature to a new level - one that indicates an even higher ability to adapt than originally believed.

By what means the Facehugger determines its host's biological design and needs is still unclear. It is thought that the prehensile tube that's inserted into the host's esophagus samples the host tissue for an understanding of basic biological needs. From this it could be determined what atmospheric/environmental requirements the host relies on for survival. Once this is understood the creature's natural means of respiration are used to also extract and filter the necessary elements for the atmosphere and pass them on to the host. As the filtered elements are collected and assembled into a breathable gaseous state in the air sacs on either side of the creature's body they are forced into the host via a reflexive muscular contraction. Once the air is pushed into the host's body and second reflexive muscular reaction occurs: a forcible expansion of the sacs that creates a suction that pulls respiratory waste from the host body. Once the Facehugger's sacs are full of this waste it's filtered out of the creature, or possibly broken down so that the Alien larva can use portions of this waste for its own respiratory needs.

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>> Entry 2.5

Existing Outside of the Egg

Once exposed to an atmosphere outside the protective shell of the egg the Facehugger begins to "shed" its skin – an outer layer of protein polysaccharides – and replaces its cells with polarized silicon. The intensity of replacing cells with polarized silicon seems to have a direct correlation with the harshness of the given environment the creature is in contact with. This process enables the Facehugger to survive in extremely harsh conditions. Conditions that range from unbeatable atmosphere to extreme cold or heat to prolonged submersion in liquid. However, this outer layer of polarized silicon is not as strong or resilient as the exoskeletal epidermis found on the adult form. The Facehugger's dermal layer is easily pierced, and based on the dissection made by Bishop, while dispatched to LV-426, this layer is quite thin. This thinness of skin may be due to biological requirements that necessitate such a development - such as respiration. Given the size of the creature and the fact that it not only has to filter atmosphere for itself, but for a host organism as well it is very likely that the Alien uses the vast majority of it's skin surface for this filtration, as opposed to employing large spiracles like the adult form. As such it seems logical that this phase of the I. raptus life cycle utilizes a much more fragile epidermis.

The implementation of polarized silicon may have a second benefit outside of protection from the environment: elecromagnetic reception and conduction. Once removed from the confines of the egg the Facehugger is apparently without means of ingesting food, and most organisms generate energy based on food consumption. The I. raptus larva may only generate a nominal portion of bioelectric energy, the incorporation of polarized silicon could enhance bioelectric energy by generating it via conduction and collection of external energy sources. The long parallel chains of silicon are aligned to a given geometric plane. The benefit of this type of cellular arrangement is that it is able to absorb any and all harmful electromagnetic energy, as opposed to allowing it to penetrate the creature's tissue, while permitting beneficial electromagnetic energy to pass through. The EM could be then used by the Alien to supplement and amplify its own bioelectric activity thereby allowing to survive without ingestion.

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>> Entry 2.6

Impregnating the Host

Some of what the Facehugger does while attached to the host is still unclear, and source for much debate. Due to insufficient data reports from the Nostromo it was initially believed that the Facehugger's mouthparts descended into the host's trachea so as to aid in the host's respiration while implanting an embryo. However, following the infestation on LV-426, and information gleaned from reports filed by Dr. Mason Wren of the Auriga, it would appear that the esophagus is more likely used.

The esophagus is a more efficient means for several reasons: Because of its construction it is more resilient than the trachea, therefore affording the ability to insert the mouth parts with only minimal structural damage to the host's body; tissue can be easily sampled; the resilience of the esophagus would also afford for an insertion of the mouth parts without obstructing the epiglottis to allow the continuation of respiration.

The Implantation Theory
For many years this was considered the most probable theory. However, once serious study was done to examine this possibility it became clear that this idea suffered from problems that could be compounded depending on the host organism's anatomy. As such it is no longer considered a viable option, but is presented here as a means of illustrating the process of research.

It was theorized that once the mouthparts are extended into the esophagus the "sucker-like" end attached to the esophageal wall and then pierced it with an appendage not unlike that of a mosquito's proboscis. The first major problem with this theory arose when this notion was examined in finer detail: this appendage would have to be firm enough to puncture the esophagus, but limber enough to maneuver around obstructing organs so that the embryo can be planted in a "free area" of the host's body - in the case of humans: the mediastinum. (A "free area" would be such an area that is in between, and otherwise unobstructed by, internal organs) The primary problem with this is "how does the Facehugger know how to navigate the host's body so as to avoid internal organs, and find an appropriate 'free area' within the chest?" I. raptus would need to have an inherent pre-disposed knowledge of the host organism's anatomy prior to attack in order to facilitate and effective implantation - and given the variety of life forms available to the Alien as viable host material it is virtually impossible for the Alien to know the physical structure of each host's anatomical layout.

It was then suggested that the Alien embryo was implanted directly in the host's esophagus. This seemed to be a logical, and straightforward, theory in light of the problems posed previously. However, the process of exiting the host via the chest seems unnecessary in this theory since the esophagus is part of a direct path out of the host's body. The embryo would need only to move up through the esophagus and out of the host's mouth. A second problem is that if the embryo were to be implanted in the esophagus the host's ability to swallow would be cut off as the embryo grows.

Some of the most solid proof that we have that the embryo develops in the mediastinum are reports from 1.) the Nostromo's Warrant Officer, Ripley, who observed a "dark stain" obstructing the Med-Lab Auto-Doc's view of Kane's heart and lungs while the Facehugger was still attached. This "dark stain" was the embryo in an advanced stage of development (records show that the Facehugger died a few hours later); 2.) The evidence recorded from the EEV that Ellen Ripley used to scan herself some 57 years later. This displayed the embryo (only hours before hatching) curled in her mediastinum; and 3.) the embryonic Alien removed from Ripley 8, aboard the Auriga, was surgically removed from her mediastinum.

The other major problem with The Implantation Theory is that the introduction of foreign tissue into a host organism would most likely result in the rejection of that tissue by the host body. Once introduced the host body would begin to treat the embryo as a contagion, or foreign element, and attempt to destroy it. The end result would be the death of the Xenomorph embryo as well as the potential death of the host.

The Development Theory
The current, and most widely accepted theory, suggests that the use of the tube-like mouth parts may not be for the depositing of an embryo in the chest of the potential host organism, but possibly a means of regulating TTXIR which renders the host unconscious and the introduction of a viral agent - which would then make the host body responsible for the creation of an embryo in much the same fashion that an organ may be produced through the creation and designation/specialization of various cells, via restructured genetic coding. Under such an idea it is easily seen how an Alien embryo would be able to adapt to varying host organisms, and vise versa. This idea would also better explain the positioning of the embryo in the host's mediastinum, when the Facehugger's mouthparts are known to only extend part way down the host's esophagus.

The use of the host's esophagus is still vital to the play of this particular theory. The esophagus' lining is a mucus membrane, which would greatly aid in the transmission of genetic material. Once the DNA restructuring material has successfully altered the host's genetic code the host body would then begin the development and growth of the I. raptus embryo as if it were part of its own physiology. In effect the host organism's body is being told to create the embryo in the "free area" of the chest by it's own modified DNA. An additional benefit to altering a host's DNA so as to plant an embryo is there would be no rejection of the embryo as it is now seen as part of the host organism's natural structure. For more information on this please see the DNA Reflex essay.

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>> Entry 2.7

Death

It has been noted that a Facehugger will remain attached to a human host for anywhere between 4 to 6 hours before "releasing" the host. Once implantation of the embryo is complete the Facehugger dies. Death usually occurs within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving the host. An interesting note, however, is that the creature doesn't travel very far from the infected prey. In most cases the carcass can be found within five feet of the still unconscious host body. It seems that the Xenomorph is weakened extensively by the process and only moves far enough away so as not be "in the way." Once it reaches a "safe" distance the Facehugger collapses, where it waits for death.

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