Alien: Covenant

Various Forms of the Black Pathogen

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ChestbursterMember511 XPJun-25-2017 9:16 AM

About That Black Cleansing Lotion...

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the functions of the black pathogen (or black goo, accelerant, mutagen, or xenovirus, for those of you that prefer one of those names) that the Engineers created and if there is only one form, or many. Although it is not simple, I thought it was very clear what it is a what it does in Prometheus and Covenant, but reading some threads here and elsewhere, it seems some people are still confused.

The David/Oram lab scene in Covenant really lays it out, the Advent video provides even more information. David's dialogue in Alan Dean Fosters novelization, based on an early script, and an late draft of the script by John Logan explained it even more, so I thought I would attempt to compile a summary using those and a few other sources, plus what we see in the movies. Skip to the FOUR FORM OF PATHOGEN summary at the end, if you don't want to read all the details.



A pathogenic virus in the form of a black fluid that triggers virulent genetic and physical mutations to whatever genome it is exposed to. It hijacks cells and rewrites their DNA.

In Advent, David calls it a "primordial ooze ripe with advanced nano particles, operating off on an algorithm based on evolutionary computing". 'Primordial ooze' a substance made up of organic compounds and amino acids that form protein structures - in other words, it contains the building blocks of life.

A 'nanoparticle' is just a small, single particle that behaves as a whole unit. In in this application, it is comparable to a single particle that is part of a collective hive intelligence.

In genome editing and gene recombination, 'nanopartcles' can be used with high efficiency to deliver protein packages across cell wall barriers and targeted to specific areas of specific cells requiring genome editing or gene therapy. This is simply David being a little more specific than just saying 'the pathogen rewrites the host DNA', which is what he said in the movie.

The "A.I." David refers to is tied to the 'evolutionary computing' term he also says. Evolutionary computing is a computer science term that is used in the field of Artificial Intelligence, but in this artificially created biotechnology application (or biomechanical) it means algorithms based on biological evolution are used to predictively organize amino acid sequences and protein structures in an intelligent manner. Again, this is just more detail on how the pathogen is radically rewriting the host DNA for a purpose.

Evolutionary computing algorithms rely on real biologically inspired genetic operations, like selection, mutation, and crossover. Crossover is taking parent chromosomes from more than one parent and producing an offspring combining features of those parent chromosomes. That is exactly what the pathogen does when the parasite takes on characteristics of the host from its DNA, such as the "dog" version of the Alien seen in Alien 3, which walked on all-four legs, instead of upright like the human born version. Or the ultramorph (Deacon) in Prometheus, which had genetic information from Holloway's mutation, Shaw's DNA, and Engineer DNA.


Various comments from Damon Lindeloff and Ridley Scott hint that the Engineers may not have created the pathogen originally. The film title may also hint that they took it or stole it from another higher race.

At the foot of the mural in Prometheus is an altar with what looks like a broken green gem stone. One theory is that this gem contained the original form of the pathogen, which the Engineers used to develop their own version, or versions, from.


IS THERE JUST ONE FORM OF THE PATHOGEN? - This question stirs up much debate. When Prometheus came out, people were trying to resolve how one pathogen could cause all the different effects we see happen. Some theories say the effect varies by dosage or host type, others by how the subject was infected - skin contact, ingestion, inhalation - but all the evidence seems to indicate there are multiple forms of the pathogen designed for specific functions. David even says it came in many forms in Covenant.

This is why you see it do various different things in both movies, and why in Prometheus we see urns of various sizes in the Juggernaut cargo hold and the temple/head room, all with different markings on them.

"The pathogen took many forms and proved extremely mutable", he explained. - David from the Covenant novel.

"They were as ingenious with their pathogens as they were with everything else" - David from John Logan's script

These are the various urn props used, showing all the sizes and writing. The film makers could have simply had a master container made and cast that to make all the props, but instead they were intentionally made in a variety of different sizes with different information written on each in the Engineers alphabet.

So what is written on them? If we made a weaponized pathogen, we would likely mark the containers with the contents, give it a lot number, and date. That would give some commonality to the markings, but that is not what we see here. So what is written on them? Who knows. It could be the form of the pathogen inside, an Engineer prayer or blessing, or any number of things, but the takeaway is the text is all different.


The Weyland website and Prometheus Blu Ray supplemental material show that the Weyland corporation called the pathogen CHEMICAL AO-3959X.91 - 15.


 "While it is dormant, the virus is completely inactive. There was nothing for your ship or companion (Walter), competent as their respective instrumentation might be, to detect. Its not as if it is floating in the air like a common germ. The ability to lie inactive for a very, very long time is one of the things that makes it so dangerous. And dangerous to its Engineers as well."- David from the Covenant novel.



"The original liquid atomizes to particles when exposed to the air. It then reproduces in whatever host it happens upon and eventually gives rise to more liquid, which at the appropriate time atomizes, and so on, and so on. The cycle repeating itself almost endlessly. ..Until there are no more hosts." - David



"The pathogen itself has an extremely long lifespan. Given a suitable environment in which to exist in stasis, it can lie dormant for hundreds, if not thousands of years, until a suitable host presents itself, and awakens it to commence the cycle again." - David

On the Prometheus Blu Ray and Weyland website there are parts of a report on the pathogen submitted to Weyland Corp by David. How canonical that material may be is debatable, but the part about the storage ampules states this - "These ampules are to display an engraved information placard on the exterior surface. Within the ampules there are to be four conical-shaped glass phials that contain agent. This will ensure the agent ability to retain infectivity and virulence after a prolonged period of storage."


"The pathogen was designed, engineered might be a better term since those of us on the Prometheus came to think of them as genetic engineers, to infect any and all non-botanical life forms. Its sole function is to reproduce. The offspring will stop at nothing to do so. It is their rationale for existence, designed into them by the Engineers. " - David


"They kill by reproducing. An elegant method of 'warfare', if you take the time to think about it. Or 'experimentation' if one prefers that description. A very thorough way of cleansing a world of unwanted lifeforms. If even a single offspring of the virus is left, it will not stop until it has found a living host. It seeds, then it moves on. As you have seen, the seed incubates, mutates,  and matures with astonishing speed, until it is reborn. If not controlled*, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable." - David

NOTE - This implies the spread can be controlled, if desired.


THE TINY BLACK MOTES - these are basically the same type of delivery method as a facehugger, just a much tinier organism. The mote eggs are what the first two Covenant victims stepped on. Dozens of these little motes swarmed out and infected them with Neomorph eggs/embryos. The Covenant motes also look very similar to the tiny objects we see swarming out of the Engineer in the Prometheus prologue as he is being disintegrated by the pathogen, and the black objects swarming around the Engineers after David bombs them.

We have this quote about the motes from John Spaith's on the Prometheus Blu Ray - "The black material that consumed him (the Engineer) transmuted into little scarab-like gnats that flew away across the earth…". In his version of the script we actually get to see these insects up close.

In late draft of the Covenant script we also get to see the insects up close infecting Ledward.

"A haze of little mote-like MIDGES in the dappled sunlight. And we see one of the insects--
Ever-changing in its form -- lurching and stabbing into new shapes -- oily black but beautiful ... It hovers, has intelligence...It’s watchful, careful. It settles near Ledward’s ear, and then enters the ear canal... the soft pink flesh... quickly
attaches itself -- a feeding tube plunging into his flesh--"

...and infecting Hallet.

"But he inadvertently steps on a tiny egg behind him-- Unleashing a cloud of the MIDGES. They waft up. Swirling before him...
One of the black INSECTS darts forward -- into his nostril -- the pink nasal passage -- attaches itself and stabs a feeding tube into him--"

Interesting that the original idea was that the midge-motes have an "ever changing form" and constantly change shape, as if the they are shape changers.

Here is an example of the size of a "midge".

And an Earth midge up close.

I think something like those are what we see the Engineer's tissue in Prometheus is being transmuted into.

They are also shown in the concept art of the Engineer being broken down.

This is from the Covenant Novelization -

"...each one was a cluster of tiny black motes preserved in something that that looked like amber."

This is from John Logan's Alien: Covenant script.

"The original black liquid turned to lethal particles when exposed to air. Later stages produced parasites and invasive insects."

Oram looks at those motes-insects in David's magnifier in the movie.

"The Captain could see frozen in place various stages of the pathogen's life cycle. Motes inserting feeding tubes into insect-sized subjects and pumping eggs into their unfortunate bodies. The eggs growing, hatching, and maturing, to finally burst free even from the diminutive hosts, only to begin the cycle again."

These appear more wasp-like than the gnats John Spaiths described for Prometheus. These are obviously different than anything we have on Earth, but we do have thousands of species of parasitoid and parasitic wasps. Parasitoid wasps lay their eggs or larvae inside or on an adult host species, often killing the host when they mature. The motes-wasps do the same by implanting an egg or embryo of a Neomorph into the host, which is killed when the Neomorph is born.

"From the egg sacks came these parasites. Airborne, and gifted with a very primitive, but dutiful hive intelligence. Once released into the atmosphere they're relentless in their purpose. The shock troops of a genetic assault. Always searching for a potential host." - David

We see these egg sacs in Covenant, and in David's drawings.

"Waiting for a host. Entering the host. Rewriting the DNA" - David

In the Advent video on the Blu Ray/DVD we see David doing a drawing showing a mote swarm and a mote breaking from the swarm and implanting eggs in a host.



"Entering the host and rewriting the DNA, the pathogen produced mature offspring who's appearance and characteristics are wholly dependent upon the nature of the host itself. The progeny of a parasitized insect for example, will look very different from a creature that issues from a quadruped host." - David

This is why the ultramorph (deacon)/neomorph/xenomorph all have a humanoid shape and can walk upright, why the dog burster in Alien 3 primarily walked on all fours, and why the various alien experiments in David's lab resembled the animal hosts they were birthed from. Since the proto xenomorph in Covenant could walk on all-fours, presumably a quadruped was bred into its lineage.



How much David engineered himself and how much already existed is debatable, but he clearly was working with the pathogen, which already existed.

"...with nothing to occupy myself other than the compiling of a simple collection, I began to do a bit of genetic experimentation of my own. Simple cross-breeding, hybridizing, what have you. I like to think that the ill fate inhabitants of this world, the original Engineers, would gaze on my work with approval."  - David

Oram - "You engineered these?"
David - "Idle hands are the devils workshop."

Alan Dean Foster had this to say in an AVP podcast interview in 2017 - "David was working with material that had been left behind by the Engineers, and he’s been playing around with it...It is possible that the Engineers developed the xenomorph, or it is possible that David developed a more advanced version of the xenomorph".

This is from John Logan's Alien:Covenant script.

"...the slaughter would never end until every humanoid life form was dead. Thus the creatures that attacked you: Human DNA infected with the virus and creating yet more deadly mutations ... An endless spiral of predation." - David

We also have this quote from Ferran Domenech of MPC, who worked closely with Ridley on the design and effects work for the alien - "David spent years tinkering with the pathogen DNA and re-combining it to create the ‘Xenomorph’, a perfect organism. In the original 1979 ALIEN, the Xeno is a cool and stealthy killer. This made sense to us as he is a larger version of the bioweapon the Engineers designed in the Neomorph."

That means the genetic coding to create the Neomorph already existed in the pathogen prior to David. In the Alien Covenant Advent video, David states that human DNA from Shaw was what allowed him to make breakthroughs in his own engineering.

"I had to salvage her parts to begin work on my masterpiece...You wouldn't believe the secrets I have unlocked...With Shaw, I realized there was something extraordinary about the substances reaction to the human genome. I was able to unlock new properties and tweak the organisms aggression and instinct for survival. It took years" - David


DAVID DID NOT CREATE THE EGG OR FACE HUGGER, HE "ENGINEERED" HIS OWN VERSIONS - this was already indicated by the fact that we see two face hugger-type organisms on the mural in Prometheus, which was thousands of years old, although we see no egg/ovomorph shape on the mural.

In the novel, however, we have this about the egg.

He gestured towards the end of the table. A sizable leathery egg shape sat there. It was separate from all the other specimens, as if occupying a place of honor...The interior revealed a motionless creature. All finger-like appendages and flattened body, with a muscular tail coiled beneath it as if it was ready to spring outward.

We can see that full sized egg in the Advent video.

"In case you are wondering. I had nothing to do with it. It lies as I found it. A supreme example of the Engineers skill, and also I suppose, of their hubris. Would that I could create something so perfect in its function," he added. "I try, but I don't have thousands of years of practice at biological and genetic engineering. I have only my pitiable programming upon which to draw." - David

We also see various smaller versions David had been experimenting with in his lab.

So, if we are to believe David, the egg is another aspect of the parasites life cycle that already existed. Note that the eggs in David's egg room look very different from the ones we saw in the derelict Juggernaut in Alien. The fact that the proto xenomorph in Covenant looks very different to the one in Alien indicates these are not (yet) that exact same type of egg.


THE PROTO XENOMORPH WAS A RESULT OF DAVID'S CROSS-BREEDING. IT IS AN EARLY VERSION OF THE XENOMORPH - In Prometheus we saw a morph looking creature on the mural in the temple/head room. It had an elongated head like the other forms we have seen - ultramorph (deacon), neomorph, protomorph, and xenomorph. It also had smooth skin like the deacon and neomorph.

"Come. This is really what I wanted to show you. My successes." - David

David's contribution to the design seems to be the armored exoskeleton and clear dome on the head, considering all the other forms we have seen prior to that had smooth skin over the body and head.

Also note that the resulting xenomorph alien in Covenant does not look exactly like the one in Alien. This is an earlier version. That is not only apparent because of the design differences, but by the fact that the xeno's gestation period seems to be slightly faster and it is born fully formed, with all limbs, just as the dog/ox burster alien was in Alien 3.

The Alien Covenant art department called this creature a xenomorph, although a better term would be proto xenomorph, or protomorph.

Alan Dean Foster wrote this about the xenomorph in Covenant. These are David's thoughts as he watches it being born from its mother, Oram.

"It was already beginning to change, to mature, even before it had fully emerged. An advanced model possessed of a wildly accelerated rate of growth."

Saying "advanced model" implies the DNA for this version of the morph already existed. That could simply be a reference to the Neomorph, or an earlier version of the xenomorph. Foster said FOX did not object and let that line stay in the book.


THE PATHOGEN DID NOT IMMEDIATELY DESTROY ALL THE ENGINEERS ON PARADISE/PLANET 4 - Remember the body of the Engineer posed upright in David's lab? It looked normal, other than the fact it was partially skinned, and was holding it's skin in one hand. Unlike the ones in the plaza, which were desiccated and deformed.

"As you can see, my time here hasn't been wasted. It's in my nature to keep busy. Keep the mind exercised and all that, lest it fall prey to disorder from misuse." He indicated the massive body of the Engineer. "This specimen was particularly arduous to complete, and messy, you can imagine. Fortunately with thousands of examples from which to choose, I was able to practice on as many as I wished before finally getting this one right". - David

This implies that not all the Engineer's were killed by the bombing, and an early draft of the script says it took four days to kill all the Engineers. That also raises more questions. Where were they and how did David subdue or kill them in order to experiment on them?

They could have been holed up in a sealed buildings and they probably had shelters prepared for just such an outbreak. An early version of the script indicated they even had a planetary shield to prevent a pathogen entering or leaving the planet, although it obviously was not functioning in the movie, other than messing with the recording of Shaw that David was able to send out to lure passing ships, and Covenant communications down to the planet.

We also have this from the Foster novel - "As you have seen, the seed incubates, mutates,  and matures with astonishing speed, until it is reborn. If not controlled, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable." - David

This implies that it is possible for the spread of the virus to be controlled, if desired, so if David knew how to do this, it could also explain how he had Engineers to experiment on.



"The Pathogen was designed to infect all non-botanical life forms. All the animals, the "meat" if you will. Either kill them outright or use them as incubators to spawn a hybrid form, highly aggressive." - David from Alien: Covenant

"The pathogen took many forms..." - David from Alien: Covenant

"They were as ingenious with their pathogens as they were with everything else. It was designed to infect every living being. Either kill them outright, or mutate into a different lethal form" - David from John Logan's Covenant script

We have seen at least four different functions of the pathogen in Covenant and Prometheus. Some people think these are just different effects of the same pathogen, others, like me, think all the evidence in the films points to the fact that the Engineers made various forms.


CREATION FORM - In the Prometheus prologue we see a version of the pathogen which completely breaks down the host cells, re writes the DNA, and creates new types of fauna. The Engineers sacrificed themselves to "seed" worlds with new life using this version of the pathogen. Ridley has referred to them as gardeners. They seed a world, replace the fauna with their own creation, then come back periodically to tend to their garden.

This type appears to function by consuming living tissue and transmuting it into thousands of tiny black motes that fly away to infect other animals. We see them swarming out of the Engineers body as it disintegrates and John Spaiths described them as scarab-like gnats on the Blu Ray.


DESTRUCTIVE FORM - This is the type that killed the Engineers on LV-223 and infected the Engineer head that exploded in Prometheus. It was intended to be used to wipe out Mankind on Earth over 2000 years ago, but David dropped this same form on the Engineer city in Covenant and wiped them out. It appears to break down and destroy tissue at a rapid pace, killing instantly. This seems to be nothing more than a weapon to kill animal life.

This type appears to function with motes of the black fluid that transform and become airborne. It moves collectively in swarms, similar to the type in the Prometheus prologue. In the movie we see the urns drop from the Dreadnought and explode in mid air, releasing black clouds that hover in a thin layer. These clouds then descend in swarms, like a plague of locusts. These attack the Engineer bodies with a rapidly expanding infection that converts the tissue into more of black fluid at a furious rate.

The converted tissue violently erupts into black branch-like tendrils that appear to be another transmuted form of the pathogen. Nothing is left of the Engineer bodies but desiccated husks that appear to harden over time, and all traces of the black tendrils disappear.


PARASITIC FORM - This is the type that requires one of the Engineers delivery organisms to infect a living host by implanting a seed or egg inside the host that grows into a parasite. The host is used as an incubator. The three types we have seen are:

Trilobite - Very large, single organism that latches onto a host, implants a single parasite inside the host via a tube, then dies.

Motes - tiny flying organisms that resemble insects. They are released from spore-like eggs, when the eggs are disturbed. They fly in swarms and implant parasites in the hosts via a tube.

Facehugger - large, single organisms that are released from large leather eggs when disturbed. These latch onto the host, implant a single parasite inside the host via a tube. It keeps the host alive via the tube until the parasite has grown to a certain stage, then dies.

The parasite these implant in the host take on traits of the host from the hosts own DNA. The parasite grows rapidly until it bursts out, killing the host. We have several nicknames for the various versions of parasites, or 'morphs' that we have seen:

morph or protomorph - Seen on the mural in Prometheus

ultramorph (deacon) - seen in Prometheus

neomorph - seen in Alien: Covenant

proto xenomorph - seen at the end of Covenant

xenomorph - seen in Alien

queen xenomorph - Seen in Aliens

From the morph will come a new egg that grows a new delivery organism inside (face hugger being one type). We have yet to see the full cycle from morph-to-egg in a movie yet, but the director's cut of Alien shows us the xenomorph can grow new eggs (ovomorphs) using human hosts as the raw material. Aliens shows us another way - an Alien queen that can create the eggs directly via a detachable womb.

Ridley indicated these morphs have a short life span, and when there are no more hosts to infect, they die out. He has also indicated they can regenerate when damaged.

This is a parasitic form of the Pathogen, designed to spawn hybrids, but it will also cleans a planet of all native animal life of specific types.

In Holloway's case, David infected him with the pathogen by direct ingestion. The result was either infection of tiny parasitic worms that multiplied inside his body and destroyed his tissue, or his tissue was being broken down and transmuted into the tiny worms. We see a worm parasite protrude from Holloway's eye in Covenant, and many of them are protruding from his skin in one of the makeup tests, indicating that he was infested with them.

Holloway never turned aggressive or followed the same type of physical transformation as Fifield, so this form does not appear to be the same as that.

At the time Holloway was infected with the worm parasites he had sex with Shaw. His DNA and that of his sperm were being altered, and some have suggested that an actual worm paraste passed from him to Shaw, which then infected her tissue. The resultant organism birthed from Shaw was a type of face hugger, the delivery mechanism for the parasitic version of the pathogen.

The urn David took this form from was one that was not leaking like the others in the urn room in Prometheus. Below are David's notes on the ingestion effects from the Weyland website. These are incomplete, as David did not observe the infecting parasites directly and Holloway was killed and his body burned while David was investigating the Engineer ship.


MUTATION FORM - In Prometheus we see that one version of the pathogen, the type leaking from some of the urns in the temple/head room, can mutate an organism and make it extremely aggressive. We saw this with Fifield's mutation and the mutation of the segmented worms living in the soil of the temple room.

After being immersed in the black fluid leaking from the ampules in the temple room, the worms were transformed into large and aggressive hammerpede creatures, with the ability to quickly regenerate damaged tissue. "this goop, as a result of being exposed to the atmosphere when they unseal it (the ampule room), interacts with these worms, and those worms grow into much larger and nastier worms that have the capability of infecting the humans who come in contact with them - Milburn and Fifield." - Damon Lindelof from the Prometheus commentary

In Fifield's case, his face mask was melted by acid then was splashed with the black liquid on the floor of the LV-223 temple.  It appears that he inhaled some of the pathogen through the holes burned in his faceplate, as very little of it seemed to directly contact his skin.

The resulting infection caused him to begin transformation into another creature, and turn very violent. He was killed before we got to see his final form, but it appeared head was enlarging. In the original version of this scene, Fifield was much father along in his transformation, with an elongated head and elongated limbs.

This is David's description of the inhalation effects of this form of the pathogen from the Weyland Website.

It is also implied by the Prometheus production designer that this version of the pathogen is what infected the decapitated Engineer in Prometheus - "Fifield was considered to be a mid point between the Deacon at the end and Hammerpede…The table where the head explodes - ultimately that’s going to happen to Fifield at some point. Whatever was happening to that Engineer is now happening to Fifield. His head is becoming horribly contorted. He is losing himself to the alien within him." - Arthur Max production designer

I assume this version was meant to be a weapon, but it may also be a mutation designed to propagate and create a customized delivery mechanism to infect more of the native host organisms.


89 Responses to Various Forms of the Black Pathogen


FacehuggerMember129 XPJun-26-2017 4:43 PM

@BigDave : Interesting. Is this source connected to Fox or Scott? If so, I wonder if the substance is trying to recreate itself through the Engineers and (later) David, and - as Scott said - are not responsible for creating humanity and really do not fully understand what they are dealing with. Perhaps, this is why David is so drawn to it as it is essentially raw nature unlike humanity who often clashes with it.


DeaconMember10416 XPJun-26-2017 4:57 PM

The source was just someone who claimed to had seen some early concepts and a good deal of the Prometheus 2 draft (October 2014) during November 2014, which i was passed on information during the very end of Feb 2015 (Feb 25th-26th).  But i can not voucher for if they are in anyway correct.   But this was the first place a lot of stuff like TWO Alien Monsters,  Shaws Fate, More than One David came from etc.

Until we have any confirmation from anyone official that these rumors are legit or false its up in the air, as they are based on the Prometheus 2 drafts and not the Logan/Harper Re-writes which happened in the Summer of 2015.   The Source claimed that about 40% of AC is what Prometheus 2 was though, but not 100% exactly the same in that 40%

So like 60% of the Movie ideas are 100% new and not evolved from Previous Drafts.

There descriptions to the TWO Alien Monsters was interesting, and they had implied that David just Re-creates it and that Shaw played a key role in how David Re-creates it.

One Monster was directly created by David 8, and the Monsters was described as One being based on the Necronom 4 and Ultramorph Design and the other being based on the Original Design by HR Giger.  Which is confusing because that is Necronom 4, or his Final Xenomorph Concept?

But i think they meant it was another design he had done before the Final One... and that one Monster will be Transparent and Pale to a degree.

I have a more detailed description... what is interesting is since the movie has came out a few on the Project confirmed they was originally going to have a Necronom 4 Design and also another different Design compared to the TWO we ended up with.


R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


FacehuggerMember129 XPJun-26-2017 8:21 PM

It would be interesting if the substance itself was an evolved form of an ancient entity, functioning as a material part of an immaterial organism. The Demiurge in Celtic/Gaelic mythology is not "God" per se, but rather a "creator" of organic life by way of a 'material'. The Engineers are clearly inspired by the Demiurge, and the material that they use is not necessarily of their own making (like the myth in question). Even if RS doubles-down on this David thing, I think it would be best if this material or its origins remains a mystery. It would be ideal if RS maintains the mystery of the Engineers' origin as well.


ChestbursterMember511 XPJun-26-2017 9:37 PM

sorry, double post


ChestbursterMember511 XPJun-26-2017 9:54 PM

@SpellBoundSynapses - I assume you mean this line from David"From the egg sacks came these parasites"?

He is talking about the egg sacks that were stepped on and released the tiny motes that infected the first two victims with Neomorphs. These - 

In the movie David is looking at the motes under a microscope as he speaks those lines. They look like tiny, mosquito-like insects. In the book, it is Oram who is looking at them, as described in the first post.

The motes serve the same parasite-delivery function as the face hugger, but on a much smaller scale, and there are hundreds in an egg instead of one.


FacehuggerMember457 XPJun-27-2017 7:55 AM

Most interesting thread. The various forms do make a lot of sense. At the same time we're still left with plenty of intrigue and mystery. Like who the hell are these Engineers? Why do they dress up like Romans and seemingly live a frugal life? Do they have many castes? What's that new ship all about? What was it up to? How long has this galactic warfare been going on? "Why do [they] hate us?" Do they hate us, or are they just utterly indifferent? Who, across the galaxy, is making the really grand plans.

I love this mystery. And, having seen Covenant half a dozen times, I love this movie, too. There's plenty of life left in the Engineer's universe yet.


DeaconMember10416 XPJun-27-2017 8:28 AM

Indeed the scope of the Engineers History was something that made Prometheus a good Prologue to bigger things... but this would have relegated the Xenomorph to just being say a Assault Riffle of Mankind where as the Black Goo on LV-223 would have been like when Mankind had discovered Gunpowder and its various applications is the same as the various applications of the Black Goo.

There is more to Mankind than say the discovery/creation of Nuclear Energy/Weapons and Gunpowder and so there is more to the Engineers than the LV-223 Outpost and Experiments.

I think they are keeping a lot of it a Mystery though, and so where the Sacrificial Goo and Black Goo came from and connection may never be covered.

The Source i had over 2 years ago... seems to hint that the Original Source of the Engineers Goo was a Obelisk on Paradise that is neither Rock or Metal but similar that is Growing from the Ground.  It has a Green Glow and this is where the Tool of Creation and Change is obtained from... it was to portray both the Tree of Life and Knowledge within the Garden of Eden... it being the Obelisk and LV-223 the Green Crystal was a Stolen Shard of this Obelisk.

This apparently was how Paglen and Green Drafts was to deal with it. But again until we see one of their Drafts this information cant be taken as accurate at all.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


NeomorphMember1681 XPJun-27-2017 8:41 AM

This might be something that I have said before but anyways. I don’t mind if they won’t tell us everything about the black goo because one of the interesting things is to speculate about a movie.  By not showing us the source of the goo we can make up our own stories just like we did about the Xeno before Prometheus.


OvomorphMember16 XPJun-27-2017 9:50 AM


Excellent post and summary, your write-up reflects my own understanding and thoughts on the pathogen.  Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.


FacehuggerMember198 XPJun-27-2017 11:40 AM

The only way I can think of David being able to get a hold of thousands of engineers to experiment on, is they were in statis somewhere, either on the planet itself, or perhaps on the dockonaught ship?


ChestbursterMember511 XPJun-27-2017 2:58 PM

@Michelle Johnson - "Where I take issue with the thread starter is that an awful lot of questions were left unanswered which were set up in Prometheus."

The thread is about what the four forms of the pathogen do, based on what was said about them and what they were shown to do in AC and Prom. Your questions don't seem to be about the subject of the thread, so I don't know what you are taking issue with me about? 


ChestbursterMember511 XPJun-27-2017 3:15 PM


Those are all possibilities. When David said, "If not controlled, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable", I took the "If not controlled" part to mean the Engineers did have a method counteract the pathogen whenever desired. So David if understood that, he possibly limited the spread of the original virus bombing to keep it from completely wiping out the population. In the beginning, anyway.



DeaconMember10416 XPJun-27-2017 4:48 PM

Some good points i would like to tackle...

"The only way I can think of David being able to get a hold of thousands of engineers to experiment on, is they were in statis somewhere, either on the planet itself, or perhaps on the dockonaught ship?"

Indeed the Novel is a bit flawed when it mentions thousands but sometimes the guys who write this stuff dont but a lot of thought into some things...  The passage does seem to  hint at David Salvaging Body Parts that are not effected as bad from the Bombardment and in effect making himself a Frankenstein Monster.

A Logically Explanation for me would be that during the Bombardment the Cathedral Dome Provided some kind of Sanctuary from the Effects, a lot of Engineers were Desperate to get into the Cathedral Area, and so its Logical to think and assume that those inside shut the Doors to keep the Black Goo from effecting those inside.

I will bring in a Potential Safety Device in my Next Point....  but to expand on this first one, if the Cathedral Provided Shelter like the Noahs Ark, a Question would be does this place have enough Food and Drink to allow those beings inside a chance of Survival? Eventually with when Food and Drink has ran out.. those Engineers would die off and those who remain would be Weak...

Leaving David free reign to experiment on Fresher and None-Infected Genetic Material.

The Docking Ship could also have survivors from its crash who are injured or trapped knowing that leaving the Ship would mean they get infected.

"Those are all possibilities. When David said, "If not controlled, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable", I took the "If not controlled" part to mean the Engineers did have a method counteract the pathogen whenever desired"

Indeed i had always wondered why those Bodies looked Burnt, and debated on many a thread on here before we found out any information about the David Bombardment Scene.

But i still think my theories could apply to Davids Bombardment in that the Cathedral Domes Golden Device could be some kind of Energy Weapon which was activated so that it neutralized all living matter and thus led to those Engineers being Burnt so that it prevented the spread of the Black Goo... this would logically explain the Burnt looking Bodies.  This Energy Weapon Blast could also had taken out the Juggernaut and Docking Ship.

Another option is the Docking Ship itself deploying some kind of counter measure to prevent the Black Goo effects and rendering those Engineers Burnt Corpses.

Such a Preventative Measure would make sense as far as to Stop the Effects of a Seeding/Bombing Ships Cargo Effects.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


OvomorphMember38 XPJun-27-2017 5:15 PM

Save for the opening scene of Prometheus, we have only really seen the black goo in canisters. I would like to see where it originates from and how it is manufactured and bottled for weaponry.

 Is there a lake of black goo somewhere or could the black goo perhaps be the sacrificial life blood of some higher power that is above the engineers?

Michelle Johnston

ChestbursterMember763 XPJun-28-2017 4:05 AM


Your straw man argument is that the "Black Goo", its presentation within the story is entirely clear and that all the evidence is there for the taking.

I fundamentally disagree with this assertion and the three points I made are not about the science of the "Black Goo" but about its application within the story which impacts on what it is and why and how was it created. I do not accept your analysis that there are four types of "Black Goo" there are three outcomes which are different and they follow from the experiments on LV223 but we still have no definitive answer as to the meaning of the sacrificial acolyte and the ingestion of the material offered to him to by the occupants of the tear drop ship. One has to assume this is a catalyser for bringing life in its general sense to a planet which is carried with in the DNA of the Engineer and the creator off the film has suggested that it could be earth but is not necessarily so, this a catalyser which creates and stimulates species such as mankind and as we share the same DNA as the Engineer it is the creative spark of mankind NOT the Xeno mutagen of LV223 which clearly represents a failure. It destroyed the Engineers of LV 223 and was used by David to wipe out the Engineers of Paradise who were expecting the return of something which was sympathetic and part of their positive creative rituals which are hinted at in the headroom.

Whilst it sounds I am trying to jump on you with the latest news, if you listen to the Alan Dean Foster interview on the 51st pod cast on AVP he makes several telling points one of which answers my question on his website:-

1) He consciously has made no decision to define the "Black Goo" beyond what is in the films and his description in Chapter 14 is actually the description one would apply to the creature introduced in 1979. Over and over I talk about the A L I E N as unsympathetic reproduction for its own sake with no other purpose and thats all that Alan says. He does not make the "Black Goo" any clearer than what we know by interpretation, such as it only infects non botanical life forms, and at the end of the Pod Cast he says his ultimate wish would be to write a novel which explains why the Engineers created the Xenomorph, the central question in all this, which he clearly considers unanswered.

2) He also answers the question about whether David created the lifecycle and the Alien. His answer is he might have done and so might the Engineers he leaves it ambiguous and that is how I viewed the movie and read the book David was dissembling through out his exchanges and this can be interpreted as another one. So the author of the book is saying it is an ambiguity within the legend.

My reason for being direct with you is you view people who find all of this confusing as simply not paying attention. These movies are made for global audiences from many different cultures and different language bases something like the Alien Pathogen should have a clear set of rules within the imagined world in which it is set and communicate itself within a consistent and coherent way. You offer well written examples of outcomes but some of what you say I do not agree with and some of what you sight as fact even the creators of the movies and films do not.

You are entitled to your opinion and make as ADF says one of 2,000,000 fans suggestions but they are merely your received observations which are interpretations of matters which are not definitive.  

On a separate point with the news that the Engineers will return to Paradise not only might they find Walter or his constituent parts but they might find the Cave full of Ovemorph's that sets up all kinds of further possibilities and dare I say ambiguities that can be played out in the third film, which comes first the David the Engineer or the Egg.  



FacehuggerMember198 XPJun-28-2017 4:27 AM

@BigDave, yea I was thinking the gold thing on top of the cathedral place was some form of energy weapon as well

After all, David said he found the alien egg with face hugger in it, I assume, on the planet itself (Unless it was in the crashed docking station?)

So the engineers must have had some failsafe device if an epidemic of some form got out

Perhaps the inside of the cathedral was immune to the effects of the energy weapon, shielded if you will, like shielding against EM damage


FacehuggerMember198 XPJun-28-2017 4:27 AM

@BigDave, yea I was thinking the gold thing on top of the cathedral place was some form of energy weapon as well

After all, David said he found the alien egg with face hugger in it, I assume, on the planet itself (Unless it was in the crashed docking station?)

So the engineers must have had some failsafe device if an epidemic of some form got out

Perhaps the inside of the cathedral was immune to the effects of the energy weapon, shielded if you will, like shielding against EM damage


ChestbursterMember511 XPJun-28-2017 11:35 AM

@Michelle Johnson
“1) He consciously has made no decision to define the "Black Goo”

No, not exactly. ADF said he did not have time to develop it because he had other more overt things to develop. He also said he did not want to talk about something that the film makers haven’t expanded on because they may in the next installment.

“2) He also answers the question about whether David created the lifecycle and the Alien.“

Not exactly. He was asked if David "made" the “aliens”, or did he tinker with material left behind by the Engineers? He said “a little of both.” He then talked specifically about the xenomorph we see, and whether David or the Engineers made it, or if David just improved on the xenomorph. ADF said he still thinks that is left ambiguous.

He also said he added David’s line in the book about the xeno being a more ‘advanced model’. Fox did not object, and he said that ‘fans can make of that whatever they will’. He never addresses it in the interview, but there is also the line in the book where David specifically says the Engineers made the face hugger egg, and he had nothing to do with it.

"My reason for being direct with you is you view people who find all of this confusing as simply not paying attention. "

Not at all, but some definitely did not, based on posts and questions here and on other forums. I do think all of the information anyone needs to know to understand the basic concepts of the pathogen and what it does IS in the movies, and even more so in Foster’s book.

There are many reasons some people are confused - some may have missed things because they have not paid attention and missed obvious connections. I'm not implying they were not trying. I did not make connection on a few things until watching Prom a second time, and had a few "Doh" moments once something became more obvious. The movie is designed that way, specifically to make you think.

Some people do not understand the basic concepts of DNA, infection, and mutation (even some of the film makers), and some just refuse to understand because they did not like this aspect of the movies in the first place. Others simply do not want to be engaged to think too much and pay close attention when watching a movie and would rather everything be simply answered. Nothing wrong with that. Some people also want to over complicate it, when it is really not that complicated.

You can agree or disagree with anything as you wish, but the points in your original post still had nothing to do with the subject of my post.

Michelle Johnston

ChestbursterMember763 XPJun-29-2017 2:19 PM


Your "not exactly" comes across as hair splitting rather than admitting my central observation that these are ambiguous matters which you cannot define. 

On reflection I entirely accept your criticism that I seem to have introduced three separate points which are not related to your micro analysis of four flavours of Goo. 

The connective argument which is missing, for which I apologise,  is that Prometheus and Covenant are not biology lessons they are stories which in order to capture the imagination require a coherent and well developed internal logic on which to hang the detail, a point that ADF makes about story telling. You focus on the goo and saying people do not understand it .What I really should have said is this is not the cause of the issue it is the result.

If we knew through exposition what the teardrop incident represented and what the headroom goo meant (one is proactive life from the gods the other is an accident from meddling for instance) then the Goo makes sense. You are offering bottom up analysis whereas what I should have said is if there was top down story telling then all of this confusion would go away.  You can still be left with mystery by not meeting the occupants of the tear drop ship it can be done by interpretation. What Janek said (if underwritten by everything else) knocks the 'confusion" out of the park.

So there is confusion but it is not the result of not paying attention to the biology lesson, it is because the story telling values are weak. One only has to see how much we learn from interviews, including the latest one from the editor, to realise how much of the story is missing and falls between the frames.

My apologies for my elliptical first post. 

Little Newt

OvomorphMember32 XPJun-30-2017 11:31 PM

Just want to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU Kethol for putting this altogether especially for neophytes like me. Despite watching the films many many times - I do still miss things and find it really hard to connect the dots. PS I have never found your posts to imply that my confusion was due to my not paying attention :D


OvomorphMember55 XPJul-03-2017 12:44 PM


And where did those spore sacks come from? 

Also, those motes look far too small to be tiny mosquitos. There's something that is not explained.


ChestbursterMember511 XPJul-04-2017 11:54 AM

Too small? We have flying insects that are just a fraction of a millimeter long on this planet. The motes in Prometheus and Covenant looked larger than that. Also, I did not say they were tiny mosquitoes. I said they look mosquito-like, with that long probiscis. Kind of wasp looking too.

Regarding where the spore/egg sacks come from, do you mean what animal laid them or how did they grow? Who knows. In the book David never specified exactly what animal they were grown in, just that the eggs grow in the host.

Definitely not something that needed any screen time wasted on it in the movie, as the general idea of how the pathogen works is already well known, but I wish Foster had gone into more detail on the forms of the pathogen in his novel.  He said he did not have time. Maybe he will in the next one.



DeaconMember10416 XPJul-04-2017 3:46 PM

I think a lot of the Problems are the Ambiguity and how it seems they are changing things as they go along without paying attention to what proceeded,  RS and some others also provide contradictory comments to what we are shown.

It has ended up being a bit confusing... where as Spaights Draft it was DEAD SIMPLE! If we look at Spaights draft and his comments about his Draft.. this is what we get.

The Engineers could at one time Procreate normally, but they are a Race who Engineer Genetics and over time there Advancements over Millions of years meant they lost the Need/Ability to Procreate.

If we evolved to be able to make some diet or medication where our Organs never Age or Fail, where we have gained Genetic Immunity to almost all Diseases and Infections, where our Natural Life if well looked after is not longer expecting a 90 year Life Span... But Thousands if not 10's of the Thousands of years.... then indeed if we can live longer provided we do not suffer a Mortal Wound or Accident.. then maybe eventually the ability to need to Procreate could be lost.

The Sacrificial Scene was a way these Engineers had found something or created something that could indeed allow them to Pass on their Genetic Seed...  The Nano Scarabs will consume and eat away at a Engineer Hosts body, they consume him Molecule by Molecule..

These Nano Scarabs then fly off, but they each have stored in them the DNA of the Engineers, they then fly off and bite a Female Primate... Injecting the Engineers DNA they consumed into the Primate and the Primate Evolves... it becomes a Mutant where its DNA is now a Hybrid with Engineer DNA and eventually this leads to MANKIND

They was taking the Panspermia theory to a different Level... especially in Prometheus.. where instead of the theory that a Comet or Asteroid containing Basic Life Crashed on Earth to allow Life to have developed.... is now replaced by the Disintegration of the Engineer DNA via the Sacrificial Scene as this basis for Life.

There was a Purpose a Agenda for this... the Engineers were perhaps a dying Race... if we Evolved to be immune to all illnesses and diseases if our Organs would never die.. so we are in effect like Vampires where only certain things can kill us otherwise we are IMMORTAL or indeed Live for 10's of thousands of years.... would we need to Have Children?

Eventually we may loose this ability? if so then we may live for a long time but eventually some day we may die, we may extend our Life but maybe we are never Immortal or even if some other event effected us to kill of a large number of us.. remember if we lived for say 100'000 years... surely we are not 100% IMMORTAL having our heads Cut Off, being blown up or falling into a Lake of Fire could surely Kill us.

Eventually such a dying Race would need someway to Seed their Genetics to carry on and Create life, and having no means to Procreate... they maybe would have to think of other means to do so.

The Sacrificial Scene offered this...

Surely a Advanced Race could Clone themselves? Maybe yes, but if at this point they are all MALE then maybe Cloning will only bring Males, and doing this over and over maybe brings Flaws?

So maybe the Sacrificial Scene was a way to maybe eventually bring back Females... this is THEORY i had for a While and to my suprise the Concept Work for Alien Covenant seems to Back this Up... like Spaights Draft did with my conclusion of the Black Goo.

Spaights Fifield Encounter he knocked over a Vase/Urn that unleashed Nano Scarabs... these had bitten Fifield and instead of him being infectected with Engineer DNA or breaking down... he Evolved into something related to the Xenomorph DNA.

THUS.... The Nano Scarabs in those Urns had consumed a Organism related to the Xenomorph.

Spaights draft the Sacrificed Engineer had taken a Cruciform pose during his Sacrifice and when we add all this together and replace Scarabs with Goo then the Answers are their plain to see all along.

The Question is why the Worship of the Xeno-strain?  I would assume for a Race who lost the Ability to Give Birth that this provided them a way to Create/Give Birth to New Life.. and a Lifeform that they admired... and when they saw that Mankind was a Failed Creation.

Instead of the Reset Switch where they could release the Sacrificial Goo to Reset Creation as intended from the Start or even use Engineer DNA Goo.... they had become obsessed with the Xeno/Deacon Strain and saw this DNA as purer than their own and so they intended to replace us with this DNA instead.


R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


OvomorphMember55 XPJul-05-2017 6:14 AM

@Kethol I'm aware that we have small insects on earth, but if you look at the mote's size and appearance It looks quite different. The mote constituents look like small "nano machines" instead of small wasp like insects.


DeaconMember10416 XPJul-05-2017 6:41 AM

Its hard to be sure on the Motes...  they could be tiny tiny Nano-Tech but they are definitely a Virus related Pathogen, to me they looked like Microscopic Parasitic Organisms that must Enter a Host and then Merge Together and start to take on a Hosts DNA to form the Neomorph.

I dont see the Motes as being those Insects that David showed... this scenes was David showing how something related to the Motes had tried to infect the Insects with a kind of proboscis


R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


ChestbursterMember511 XPJul-05-2017 7:17 AM


Sorry, I don't see any nano machines there. Where are you getting that idea from? I see a small cloud of black dots.

In the movie we see those dots flying in unison, like a flock of birds or school of fish.

The film clearly states and shows what these are, and the book even more so.


OvomorphMember55 XPJul-05-2017 6:00 PM

@BigDave I'm with you on that. My confusion is how the wasp-thingies tie in with the overall life cycle. 


The novel and the movie state that it's a pathogen/virus that infects animals. 
So where I'm at now is this: Black goo + host = killed outright or death by spawning aggressive hybrid.

Black goo + something = egg that spawns parasite. 

It's the last part that still confuses me. I guess eggs are a result of black goo infection. 


ChestbursterMember511 XPJul-05-2017 7:10 PM

Sorry, other than what I posted from the novel, I can't tell you any more. Foster did not elaborate nor did the movie, and I doubt will ever get that specific detail, unless it is in a deleted scene, but I doubt it.

In the directors cut of Alien we are shown the bodies of Brett and Dallas having been sort of cocooned by the xenomorph. They were in the process of transforming into or being used as raw material to grow xeno eggs, so we know that is one method of egg creation by the pathogen.



OvomorphMember55 XPJul-06-2017 1:10 AM

If it's canon. Will be curious to see if Awakening answers some of these questions. If the xeno was designed with parasitic wasp DNA then maybe it can itself lay eggs somehow (without needing an additional host).


ChestbursterMember511 XPJul-06-2017 6:58 AM

An insect that tiny can't lay an egg the size we saw the motes coming out from in Covenant, so it has to be another process. Egg-morphing is the only other way we have seen in one of Ridley's movies.

I assumed the little mote balls were more of a nest or hive for the insects, not an egg, but Foster had David specifically called the one in his lab an "egg sac" in his book. He does not say egg sac in the movie, so that part is not canon, unless it is in a deleted scene or explained in the Covenant extras on the DVD/BR. We will know in a few months.

I doubt we will get any deeper explanation in the next chapter. I was surprised we got as much detail as we did, considering RS wanted connections like this to be much more subtle in Prometheus.

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