Alien Movie Universe

Various Forms of the Black Pathogen

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MemberChestbursterJun-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 Replies


MemberChestbursterJun-25-2017 1:45 PM

The pathogen is still difficult to understand.

You put a lot of effort and knowledge into that and it took a fair amount of thinking.

I stand by me feelings that there are still so many inconsistencies with the pathogen and the book just tried cover every possibility.

They should of had the rules set out before Prometheus and stuck to them. The handling of the Pathogen by the writers has been doomed as they all seem to see it as something different.

A set of rules on the Pathogen should of been put in pace.

It shouldnt take pages and pages to explain. No debate this is what it is and this is what it does.

I enjoyed your post Kethol but i still think the Pathogen is confusing.

Take This.... This is the blood of our lord


MemberChestbursterJun-25-2017 2:04 PM

What part is confusing or inconsistent? I thought it was rather simple, but it should be complex. There are probably hundreds or thousands of varieties of the pathogen the Engineers created, each for a specific function.

The book was based on the screenplay, so I don't think Foster added much, if anything. The bulk of the dialogue is in the movie, but that entire egg scene was not. That was probably filmed though, because there is a photo of the prop in David's lab.



MemberFacehuggerJun-25-2017 3:22 PM

Love this! This part caught my eye in particular,

"From the egg sacks came these parasites. Airborne, and gifted with a very primitive, but dutiful hive intelligence."

So, really and truly, once the xenovirus (I always liked that term ADF used) hits a point of sufficient biomass - when it has come into contact with enough DNA - it gains self-awareness, and can almost 'think' about what it wants to do. I wonder if David was merely acting on behalf of the xenovirus itself, perhaps it can affect artificial intelligence (since AI is more mechanical in the way it thinks, thus more easily effected by a hivemind). And, although it is 'non-canon', the Aliens comics are a veritable trove of inspiration for Alien fiction.


MemberXenomorphJun-25-2017 5:50 PM

"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."

That makes sense, the Engineers created the eggs. I guess this rules out the alien queen.  You made my day. Thanks a lot Kethol for your posts.

"He survived, he’s now in Disneyland in Orlando, and no way am I going back there. How did he end up in Disneyland? I saw him in Disneyland, Jesus Christ!"


MemberChestbursterJun-25-2017 5:55 PM

I was never a fan of the alien queen - the concept I mean, not Cameron's cool-as-hell design - but the queen could just be another variant on the egg creation. There are still a few years between Covenant and Alien, and there were a LOT of eggs in that cargo hold. They don't all necessarily need to be the same type.

I don't think anything in Covenant negated the alien variants in the later movies. It kind of opens the door to explain all of them.


MemberChestbursterJun-25-2017 6:14 PM

We also have this from the Weyland website. It's sort of a preliminary report from initial transmissions sent back by the Prometheus, presumably by David. It contradicts the movie in places, so it's not really canonical, but it provides some info.


MemberXenomorphJun-25-2017 6:27 PM

Lot of eggs indeed as that ship was on a mission. Honestly I don't see the Engineers grabbing the eggs from a queen as I don't see a queen laying eggs for Engineers. They were rather biological weapons and if the shape resembles that of an egg is to hint at the beginning of the alien life cycles. I don't see the aliens as a civilization but something created to destroy civilizations. I might be wrong but I don't think Ridley Scott will ever use a queen in his movies. I know the original script of Alien presented the xenos as a dying civilization, the eggs should have been found inside I pyramid but due to the limited budget they had to adapt and since then they steered away from that idea. Anyway the next movie will be great, the gaps are filling in, they should put a lot of money into it to match Ridley Scott visions.

"He survived, he’s now in Disneyland in Orlando, and no way am I going back there. How did he end up in Disneyland? I saw him in Disneyland, Jesus Christ!"


MemberXenomorphJun-25-2017 6:55 PM

I suppose Ridley Scott wants to keep us busy looking for answers, passes briefly with the camera over impressive sets dimly lit so with every watching of the movie you can focus on something else, something you know you missed previously. He should have the best script writers, to match his cinematography and directing.

"He survived, he’s now in Disneyland in Orlando, and no way am I going back there. How did he end up in Disneyland? I saw him in Disneyland, Jesus Christ!"


MemberChestbursterJun-25-2017 7:27 PM

You don't have to look for the answers. They are right there in the movies.

David explained everything very plainly in Covenant. I thought his dialogue was very well written.

The other two versions of the pathogen we see in Prometheus are easy to figure out just by looking at what they do.


MemberFacehuggerJun-25-2017 9:01 PM

So if there were/are thousands of engineers as David stated to use for his practice...where are they? Are they asleep? Chillin on the planet?

Is there an agenda the mods are not telling us about? ;)


ModeratorPraetorianJun-25-2017 9:15 PM

Kethol this is outstanding work!!! Great job! Especially clarifying the 4 variants of the pathogen. Upvoted. 

Im still confused as to whether the Deacon in Prometheus was the result of chance though despite the mural depicting what looks like a Deacon.

In another thread we were discussing the amount of variables involved to produce the Deacon-morph most notably the multiple species and transmission vectors.

Does your info from the book help at all??





MemberChestbursterJun-25-2017 10:02 PM

@BlackGooDrinker - David saying "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" pretty much says it all.

I guess the thousands he sliced and diced are in a dumpster out back :) The real question is, how did he kill or subdue the ones who were not infected and get them back to his lab. There's a whole other movie there. I can see David in 'I Am Legend', going out daily to hunt Engineers hiding in deep deep underground dwellings, tranq darting them, and rolling them back to his lab on a giant body cart. On the side of the cart he has painted "Black Goo Express" :)

@IRaptus - No, nothing about the deacon in the book, but that's just another form of the organism grown from the parasitic version. If the giant face hugger that impregnated the Engineer had impregnated Shaw or another human instead, we would have yet another variant. It all depends of who infected who and in what order. It's just a wild, sick, and twisted orgy, as Lindeloff once said :) The only commonality seems to be the elongated head and tail. 

I don't think that something-morph in the mural art would be a deacon since that mural was from thousands of years earlier. It could be a very early version of the organism, or just some stylized art representational of the general features of the organism.


MemberTrilobiteJun-25-2017 10:57 PM

There is a much simpler way of explaining the pathogen...

Pathogen = Xenomorph

Xenomorph = Pathogen

They are one and the same, the variants are just the result of the host(s) used.

Or another way of putting it a Xenomorph is the embodiment of the pathogen formed used the hosts DNA, and the pathogen is a viral form of the Xenomorph awaiting a viable host.


MemberTrilobiteJun-25-2017 11:04 PM

TBH, I am okay with some things like these remain unexplained mysteries.


MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 6:43 AM

@Gavin - I assume you are using the term "xenomorph" to refer to all forms of the parasite born from the host, not just the version David engineered?

There is no xenomorph involved with the "seeding" form of the pathogen, or the mutation form.

The simplest way to say it is:

Pathogen = one of the following

a. new animal life

b. mutation of existing animal life

c. destruction of all, or a specific, animal life




MemberTrilobiteJun-26-2017 7:03 AM

@Kethol, I will simplify...

Pathogen = Morph

Morph = Pathogen

The four forms you mention are actually the results of how the pathogen infects its host, and the "Morph" traits of the pathogen are always present whether incubating (Shaw), consumed (Holloway and Sacrificial Engineer), or by physical contact (Hammerpede and Fifield).

Remember, Ridley has shown us the pieces of a puzzle, along with a few misleading elements. remove the misleading elements and strangely, like Lindelof and Scott said, the answers are there in Prometheus and confirmed in Covenant.


MemberDeaconJun-26-2017 8:13 AM

I wish i got my lazy ass into gear lol i have been meaning to do a lot of Topics for a long long time, i have covered the Black Goo in depth a number of times and i have also figured out how come its effects are different in AC, and i was meaning for a while now well 4-5 weeks to make a Topic.

Who knows what the Black Goo really does because they keep changing it as they go along... my Analysis i will put next and i dont think it contradicts what AC shows or the Novel but i have yet to read the book.

"So if there were/are thousands of engineers as David stated to use for his practice...where are they? Are they asleep? Chillin on the planet?"

This is interesting and we have to Logically ponder what this could mean, as well ONE Engineer was more of a Match for David but these beings on Paradise are not as Large and most are Human sized.

Its a very ambiguous quote.. 

I fail to see how David alone can fair against Thousands of living Engineers.  I also think it would be difficult to experiment on the Dead Bodies... and so i can only ASSUME some Engineers escaped not so damaged but in no way was they 100% fully fit so they proposed no threat to David.  I think this Quote means David was conducting a Frankenstein's Monster from Engineer Parts, clues in the Set link to this.

Before the Novel... i did wonder where David could get his experiments from, as far as Hosts for them...  did some Engineers Survive or those beings?  And then how does David managed to subdue them, as we see a Engineer easily took care of David.

So when looking at those beings which most seemed Male, but there was also Female Bodies in the Sets... and they appeared to be Human Sized... i wondered did the Cathedral have a number of beings inside who most could be Female and that when the Bombardment began this place started to seal itself off as some kind of Prevention measure.

If these beings and the ones inside the safety of the Cathedral are smaller versions of the Engineers and they need FOOD/WATER which is now maybe contaminated, then this would make them very ILL... they either drink/eat contaminated FOOD/WATER or there was limited supply inside the Cathedral and eventually these Humanoids would become weak from Starvation etc and become Easy Targets for David.

The comment by Wayne Haag and a few other concept artist about how the Juggernaught and Scorpion-docking ship having a Dust Up and then one shot in the Movie we see for a quick second the Scorpion-ship crashed in the back ground, this gives another means for David to obtain Engineer Material.

If this ship had beings on board and this ship was protected from the effects of the Black Goo Bombardment... but then it crashed and the crash could have left those inside injured and so easy for David to use in his experiments etc.

These TWO was how i thought David would have obtained Genetic Material for his Experiments, as i felt the Charred Dead Bodies would for the most part be not suitable and that a large number of alive and well Engineers would easily be able to take on David.  so my TWO options provided a Less Plot Hole ridden explanation.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


MemberDeaconJun-26-2017 8:30 AM

I will have to work on my Topic i have been meaning to re-address for a long time... here is a quick run down though.


The Black Goo in those Urns was Originally not Black-Goo as far as in Prometheus.  The Juggernaught Ships Original Purpose was a Evolution of the Ancient Seeding Method.  The Sacrificial Scene shows us a Engineer drinks from a Cup/Bowl of the Sacrificial Substance, this breaks down his DNA and this DNA then reforms into a New Substance that infects Organic Life and passes on Engineer DNA onto it while it also Evolves the best traits of the Organic Life this Mutagenic Substance comes into contact with.

If the Elders/Hiearchy had came up with a better way to Seed Worlds more Faster, then surely if they held Mass Sacfrificial Rituals where a Engineer is taken and given the Sacrificial Substance and then they do this while they are held to a kind of Sacrificial Table with Groves to collect the Material or even inside of a Tank/Sarcophagus a Engineer (Humanoid) is placed and then exposed to the Sacrificial Substance and the broken down Humanoid Material is collected and siphoned into a device that allows it to be stored into Glass Ampoules and thus the contents of those Urns.

Then would not dropping down Urns of Engineer/Humanoid DNA to Seed Worlds be more effective than the Lone Sacrifice on a World route?

I think this would explain the Hanger with the Buddha Offering Statues, in that its a Ritual Purpose that these beings are used now and again for Sacrifices.  They are collected by a Engineer Ship for this Honorable Fate.  If the Juggernauts was a ship where Sacrifices are collected and then Sacrificed either on-board or at some other place to create the Substance that goes into the Urns for Seeding Worlds. This would explain the reaction of the Engineers/Humanoids on Paradise and how they did not seem to be fearful of the ship.


Something however had happened over the thousands of years so that a Faction of these Engineers had came into contact with a Organism, and the result of this Organism was to see one of their kind give birth to New Life, a Chest Buster and these Engineers saw this maybe as a way to actually have a Engineer Give Birth to New Life in a different way, a way similar to Child Birth that these beings had Lost or had taken from them.. or simply never had (if LV-223 Engineers are Sterile Clones).   These Engineers then experimented on the results of this Organism until they had achieved what the PROMETHEUS MURAL had shown.... 

They viewed the Organism in the MURAL as PERFECTION and they then used the Sacrificial Substance on this Organism to create the Strain of DNA within those Urns on LV-223, this is why the Deacon was in a Sacrificial Pose.. it was to show that it was Sacrificed just as the Sacrificial Scene and its Genetic Material/New Mutagen collected into those Ampoules and stored in those Urns.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 8:35 AM

Very well done, and well said, Kethol. Yes, the details ARE all there, you just have to look, and look again, and think. THAT's why this movie will be much more enjoyed over time and earn a rightful place of respect. It's not nearly as "muddled" as a lot of negative nancies would like to think it is.


MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 8:42 AM


Same problem though. The term "morph" is used primarily by the film makers and fans in describing the three forms of the humanoid (xenomorph, neomorph, deacon) version of the organism, so if you just want one term that simply means the "result of how the pathogen infects it's host", best to use another term since the seeding mutation version (as far as we know) and seeding version do not involve those.



MemberDeaconJun-26-2017 8:49 AM

Part 2 Black Goo explained.

So here i my take on the Urns.

The Engineers Weaponized Urns/Vases have Four Components, a External Storage Container that houses the internal components which comprise of Four Glass Vials that are surrounded by a Reactive Compound that reacts to break down the Glass Vials and mix the internal Pathogenic Mutagen with the Reactive Chemical Component to Create a Chemical Reaction that Produces the Black Goo Virulent Biological Weapon, which reacts Differently to Various Environmental Factors and Pressures.

The External Casing has Markings and Writings that likely contain Warnings and Handling Instructions as well as Inscriptions relevant to the Purpose and Nature of the Bio-Weapon.

The Internal Reactive Component is affected by different Environmental Factors, that cause this compound to liquefy and react with the Glass Ampoule Vials to break them down and mix the Pathogenic Mutagen with the Reactive Catalyst Compound,  This Reactive Component will also break down the Structure of the Storage Component once it reaches optimum Environmental Factors and Pressure, Releasing the Virulent Bio-Weapon.

Which has different effects depending on the Factors which effect the Reactive Components Status.

Thus....  The Urns contain a Mutagen that contains Mural-Xeno-Deacon Organism Strain DNA and this substance when it comes into contact with a Host depending how it comes into contact and dosage... will Genetically Re-write the DNA of the Host causing Mutations where the Host Organism will have its DNA Re-written to take on the Mural-Xeno Strain DNA

The effects are a bit different when the Mutagen is mixed with the Reactive Chemical Component but still does the same thing.

These components of the Urn Bio-Weapon are similar to the Radioactive component of a Nuclear Weapon, and coming into contact with the Radioactive components of a Nuke has different effects on a Organisms DNA/Organic Mater.

But these components when Activated by the Juggernauts Weapons System can be modified to React in a Different way where the Components of the Urn react in such a way that causes the Urns to Explode and the resulting Black Goo is effected in a different way that it just destroys DNA of Organic Life within a Blast Radius much like how a Nuclear Weapons Components when Activated/Exploded will cause a Massive Fire-ball that Destroys/Incinerates all Life within a Blast Radius.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 8:58 AM

@BigDave - "these beings on Paradise are not as Large and most are Human sized."

The Engineers in the plaza looked to be of varying heights, as they should. Of course, we had no human next to them for scale, but we did have scale later when the Covenant crew walks by their corpses. They were much larger than human scale.

The skinned Engineer in display in David's lab was also the same size as the ones we saw in Prometheus.



MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 9:15 AM


I think once Covenant hits home video and streaming and people can watch the scenes where David explains things over and over, there won't be much question any more.

I almost wish David had not explained as much as he did, just to make people use that mush in their heads a bit more. You can extrapolate all you need to know from what we see in David's lab and what we see happen in the movie.


MemberDeaconJun-26-2017 9:38 AM

Cheers for those images... does kind of clear up things..

Some shots in the movie those beings clearly looked about Human size though....  I have to go through the trailers to capture some shots.

Got these but there are better out there..

Then these off set.

Shows different sized beings as ones to the left larger than ones to the right yet are also further away

These beings dont look that large either.

But the images you posted do look larger, but as RS said.. these beings are not a RACE but a Civilization so they could come in all sizes?

The Single Male Engineer Sculpt is about 7ft 4" mark (depends on height of those people)  but its in line with the Engineers in Prometheus.

The Female and other Engineer shots its hard to work out but the size of the bones being worked on would put them at about 6.5ft tall, maybe between 6.5-7ft depends on height of the Female Production Crew

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 10:18 AM

Ian Whyte, the actor who played the Juggernaut Engineer in Prometheus, was 7'1", so 6'-8' is probably the height range for adults.

The height of the shorter Engineers and their children would not really look much different than your average human.

Cerulean Blue

MemberFacehuggerJun-26-2017 11:20 AM

@Kethol - Great work!  Up Voted!

Michelle Johnston

MemberChestbursterJun-26-2017 11:44 AM

There are a number of straw-man narratives here but to the central point.

The pathogen is a deus ex machina which runs riot in a number of different ways. When they were filming Prometheus it was called a Xeno Mutagen by Damon and an Ebola like breakout by Ridley. One of the gets of Covenant is we are told the Prometheus crew discovered the Alien Pathogen, the bit that is important there, is Alien not Pathogen. A formal recognition that the XXX121 creation story emerges from the Pathogen.

The book deals with those that have helmet issues with the movie, including over the Pathogen, but Sherris makes a good point you should not have to read a tie in book to understand nor should it be so complicated you need pages of notes to work it out, otherwise you go out of the movie or some will, because of how they cognate. We should respect we do not all cognate the same way - that does not make others stupid, it makes them different.

We book readers are also aware that Alan offers an Easter present from the Engineers which is not exactly speaking from the same hymn sheet as Sir Ridley. I have asked Alan directly how we should view that distinction and as yet he has not answered, which itself is interesting. He also calls the prequel novel Alien:Origins not Alien Covenant:Origins which given the synopsis now in the public domain is even more curious......stay tuned as they say.

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

1) What is the relationship between the Engineers and their visits to mankind and the underlying narrative as to why they felt it appropriate to destroy mankind. We know the JC issue was debunked so what was the reason other than disappointment we did not live up to their ideals, but then neither did they and they ended up dead - more please.   

2) What is the relationship between the life giving catalyser ingested by the acolyte from the teardrop ship and the Alien Pathogen and the Engineers. I have a very clear idea and so does Big Dave but that has not been answered. Incidentally Big Dave my view of the architecture of Paradise Central is the same as yours. As I said many months ago now, these are the Einherjar being prepared for Ragnarok and some day soon the Valkyries will return and find matters adjusted, will they put Walter back together ? That also explains why these guys look like Tibetan Monks as opposed to the beautiful elegant types with synthesised body armour. ADF constantly reaffirms they are not vertically challenged and 6 foot beds would leave them dangling over the edge. 

3) Other than dismissing David as a psychopathic mad robot (thats David 8 not Big Dave) , we do not know what he found out in flight, why did he apply a first strike protocol and where does Elizabeth fit in, other than vague plot point convenient allusions. Way to important the story turns on these points and there is huge potential there for drawing us in. 

Put simply the Alien Pathogen is easy to comprehend as a super creational endlessly mutating virus which creates outcomes for their own sake and is entirely nihilistic without any moral compassing, what is not clear is all the stuff around it, most fundamentally is it a punishment for rebellion. Ridley has now indicated that the space gardeners will return to see their source destroyed. What will also be interesting to establish is if they are creative gardeners of the tear drop ship variety who have returned from a galaxy far far away or more suited and booted guys.

On a separate point War of The Worlds. The Mayfair's inhabitants, the W-Y acquisitive mob and the mad as hell Engineers IF it gets made.  






MemberOvomorphJun-26-2017 3:47 PM

The "from the eggs" always confused me. So the eggs that David refers to are the containers for the black goo or what?


MemberDeaconJun-26-2017 3:56 PM

Indeed Michelle there is a lot of interesting themes and ideas to be played out yet, it why the Engineers should be a key Focus of the Story.... David has been made a Key Thread that ties in the Weyland now Weyland-Yutani Company and the Xenomorph Bio Weapon that is a Experiment/Creation using the Engineers Experimental Bio-Weapon they created on LV-223

I think RS/FOX are concentrating on this David connection as opposed to the Engineers History and Agenda, but i guess time will tell... I feel Engineers will come back into it but not in a way that gives Prometheus much Answers but just to introduce them as a Alien Race and then if Fans are happy how this comes off, then hopefully we can explore the Engineers and the whole History a bit more.

As for the BLACK GOO.... its been changed about and made a bit complicated when the Original Idea which Jon Spaights presented with the Nano-Scarabs really does explain the Stuff Perfectly. Which then if you take his idea, it basically comes to the same conclusion as the theory i had regarding it from 5 years plus ago... that when i then saw Spaights Draft and Read it, i was pleased to see that the Scarabs Work the same way i saw the Sacrificial/Black Goo work.  it did not need to be made more complex.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


MemberDeaconJun-26-2017 4:15 PM

"The "from the eggs" always confused me. So the eggs that David refers to are the containers for the black goo or what?"

Just more confusing information that they have tried to add to the whole Pathogen.  The Novel does seem to imply the Black Goo turns everything eventually into a Pathogenic Virus that creates Eggs, of various Stages.

The source i had, which i cannot confirm is 100% correct unless we ever get to see Paglen/Green Drafts as opposed to Logan/Harper that gave us Alien Covenant.


But they claim the Xenomorph Origins was from a Parasitic Organism that the Engineers either had not created or indeed was the result of an Evolutionary Path the Engineers never played any part in.    The Organism starts as tiny Worm-like Organisms that are related to the Echinoderm lifeforms but also have some connections to Cnidaria


These tiny Wormlike Parasites can infect a Organism and Change their DNA to produce Hybrid Organisms, These worm-like Parasites also go through stages where it then evolves into what the Source describe as a like Brain/Testicles with Tentacles.  This Tentacled Organism again can infect an Organism by implanting a Seed inside it that grows into a Hybrid Organism.


When there are no Hosts or the Environment becomes Harsh this Tentacled Brain/Testicle Organism will attach itself to a surface and become a Cyst-like Pod and then inside this Cyst One of TWO things happen.


It either clones itself inside, so that a smaller Tentacled Organism grows inside that then is released when a Host comes by.   Or instead it produces a larger number of the Tiny Worm Stages inside.


The Engineers came across these and this is where the First Xeno-type Origins come from. It also seems this event was the result of some kind of Punishment.


They claimed the Cyst-stage eventually could Evolve into Protomorph Eggs which the Engineers on LV-223 attempted to Re-engineer.


R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017

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