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This echeleon of the brood is rare. They are more powerful than their sisters; A worthy challenge.
~ Yautja Elites, regarding Praetorians (from Aliens vs. Predator (2010))

Praetorian Xenomorphs[1][2] are a massively powerful and extremely dangerous strain of the Xenomorph species. They are among the largest strain of Xenomorph encountered, dwarfed only by the Queen and few other castes. They are also the most common of the late-stage Xenomorphs, being observed in nearly all known mature Hives. A stage 6 strain of Xenomorph, they are sometimes referred to as Royal Guards[3] and Young Queens[4].

Praetorian Xenomorphs were originally introduced in Aliens vs. Predator crossover-related media before eventually debuted in Aliens: Fireteam, one of latest installments of mainstream Aliens series.

Characteristics

Biology and Physiology

The Praetorian is the warrior of the Hive, tough, massive and ferocious.
~ Primal Hunt, Scientific Journals

A Praetorian towering over a Yautja Hunter

Due to their genetic similarity[5], a Praetorian is almost indistinguable from a Queen alien, with the exceptions of their smaller size and lack of inferior arms. Like a Queen, it has a intricate fanning crown that sets it apart from other aliens. More than just an ornament, this crest can also be employed as a battering ram and is known to be bulletproof[6]. The rest of the Xenomorph's body is covered in a hardened mesoskeleton that can severely blunt if not completely ignore all forms of small arms fire. Even for more powerful weapons, the beast can shake off damage that would be terminal several times over to simpler Xenomorph castes. One praetorian is capable of defeating entire squads of Marines single-handedly and are even a match for an Elite Yautja in melee combat. Since their circulatory and vascular systems intersect[7], Praetorians can disgorge acid in far larger quantities than other Xenomorphs. They typically do this when outnumbered by multiple enemies, engaging a single heavily armored enemy, or when sensing an enemy particularly vulnerable to acid. Praetorians have armor shredding claws and long bladed tails which they use as slashing and stabbing weapons. This makes them deadly at any range.[8] In Aliens vs. Predator (2010), the Praetorian's upper jaw protrudes slightly, giving them an overbite. Unlike many aliens, the Praetorian even has some measure of fire resistance, comparable to that of a Queen.[9]

Standing over 3 meters tall, the Praetorian is only a meter or two shy of a proper Queen Xenomorph. Other aliens can run a color range of blackened blues, grays, and even bronze, a Praetorian's mesoskeleton is most commonly a solid, jet black. It seems to be the least affected by the DNA Reflex signature in the species as most Praetorians are uniform in appearance despite a variety of host, with the exception of the Gunnison Predalien. Due to this uniformity regardless of host, Praetorians are sometimes considered "purebred" aliens.[10] They have three pairs of dorsal spines to the typical two found on most castes (and zero found on others). It's massive size and weight translates to an equally grand capability for destruction, but this comes at a cost: Praetorians are physically restricted when compared to other aliens, being unable to utilize vents or even scale walls[11]. They seldom even take to a quadrupedal stance, and maintain a mostly upright position when walking or running.[12][13]

Intelligence

One of the final evolutions of the xenomorph lifecycle, these creatures are much more intelligent and cunning than typical aliens.
~ Royal Guards/Praetorians, Prodos

Being genetically similar to a queen and a more advanced caste of Xenomorph, it is presumed that the Praetorian has similar intelligence or at least more intelligence that a standard Drone. However, since it is such a powerful creature with limited movement, the Praetorian rarely needs to make use of any cunning it may have. Sheer strength is usually enough to defeat foes, though it is smart enough to employ numbers as well, summoning lesser castes into battle with it to slay prey.[14]

Position in the Hive

Royal Guard/Swarm General

Unable to move, the Queen must rely primarily on her royal guards for protection should she be attacked
~ AVP: Unleashed

As suggested in their names, the Praetorian is the 'praetorian guard' of it's respective hive[15], being one of a few heavy assault castes seen in the species. However, unlike other variants, a Praetorian is rarely seen far from it's hive. Instead of dominating the planet in question and securing host for species propogation, Praetorians stay in close proximity to the Queen and destroy any immediately or near-immediate threats to her livelihood. They also eliminate the genetically abberant eggs (called "Red" Xenomorphs) their Queen will sometimes lay, which are genetic anomalies to the Hive and thus culled. Praetorians are experts in combat and it usually takes a coordinated assault from many powerful weapons and expert agents to kill just one. They are a rare breed to encounter, and doing so is typically followed by death for those unfortunate enough to do so. Less commonly, these Xenomorphs will be found away from the hive, usually when it's simpler siblings have found stronger prey. Possessing the ability to rip, burn, and bash it's way through reinforced steel doors[16], the Praetorian is perfectly equip to dispatch heavily armored targets.

While rarely seen outside the hive, a Praetorian will sometimes travel with an entourage of other Xenomorphs, summoning Warriors and Runners to battle[17] and acting as sub-commanders in absence of the Queen[18]. Enemies will often focus their assault on the Praetorian in an ambush. This leaves them open to the attacks of the other Xenomorphs; while the Praetorian soaks up the bulk of otherwise fatal damage with it's hardened mesoskeleton, weaker strains are free to pick the attackers off. Should the Praetorian die, however, it's death would momentarily daze it's horde, suggesting a measure of nueral control, again not dissimilar to the Queen, from the Praetorian to it's smaller kin.[19]

Royal Transformation

Chin's theory of competitive discourse clearly shows the Hive will react violently to the loss of the Empress. At a minimum, the young Queens will struggle to determine a new ascendant ruler.
~ Mencus, explaining "Theory of Competitive Discoure"

Speciumen six evolves into a Queen

Praetorians have two additional roles in the hive, subordinate to it's sentinel role. If a Hive is without a Queen a Praetorian can transform into one in a process called a Royal Transformation[20]. Through this, they have the ability to found new hives. More commonly though, royal transformation takes places when the current Queen of a hive is deceased. Usually only one Praetorian will evolve into a Queen, often the strongest and most dominant of the sentinels, and resume ruling the hive as it's new ruler. If there are several Praetorians of comparable fitness, it may result in conflict to determine who will ascend as the new Queen, as detailed by the "Theory of Competitive Discourse". However, cases of several Praetorians from the same hive transforming at once have been noted, resulting in several Queens[21]. Multiple instances of Queen Aliens results in a duel between the rival rulers, with the victor slaying or dominating her sisters.

Enemy hives will take advantage of a hive-less Queen, which is another reason Praetorians quickly molt to fill the role. Otherwise, rival Xenomorphs will subsume the members of weaker hives and enemy queens will destroy the eggs and praetorians[22], as they are instrinsically linked to the previous Queen, since they are her near genetic-copies. This may also be due to Royal Jelly, unique to each Queen, playing a role in transforming lesser aliens.

A Praetorian evolving may not always be due to a Queen's death or the instinctive need to create a new hive. It may be possible that an Empress will select a Praetorian to evolve into a subordinate Queen, over which she will then rule. Instead of being "sisters", the relationship between this Queen and the Empress would be more similar to "mother and offspring". Consequentially, the dynamic of the relationship may be different, although Queens have been known to show hostility to even their own daughters.[23]

Alternate Metamorphosis

A Praetorian, specially evolved for speciated metamorphosis.

If a hive has a Queen and an enemy species has grown to be a serious threat to the hive, the Queen may alter the genetics of her children in order to better subdue and destroy prey. On LV-742, Praetorians are shown to have a Queen-given adaptation that allows them to morph into either a Ravager or Carrier, depending the hive's needs. The Ravager Xenomorphs typically occurs when the Queen determines it must keep pace with an heavily armored and armed prey species, being a vastly superior defensive and offensive force to the Praetorian itself. Carriers are less martially impressive, even compared to a Praetorian from which they evolve, but are uniquely dangerous and specially designed to spread the infestation further than a typical facehugger could reach. Both secondary variants have their strengths and weaknesses; the Ravager is excellent at dispatching foes, but a poor choice for a hive in desperate need of hosts as it always kills it's prey outright. The Carrier is effective at spreading the infestation farther and faster, but it's lack of armor makes it a poor combatant despite it's size and strength; it doesn't last long in a fight.

Ravagers

Ravager upgrade by sl 8426-d92spcz.png

Ravagers are presumed to be the Xenomorph evolutionary response to the heavier military equipment brought to bear by more advanced species. This massive beast towers above other Xenomorphs, short of the queen, and has a uniquely terrifying presence in battle. Instead of just having hands, its upper extremities terminate in "hull blades" capable of easily slicing through even advanced armors and metals. Their appearance are depicted as a taller and more muscular version of warriors.

Unlike other forms of Xenos, the purpose of a Praetorian molting into one of these are solely for combat alone, as it can only kill their foes outright instead of subduing them: Ravagers' attacking methods often in form of beheading any enemies that they encountered.

Carriers

Carrier

Carriers are alternate life cycle of Praetorian that purposed for field infestation. Should be noted that in spite of majorities of xenomorphs could subdue their foes/preys that can be used for impregnation by facehuggers, it does not guarantee that they always succeed in doing so, as sometimes they ended up killed before able to took the said potential hosts back into their hive. Other problems would be that the facehugger themselves (though able to travel from the hive into the outside world) are vulnerable and can be easily killed. Carriers' presence within the hive would could counteract this, as they could bring around six to twelve facehuggers for instantly subdued potential hosts on the field without truly need for bring them back into the hive.

Carriers resemble Drones in appearance, but are thrice taller and lack clawed fingers. Instead, they possess a single blade on each arm much like a praying mantis. Also, they possess pairs of dorsal tubes that seemingly have joints on them, and generates nutrients for facehugger to feed on board. Carriers also use these tubes to propel the facehuggers on their foes' face like a catapult. Had Carriers facing enemies that cannot be infested, whether while carrying facehuggers or not, they uses their blades instead.

Creation

Lesser Castes

Alien royal jelly. The stuff that made the right land of drones into queens.
~ Royal Jelly's role in Praetorian caste as described in Aliens: Genocide

Praetorians have many pathways from which they can arise, unlike the fairly straightforward gestation process of other simpler castes. As a late-stage morph, it's creation is complex and varied. Praetorians can molt from adult forms of more common Xenomorphs, such as the Drone or even Predalien. According to some Weyland-Yutani debreifs, even Runnerd can evolve into Praetorians under the right circumstances, though this may be unique to the Zeta Hive on LV-1201, as it has only been observed there.[24] Usually, Runners evolve into the adjacent metamorphic line of their variant: the Crusher.

A "Young Queen" Predalien

Lower castes evolution is the most frequently observed mode of Praetorian creation, seen most clearly in Specimen 6, who evolved from a mature Drone after the death of The Matriarch. The Gunnison Predalien was also observed in Praetorian form, as the Yautja-spawned alien was in an intermediary stage between a simple warrior and mature Queen. This Predalien-Praetorian was unique, in that it possessed the ability to directly infect hosts, something warrior-evolved Praetorians seem incapable of doing. It was suggested from Meta sources that this was a side-effect of the Yautja DNA[25] and that the Predalien in general is a more exaggerated result of the DNA Reflex owing to it's hosts strong genes[26].

Evolution often, but not always, involves exposure to a Queen's Royal Jelly. When a Queen desires guards to defend her, she can expose them to her jelly, which is unique to each Xenomorph Queen. In keeping with the scientific journals written on LV-1201, the process is timely and deadly for any prospective Praetorians. It is said to take years, with a Drone or Runner molting into a tougher organism with a thicker, harder exoskeleton. Mid-way through the process, the Praetorian emits a pheremone that would cause the hive to attack it in a "proving" phase that commonly results in death. Only the strongest Praetorians survive, where they escape and then lurk on the edges of the hive until their chitin finishes hardening. Afterwards, it returns to re-assert dominance over it's lesser siblings.[27] However, most other instances of lesser-caste evolution demonstrate the process being significantly shorter; only a few hours to a few days.[28]

Royal Guards

Xenomorph Royal Guard

Other sources state that there is an middle stage between chosen Drones and mature Praetorians, known as Royal Guards, a name which is also used to describe mature Praetorians. The Royal Guards are very similar to Praetorians but are smaller and weaker, have a less developed crest, and show more Drone-like features in their overall appearance.[29] For this reason, it is possible that the Royal Guard merely represents a stage of molting for juvenile Praetorians as their bodies change from a Drone to a fully grown Praetorian and is not a separate caste or evolutionary stage. It may even be possible that this is "middling" stage referred to in the LV-1201 scientific journal.

Specialized Facehuggers

On LV-742, Queen Aliens were observed laying specialized eggs that produced Praetorian Facehuggers, which would go on to implant Praetorian larvae regardless of host. Praetorian facehuggers were large, robust parasitoids with reddish skin and lifespans thrice that of a normal facehugger. They were also not as easily dispatched and could latch onto a host item even after being shot mid-jump. A Praetorian facehugger was strong enough even to subdue a Yautja, even after being struck with wristblades, suggesting a level of armored protection. However, aside from that, Praetorian huggers were largely defenseless and dependent on adult castes of aliens for protection and successful infestation.

Appearances

  • Dark Horse Comics:
    • Aliens: Rogue
    • Aliens: Defiance
    • Aliens: Defiance - Extravehicular
  • AVP Extended Universe:
    • Aliens versus Predator
    • Aliens versus Predator 2/Primal Hunt
    • Aliens versus Predator: Extinction
    • Aliens vs. Predator (2010) - Praetorians constitute two of the seven "boss" characters in the video game Aliens vs. Predator (designated by an on-screen bar showing their health during the player's battle with them). The others are Wolf, the Matriarch, an unnamed Predator, Karl Bishop Weyland and the Abomination.
    • AVP: Evolution
  • Alien Series (mainstream):
    • Aliens: Fireteam

Gallery

Trivia

  • The word praetorian is derived from the Latin 'praetor', a prestigious title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men occupying in one of two official positions: the commander of an army or an elected magistrate. The Roman Praetorian Guards were the personal bodyguards of Roman emperors.
  • Due to a Praetorian's head crest resembling that of a Queen, they are occasionally mistaken by people who are not AVP aficionados for Queens.
  • The Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is speculated to be a Praetorian, and is considered a "Young Queen" by the film's directors.
  • The Crusher may be a possible variation of the Praetorian, spawned from a Runner evolutionary line instead of a Warrior.

References

  1. Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt
  2. Aliens: Fireteam
  3. Template:Cite game
  4. Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt, Alien Campaign, Chin's Theory of Competitive Discourse ("At a minimum, the Young Queens will will struggle to determine an ascendant ruler." - Mencus)
  5. Aliens versus Predator: Extinction (2003), EA Games, Fox Interactive [PS2]
  6. Aliens: Fireteam
  7. Aliens versus Predator: Extinction (2003), EA Games, Fox Interactive [PS2]
  8. Aliens vs. Predator (2010)
  9. Aliens versus Predator: Extinction (2003), EA Games, Fox Interactive [PS2]
  10. Aliens versus Predator: Extinction (2003), EA Games, Fox Interactive [PS2]
  11. Aliens vs. Predator: Prima's Official Guide, Page 22
  12. Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt, Multiplayer
  13. Template:AVP2010
  14. Alien vs. Predator (2010)
  15. Aliens vs. Predator: Prima's Official Guide, Page 21
  16. Alien vs. Predator: Evolution, Predator Campaign
  17. Aliens vs. Predator (2010), Rebellion, SEGA [Microsoft Windows].
  18. Andrew E. C. Gaska. Alien: The Roleplaying Game, p. 312 (2019), Free League Publishing.
  19. Andrew E. C. Gaska. Alien: The Roleplaying Game, p. 312 (2019), Free League Publishing.
  20. Aliens versus Predator: Extinction (Alien Bestiary)
  21. Aliens: Genocide, Prologue
  22. Template:Cite book
  23. Aliens: Theory of Propogation
  24. Aliens versus Predator 2: Primal Hunt, Text Log: Weyland-Yutani Debriefing, The Incident
  25. AVPR: Inside The Monster Shop
  26. Predator: Concrete Jungle
  27. Aliens versus Predator 2: Primal Hunt, Text Log: Weyland-Yutani Debriefing, The Incident
  28. Aliens vs. Predator (2010)
  29. Alien Praetorian UniCast

Navigation

           Official AVP Logo.png Villains

Xenomorphs
Xenomorph Queen (Empress, First Acheron Queen, Second Acheron Queen, Cloned Queen, Antarctic Queen and The Matriarch) | Drones (Nostromo Drone, Sevastopol Drone, Mendel Drone, Lead Alien and Grid) | Runner (The Dragon) | Warrior | Raven | Newborn | Deacon | Rogue | White Hybrids | Red Xenomorphs | Predaliens (Gunnison Predalien and The Abomination) | Praetorian Xenomorphs | Neomorphs | Prateomorphs

Predators
Jungle Hunter | City Hunter | Berserker Predator | Ultimate Predator | Feral Predator | Chopper Predator | Celtic Predator | Scar | Tracker Predator | Falconer Predator | Bad Blood Predator | Samurai Predator | Viking Predator | Valkyrie Predator | Emissary Predator | Exiled Predator | Cleopatra | Devil | Tichinde | Killers

Weyland-Yutani
Peter Weyland | Carter J. Burke | Ash | David 8 | Karl Bishop Weyland

Jamaican Voodoo Posse
King Willie | Gold Tooth

Colombian Scorpions
Ramon Vega | El Scorpio

Borgia Industries
Hunter Borgia | Lucretia Borgia | Isabella Borgia | Bruno Borgia

Others
The Engineers | Edwin | Will Traeger | Stans | Walter Golic | Mason Wren | General Spears | Working Joes | Sean Fifield | Frank Elgyn | Iris Humphries | Junior | Martin Perez | Jonathan Gediman | Amengi

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