Where they came from is a mystery.
Where they already present on some distant planet, when an unsuspecting settler picked them up?
Where they a biological weapon created by some unknown power to destabilise the encroaching humans?
Are they the escaped experiment of some unethical or primeval creator? None can say for sure, what is known is that the Malignancy are here and they are expanding their horrific influence. They insinuate themselves into urban centres, hiding in plain sight and using human decadence and social apathy as camouflage for their more insipid appetites.
The secret to the success of the Malignancy, is not only their ferocious life cycle, but also their innate telepathic link. This link, called by scientists Telesthesia, allows the creatures to function as a group in a much more sophisticated way than they are able to when alone.
From studying the group, it is clear the Malignancy have a nest structure. The most cunning and powerful beings are The Progenitors, after them, there are the Cerebramamcers and Emissaries who operate with almost genius level foresight, not to mention powerful mental abilities that rival the most powerful Psions. After them, there is an anomaly, the adult, pupal and vermin level Malignancy Parasites have an animal cunning and are certainly fierce, but they would not be termed conventionally intelligent. However, those infested with Blood Parasites, certainly are… Albeit with an intellect compromised by the effects of the Blood Parasite’s influence. It is even possible to purge an infested life form of the parasites, using blood transfusions, powerful anti-parasitic drugs and incineration of any infected blood, but anyone infected for any length of time typically has had their mind irreparably damaged by the depredations of the Malignancy and their Telesthesia control.
The Blood Parasite
While not quite the initial stage, the Malignancy Parasite typically comes to the notice of an infested community at this stage. While many may not initially spot the signs of blood infestation, they are clear to those with experience of the parasite’s gestation.
At this stage, the parasite is microscopic and infects the host, through open wounds, permeable membranes and direct ingestion. Once infected, the parasites travel into the blood stream and congregate around the major organs of the body, mostly around the brain and liver. The parasites clamp themselves to the brain’s neural pathways and begin to exert their telesthesic control of the host.
The first stage, is to feed the parasitic colony. The host becomes incredibly hungry and will eat any food stuffs available. Seemingly, high sugar, high fat items are preferred, conceivably as they generate larger amounts of serotonin on which the parasites can feed. In fact, the initial diet (their mother’s milk, if you will) seems to be brain chemicals, including serotonin and adrenalin, which the parasites seem to force their host to generate, through violent and indulgent activity.
Once the microscopic parasites have gorged themselves, it is time to progress to the next stage. This is typically preceded by a period of cerebral swelling.
The Malignant Vermin
Once the microscopic stage is ready to end, the parasites go through a period of rapid enlargement. They begin to feed on the soft tissues of the host, literally consuming it from the inside out in a matter of minutes… Leaving nothing but a skeleton, marred by tiny bite marks.
Once sated, the newly formed “vermin” stage becomes active. Growth is rapid and the vermin expand from fingernail size to something equivalent to a large rat in a matter of hours. These vermin then form mentally linked hunting swarms, that gorge themselves on any protein rich food source they can track down. Their speed and numbers mean they can easily strip a man-sized carcass in under 30 seconds.
Once a swarm has consumed enough protein, it is ready to pupae. The swarm turns on itself in a cannibalistic frenzy, where the strongest of the vermin has now engorged itself with the bodies of its siblings… It is now that this bloated beast requires a host again… Fortunately for the largely immobile parasitic pupae, it can simply summon a host infested with blood parasites, through the use of telesthesia.
The Pupal Parasite
Once conjoined with a host, the pupal parasite is a foul monstrosity. It attaches a broad area of the body (typically the back or chest), so that once clad in the deep robes, favoured by the infested, it makes the conjoined host look hunchbacked and deformed… Easy to distinguish you would imagine… But the pupal parasite is especially dangerous. Not only does it flood it’s host with analgesics, making them resistant to pain, but this increases the hosts ferocity and strength to frightening levels. Not only that, but the parasite is not without a defence of its own. The clawed appendages of the pupae continue to grow rapidly, allowing the thing to lash out with razor sharp talons from beneath the robes of its host, shredding any nearby enemies!
During this stage, the host continues to feed not only the pupal parasite, but the blood parasites within and once this stage is at an end, the hapless host explodes in a fountain of gore and effluvia, as the blood parasites mature and the adult monster bursts forth from the host’s hapless corpse.
The Adult Monster
Resembling nothing more than horrifying Ticks, these monsters are a danger to everything around them. Always hungry, insanely cunning and linked to the telesthesic intelligence, these beings are apex predators bristling with sharp claws, tough carapace and lancing proboscises. They are to be feared and destroyed at every opportunity, as they carry the means to further their race within their very blood and spittle.
Amongst the adult Tick-Monsters, there is always one that is dominant. This beast it termed The Progenitor. It is the one who’s DNA is prevalent in the parasites of the others and it is the beast all the others defer too. Bloated and massive, The Progenitor bubbles with cysts containing blood parasites and literally crawls with Malignant Vermin, which it caresses like children.
These gigantic monster are secretive and cunning. They surround themselves with specialised Infested that can interact with the surrounding hosts, keeping a regular supply of food and host bodies for the nest to live on.
The Malignant Emissary
Often, a Progenitor needs information about a host colony, that cannot be provided by simply infesting the population and reading their thoughts, sometimes the Nest needs to extend its control in more subtle ways. This is where the Emissary is key.
Chosen from the most erudite and attractive of hosts, Emissaries are free to mingle with the society of the hosts, garnering secrets and spreading rumour and misinformation to help hide the Nest from investigation. To aid in their function, the Emissary is often granted insidious powers of persuasion, making their influence all the more dangerous.
The Malignant Cerebramancer
Primary among the servants of the Progenitor are the Cerebramancers. Bastions of mental power, these infested may once have been practising Psions themselves, but what is certain is that they are now fully in the thrall of the Malignancy.
Cruel, calculating, but strangely human, the Cerbramancers act as extensions of the Progenitor’s telesthesic control, relaying the effect and providing a focal point for information to be relayed back to the Progenitor, like a spider in the centre of a web of mental silk.
Recently there has been discovered what seems to be a lesser form of the Cerebramancer, the Telesthesiast. Whether or not they are simply less powerful or perhaps a type of natal Cerebramancer, is unclear. However, further study has, as yet, proven to dangerous to pursue.
Farming the Host Flock
It would be easy to say that the Malignancy is simply a force of nature, albeit an abhorrent one. However, latest studies have concluded that rather than simply hunting and feasting on a host community, the Malignancy tries to manage its host population, keeping the nest hidden and moderating their numbers to male best use of the host population at hand. It is not until they are discovered, or their territory is threatened by another nest, that the cloak of secrecy is thrown aside and the full and vicious might of the nest is unleashed on the general population.
Into the Galaxy
The Malignancy is no what one would term a spacefaring race. However, they are quite adept at getting off planet. Whether it be Malignant Vermin hiding amongst cargo, Infested passengers moving between destinations or even a fully fledged Tick-Monster found hibernating amid a floating derelict… The Malignancy are nothing if not destined to infest the galaxy.