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“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but my father won’t be able to answer your questions. Any questions. The best I can gather is that some…thing…from the lake…got hold of his tongue and…it had to be removed. Or that’s what he thinks happened, anyway. But the rest of what he wrote, about the people around here being taken over, controlled… I’m not sure about his state of mind. I think we should keep him…relaxed.”

Cymothites are extra-terrestrial creatures capable of interstellar travel, found only rarely on Earth, usually as the result of a crash-landing. The shell is generally hexagonal in shape about 12 feet from tip to tip at its widest and about 6 feet across in the opposite direction; it’s about 3 feet from top to bottom at the thickest point, tapering to less than 1 foot at its thinnest edges. The overall weight is probably several tons.

The creature within somewhat resembles a crustacean, with several short, thin, claw-tipped jointed limbs and a mouth comprising several jointed parts. It is wholly enclosed by its shell, though a section at the front can open. The exterior is a mottled brown and green in color, with dark streaks leading back from the leading edge.

If the shell of the creature is damaged, it cannot perform interstellar, probably not even ex-atmospheric flight in that condition, and will need to move to repair itself. Repairing the crack is easily accomplished given large quantities of calcium oxide* and silicon dioxide** both of which can be purchased from industrial or chemical supply houses, such as Thompson-Hayward Chemicals in Nashua N. Hamp. (5 hours drive).

*quicklime, commonly used to hasten decomposition of organic material, especially dead bodies
**carborundum, commonly used as an abrasive, an electrical insulator and for astronomical mirrors; it is very commonly found in meteorites

But to obtain the necessary materials and transport them to the site would require agents. This is when the Cymothite typically interacts with humans. When crash-landing, Cymothites will survive best if they can land in a body of fresh water. They will aim with whatever control they have left to land in a lake or pond. Within 2 days, the Cymothite (naturally hermaphroditic and capable of self-fertilization) can develop hundreds of zoaea and expel them into the water. At the same time it can emit psychic waves to attract animals to the water, including humans.

With sufficient human thralls, the Cymothite can direct the gathering of enough calcium oxide and silicon dioxide (about a ton each) and dumping it into the lake.

The Cymothite is entirely encased in a shell that can withstand the vacuum and temperature gradients of space, except when it chooses to open an aperture for terrestrial sensing and telepathic communication. Firearms, even small explosions, cannot damage it except where the shell is weakened, or when it is opening these apertures. If threatened, it will simply seal itself and rest on the bottom of the body of water while its Thralls deal with the problem.

Zoea Stage

The zoea is about 1/8” in length, semi-transparent, very difficult to detect by eye, especially in low light. It is very active, capable of swimming several hundred yards a day in search of a host.

When swallowed, the zoea actively seeks to gain a hold on the tongue. The water with which it is ingested may seem “fizzy” to the potential host. The parasite attaches to the tip of the tongue with its barbed appendages. It immediately exudes an anesthetizing and sedating fluid to prevent ejection by the host. Feeding on blood from vessels in the tongue, the Zoea grows rapidly to the Isopod stage, causing the tongue to recede and atrophy within a day.

The Zoea can be excised by sacrificing the portion of the tongue in which it is imbedded, although infection is probable. Six ounces of concentrated alcohol can kill the Zoea in place.

Isopod Stage

Within a day, the Isopod attains a length of about 3” and is firmly imbedded in the muscles at the base of the tongue, replacing it in all functions, although eating and talking can be somewhat problematic. The Isopod secretes a sedating fluid with an aroma similar to cinnamon, roses and new-mown grass. It can generate one Zoea every 24 hours and introduce it into a new host by oral contact.

As it forms, the Isopod sends nerve filaments into the spine and cerebellum, enabling it to control movement and to sense thoughts in a limited way. At this stage it telepathically taps into the parent Cymothite and is integrated into the hive mind. Later, nerve filaments extend into the parietal lobes, allowing some exploration of the host’s memories, and then into the frontal lobes to utilize the host’s planning and problem-solving capacities. During this process, a sentient host loses D4 SAN per hour.

Motor control is difficult at best, not least because the isopod cannot use the host’s visual and auditory senses, and rendering the host very clumsy in physical skills; the host’s mouth must remain slightly open to allow the isopod to see, Memory access is also very limited, rendering the host rather non-responsive in conversation. Coordination of higher-level functions is exerted by the Cymothite through the hive mind, which has a limited range of about 20 miles (approximate distance to Berlin). Total hive-mind contact occurs within 3 days, but the isopods are autonomous most of the time to prevent confusion and have limited ability to input information to the Cymothite.

When the hive-mind range is exceeded (or if the Cymothite judges the host to be useless), contact is severed and the isopod becomes wholly independent. At that point, it seeks salt water, mutating the host skull to a shape approximating the Cymothite’s shell. When the Isopod detects sufficient air-borne salt to indicate proximity to a large body of salt water, it sprouts sharp appendages that sever the skull/shell from the host body and scuttles into the ocean – or dies.

If the Isopod’s shell is breached, it quickly dissolves into a thick black noxious substance that is highly acidic (equivalent to concentrated sulfuric acid) which will dissolve any organic material it contacts and can eventually eat through thin metals. Immersing the Isopod in one quart of alcohol will kill it without releasing the fluid.

Thrall Hosts

The thrall lives in a twilight state induced by the Isopod’s secretions and generally has very little will of its own. Instead it follows the Isopod’s generic directions. [POW+SAN level must be rolled to resist the Isopod’s intentions]. Certain individuals with very low SAN and high POW may welcome the Cymothite’s intentions and be able to function in a near-normal state of independent action.

Thralls can eat only soft, watery foods. Their speech is marked by a slight “click” on dental sounds (t and d), especially at the ends of words. Their motor skills are severely reduced (one-half base in all physical skills) and their mental skills are almost entirely lost (01%). Most are wholly incapable of independent action. They are insensible to pain and the Isopod can use their body despite any wounds until HP=-3, at which point they are dead. If the Isopod is killed, the thrall loses all volition, as though comatose.

A thrall’s tongue can never be restored.

STR 12 SAN var INT 05 Idea n/a
DEX 06 APP var EDU var Know n/a
CON 15 SIZ 12 POW 10 Luck 50

Climb 20 Dodge 06 Hide 05 Jump 13
Sneak 05 Swim 13 Throw 13 Drive 10
Listen 13 Spot 13 Track 10

Grapple 13  Punch 25  Kick 13
 D3+D4  D6+D4
 Hand Wpn 13 [ 03]  Shotgun 15  [03] Pistol 10 [02]
 D6+D4  4xD6  D10
 club/ax/knife/peavey  [1 shot/turn]  [1 shot/turn]

Hand Wpn 13 [ 03] Shotgun 15  [03] Pistol 10 [02]

D6+D4 4xD6 D10

club/ax/knife/peavey [1 shot/turn] [1 shot/turn]]

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