Rackture larva infecting a human woman
Rackture (c) TrueRageXRT
One of the most reviled species are the Rackture, a parasitic organism from a moist swampy planet. The Rackture start in a Larval form that is about a foot in length (Picture is not proper scale, I couldn't do details right smaller, and couldn't fit bigger girl). This larval form can survive in a wet environment absorbing decaying organic matter. However this form has no reproductive organs of its own, without finding a host it will not be able to bear young. As such it has no gender either. Though, in this state they can live near dormant for hundreds of years until it finds a host.
To continue their species the larva must locate a suitable host. Most anything that is a half dozen or more times larger is useable. However due to how they merge with their hosts, they desire sentient species with high intellect. Finding a host the larva will send out many penetrators to attach itself and to begin spreading a viral infection that slowly alters the host’s DNA. The penetrators excrete mucus that allows it to slide between flesh with powerful anesthetics so that they cause no pain. Once it is firmly rooted the larva’s body will find a place it can enter the body and stay safely, usually in the belly or chest of humanoids. Slipping inside it will seal itself in while it waits for the infection to allow merging to begin.
At this point the host still has full control of its body and mind, if the penetrator tendrils are cut before it can enter the host has a chance to live. However once it is fully in the body the host would be killed trying to remove the larva. After about a couple days the virus will have altered enough that the larva will begin to fuse with its host. It will assimilate the brain and nerve functions to gain control of the body. Once it has control it will be able to link to any of its kind that are nearby telepathically. After that it will begin to restructure the host’s body to fit its needs. If its host body does what it requires minimal changes may occur. If the host was female then its reproductive organs will be able to produce more Larva.
Rackture have no individuality on their own, as such their host will be imprinted on them, giving it their memories and personality. Nearly all Rackture will use their host’s name; even refer to old memories as theirs. Some habits and likes may be kept, like favorite music or sport. Despite taking on their host’s mind a Rackture’s natural instincts are still present and they are dangerous to anyone not infested.
If a Rackture comes across someone from their host’s memory depending on the feelings held they can act in many ways. A lover or even offspring may be sought out. There have been cases of mothers of some species being infested and then giving birth to new larva which she places on her host’s children. After the children have been assimilated they continue to act as family. Rackture who’s hosts were once mating partners, or otherwise romantically bound may attempt to engage in relations despite it being pointless to reproductive needs. However in rare cases the opposite will happen and the Rackture will let its host’s loved one escape infection or harm.
One extreme case was reported where one tried to resume its host’s life fully, suppressing its instincts and trying to life with an uninfected family. It kept its host body almost fully intact, besides some skin pigment changes and a few other small changes it seemed normal. It ended in tragedy as the host was female and despite looking normal on the outside she was not able to stop her gestation of new larva. Once she gave birth the larva attacked and infested some of her family which let the incident get reported and they were all exterminated by the authorities.
These cases are only the result of one or two percent of those infested. The norm is they will become either a solider or based on their host’s knowledge a specialist like an engineer or tech to operate various things. Having no construction of their own, Rackture must steal ships and supplies. Only welcome to the seediest parts of space due mostly to their popularity in purchasing from the slave trade. Though some slavers have enough conscious not to send a slave to that fate no matter the bid, many do not.
So far only two species are known to be immune to infestation, the Xor who have engineered their immune system to the point where it can defeat the viral infection, and the Glaymoss, whose colony system makes them able to quarantine infected cells and use their stomach cells as a defense to digest a Rackture larva should it try to enter their mass. After many years Humanity became the first species to create a vaccine immunity.. The vaccine was only distributed to some military personnel due to limited supply and the nature of sensitive information they hold.