Infection Notes and Concept
I’ve basically had this idea going through my head. Imagine a life-form that exists as a virus. When there is a sufficient quantity of virus in a single location, it develops sentience. Because it is breaking up and recombining constantly, it is something of a hive mind; individual fragments separate, operate independently, and then link back into the whole. There isn’t a whole race of intelligent minds as there is a single vast distributed entity that blurs out a lot at the edges. This is obviously an intelligent that has little in common with humanity. For one thing, the alien considers parts of itself to be utterly expendable.
It’s debatable if the alien is intelligent in any manner we humans would understand. Like humanity, its prime goal is survival, but survival means something very different to it than it would to a human.
The most dangerous aspect of the alien is that it can take over bodies of other intelligent races (there is no reason why it couldn’t take over a dog or another animal). When it infects a new host, the virus cells start multiplying rapidly, feeding on the biomass to encourage cell division while it spreads through the entire body. Once it reaches critical mass, it takes control directly – absorbing the host’s memories and knowledge in the process. To a very large extent, it can mimic the host’s personality as to make it very difficult for an outside observer to determine if someone has been infected. A blood test will reveal the alien virus, but by then it may be far too late.
In its natural form, the alien lives within fresh water. It is not capable of surviving or thriving within salt water. Boiling water will make it safe to drink – but anyone who fails to boil infected water will rapidly start the transformation into a new host. A secondary vector is through sexual contact (not unlike AIDS). The virus requires a certain quantity to begin cellular division and so cannot be passed through the atmosphere, or through light bodily contact. (A kiss would not pass the virus).
In a healthy human body, the virus rarely causes symptoms that could warn the newly-infected person that they have been infected. Like most parasites, it tries to avoid causing harm to the body (at least harm that would kill the host, which would also kill the alien biomass within the host). (It is debatable if the alien recognise humans as fellow intelligent beings, or would care if they did.) A human who was suffering from HIV or AIDS might find themselves dying when infected, although the virus would continue to live on in their festering bodies until it died. Humans who do not live in developed areas and do not eat daily food may also die. This is unintentional on the part of the alien, but it simply doesn’t care if it loses a piece of itself.
As the alien biomass builds up within the host’s body, it can push the body beyond its normal limits. In effect, bodies that have been heavily infected can continue to function even if they are badly damaged. A host who has been shot in the head can continue, zombie-like, until the body is completely destroyed (or at least rendered incapable of moving).
To some extent, the alien is capable of evolving to exist within a new ecosystem and survive medical attempts to remove the virus from the host. However, there are limits to how far this process can go without accidentally creating a subgroup of the virus that cannot interact with the main body of viral particles.
Human medical science can detect the aliens through blood tests. Curing a host, however, may prove impossible without a quantum leap forward.
The aliens do not have starships, at least not as humans imagine them. What they do have is hundreds of thousands of icy asteroids which they have shot into space. This process can take thousands of years before the alien spreads to another world – if it finds another world – but the aliens are effectively immortal. They could spend millions of years drifting from world to world, taking over the native populations and then using them to catapult themselves to the next target. A small asteroid entering Earth’s atmosphere might well go unnoticed, until the infection began…