Sand Worms (Entire symbiotic organism):
Name (Singular, larger organism): Hilinara worm or sand worm.
Name (Singular, smaller parasite): Hilinara parasite, colloquially known as "butt bugs."
Most Notable Features: A faux symbiotic creature, and a burrowing organism. Its entire body is controlled by a smaller organism that is ejected when the larger body becomes too damaged, or the smaller organism is parasitizing another creature. The inner flesh and blood of the large worms are a deep green color.
Sexes: Male and female. The sex is only discernible through dissection or after the parasite has been ejected.
Height, Worm: Two to six feet.
Height, Parasite: One to six inches depending on age and subspecies.
Length, Worm: Two to twenty meters, or even larger depending on available burrowing space. Most of the body won’t be seen even after death, unless dug out.
Length, Parasite: Between six inches and one foot. Subspecies can vary.
Weight, Worm: Seventy pounds to two tons, depending on size.
Weight, Parasite: Five to fifteen pounds, depends on age. Subspecies can vary.
They have weak eyesight in bright light, and the two pairs of segmented eyes on the heads of both bodies are short-sighted. Thermal sensors line the undersides of the mouths of both bodies. Seeking adequate warmth on cold nights is just as much a priority for them as most other species. Both entities are extremely sensitive to vibrations, and use this to detect prey and hosts through sand, dirt, mud, and the other loose terrain they can call home. The smaller body seems to have a weak sense of smell, and the ability to detect moisture through the membrane of its skin. They seem to prefer warm, moist, or wet areas, but can live in a multitude of climates.
Not unlike the earthworms of Earth, these creatures undulate their bodies to dig through the ground and move above it. However, unlike Earth’s earthworms, they can do so at speeds fast enough to destabilize the ground above them, at times throwing up chunks of dirt and rocks. Some have even been observed creating sinkholes in order to trap their targets before eating or parasitizing them.
Specialized plates on the larger body allows it to remain unscathed no matter how fast or hard it burrows through the ground. The body however is quite soft and breaks easily to direct impact by any object with force. This has caused some to get injured by crashing into unmoving obstacles underground, it is rarely the case however as they'll detect the obstruction long before they actually get to it. The smaller body has no defenses besides running/crawling away or hiding. They can use their inbuilt chemicals, but they need to be extremely close to have any chance of hitting their target. The large bodies are surprisingly agile for worm-like creatures of their size; they can dodge and avoid many attacks aimed towards them if they happen to be above ground.
Both bodies are able to synthesize a versatile green substance. They make it by releasing a cocktail of chemicals into their saliva to create the green substance that increases hormone and sensitivity levels. This substance can be rigid, sticky, slippery, or all of the above at once, based on what is currently needed. The larger body is able to create this liquid much more quickly than the smaller body and and greater magnitudes of mass. It has the ability to concentrate this substance into a ball, which can be flung to incapacitate above-ground enemies. Their fast underground movement speed gives them an advantage over above-ground adversaries, allowing them to sneak up on foes should their target not know how to identify their movements.
The larger bodies are completely indistinguishable from one another. However, the smaller bodies can clearly be identified as either male or female through sight alone. The majority of the male’s body is a large, phallic protrusion that normally flops around, but stiffens when it is near females. This protrusion is attached to a bulbous base where its eyes, mouth, and six spindly legs are situated. All males are dull yellow in color, and uniform in shape. Females have the same wormlike body structure as the larger entity they normally inhabit, and move the same way, albeit much slower. On either end of their body, they have an orifice resembling the exterior of an anus. A large variety of females exist, with differences in body structures and biological mechanisms. Humanoid and other body types of hilinara organisms exist, but only as the result of the successful parasitization and pregnancy of a large female inside an appropriate host.
Both sexes have nerve manipulation organs that extend from within their main bodies to control their larger worm-like body. In the case of males, these are ripped away in the process of ejection. Females, on the other hand, are able to retract and subsequently reuse them while they are embedded in their hosts. These tendrils are stored within their main body, hidden until they are needed. Only a few of the tendrils are used in the ‘nerve merge’, while the rest remain available as tentacular feelers capable of manual manipulation.
Environments Typically Inhabited:
While they are currently only found on Tarkus, it is likely that they would thrive in any environment containing the soft ground or sand that allows them to move their larger worm-like bodies.
Nowhere near sapient levels, they follow a main biological imperative. They have some degree of intelligence, which is higher while connected to the larger sandworm bodies’ neural matrix. They seem able to develop an affection for long-term hosts. Worm-hybrids have considerably more intelligence than the regular sandworms, but are still considered rudimentary compared to galactic standards. Their capacity for compassion seems limited to their carrier or others with genetic similarities, making cooperation between them and another person more or less impossible without the original host nearby. If a particular female has enough offspring they can create something like a hive mind, and have occasionally been seen to work together like ant or bee colonies.
Construction of The Larger Body:
By instinctively applying their secretions and by varying their hormones, they build a greenish-webbed-up pod in the soil or sand. This pod grows their secondary body over a long period of time as they enter into a state of hibernation outside of it, safely hidden away. Once several weeks have passed, the secondary body will be about twice the size of the insect that built it, and will be ready to be taken control of. The parasite then enters it by breaking open the pod and sliding in through a fleshy slit in the head of the new creature. Once inside, it will merge with the freshly grown worm, using its nerve tendrils to control the larger body until a more suitable host is found.
If the larger body controlled by the smaller organism manages to defeat or incapacitate an enemy that would be receptive to parasitization, the organism moves in to hold onto the future host with hidden pincer-ended limbs located behind the jaws. This helps to expose the soon-to-be-occupied anal cavity. Once the desired hole is found, the sand worm excretes an especially slippery version of its secretions on the host’s cavity. A couple of its long prehensile tongues are then used to massage the liquid further into the hole. After this is done, the tongues retract and the worm locks its body into position, essentially trapping the victim. The majority of the head where the smaller parasite first entered splits open, exposing the neural slit where the parasite is located, and the ejection process begins.
Once ejected through the slit and onto the immobilized creature, a female parasite will position its tapered front at the anal ring. This is when it uses the tongue tendrils to force the anus open and wriggle inside to merge with the host. Male parasites will sense whether or not the host is already infected: if they are, he will be ejected just like the female, so that he can have sex with the female inside the host and fertilize any eggs that might be ready to be laid. However, if his target is not host to a female he'll often punish his foe using his larger body as leverage. By the time that this process has finished, the larger body has usually dried up enough for the creature being held to break free of its now brittle confines.
Hilinara parasites attached to a host’s digestive system gain sustenance both from direct absorption of nutrients through the bloodstream, and from consuming what the carrier hasn’t been able to digest. Hilinara organisms not attached to hosts are opportunistic scavengers, eating anything smaller than them and remotely digestible. Those that have been inserted into the vaginal cavity during volunteer experiments became malnourished after a while. One specimen was observed trying to move from the subject’s vaginal cavity to the anus while the subject was sleeping. Oddly enough, the subject did not awaken during the organism’s move. Once the Hilinara parasite finds its way into a host’s anus, either by forcefully crawling into a pacified target’s biologically lubed-up anal ring, or through the willing permission of the intended host, the female begins their parasitic stage. They do this by using two of their six neural tendrils to merge with the inner flesh and nerves of their carrier. Once this has happened the victim will require medical assistance to remove it.
Females are heavily territorial when it comes to captured hosts, and due to the infrequency of obtaining a host they also have enzymes to separate another female from its host. In order to do this the invading female has to crawl into the target’s anus along with the one already present. Once there, it will release the enzymes at the nerve connection points, severing the established female from its host. The two females will then wrestle inside the recipient, using their nerve tendrils as grapplers to eventually decide the victor.
This process often causes spikes in the nerve sensitivity of the anal cavity, almost always causing non-stop orgasms in species that are able to have them. For some the orgasms can occur with such strength and frequency that it can nearly drive the host insane. Though it may feel like an eternity to the carrier, most fights don’t last longer than a few minutes. It should be noted that some of the female variants do have distinct biological advantages over others: data suggests it to be a cyclical hierarchy in the order of the examples listed below.
Some hosts in voluntary experiments reported their parasite as having an active influence in their lives. Most of the time the parasites disappear deeper into the anus and disguise themselves to make it look as though they aren’t there when hosts try to tell sexual partners of their ‘passenger’. Other times the parasite will make its presence blatantly obvious by stimulating the anal passage in the presence of male reproductive organs or even pulling down garments to expose the carrier. In most cases, hosts will develop a preference for anal sex. Many will become addicted to the endorphins released during the egg laying phase, and start actively seeking out male Hilinara parasites. Some individuals have made a profit out of selling captured males, but this business has only thrived in the black market among egg fetishists during the rush, primarily around Tarkus.
All female Hillinara parasites have the ability to expand their inner muscles and forcefully stretch the host’s anal walls, essentially turning themselves into biological speculums, gaping the anus and easing egg passage. Further details on eggs and egg laying can be located in the section on reproduction.
These are the known female variations found so far in recent expeditions:
1. The ‘Beige’ Female: This variant is by far the most abundant and widespread type found to date. They are beige in color and have a relatively smooth skin texture. They stay reproductively dormant in the host until it has been fertilized by a male butt bug, after which it will lay fertilized eggs inside of the gut of the host where they will mature for a week. As the eggs gestate, they grow and expand, often making the carrier look pregnant with their combined bulk. Once the female deems them ready, she forces the host into a state of faux labor, birthing the now enlarged eggs through her own body and out of the host’s anal cavity. During the laying process, they force the host’s orifice to stretch just wide enough to allow the passage of the eggs. Beige females generally produce just over a dozen eggs.
2. The ‘Green’ Female: Slightly larger and rarer than the beige female, this one is as green as the flesh of the larger worm body and covered in lighter green bumps that dot the majority of its surface. This variant of the parasite continuously lays full-sized eggs, producing one every eight hours, keeping its host in a state of ‘pregnancy’ until a male comes along to fertilize them. There is a refractory period after a fertilized laying which will temporarily cause the parasite to not lay eggs; times average at about three days. The newly fertilized eggs will be laid a short time after fertilization, often creating very large piles of eggs depending on how long it has been since the host was last fertilized. Hosts who choose to live with this type of parasite are advised not to let the growing number of eggs immobilize them. Emergency staff might take awhile to get to afflicted hosts and by then they may be in an even worse, if not critical, condition.
3. The ‘Orange’ Female: So far the rarest of all, these females are almost double the size of the other variants. They share the same color scheme with the beige female, with the exception of a large orange stripe running all along their undersides and continuing to the top of their body. They are a strange breed of ‘butt bug’ that when fertilized only lays a single egg into their host. This egg incubates for several months, and is expelled through a labor-intensive event somewhat akin to a vaginal birth, but through the anal cavity instead. This egg is much larger than most other eggs laid by these anal parasites, increasing in size until the carrier looks severely pregnant. Even stranger is that the egg absorbs genetic material from the host. This alters the body of the offspring in accordance to the carrier’s overall body shape. This has created bipedal, tauric, and even flying insectoid hybrids of all varieties with just enough intelligence to behave in a very tribalistic manner. Unfortunately their numbers are incredibly low, and there are no recorded cases of them actually forming civilizations. These hybrids are essential for the making of more orange females, as they need to be parasitized by other hilinara parasites in order for this specific female variant to continue.
Other unfound variants may exist.
Hilinara organisms cannot reproduce on their own: they require a suitable host to incubate their eggs until the female deems them suitably developed to be laid. Gestation times vary between female types but it is known that most of the females already have eggs waiting to be laid within the host when a male comes along. In order to be fertilized, a female hilinara parasite needs to be inseminated by a male through the constant insertion of the male’s phallic body into one of the female’s orifices. This process goes on until the male is stimulated enough to ejaculate his spermatozoa into the awaiting body of the female, whereupon she will, through the use of her remaining tendrils, cover every egg she has in the deposited seminal fluids. After approximately an hour of soaking her eggs in the sperm, the female lays the eggs into the intestines of the carrier. It is here that they will gestate and grow in size until ready to be laid, often bulging a host's body to the point of looking pregnant. An unwilling host will often feel discomfort at this act, as they may not want any phallic objects in their anus, let alone the parasite they are carrying. However, this will only happen if the host is subdued by the larger body of the male earlier on, so most hosts are safe from this happening to them in civilized or well travelled areas.
The eggs seem to be completely immune to any sort of stomach acids. They do not need to be cared for in environments where soft soil or sand is abundant considering that they hatch shortly after they are laid. With the exception of the green female, all females already have an egg prepared and ready to be laid into the gut of their host once the female has confirmed that a male butt bug has inseminated her. If their unfertilized eggs come into contact with any sperm that is not from a male butt bug, they will induce an early ‘labor’ and lay all of the available eggs they have outside the host in order to prevent genetic contamination. This is often without warning, and without a care for where they end up. These eggs will not develop with no body incubating them and no female bug to care for them.
Hybrids grow astronomically quickly when compared to their ‘parent’; with ‘parent’ being the host. As stated above, the continuation of the orange female strain requires the infection of a hybrid by another orange parasite type. The hybrid genes that they pick up in each reproduction cycle keeps the inevitable incestual damage to a minimum. This reproductive quirk hints at some genetic crisis in their evolutionary past, thus requiring them to take on genes from another species or become essentially sterile. Why they needed to do this, or what led up to this reproductive crisis is a mystery so far. The only lead so far is that there is an unusually high amount of sydian DNA located in their cells. Because of this, xenobiologists speculate that the first genetic hybrids were of sydian descent and could be why the hybrids are always more insectoid than the host species.
Almost all Hilinara organisms, hybrid or otherwise, seem to instantly be able to recognize the host who carried them while they were an egg, no matter how long a period of time has passed. Even subjects that were separated from their carrier for several years, and had never met them beforehand, seemed to know not to attack; while hybrids treat them like long lost parents the moment they sense them. Current data suggests that the carrier’s heat signature and unique chemical scent is imprinted into the brains of these creatures while they are carried, creating a permanent reminder of who they share DNA with. The most likely explanation for this is that it serves as a warning marker to prevent incestual genetic mixing. Only in the case of hybrids does this not make sense, as they are sexually sterile. However, it is entirely possible for a carrier to accidentally become the host of one of the parasites created by a hybrid they carried. Long term study has determined that this marker lasts for several generations, further providing evidence that this is to prevent against incestous genetic mixing.