A Chunk of SciFi – 2.01 – Funganoid [Plant/Fungus]
“I’d not seen Claire in a few days. In her last report, she said she had found something she thinks could change the face of our profession. When I found her I was, well surprised was not the answer. There was two of them…her.., lying on the ground, covered in a fine dust. The stuff made me sneeze badly, like when I had hay fever as a kid. With the solar storm getting worse we had no time to decide who was who so the rest of the search party took them both back to the ship. The real Claire was fine, but the duplicate was…well..off.She was very pale and reacted badly to one of the test. And when i say reacted badly I mean she exploded into a cloud of spore…”
Many beings think that plants and fungus are essentially harmless. They generally can’t move, or attack or even defend themselves. They know of some famous plants like the Creeping Vine of Artus IV that moves towards water sources and the infamous Injecting Whip Needle Cactus of XJan-XJan X that can fling its spines 20 meters in an effort to spread its seeds. Only a few xeno-botanists are aware of the Funganoid, a fungus in humanoid form.
The base plant, or more correctly, fungus, is about the size of a Terran cat. It goes through several stages of its lifecycle. First is the spore. That finds a place to grow, ideally warm and damp like many other fungi. It grows and feeds on nutrients in the soil until it gets to its base stage one growth. Stage two is what has been referred to as the mobility-spore stage. For a week or so, the base Funganoid gives off a scent, like a pheromone, that attracts higher lifeforms, such as mammals. The more mobile the species the better.
Anything that touches the Funganoid at this points is immediately enveloped in a thick cloud of spores. Somehow, this spores and the base fungus makes a duplicate of the original victim, whilst keeping it asleep. Somehow drawing on the host’s mind whilst keeping them asleep, the Funganoid, in its mobile form, seeks to get as far away from the parent fungus as possible. The mobile-fungus uses the host’s mind to guide itself to a location with the most compatible resources.
This duplicate is visually speaking, the same as the original. Cursory medical tests reveal that the mobile fungus is the same as the host, but their skin is covered in a fine layer of what appears to be spore-like material. This disappears in a few hours. During this time the host cannot move and is in what appears to be a coma. The duplicate, using the host’s mind can answer simple questions and perform basic tasks, but nothing complex, even then they seem to be a bit off. As time goes by, the duplicate appears to “get better” and communicates and moves about more.
After a few days or if the pseudo-mind link between host and fungus is broken, the mobile stage of the Funganoid enters its third and final stage. The mobile fungus, ideally when reaching an area with optimum resources, explodes, realeasing its spores in a wide an area as possible, letting the wind and other creatures take the spores as far as possible, where the cycle begins again. Once the Funganoid has “died” the host awakens, with only a vague impression of what occurred and a mild fear of spores and mushrooms.