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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Mind-Parasite  
  Takes over the cognition of a host organism.  

Description: . . . mind-parasite of extragalactic origin, accidentally introduced into our Zones and now widely scattered there . . . In its free state a nonmaterial but coherent form of conscious energy, characterized by high spatial motility.


 . . . basic I.Q. slightly above A-type human being. Behavior . . . largely on reflex-intuition levels. The basic procedures underlying its life-cycle are not consciously comprehended by the parasite and have not, at present, been explained.


Cycle: . . . the free state, normally forming only a fraction of the Ceetal life-cycle, may be extended indefinitely until the parasite contacts a suitable host-organism. Oxygen-breathing life-forms with neural mechanisms in the general class of the human nervous system and its energy areas serve this purpose.


On contacting a host, the Ceetal undergoes changes in itself enabling it to control the basic energizing drives of the host-organism. It then develops the host's neural carriers to a constant point five times beyond the previous absolute emergency overload.


In type-case Ceetal-Homo-Lycanno S-4, 1782—a drastic localized hypertrophy of the central nerve tissue masses was observed, indicating protective measures against the overload induced in the organism.


The advantages to the parasite of developing a host-organism of such abnormal potency and efficiency in its environment are obvious, as it is indissolubly linked to its host for the major part of its long parasitic stage and cannot survive the host's death. Barring accidents or superior force, it is, however, capable of prolonging the host's biological life-span almost indefinitely.


At the natural end of this stage, the Ceetal reproduces, the individual parasite dividing into eight free-stage forms. The host is killed in the process of division, and each Ceetal is freed thereby to initiate a new cycle.


From Agent of Vega, by James Schmitz.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1949
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