/’skAn/ : a loosely coiled length of yarn or thread wound on a reel

Alpha vs Delta - Part III

It's getting close to a year of neglect, but here's a quick Part III to Alpha vs Delta, my exercise in 7th Son / Infection fanfic.

For all parts of this story, check the Alpha vs Delta category.

I'm thinking that this is now part 3 of 6, and I hope that I can actually get my brain back into writing and finishing this. The previous two parts - and the whole thing - will need some revisions when I'm done. The 7th Son trilogy so far is complete, and there have been some revelations which make it plain to me that I've missed a few things. My brief characterization of Special(k) is totally bogus, for instance.

But, nonetheless, I forge ahead with Alpha vs Delta - Part III:

On the first day of invasion, trillions of Spores had rained down from the upper edges of the sky. Of those trillions, barely a hundred had made successful contact with poor Marten's shambling form, as he had made way his home on yet another winter afternoon of early darkness. And of the hundred or so that had landed on Marten, most had succumbed to exposure or had simply fallen away as he'd walked.

For a lucky dozen, though, passage had been found into the warm interior of Marten's coat. Some had fallen down the waist of his pants or under his scarf. Others had found lucky paths through small tears in fabric, or into his coat pockets to be ferried up into his sleeves on his wrists. Of those dozen Spores that had breached Marten's armor against the wintry air, only seven had managed to further traverse the layers of clothing that had swaddled his body. While the others had lost their way in odd twists of fabric or had simply turned up dead on arrival, a miraculous seven Spores had touched down on bare human skin.

Upon successful landing, the seven siblings had immediately begun working. They'd sunk quickly through layers of skin, burrowing instinctively deeper into tissues. Had anyone been able to observe them, the Spores might have been mistaken for something merely microbial. But, upon closer inspection, their construction would have been found unusually simple and straight to the point. Pruned of any vestigial features left by a process of natural evolution, their design had clearly been the result of intelligence — a very determined and ambitious intelligence.

In small stages, the Spores had subverted Marten's own cells. Their psuedo-genetic payloads were sparse and highly specific, targeted against the wealth of code already present in human DNA. Through precise and deft tweaks, the Spores' machinery had spliced and rearranged sections of Marten's genetic material like mashed up computer code. In short order, the Spores had assembled the alien biomechanical bootstraps they needed to progress to the next stage.

In the nuclei of freshly subverted cells, the rewritten genetic code had translated into novel proteins and nanoscale fragments spilling out of cell bodies. These had rapidly self-assembled into structures that — although obscenely foreign — had somehow managed to convince the local authorities that they were just part of the ancient human body plan. By the time visible large-scale construction had begun in earnest, many further iterations of genetic subversion had been achieved. Marten's body had eagerly fed and helped shape the triangular forms resolving beneath his skin. As his craving for burgers and the worst side of the fast food menu had ramped up to provide energy and raw materials for construction, his body had given a warm welcome to the Triangles' umbilical stalks wending deeper toward his gut, lungs, spine, and brain.

In the majority of hosts, the course of infection had flowed smoothly from incursion to control without mishap. The Spores had been built expertly to exploit the human genome to build the Triangles. The Triangles, in turn, had been expertly designed to exploit the human brain and body for information and growth — leaving nothing behind when they were done.

And, for the most part, Marten had been no exception as a host. The Spores' tasks had gone without a hitch, and the parasitic fetal Triangles had firmly established themselves within Marten's body. They'd begun stirring awake, alien synaptic networks sparking to life. Synthetic hormones and neurotransmitters had trickled into Marten's bloodstream as the creatures stretched and oriented themselves. Calling out with plaintive voices encoded in chemical traces and nerve impulses, the Triangles had found each other and had collaboratively mapped out their respective locations and conditions throughout the host.

The seven had taken a poll measured in chemical concentrations leaked into the host's bloodstream to find the Triangle nearest the head. They needed to gain definitive control over Marten's mind, and proximity was essential. Luckily, one of them had been found embedded in the back of the neck. To become the group's new proxy for control, the creature had extended its umbilical stalk up the spine, creeping carefully through soft tissues to tickle Marten's brain stem. With host brain contact made, and communication established between the siblings, the first word the Triangles had stolen from Marten's mind was...


The first sign of trouble, however, had come with an unexpected rush of excitement hormones. The odd mix of potent anxiety and joy had stunned them into quiet confusion, all of the children silent as they tried pulling the reason for it from the tentative connections they'd cast into Marten's brain. To satisfy impulsive and impatient curiosity, the seventh sibling had driven further umbilical nerves deeper into Marten's brain — almost too dangerously fast. The host's mind had been so busy, words and ideas roaring through too fast for the Triangles to decode. He had been so energetic, drawing away even the Triangles' own sustenance.

The second sign of trouble had come with an agonizing blast of complex electrical current and magnetic flux that had surged through Marten's nerves, along with a strange wash of chemical signals sweeping through his arteries. The situation had outstripped all host environmental conditions expected by the Triangles, and had crashed through them all with hurricane force. They had quivered and lost contact with each other. They had squirmed and all consciousness flared out into white hot overload.

In the aftermath, after hours of darkness, instinct had taken hold. Umbilical stalks had thrust deep and branched repeatedly, forming calcium-laced barbs that slipped into soft tissues and anchored into bone. Bits of Marten's own complete nervous and muscle tissues had been harvested and grafted into service in repairing the Triangles' wounded minds and bodies.

Of the original seven Triangles that had found purchase within Marten's body, six had found each other alive and well and reaching out once the flood had cleared. The seventh, however, had seemed somehow crippled: While it had seemed to respond weakly to its brethren's queries, it hadn't made much sense. Mournfully, another poll was taken, and the job of primary control had fallen to the Triangle stationed under Marten's right clavicle. That sibling had withdrawn its umbilical from lungs and heart, had slowly rerouted it back along the spine toward the fallen seventh Triangle.

Passing along the route the seventh sibling had taken, the sixth had found the injured Triangle gibbering and twitching in a way that would irritate the host's tissues. The sixth had tried to make contact, but without success. With resignation, the Triangles had attempted to secrete chemicals that would sedate the seventh. Continuing on, the sixth had reached out with umbilical nerve probes to replace the connections now unreachable through the seventh. Not quite as adventurous as the seventh had been — cowed by recent danger — the sixth had reached into Marten's brain, but not quite as far.

As the Triangles had regained awareness of Marten's mind, what they'd found was as strange and alarming as anything they'd yet experienced. In terror and confusion, they'd burned enormous amounts of calories and fat tissue from Marten's body while he had finally slept — the Triangles had redoubled their efforts to grow and reach out to brethren beyond the host body.

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