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  1. The Red Planet is home to more than just the age-old Martians and the newly-arrived Reds. Its sands--and the sands of many another planet, and the echoing, dripping corridors of many an abandoned spacecraft--are home to the fearsome Crawlers. An ancient and cosmopolitan species of non-host-specific invertebrate parasitoids, they are a Galacteer's worst nightmare. Much smarter than a mindless hive, much more vicious than any technological peoples, they seek out new life and new civilizations and promptly turn them into incubators and meat. They have enough intelligence to hate you personally, but neither ego nor sense of self-preservation enough to fear you. It is unclear if they are sentient as we understand the term; certainly, it is not a sentience that produces art or invention, literature or recognizable religion. They are aware of their incessant, gnawing hunger, and desire to expand, infest, spawn, and devour. They do not make, but repurpose and appropriate the works of others to further this goal. Spacefaring cultures tell stories of the distress beacon recently activated on a centuries-old derelict; the spacesuit, mirrored-visored, reaching out to you with no heat signature; the colony always advertising free land for new colonists, but never sending back video feed. It is not impossible that they are the descendants of an ancient bioweapons program. Specimen 80040, the 'Primarch' caste. Psionically control other castes; can mindjack or psychically blast humanoids as well. Astral Flensing is said to be a fate worse than death. Specimen 50062, "Exarch" caste: Specimen 80038, "Centurion" caste. The scythes on a full-grown member of this caste can bisect a Titanian shellback in one stroke. Oh. Oh no. That's not a Martian academician at all. That's a grotesque travesty of the Martian form, still wearing its host's formal robes. Specimen 50288, a member of the "Mastermind" caste, newly eaten free of its host/prison/chrysalis. And here's a new specimen, this one with crushing pincers. Its paralytic tentacles are currently withdrawn, but its ovipositor is unsheathed and ready to implant a stream of glistening eggs. (This is Black Cat Bases' 'Craboid Alien,' whose carapaced form seemed similar enough to use.) They can't survive on Venus and they've never been reported from Europa and that's about the only good things you can say about them. Here's a serious infestation:
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