Data Canister: Chryssalid
Data Canister 914, X-Com Archives. Transcript of briefing on Chryssalids to soldiers, Peter Weissman, 6657-9fd-XRC, 04/02/2001
"You could fill several books with details on their life cycle. Let me give a simple description.
"Fully grown, a Chryssalid is two meters tall. It looks roughly insectoid, although it's difficult to classify in terms of our local taxonomy. It's covered with a near black carapace, which is a little under a two inches thick on average. The joints are weak points, they're covered with slightly pink leathery flesh. Internal musculature is solid. It walks on two legs that seem somewhat digitigrade, although in fact the Chryssalid has no ankle structure, just two extremely strong toes with an extremely good range of motion allowing them to clutch things... they are able to climb particularly rough surfaces relatively well despite their size, there have been reports of troopers having them drop out of trees.
"Arms are relatively short, end in two-part pincers with a rather remarkable amount of strength and hardness. Chryssalid musculature is almost... hydraulic, you might say. They compress body fluids in rather heart-like pumps behind all that armour plating in their chests, which flood constrictive organs in the limbs, forcing movement. It's very elegant, quite energy efficient.
"There are two antennae-like spines which jut out of their shoulders. There were some theories that these were sensory, and this was later proven to be an auditory structure of some kind, with a honey-comb of air pockets linked to nerve receptors. Their eyes are very good, with nerve clusters which give them vision estimated at slightly better than ours, particularly at night.
"Reproduction is quite a disturbing matter... Behind the mandible plates, which give a Chryssie a very pleasant smile, there is a sort of tongue located just underneath the digestive tract. About eight inches long, three wide, the tip is slightly concave, with a kind of... beak, in the centre. Very flexible organ. The Chryssalid latches onto its victim with the tip of its tongue, there's a specialised muscle grouping which allows it to flex the concavity, producing a suction effect which leaves a very distinctive bruise pattern, almost like a hickey.
"The central beak, or perhaps a flat two-part needle, one might call it, is gouged into the flesh. Typically there will be an egg, three inches long, about an eighth of an inch wide, within this beak. The two halves swing open, and the egg is deposited about three to four inches underneath the flesh, along with about sixty CCs worth of a very powerful psychotic drug... It basically makes rational reasoning impossible, triggers flight or fight reflexes, deadens pain... very nasty.
"The end result is a bruisey looking wound with a relatively thin cut in the centre.
"This egg is basically a more or less complete juvenile Chryssalid. All it has to do is start syphoning off blood or other fluids from the victim, and it begins to gradually expand... at this stage the juvenile is very flexible, as it hasn't yet developed its carapace. Within about forty five seconds or so, the juvenile has taken on enough fluid mass to run around on its own, and will actually begin producing eggs at the two minute mark.
"A juvenile Chryssalid at this stage stands a little under thirty centimetres tall, very soft structure. But it can survive and act under its own volition. At the fifteen minute mark, the Chryssalid begins flooding its victim with acids and enzymes which start breaking down cell walls and gradually turning most of the soft organs, liver, brain, lungs, to a kind of jelly.
"Around an hour and a half after implantation, the host is basically irrecoverable, but still alive -- barely. Fluid will be steadily pouring into the damaged lungs, the Chryssalid will have consumed most of the body matter and be inhabiting most of the torso, consuming the digestive tract first.
"Two hours after implantation, the brain starts to shred apart and the victim goes into a coma. The Chryssalid will shortly consume all other internal organs and begin working on musculature... Two and a half hours after implantation, the Chryssalid starts pulling itself out of the remains, which will basically just be musculature and bone structure.
"Normally a Chryssalid out in the field will run from its victim's body, but if left to their own devices with no threats, they will then consume their victim's remains, including the bone structure, allowing their carapace to form.
"As you can probably guess, the Chryssalid has a disturbingly fast metabolism. The longest we've kept one alive in the lab has been about three months, at that stage for reasons not terribly clear to us they just stop eating, become listless, and eventually starve.
"From implantation to adulthood takes roughly four hours if the Chryssalid is allowed to consume its host corpse. If you kill a fresh implantation victim, the juvenile will 'hatch' prematurely... not so well armoured as an adult specimen, it is still very dangerous. Very mobile, also capable of implantating fresh victims.
"If left alone, a premature Chryssalid will cause a 'sterile implant', using the same mechanism as before, but only using venom at a much higher dosage. This renders the victim more or less insensible, and the premature Chryssalid will eat the victim alive, bit by bit.
"... They seem to go after fingers, first.
"An adult specimen runs at a little over forty miles an hour. They have disturbingly fast reflexes, as well... We know they can jump and leap, but we don't have any really solid information there. As mentioned, their pincer-like claws on the arms are very strong. There are recorded incidents of Chryssalids tearing into heavy weapons platforms, for example, although this can take some time. Their claws are certainly hard enough to get the job done!
"Chryssalids may or may not be a natural life form... Their biological burn rate seems a little too high for any kind of stable ecosystem, they go through prey extremely quickly, as evidenced by the death rate in New York over the holidays...
"This may just be a purpose bred subspecies, however. It seems likely to me. They, like the Snakemen whom we presume share a homeworld, use an androgynous reproduction method based around 'eggs' with genetic uniformity prevented through a rather ingenious system of recursion of the chromosomes... but I don't expect you're terribly interested."
- Skonar on StrategyCore, pasted by JellyfishGreen