Entity 4

The Gestalt

rating: +12+x

Entity Classification

Aggressiveness 4/5 Will attack on sight but can be bargained with.
Rarity 2/5 Is not found on many explored levels, but has an enormous presence outside of the archivist sphere.
Intelligence 4/5 Intelligence varies with the size of the colony.
Pritoria Index 3.33/5 The Gestalt is smart, ruthless, and can cluster in large numbers. It should be avoided if at all possible.

Description

The Gestalt is a species of flesh-eating worms sharing a hive-mind, which can group together to form bodies out of thousands of individual Gestalt worms. In their default state, the worms appear similar to baseline earthworms, being about a foot and a half long with a black band visible under their flesh. The Gestalt possess the ability to camouflage themselves, being able to alter their pigmentation, flatten their bodies to form smooth surfaces, and even emulate textures. To achieve stealth and agility the colonies will typically appear as masses of camouflaged tendrils that run along the walls and floor. When brute strength is required the colonies will take the form of large fleshy spider-like organisms with no discernable head and a plethora of stout legs supporting an elephantine body.

Behaviours

The Gestalt has a central hive mind which controls most of The Gestalt worms; however, most colonies wanderers will come in contact with are lesser Gestalts that have clawed their way free of the main intelligence. The Gestalt has been known to use its camouflage abilities to blend in with the walls and floor and lie in wait for unfortunate wanderers or to take the form of humans and infiltrate groups. The latter can pass themselves off surprisingly well, utilizing their human-level intelligence and camouflaging abilities to the maximum. The worms burrow into live hosts and replace their muscular system, taking them over like puppets but keeping their brains alive as a source of behavioral information to best mimic the original person. The mind of the captive host is believed to be fully conscious as The Gestalt uses their body to betray, murder, and consume their friends.

Similar behavior is also observed in dead hosts, who will be used as both a mobile food source and as a vehicle to hunt down new prey. These Gestalt "zombies" are far more common than Gestalt infiltrators, but are usually formed by smaller colonies of sub-human intelligence, and can be more easily evaded. They are also noticeably more shielded than the average Gestalt colony, able to use the body of the corpse to absorb projectiles and impacts that would otherwise damage them. It is recommended to take out the legs of the creature and run while it is immobilized.

Although The Gestalt is known to prey on humans, it will also work in cooperation with them, enhancing the cultist's body parts with Gestalt worms in exchange for human victims. As Gestalt worms are appreciably stronger than human muscle tissue, each enhancement increases the strength of the cultist considerably. As they progress they will be able to reshape limbs, rearrange their facial features, and even sprout additional appendages. Eventually, these "Gestalt cultists" will become full Gestalt Colonies in their own right after enough of their bodies are replaced.

Biology

Each worm is equipped with the ability to burrow into and consume human flesh. For this, Gestalt colonies are forever on the hunt for more human victims to consume. Colonies kill in a wide variety of means due to their innate ability to change forms, but upon dispatching their prey they will extend tendrils of worms into the body, which will burrow through the flesh to collect sustenance and then return to the colony to allow more worms to feed on the corpse. This is also sometimes done to living victims. Gestalt Colonies are notably at their weakest when feeding, as a large portion of their mass is transferred to the body and they can easily be split in two by severing the tendrils.

Gestalt Colonies become more cunning the more worms they have in them, giving smaller colonies only animal intelligence but allowing larger ones to match or even exceed human mental capabilities. As the main Gestalt is thought to weigh in the order of solar masses, its intelligence must far exceed that of humans. However, it is also believed that the main Gestalt mind has been driven insane by its own size. Unable to handle its innumerable components, the main mind is gradually fragmenting into many smaller colonies. Despite this decay, it is estimated to take hundreds of thousands of years for The Gestalt mind to wither away.

Discovery

The Gestalt was first encountered in ancient artworks on precursor ruins, shown as a strange amorphous entity, usually chasing after collections of symbols that did not match the rest of the writing depicted. One mural even seems to display the story of The Gestalt, showing a man who discovered runestones of a long-dead civilization and used their writings to become something entirely other than human. If correctly interpreted, this would place The Gestalt as a contemporary of the ancient precursor empire. It seems that while the humans remained but ceased to be an empire, The Gestalt remained an empire but ceased to be human.


Survival Guide

Avoidance is the best strategy. Keep a sharp eye out for areas of the wall that seem out of place, as they may be disguised Gestalt Colonies lying in ambush. It is advised to avoid areas known to have high Gestalt presences and be suspicious of anyone you meet there. Do not allow them to touch you. Shotguns, fire, and lubricants are effective at fighting off Gestalt Colonies, while simple projectile and melee weapons are next to useless against their shifting mass. Gestalt Colonies that have taken over human bodies will have human skeletons, the breaking of which can seriously impair the colony.

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