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|A neural parasite|
|An infected Gregory Quinn|
|The telltale spike of infection|
|The mother creature|
The neural parasite aliens were an intelligent parasitic lifeform in the 24th century which originated from an unknown planet outside the United Federation of Planets. They were very aggressive and had the ability to infest and control humanoid species. (TNG: "Conspiracy")
Federation Infiltration Edit
The Federation first discovered the creatures on an unknown planet during a survey mission. Over a period of several months ending in 2364, the aliens had infiltrated the Federation's Starfleet Command, even high-ranking admirals within the organization. Persons who fell victim to infiltration included Admirals Gregory Quinn, Aaron, and Savar.
Admiral Quinn suspected that something was wrong at the highest levels of Starfleet Command in mid-2364. Seeking allies he could trust, he ordered Lieutenant Commander Dexter Remmick to investigate Captain Jean-Luc Picard to determine his trustworthiness. Remmick's investigation found that, despite a sense of over-familiarity among the USS Enterprise-D's bridge crew, Picard was above reproach. Quinn told Picard of his suspicions and that he wanted to promote Picard to admiral, commandant of Starfleet Academy, so he could be nearby. Picard turned down the offer, believing he could serve Quinn better by remaining as captain of the Enterprise. (TNG: "Coming of Age")
Other high-ranking officers had their own suspicions. Admiral Norah Satie was instrumental in discovering the conspiracy. (TNG: "The Drumhead") Captains Walker Keel, Rixx, and Tryla Scott noticed a pattern of unusual orders and activity coming from Starfleet Command. Officers they had known for years were, in Keel's words, suddenly "bluffing their way through talk of old times," Starbase 12 was mysteriously evacuated for two days without explanation and Onna Karapleedeez, Ryan Sipe, and McKinney had all died under mysterious circumstances.
Quinn and Scott eventually fell victim to the parasites, both becoming hosts, and Remmick, despite his lower rank, was inexplicably chosen to become host to the parasites' mother creature. Several other officers were infected and either kept at Starfleet Headquarters or transferred to starbases to increase the creatures' influence.
Captains Keel and Rixx were unaware of this and called Picard to a meeting on Dytallix B via a Code 47 signal. They warned Picard of the threat, and to watch his back. Soon after, Keel's ship, the USS Horatio, was destroyed with Keel aboard. This incident, and evidence of a pattern in Starfleet's unusual orders found by Lieutenant Commander Data, led Picard to order the Enterprise to Earth to confront Starfleet Command directly.
On Earth, Quinn boarded the Enterprise, and, while Picard was on the surface with Aaron and Savar, Quinn attempted to implant Dr. Beverly Crusher with one of the parasites. Instead, Commander William T. Riker caught Quinn's attention first, and Quinn attempted to infect him instead. Riker attempted to fight him off, but was easily overpowered, as were Worf and Geordi La Forge. Quinn was extremely hostile and made several threats against Worf's life, asking whether Klingons 'feared death as much as Humans' and claiming that he could snap his neck in an instant. He was only subdued when Dr. Crusher shot him repeatedly with a phaser set to stun.
Having subdued Admirals Savar and Aaron and Captain Scott, Picard and Riker tracked one of the parasites to a room where Dexter Remmick, inhabited by the parasite's mother creature, was waiting. The creature - communicating through Remmick - said its race seeks peaceful coexistence, despite its 'child's' earlier hostility aboard the Enterprise. Both Remmick and the mother creature were killed by heavy phaser fire at the hands of Picard and Riker, which caused the deaths of all the other parasites on Earth. Admiral Quinn, however, made a full recovery.
The parasites' natural appearance resembles that of light purple, crawling insects. One of these could infect a humanoid lifeform by placing itself within the back of the neck and connecting itself to the host's nervous system. A spine-like protrusion from the skin at the base of the neck allows it to breathe. Naturally they are incapable of inhabiting artificial lifeforms, such as Soong-type androids such as Data.
While connected, the parasite had complete control over the body. It stimulated the adrenal glands, generating great strength in humans. It also gave resistance or numbness to damage, as higher-than-normal phaser energy levels were required to stun the host. The parasites were incapable of retaining either some or all of a host's memories, providing another means through which they could be exposed.
The parasites appeared to be highly intelligent, perhaps more intelligent than Humans, and even cultured, at one point claiming "a love of theater."
The parasites were also connected to a mother organism, a larger creature likewise capable of inhabiting a humanoid host. The death of this creature seems to result in the deaths of all progeny.
When a host is killed, the invading parasite tended to leave the body and crawl away. If possible, the creature joined the mother creature. If the mother creature is killed, the parasites die, but often the host could survive afterwards. (TNG: "Conspiracy")
Background information Edit
The neural parasites were designed by Andrew Probert. In his concept designs, the mother creature originally had a head more reminiscent of the smaller parasites. The parasite storyline was not revisited partially due to the negative reaction "Conspiracy" received, as the story was too different from what viewers had come to expect from Star Trek. (The Art of Star Trek) The creatures were later built by Makeup & Effects Laboratories, a company headed by Allan A. Apone. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 111)
The writers originally intended the parasites to be agents of the Borg. Due to the Writers' Strike of 1988 as well as budget cuts, the connection between the Borg and the parasites was never established. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) (citation needed • edit)
The neural parasites were (historically) first encountered on a comet near Trill, by then head of Trill Symbiosis Commission Audrid Dax, whose husband was a victim of a parasite, accompanied by Christopher Pike. The Trill authorities classified the knowledge and never released it to public; these events are depicted in the short story "Sins of the Mother" in the anthology The Lives of Dax.
In the Pocket DS9 "relaunch" series of novels, Mission Gamma and the conclusion Unity had the neural parasites return in 2376, shortly after the end of the Dominion War. Shakaar Edon was one of those infiltrated and was assassinated by a Trill delegate to Bajor's entering of the Federation. It is revealed that they are similar to the Trill symbionts, as the husband of Audrid Dax was infected by one on a mission to an asteroid that was expected to pass Trill and showed a symbiont-like lifeform. The parasite fused with the symbiont and ultimately caused the death of both the host and the symbiont, a greater loss.
In the novel Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume 2, it was revealed that the neural parasites were genetically created from Trill symbionts in an ancient Trill colony on Kurl; these symbionts were designed to be removed without killing the host and were passed from Trill to Trill. The colony was annihilated by the regular Trill when it was discovered that the fatal combination of a mutated virus and genetic engineering caused the symbionts to go mad.
In Star Trek Online, these parasites, called the "Bluegills" are revealed to have taken over members of the Vaadwaur leadership. In reality, the Vaadwaur turned to the Iconians, to help them become a feared power in the Delta Quadrant, in exchange for the Bluegill to take possession of the Vaadwaur leadership. The Bluegills are subsequently shown to be bio-engineered by the "Solanae" on behalf of the Iconians. It is also mentioned in the mission "Uneasy Allies" that Trill physiology is very resistant against the parasites, giving them a much better chance at surviving possession. Joined Trills are said to be immune thanks to their symbiont.