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The Krynoids

By Guy Blythman

[Krynoid Adult]

Of all the plant species in the known universe, the Krynoids are the most intelligent and the most deadly. They are hostile to all animal life, which according to the Doctor has been wiped out on every planet where they have become established (this cannot be entirely true; since Krynoids are carnivorous some animals must be kept alive to provide a source of food. They are probably husbanded as we would cattle). Not being dependent on a root system for feeding, they are highly mobile, which obviously makes them more dangerous. They can communicate with other species of plant and influence their behaviour, inciting them to turn against the local animal population. It would seem they can also control humans, although we get the impression that Harrison Chase's possession by one is only possible because he is receptive to its overtures, preferring as he does the company of plants to that of people - or various others would also have succumbed.

Krynoids are essentially parasites, needing to take over the bodies of animals to propagate their kind; the Doctor once described them as a 'galactic weed'. In a process known as 'primary germination', the adult plant ejects in pairs thousands of spores, which under the right conditions break open to release shoots. The latter attach themselves to the nearest animal organism, which then undergoes a series of mutations that transform it into an adult Krynoid. The cycle then begins again. The shoot probably injects the victim with Krynoid genetic material which is similar in composition to a virus and can alter the nature of the body's cells. It seems logical to call the release of the shoot, together with its infection of the host organism, 'secondary germination'.

The exact symptoms of Krynoid infection probably vary according to species, and there seem to be other factors which produce disparities. We have details of only two cases, both on Earth and both involving humans, Charles Winlett and Arnold Keeler. Even between these two individuals of the same species the symptoms observed were not quite identical. On being infected Winlett fell into a coma from which he did not recover until he had ceased to be truly human, whereas Keeler remained conscious and fairly articulate for some time. Also, in Keeler's case the 'larval', still party humanoid Krynoid had tentacles emerging from its head while in Winlett's it didn't. The reason for these differences is not clear. One disparity which can perhaps be explained is the much faster rate at which Keeler's infection progresses. (The Seeds of Doom novelisation differs from the televised version; in the former the first Krynoid enters the power unit at the Antarctic base and uses the warmth and energy it finds there to reach its pupal stage, while in the latter it is still in its larval stage when blown up at the end of Episode Two). The reason must be the difference in climate between the South Pole, where Winlett was infected, and southern England where the second Krynoid crisis took place. Although Krynoids are more resilient to cold than other plant species - one aspect of the adaptability which makes them so deadly - it nevertheless impairs their spores into inactivity and slows down the rate at which an infected animal mutates into a Krynoid.

[Krynoid Hybrid]

Generally Krynoid infection takes the following course. A fungus-like growth appears on the victim's flesh, spreading until it covers the entire body, and the larval stage begins, during which the victim retains the basic shape of its species although human skin, hair and facial features disappear. Then follows the pupal stage in which all traces of the host organism have vanished, and suckers and tentacles sprout from the creature's trunk-like body. Although possessing no limbs as such it is capable of great speed over ground. Keeler's transition from larval to pupal Krynoid appears to have taken place with astonishing rapidity; perhaps the larval stage is a kind of cocoon, inside which the true Krynoid gradually develops until it is ready to break free. Soon after entering the pupal stage the creature begins to grow rapidly although its basic form does not change. In its final phase of development the Krynoid is a mass of shoots and tentacles some 200 feet high; in this form it can attach itself to a building or natural structure which it has chosen if or a suitable site for sporing.

Not nearly enough is known about the Krynoid considering the threat they present. According to the Doctor, the Intergalactic Floral Society, of which he is the Honorary President, finds them a difficult species to study as their researchers tend to disappear. Their home planet is even more of an unknown quantity. Almost nothing can be said about it, although the Doctor speculates that it may be geologically unstable. Every so often internal explosions send surface matter shooting off into space, perhaps with enough force to escape the planet's gravitational pull; this may explain why Krynoid pods come to be found on other worlds.

Krynoids can absorb the knowledge of humanoids they devour or whose bodies they take over. That which traps the Doctor and others in a cottage calls on Scorby, to make the Time Lord surrender to it, addressing him by name. It must know his identity from having previously been his associate, Keeler. This would also explain how the creature is able to imitate human speech (a Krynoid's normal 'voice' is an eerie rattling noise). Its awareness of the Doctor's identity, plus the fact that he already knows a certain amount about its species and recognises Winlett's infection for what it is, suggests he has had a previous encounter with Krynoids which he does not fully remember. Krynoids must be able to communicate telepathically with one another, perhaps to the extent of forming a collective intelligence (note that the creature speaks in the plural: 'Give the Doctor to us...'). When an animal is infected by one of their seeds and a new Krynoid is 'born', it becomes part of this group intelligence, even though it may be separated from the rest of its kind by millions of miles, and is able to draw upon its knowledge and experience. The Krynoids must know the Doctor is a Time Lord and want his knowledge so they can spread their seeds throughout all history: 'You are important, Doctor... you have alien knowledge...'

A Krynoid can be destroyed by conventional means. However this is best achieved before the creature has germinated or the problem will multiply. In the larval stage (and early in the pupal stage, according to Hinchcliffe's nove1isation), high explosives can dispose of it. From then on it becomes more difficult to kill; if no suitable means is to hand, heat may be a useful form of defence as it causes the creature pain. In its final stage a low-level aerial attack, using the most powerful explosives available short of nuclear ones, will be necessary to annihilate it. If the Krynoid does germinate, prompt action to ensure that the spores are collected, combined with warnings to the public not to go near them, may minimise the danger, but collection would be a difficult operation, since the spores fall over an area the size of the Western Hemisphere, and what if some should land in remote parts of the world where communications are difficult or non-existent? The chances are that out of the thousands of spores (we don't know the exact figure) that a Krynoid ejects, at least a few will germinate.

[Krynoid Pod]

Dealing with Krynoids, in cases where a single pod or pair of pods has been found, consists in appreciating the danger at an early stage and taking swift action to prevent any possibility of germination; since no one seems to know exactly what the normal conditions for it are, as opposed to those which can be created, deliberately or otherwise by human action, the only safe way of doing this is to deep-freeze the pod/s. That both the specimens found on Earth were able to germinate, almost bringing catastrophe to the planet, was largely due to foolishness and stupidity. The scientists who found the first pod buried in the Antarctic permafrost continued to expose it to ultraviolet light to thaw it out despite the Doctor's warnings that it might be dangerous and should be left in a frozen state.

The second pod, found near the first, was stolen by Harrison Chase, an eccentric millionaire who wanted to add it to his vast botanical collection, and brought to England where he caused it to germinate by injecting it with nutrients. Chase, whose grip on sanity had long been shaky, was blind to the consequences of his actions.

The Seeds of Doom novelisation by Philip Hinchcliffe In-Vision 13

This item appeared in TSV 40 (July 1994).

Index nodes: The Seeds of Doom