Art by, Atomic
Danger Level: Low
Commonly Infects: Typically has no target for its infections, but does aim for non-sterilized water sources if possible.
Attack Method: The cetus strain is rather docile and doesn't actively hunt, but if threaten they are not afraid to bite.
Summary: The cetus strain, while a minor blip on the radar for most areas is a devastating clockwork type due to the illness being waterborne and their attraction towards untreated water sources. A rather fast acting strain, those infected will toss themselves into a water source and drown before their body is converted into an elongated serpent-like beast.
Original Creator: Atomic
Ghastly sea serpents, the cetus is a disgustingly elongated version of their host after disfiguring them over time. At first, the cetus is relatively vulnerable. Its body typically unsuited for swimming; it will flail about in the water for the first few months of life until it can absorb unneeded parts such as legs, or tear them off physically.
Its final form is that of an eel-like creature with teeth suited for ripping and tearing. Even after all its work on transforming into a more refined form, it still has the shape of a devious serpent wearing its host's deformed skin.
When times are tough, and food has stopped leaping to their deaths, the cetus of the waters will consume each other, the final product being a single large cetus, sometimes with many heads and tails. This last clockwork can last a year or more without food and exist out of water for weeks. Fearful onlookers who have had their families and friends destroyed by this monster can see people they once knew in it.
Do not call to them.
The cetus strain is docile compared to other clockworks, but do not be fooled, this strain is just as deadly as many others. Instead of actively hunting its prey, the cetus has over productive glands that ooze out far more of the infectious yet flammable slime that is a crucial trait in clockworks. When a cetus exits a water source to locate a better one, this slime makes them highly vulnerable to fire-based attacks. A single lit match would set the creature, and the path it slithered, ablaze and is the recommended way to dispose of them. The cetus can afford this major weakness due to its habitat.
In water, the slime floats around, suffocating nearby fish for an easy meal and tainting the area. The water that a cetus lives in becomes infectious rather quickly. Any drinker and even some bathers will become infected, and over the course of a day, they will exhibit unusual thirst. They will drink from any nearby water source as if they would die if they didn't. Finally, when the infection has nearly fully taken over, they will sprint to the nearest large body of water and hurl themselves in. The final thoughts going through the mind of these people is that they cannot breathe without water. That air will suffocate them.
These infected people will drown, and within two days will reanimate as a cetus. They will proceed to twist their form immediately at this point.
Attempts to contain the infected person before they can reach water will bear no results. The person will beg for water and do everything possible to escape before expiring due to the cetus infection's damage. The clockwork will waste away the body, but without water, it will not take over. Once the body has decomposed, the illness will die with it.
If a person has drowned, any cetus in the water body will consume the corpse if they have not had a meal lately. If every cetus is well fed or there are none in the water, the body's transformation will begin. The cetus leaks the disease into the water, which is drunk by a host, who will then drown themselves. As long as the waters remain tainted, the cetus will survive to be able to infect more.
All cetus can survive outside of water for a few days. While they prefer to stay in the water due to their slime being detrimental to their land survival, they will move to find a new body of water should food become scarce. While the cetus typically affects wildlife who cannot sanitize their water sources, any place with no sanitation system for liquids is at significant risk for cetus infections.
It takes one cetus slinking into a well to drown a village overnight.
Ketos: The ketos strain of cetus is the only other subtype. It is an elegant and refined-looking serpent, often reported as a mystical creature to those who don't know the real horror. Unlike the typical life cycle of a cetus, a ketos grows inside their drowned host. Once large enough, it will either eat its way out or exit through the host's mouth. This growth style allows the ketos a more streamlined appearance, giving them better mobility in exchange for a higher death rate. Other ketos may prey upon the body before they finish developing.
Unlike the cetus, ketos are active hunters and do not produce the high amounts of infectious slime that the typical strain does. Smaller ketos gather water in their mouths, spitting it at all who pass by in an attempt to make an infected individual. Bigger ones will outright grab and drag a poor victim into a body of water to drown them. Due to their more active hunting style, they have no preference for water they dwell in and, on rare occasions, have been found in large swimming pools after slithering their way to them overnight.
Water resistant: While most clockwork strains don't survive well in water, with most being only able to last for an hour without a host body, the cetus strain can survive for up to a month in untreated water. It is crucial to boil all water being used if working with untreated water as even bathing in tainted water can lead to infections.
• Despite their nickname "Tainted Sea," cetus clockworks are rarely found in saltwater, preferring to stick to pools of water people drink from. The few rare cases where this type of clockwork was located in saltwater has always been on frequently visited beaches where guests had a chance to ingest the water while swimming.
• While it is entirely illegal in most regions to own ketos, some extreme collectors have the "prized fish" in personal aquariums due to their beauty. Many ketos owners have been killed by their pets or caused significant outbreaks in their areas. It should be reminded that both the cetus and ketos strain can survive for days out of the water, able to sloppy slither their way to the next pool of liquid. A single mistake could be the death of the owner, or worse, innocent people around them.
• Automatic water processing plants are now required by most regions to be inspected every day by hand. This is due to the possibility of a large group of cetus becoming trapped in the plant over time. While cetus do not typically infect metal as they are rarely exposed to it in a natural environment, they will not shy away from integration if allowed the chance. In one city, a group of cetus had broken or fused with essential pieces of equipment, finally ending in the contamination of its water source. Millions had rushed to the waters within a day, using any means necessary. They caused deadly car crashes and countless deaths of even the uninfected. A viewer of the city's river after the travesty had this to say.
"There were so many bodies in the river, and it didn't help that the current was so slow. So many jumped in the same location that they piled up until the ones at the top weren't touching the water. A dam made of bodies. The sight was so overwhelming I feared I'd join them out of sheer despair. No amount of lawsuits and no amount of money granted will ever get that image out of my mind or bring back those millions of people. I can never drink water from the tap ever again."
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