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We played with technology too powerful for humans to wield and opened a gateway to a parallel universe, on a dark world with a dying sun. The dominant lifeforms on this world are semi-sentient flying squid-like beings that invade the bodies of the first explorers. The offspring grow within the host, and take over its mind and body, mutating it physically.

But these entities fear the light, as well as fire. Why is this the case? One intrepid survivor, a scientist, decides to do some investigation on one of the dead entities.

What does he find?

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  • $\begingroup$ By "dying sun," do you mean something like a white dwarf? (rather than a red giant, which would be producing a lot of light.) $\endgroup$
    – ltmauve
    Mar 18, 2020 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ @ltmauve that's what I was thinking along the lines of. A faintly luminous star that provides very little illumination. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... Stranger Things writers outsourcing to WorldBuilding to help plug plot holes? $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Mar 18, 2020 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ FIRE BAD!!! (Previous trauma, comedic reference, collective belief) $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2020 at 19:18

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So, the creatures have certain biochemical problems with high amounts of light. Similar to the way small amounts of UV are good for humans (for vitamin D) but large amounts sunburn us. It's just that for them, they rely on visible light for this purpose, and an older flashlight would be enough light for them to perform their analogous process. Stronger amounts of light cause photochemical burns (why you actually go blind after looking at the sun) that are painful to them.

Fire is painful to them because as they live on a dark world without much sunlight, the temperature is much colder. Their biochemistry is adapted to the colder temperatures, optimized for a temperature of 5-10 Celsius. They avoid fire as they would develop heatstroke very rapidly if exposed to fire. In fact, inside a room-temperature outpost, they would be at risk for heat stroke (think a human in the desert) but a room with a fire in it quickly becomes way too hot to risk.

(Also, this body temperature thing gives you a good way to make them scarier - give the base infrared motion detectors, and have the possessed & mutated humans not set them off, since their body temperatures are lowered.)

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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget their ocular system is adapted to low light conditions so bright light, even leaving aside the photochemical burning, completely overwhelms their eyes. Unlike humans whose eyes have to function in low-light to bright conditions (not equally well, but sufficiently) so that they can adapt to changing light conditions fairly quickly, the creatures have a far narrower range of brightness they can adjust to, so not only does bright light blind them, their vision can't adjust nearly as fast. A flashbang would blind them for minutes, not seconds. $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2020 at 20:52
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The offspring grow within the host, and take over its mind and body, mutating it physically

...but in so doing they adopt the chemistry of their home world, which is optimized for low energy reactions. Strong light, or any significant electromagnetic emission - and a fire has a powerful infrared emission - is harmful to them, and becomes harmful for the mutated host.

After testing his hypothesis, the scientist hacks a portable LED light replacing the emitters with high-emission UV diodes.

(This somewhat resembles the plot of Operation: Annihilate!)

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There is something they fear.

bright entity

The brightness reminds these creatures of the things they fear.

When your scientist studies a dead one, he finds a brand where symbols have been burned into its flesh to form a ring. To his great surprise, he can read the symbols. They are Hebrew letters.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the reference $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2020 at 0:01

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