A Mycetic Spore is a Tyranid bioform specifically bred to transport Tyranid creatures rapidly from orbit to a planet’s surface. A Mycetic Spore can be likened to a wholly organic version of an Astartes Drop Pod, for it fulfils a similar role and deploys its troops in a similar way -- that is, by hurtling out of the sky at high speed before smashing down upon the surface of a target world and unloading its deadly cargo.
The initial stage of a Tyranid assault often comprises several waves of Mycetic Spores. These ablative bio-constructed organic shells are launched by their thousands into the world's atmosphere by orbiting Hive Ships. The fleshy pods are specifically designed to endure the thermal and physical stresses of orbital insertion and protect their lethal payload from planetary impact. Mycetic Spores are often inaccurately reported as meteor showers by civilian observers, but experienced troops soon learn to spot the distinctive clutch of fiery streaks as the spores breach the upper atmosphere. Once through, the Mycetic Spore alters shape to slow its descent. They are sacrificial organisms, and perish soon after impact with the planet's surface, but each one houses a brood of Tyranid assault beasts, most commonly Hormagaunts or Genestealers, who burst from the wreckage and begin the search for prey. Some Mycetic Spores also feature some form of ranged weaponry, so as to better support their disembarked forces whilst they are still alive. However, as Mycetic Spores have only a rudimentary intelligence, they will simply lash out or shoot only at those enemies closest to them.
As the Tyranids push deeper into the galaxy, the Hive Mind is becoming more adept at its use of Mycetic Spores. Recent strains have possessed a shield of ablative chitin over sensory nodes. This burns away during orbital insertion, allowing the Mycetic Spore to draw in on Lictor pheromone trails during the final stages of descent, enabling its cargo to be delivered with greater accuracy. Other iterations are composed of two layered bioforms. When the Mycetic Spore impacts a planet's surface and the outer shell dies, its sides peel apart to reveal a symbiotic organism that draws sustenance from the slain parent to fuel a powerful bio-weapon. These augmentations allow the Mycetic Spores a crucial role in the main assault upon a prey world. The Hive Mind is now able to reinforce key areas with astonishing swiftness, and shield crucial elements of its assault force from incoming fire until the very last moment. Few bulwarks, no matter how well-prepared, can hope to withstand such an assault. Many a heavily defended bastion has been destroyed as Mycetic Spores impact on a planet's surface, smashed apart as a Carnifex emerges from its pod's fleshy remains to launch a point-blank assault.
A Mycetic Spore is a drop transport capable of carrying either 20 smaller Tyranid organisms, such as Termagants, Hormagaunts and Genestealers, three Tyranid Warriors, or a single Carnifex. All Mycetic Spores are protected by a hardened carapace and are each armed with these weapons as standard:
- Ripper Tentacles - Ripper Tentacles are thick ropes of tendon and corded muscle that can reach out from a Mycetic Spore in search of prey. Drawn by movement, Ripper Tentacles can smash apart foes on a single swipe, coil around a single victim and crush it to a bloody pulp, or clutch around its quarry and drag it into the spore’s fanged maw.
- Lash Whip - The tentacles of a Lash Whip are living cords of muscle and sinew that move of their own accord. These tendrils writhe and slash at their prey, striking too quickly to dodge or parry, snaking around an opponent's defences to strangle and ensnare those that are not sliced apart by the bony hooks at the tip of each tentacle.
A Mycetic Spore can also be armed with one of the following ranged weapons:
- Cluster Spines - Some of the largest Tyranid bioforms, such as Mycetic Spores, have rows of quills imbedded in their carapaces that they can project a considerable distance. These spines are hollow tubes made of a brittle, chitin-like material that explodes upon impact; shattering into thousands of shards. Fired in densely packed groups, these spines saturate large areas with needle-sized slivers, cutting down any troops unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast.
- Stinger Salvo - Stinger salvos are simple but effective weapons that fire rows of metre-long, razor-sharp spikes that are often embedded within the carapaces of the largest Tyranid creatures. These spines are typically envenomed and are fired by the Tyranids through powerful muscular contractions; spraying the target with a shower of spines that can skewer enemy infantry with devastating effectiveness.
- Twin-linked Devourers – A Devourer is a conical lump of partly rotted flesh infested by writhing worm-like parasites with black, shiny heads. When this horrific weapon is triggered, a bioelectric jolt hurls a shower of these creatures at a target that immediately start burrowing into their victim's flesh. A creature infested with these parasites is driven mad with agony as they rapidly eat their way through its central nervous system to the brain.
- Barbed Strangler – A Barbed Strangler fires a seed pod the size of a man's fist, channelled from a bloated sac by a thick feeder arm into a simple launcher that is little more than a muscled tube. Upon firing, the strangler seed-pod grows to maturity in seconds, spreading out in all directions with blinding speed, sending out hooked tendrils to bind and tear at its prey. Should the seed pierce flesh before reaching maturity, the unfortunate victim is ripped apart in an explosion of gore as sinuous tentacles burst out from within their own body.
- Venom Cannon – A Venom Cannon is a long, powerful bioweapon that fires salvos of highly corrosive crystals coated with a metallic, venomous residue. The weapon fires these projectiles at tremendous velocities using an electrostatic charge. A target struck that is not killed outright by the impact will be shredded by a hail of shards as the crystals shatter. Even vehicle armour can be punctured by these shards, although the lack of an explosive impact considerably reduces the damage inflicted.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Record
The Ordo Xenos has not yet released the known biological specifications of this Tyranid bioform.
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 26, 54, 81-83, 90
- Dawn of War II (PC Game)
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pg. 192
- White Dwarf 254 (US), "Tyranid Planetary Assimilation Analysis" by Sherman Bishop