(See also Oratt IX)
Designated simply as Species 0013 during the cataloguing of samples brought back from the oceans of Oratt IX, this alien cephalopod appeared to resemble those found at on other planets. Unlike those found on planets such as Earth and Pacifica though, the Oratt variation evolved a defence mechanism which allowed them to subdue predators and then exert a small level of telepathic control over them.
This control required physical contact, which allowed microbial spores to enter the blood stream and enslave the animal; it would then spend the rest of its life gathering food for the cephalopod. An imparting of knowledge between the animal and the cephalopod was also common. At first the knowledge was somewhat limited and mostly allowed them to avoid larger prey animals or Oratti hunting grounds, but soon developed further.
Although unable to completely suppress the conscious mind of more intelligent species, the cephalopods still posed a danger to the young or feeble. As a result the Oratti developed a natural immunity to the spores and need no longer fear the animal while hunting in the waters of their home planet (KS14: Curieosity Killed The Cat).
Upon contact with the superior telepathic abilities of the Vulcan Karik, the natural defence mechanism of the cephalopod was enhanced and perverted to the point where the spores used to spread its influence became a full blown contagion. Karik became patient zero and he, along with each individual infected, joined a subtle hive-mind that allowed the consciousness and intelligence of the cephalopod to grow. The infected essentially became 'hosts' to the mind of the cephalopod.
Layra these were initially dismissed. As the influence the cephalopod could exert over the infected individuals grew, it was able to gain basic motor control and began using them to accomplish various tasks, such as altering the climate of the station to more closely resemble Oratt IX. This influence was initially only possible during REM sleep however, so numerous cases of spontaneous sleepwalking were reported.
As the contagion continued to spread, the hive-mind granted the cephalopod even more intelligence and it was able to guide the hosts towards its goal of making the station more habitable for its species. There were some individuals who proved not to be susceptible to the spores though; both Joined Trills, pregnant women, and Ferengi were seemingly immune. And the spores triggered an allergic reaction in some individuals which rendered them comatose.
The influence was also proven to be fragile when Judd Fitzgerald regained control after witnessing the accidental death of his former girlfriend, Zoey L'Vary, when she was shot by panicked civilians.
Although a large portion of the crew had became infected, a few isolated groups were able to gather information behind what was happening and devise a method of curing the hosts. Lieutenant Alex McDonald was able to isolate the spores in a blood sample from an infected crew member and compare it with that taken from the Ferengi, Nelwas.
However it was Ensign Ethan Scott who discovered the method that would prove most adaptable to curing an entire station of cephalopod controlled people. He utilized the station's artificial gravity system and to emit a low voltage electrical pulse that disrupted the telepathic connection within the host (KS15:The Cabinet of Doctor Cuvier).