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Hyperactive Headcrab subspecies
The Fast Headcrab is a Headcrab subspecies previously unknown before the Combine invasion. It is unknown whether they were native to Xen, a recent mutation, or the result of the genetic manipulation of a normal Headcrab by the Combine for use as biological weapons.
The Fast Headcrab looks much slimmer and is more agile than a normal Headcrab, having thinner, spindly legs, smoother, lighter bodies and no visible mouthparts. Fast Headcrabs share many of the vocalizations of the Classic Headcrab. Examined up close, Fast Headcrabs have wart-like bumps on their skin. The legs of a Fast Headcrab also have elongated claws, which serve as weapons as well as a way to latch on to surfaces, waiting to attack unsuspecting prey. This is seen in Half-Life 2: Episode One, Lowlife. They drop off when the player gets too close or shines their flashlight on them.
The Fast Headcrab is first seen at Station 6. When going back to Arlene after leaving with the Airboat, she appears to have been killed by the only Fast Headcrab of the area, although it did not turn her into a Fast Zombie. Fast Headcrabs are later seen being cooked in the All-Knowing Vortigaunt's cave near the dam before Black Mesa East. Fast Headcrabs are not seen again until Ravenholm.
Behavior and skills
The Fast Headcrab attacks in much the same way as a normal Headcrab, and does about the same amount of damage. The main difference is that Fast Headcrabs close the distance between themselves and their target very quickly before proceeding to frantically leap at their target. Their speed and unpredictable movement patterns make them difficult targets, and they can be very dangerous in groups of three or more.
Like all other Headcrabs, Fast Headcrabs can latch onto a human's head and take control of their nervous system, creating a mindless 'zombie' that submits to the will of the Headcrab. Fast zombies have a number of key differences to Classic Zombies, including increased speed and agility.
Since Fast Headcrabs lack a beak, it is unknown how they take control of their hosts. They could possibly use their longer than average legs to burrow deep into the host's body and manipulate the nervous system through the spine rather than directly manipulating the motor cortex of the victim. Another theory is that this species of Headcrab has hooked teeth that helps them hold on when they latch on.
Fast Headcrabs can be defeated with the same tactics as Classic Headcrabs, but their attacks are slightly more powerful and their agility makes them harder to hit. On higher difficulties, automatic weapons, such as the Submachine Gun, are surprisingly effective due to their constant impact on them.
Behind the scenes
In the initial stages of the game's development, the Fast Headcrab was to be a direct successor to the original Half-Life Headcrab, with the more faithful in its appearance Classic Headcrab being introduced at a later point in the development.
First appearance, near Arlene's corpse.
At the end of the Canals, roasting above the All-Knowing Vortigaunt's fire.
A Fast Headcrab emerging from a Headcrab Shell.