Whatever the little creature was doing, it seems now to have done. But—it's strange indeed, you think, as you dissipate the limbs which held it, what you are feeling from that tiny mind. Its energies seem to rise at your very touch—you felt that change when you grasped it and lifted it, felt it stir itself toward what might be another such great shout as it produced before. As if there were something about the contact itself which elicited this reaction. Something bound up in those strange images you saw in its mind before, of your self and its own, intertwined.

You would like to consider this strangeness at great length, in leisure. But you will have to do so another time, because just now—just now, it seems this little mind has not exhausted its store of surprises for you. It has no mind-sense like your own, not that you've been able to perceive; for all that its tiny mind and your vast one have nestled ever closer into one another's curves and crevices throughout this contact, the impetus—the initiation—has been yours throughout. Yet, mind-sense or no, now it is shaping thoughts to you.

Impossible, of course. You know that. But the tiny mind you now share does not, and carries on undeterred—not merely experiencing thoughts and images and imaginations which you share, but actively communicating with you, in a fashion you have only ever known before with one of your own kind. Oh, the thoughts are different enough—quiet and small, and so fast! Hard to keep up—and so full of that strange sense in which you so rarely find use, and whose reports you so rarely regard—but so much more complex than your own! And so hard to comprehend—a little like your prey-sense, perhaps, but only revealing the outside shapes of things, and little enough of relative position. But for all these paucities it is nonetheless so fascinating! Beautiful in a way you'd never imagined. And called—

—called seeing, or sight, or vision, according to the little mind's great library of knowledge. And the differences of things, as it reveals them to you, are called color, and shadow, and light. Such unimagined riches! You could revel in them forever...

...except that those small quiet fast thoughts would carry meaning to you, and the intent behind them is at once deliberate and urgent. It is, you realize, telling you a thing.

It is telling you how it means to save your life.

You see, in flickers of imagined light and shadow and color, the little alien thing moving, in its strange gangling way and by a means you do not understand, back to the top of the hollowed corpse—no. Back to the deck of the ship in which it lives, with others like itself. And once there, you see, it means to—to do something that you are not yet equipped to understand; the strange new concepts come here too thick and fast to grasp, flocking and wheeling like tiny prey-things in the middle depths, machine and capstan and leverage and force and—too much! Far too much. But you come out of this whirl of confusion with the sense that, once the little thing has done whatever it means to do, your body will finally be free of the thing that is killing you—and the thing itself will be itself on the deck of the ship, and—

—and here you cannot help but interrupt the little mind's frantic stream of seeings, quickly shaping a thought of your own and imposing it with the force of haste upon your tiny interlocutor: it must not do this! For if it draws free the thing that is killing you, only to bring that thing onto its own ship—then surely that ship will die, just as you are dying now? It, and all those like the little thing which live in it—you would not have them sacrifice themselves for you this way. Not waste all their precious strangeness so—