Among the deep things, there is a kind of perceptual corruption which can rarely occur—the precise nature of it, the concept, is impossible for other minds to grasp, no matter how closely intertwined with that of a deep thing another mind might be. But it's something between a communicable disease and a culpable depravity, and to describe how the deep things see it as "perversion" is a beggary of language.

But "perversion" will have to do, for it's as close as minds like ours can come. When it arises—when a particular deep thing is recognized as one who has been corrupted in this fashion—the one so afflicted is immediately forced into exile, on pain of annihiliation. Such exiles invariably die soon after, whether from the effects of the corruption itself, or simply because they choose it over continuing to exist denied the company of other minds—none among the deep things can say, because they do not care to know.

This deep thing—your lovely monster, the vast and beautiful life which you risked your own to save—has known this to occur twice, in what to you are more years than can be counted.

The first time it knew this to occur, the afflicted one refused exile, and was thus annihilated. A thousand others came from all throughout the world, called by a great shout from the massed minds of those who recognized the corruption and imposed the choice. When those thousand arrived, they formed an unbroken sphere, skin to skin, around the corrupted one, which did not seek to flee. Within that bubble, they concentrated all the power of their mind-senses, all the force they could muster of their prey-senses. The great alien thing does not know precisely what occurred, within the space they enclosed. It knows only that the reverberations without were terrible—and when the thousand moved apart again, nothing else remained.

The second time it knew this to occur, it was the afflicted one.

It chose exile, and its erstwhile fellows harried it away from all it had known. Had it sought to tarry, they would have annihilated it—and that gladly, lest they risk being tainted by its corruption.

So, then.

A marvelous thing—a wondrous thing, vast and deep and mighty, yet still tiny and alone and helpless before a world which would not suffer it to be.

A thing which spurned by normalcy chose instead to seek aught it might find in strangeness, for strangeness at least had never chosen to show it such deliberate and wounding cruelty.

And though the world it found was full of monsters, strange beyond imagination—ineluctably alien though they were, powerful beyond belief and unfathomable in motive and alive with danger for the thing which had sought and found them—beyond all that, it found, they would accept it simply as it was, without judgment, and though they might if incautiously approached strike it dead or impose upon it horrors far worse—approached with proper care, they might not do that, too.

These are your thoughts, in the wake of the deep thing's revelation—or perhaps instead they are its thoughts in the wake of yours. It is impossible any longer to tell, or to find any boundary that still exists between its mind and your own.

Nor does it matter. Because vastly different though you be, you are after all the same.

And the want—the need—that still fills you, distracted though you were for those instants that felt like hours—that is the same, too.