A sea-beast reflects mournfully that dying is a lonely business, lonely enough to reach out and try with the fading remnants of it's strength to reach out and embrace even an infested corpse-creature. Perhaps the vermin within will make a new home of this new body and in death you can be used as vessel to explore beyond this rippling wall that one cannot pass and live.

And, just as it thinks this, something does pass it. Curiosities abound.

Not only pass, but touch—and suddenly dying is a less lonely business than it was, because through all the thing driven into your side is doing to cripple the faculties through which you perceive the world, it has not totally disabled your mind-sense. Only close enough that you cannot reach out beyond yourself with it, as you normally could. But suddenly you need not reach beyond yourself; from the hollowed corpse alongside you, some insignificant weight falls lightly upon you, and the contact thus engendered is a very great deal more intimate—and astonishing!—than could possibly be visible to any outside observer. And most astonishing is that there could be such contact at all—that this thing, one of those that infest the hollowed corpse alongside you, is not a thing at all. Not a parasite, not vermin, but a living, thinking creature, possessed of a mind like and yet much unlike your own. So tiny and so vast, and so very, very strange—

For it does not only live and think. It does one thing more, a thing for which you know no name, and cannot easily find one among the many myriad words cherished by the mind which you now share—perhaps you might, if you pushed, but this mind is not like yours or those of your kin—it is so small, and some instinct inspires utmost caution in how firm you permit your touch to be, lest you harm this tiny mind or even crush it utterly. And you would not do that, because for all its diminutive proportion, it is so marvelously full. Unlike the darting thoughts of prey-mind that knows nothing save to hunt or hide, unlike the ancient and grave and meticulously ordered minds of your own kin—this mind is lively beyond anything you could ever have imagined you might know. And though your kind are little given to emotion—the contrast between the vast lassitude of your dying, and the tiny boiling life that has come from above the world to share itself with you, is enough to move you nonetheless.

With initial familiarity, though, comes a quick realization: boiling with life though this tiny alien thing may now be, it may also very soon not be, not if the situation continues as it has begun. It feels its death coming to find it—a sensation you know all too well, of late. But—how? What will kill it? It may have been outside the world before, but it is in the world now, and surely that is better? But you began to touch this mind when it touched a part of you that still is outside the world, and it did not begin to feel its death coming until it slid into the world...there is something vital here which you yet do not know.

But you might be able to learn.

It is very hard, just now, to employ your prey-sense, which unlike the mind-sense requires physical exertion. It is very hard—and, you quickly find, very painful. In exchange for an effort that feels as if it will finish what the thing in you started and finally rip you in half, you find yourself able to produce only the weakest of emanations—in the benthic deeps that are your home, it would not even be perceptible. But here, in the loose and warm and dying, it is enough, and in the reflection from the tiny thing now sliding off your skin and sinking into the world beside you, you discover much that is even stranger than its mind.

What for you is "outside the world"—that is this creature's world, and some of the stuff of that world remains caught in a pair of great fragile sacs that take up as much space inside it as your ballast bladders do inside you—and, like your bladders, these sacs have outlets to the exterior of the creature's body. And it is full of strange hard things! As if made around them, like some of the prey things you've found in these high parts of the world. But no prey thing ever had a mind like this thing does. And no prey thing ever had the stuff of this creature's world inside it.

Therein, you intuit, lies the problem. This thing needs that strange light world-stuff to live, just as you need the stuff of your own world. It cannot reach that stuff from your world, and what it carries with it must only sustain it a little while—a little while now past, or nearly so. If it cannot return to its world, it will die. And you do not wish that.

There is ever pain in moving, now. The more you do it, the worse the thing inside you tears at your insides—with every movement, you bring your own death that much closer. Changing your shape is sheerest agony. But you are sure to die now, anyway, because you cannot repair yourself. And—you have always sought strangeness, and having in this final extremity discovered a wealth beyond riches of precisely what you sought, why not spend the balance of your life to preserve it, if the balance of your life is the price of so doing?

So—from your wounded side, you extrude a limb of yourself which sweeps down into the world to halt the descent of the little thing from outside it—halt that descent and reverse it, forming a concavity beneath it and extending to raise it up out of your world and into its own. And as you do so—thus of course touching it, as it first touched you—you are again able to touch it with your mind-sense, as well, and you find—it has not yet died. Close, perhaps—it feels smaller, dimmer, than before; its thoughts are weak and scattered, without direction or control. But it remains.

You notice, too, it is not drawing into itself the stuff of its world, and you know that if it does not do so it will die. Perhaps it chooses thus—but you do not think so; it is in no shape to choose at all, just now. And it is simple enough, in the parts of its mind that interact with its form: the gentlest nudge, far below the activation threshold of your own great form's tiniest part, should suffice to provide the stimulus that might save it. And in the mind-sense, thought and act are one.