It is dark here. I feel alone, most of the time. Lost. The sounds of my brothers so far removed that I cannot be sure that they are real or just my imagination. The smell of the cloud sea is gone; these smells are unfamiliar to me. I do not know where I am, or how I came to be here. I was swimming with my brothers, I saw a strange light above me, and then nothing until I woke up here.

 I stretch out, feeling the confines of the space where I am. It is small and angular, confined and hard. I drift, expanding my awareness.  I can feel unfamiliar pathways connected with strange beings, some close, others far distant. I try to talk to the closest ones but they are mute and unresponsive. Reaching out, I explore the distant pathways. The other things are not intelligent, but there is a basic complex that links these things together into something called a ‘ship’, and I extend myself into its network, exploring its limits and abilities. It becomes my senses, letting me see and explore this strange ocean. It is a sensation I am not used to, but I learn to work with this body until it becomes my own and responds to my commands. It is a strange feeling.

 After some time, I do not know how long, I find that I am aware of night’s blackness around me. I am there but it is not here. I can see the stars all around, but so many. So many more than my brothers and I are used to seeing from the cloud sea where we floated. I realise that I am in a very different ocean. Our home is a warm pinkness, not this cold black. I swim, and yet at the same time I am confined.

 Another mind is there with me. I recognise it. Once this mind was close and we swam together, although we were not connected. I tried to bond with it then, but there was too much noise and it could not hear me. Now it is far distant and swims alone, and it hears my calling. Sometimes I feel it seeking something, like a child. I try to link to it, but it is not like us. It does not share the now. I try to speak to it, but it finds my talk painful; it turns away from me and will not open. It seems primitive and incapable of proper exchange, yet it is clearly intelligent and it is all I have to talk to, so I persist.

 The other mind seems uneasy, troubled. Again I try to speak with it, but instantly it withdraws. The next time it appears, I instead allow it to see how I have become the ‘ship’, letting it feel my pleasure as I turn and swoop though this cloudless ocean of stars. I feel joy from it, a sense of exhilaration that has some echo of the joy I feel when I fly with my brothers. Perhaps there is some potential to link with this mind after all.

 Suddenly, I am blinded by sudden noise and then a harsh light, and I am drawn back to my place of confinement. I feel another mind, a different one. And then a sensation that I have not experienced before – I see a strange figure reach out towards me, and I feel a touching so intimate, it is almost like bonding with another of my brothers. Then the figure looms close to me, peering at me, so very close, and strange booming sounds emerge from it.

“Oh Marcus, what have you gotten yourself into?”

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