Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The thick, tightly packed blue grass bristled and rippled. From high above it was a smooth endless plain of vegetation, a shimmering inky velvet blanket stretched over a planetary sea.

As the two small white suns rose in the northeast, numerous tiny yellow heads appeared from their holes in the indigo fields. Long undulating segmented bodies quickly followed them. The legless creatures poured forth and slithered over the rough blue grass. And there they lay, somehow existing in this hostile environment, with less than 0.0009 atmospheres of pressure, and no liquid to breathe.

Despite the distance of the tiny suns, the creatures soaked up plentiful energy for their daily feed. Writhing and shimmering atop the floating blue fields they drank more than their fill.

By general appearance they were nearly identical to one another, besides the pubescent youths having two more segments than infants, and the mature adults two more again. Yet there was one who stood out from the others. It sported an artificial band, a blue strip of organic material, teeming with microscopic electric creatures, rearranging themselves thousands of times a second, sending radio waves pulsing down through the layers of the planetary ocean.

Two thousand kilometers below, in the depths of the western plain ice core city Phalanzedqua, scientists gathered around the meeting hub. Their eyeless heads pulsed as intake valves processed the thickly compressed methane rich seawater. Pinhole ejection ports on their backs bled black waste, it permeated their thick liquid atmosphere all around them, but it mattered not as they were completely without sight. They communicated through the electrical impulses of their microscopic symbiotic partners.

The head scientist linked his whiskers into the receiver ports of the main bio-computer. The machine, technically alive yet artificially grown and completely unaware of its function or duties, made millions of calculations per second. The scientist, known as Yachmaa, read the data through his whisker tips. He suddenly addressed the others and communicated.

“Quite incredible. It seems that the Yellow Quaxannai migrate all the way to the atmospheric ceiling,” Yachmaa paused for dramatic effect, “and then they breach the surface and leave the liquid!”

There were pulses of disbelief from around the hub. Yachmaa suddenly transmitted the data he had thus far received from his artificial band, attached to the unwitting creature days ago on a gutsy mission to the upper third. Everyone had been well trained, and protected by their pressure skins. Yet they had nearly missed the entire rising pod and had only gotten lucky with this straggler. Yet there he was, now sporting their tracking device up above the ceiling, transmitting valuable data from an unexplored frontier. The group floated transfixed, studying the spectrum of the alien habitat with its undulating fields and twin hot points.

Suddenly a bizarre flying creature swooped from the sky and snatched one of the Yellow Quaxannai in its hooked talons and then soared off with its long squirming meal.

Far below they all hovered bewildered as one of the scientists asked, “In the name of the core dweller, what in the world was that?”

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