Outari leapt from tree to tree, gripping onto the smooth bark with her three stubby base limbs. Tilting her head, she listened for the difference in the air. She had felt a strange thing from some distance away and had tracked it for several kilometres. It was very nearby as its movement almost rang through the air like a cacophony of insane chirping fish.
"Where are you," thought Outari, scraping the forest floor with her eyes. Subtle changes in air pressure were received across the skin of her body, acting as one massive aural organ. She could see objects by their disturbance of the air, granting her almost the equivalent of X-ray vision.
Usually, locating prey was extremely easy for her, but this particular creature was elusive. It was either racing about at extremely high speed and quite erratically so, or was multiple creatures, some of which could become completely silent to her at will.
Without warning a mass pulled itself from the bark of the tree across from her. It seemed to ooze out of the wood, though the tree itself suffered no movement nor distortion. It wasn't an animal, at least, nothing she recognised. The thing looked like nothing more than a blob, shifting about freely as an air bubble rising up from the depths.
Holding onto the tree while her attention remained fixed on the thing, she watched as it drifted about in front of the tree, no longer supported by anything. Then, as if seeming to realise it had no ability to fly, it dropped quickly to the ground.
With a simple movement, Outari released and dropped to the ground as well, following the thing. She landed near it and saw that it hadn't impacted the earth, but was floating a few centimetres from the ground. Part of it was now detached, moving freely, but connected somehow. The longer she stared at it, the less sane she felt.
"I don't think I'll eat you, curious thing, you." remarked Outari to herself.
The thing shrunk quickly and disappeared.
Bubbles escaped the hidden maws of the clams. Rising like columns of shimmering glass beads, Teiru rolled through them, feeling the air tickle over his belly. It was a wonderful day, as were all days. Nothing disturbed the shallow depths here.
Twirling reeds hid the little swimmer from view. The waters swirled with murkiness from where Teiru had bounced into the lake bottom. Small shapes flicked across the barrier between water and air above.
Suddenly Teiru stopped, his attention caught by something above, a dark shape crossing the bright sky. Swimming up to the surface of the water to get a clearer view; he stared avidly at the thing.
Far up in the sky soared something with broad fins and a long thin tail. It did not seem to have a separate head, much like Teiru himself. Time seemed to slow as he gazed at it with rapt attention. Delight filled his spirit and his tail fidgeted anxiously in the water.
"Wow," murmured Teiru to himself. "That's what I want to be when I grow up!"
Tidal forces pulled at the planet below, waters rising. The sightless socket took in the frigid wind, sighing in the twisting ocean of air. Shard spikes adjusted their angle to drive the thing eastward, against the currents. There were things it needed there before it could rejoin its siblings.
A glimmer from below the clouds. The root structure clenched around the dirt it held, anxious. With uncomfortable certainty, the air pressure changed about it as the thing below grew in size, slowly approaching.
Fog puffed out of the frontal dent, surrounding the twisted creature in a small cloud. It would be safe now, as it always was.
From a short distance away, a fierce roar came. The air pressure continued to grow. Onwards drifted the vine, into the east.
Thread bumped and trundled across the rocky land, eager to get where he was going. It was quite a bother that the replacement transports were still under construction so long after losing the first fleet. The rural runs were always the last to get service.
It had been a curious year, he thought. That business with the landscapes changing about. He'd dismissed it as carelessness of memory, until he'd taken note of the Andonian vessels being sent to investigate it.
The whole planet was nervous and defiant. Building ever larger weapons and battleships to fight off whatever assaults them next; the populace of Andonia slept uneasily from day to day.
"Nevertheless, work still needs doing, and mine isn't going to get done with me trampling the grass as I am," muttered Thread aloud. His wide metal treads flattened a neat path behind him as he neared his place of employment, the Happy Fun Magnet World Assembly Plant.
A twinkle crossed his eye as he beheld it. "Another fine day for magnets. Things are looking up, Andonia."
Overcast skies obscured the afternoon sun above Monitoring Station 16. The green crew stood waiting outside in expectation of the leader of their group.
Far across the hills and plains came a dull buzzing sound and a faint vibration in the ground. Clouds of smoke drew a trail bearing down on the building. The crew took notice and retreated to the door a pace, eying this activity anxiously.
Something came into view over the nearest hill, a sparkle of reflective metal and the sharp glare of one broad headlight. A single person transport roared into full view, spewing dirt and dust behind it as it lanced rapidly towards them, seemingly out of control. Concern spread throughout those waiting by the station.
"Who is that?!" called one of them.
"Whoever it is, we'd better get-" started another before leaping out of the way of the oncoming vehicle as the sound of it drown out all else.
With a horrifying screech and through a shower of rocks, the thing came to an abrupt halt immediately before the door of the monitoring station. In the seat of the convertible was a squat octopus with tentacles waving agitatedly. A round bowler hat with a red leaf stuck in it adorned the gentlepus' head. With a look of scorn, it hopped down and squaddled along the ground to the nearest crew member.
"Are you all Green Team?" it demanded with great hauteur.
Still disoriented, the man before the octopus snapped to attention and replied, "Y-yes. Are you the one we're waiting for?"
Affronted, the octopus snapped, "Of course I am, you servling! Why else would you be addressing an Octipousse?" Its tentacles twitched menacingly.
At the rear, one of the crew leant over to another, "Aren't all Octipousse completely insane? They're never given positions of power outside their own people."
"Maybe this mission is too important for insanity to be an excuse anymore. They're known to have a bizarre kind of creativity that sometimes lets them solve things nobody else can wrap their heads around," replied the other crewman.
The bowler hat spun around suddenly. Glaring eyes framed the two whispering crewmen. With slithering motions, the Octipousse moved towards them.
Opening its mouth, it tersely whispered to them, "My name is Commander O'Snap. I expect to be respected and obeyed at all times. You will perform your duties to the best of my abilities."
"I'm sorry, what? Your abilities? Don't you mean our abilities?" said the crewman.
"No, mine. Yours aren't any good. That's why I'm here. You just keep the pencils sharp. And you there, pick up my car and take it inside. I don't want it getting moonlight all over it," replied Commander O'Snap, all in a whisper.
The crew exchanged bewildered stares and watched as the Octipousse disappeared inside the monitoring station.
Flashing through the airs of the manifold worlds, Nazzztr scoured every molecule that intersected its resin fin. Matter and energy silently tearing apart beneath it, the perplexing being swivelled methodically.
In four minutes there would be mountains to the south, in another hour rivers of mercury filled with charken forms would fracture the landscape. Its predecessor had done well, but traces still lingered.
Flexing three prongs, it launched off to the west, heading into a new layer. One awash with drifting phantom dots.
Across the sky soars the Traikaon, glittering in the sunlight. Verdant forests below bathe her underside in reflected green, stirring feelings of excitement and ambition.
From below comes a pull, a tinkling cheerful chirrup. Bending her eyes down atop long spindly neck, the source of the pull strengthens.
Diving down with innocent curiosity, she plunges from the heavens, racing towards the blurring grassy hills below. Wind rushing fiercely over her skin and all sound nothing but a roar, she gazes avidly at the approaching earth.
Without slowing or braking, she unfurls her secondary wings and with impossible suddenness comes to a halt mere centimeters above the objects that drew her.
They sparkle in the sunlight, small peculiar things. Rounded on some sides and sharp edged on others. Two pieces of something larger. The Traikaon tilts her head, angling about the things, baffled at their purpose.
Shimmering in the now still air, her wings hold her aloft, moving only slightly, as though kept up by magic.
Enough of this, she thought. With a sharp dart of her head upwards, she shoots into the blue sea above and vanishes. The twinkling pieces left behind, slowly shifting about as if seeking their recently departed investigator.