The Last Key (9/10)

9: LIFE

Their networks fused with those of their oceanic brethren. In an instant, all of the knowledge, experience, and feelings they had gained since their last fusion were shared between them. The pod in the sludge, it was alive like the others, did it have the transmission? Yes, it did—here, let us try—

This pod was their key; when the thick sludge was parted, there was no blockage for its signal. It was easy to invade the great beast on the other side. There was almost no coldness, either. It must not have been surrounded by open air. It was a monstrous creature, and just a few quick pulses were enough to download the information mapping out all of its circuitry. It would take much longer to figure out its uses… that would be for later…

It was receding, though, the information transfer was getting slower by the moment, and in a swell of pity, perhaps even a sort of awe for this lumbering giant of a life form, they retracted their electrical tentacles, so that they would not even have been noticed by the creature. They had gained all they could from it through this contactless transmission, and had gained enough. They knew, too, that it was out of physical reach, and so the absorption they had been practicing since their evolutionary birth would have to evolve itself: it would continue by the absorption of information, without the need for tangible endosymbiosis.

It would be enough, anyway, to sort through this new trove of information—for within it were held the secrets they craved…

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