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Excerpt from Catallaxis

Behind a concealing boulder, he knotted a strip of woven material around his midsection as a loincloth, then waded out chest-deep into the water.

The sea was pretty turbid, but in the foot or so of visibility, he could see ctenophores surfacing periodically and then sinking into the waves. After a few minutes, he realized the water must be teeming with them. He scooped at one, attempting to catch it. It slithered over his fingers and jetted away, turning a brilliant orange as it did so. He tried again, and again, but got nothing but tickles of slimy tentacles and plenty of splashing.

After a few minutes of this, his face was flushed, his eyes stung, and his mouth tasted of salt. He turned to wade to shore, but then a single beast swam up right in front of him and hovered at the water’s surface. He rubbed his eyes and bent to look more closely at it. He observed the creature had distinct eyes, with pupils shaped like commas, and this pair of eyes appeared to be looking intently at him. Tentatively, he dipped his hand into the water. This time, the animal swam directly into it. It balanced patiently in his palm as he lifted it out of the water and examined it.

It was the size and shape of a small mango, with ten flexible legs arranged near the two eyes he’d already observed. He assumed that the complicated structures buried amidst the legs were its mouth parts. Its body was segmented in five, and each of the five segments had structures floating in it that resembled circuit boards, but with no corners; all the edges were rounded. Its skin was translucent. As he watched, a large patch on its back flattened out and turned an opaque white. Ge’ez characters floated to the surface of the screen.

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