Writing a Book - Looking for an Audience :-)


Jun 8, 2020
New Zealand
Hey there everyone :smile:

After having a Sci-Fi book knocking around in my head for most of 20 years, I've gotten up the motivation and inspiration to start writing it down. What I have so far is a Background for the Universe I'm building, and a set of chapters that are writing themselves.

I have an idea of where I want to go, but as per typical the characters are writing themselves into a story and don't always agree with where I want them to go. We will strike a compromise I'm sure.

In any case, I'm really interested in writing true to life as far as I can possibly go. I want to respect the Ceph in the story, and in the world as we know it before changing it into something else :wink:

So may I ask for a Beta Reader pool for feedback? Owing to this is *all* plot holes at the moment, my strategy is to come up with a Timeline, and then write chapters and segments of narrative as inspiration strikes. Then place the chunks into the Timeline and weave them together as they join up.

So, again, a pleasure to be here and I hope we can have a great ride together on this project!


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I'm inspired by the length of time these creatures have been around, and the sheer resilience of them.

I've seen them in action both in captivity and in the wild and I love the sheer *cleverness*. I want to riff on the fact that hard materials technology is mostly practical in an air environment rather than underwater. This is why I went with a devolved member of a more advanced race..

Essentially I'm going to have a panspermia seeding of the planet followed by the actual colonisation of Earth by the Galactic Ceph civilisation shortly before the Cretaceous disaster. It will account for a more advanced forms, the devolution of the stranded species members, and the presence of advanced technology as it is quite literally uncovered. Essentially the asteroid smashes the young colony along with the last Dinosaur age, and the surface becomes very difficult to live on by the refugees that are unsupported by high technology. Then you get both loss of amphibious ability and evolution to fill ecological niches. The Hiatus.
Right, well I got snapped on some borderline language, apologies!

I'll upload the new narrative bits as Zip Files to continue on with. This is the kind of feedback I was interested in too. I want to write realistic, but clean as well. If the Readers find anything a bit too dicey, please tell me?

Thank you very much! :smile:


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Thanks for sharing! I have some stylistic and grammar input FWIW. I took several copy editing courses in college, which was a LONG time ago (I still use two spaces after a sentence :mrgreen:), so take this with a grain of salt. I'll use this paragraph as an example (cleaning up a little language with *'s for search engine friendliness!):

“Are all you a**holes down on deck ready to get the lines in the water?!” Cel wanted to get the lines down early tonight so they could get a decent catch on board tonight and another session before going back to port at dawn. The six Linesmen, strike that *five* Linesmen and *Debbie* (who was going to give her Hell if she slipped and said “You Guys” again) gave her a thumbs up and the Roustys on the gaffs, knife, and ice bunker waved. “PPE in order?!” “If I have to take a hiding for one of you *morons* for leaving your harness off again, I’ll throw you off the boat myself!” All the Lines *people* (dammit Debbie) shook their harnesses and gave her a thumbs-up. Helen on the Knife saluted with her blade and shot Cel a toothy grin. Helen had trained a s Sushi Chef and still did the job when she was in port at a local upscale Restaurant, but claimed it was “Boring because the fish never fought back.” Helen had a thing for knives, and kept her own set that nobody else was allowed to touch. She and Victor got on well.

To break it down:

General comment: quotes from characters should usually break up a paragraph. I don't believe you should bunch quotes from different characters in the same block.

Cel wanted to get the lines down early tonight so they could get a decent catch on board tonight and another session before going back to port at dawn.
Double "tonight" usage.

“PPE in order?!” “If I have to take a hiding for one of you *morons* for leaving your harness off again, I’ll throw you off the boat myself!”
No need to break up the quotes if it's continuous.

All the Lines *people* (dammit Debbie) shook their harnesses and gave her a thumbs-up.
Although it's amusing, I would advise against inserting yourself as the author into the story by offering such commentary. You're "breaking the 4th wall" or whatever, and that is a big leap to make when writing sci-fi. It's usually best reserved for true absurdist comedy, IMO.

Helen had trained a s Sushi Chef and still did the job when she was in port at a local upscale Restaurant, but claimed it was “Boring because the fish never fought back.”
  • There is a misplaced space between a and s.
  • Sushi Chef is a generic occupation and should not be capitalized.
  • The restaurant is not named, and therefore should not be capitalized.
  • The "claimed it was "Boring... " bit has a few grammatical issues. First, when embedding a quote as a supporting piece of the sentence structure, the word "boring" should not be capitalized. In reality, it probably should not be wrapped in quotes anyhow, because as the author of a novel, you are permitted to represent Helen's words and thoughts without necessarily wrapping them in quotes. Along those lines, as the author, you can say she felt it was boring vs. she claimed it was boring. This gives the reader powerful insight into the character's thoughts, without you (the author) obfuscating what you're trying to convey by saying she "claimed it" (leaving the reader to determine whether or not the claim about her own feelings is genuine).
I think there are some other capitalization issues, like Linesman and You Guys.

Again, for what it's worth... I hope this helps and good luck with your project! Writing is a cathartic joy, and it brings creativity from deep within, which is healthy for the mind -- it's important to exercise it!
Again, for what it's worth... I hope this helps and good luck with your project! Writing is a cathartic joy, and it brings creativity from deep within, which is healthy for the mind -- it's important to exercise it!

Thank you for your excellent feedback!

I write with the Oxford Comma, and two spaces after a full stop as well. Must be a generational thing. I'm 52 this year :lol:
Two additions, one for part of the background:

Ceph art is centered around form. They thrive on shape, texture and patterns. Sculpture of hard and soft substances is a primary base for much of their Art. three dimensional and layered sculpture can be done in any hard and durable material, and they do have a ceramics industry and art being able to survive outside of water to manipulate materials and gaseous air technologies. Underwater the shaping of water and currents into ephemera art is very popular and ever changing. They can manipulate water currents with great delicacy being as dexterous as they are. A great game is being able to shape squirts of their own Ink in water. This is a challenging game as the ink is poisonous so as the plume is being shaped it has to be done in such a way that the currents of water are pushed and shaped in such a way that the sculpture is moving away from you as it is formed. Three dimensional shapes created in the water are fleeting, and can even be *animated* by the greatest practitioners of this art. Children and adults both also play with and shape vortices in water, and can even play "catch" with these spinning circles of bubbles.

Dance is a very highly developed art form that takes many roles in society. Speech is in essence dancing for a Ceph, and therefore a very stylized speech is even a form of dance. Speech is dancing, dancing is speech. Epic tales and Sagas are set to a dance that is both a physical performance and a tale at the same time. The ability to act many different characters convincingly can take a lifetime to achieve.

Murals, patterns, weaving, mosaic, all of these are popular, and the fact that the Ceph can mimic these with their skin makes creating a pattern on a wall and in your own skin complementary skills. You can become part of your own exhibition! Even when in a state of Bliss, a Ceph will participate in building art with patterns and sculpture as he or she will arrange the shells and bones of its prey into a "garden" near it's nest, and decorate the garden with intricate and subtle patterns and additional rocks and shells in complementary colour and shape.
The Battle of the Boat is now complete!

The fishing boat off of Monterey was having a good night. Celine the Skipper was happy for the first time in a while. The lights were working *finally* after half the morning tinkering with them, and the generators running parallel to the diesel engine were working too. The GPS beacon was online for the first time this week! All the extra time not spent running around the damn boat to fix crap meant that Cel had all the paperwork up to date, so if they were stopped by the Shore Patrol they would at least have all the Admin covered for once. All in all, she and the ten crew members would get a fine payday if the night kept going as well.

The Money Shot was converted from a large dive boat bought cheap from a “going out of business” sale. The end of the business was provoked by the previous owner’s sideline in drugs smuggling along with Dive tours. So the “Shot” had lots of flat deck, a great pair of inboard diesel motors, a wide and low platform transom with retractable tree ladders, and cabins for overnight trips with lots of storage. A lot of the space below had been converted to the ice bunker and related fish processing equipment. Celine had left the compressors and gas mix equipment along with two cabins because a nice weather weekend was a terrific time to take a Dive tour or Sport fishing trip out without having to work too hard. Good profit off a deal like that too she mused. Still, straightforward fishing meant that she didn’t have to deal with the egos that went along with Divers and Sport fishermen. A big personality she could deal with, a dyed-in-the-wetsuit duckhead or weekend fish-warrior could be an issue she didn’t like to deal with all the time. Shaking her head, she re-focused on the work.

“Are all you a**holes on deck ready to get the lines in the water?!” Cel wanted to get the lines down early tonight so they could get a decent catch on board tonight, and another session before going back to port at dawn. The six linesmen, strike that *five* Linesmen and *Debbie* (who was going to give her Hell if she slipped and said “You Guys” again) gave her a thumbs up. The roustys on the gaffs, knife, and ice bunker waved. “PPE in order?! If I have to take a hiding for one of you *morons* leaving your harness off again, I’ll throw you off the boat myself!” All the Lines *people* shook their harnesses and gave her a thumbs-up. Helen on the knife station saluted with her blade and shot Cel a toothy grin. Helen had trained as sushi chef and still did the job when she was in port at a local upscale Restaurant. She claimed the was boring because the fish never fought back. Helen had a thing for knives, and kept her own set that nobody else was allowed to touch. She and Victor, who also kept his tool points and blades scrupulously sharp, got on well.

Good stuff. The sea conditions were calm with a half-meter swell and just enough breeze to gently ruffle the water. The diesels chugging along just to make headway, Cel flipped the breaker and the spotlights snapped on with the shafts of halogen light going down into tonight’s clear-ish water. It wasn’t quite dark enough for the best contrast, but it wouldn’t be long until the lines started to get hits. They were after the shoals of Dosidicus gigas that had been growing off the coast of California in the last few years. The small squid were OK, but the Red Devils were where the money was. There was a fast growing market for the large slabs of mantle & thick arm and tentacle meat both to the high-end Chefs and the local Bistro trade.

Just as the last bright red sliver of the sunset dipped down below the horizon, the Green Flash lit up the boat and the eager faces of the Crew. "Money Shot!!" yelled the deck crew. Celine pumped her fist and shouted “Show me the Money!!" The first hit was off the port bow. The rod bent and line went taut and the reel sang a high clear note. The Bow gaff rousty Teddy went to stand near Daniel the linesman. The first Devil came up and Teddy swung his hook. Celine had the Gaffs built specially with a straight spike as well as the back curving hook. More than once the crew had to spike a fish to the deck to stop the critter thrashing around on deck or getting away over the transom. Up and on deck to Helen on the knife station for the kill, clean and gut, and into the ice. Slick as anything with no screwing around. Cel was proud of her crew, the whole catch took less than 20 seconds from water to ice. The buyers always gave their boat premium prices for fresh and clean meat. The hits started to come fast now that the Devil’s shoal had moved under the boat as they chased their own dinner.

Celine monitored all the operators as they worked. The catch was coming in over the rails smoothly, with the Linesman taking each hit on the rods easily. The base of their rods were on a midriff cup attached to a solid plastic plate at the operator’s centre of mass. The safety line attached in the small of each person’s back. That was clipped to a cleat either on the wall of the central cabin for the two forward people or a pylon on deck for the stern operators. The line snapped tight when a heavy hit was taken but the harness kept each person on their feet. The school of fish started breaking the water as the Devils chased them through the hunt. Celine has seen really coordinated activity on the part of the Gigas shoal. She had seen whales bundle krill and sardines into a bait ball by blowing bubbles through a circle to concentrate the fish. Then the whales would come up from underneath and scoop of a concentrated mouthful. Gigas didn’t have the mass-catch capability a Humpback did, but darting through a concentrated school of fish would let them catch several at a time in their arms and tentacles.

Something like that was happening under the boat now. Cel could see on the fish-finder that there seemed to be a solid mass of fish under the boat, and numerous larger animals circling the school. The rods would have their lures right in the middle of that feeding frenzy. “A good catch tonight.” Celine muttered to herself. Suddenly she saw several *huge* contacts on the fish-finder. “What the Hell was that?!” she said to herself. She heard yells and shrieks from the deck and whirled to see several Devils thrashing around amidst the deck workers!

“Where did those b*stards come from?!” she shouted. “They came over the Transom Captain!” shouted Michael her 2IC from the deck, he was Ice Bunker tonight. The gaff roustys were trying to either throw the Devils back off the transom, or pin them down with a spike long enough to get a knife into the mantle between its eyes. For a minute there was a thrashing melee on deck, not helped by the fact that half the Linesmen had hits on the rods that they couldn’t bring up as there wasn’t anyone to gaff the catch on board.

Arms and tentacles writhed and held, beaks bit. Gaffs flashed, and knives stabbed. Blood, red and blue flowed freely. Helen swept one of her long knives *lengthwise* through a Devil that was thrashing its way towards Victor. Debbie shrieked again as a tentacle whipped around her neck. She whipped her knife up in front of her face, stuck the squid and ripped the blade away from herself. The arms wrapped around her neck fell away and she ripped the body free to stomp it into the deck. “B*stard bit me!!” screamed Vic. “Get off the boat you thrashing mofo!” Vic was whipping his gaff into writhing bodies and throwing them away from the crew off the stern.

“Get the b*tch off me Mike!” wailed Clint as one of the Gigas climbed up his back towards his head. Clint was still in harness and couldn’t get away from the attack. The vicious squid had just slapped a tentacle to the side of Clint’s face when Michael put his knife between its eyes. That didn’t help Clinton through, as the thrashing squid spasmed with the stab and the hooks in the tentacle tore through his ear. That was the last Devil on deck though, and it got filleted quick as anything and went down into the bunker. Celine had slid down the ladder from the Bridge during the fight and grabbed the trauma kit from the deck cabin.

“Clint! Get the frack over here you dumbass! I need to clean up your ear!” shouted Celine. “Anyone else hurt? Get over here!” Four people came over to see Celine for first aid. Clint was the worst and it was a real bleeder. A quick local, antibiotic salve, two staples, and a pressure bandage took care of him. The rest were scratches and hematomas from suckers and the one bite on Vic’s inside upper leg. “Bloodthirsty Devil bitch was after your tackle Vic!” laughed Clint.

“She must have been climbing up to get herself some of All That!” chortled Debbie who had a nice new set of round hickeys on her neck as she waved to Vic’s massive build.

“B*tch was after something!” Vic laughed. Vic was a martial artist and liked swords and whatever “pole arms” were, so he was great at handling a gaff. He was the one that had slung most of the Devils off the back of the boat. “What about you Debbie? Looks like your boyfriend was getting a little *too* friendly. Those ain’t the usual mosquito bites!” “Bite me” growled Debbie and flipped him off. “I will if your new boyfriend leaves me some sweetie!” leered Vic.

“Careful with those scissors Cap.” Said Vic as Celine cut through his bloodied wet weather trousers to get at the tear in his leg. “I just managed to keep that tonight, I’ll need it later!” “Shut the Hell up Vic” said Celine. “Apart from your tackle, you’re lucky this b*tch didn’t get the artery, you’d have bled out!” She cleaned the tear in Vic’s leg with *extra* alcohol and secured a pressure pad under gauze. She duct taped the slash in Victor’s wet weather pants closed and sent him back to his station.

Finished with first aid now, and with Clint sent into a cabin to rest for a bit, Celine turned to the boat. Michael had things well in hand. “All the rest of you Shots get back to work or we’ll lose the gear!” called Michael “We’ve had a worse fight with a Marlin on deck! Clean off the gear, get rid of the offal, and sluice us down and get the gear sorted. The Linesmen have hits on. If we don’t get those Devils on board all the tackle will go to the bottom!” The cleanup done, fishing got back into operation. The Devils started coming back over the rail smoothly again. Celine saw that one of the lines had broken, but the rod was re- threaded with a lure already and was back into catching. Michael was a pro.

“What the hell scared those bastards up on deck?” asked Celine. “I dunno Cap,” said Vic “Whatever it was must have chased them *hard.* They all broke water at the same time in a Freaking *cloud* of calamari. I didn’t know these fish could Fly. It doesn’t make me feel better about them either, they’re scary enough already! I’ll talk to Michael and try to figure out if anyone saw anything.”

“You still want to stay out tonight Cap?” asked Vic asked Celine. “Absolutely Vic, with conditions this good we’ll go home with a hold full of meat and that means bonuses all round if we can fill all the orders plus extra for bidding.” said Celine, “Let’s make the most of this, coordinate with Michael and have him get back to me.”

The blood and offal washed from the deck. It poured over the stern and transom, through the grille of the boarding deck. It spread down through the water and mixed into a heady scent trail. There was fish blood in the water for anyone to taste, but there was a new scent as well. Blood, but different and rich with fat. It tasted like the blood of fur-swimmers that were sometimes caught amidst the weed forests. The Curiosity of the Pack was roused, and desire for New-Meat to feed its collective hunger.

“Meat on hard-float” was shared across the displays of the Hunters as they relayed back to the Eldest. “How get?” “See little-ten-arms jump scared?” “(humor) prey-fish” “Jump on hard-float, came down hurt/dead” “New-Meat danger?” “Hunter on hard-float?” “Go see fight/feed” “Jump like when catch feather-prey swim fast/jet”

Eldest: “Go to hard-float – Swim/Jet/Jump” “Full 10 count of Pack” “Jump to See”


Something else had happened during the attack as well. The screws that held a harness cleat to the wall of the cabin were loose. Every time the boat rocked or a new hit on the line was made, the screws loosened a little more. Two of the six were gone already, the others were loose and wouldn’t hold much longer.


Celine was watching the fish-finder sonar carefully. She was seeing the same kind of larger signatures that she had seen just before the Devils had leapt up on deck. The Crew were cheerful at having fought off the squid that leapt up on deck, but Cel wasn’t so sure she should continue with the cruise. She had been planning on fishing late, and then catching the dawn feeding as well. That meant they got back in time to catch the day market with a full hold. She hadn’t been lying when she talked about the Marlin that had hit the deck one afternoon.

Christ! That one had been a lethal fish! The bloody thing had leaped out of a wave and landed on deck It had taken both gaff men and one of the fishermen wielding a damned machete to kill that fricking fish. 180lbs all told when they put all the pieces back together again. One man ended up in the hospital with the bill through his gut, and three other one with slashes that needed stitches. There were still scars in the deck where that idiot had missed with his machete before taking the head off. The Trauma kit had a workout that day! People still told the story at the fish-market years later. The irony of the meat having fetched an even better price because of the story having run through the market before they made landfall was part of the sea-story as well. The crew still laughed about that.

There was a flash on the edge of the sonar screen, it looked to be about twice as large as a regular Gigas. There was another that went past on the other side, and one of the Linesmen called “Breaking water! Look at the bastard go!” “Sh*t, its *huge*!” from another. More calls from both sides of the boat as the new larger Devils flew into the air as they leaped. A flurry of them broke water on each side of the boat and then stopped jumping. Up in the cockpit they stopped flashing across the sonar. “What do you think Michael?” called Celine down to the deck. “I spotted them on the sonar a few seconds before they jumped!”

“I’d like to get one of those up on a hook to have a look at it Cap!” said Michael. “They’re a different colour from the ones we know, and there were little frills the length of the mantle on them that were new too! Let me know when you see some on the sonar again. If we can get a picture *and* a specimen, we could have a whole new tour out here to see the brand new Mega-Gigas! Money Shot in the News again!”

“You got that right Michael!” Celine called. To the rest of the boat, she called “Hundred dollar bounty on the first Linesman who can pull one of those new Devils, and fifty bucks to the Gaff man! Round of drinks on me if we can take one back to shore this tour!” The Crew roared their approval, and chanted “Money Shot! Money Shot! Money Shot!” and got back to work with a will.


Messages flash amongst the Pack around the Eldest - “New meat on hard-float” “Ten-plus” “Four-Arms” “(humor) No fins” “(humor) little eyes!” “Taking prey little-ten-arms” “No eat little-ten-arms” “Prey in hard-float” the Hunters waited for the Eldest to respond as they flowed along in the wake of the hard-float.

The Eldest watched her Pack move and swoop around her as they continued take both the little-ten-arms and prey-fish to eat. The Pack has been following both the school of fish and the smaller hunters to eat both creatures. The Pack was *always* hungry as they travelled up and down through the layers of water and over distances. She had seen the hard-floats many times, but had never followed one this closely before. She had scented the blood of the New-Meat as well, and it stirred her to Hunger and Curiosity, which for her and her children were much the same emotion. The Hunters watched her scarred mantle and cold intelligent eyes as patterns of thought chased across her skin. She had led them to eat well and breed many times. They trusted her Leadership, and would do as she commanded.

The Eldest displayed and gestured “Take small-ten-arms from New-Meat after catch and pull” “Watch/see” The pack jetted off to obey.


Celine called out to Michael “Sonar contact! Mega-Devils closing, be ready!” Michael called out to the Crew, “Be ready Shots! Bonus on the way!” “Check your PPE!” shouted Celine, “Nobody in the Drink today!”

The Linesmen reached back and tugged on their harnesses. Clink! Clink! The carabiners rattled in the cleats attached to the pylons and walls of the main cabin, and the men and women waved back up to the Captain. Celine noted the waves, and Debbie’s finger, from her station in the cockpit and turned back to the Sonar. Michael paced back and forth on the central deck as he watched the Crew as they teased the lures that were amongst the school of fish the Gigas were feeding on. “Here they come Michael!” Cel shouted. “Continuing to close, the Megas are under us now!”

Suddenly Hank the mid-port linesman, got a hit, the line went taut and the reel called its high tone as normal. Hank started pulling the Devil up cleanly and Victor took his gaff to be ready when it broke water. The two men could see the squid coming to up through the water, it was there just below the surface. Then there was a flash that came out from under the boat. The two men saw a huge Devil whip its hunting tentacles out to grapple and then smash into the squid caught on the line! It turned sharply to swim out and down. The rod bent sharply and the reel screamed! Hank’s safety line snapped tight on the cleat behind him as he was pulled forwards towards the rail.
The rod snapped straight again as the hideous drag was released, and the Devil came up towards the surface as Hank reeled it rapidly in. As it broke the surface, Vic swept his gaff down into the water and snagged what was on the line. As he hauled the shaft towards him, he saw that everything above the eyes was just *gone.* The two men looked at each other as a reel on the starboard bow started screaming, and then another on the port stern.


The screws in the cleat were looser now. The tugging back and forth of the motion of the boat and the Linesman’s movement while fishing were working the threads through the wood of the cabin wall. It wouldn’t take much more abuse before it let go.


"I have to get to Debbie!" shouted Vic "Teddy, get your *ss up to help Jono!" Michael shouted over the noise of the reels "Everyone else that doesn't have a Devil on the hook, get those lines out of the water, Now!" The 2IC grabbed a gaff and stood ready to assist where he was needed. Gavin, and Daniel were reeling their lures in as fast as they could. "Helen!" shouted Michael, "If Deb or Jono don't have their lines clear in 30 seconds, you cut that tackle off the pole!" Celine watched closely from the Bridge, willing all the lines safely up. She couldn't help right now, and stayed quiet to let the deck crew handle bringing the lines up to clear them. Victor had gotten to Debbie and had helped her bring up what was left of her catch to the deck. Helen had cut Gavin's line and was headed for Jono and Teddy who were still struggling with Teddy's catch.

Just at that moment, Daniel's rod took a hit. The line went taut, and the reel gave it's thin clear tone of rapidly unreeling line. Dan snatched at the rod trying to shake the hook, leaning forward to try and slacken the line. Dan's reel suddenly screamed as the squid on his lure was taken by something below the water. The rod bent at what seemed to be an impossible angle as he leaned towards the rail. "Drop the rod Dan!" shouted Celine. "I've got it Cap....!" shouted Dan. At that moment, the cleat behind Daniel let go.

In the blink of an eye, Daniel went from standing on deck to flying over the rail. Helen leaped at his legs just as he cleared the rail, and ended up with a boot in her hands "Man Overboard!" she shouted. Daniel hit the water with an almighty splash, headfirst under water. Dan was a good swimmer, despite his heavy wet weather gear he righted himself and pulled the toggle on his low profile life vest. It inflated with a "hiss-pop!"

Celine immediately killed the engines and the Money Shot The big boat, already moving slowly slowed further and Cel turned to port to circle him. All the other lines were out of the water. Victor threw a life ring to Daniel and got the port side long-hook off the cabin wall. "Hang in there Dan! Stay calm and don't thrash about! Hold the ring out and I'll drop the hook through it. Just like the drill man!" Celine was dividing her attention between the sonar and Daniel. She saw the school of fish and the shoal of hunting Gigas keep moving off along their previous course.


The Eldest watched as the members of her Pack struck at the prey being taken by the New-Meat. The Pack members easily saw which of the prey had been captured by the hard-float and were being drawn upwards. They jetted in and snatched at the captured prey, and then swam down hard back towards her, ripping and biting at the helpless small-ten-arms. Three of the prey were taken back from the New-Meat on the hard-float, when a fourth prey was suddenly drawn upwards. That last one was spotted by two of her Pack at the same time, and they both snatched at it to pull and savage the creature.

The pair of them pulled what was left of the prey downwards. A stick fell in the water, and then there was a huge splash of foaming bubbles as something massive fell off the hard-float! It had to be New-Meat. Her Pack startled downwards as they banked to circle this new thing in their water. It had what looked to be a head and four arms, but no tentacles. It thrashed madly and then went still, floating with it's head above the surface. Another object that looked like a huge empty eye also fell in and the New-Meat grabbed it with two arms. The Eldest signaled to her Pack "Take New-Meat" "Kill It" Her Pack swooped to obey, swimming fast to close the distance and strike.


"The Megas are circling Vic! Celine called from the Bridge, “Get him out of there!"

Victor dropped the long hook through the life ring and started to pull Daniel rapidly towards the stern. "Just like drill Dan!" shouted Vic "Keep hold of the ring and we'll drag you over the boarding ramp! Teddy! You have the other long hook? Good! When he's close, drop it between his legs and haul him out, quick as you can!"

"Guys?! Something's got my....!" Daniel shouted. Dan was jerked backwards sharply and lost his grip on the life-ring. Victor fell backwards onto the deck as the life ring came free. Dan stated screaming. He jerked one way, and then another. He was slapping at the water, and pulling at something the people on the boat could not see. Suddenly, a reddish tentacle with a diamond shaped end whipped around his right wrist and pulled his arm under. Victor and Teddy were trying to catch him with the long-hooks, but the rounded wire ends would not grip. Daniel was still screaming, his voice ragged. He wasn’t able to kick anymore, his legs were bound. He was bobbing up and down violently, with his vest the only thing keeping him above the spreading red cloud in the water. Teddy swung his hook and Daniel got his arm over the end of it, just as another pair of tentacles whipped out of the thrashing water from behind him. One lashed around his face drawing blood, covering his mouth and nose and stifling his last scream. The other slashed around his chest over his arm and life vest. Daniel jerked sharply back as a nest of thicker arms slapped into place around his shoulders and neck. The body of the Mega rose out of the water behind Dan. The crew of the Shot got a moment to look as it and Dan floated together. It looked like a Gigas, but twice as long. Brighter red, with shadows and points of light sweeping over its mantle in waves. It's shiny gold eyes with a dead black crescent shaped centre watched them with a cold intelligence. Vic and Teddy slashed at it with their long hooks, but it contracted it's arms and the hooks in the tentacles ripped through Daniel's face and life vest. The vest deflated with a bubbling hiss, and Daniel was gone.

The crew started shouting all at once. Celine cut through it with a "Shut up! Get to the rails! Watch and listen!"


The Pack brought the New-Meat to the Eldest. They all ate, reveling in the new flavour. It was warm like the fur-swimmers, and rich. The textures were strange, many items were plainly not part of the creature itself. It didn't fight, and couldn’t swim. Once past the array of soft coverings, it was nearly all sweet and edible. The leavings they left to sink. The hard-float left. They would remember this New-Meat and how easy it was to hunt.

The school of fish and the shoal of Devils were gone. The Money Shot and her crew stayed circling the patch of water that Daniel had disappeared in. They all knew that there was nothing coming to the surface, but they were all stunned, unable to process what had just happened. Celine was the one to break the silence. “Those B*stards will pay for this.” The hard, cold tone in her voice startled the crew from their silence.

“Vic, talk with the crew on the way back to port as to how you can kill these Megas. Michael, stow the gear, get the boat ready to sail back to port and collect Daniel’s stuff together. I’m going to log this, and mark the place on the GPS.”

“Everyone, do your best to remember all you can about what you’ve seen, and talk to Hank to get the best description we can sketched out. We’re coming back here, and these Megas are going to Pay!”
Jump back to develop the Female Octopod & Ansible with background on Earth.

Octo: I was creeping up and around a flat shelf of rock near my nest that had come down in the shake. I noticed a small group of lobsters eating a dead fish under the overhanging lip of the shelf. There were smaller chunks of rock everywhere, part of the rubble after the quake. I sat for a moment watching and thinking.

Using a rock that you didn't have to *carry* to kill a lobster...

There were sharp rocks on top of the rock shelf above the eating lobsters. Very slowly indeed I crawled up to the top of the rock, and looked up and around carefully. No predator-fish were to be seen. Up on top of the shelf I carefully picked up a large rock and moved it closer to the edge over the lobsters, and heaved it over! I felt the impact of the rock on the ground up through my body and looked over the edge. Two lobsters were trapped by the rock! One had its head under and was twitching its tail, the other one was trapped by the tail and was clawing at the bottom trying to escape. I jetted over the edge and down on top of the trapped creature and swiftly killed it. Flushed with pleasure and excitement I pulled the feast out from under the rock and carried them back the short distance to my home. I wondered as I settled to eat and add the new lobster shells to my garden, if the circle would keep other arm-fish out of my nest. I would have to think about that, I did *not* want to share my new home. I finished the lobster, arranged the shells in my Garden and went back to my Pearl.


There was a small female eight-arm like me floating above the Pearl when I got all the way into my nest. It was displaying happy-greeting colours, and the tips of its arms were twitching in very fetching patterns all around it's body. I sat very still without moving for a little while, and then moved closer, not wanting to believe it was an invader in my home.

I remembered the crab that hadn't actually *been* there before I went out to hunt, and floated closer. I reached out to touch my Pearl with the tip of an arms, and got the same comforting hum that I had gotten before when touching it. The floating eight-arm lifted its front most arm and reached out to touch the same spot on my Pearl.

Then I noticed another odd thing, the intruder did not sink. It wasn't swimming or jetting, or holding on to anything, just floating there. I reached out to hold the Pearl, and with another arm gently touched the new creature. Something flooded my head and body, like the feeling I got at a fresh kill, and a new sight, and arranging my garden, and.... Everything all at once. All the best things I could think of all at once. My eyes widened and I settled gently to the floor of my nest still holding on to the Pearl.

The display of the new creature showed a pleased happy pattern, and crinkled up in a complicated texture. I tried to show the same colours and skin texture, and felt a brief flash of the all-in-one-best-feeling again. The new creature floated down over the Pearl, covering it, so I couldn't see the Pearl. The Pearl was inside it. Still there, I could feel it, but only see the new eight-arm. It lifted an arm and reached to me. I reached back with an arm, and as we touched our arm tips the *feeling* flashed again. The Pearl-creature lifted another arm, and I matched it to touch arm tips again. It became faster and more complex, touch and touch again, two and three arms at once, then four in faster patterns, each with a flash of feeling.

Pearl settled and we watched each other. My hearts were beating fast and I felt strong and clever. Then above Pearl's head a crab appeared! That didn't startle me, I had seen this trick before, but Pearl did something strange, she showed a pattern on her skin and an arm movement. The crab vanished, and Pearl went blank and still. Then the crab came back, and Pearl showed the same pattern and movement..... and I understood. I showed the skin pattern and as close to the arm movement as I could. Pearl flashed a happy display and fluttered her arms, and I couldn't help but to echo her!

Pearl showed the crab again, and I showed it back. Then there was a lobster, with a different pattern, and arm movement. This was easy now, and I showed it to her. Then Pearl showed two lobsters, the pattern, movement and two twitches of an arm. I sat for a moment while she repeated it with lobsters, then again with two crabs. I understood again, and showed Pearl I understood. The language lessons went far into the night, and I went to sleep with my arms wrapped around my Pearl.


While the female octopod was sleeping, the Ansible unfolded manipulation arms again. The tips once again flared out into myriad fine filaments which settled around and inside the head of the young female. The manipulations and modifications were gentle and subtle now, coaxing and persuading rather than testing and modifying. The Ansible was proud of its pupil, the female had been an eager and motivated learner once the mental pathways were opened up and connected. The fear that this branch of the Ceph race had faded to being irretrievably animals was fading. The Ansible could see in the female's memories where she had used the rock to capture the lobsters, and felt proud of her student. She had a long way to go, but this young person now had a much wider future. It was a shame she would die so soon, but before that happened she would give birth to a wonderful new beginning.


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