Lava flowed over the surface of Proto-Earth. The sea roiled and crested in massive proportions as it surged against the black, volcanic crags of what would be Pangaea.
Mollusk-kin thrived in the heated waters. The sentient, behemoth beings hunted in the depths. They took care to avoid the deadly, glowing heat of the lava, which cracked and sizzled as it shifted along the ocean floor.
"I am concerned for the future of our young," intoned T'seil, a female mollusk-kin.
She addressed her mate, Chugon.
"The sea seethes more violently than it has in the memory of the Kin. I fear that our offspring will not find adequate hunting waters or be able to navigate by the light of the stars in the nighttime sky."
The Kin lived in symbiosis with great forests of kelp.
Algae and kelp formed in swirling, cooling pools within the near-steaming currents of the planetary ocean of Proto-Earth.
The Kin fed on tiny crustaceans, called krill, which in turn fed on the surrounding submarine forests. The Kin kept the kelp parasite-free and healthy. This was the known way of life of the Kin before the source of T'seil's concern.
Massive storm clouds now formed on the surface of the heated seas. Strange lightning struck the waves repeatedly.
Other gatherings of Kin had reported losses of members of their hunting and foraging groups to the lethal electric bolts. The turbulent weather additionally made it impossible to follow the planet's rotation and guide their travels to fresh kelp pools by starlight.
T'seil and Chugon led their offspring with other Kin in their tribe. It was time to move on. The kelp forests awaited them beyond the heated currents.
"The storm clouds coalesce like never before, T'seil," intoned Chugon. "We must bring our young to safe water before the lightning strikes."
"I,agree, loved-one," T'seil answered. "We must hurry."
The pair of Kin did what they could to hasten their family along while the clouds seemed to darken and glower with malevolence.
Silver and blue bolts of electricity struck the surface of the ocean and thunder boomed in resonating waves across the horizon.
Strange orbs fell from the centers of the clouds to pierce the water and dive deep. Each of the metallic spheres was twice the size of Chugon, who measured 60 meters from tentacles to head.
"Interesting," hummed the male Kin. "Keep the young moving, T'seil. I will dive to investigate one of these strange objects more closely."
As Chugon drew near to the orb it changed. Mechanical vibrations emanated from the surface of the foreign sphere. Chugon extended a tentacle to probe the device as it continued to drop into the depths. The male mollusk-kin was startled to sense a static charge from the strange object. Rows of lights, aligned in spirals along the circumference, sparkled as the orb gave the appearance of coming to life.
A voice bellowed in the water speaking, surprisingly, in a dialect that Chugon understood.
"We are the Xoids.
"This is a flourishing environment.
"Our collective has chosen to claim it for the Process.
"You are a superb specimen.
"This planet has potential."
Chugon sensed magnetic force pulling him toward the sizable, electric orb. The energy was much the same as that of gravity which the Kin knew grew stronger as they dove deeper into the sea. He tried to maneuver away from the alien artifact to no avail. It was intent on capturing the scion of the depths.
The Xoid, as it called itself, split at the center and each half rotated in opposite directions. Within the opening at its center was a restraining net which glowed green in the fading light of the dense water. The ethereal net expanded and surrounded Chugon like a bubble.
There was enough water for him to maintain respiration but the restrictive tethers gave him virtually no freedom of movement.
"Alas, I fear for the safety of T'seil and our offspring. I wonder what will become of them in the wake of this alien invasion."
The halves of the Xoid rotated back to their original positions and closed in upon the captured Kin. The lights and internal vibrations of the cybernetic entity intensified. The living machine stopped its descent into the darkness and rose toward the surface at an accelerating rate.
T'seil and many of the other Kin of their hunting and foraging tribe were startled by potent spumes of water as the Xoids and their captured cargo zoomed toward the upper atmosphere of Proto-Earth and beyond.
"The mother-ships await," hummed a disembodied voice.
Chugon and others of his captured kindred moaned in dread.
The Kin traveled beyond space and time.
The Xoids were aggressive. They insisted on testing the faculties of survival of the aquatic mollusks.
Chugon and his companions were resilient, however, and they endured despite their discomfort. None of the imprisoned Kin had knowledge of the time or location of the hostile mother-ships. Unbeknownst to them millennia passed on Proto-Earth and other species evolved to sentience.
It was then that the Xoid ships and their dismal menagerie encountered one of their many nemeses, acquired over epochs of intergalactic exploitation and abuse. They were the Galdur, a race of explorers whose territorial contention with the Xoids was bitter and ancient.
An image appeared before Chugon, drawing him from his troubled stasis.
"What is this, another test?" wondered the melancholic Kin.
"Our enemies are near. We must purge our cargo.
"You will be placed in the seas below.
"Time has passed and the water has cooled. It will prove sufficient for your needs.
"Beware of the Galdur for they are hostile to we Xoids and will pursue us. There is little time to dally here.
A gate opened in the hull of the ship below Chugon and he was summarily dropped nearly 10 meters to the cool ocean of Future-Earth.
The water was cold and it took Chugon several moments to become acclimated to the temperature change.
'This place is strange. It is at once like the seas before my abduction yet darker and more ancient,' thought the giant mollusk-kin.
The denizen of the ocean detected the presence of a variety of marine life he had not previously encountered. These included giant, aquatic mammals with mighty, paddle-shaped flippers and muscular tails.
The warm-blooded carnivores hunted and foraged in pods.
Chugon dove in a defensive maneuver, hoping to avoid detection. The mammals' faculties of echolocation were strong, however, and they sent an handful of their number to chase him as he dove.
Chugon was frightened and emitted a cloud of black ink with the marginal hope that it would confuse the focused predators. The diversion proved ineffective as the mammals no longer depended on visible light to orient themselves in the deep.
The water grew chilled and pressurized as Chugon continued to dive, funneling water through the respiratory spout at the base of his head.
The carnivores drew close, tracking the Kin with echo-located bursts.
Chugon accelerated in a desperate attempt to avoid an attack. He was not fast enough, though, and a mammal snapped at his rear tentacles, taking a small piece of tissue in its powerful jaws.
A voice permeated the depths and a light shone down from above.
"We are the Galdur.
"The Xoid ships have escaped us once again.
"You do not belong here. We will transport you to your proper place and time. Come with us, now."
A strong tractor beam clutched the frightened mollusk-kin from above and raised him quickly through the dark water toward the surface.
The hungry mammals were confounded at the change in course of their prey and returned to surface at a slower rate. They would hunt again and surely catch their quarries as they often did.
Chugon was taken aboard the Galdur ship along with the other creatures of Proto-Earth that had been haphazardly dumped into the dark seas of the future. They were carried with a large supply of sea water so they could respirate easily.
The Galdur used the gravitational pull of the Earth's sun to fling their massive ship at super-light speed through the solar system. By the time they neared the Earth it was several million years before the age of the aquatic mammals.
The mollusk-kin thrived in the salty, heated waters.
What continents there were smoked and sizzled with volcanic youth.
Concerned for the welfare of their living cargo, the Galdur brought their boons as close to the point of their abduction as was feasible.
"Farewell, Earthlings," a kind voice intoned. "You are home. We will remain watchful for the Xoids may return, although it is not likely that they will do so in your lifetimes."
Chugon and the other captives were released into the ocean of their origin. They went their separate ways.
It was only a matter of time before Chugon found his fellow mollusk-kin and T'seil, who brought their young close to their father. They returned to their natural foraging pattern and vowed never to become separated again.
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