The sensation of soil against my bare feet is a new one. I have understood and analyzed the concept of touch, but analysis and experience are very different. There is something… humming? Is that what that is? Yes, something humming, and I can feel it through the flat part of my lower appendages. Feet? That sounds right. And these must be toes. I wiggle them slightly. I expected them to be bigger. But I can see them, in odd flat colours, which is another fascination. I can no longer perceive the aether, or the void, but instead I feel the humming, and I see the light particles reflect on a thousand points of contact. This is what it means to see.
I use the eyes to look around for the first time. Up from the soil under my toes, to the surrounding earth and the things thriving within it. They are buried deep in the flesh of this planet, feeding on its nutrients. Are they a disease? Perhaps not. The earth seems to thrive wherever these entities have pierced its surface. Perhaps they thrive on each other. And as I investigate, I notice that the humming is coming from these entities. This is the sound of their pleasure.
Suddenly I am assaulted by millions of particles of… well mostly nitrogen and some oxygen, with trace amounts of argon and carbon dioxide. A group of them move toward me, displacing other particles and brushing against the small spines that cover my new vessel. The group of gases disturbs these spines and I can feel the sensation run all the way up my limb. And suddenly a memory stirs in my databank. Or really a memory of a memory. One that is not mine, but that I have been given access to through the database of this vehicle. This is supposed to be a pleasant sensation. This is… air. And these are hairs.
Waves of sound abruptly strike my aural receptors and my vessel reacts without prompting, putting the flat ends of its front limbs over the receptors in order to disrupt the waves. I use the eyes again to see what may have caused a sudden increase in decibels, and notice another creature has joined me. I can tell, based on an internal understanding of my own shape, that this being does not look like me. We are similar in stature, and it also has four limbs, but rather than hairs its vessel is covered in something else.
Feathers, a voice supplies.
I examine the processes of my internal structure, trying to find out where the voice originated from. I hear soft laughter, not with my external aural receptors but with some internal equivalent. I’m not hearing it at all, but this primitive language has no other means of parsing such an experience.
The being before me approaches slowly. It is… walking, I believe is the term. I examine closer the feathers–I catalog this term for further inquiry at a later date–and notice that they are not all identical, as I had first perceived. They vary in size and shape and colour, but they span the entire length of this being’s vessel. Its command centre is also shaped differently from mine. It has eyes, as I do, but it’s oral magnifier has a very different shape, sharp and pointed. I raise a front appendage to inspect my own command centre, as I cannot use the eyes from this position. It is squishy and porous, and again covered with very fine hairs.
It is soft.
I am soft.