The Ghosts of Eden
The Pentapods, it transpires, generally attack children first. Dr. Moon and Prof. Zeng theorise that, when a pentapod is young it is uncivilised and aggressive. The warrior groups are all young whereas, as they age, the pentapods appear to become more sedate. So the young are "more dangerous" although attacks on humans sometimes appear to be orchestrated by an older pentapod.
The precise taxonomy of life on Ocean has not been decided. However there appear to be two principle groups - molluscs and starfish. Ocean DNA has an extra sugar.
It is agreed that Earl Stardust will act as coxwain for the trip, with Rolf and Sangeev working as security and Chris Moon as guide. It transpires that Miho and Andi can't swim. However everyone is supplied with life jackets.
The first thing the crew see on the trip is a massive colony ship. This has a very blocky profile. It is huge, at least 1,000 feet long and of ceramic construction, not unlike a supertanker. The name of the ship is Tagghuding, which is Swedish for starfish.
Chris reckons that some colonists feel resentful that they've been sold a 'pup' and that they were better off at home.
Several hours later the crew see a small colony of floating jellyfish like Portuguese men of war. However these are floating in the air with their tentacles in the water. Several predators, it transpires, like flying fish.
A large whale-sized fish is observed eating plankton. This is a subclass that live off `sea weeds'.
They eventually spot an echinoderm raft approx 2 x 4 miles across. Things with the appearance of trees grow on it. Like 'inverted reefs' the living echinoderms are on the underside.
Hydrogen is used by the floating jelly-fish and raft echinoderms for buoyancy. The top layer is a silicate soil of decayed echinoderm. The middle of the raft is formed of older echinoderms acting as buoyancy. The bottom layer is the young echinoderms acting as food gatherers and breeding stock.
A fishing boat is moored near the raft. Chris and Rolf choose a mooring some distance from this. The crew are provided with large snow-shoe like things for walking on the raft. Rolf leads the way armed with a machine gun. He appear equally worried about the party meeting pentapods or fishermen or something else that hunts the amphibian pig-like creatures that live on the raft.
The 'trees' are extremely colourful reds, blues and greens. Andi spots small crab-like echinoderms with pearlised shells.
Rolf stops the party several times during the tour and is uneasy that they've seen nothing of the fishermen. The party go to investigate the other boat. Using imagers they see red stains on it. They attempt to hail the boat without success so return to their own craft and drive round. Robert and Antonio board the other ship. It is empty except for blood stains. Tracks lead off into the woods.
Antonio sees something moving below the boat. Rolf shouts at Robert to return to the ship which he does. Miho starts attempting to set up the display screen. Pentapods start to rise out of the water below the boat. Antonio kills the first instantly but is then grabbed by a second. Andi is also grappled by a pentapod that is boarding the research centre boat. Meanwhile Robert is hit by a spear, at which point Miho starts trying, attempting to access the first aid kit in his backpack. Andi is pulled into the water. Antonio manages to kill his second pentapod and Rolf kills a third. Robert manages to administer a local anaesthetic. Miho is also grabbed by a pentapod. Antonio dives into the water after Andi. Sangeev is trying to kill a final pentapod that is boarding the rear of the port (far) side of the research centre craft but Komiko queers his aim and then "looks" at the pentapod. Suddenly all the pentapods release the various crew members and vanish.
Both Andi and Miho develop allergic reactions to the pentapod slime. Once they return to the research base a minor operation is needed to patch up Robert's arm and he is likely to be out of commission for two days, with his arm in a sling for a couple of weeks.
Chris Moon identifies most of the attackers as juveniles but the "final" pentapod, which Sangeev nearly shot, was an elder one, probably coordinating the attack.