THE SOVEREIGN SQUID
Humans have a natural fear of dark places, and perhaps justifiably so. Light only penetrates the uppermost levels of the ocean. The ocean’s depths are reservoirs of darkness, containing within them wonders at the edge of imagination, and horrors beyond that boundary of creativity. For this is the realm of the beast, the majestic ruler of the ocean who periodically spreads his domain over this light forsaken realm.
The beast felt a growing need inside him. It was not a conscious thought, or want, but an instinct long suppressed, until it could no longer be held, and bubbled its way to the surface. It was a hunger, but not just a hunger for food. The meal would be just sustenance, and a preparation for satisfying this deeper hunger, a natural desire deeper than the depths of the ocean that surrounded him. The beast awoke from his long slumber and knew it was that time once again. He was old, this beast, and an ancient one in terms of his species’ lifestyle. Few of his kind would live to a hundred, but this one made them seem youthful in comparison.
A vast amount of water was displaced in an instant as he propelled himself away from his resting place. The beast had slumbered for a long time, perhaps thirty earthly cycles. Time had little meaning to the beast, whose life cycled around his periodic savage needs. He sped toward the surface, his eight arms and two vast tentacles trailing behind him. He opened his enormous eyes, eyes that had seen metal ironclads, and even wooden sailing ships, before they became obsolete footnotes in naval history. His giant maw opened as he closed in some schools of fish, devouring vast quantities of them with little effort. He was a prince of the deep, he was the king of cephalopods, he was the sovereign of the ocean, and he would claim his spoils.
The feasting was nearly over before he started projecting his location. Dolphins have a method of echolating, as do whales. His kind could do so, with a method that was older than both. He coiled himself into a tight, dense ball and waited, initiating the first step of his courtship.
The sperm whale picked up on the signal quite a distance away. It was perplexed, its massive mammalian brain bombarded with signals that seemed to be from another whale, and yet didn’t. He was a young whale, in the prime of his life. He began to swim towards it at a rapid speed. The sperm whale was not afraid, merely curious. He had never met anything that could challenge his ocean supremacy. In this sense he was lucky, as most others of his kind had been killed by humans, and his species brought to the brink of extinction. This whale had grown up in the relatively safe times of recent modernity, as most human nations banned the hunting of his kind. He had never truly been afraid, even when it came to challenging other males over territory.
It was with this swaggering pride of youth that he approached the beast. He had seen far smaller like this beast before; he had no word it, just a mental association. Men had called the beast Kraken, and other fantastic names. In this scientific age those that were myth ridden called it the giant squid, although they could never dream of a beast this large, a beast that was partly a consequence of their own actions. The sperm whale felt an instinct within himself, and sped toward the beast, preparing to attack.
This would be like no other prey before; this was a challenge, a call to arms, and one truly worth his ultimate weapon. The whale released a sonic barrage from his amplifier organ, surrounded by spermatic oil and tissue of special acoustical properties. The barrage reaches the beast, which seemingly reeled backwards from the pressure. It appeared stunned as the whale rushed in and prepared to engulf its prey.
Just as he neared the beast, however, the beast expanded, flinging itself outward from its previously compact echolocating form. Giant arms and tentacles extended rapidly, with each carpus lined with arrays of suction cup like suckers. They attached onto the surprised whale, as the beast continued to expand, and increase its grip over the whale’s massive head. The whale responded with several more blasts, which had always been effective before, but were failing now. The two leviathans were locked in mortal combat, the whale struggling for his life, the squid for something far more important.
Their two kinds had battled long before humans sailed the world’s oceans. In the past, the sperm whale had usually held the advantage, with its greater size, and sonic warfare. However humans, in their limited wisdom, unwittingly interfered in this eternal combat. During the Age of Exploration, and afterwards, they hunted most whale species to near extinction. The giant squid, whose existence humans had for a long time both imagined and denied, was given an advantage it had never had before. For the squid had a potential lifetime unknown to both humans and its own kind. It had always been kept in check by the whales, but some, like the beast, reached an age and size never seen before.
And now, the beast was thick and large enough to withstand the blasts, and wily enough to avoid them in most cases. Now that it was this close, its massive suckers buried deep into the skin, releasing blood and spermatic fluid, disrupting the sensitive acoustics that made the whale’s sonic weapon possible. The whale could feel true fear now, a fear that felt like a paralyzing poison, although perhaps that was a result of another one of the beast’s potent weapons. It thought it had been the sovereign, but now it knew its proper place, second to the beast in the great ocean chain. It could feel the life draining out of it as the squid continued its penetration of his body. His giant mammalian brain gave him the full range of pain, and he felt it now to the extreme. It was only a matter a time before it would be over, mercifully over. The sovereign would claim his spoils of war.
War and Love
The beast waited, triumphant in his victory, although it was a battle he had won many times before. It was less of a challenge each time, and would one day possibly become trivial. He dragged the whale down into the depths, into a secure pressure point where the carcass would not rise to the surface with its natural buoyancy. He continued the second step of his courtship, projecting his location until the one would come to satisfy his desires. For the beast had fed, but his deeper desire remained, a carnal need that when surfaced made hibernation nearly impossible.
Finally, he heard a response to his calls, and another of his kind approached. She was an old one, nearly as old as the beast, and nearly as large. She felt the beast’s needs in his calls, and echoed it with her own desire, just as strong, and seemingly insatiable. She eyed the sperm whale carcass, and was impressed by her potential mate’s offering. Signaling her agreement, she lowered her suckers, which could be a deadly deterrent if she wished them to be. Like the female porcupine, this was one female that could never be unduly pressured. Now it was time for her to claim her sovereign rights. The beast had waited for this, before exposing his tender and vulnerable underbelly. They embraced, as delicate as old lovers, and as passionate as new ones. They began to propel through the water as they nourished their desires. They felt pleasure beyond our imagining, these beasts endowed with massive axons and nerve cells. In a mating that put mammalian ones to shame, they completed nature’s demand, and felt their desire rapidly vanish.
In an afterwards that felt like years and perhaps it was, they lay there, before preparing to part ways. The male beast was content, having finally sated his insatiable desire. She was content as well, and they knew the offspring would be safe and have a source of food in the form in the recently conquered sperm whale. He bade a final sonic farewell as he headed away, moving with his jet like propulsion.
He may be the king of cephalopods, the sovereign of the seven seas, but he was subject to his own cycle of desires, and needs. And now that his primal needs were met, he felt the calling to slumber. He descended, ever descended, into the deep, his brain and body systems following a parallel descent into hibernation. He was the sovereign of the ocean, but even a sovereign needs his sleep, before he can awaken once more, to once again claim his spoils.