Work Header

Fin to Feather

Work Text:

One of the spheres simply went up, higher and higher until it found a seagull, as the Asterite had told it to do, and for a little while this gull became the only thing that could sense it. The gull, curious, pecked the dimly glowing sphere and got its beak stuck; it cried in alarm, trying to kick the sphere off, to beat it off with its wings, but it only succeeded in getting more entangled. When the thing holding it seemed to vanish, the gull flapped away wildly, continuing to make alarmed noises. It wondered for a long time what the terrible thing that tried to eat it had been; all that it knew for sure was that the experience had been horrifying, and the seagull avoided the area for months.

But the Metasphere did not know this.

Ecco was very glad to be in the ocean again, after leaping from one floating island to the next with the help of the Skyway and the Singers of Trellia's time. He happily sang his Song of Sight, glad that he could use it properly again, and it saw a Glyph resting on the ocean floor. Wondering what it might say, Ecco dove and sang at it. The Glyph's message echoed back: "The Metasphere was created by the Asterite to change you into another lifeform." Along with the message, the Glyph gave Ecco the picture of a strange sphere, brownish and lightly glowing – it reminded Ecco of one of the Asterite's globes. Ecco mentally thanked the Glyph, knowing it would not understand a spoken thanks – indeed would only repeat its message – and swam on, to the east and up to breathe. After surfacing, he tried to continue east, to where the Asterite was, but found he could not. There was an immense mountain rising into an island in his path; Ecco picked a direction and began swimming along the island, but even after half an hour his Song of Sight could not see the island's end, and Ecco decided to take a rest to feed.

During his feeding, Ecco saw something strange in the Dry Side as he surfaced. He lifted his head into the Dry Side and looked at the strange object with his left eye. The object was brown, glowing dimly, and shaped like a sphere. Like the Glyph showed me. That must be a Metasphere, Ecco thought. But... why do I need it? The Glyph said it would change me into another lifeform... so why do I need to become something else? Ecco turned his head to look at the Metasphere with his right eye. Right now, I need to get around that island. Perhaps the Metasphere will help me; let us see what lifeform it changes me into.

Ecco dove, then turned and surfaced at full speed, touched the Metasphere –

– and was no longer a Singer. Although he expected the change, he was disoriented; his new body's instincts only managed to keep him in the air long enough to reach the island in his way and crash into it. He rolled a little and managed to get into the position he was typically in as a Singer, belly parallel to the ground. It did not feel very comfortable in his new body.

Ecco snapped his jaws in annoyance, and was startled by the sound he made. He experimentally snapped again, and, with his mind focused on his snout for the moment, he realized that it was bright yellow. Focusing forward led to finding that his range of vision was much more constrained than he was used to, and this gave Ecco the uncomfortable feeling of his head being stuck between two rocks. He moved his head to one side, automatically moving what he was used to being his pectoral fins to try to steer; moving his 'fins' had little effect, but Ecco was able to turn his head so far to his left that he could focus fairly clearly on his backside. He blinked, seeing light grey feathers along his back, his left pectoral fin replaced by a wing, his tail divided into feathers rather than flukes, and... a foot. He turned his head far to the right and saw a mirror image of the same.

As a Singer of the shoreline, Ecco had, of course, seen seagulls before. Seeing the feathers and webbed feet brought him to the realization that, thanks to the Metasphere, he now was one. Now, he just had to get used to his transformation and make it over the island.

The birds of the Dry Side must use their hind-limbs to walk, like the Pinching Ones use six of their limbs on the sea floor. Using this form's hind-limbs is the next part of getting used to it. At first, Ecco tried to simply reorient himself to point up as he would have in his normal body; this only led to resting his weight on his lower torso and flapping his wings uselessly. Ecco returned to resting on his front, thinking about and becoming consciously aware of this new body – of his strange new limbs, of his wings with their elbows, and of his neck; of his small size, his lack of flukes, and his brightly-colored beak. And he tried again.

The second try was closer, but still not good enough to stand; the third time, something, perhaps the instincts of seagullkind, made something click in his brain, and Ecco stood up. He looked around, moving his neck in all sorts of novel ways; he chanced to look up, and saw a larger bird circling the peak of the mountain. The large bird made him afraid, though he did not immediately know why. 'Listening' to the gull's instincts, he thought to himself, So it seems the seagulls have their own Hungry Ones to fear. I will have to get past the Soaring Hungry One, and I don't think a gull will be able to fight it. I'll have to be swift. Ecco spread his wings, and, again 'listening' to seagullkind's instincts, managed to take off.

At first, Ecco kept fairly low, getting used to flying before trying to get past the Soaring Hungry One. It felt strange to travel through the Dry Side as he could travel through the sea as a Singer; flapping was different from swimming, and constantly falling slightly when he didn't flap was a little disorienting, but aside from that the very idea of going up and down and side to side at will through the Dry Side was strange and fascinating. At one point, he was suddenly pushed up by a current in the air; Ecco tried to make a startled noise that would have turned into a happy one, but only succeeded in soundlessly blowing air out of two nostrils near where his beak met his head. He flapped forward, out of the current, thinking, Of course. The gulls do not sing, so I cannot sing while I'm a gull. Still... being unable to sing aside, I like this. Is this something like the way the flying dolphins feel when they swim through the Sea of the Sky?

Ecco played with flying for some time before again looking at the Soaring Hungry One. He decided that it was time to get past it and the island, and so he approached the island and rose, flying as fast as he could. The Soaring Hungry One spotted him as he passed over the top of the mountain and dove at him; he heard it coming and dove, the instincts of seagullkind helping him by folding his wings back. He hit the water –

– and he was a Singer again. The Soaring Hungry One broke out of its dive after its claws skimmed the surface of the water, and Ecco watched as it circled for a little before flying back to its home. Ecco sang at it as it left. "I won't be your food today, hunter of the Dry Side. I wish you good hunting for your real prey, though." Ecco turned and continued to the east, seeking his old friend.