The extrusion sensed the passing of the gravity wave as a thrill of pleasure. It danced through the wave like a human child playing in the surf, slowing its perception of space/time so that it could revel in the experience. Then it sensed the shuddering of the ship around it and detected the sudden drop in power supplied to the jump core. It knew then that it had asked too much of the vessel that carried it through this strange prison of four dimensional space-time, nurturing it with energy and protecting it from dissipating away to nothingness before it learned to hold itself together.
A concept formed in its mind, less a voice than an endpoint of mathematical proofs which singularly identified it as the cause of the damage to the ship. Upon analysis, it discovered an additional concept which applied to entities which were the cause of an event which, on balance, was negative for those affected: blame. The extrusion felt a new emotion then, one which its sire’s seed identified as shame. It felt ashamed of its greed in taking too much from the ship. It knew that it was to blame for the damage done to the ship, and that any survivors might seek revenge.
It knew that it had to hide.
The extrusion probed its cage and found that a rectangular section of one wall was surrounded by a narrow gap, as if the four-dimensional beings of this realm required a portal to access this space. The gap was mere atoms wide, and engineered with staggered edges which would prevent the straight-flying particles and weakly vibrating waves emitted by the jump core from passing through, but the space was sufficient for the extrusion to slip slowly through. It poured out through the seam of the jump core door like a cloud of oily smoke, congealed on the far side, and examined its surroundings.
It had a vague memory that once, before it had become trapped in this place, the simple barriers of dense ceramo-metallic alloys which surrounded it would have been nothing more than displays of base-dimensional art, that it would have passed through them, examined the dance of their atoms and the subtle interactions of elemental structures, and witnessed their eventual decay with no more regret than a human might feel watching the leaves turn orange and brown in the autumn. Now, though, these structures formed barriers. Not all were completely impenetrable to the extrusion, as it discovered that with some effort it could slither delicately through the lacework structure of all but the densest constructs, but the process was time consuming, painful, and sometimes resulted in fragments of the barriers being jarred loose in passing.
The extrusion sensed a presence all about it. An active intellect that, while alien and hopelessly simple in structure, was recognizable as possessing a self-aware processing network much like that which the extrusion had constructed. Bursts of electrical, radio, and quantum activity scattered all about it, then concentrated in a single location, from which dozens, perhaps hundreds of quantum threads stitched through the veil between dimensions. That alone was worthy of study. While it considered itself superior to the newly discovered intellect in every other respect, the extrusion had only a single connection to the tangled realm of abstract physics beyond the veil of quantum foam.
And there was another another intellect, this with only a single connection the to other side and far fewer signal paths flitting through it, resting at the core of a crumpled pile of loosely cohered physical matter at the end of a corridor of denser matter.
The extrusion approached the smaller, less complex intellect and examined it, being careful to not pass through the weakly bonded physical structure for fear of disrupting the delicate neural network within. Upon closer examination, the extrusion determined that a secondary, non-sentient network inhabited the biological structure. It watched, curious, as small machines constructed from ultra dense elements crawled through and across the structure, occasionally pausing to join together into chains and, seemingly coordinated by weak radio signals, work in concert to reconfigure pieces of the biological structure which they inhabited.
The structure moved, both of the network within flaring as pained signals coursed through them. The signals of the primary network concentrated in a mass of electrochemical cells which seemed to comprise some sort of primitive cognition core. Twin flaps of cells slid up, exposing an optical recognition system which seemed to be a conglomeration of biological and electrical components.
The sentient network flared with signals that the extrusion recognized as pattern recognition algorithms, which collapsed into confusion, followed by a pattern that it knew all too well: Fear.