Little Fish Big Fish

John Varley

[...] and Nox, the Midnight Sea. It shimmered in the silvery light. Embedded in the water were nebular drifts of luminescence, cold blue beneath the brighter surface reflections. There were harder, more compact light sources, some a warm yellow and others deep and green.

"The light clouds are colonies of fish about this long."

Chris looked up and found that Hornpipe was walking beside Valiha. Cirocco was holding thumb and finger a few centimeters apart.

They're more like insects, actually, but water-breathing. They're true colonies, with a hive brain like ants or bees. But they don't have a queen. They apparently hold free elections from what I've been able to learn. Complete with primaries and campaigns and propaganda in the form of pheromones released into the water at election time. The winner is allowed to grow to be a meter long and holds office for seven kilorevs. His function is mainly morale. He releases chemicals that keep the hive happy. If the leader is killed, the hive stops eating and dissolves. At the end of the term the hive eats him. Sanest political system I ever saw.
Big Fish Little Fish

And so for day 1371