Helmets came off. Cilia relaxed. Pseudopods morphed into arms and legs. Joni Janders knew the Microsian… knew her well. The paramecium-ride over from the colony had bonded them. But the man in front of her, this James Ford… he was a mystery. Suddenly her osmotic diving suit felt uncomfortably revealing.
The ship rocked beneath her feet. A near-yet-muffled report of something striking the hull accompanied ship-wide alarms.
“What the hell is going out there?!” barked Captain Dylan Cobb from the command deck.
At his elbow, Joni Janders felt her jaw slacken… but it wasn’t the size of the paramecium that evoked dismay. No, it was something else – someone else. There, in the light of the ship’s nose lamp, a humanoid figure was clearly visible astride the whale-scaled protozoan, gripping some kind of riding tack with pseudopod hands. At the end of a long curved neck, a bulbous head swiveled left, then right, and the Microsian’s single red photosensitive eyespot pulled apart into two eyes, then gazed for an instant across half millimeter of aquatic micro-space at Joni.