“Joni, stop! Don’t do it! They don’t understand! No, Joni… NO!!!”
Before his eyes the disaster unfolded in slow-motion. Jas Ford was too distant to stop her, too far away to intercept the sweeping arc of Joni’s scimitar. Time crawled. Jas watched in horror, unable to look away as Joni Janders pulled the blade along a deadly radius.
At the last instant the Scylex warrior spun to face the enraged human and met her scythe with a look of anger-turned-surprise. The point easily separated membrane and cytoskeleton. Ichor-like cytoplasm billowed from the horrible torso-length gash in amber clouds of liberated organelles. The Microsian’s bisected nucleus spilled its milky trove of genetic code into the cold, dark water.
A microorganism is dead, but using those words didn’t diminish the moment – Jas Ford knew that he and his crew had just done what they had sworn not to do; they had taken a life for a life, and in doing so, brought calamity and horror to paradise.
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.