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The spaceship was thin, long, and sharp with a broad base--not unlike a nail. Purple, blue, green, and yellow danced over the hull wherever the light would hit it. Genn saw no openings, no windows, no portholes, no exhausts, no engines--nothing broke the smooth surface of its seamless hull.

As Genn drove his Gutfish closer, the ship’s hull changed: on its sides grew smooth, bulbous outcroppings and liquid metal slid aside to reveal an arsenal of energy weapons that could easily burn through or pierce the Gutfish’s thick skin.

Genn braced himself and gave the Gutfish free rein to allow it to evade any attack maneuvers. The creature’s muscles tensed underneath Genn as it built up the pressure to launch its armor-piercing spines. Through the symbiotic connection, Genn could feel the Gutfish’s near-ecstatic excitement.

A slight, nagging ache crept into Genn’s nervous system when a telepathic link was established between ship and Gutfish--between pilot and rider. As Genn intensified his tendrils’ grip on the Gutfish, a single word echoed through the telepathic link.

It was the wrong word.

The Gutfish swerved to the right when the spaceship’s weaponry lit up in an intimidating sequence of deadly flashes. Blinding light tore through space where Genn and the Gutfish had been but a moment before. Genn felt the pull and the heat of the energy weapons and drank eagerly from the Gutfish’s adrenaline.

The nail-shaped space ship dove to intercept the Gutfish’s altered course. A battery of cannons protruded from its liquid hull as reeds rise from the water and flashed forth a barrage of deadly light, through which the Gutfish weaved its long, worm-like shape, seemingly without effort.

When the spaceship tore past in complete silence, Genn forced the Gutfish to surrender to the gravity pull of the planet below; the sudden change of course put Genn right behind the nail-shaped spaceship.

The sudden alteration of the Gutfish’s course had confused the hostile pilot: the nail-shaped vessel flew straight and--when Genn and the Gutfish had not turned up where they should--the pilot hesitated for a single moment.

And a single moment was all Genn needed.

With a mighty shock, the Gutfish fired a volley of spines. Each spine was up to twenty feet long and made of chitin strengthened through years of selective breeding. The power behind the salvo made it nearly impossible to track the spines with the naked eye, but Genn knew they would fly true from the moment the Gutfish released them.

The infusion of adrenaline from the Gutfish slowed time for beast and rider; Genn reveled in the joy of anticipating the spines’ interception of the spaceship. His skin burned with excitement and he cried in silence when the full payload penetrated the spaceship’s hull over its entire length.

The nail-shaped spaceship changed course no more, and its weapon systems fell silent as it hurtled through space towards the burning blue star.

The adrenaline levels of the Gutfish fell; it wriggled happily at its perfect kill. Genn let the Gutfish revel in its victory for a moment, but his eyes followed the spaceship as it shot aimlessly through space.

The exchange had fallen through, and Genn would not be able to return to this place. But perhaps he could at least salvage some of the spaceship’s equipment to make up for the loss.

[End]

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