The horse reared back on its hind legs, pistoning the front hooves just inches above the snout of a Nall warrior named Ralk of Hatch Kavir.

Heavy shadows danced along the pebbled flesh of the warrior’s snout as he cradled the plasma rifle, coils burning hot and ready to open fire. Several of his comrades lay trampled on the stone floor of the planetoid cavern.

The Light Singer never said anything about a horse.

Ralkkavir hadn’t seen one in the flesh before. This would’ve been the last place he would ever expect to do so, on some forgotten pirate outpost in the wilds of Hiverspace. Yet here it was, carrying a human rider and stomping his comrades to death.

And he would be next, if he failed to act. More Nall warriors scrambled down the ramp from the transport behind him. Ralk wouldn’t suffer this beast to survive long enough to hurt any more of his comrades.

A clawed finger tugged on the trigger. Surprisingly little recoil to the Atasuin Sundagger plasma rifle, especially after seeing so much use on Kamsho without access to a lot of spare parts for maintenance.

With an agonized squeal, the horse toppled over, nearly crushing the rider.

Ralk felt grim satisfaction as he watched the beast die. That soon faded, though, as the human drew his blades and rose in a fury to storm toward him. The softskin’s outrage impressed.

He almost didn’t feel the end when it came.