With a sudden start, Geoff twitched his tail, and the day began. It began like all the days had before, when the GlowStar above flicked on with a loud CLICK, and light shone down into the waters, driving darkness into only the small recesses of the ClawRuins.
Around him, Geoff’s family, brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and kin, schooled around in their usual groupings. The youngest confined to the quiet waters of the Greenery, while the most daring swam directly against The Flow. Most, however were content to idle and float in the sheltered overhang of ClawRuins, since light meant they were safe for another day. They nibbled at the algae, and waited for the sprinkling of mana from the Dry Heavens to arrive for their breakfast.
Today, however, there was no breakfast. The Dry Heavens were silent, save that first Click of light, and the low rumble of great somethings moving in the distance.
Geoff did not feel concerned though. Some days, the food did not arrive until later, when the Dry Heavens grew brighter, and then dimmed again. Food would arrive for dinner, before the Click of night, when the GlowStar extinguished itself again. Until then, there was ample algae, and the possibility of weaker fry if he was truly hungry.
So Geoff did what he always did, on days like this. He swam into the current, frolicked against the filter, letting it’s intake tease and tug his tail. None of the other guppies understood this habit, but it did not bother Geoff too much. Their loss, right?
Of course, none of the other guppies had Geoff’s long and elegant orange tail either. Geoff was unique in the school, for being one of two special guppies. Born with vibrant colors and twice the size of the others, Geoff and Geordi ruled the tank, and it’s otherwise unassuming grey denizens. No one knew why those two were so different, or why such size was not more common, but for most guppies, they didn’t care.
Geoff was the largest, his tail warm reds and fiery orange, with glittering gold streaks down his flank. But Geoff was a bit strange, so not nearly as popular as he might have been. His habit of sitting against the filter, letting his tail get sucked against it’s ridges was disturbing, since so many small fry had been lost to that same suction every birthing. His careless attitude and dismissal of the ClawBeast went against instinct.
That was the lesson Geoff was about to learn that day….
* * *
Midday came silent and serene, like most days. The Dry Heavens were at their brightest, and while no food had fallen, Geoff was content. He had found a particularly tasty scrap of algae, nestled in the cracks of the ruins, and was nibbling away, as his tail flicked in the gentle current. Beside him, two nameless cousins ate, their size enabling them to get the lusher green in the deep recesses, when suddenly one of them was gone.
Too fast for logic, too swift for thought, and far too quick to react, a blur of white and rust-red flashed out into the crevice and one guppy was gone, leaving only two small scales that hung in that moment, suspended where it once was.
In a panic, as that split-second stretched out to eternity, Geoff looked up. The other small cousin was turned tail and vanishing with distance, but the one who first vanished was there. There, the guppy-who-was, hung above him, pierced by a giant claw, which itself was attached to a rust-red monstrosity larger than Geoff had ever imagined something living to be.
It’s eye stalks gleamed darkly, staring at the small guppy it held, as it’s claws pulled its catch towards the beast’s horrible mandibles. Geoff’s eyes turned then from the claw that held his once-cousin, to a second claw. Twice, no, three times larger, and gleaming white, that claw was raised in idleness, but so close that the orange ripples of Geoff’s fin were brushing against it. The crab was intent on it’s catch for now, but that wouldn’t last long.
Geoff snapped out of his inaction, and flicked his tail Hard. His gills working overtime as he swam away in panic. Then in fear. Then in concern. Then, finally in irritation.
The crab existed, now undeniable fact, instead of myth. Geoff had escaped, but his cousin was not as lucky, and that angered the fiery-tailed guppy. He was the biggest fish in this tank.
but now he had a nemesis to counter.
Life would never be the same.