Vincent recoiled in near horror. The name tripped circuits in his brain that for some reason had kept him from seeing it before. He stumbled backwards, loosing his balance due to the hand clasping his ankle tightly and falling backwards onto his haunches roughly.

Now it all came slamming in on him in crystal clarity, the female half of the face, the hair, the frame, it all looked so obvious now, now that that simple word had been uttered. Thorindal… The female portion of this strange creature before him bore an almost identical appearance to his lover, Riana. The only differences were the color of the hair and eyes. Riana’s were dark purple and violet respectively, but this strange creature’s female features were very different in color, being icy, pale blue. How could this be? How could this strange person that was smuggled into his ship seemingly be transforming into a virtual clone of his Riana?

“The hell are you?!” he finally managed as he yanked har on his restrained leg. The hand encircling his ankle felt like a vise, although he was able, with no small degree of discomfort, to wrench it free. Scrambling back, away from the person, until his back came into contact with the rough hewn stone wall of the corridor. He tightened his grip on his pistol and , bracing his back against the rough wall, slid himself to a standing position, bringing th weapon to bear on the person once more.

“…thooriinndaaal…” The raspy, half male, half female voice said again. As the person attempted to ge their arms beneath them and push themselves up from the metal deck plates of the floor, but their hands slipped out form underneath them in the slick pool of blood and hydraulic fluid and they smashed down face first into the deck again.

“What about Thorindal? Who are you? How do you know her?” Vincent quickly reloaded his pistol as he spoke, never taking his eyes off the heap of a person on the floor in front of him.

“…thorindaaal, did thissss to meeeeee…” The disturbing voice issued forth again, grating down Vincent’s spine like a sharp metal implement.

“No chance. She wouldn’t… even if she knew how…. You’re seriously sick… Let me get you a cyber-doc…”

“NOOOOOO” The mixed voice screamed suddenly as the figure unexpectedly launched themselves to their feet and lunged across the short distance to where Vincent was still propped against the wall.

Vincent partially dodged to the side, catching a glancing blow from the figure’s right fist. The blow fell on him like a hammer, even as a partial connection, spinning him around on his feet and forcing him to stagger again to catch his balance. Before he could retaliate, the creature had launched itself at him once more, arms stretched out in front of hit in an attempt to encircle his neck.

On instinct, he ducked under their hands and rolled forward, bowling them over as he rolled through, knocking their legs off the floor. He didn’t excape without a scratch though, as he caught one of the creature’s feet in the small of his back. The impact sent him sprawling face first, his gun skittering across the floor as his hand reflexively released it to save his face from the floor.

Vincent moved as fast as he could, rolling to the side and kicking out with his feet for elevation. He kipped up onto his feet and jumped back again, putting more distance between himself and the stranger. Glancing around for his pistol, he saw that it had somehow gone the other direction and was now on the floor, some fifteen feet away, with the stranger between him and it.

Grudgingly he reached around behind his back and slipped his bolt caster out of its holster there, bringing the massive, two inch bore to bear on his opponent.

“You……know… thooorinndaaal….” The person hissed as they tried to get back to their feet again, slipping and siding in the spilled fluids.

“That’s between she and I. Now, this bolt caster is loaded with traditional shells. Which means we’re both in a lot of trouble if it goes off. But I have family and friends here, and I won’t let you hurt them, so now would be a great time to call off all this nonsense and wrap up the day on a high note.”

“Thorindaaal, mussst paaayyy!!!” the person screamed as they launched themselves at him again.

Vincent was ready for it this time, he juked to the right, bringing his elbow down on the person’s neck as they dove past him.  He brought his elbow down with nearly his full body weight behind it, saving only enough to not put himself on the floor again. His arm screamed out at him as it collided with the metal bones and toughened skin of the person, but the result was still to his liking, the creature, toppled face first into the deck again, sliding to a stop some ten feet away.

Snatching the opportunity, Vincent dove forward, snapping up his pistol midway through a sommersault. He roled to his feet and spun around to face the recovering person as they were staggering back to their knees.

“yeah. I know her. We’re good friends Riana and I. And I’ll be DAMNED if I am going to let the likes of you get after her. Whatever you re!”  Then he raised his bolt caster’s massive barrel toward the mangled pressure door and pulled the trigger. The small cannon belched with a jerk of his arm and the huge projectile collided with the door an instant later, resulting in an explosion that shook the whole asteroid. When the dust began to clear, Vincent pulled himself to his feet, doing his best to ignore the piercing klaxons and sirens going off all around him all of a sudden.

Quickly he holsterd his pistol and  tapped his comm. “Frank, you there?”

“I’m here Vin. What the hell as that?” Frank’s voice rasped across the circuit.

“Old school.” Vincent chirped back into the comm. as he watched his adversary pulling themselves back to their feet again, this time from underneath a small pile of mangled deck and ceiling plates, and a quarter ton of rocky debris. With a flick of his thumb, the barrel of the bolt caster popped open, dropping forward away from the handle on a hinge, allowing him to see clear through the weapon. Quickly he stripped another hand-grenade sized round from his shoulder harness and dropped it soundly into the back of the weapon. “I need you to clear out ‘g’ sector and set me up for a ‘Suicide Scottie’ in airlock 12a.”

The line was disturbingly silent for a long moment. With a jerk of h is wrist, Vincent flipped the barrel of his weapon closed with a resounding click. The stranger was back on their feet now, leaning heavily against the pulverized wall for balance. Finally Frank’s voice came back over the comm..

“Vin… What the hell are you into over there?”

“Stop stalling and do it Frank! I don’t have time for this.” He was backing down the hallway toward the now-missing pressure door, the angry stranger staggering after him in a broken, labored gait.

“Shit… Alright. I need sixty seconds to clear out the sector.” Frank’s mind was obviously made up now.

“That’s more like it Frank. Ive me a fifteen second count down.” Vincent tried his best not to trip over any of the rubble and debris in the hallway as he backed through the ex-doorway into a large room that was filled with shipping crates similar to the one that had started this mess.

As he slowly backed through the room, the stranger staggered after him, seething out loud about the unfairness of its miserable existence. Vincent slowly unfurled a short lanyard from his belt and clipped it onto the handle of his gun, attaching the weapon to him securely.

“…kiillll thoooriinnndaaaal….” They muttered as they advanced on him.

Vincent’s back came up against the far wall of the room and he set his back against it, raising the bolt caster, and pointing it at the on-coming person, now less then twenty feet from him and still slowly advancing.

“Fifteen seconds.” Frank’s voice echoed through the comm..

“It’s going to be close…” Vincent murmured  under his breath.

The misshapen person staggered forward, fifteen feet away. “Killll thoorriiinaaall…”

“Ten seconds…” Came Frank’s voice.

It was now barely more than ten feet away. Vincent leveled the weapon at the person’s deformed head.

“Five seconds…”

“Thoooriinnnndaaaallll…”

“…three…”

Five feet. Vincent began to sweat as he reached his left hand toward the small control panel on his right forearm.

“…two…”

The person was no more than three feet away, its face mere inches from the barrel of Vincent’s weapon. In a burst of speed, Vincent ducked under the person’s grasping hands and rolled to the left. Bringing up his weapon, he tapped the control on his sleeve, causing the gloves and helmet to grow up out of his clothing. With his other hand he took aim at the far wall of the room and pulled the trigger.

The stranger reacted almost instantly, diving after him as he rolled.

“…one…”

It began to wrap its fingers around his ankle again as his helmet sealed itself, locking him into his own, private environment, and the projectile launched from his weapon slammed into the far wall of the room, latching into the stone there, the thin cable that had paid out behind it suddenly growing taut as the slack was pulled out.

“…now!”

Suddenly the room turned into a nightmare. The wall they were laying against suddenly cracked open and swung outward, exposing the room to the vacuum of space. In a flash the air began rushing out of the room, jerking them both violently along with it. Shipping crates broke loose from their anchors and moorings and rushed out into space as Vincent hung on to his weapon for dear life. The cable snapped taut as he was yanked out into space, he was sure his hand had at the very least been sprained, but he held on for all he was worth. The stranger gripped his ankle more tightly, refusing to let the torrent break their connection.

He knew he had to act before the air rush was over, and there was only so much in the sector, so he made up his mind, let go of his bolt caster, causing him to spin around violently as the safety lanyard snapped taut, and reached for his holstered pistol. With precision born from years of practice, he drew the weapon and took aim at the hitch-hiker, squeezing off round after round into its head as they spun on the end of the line, but they refused to let go.

The magazine was emptied, the person’s face was now a mangled landscape of bloody craters and holes, but still they hung on. That was all he had left, he couldn’t reach his clips to reload his weapon and his bolt caster was occupied keeping him attached to the asteroid. He was exhausted, broken and the air was nearly gone from the sector by now.

Unheard in the weakening torrent of air however, a final crate had broken loose of the deck and as they spun in space, the shipping container clipped the stranger bodily, tearing them from Vincent’s leg and launching them out into the cold vacuum.