Private end of the hunt

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Amanda Ripley

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November 4th
@William Hudson

In that moment, she didn't know whether she was dead or alive, drifting motionlessly out into the blackness of space, with only the suit to protect her. Voices and memories flashed through her mind, flickering like dying stars. She saw Samuels, Taylor, Axel. Three deaths along hundreds more that should never have happened, ones she would never forget. She heard her mother, saw her face - a face that she could now only ever see in her dreams - or nightmares. Telling Amanda she loved her, and not to give up, that she would survive this.

And then, from the darkness, the most godawful scream sounded, and two rows of sharp, white teeth emerged, primed and ready...

Ripley woke with a jolt, heavy limbs clawing and kicking the air as she tried to escape from the imaginary alien. Fuck fuck fuck--

It took her a moment to realise she was still inside the spacesuit and that she was alone, and... grounded? How had that happened? She rose slowly, weighted down by her gear. Wary green eyes peered out from behind the helmet as she tried to catch her breath.
 
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“WHOOOOOOOOO!” Hudson shrieked as he bombed all over the place on a flyin’ motorbike that had no wheels, man, the engine buzzing away like a whole herd of bees.

He’d rented the bike out from a lil’ store in Elysium called “Spencer’s Speeders” to explore more of the Cosmic Wilderness in style. He was always comin’ up here on his days off to chill out and pick up hot chicks, though weirdly, he hadn’t had much success with that last one.

Hudson spun the bike around and whizzed off with another howled “WHOOOOOOOOO”. Somebody in a bigass spacesuit was standing right in his path. Oh, shit! He was gonna slam into ‘em if he didn’t think fast, man! They’d splatter all over him like a fuckin’ spacebug on a starship canopy!

“FUUUUUUUUUCK!” he screamed, jerking on the handlebars of the bike.

Hudson veered off before he could smash into the spaceperson, but the sharpness and suddenness of his move caused the bike to swing steeply to one side. He was dumped on the hard ground. He’d waved off the recommended helmet and safety gear in favor of a camo tank top and matching pair of cargo pants, so the fall hurt like a fuckin’ bitch. Oh, man!

The impact jounced off his ballcap, which tumbled over to the spaceperson’s feet.
 
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Amanda Ripley

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Ripley squinted into the distance, the helmet of the spacesuit fogging over as she tried to catch her breath. She wouldn’t have much luck as something, or someone, suddenly came speeding out of the distance. Great – she’d survived Sevastopol only to be flattened by some reckless fucking idiot.

Images of that thing racing towards her flashed through her mind, and she fought to say calm. Gotta get moving...

However, it seemed that they did have brains after all, as the bike violently steered clear of her, at the cost of throwing the driver from it. Ripley, who had herself let out a yell and tried to move out of the way, now watched as the man crashed to the ground, his helmet or whatever bouncing to her feet. She shook her head as she saw what he was wearing; he was lucky he wasn’t dead.

'Well, I won’t be much help in this', Ripley thought as she pulled off her helmet, and, with some effort, wriggled out of her suit. She was still wearing her jumpsuit underneath, which had the words A. Ripley emblazoned on the left side, just above her chest.

“Hey…” Ripley started awkwardly, crouching down near the man, hoping to God he wasn’t actually dead (Jesus did she regret thinking that). He was breathing, thankfully. “I’d say you should be more careful, but I think we’re way past that point now. Can you stand up?”
 
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Hudson was in too much fuckin’ pain and surprise to scramble to his feet, so remained sprawled on the ground. The spacewoman who he’d nearly splatted was stripping in front of him. H’oh, man. He must’ve already died in that crash and gone to fuckin’ heaven.

Except it was more like sexually frustrated hell, ‘cos she left on her jumpsuit. The name, A. Ripley, stood out above her titties, and Hudson realized why her face looked real familiar to him.

Holy shit. Ripley. That was the name of the shouty, sour faced chick who’d tagged along with ‘em to that backwards ass colony on that dirtball rock. Was this chick the same Ripley, but zapped into this dimension after she’d had a lil’ plastic surgery? A. Ripley. What the fuck had been her first name? Had she even given it to ‘em?

Hudson had always been lousy at remembering first names. Man, he couldn’t even remember the ones of the people in his unit, except Hicks’s ‘cos they’d use to laugh at it. Dwayne. That was a fuckin’ pussy’s name, man, like Terrence or Julian.

“A. Ripley” was probably just a relative, though. That made the most sense, though shit making sense wasn’t this weirdass fuckball world’s strong point.

Her question prompted Hudson to heft himself to his feet. He felt a lil’ sore and battered as though he’d gone three drunken rounds with Drake or Vasquez, and lost, but he’d put up with way worse in active duty.

“I wipe my ass on “careful”, Miss Ripley’s Sister,” he boasted, snatching up his ballcap and stuffing it back on his head. “I didn’t feel fuckin’ nothang with my big steel balls!”
 
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He managed to stand, and Ripley followed him, eyeing him warily. She was already tense from being dumped god knows where, and nearly getting killed in the process was, somehow, not helping her mood.

The brunette rolled her eyes at his show of bravado, but froze mid-roll. She ignored his further boasting and looked at him sharply. “What did you just say?” Ripley’s tone was harsh, direct, but underneath, there was faint sound of hope. It didn’t take her long to realise he’d seen her name on her jumpsuit. “Ripley. You know someone else with that name?”
 
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“I said I wipe my ass on careful,” he replied. “I didn’t feel nothang with my- Right. You mean the name. Yeah, but she ain’t here.”

Oh, man. He sure would have preferred having her around instead of that twitchy, goat faced bastard. She probably would’ve got it all figured out what they were doing in this butt crack of a place, too, then given ‘em the option to go back to that colony. (No, thanks. He chose life.)

“It was back when I was in the Colonial Marines. Oorah,” he added. “Aka Team of Ultimate Badasses. This Ripley chick tagged along with us on a bug hunt an’ wound up saving our asses from these double dick headed bastards.”

He broke off to check out if he’d done any damage to the bike, which was sprawled on its side from where it had skidded a dozen feet away from ‘em. Man, he would lose his fuckin’ deposit if it had so much as a fuckin’ scratch.
 
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Ripley kept her eyes on him; was he really talking about her? He knew her? Of all the places she’d meet someone who did, it would be after being dumped god knows where.

He mentioned that he had been a Colonial Marine, and that’s how he’d met this woman who just so happened to share her surname, though, to Ripley's disappointment, she wasn't here.

Any doubt that they were possibly from the same sort of place went out of her mind at the mention of…of them. Ripley’s face dropped and her breath hitched at the mention of them; she didn’t need much of explanation to know it was those things.

“I uh…give me a sec,” Ripley wheezed out, her face becoming clammy. She forced herself to breathe deeply, squeezing her eyes shut.

The woman. Right.

“Ripley…did you get her name…uh, I mean, her first name?”
 
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One of the handlebars had got a lil’ bent on the bike, while spindly scratches and small, deep dents covered its frame in a haphazard pattern.

“Oh, maaan!” Hudson moaned out and grabbed at his forehead.

They wouldn't just steal his deposit, but hand him the fuckin’ repair bill. Oh, man. Oh, man. Oh, maaan. This was the end of the fuckin’ world.

Hudson was too wrapped up in his own shit to notice Miss Ripley's Sister’s distress until she asked him a question. Man, she looked how he fuckin’ felt with her clammy, pasty face.

“Don’t think your sister ever did give her name, miss,” he replied. “All I know is she escaped these evil stinkin’ bugs and lived in a freezer for fifty years until a salvage crew fished her outta space.”

Hudson had got that info from the report they’d sent ‘round to everybody on the Sulaco, which had been written by the original Ripley. He’d skimmed over the first paragraph before swapping it out with a skin mag. Yeah, baby. Yeah.

“Man, I wish somebody would send me out to space to live in a freezer,” he whined. “Look at the fuckin’ damage on this bike! They’re gonna bleed me dry at the rental!”
 
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He wasn’t listening, focused on that stupid bike he didn’t seem capable of driving in the first place. He managed to focus for a second to answer her. “Fifty years…? Salvage crew?” Ripley swayed on her feet. “She didn’t die…she was lost…” Mom.

She took a breath, sniffing. She could think about all this later, right now she needed to be strong. Or act it. Not like she hadn’t been doing it her entire life. “Hey – uh…” She trailed off, realising she didn’t know his name. "I know mechanics. I can fix up your bike, it’ll look brand new. The rental will never know.”

She didn’t like this approach, but it might be the only way to get some sense out of him, and find out more about the woman she was sure was Ellen Ripley.
 
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Hope and relief boosted up Hudson’s gloomy, doomed mood. Her offer was like the spare drop ship from the Sulaco landing smoothly in front of him.

He stared at Miss Ripley’s Sister with starry, pleading eyes. “Oh, man! You will?”

Hang on a second. Most people didn’t do these things outta the kindness of their fuckin’ hearts. She wanted somethang in return. The deposit once he got it back off the rental?

Or maybe this was a clever fuckin’ scam? She could fix up his bike as good as new, but only after he’d paid two, three, five times as much as they would’ve charged him at the rental.

Hudson pressed his lips together and frowned at the woman. “What’s the catch, Miss Ripley’s Sister? Is this one of those good twin, evil twin moments? ‘Cos I always figured the other Ripley was the good one.”
 
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Ripley rolled her eyes, though she kind of didn’t blame him for being so paranoid, if where he said he’d come from was true. Taking a breath, she shook her head, “No, listen. There’s no catch…and definitely nothing like that.”

Was this worth the risk? She doubted it, but it could be another Ripley. There wasn’t even proof it had been her. She’d already made her mind up anyway.

“If I help you so the rental place doesn’t come for your ass, will you tell more about this Ripley woman? I…” Ripley paused, swallowing thickly. “I think it might have been my mother who you met.”
 
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“Oh, man! Really?” Hudson yelled, his eyes bugging out his head. “She looked real good for her age to be someone’s mom, unless you’ve aged real badly. Are you, like, thirteen?”

There had been that big scandal in the early 2100s, where hormones used to speed up puberty had sped it up too damn much. A generation of twelve year old kids had wound up looking like your great grandparents.

Hudson didn’t know fuck all about Ripley Jr.’s mom. With those stinkin’ bugs runnin’ ‘round that dirtshit rock, did Ripley Jr. really expect him to have gotten the time to grab a coffee with her mom and listen to her fuckin’ life history? Even if it’d been another straightforward rescue-the-dumbass-colonists-from-a-natural-disaster mission, her mom with her long, cut the bullshit face and low hanging ovaries voice wouldn’t have been the type of chick he’d want to befriend, or fuck.

But if he didn’t have anythang else left to tell Ripley Jr. about her mom, she wouldn’t help him and then the rental would take all his fuckin’ money. Hudson guessed he could make shit up and hope Ripley Jr. believed him…

“Yeah, it’s a deal, baby,” he agreed.

He spat on the calloused palm of his hand, then offered it to her to shake.
 
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Amanda Ripley

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She gave him a pointed look, eyes hardening at how he spoke of her mother and the question. “Do I look or even sound thirteen?” She'd vaguely heard of the incident Hudson was thinking of, but even she was sure she didn't look like a rapidly aged middle school kid.

Ripley waited for his reply to her offer; even if he didn't have much, it might still give her an idea of what happened to mom. Samuels' words echoed back to her, "I wanted to give Amanda Ripley closure." Damnit. They hadn't known each other long, but he'd gone the hell out of his way to give her what she'd desperately needed - and died in the process. This didn't mean she wasn't incredibly grateful to him; hell, without him, she wouldn't have even known her mom got into...into some trouble. And why she never came back.

She looked at his outstretched, spit covered hand and, surprisingly, didn't reciprocate, merely giving an inclination of her head.

“It's appreciated,” she looked at the bike and her discarded spacesuit. Just looking at it made her breath catch in her throat, but leaving it would be a waste, and maybe foolish. She had no idea if all of the air out here was breathable, though marine guy didn't seem that assed. Still, if he was willing to risk his life over a bike...

“Are you able to carry that? I need to pick up that spacesuit, and somehow, find tools.”
 
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Oh, man. A question like that was just calling out to his trollish nature.

Hudson cracked a big gap toothed grin, his eyes wide with expectation. “I dunno. Some thirteen year olds develop real fast, lil’ Ripley Jr..”

He didn’t cram the joke down her throat, though, ‘cos then she might get pissy and refuse to fix up his bike after all. She showed herself as uptight when she didn’t take his spit soaked hand. What the fuck was her problem? It wasn’t jizz, lady.

Hudson let his hand thwack back down to his side, before glancing between the bike and the environment suit. Man, that space frock of hers looked like a real antique. She was better off leavin’ it here and givin’ it to the wildlife to use as an inflatable castle, but he figured she was even too uptight to take his helpful advice.

“How about we kill two weasels with one big ass rock, Ms Ripley Jr.?” he suggested.

Hudson hefted up the frumpy, old fashioned environment suit into his arms, then slung it over the back of the bike. He could push both along wherever the fuck they needed to go to pick up tools.

“You got a dropship or somethang nearby?” he asked. “Oh, man. You didn’t spacedive out a fuckin’ starship, did you? Why the fuck don’t you look like a black piece of toast?”
 
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Amanda Ripley

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She bit back a retort, but found her irritation subsiding somewhat as he picked up her suit himself, laying it over the bike.

“I hate to disappoint you with the fact I'm very much alive…but I just got here. I don’t know how, or why. Last thing I remember…there was an explosion, and I was…drifting into space.” The less said about before, the better. She side-eyed him, “Do you know where we are?” He’d zoomed in so fast, it looked like he didn’t even care where he was going.
 
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“Oh, man,” Hudson said as he pushed along the battered bike. “You must’ve drifted through a tear in the space time continuum to end up here.”

Hudson didn’t know what the fuck that meant, but it sounded pretty smart to him. He figured the same thing had happened to him that time he’d got pulled through the floor on Hadley’s Hope and wound up in a fuckin’ grocery store with giant rat fuck and Eiffel Tower bitch.

“This whole place is called Pandora, Ms Ripley Jr.,” he replied. “I think we’re in the Elysium part, but that bike ride made me lose track of the way geography works.”
 
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