Spegg recoiled from the gun as it clattered on the concrete floor.

“Saiyaku!” He scowled, then his ghastly, giant fish lips rolled back and he spit a glob of white paste at the pistol. “Get that terrible thing away from me.”

I paused, tilting my head, then stepped on the gun and inched it toward him.

“Gah,” Spegg protested, batting his translucent green arms in the direction of the weapon.

I slid the gun back and bent over cautiously to collect it. I wasn’t sure what to make of the thing in front of me, much less the fact that he had no business being here, some 650 million light years from the source of the transmission, and 176 years in the past.

In the transmissions I received, the pilot of the ship, Maxim Akihiko Broussad, called Spegg violent, dangerous… a saboteur. And he further instructed anyone who came into contact with him to “dissolve” him.

But I didn’t get it. Spegg took the time to bury a dead man, then backed away, terrified, of a weapon well within his grasp. He didn’t seem too friendly, but he didn’t seem dangerous or violent. He looked scared. Almost childlike.

I took a leap of faith and holstered the pistol. “Let me help you up,” I said, and extended my hand.

Spegg took it. He got up, and with a ear-splitting shriek, yanked me forward and drove his elbow into my skull. Stunned, I collapsed into the broken glass. Spegg leaped on me and dug a knee in my chest.

“Chikushou,” he sneered, and closed his icy hand around my throat. I struggled, but his grip was strong, and his wicked, bulging, black eyes were the last thing I saw before I lurched into darkness.