“What are you even doing here?” I asked angrily, maybe to hide my embarrassment. “Why’d you come back here?”
“I didn’t,” the other me replied. “This is my time, Frank. The quantum instability threw Tilly’s calculations off. You’re in your future.”
“Our future?” I repeated to buy myself sometime. Could what she’s saying…what he’s saying…could it be true? Could we be in our own future? Could Tilly have missed the mark? I had to admit that the answer was of course it could. “Can we go back?”
The other me shook her head. “Not yet. You still have a job to do.”
“Job? What job?”
“The Xian need your help.”
“Our help? Why can’t you help?”
The other me smiled, as if she were proud to get one over on me. “I already did.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Jamal asked. “And where the hell am I? Where are the rest of us? Why are you the only one here?”
The other me shook her head. “I can’t tell you that. I shouldn’t tell you this either, but I did to me, so I guess it’s ok for me to tell you.”
“Right,” Jamal said. “That makes sense.”
“So what are you even doing here?” I asked.
The other me took a bottle from out of her pocket. “I’m here to give you this.” She tossed it to me which I easily caught.
“What are these?”
My other replied, “Nanite pill. They’ll make it so you can breath outside this room. It may hurt for a few seconds as the nanites adapt to the new atmosphere.”
I shook the bottle in my hand, listening to the pills bounce around. “Why are there only two?”
“One for you, One for Doc. Tilly and Jamal don’t need them. They already have the upgrade.”
“When did my father get an upgrade?” Tilly gave us all the stink eye, but her glare sat on her father. Even as a dinosaur, the man had trouble standing up to it.
“I don’t think now’s the best time, sweetie. Let’s just say I was given shot by someone I trust to help me adapt to this body, ok?”
Mathilda wasn’t happy with that answer, but the other me didn’t give her the chance to speak. I could tell future me was growing impatient. “Just take the pills, Frank. If you’re going to help these people out, you need to take it. You’ll never become me without it.”
I didn’t like taking pills when I didn’t know where they had come from. I certainly didn’t like putting strange tech into me. Not that this would be the first time. But the pills came from a future version of me, so I swallowed the pill and gave the other to Doc. If I couldn’t trust myself, who could I trust?
The Xian led us out of the chamber room. We all gagged and coughed as we breathed in the Xianic atmosphere, but slowly we adjusted. As future me had predicted, we were able to breath it with the help from the nanites. When we entered the bridge, Jamal’s impatience got the better of him. “Ok. Enough of this. Why don’t you tell us what you want with us.”
“We are under attack,” the Xian explained. “We are being attacked from the inside. Our soldiers are being turned against us.”
“Turned? How?” I asked.
The Xian replied, “We do not know. It is happening too quickly. We had to run. They are turning Xian. We need non-Xian to fight it.”
“You think it’s biological?” Doc asked.
“We don’t know. We haven’t been able to capture a turned Xian, but we hope that the infection process is based on our biology. It just has to be.”
I turned to the other me. “And you solved this?”
She shook her head. “No can do. You know I can’t tell you anything. Time paradoxes. In fact, I should be going. We should be passing by Earth by now. I have to go. I have my own work that needs to be done.” I wanted to say something to her. I felt like I had to. She was me, another me, a future me. How could I just let her walk away? But the other me didn’t seem to have the same reservations. She just turned and walked out of the room. I guess it was easier for her. She had already been through it. She knew her part was over.
“As soon as she is clear, we must leave as well,” the Xian said. “We will be heading into hyperspace and will soon after be in Xianic space.”
Jamal snorted. “So much for stopping back home, huh?”
to be continued…