I felt horrible as we climbed back to the surface. We had accomplished nothing. The alien we had met seemed like he knew something. I thought I was starting to get there, starting to get him to talk, and then the Xian came and “rescued” us. Now, the alien was dead and they had erased his information. As we boarded, the Xian ship, I thought about what the alien had said. He had warned me about the Xian. He had told me that they had been the ones who had killed his people. They must have been the corrupted Xian, the ones who had been turned. They had come back here, for what? I don’t know, but they didn’t want anyone to find out. We’d have to go back down there, I decided. As soon as we were recovered. There had to be something to find.
We docked with the abandoned alien ship. Though it didn’t seem to be the same alien as the one we had just killed. Where had this ship come from? How many races were tied into all of this. I was ready to ask Doc about what they had found, but she didn’t let me. “Where have you been? I’ve been so worried!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. Why was she acting so weird? “We just followed the source of the beacon.”
“That was 2 days ago!”
“2 days?” That didn’t make any sense. How could that be true? “He must’ve had us knocked out for all that time, studying us.”
“Asleep?” Jennifer frowned. Her concerned to vanish quickly, replaced with a stoic seriousness. “It shouldn’t matter. Two days is two days. I think we should get you in the Xian box.”
“Why let your instability build up when we don’t have to. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?”
“I guess that makes sense,” I conceded. “It’s not like this body has been much help. It’s much too young, too weak.”
“Jamal, Mathilda, why don’t you work with the Xian to figure out our next move while I help Frank,” Doc suggested, being surprisingly assertive.
“Yeah, sure,” Jamal said. “You’ve seen one quantum change, you’ve seen them all.”
She led me to the Box and I went inside. With little preamble, she switched it on. The pain seared then waned. When the door opened again, I looked at the new body. I looked strangely familiar. Where had I seen myself before? I had long black hair and full pouty lips. I was pretty damn sexy. “Oh my god!” I exclaimed. “I’m me. Future me! I’ve become the future me!”
“You are her…you,” Jennifer confirmed. She, too, seemed perplexed by this. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I took a second to think about it. “What does it mean? Good stuff I hope. The other me said that she…he…I…we had already dealt with this problem. That means we deal with all of this soon. It’s only a matter of time now.”
“That’s good news. I’m pretty sure we would all like to go home.”
I nodded. I sure did want to go back home. We’d been gone for quite some time between the future, the past, the future again, and all this mess with the Xian it had been a long time since we’d been back to the cave. “Let’s go find Jamal and Mathilda,” I said. “Let’s see if they came up with anything yet. There must be something up here to help with this problem, something to solve this whole deal. We need to figure out where this ship enters into everything.”
“Ok,” Jennifer replied. “We’ll go do that, but first I want to run a few tests. You were gone for days, I want to make sure you’re ok.”
Jennifer sat me down and ran a few scans. A Xian came in. “Is he ready?” it asked.
Jennifer nodded. “Yes. I think he is.”
“Ready for what?” I asked. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Nothing that can’t wait. First I need to give you this injection.”
“Injection?” I looked at Doc who held the needle up. Why did she have a needle? I wasn’t feeling sick. What could she possible need to inject me with? “For what? What is this?”
Jennifer grabbed my arm, tightly. “Just hold still, Frank.”
I started to rise, but the Xian pulled me back down to the chair and kept me from moving. “What is this? What are you doing?” I yelled as Doc slammed the needle into my arm.
to be continued…