Geelek and Yoldri stepped back from the two temporal stasis chambers and tried to settle their racing hearts.
“You donít really think they could be Ö I mean, how could we be in two places at once?”
Trouble was, logic seemed to point in the least logical direction. The couple in the stasis chambers might as well have been clones of Geelek and Yoldri. But even if they were distant ancestors, how likely was it that they, too, were hanging out together?
“Not even sure my great grandparents, or whatever, wouldíve left their homeworld,” said Geelek. “Back then, only government types or traders went off-world.”
“Same here,” said Yoldri. “So letís assume these people are us and we came here from the future, years ago ó See? Iím already getting a headache.”
“You have to figure if they Ö we Ö had a message for us,” said Geelek, “they could have sent us a data cylinder.”
“You think the landerís AI could dig up some data on these two?” asked Yoldri.
“Not if they havenít Ö happened yet Ö from its frame of reference,” said Geelek.
“I guess the only way to find out,” said Yoldri, “is to open the chambers.”
“Whoa,” said Geelek. “What if this is a trap?”
But as Yoldri pointed out, there was no reason anybody in the known universe would want to trap them. They had, after all, merely set out from their homeworld on a short vacation trip to the Velasga system.
“I mean, come on,” said Yoldri. “Weíre nobodies. Unless you belong to an underground splinter cell you forgot to mention.”
“Very funny,” said Geelek. “But youíre right. We donít exactly stand out. Even if you are space-timeís greatest kisser.”
“Shut up,” she said. “But seriously, wouldnít you kick yourself for the rest of your life if we just walked away? Maybe they can help us get home.”
Geelek stared at her a moment and then walked over to the two stasis chambers.
“Controls look standard,” he said. “You want to have a look?”
Yoldri glanced from one unit to the other.
“Yeah,” she said. “Come on, pull the trigger.”
His four-fingered hands trembling, Geelek tapped a few commands into the keypads that lay at the feet of each chamber. The chambersí blue status lights began to blink in a complex pattern.
Suddenly, the two reptilians were forced to jump back, as twin blasts of a steamy mist burst out of the chamberís perimeters. When the last of the mist cleared, a calm, female machine voice said:
“Stasis cycle complete. Hatch opening.”
Yoldri grabbed Geelekís hand as their doubles stirred. Awkwardly. the figures in the stasis chambers propped themselves up on their elbows. and gazed around. Their eyes settled on the two who had released them. Geelek2 spoke, in an eerily familiar voice.
“Why?” he said. “Why did you do this?”
“What?” asked Geelek. “What did we do? We only just arrived three rotations ago.”
Yoldri2 gasped as she looked over at her chamber partner.
“The temporal anomaly must be worse than we thought,” she said.
“Unless heís lying,” said Geelek2.
“Would you lie about something like that?” asked Geelek. “How did you even get here and Ö where did you come from?”
The two reptiliansí jaws dropped as their doubles climbed out of their chambers and explained that they had been taking a short vacation trip to the Velasga system, which had just opened up for tourism.
“The star drive on our ship went critical and we barely made it out in a probe ship before Ö what?” asked Yoldri2.
“Thatís exactly what happened to us.” said Geelek, “except the Velagas system has been open for years.”
Geelek2 put his arm around Yoldri2.
“So confusing,” he told her. “This is a different pair of us. What happened to the first pair, the ones who pushed us into these stasis pods in the middle of a war zone?”
“Wait a minute,” said Yoldri. “What year do you think this is?”
Yoldri2ís face twisted itself into an indignant sneer.
“Fifty-five thirty-three,” she said. “What else?”
“Try sixty-two thirty-three,” said Geelek. “The Crelindaz-Dholvitra war has been over for seven hundred cycles. And that means the earlier pair might have arrived even farther back in time. Did they even have stasis chambers that long ago?”
Just then, Upalnalís voice called to them from outside the dome.
“Ancient Ones, come look,” she said. “another sky ship, just like yours, is approaching!”
“Maybe they can explain whatís going on,” said Geelek2.
“Donít hold your breath,” said Yoldri.
#science_fiction, #sci-fi, #aliens, #space_travel, #stasis_chamber, #temporal_stasis
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