The two pairs of Geeleks and Yoldris rushed out of the ancient battle dome and watched as a lander, identical to their own, touched down close by. The landerís hatch opened and a third identical pair of travelers emerged.
“Do any of ... us ... know what‘s going on?” asked Geelek.
“We might.” said Geelek 3, “We were heading to our vacation in theÖ.
“We know.” the others chimed in.
“Anyway.” said Geelek 3, “We barely steered clear of a temporal anomaly, but we were still pushed out of our timeline.”
“So can you give us a ride off this primitive world?” asked Yoldri 2.
“Primitive is relative.” said Yoldri. “Besides, where would you go? This isnít your timeline or even your metaverse.”
“So what happened to the couple who shoved us into those stasis chambers?” asked Yoldri 2.
Upalnalís sobs made all three couples turn around.
“I can explain.” she said. “And Iím so sorry.”
“You mean, you‘re ... Yoldri 0?” asked Geelek.
The elderly woman nodded.
“My Geelek accidentally created the anomaly.” she said. “He was experimenting with a temporal transfer device.”
“But you canít be one of us.” said Yoldri 2, “you‘re humanoid.”
“Not really.” said the woman. “Disrupting space-time is a capital offense, and my Geelek was desperate to cover his tracks. When the first duplicate couple arrived, he locked them in stasis and built our disguises. This skull I wear is a holojector.”
Upalnal removed the skull from her head and flipped a toggle switch inside it. She now resembled the rest of the Yoldris, as they might look in late middle age.
“We scared the locals with our “magic“ technology and they made us their rulers. Trouble is, these people do love their banquets. My Geelek had a weak heart and Iím afraid he overindulged once too often.”
“I guess weíll never get to the Velasga system.” said Yoldri 3.”
Yoldri 0 looked down at her moccasins.
“You might as well know the truth.” she said. “This is what became of the planet you were heading for, once the anomaly kicked in. And now it appears the anomalyís spreading.”
“Couple 3 has a viable base ship.” said Geelek. “Maybe we can use its engine to set things right.”
“Wait a minute.” said Yoldri. “The people on this planet are part of Reality now. They have rights. You canít just wish them out of existence.”
“True.” said Geelek 3, “but if we do nothing, more and more versions of us will arrive here. That canít be good for ĎReality,í either.
“My Geelekís experiments disrupted the normal cultural evolution of these humanoids.” said Yoldri 0. “Maybe we owe it to them to repair the damage. His equipment is still here, just hidden, as I was.”
She reached under the surface of one of the battle domeís work stations and flipped a switch. Instantly, the interior of a lander appeared, which each couple recognized as its own. Except, that is, for a stack of unfamiliar devices to the right of the command console.
“Maybe, if we work togetherÖ.” she said.
“Let me see.” said Geelek.
Geelek 2 grabbed his arm.
“Why you?” he said. “Weíre the ones whoíve been stuck here the longest.”
“Hey, let go!” shouted Geelek.
Geelek 3 put his arms around their shoulders.
“Calm down,OK?” he said.
“Stay out of it!” the other two shouted.
“Why?” said Geelek 3. “Iím the only one who avoided the anomaly. I obviously know more about it than you losers. BesidesÖ.”
The sound of Geelek 2ís fist hitting his broad, reptilian jaw silenced his insults ó and the three males tumbled to the floor, in a spasm of clumsy aggression.
“Guys, cut it out!” the four females yelled, then mixed into the tangle of arms and legs until they crashed into Geelek 0ís spatiotemporal modulators.
Their world dissolved in a flash of light and they were engulfed in silence, until, aboard a late-model Balordavon15Ö.
“Hey, would you look at these readings?” asked Yoldri.
Geelek ran over to the display she was staring at and entered a few commands.
“The shipís AI reports a spatiotemporal anomaly at close range.” he said. “Better steer clear.”
“And miss the scientific discovery of a lifetime?” asked Yoldri.
A burst of light on the view screen to her left made Yoldri turn her head.
“what‘s that?” asked Yoldri. “Looks like a ship.”
“Itís our ship, heading straight for the anomaly!” said Geelek.
The two of them watched, slack-jawed, as their twin was swallowed up in a dark shadow and disappeared.
“Seen enough?” asked Geelek.
“Looks like we beat ourselves to it.” said Yoldri. “And now, we canít get to the Velasga system without heading right into that mess. Our vacation is ruined.”
“Ruined?” said Geelek. “From my frame of reference, Iím lost in deep space with a lovely female. Who needs a vacation when you‘re already in paradise?”
Yoldri burst into shoulder-shaking laughter.
“you‘re one lucky guy.” she said. “There was only a one-in-a million chance youíd ever get to use that line and it fell right into your lap.”
Geelek smiled and ran his hands through her bright orange hair.
“Can I help it if the universe loves me?” he asked.
#science_fiction, #sci-fi, #aliens, #space_travel, #stasis_chamber, #temporal_stasis, #spatiotemporal_anomaly
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