“Containment’s secure, Sir. Confirming energy transfer!” Captain Tumai called out.
A sharp crackling discharge rocked the room, causing everyone in the large, amphitheater-style control room to duck in fright. The lights flickered from the electrical surge but stabilized soon after.
“Prepare the Selites,” Director Hera Tifo ordered. “Bring them in here, all two hundred.” She inhaled as she watched the large containment area at the center of the room spark and fill up with a milky gas.
“We have to recreate the exact conditions, in case the Wave hits and we need to repeat this process,” she said to Tumai.
“Yes, Sir.” Tumai signaled toward the doors at the top tier of the room. A moment later, scores of Selites filed in and lined up against the back wall of the room’s top tier. The Selites, Silicon-based creatures, humanoid at present, took on whatever form was required by their masters.
“Do we have the child?” Hera asked as she ran up toward the Selites. A man handed her a gurgling baby. “You’re so delightful.” Cooing at the child, she nuzzled its pudgy cheeks as she cradled it.
The Selites watched her expectantly as she inspected them. “On my authority, as a representative of the Council, you are to retain custody of this child, Theresa Bridget.” She handed the baby carefully to one of them, who cradled the baby and rocked her gently. “We don’t know if our energy bridge will hold successfully, but if—” she paused for emphasis— “if it holds and someone comes through, and if the Wave pulses, which means that everything will change, you are ordered to commit the child to the custody of our guest. Understood?”
“Understood.” The Selite chorus echoed through the hall.
Hera leaned in and kissed a Selite who had reached out, and briefly hugged her. They were gluttons for affection, and she usually had that in spades to give them, but not now. There were other pressing matters at the moment.
The crackling in the containment chamber continued with loud bursts, drawing Hera’s attention back down to the engineers—closer to the center of activity.
“Thank you,” she whispered to the fragile-looking, dark crystalline beings who swayed gently, as though in an invisible wind.
They carefully passed the baby down the line and each one inspected her; some hugged her, others kissed her, while others rocked her.
Comforted at the sight, Hera made her way back down to the lower tiers. “Report.”
“The density is sustainable. Particle distribution is… Sir! I think someone’s coming through. These are not our quantum particles; these are new particles!” An excited voice responded from closer to the chamber. A ripple of excitement coursed through the hundreds of people in the room.
“The spins are locked in the same direction, and the field is in equilibrium,” another voice yelled out. “There’s perfect complementarity.”
Tumai held Hera’s shoulder. “Good God! A person. From index… one hundred?”
The room grew silent at the statement. Hera, like everyone, was stunned. In theory, it was true that such a world existed—a world of one-hundred percent probability distribution. It just wasn’t comprehendible. A world so stable and ordered that its inhabitants naturally conceived no alternatives.
A loud boom sounded in the room, shaking all the fixtures, desks, and equipment. The lights flickered off, leaving the room in darkness. The backup generators started up, bringing the lights back on. Silence prevailed for a minute, followed by a flurry of activity as people rushed to the aid of those who’d fainted or were momentarily incapacitated.
“There’s a person in there, Sir,” a trembling Tumai said, pointing at a panel display, then peering into the smoky containment chamber.
Hera rushed toward the containment and hesitated at the door. Her heart thumped loudly in her ears and her hands trembled. She’d wet herself from the boom earlier, but nothing was going to stop her from seeing this project through.
The door whirled open and a vacuum sucked the gases from the containment chamber. Writhing on the ground was a naked woman, moaning in agony. Hera turned to the Selite next to her. “Observe. If the Wave occurs, continue our prescribed course of action.”
Hera rushed to the shaking woman and knelt in front of her. “You’re safe, sweetheart. You’re safe.”
The woman was apparently in the throes of a seizure, foaming at the mouth as her milky eyeballs rolled back and forth.
“Four-hundred milligrams phenobarbitone,” Hera called out as others joined her in the chamber.
“No, wait,” a woman said as she listened to the heart. “Her heartbeat’s over two hundred a minute.”
Hera took a deep breath. “Continue the seizure medication. Apply ice to her eyes and compress the carotid bulb; let’s see if that slows the heart rate.”
They watched the woman’s vitals on a monitor as they cleaned her and wrapped warmed blankets around her.
“Seizure’s better, but heartrate’s climbing.”
A voice filled the chamber. “The Academy just sent a Wave advisory. Fifteen minutes.”
“What’s the Order’s estimate?” Tumai asked.
Tumai looked at Hera, who gave a slight nod.
“Go with the Order’s estimate,” she said. Still kneeling, she leaned back on her heels and watched their guest, holding her hand. Such courage to have undertaken an uncertain journey between worlds. The chances of success were incredibly low. But it made sense that someone from index one hundred would have the ultimate faith in her abilities. How strange a world it must be to never doubt yourself because there was never an alternative to consider.
“Hera, the heartrate’s still over two hundred. It’s slowed a little, but if the Order is right, we don’t have time.”
“Very well. Twelve milligrams of adenosine,” she responded. “Prep the defibrillator, get the electrodes ready.”
Tumai looked up at the time clock. “Hera. Restart the heart. There’s no time.”
“Her body has been through so much…”
“I know,” he said softly. “But the heartrate’s regular. She seems strong—”
“Okay, stay the adenosine. Twenty milligrams, calcium channel blocker,” Hera said.
“Blood pressure’s seventy over forty!”
Hera stroked the guest’s short curly hair. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Looking up to her team. “Continue the blocker. At thirty seconds to the Wave threshold, apply the electrodes!”
Tumai looked at the Selites. “When the Wave pulses, take over!”
“Heartrate’s still too high.”
“Applying electrodes, defibrillator is charged and ready!”
“Thirty seconds to Wave,” Tumai called out.
“Selites, move in,” Hera ordered. “Everyone clear!” She pushed the button and the woman’s body pumped off the ground and landed back with a thud.
“I feel it.” A man to Hera’s right smiled and inhaled. “The Order’s estimate was correct.”
“I love you all so much. I’ll see you beyond the Wave. May Ryna bless us all,” Hera said as she lay flat on the ground. She never heard the responses. The Wave pulsed.