Commander Rose woke on a metal table; he felt the cool rigidness under him, as well as the cool air around him. His training kicked in the second he opened his eyes and discovered the familiar blinking lights of the medbay. He fought the urge to sit up and instead called out.
“My name is Commander Edmond Rose. I’m conscious, is anyone there?” After a silent second he heard the “whoosh” of an automatic door opening.
“Glad to see you awake, Commander,” a female voice said to his left. He could not turn his head, but soon an angelic face with light brown eyes appeared above him. “Now that you’re awake, let’s give you a quick check-up before you report to Command.” She smiled, then disappeared from his view.
“So, what’d I miss?” Edmond asked, and he heard a muffled giggle in response.
“So MUCH! It’s not for me to say, but I can tell you the mission is going smoothly, and you’re awake right on time.” Edmond felt a band constrict around his right arm to check his blood pressure.
“Wow… 95 years.” He mumbled to himself in awe. “Felt like a catnap. What’s it like here? They put me under before we crossed over.” He asked. Edmond was the last Commander trained to handle the return trip. He remained cryogenically frozen until the planets lined up again, every hundred years. “Did we find any signs of civilization or life? Do we have a settlement?” The cuff loosened around his arm, and he felt a pin prick against his index finger on the other hand.
“Well, your debriefing is supposed to cover all that….” the woman said, though she sounded unsure. “…But, I don’t think you should go in unprepared. It’s a lot to take in, and it’ll help to start processing some of it already.” Edmond smiled to himself.
“Okay, here’s how we’re gonna do it. No more questions. I’ll answer what you’ve already asked, and they’ll answer any other questions during the debriefing,” she said.
“You got it, Doc.” Edmond said.
“First. Here is a pretty much like the Earth you left,” she said. Edmond heard her wander close to him, but she seemed to be performing tasks around him. Every now and then he’d feel odd sensations like his heart racing, or a slight wave of dizziness. All sensations that he’d expected. “So much like Earth that the answer to both your other questions is ‘Yes’. We found life and civilization. And now we have a settlement.” Her face appeared in his vision again and she pressed a small gun-like device against his forehead to take his temperature.
“The humans here, yes they’re humans too, actually sent a mission to our Earth at the same time our mission launched over here.”
“Why do you keep calling it our Earth?” Edmond asked. The phrasing started to bother him.
“Oh, right. That probably would have been the easiest way to explain it, sorry. I’m splitting my focus here.” He felt another needle pierce his neck to prove her point. “This is a parallel Earth. I don’t know how it works, maybe the top-brass got it figured, but every 100 years things line up perfectly enough to open a portal for a day. Anyway, they sent a mission at the same time. You’ll have to watch the video, there’s a solid hour of confusion as everyone thinks it didn’t work. It’s hilarious,” she appeared in his vision again with a large smile, dropped some pills in his mouth, then disappeared again. He managed to swallow them dry.
“They were more advanced in some areas than we were, and we had the advantage in other areas, but we’ve been getting along great since we got here.” Edmond felt all his restraints loosen. “You’re cleared. Good luck, Commander.”
Thank you for reading! I’m responding to prompts every day in 2018, this is #213. You can find them collected on my blog. If you’re curious about my universe (the Hugoverse) you can visit the Guidebook to see what’s what and who’s who, or the Timeline to find the stories in order.