Storm Shelter

Petty Officer Lars Lamont helped get the clamp in position and then got out of the way. He didn’t like it, but the Kid had to learn sometime. The whole cohort was at Lars’ least favorite part of the training: practicum. He had to babysit while they did the wrenching on the Kólga‘s FTL drive. They were just Kids—from kidets, a bastardization of cadets, who weren’t allowed to go by their names until after graduation—and the Kólga was an active dreadnought. Its FTL drive cost more than some fleets…

Lars’ disaffected musing halted at the sound of a hissing whine like a hot tea kettle. It was brief, but it was enough. He already had the Kid by the wrist and was sprinting down the cramped maintenance corridor toward the nearest storm shelter.

Safety systems only worked when you didn’t trust them. Never trust your clamps. How many times had he said that? Damn Kids.

The klaxons were blaring now, and the emergency lighting pulsed to indicate the way to the shelter. It was a full blown tachyon storm. The damn things were invisibly clumping on surfaces like static cling and opening up macro waveforms that were better left collapsed. It was a recursive process, self-accelerating. The shelter was just ahead.

They bounced off it. The shelter snapped shut, enclosed in a formless black curtain, just before they could get in. Lars kept moving, heading for the next shelter just around the corner. He lost his grip on the Kid but looked back to see him keeping pace just a few meters back. There; the shelter. Still open. He hurled himself inside just before the detectors sealed it off. The Kid didn’t make it in.

The storm shelters used an artificial event horizon to causally insulate themselves from, well, what was happening now.

Lars was alone in the shelter. An automated announcement was playing on a loop. Chronological alarm. Tachyon storm detected. Remain in place and avoid interaction with persons and objects from superposed wave functions. He could see out, but no one could see in. The Kid was standing alone, looking dumbfounded and scared shitless. Then, like an apparition, the Kid stepped out of his own body. A slightly shifted duplicate. One tackled the other. They rolled and fought for primacy with equal claim. One of them split again, and the third copy ran off. What a fucking disaster. Lars turned to face the back wall so he wouldn’t have to witness the carnage outside.

Instead, he found he was face-to-face with himself.

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