6.) Describe your character’s happiest memory.
Don’t hyperventilate. Are you really going? Can I see? Don’t overheat. Shut off all unnecessary tasks and thoughts. Stay still. You’re going to go the opposite way and faceplant, I want video feed. Keep breathing. Everything goes through this, stop pestering her…
“Almost ready?” The people inside her are waving sonic probes, whirring and clicking away; their supervisor stands with his hands folded inside his sleeves, his robe trailing behind him on the floor. The blond woman’s making notes on a tablet, tapping away, while one of the mechanics makes a last-minute adjustment to the temporal engines. The poking and squeaking and winching up is driving her insane.
Jump, and do your best not to come back down, comes the warm familiar voice.
Thanks, Alkira, she returns, just as everyone is ushered out of the console. She’s empty for her first flight—she has to be able to take over for the pilot at any given moment, in case of an emergency. And if she crashes, there aren’t any casualties.
Don’t think about it. Don’t think, just breathe. Panic is closing a fist around her stomach. “Coordinates received?” says the entralink.
“Yes,” she says as steadily as possible, which is not very.
“Begin takeoff sequence.”
Run the program—the engines start thrumming, everything lights up. Reach in, pull the switches, lean back and brace yourself. Keep breathing, slow and deep.
Vworp, vworp, vworp…
Shit, the parking brake! Messy yanks it off as fast as possible, please gods nobody saw that, and jerks forward into space. She’s hurtling through everything, buffeted by billions of timestreams—explosions of noise and light and matter—spinning wildly and being flung around and stuck in freefall.
Nothing. Her mind’s white and blank. For a moment she thinks she’s screaming, but she isn’t making a sound out of shock. She can’t move.
Then suddenly everything is back in focus, and Messy kicks back—floundering, pulling herself up to the surface—and sends out her scanners: there, the exact point in spacetime. For a moment she stalls against the currents, jarring and shuddering under the pressure, and then lets herself be pulled along to circle back around. She hops to another timestream—balance, don’t fall, keep your knees bent and stay low—jumps to the next one, misses the next one and goes tumbling head over arse, keeps sliding.
It’s a million different directions, faster than the blink of an eye. She can’t think, it’s pure reaction.
When she finally lands, and sends off the transmission, she spends about an hour just shaking and laughing hysterically and clinging to the ground for all she’s worth, and dragging in deep breaths. And then pushes off again.