Barry hummed as he concentrated, “Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand.”
The dirty technician fine tuned two gigantic knobs at once. The fate of the rest of his fellow man laid on him. Three hundred or less citizens took shelter in the beaten down bomb shelter. The surface was crawling with hard-shelled spider-like aliens, eating the few humans and animals that survived the initial invasion. The foot soldiers carried weapons that would burn anything short of steel in a few seconds.
Barry was lucky enough to have been stationed in area fifty-one when they arrived. He was part of Project Stargate; trying to open a man-made rift into other, habitable dimensions. Each combination of knobs and a few hundred switches were used to tune in to specific frequencies. He could also open a rift for a few minutes, but he only had enough power to keep one open long enough for an evacuation.
He wasn’t even the project leader. Barry was in mid-training for the enormous blue sphere and its primitive controls. Luckily the glowing ball gave enough light to fill the room, so he saved precious energy for his light bill. Still, he whipped out a flashlight for more precise readings on the instruments spread throughout the decent sized lab.
Colonel Amanda Sans entered, “Any progress doc?”
“You know I’m just a tech right? The real doc never made it back to work.”
“I’m aware. So, any progress?”
Barry sighed and twisted around to his personal refrigerator. He pulled off seven pictures and described each, “Here, we got two deserts, one with a constant sulfur storm, the other with a white dwarf for a sun. Here’s a forest with ammonia-based life—”
“That’s bad right?”
“Only if you want to breathe there. That one, sent a drone through to confirm that at least half the planet is covered in very active volcanoes. This jungle could be colonized, if the trees don’t like the taste of humans.”
The colonel shook her head, “Skip.”
“Now this one, is identical to our Earth, but it looks like another kind of alien species wiped out another kind of alien race.”
“Would they like us?”
“They shot our drone on sight, smelled the camera, and ate it.”
“What about this last one? It’s all black.”
“I’m not sure, I got a lot of positive atmospheric readings, but I’m going to send a drone with night vision.”
“Well, it looks like you’re getting closer. Keep up the good work.” The colonel handed the pictures back and nodded before leaving.
Barry looked at the last picture. I got a good feeling about you.
Cindy sat at the edge of her bed, hunching forward as she concentrated. At that moment, she had nothing to say or yell into her headset. Her fingers and thumbs had become one with her controls. Left! She threw a knife into the kid that sounded way too young to be playing a Mature-rated game. “How’d that feel you little bastard?!”
Enemy fire to her rear. She swung the analog sticks and jumped right, then she scored a headshot in midair. “Holy shit! Did anyone else see that?”
Crash! Slam! Cindy dove off the bed to the mostly clean carpet. Something as big as a softball put a hole in her closet door. She inched herself over the bed to see a dirty chrome sphere half planted in her wall. Cindy dropped the controller and grabbed an empty beer bottle for a weapon. She still flinched when the metal ball popped free and hovered a few feet in front of her.
The orb twirled a lens to Cindy, then opened up with a dozen kinds of probes, lights and syringes. Cindy hurled the bottle at the drone and ducked behind her bed for a baseball bat. “Stay away!”
A pale man in a dirty lab coat entered from the closet. “No need to panic!”
Barry punched a few buttons on some kind of PDA, causing the drone to clamp shut, and hover back into the closet. “Is that better?”
“Who the fuck are you?!”
“I’m Barry, kind of a scientist. And I need your help.”
About ten minutes of talking had finally gotten Cindy to calm down. Barry was still asking about major differences in their worlds. It all sounded fine until Barry glanced at the DVD and Blu ray shelves. “Cindy, I see you only have one season of Firefly.”
“Oh, it got cancelled after thirteen episodes.”
Barry’s face paled. “You told me you didn’t have an apocalypse here.”
Barry was already moving back to the closet, “The only thing that keeps my people going, is knowing that President Whedon will continue to bring us the best damned television we’ve ever known. I didn’t even watch the season ten finale before coming here!”
“Take me with you!”
Colonel Sans entered Barry’s lab and rested her palm on the pistol at her hip. “What’s this?”
Barry stopped in his tracks, ready to throw a small box into the rift sphere. “This world needs our help. Every show that keeps our people motivated has been cancelled in there.”
“Is there a hostile alien invasion on the other side?”
“Exactly like us?”
“Then how about we evacuate and bring everything with us?”
Barry felt a little stupid, “I guess that’s a better plan.”