Jen adjusted her suit; the mimetic fabric – studded with hundreds of thousands of minuscule cameras and screens – looking like a relatively normal black jumpsuit in standby mode. Her helmet, a bubble of opaque black from the exterior – was already making her perspire, causing condensation to fog up the glowing HUD inside.
Her operator, Dex, was creating the space-time co-ordinates from geometric, glowing shapes in the air next to the portal. Mumbling to himself under his breath as he nimbly formed her destination with his hands, he gave the thumbs up as a red dot appeared in the centre of a glowing green cube.
Jen raised her thumb in return, giving the signal for Dex to power up the portal. Swirling light filled the room, bathing the banks of machinery and the two inhabitants in an overwhelming brightness. The roar of realities through the portal was deafening; as Jen stepped through, she barely heard Dex shouting “Good luck!”
And then she fell.
There was a calm inside the suit; even as the sounds of a thousand possibilities formed in the air around her, she fell through the chaos in silence thanks to her purpose-built outfit.
Rainbows of light, colour and sound could be seen as she fell; she plummeted through canopies of reality; multi-coloured bubbles of moments, choices and outcomes swirling past her. It was peaceful here in the moments between realities, despite the chaos of the bubbles bouncing kinetically through the void.
As she approached her destination, the bubbles bouncing around the suit seemed to shift back. One of the bubbles grew until it surrounded her; rainbows of light, sound and texture forming into a coherent place that she decelerated into.
From the furious, raging beauty of the in-between, Jen was dropped slowly into the calmer reality of an alleyway a week ahead from her temporal point of origin. Giant LED signs flashed above her, filling the alley with a colour it didn’t deserve – and given the filthiness of it, certainly didn’t need. Insulated from the reality she’d dropped into, it always felt dreamlike – which helped with the work she was paid to do.
Her HUD displayed the outside view, along with the location of her target, who appeared as a blip on a map across her helmet; her job now was to sit and wait until the right time to pull the trigger.
She thumbed the switch on her thigh pocket, activating the suit. The cameras flickered into life, broadcasting images of the environment directly onto the suit at all angles; she appeared as a shimmer as the chameleonic effect rendered her all but invisible.
She drew her pistol, the silencer giving it a weight it
wouldn’t normally have, but one she was used to. As she prepared for her target
to come into view, she noticed something strange; a target would normally be
slowly, smoothly approaching her destination. This one was erratic, seeming to
be bouncing from one side of the street to the other with no definite
Panic, too, seemed to be on the rise in the street outside the alley. There were screams, sirens and gunshots.
Had she been patched through to the wrong co-ordinates? Dex
had never made a mistake before, but surely it was possible?
She steeled herself as her target seemed to approach, an explosion knocking her back slightly and lighting up the alley, a silhouette hurtling through the air between the buildings as she took her shot.
The bullet connected with the silhouette, sending it backwards as the fire beyond the alley raged. The body hit a stationary car, its windows already blown out from the force of the explosion just seconds earlier.
As the lifeless body dropped to the ground, Jen holstered her still smoking pistol and hit the Home panel on her wrist. As the bubble of reality descended upon her, lifting her away from her current location, she caught a glimpse of the red-clad target’s now lifeless eyes – and she cried out in terror as she realised what had happened.
She was looking into her own eyes, at her own body. The target was herself.
The world warped and shrank as she was pulled out of the bubble and back into the endless stream of possibilities, back to where she’d come from. The calm amidst the chaos was gone as she cried out into the void. Inside her helmet, the sound of her own scream was deafening to her – yet completely silent to the pulsing windows of possibility she hurtled past.
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