An explosion ripped through half of the ship, tearing it apart in under two seconds. Unprotected bodies tumbled into space, their circulatory systems popping under the impossible force of the vacuum.
Lara Forest clamped a hand over her mouth as tears streaked down her cheeks. She couldn’t wrench her gaze off the viewscreen as it showed the damage to the ship. A red alert shook through the room, pounding up her feet like hammers.
She stood in the remnants of the bridge. The captain’s seat behind her was torn to shreds. The navigation panel just to her left was cracking as sparks splattered over it like blood from a fresh wound.
“You don’t have time for this,” someone said from behind her. “You have to get out there – you have to save those people. You have to stop this from ever happening.”
Lara forced herself to turn over her shoulder. There stood something that should not exist. A version of her older self. The woman was dressed in a Coalition uniform – one Lara had never seen. The fabric was more sophisticated, though in chunks, it’d been ripped right off from the strain of running through a broken bridge.
“You need to get out of here, now. They’ll come for you,” the woman repeated in a snarl.
Lara shook her head. Tears still tumbled down her cheeks.
The older woman took a strong step forward. It should have been impossible – she had a broken leg. A chunk of bone protruded out of her thigh, and blood soaked down the front of her trousers. “You will get out of here. And you will save the Coalition.”
“I don’t know who you are,” Lara stammered.
“I’ve already told you – I am your future self. I am Admiral Forest. And I will not let the Coalition fall.”
Lara went to shake her head again. This couldn’t be happening. The ship was breaking apart, half the crew were dead, and she was hallucinating about her future self.
Lara would never be an admiral. She didn’t have it in her.
Whoever this woman was – whether she was some hallucination, a hologram, or an enemy trick – she acted like an admiral. Before Lara could duck away again, the so-called Admiral Forest closed the gap between them and grabbed Lara’s shoulders.
As the older woman’s hands settled on Lara’s skin, a jolt of energy passed through her body. It felt as if she’d just swallowed lightning.
“You will save the Coalition. You must shut down the time gates. That’s how I got here – through a time gate. You will find them, you will close them, and you will save the galaxy.”
Lara couldn’t shudder back – Admiral Forest wouldn’t let her. All she could do was stare into the eyes of the woman she would one day become as she muttered, “I’ll do it.”
Lara would have no choice.
The fight for the galaxy was about to begin.