The room was large with a high ceiling and had all sorts of tubes and wiring in the rafters. There were different sizes of glass funnel above, ready to descend, with rubber sealant sprayed onto them. The tanks of gas were overhead, too, nestled like eggs among the nest of tubes.
“I’m relaxed, sir,” I said. I tried not to look up again.
“Good. So, we’re going to stand you in the center of the room, right inside the yellow square painted there. A glass tube will descend. For just a moment, you’ll be in vacuum, but you’re young and strong and you can handle it. Then, the ionized gas will fill the vacuum in an instant, and the glass will come up once transfer protocols lock in. You’ll be done in less than a minute. Okay?”
“Take a deep breath and hold it on my signal. Keep your mouth closed. It doesn’t really matter if you panic or not once the tank descends. You can’t break it if you try, I promise. Best thing to do is just hold still, try to relax, and let it happen. It will be over before you even start to hurt.”
“Got it, sir.” I stood firmly in the center of the yellow square, but I looked up at the glass tube above me.
“It will hurt a little. The ionization process is not a pleasant one. But, it will be no worse than getting a shot in the arm.”
Lights went on in another room behind a glass window that was darkened before. I saw technicians there looking in, and working at terminals, securing their connections and focusing the data lines into the proper channels for my transcendence.
“Hold still, Ensign,” he said, speaking calmly. “On my count, take a deep breath. 3…2…1…Hold.”
Air held still inside my lungs. The glass came down from above surprisingly quickly, but not so fast that I couldn’t jump out from under it if I had the nerve. It separated me from the room, and the vacuum seal hissed. I couldn’t hear anything, then. The air filled with a blue gas that emerged in spots and lines like a grid of flowers in the air itself. It was dazzling, and sudden, like getting punched and seeing lights. The gas filled out the air, and swirled and then I was through. In fact, I had been through for a few moments already, and the gas was actually an optical illusion of my body and brain trying to process the sudden shifts in my vision and orientation.
The glass came up and I was born here, on the Citadel.
The moment I had seen gas, I was already here, and the images in my retinas of the place I had been is proof to me that it was real. Once upon a time, there was a place called Earth, and a young cadet named Ronaldo Aldo who had lived at sea with his mother and father, until he went to War College in the ancient city at the heart of Mexico, and he stepped into a glass tube that quantum cloned him, creating me.
I was born, then, and I was reborn with all the sins still in my heart, my failure with Shui Mien, with my terrible pride.
Is starting to look like an interesting short novel, but more revisions needed.