by Keven Newsome -
“Quiet!” he hissed.
The shuffling behind ceased.
Derin reached a hand out to the translucent polymer dome that held the water at bay.
“Sir, how can you tell the gender?”
“I just know,” he said.
He stepped closer to the dome wall, watching as the angel hovered outside. Large fin-like arms flapped in slow-motion, keeping the angel in a stationary position. Its long body ended in a split fin with bones strong enough to walk on land, according to prior research.
The angel tilted its aqua blue head and watched Derin as he took another step.
“Are the speakers on?”
“Hello there,” he said to the angel. The sea creature mimicked his mouth movements. “Can you understand my words?”
The creature blinked and tilted its head the other direction.
“My name is Derin. I’m a wizard of Avenir here to study your kind. This underwater facility is my home now, I hope you don’t mind. I’m not like the others. I believe you have… something, that I want to learn. I promise to never hurt you or your friends.”
Derin took more steps until his nose almost brushed the polymer wall. The angel rotated its arms and floated toward him.
From inches apart, they stared into each others’ eyes.
“Will you… teach me?” Derin put his hand to the dome surface. “There are things I need to know, questions I need answered. Will you help me?”
The angel leaned its head to Derin’s hand. For a moment, he could feel its small nose press into his palm through the polymer membrane. In that moment, something slid through his body, warming his blood and numbing his muscles.
A siren sounded. Derin’s skin flinched, and the angel jerked back. With a flurry of motion, the creature flipped backwards and flew along the ocean floor, disappearing into the cloud of disturbed sediment.
“Sir, we have a black water warning.”
Derin stared after the angel. “How close?”
“Half a kilometer.”
“Standby to activate the ion fence. But first, send out a bot and collect a sample.”
“But, sir, the last two never returned.”
Derin heard the movement of feet behind him as the assistants and crew prepared to carry out his orders. But he stayed long after they had left, staring after the angel.