by Travis Perry -
Ernsto slammed his palm into the airlock emergency override switch, flattening the wide red button, mechanical creaking erupting from the door hinges as it swung open, a half-meter of water still in the lock, water pouring into the hallway as he stepped out. The enforcer he’d paid off stood there, his mouth gaping open.
“Whadinell you doin’!” squeaked the man’s voice.
Ernsto glanced behind him. The angel was floundering in the draining water. The lip of the lock would keep all of it from leaving, so if it were just a matter of breathing water, he knew she’d be fine. But there was another problem—pressure. Her body was struggling to adapt between the deep ocean pressure she’d spent her whole life at and the one atmosphere of air pressure used by humans living in Zirconia—a near-vacuum from her point of view.
He’d brought her into the lock anyway. After all, the reward had been for an angel, “dead or alive.” He could ignore the waves of pain from her he could actually feel, but he found in some unexpected part of himself that he didn’t want to.
“Get me a pressure tank. Now,” he barked at the enforcer.
“You didn’t pay me for that!” The man’s blue eyes set deep into his piggish pink face widened into whites.
Ersto took three quick steps, still in his pressure suit, but his helmet off. The long knife on his belt he pulled and he held it to the man’s throat. “You will get me a pressure tank, or I will skin you alive.” His voice rasped in a whisper—he let the keen edge of the knife do all his shouting for him.
The enforcer started to move. “Hurry back or I swear by the depths, I will find you.” The man, sufficiently motivated, rushed off.
Ernsto slowly turned back toward the lock and dispassionately watched the angel flounder.