by Travis Perry -
Rolf reached inside his jacket for his weapon, too late. Ernsto shot the needle gun into his neck, through the carotid. Nasir, much faster than Ersnto suspected, drew his plasma blaster and fired.
Ernsto had already leapt forward into the doorway at the front of Wizard Hobson’s quarters when the hot plasma passed his back. Without looking, he squeezed off five needle shots behind him as he charged toward his room.
Plasma bolts hurled past him and a searing burn engulfed his left shoulder. Normally he would have picked a spot with good cover and held his ground. But he couldn’t, not with Hobson somewhere nearby.
Run, had said the angel into his mind, run, she said, revealing Rolf and Nasir’s thinking—this time, they intended to kill him as he walked past, his usefulness finished, as was hers. But he’d never been the type to run—and there was no way he’d let Hobson have the angel.
He charged past the pressurized aquarium that held her on the way towards his room and its hidden weapons. The angel’s eyes were wide and frightened, her ray-like wings tapped the glass in her distress. No, no, don’t kill, her mind told him.
“Sorry babe,” he shot back as he exited her chamber.
“Ernsto!” The voice belonged to Hobson. Something informed him if he looked back he’d lose his will to fight. Whether it was the angel that told him this or his own mind, he knew not.
He sprinted into his small room and slid shut the door by pressing the yellow button on the right side of the frame. He held his thumb to the pad for his print to lock it. Next he flipped the knife hidden in his right sleeve into his hand and stabbed the control panel, penetrating its thin aluminum face three times, hoping the door servo would never operate again.
His key for the lockbox he jammed into the slot and threw open the box. Within seconds he used the tool to open his hidden panel in the wall, the hiding place for his weapons.
His eyes searched and saw…nothing. He reached his left hand into the gap and felt nothing.
A slow chuckle came in through the room intercom. “Ernsto, my lad, did you really think you could hide a weapons cache from me? In my own private section of Avenir?”
Ernsto didn’t answer. His stomach balled into a knot.
“Now be a good lad and fix whatever you’ve done to the door and come on out. We need to sit down and discuss this rationally, man to man.”
I’d rather die first, he thought, eyeing his sleeve knife and hoping this time the wizard knew exactly what was on his mind.