“You want to pump up the nitrogen.”
Clara spun round at the voice, looking through the small porthole in the airlock door. She recognised the face. He’d been following ever since the ship carrying her docked on Venusia, peeking out from crowds, always a few steps behind her as she made her way from the loading docks. She’d just shrugged it off as him been a creep, like most humans. All they cared about were credits and sex.
“Leave me alone.”
Her lower mandibles made speaking Common, the default Human language, a chore, always lisping on the odd sounds. The face didn’t move. He wasn’t going to give her peace. She lifted a hand from the outer door override and stood before him.
“If you open that door, you’ll be sucked out. But you’re not gonna die. If you hold your breath it’ll help make it quick. And close your eyes.”
“Why?” she asked before she could help herself.
“Well, they’ll freeze over,” he said. “I’ve worked this detail before. Pulling in spacers. You know the one thing they all have in common?”
“You talked them to death?”
He smiled, like a grinning pup showing rows of dull teeth. How did they ever become the apex predator of their little backwater?
“No. No, they all died screaming. Only by then all the air in your lungs will have been sucked out. So it’s more just a death spasm.”
“Fine. Thank you human. Now leave.”
He motioned towards the valves, set into the rough hewn walls of the airlock. Red for oxygen, blue for nitrogen. Clara put a talon on the blue knob and he nodded.
“Nitrogen narcosis. It’s like drifting off to sleep. Completely painless.”
Clara tapped, slowly, on the small valve. Six years. She’d been trapped on that boat. Sold for credits and used like a piece of equipment. No pride would take her in now, she was tainted blood.
“Or you could put hydrobenzine in the oxygen manifold.”
She looked quickly at the face. Was he serious? She didn’t want to take half the rock with her. No matter how much she hated her own kind.
“You tamp it down with a platinum shield, you get maybe six parsecs before the shield ablates and it oxidises.”
“You’re not the first. Think of me as one part in a much longer chain. We watch the ships, scan the inventories. And when we spot someone in need, we make sure they’re safe.” He glanced at an antiquated device strapped to his wrist. “Congratulations. Your employers have retired.”
Prompt originally posted by ElmoIsHere on reddit and received 1 upvotes.