Petrolea 7a

Chapter 7

When the oxygen rose high enough to inflate the walls, Victor gave out a whoop and jumped into the air. By the time his boots drifted back down, the foam insulation on the floor had puffed up to triple its original thickness.

“O2’s gone back down,” Feroza read off her visor. “I suppose it must, as your foam has trapped so much air.”

“The still can replace our air. And it’s not my foam,” Victor staged an elaborate bow and felt only a little silly doing it, “it’s Petrolea‘s foam.” He scratched the bubbly gray paste the covered the wall. “We copied the recipe for this stuff from the mechanoid heat reaction.”

A defensive mechanism, most commonly seen in the favored prey of Dragons. “So we’re sitting in a giant scab?” asked Feroza.

Victor gave her a thumbs-up. “Heat and O2 should climb much faster now. I hope you like it.” He craned his neck within his bubble helmet, examining their little cave. What limited space they had was mostly occupied by the knee-high tube of the airlock. “…Even if this place looks like an inside-out igloo.”

Feroza gave him a pat on the shoulder, which he could not feel through the thickness of his suit. “I couldn’t be more pleased if this were a Mogul palace with an army of servants.”

“Well,” said Victor, “since we would freeze and asphyxiate in a palace along with all those servants…”

“This is infinitely better,” said Feroza. “Thank you, Victor.”

They looked through their visors at each other.

Something had changed. Their conversation had gone from mostly argument to mostly agreement. They even talked when they didn’t need to, sharing observations about the hangar and its denizens, bits and pieces of their very different childhoods, snatches of poetry, from Feroza at least. Victor had never been as good at human operations, but it seemed to him the two of them were building the architecture of a relationship based on more than just the next few hours of survival.

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