“So, where are we going?” Daniel said nervously, watching the flames creep closer to the maintenance bay’s largest pile of flammable scrap.
“Afterthought, open the airlock,” she said.
“What?” he said.
The door hissed open. Through the holes in the lift scaffolding below, Daniel could see the towers and columns. It looked like a miniature cityscape.
“Step onto the platform,” she said.
And then, at long last, Daniel let himself understand. Jeska was going to leave him behind. Again.
“Are you serious?” he said, still trying to laugh it off.
“Get on the platform, or I will kill you,” she said, her dark form outlined in flames.
“You can’t – ”
“Do it now,” she said.
“I came here for you,” he said, his eyes pleading. “Doesn’t that–" he stopped to let out a harsh, dry cough, and then continued, “That means something, right?”
Through the smoke, Daniel thought he saw a tear running down her perfect face.
“Get on the platform!” she shouted.
“What did they do to you here?” he whispered.
“Now!” she said, gesturing with the pistol.
He stared at her.
Then he stepped onto the lift plate. Immediately it began to sink.
“You don’t have to do this,” he said. “You don’t have to do this!”
He caught one last glimpse of Jeska's face before the airlock slid shut. The only warmth in her eyes was the reflection of the flickering flames.
Daniel watched the airlock close above him and tried to somehow will it open again.
With gravity on its side, the lift plate sped quickly toward the ground.