David stood alone outside the ship, and although he knew it was too late to change his mind, he wondered how things would have been had he decided to stay on Valdorion. Then he thought of Mary and knew that if anything happened to her because he didn’t go home, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself. He turned and was about to step onto the ramp when he heard her voice come from the darkness behind him.
“Who are you?” she asked.
He slowly turned around. As dark as it was in the tunnel, he could still make out the features of her face. Slowly, Mary stepped from the tunnel into what little light the silo had to offer, and then pointed her pistol at him. He had rehearsed the things he would say to her dozens of times, but now that she was in front of him pointing a pistol at him, he was at a loss for words.
Above him, David could hear the sound of hydraulic pumps and the high pitched whine of motors moving one of the ship’s gun turrets into position. He knew that Legionnaire already had his crosshairs on Mary. He took a step toward her and looked back up the length of the battle cruiser. Holding up his hands, he desperately shouted, “Don’t fire!”
Mary paid no attention to the heavy weaponry on the ship. She took a step back and continued to point the gun at David. “Why are you doing this?” she cried.
When David tried to speak he couldn’t find the words. Demanding an answer, Mary shouted, “Why?”
David fought back a tear and tried to hide the fact that his heart was breaking. He masked his sorrow with a face of anger. “Because I have to.”
Suddenly the lights in the tunnel came on and spilled out into the silo. Casey and five troopers took their places behind Mary. The old security chief held the letter that David had left him in one hand and placed his other hand on his daughter’s shoulder. While speaking to his daughter he looked at David with a look of regret in his tired eyes. “He has to go, Mary. You have to let him go.”
Mary looked back at her father. He held the crumpled letter tightly in his fist. With tears and questions in her eyes, she turned back to David. He had taken a step back and now stood at the edge of the ramp. The hard look he used to hide the pain of his breaking heart softened, but before he would let her see the tears that welled up in his eyes, David turned and ran up the ramp into the empty darkness of the ship. Once inside, the hatch closed and sealed shut behind him.
Mary began to weep. She turned to her father and for the first time since her mother’s death, he took her in his arms.
While standing in the airlock Darkblood watched through the porthole in the hatch as the troopers escorted Casey and Mary back into the tunnel. When the countdown began, thick slabs of tempered steel and concrete slid into place and sealed the tunnel off from the silo.