Prometheus rose up above her. Alexandra shoved her crampon into the side of the volcano and put her weight on it. She tugged on her rope. It held. The radio crackled. It was just static now. She couldn't look back--not out of lack of desire, but it was physically impossible in her suit. The low oxygen alarm dinged gently in her helmet.
She moved her helmut from side-to-side, shining her light to illuminate her next footing. She pulled her other foot up, shoving it into a crevice. She tugged the rope again. She pulled up, shifting her weight to her other foot. The crevice suddenly exhaled a fog of sulfur frost, encrusting her visor. She rubbed it against her sleeve, smearing rather than clearing. She sighed deeply.
She stepped up again, her muscles straining after hours of climbing. She was achieving only inches now. She tugged on the rope, pulled herself up, shifted her weight. A light in her helmet started blinking. She looked at it, trying to focus. Sweat seeped into her eyes.
"Now," she said, remembering. She unhooked the data recorder from her belt. She clipped it to the rope, then pressed the sensor next to the ice. She pressed a button. The sensor heated up, melting the ice. She pushed until it was buried. She turned off the heater pressed a second button to start the recorder.
"What now?" she asked herself. She was breathing faster and shallower now.
The ice shook with another tremor. Alexandra pressed herself against the side of the caldera.
"Oh, I hope they're getting this," she said. The tremor subsided. She looked at the LEDs on the data recorder. Its radio was stronger than her own. She studied the blinking pattern. "It's getting through," she said. "That's good then."
She looked up at Jupiter's massive silhouette cutting a hole through the Milky Way. Dawn was breaking on a sliver of the planet. She squinted to make out the structure of massive roiling clouds. Sunlight tore through them, outlining them. It was beginning to bead up, bright, in an arc. Suddenly the Sun itself emerged. Alexandra closed her eyes. She could feel the star's heat, even here. She remembered a morning back on Earth, when she was a child. A summer morning when she woke up ahead of the rest of the house, and rushed out to find the backyard covered in a layer of fine spider webs, almost glowing white in the early sunlight. Her mother called it angel hair. Alexandra argued with her, and showed her a dead spider she found caught in the webbing.
Prometheus shook again. This was the most violent. Alexandra struggled to keep her footing, but she slipped as part of the ice gave away beneath her. She dangled from the rope. The shaking grew more intense. The crevice gave way, frost shot out, lifting Alexandra perpendicular to the volcano. The frost turned to gas. Her vision was complete blocked, dark. Bits of rock pinged against her visor. The heat of the gas ate through the gold foil and insulation in her gloves.
Alexandra screamed as the thin layer of fat in her hands bubbled. The rope caught fire. The nylon fibers burned through. Alexandra was thrust up into the plume. She rose, half conscious, weightless, suddenly cold. She struggled to lift her burned arm and wipe her visor. The Sun shone through the streaks. She looked at it without out fear of blindness, but that was small comfort now.
The plume turned her, spitting her out. Io came into view. She saw the outpost, her home. Then she turned again, and looked out into the depth of space. The stars smeared together, streaks and blotches of white, yellow, blue, red. She closed her eyes, shaking with pain. She let the darkness of space seep in. She let the coldness take hold, then was still.