NEW STAR: HORIZON

HARD LANDING

The shuttle jumped again bouncing up a couple of feet before crashing back down. Somehow Alison managed to keep the landing gear on the ledge. The screech of metal filled the air. The team turned in horror to see what was happening. Sadia watched as Matt grabbed the doorframe to keep from tumbling out. Metal shrilled suddenly and the shuttle tilted steeply to the left. Matt was caught with one foot out the door unprepared for the sudden shift.

Off balance, he flailed instinctively, releasing his hold on the doorframe falling backwards. Mike went tumbling out of control in the cargo hold and slid away from the door. Sadia yelled a warning but she knew she was too late. Sliding away from the ledge the shuttle titled back the other way sending Matt tumbling head-over heel out the door. Moving incredibility fast, Matt grabbed the landing gear and held on. Bionics’ maintaining his one-handed grip; Matt pulled himself upright once more.

Mike made the door and looked out. The two men stared at each other, both relieved. Matt nodded to Mike that he was all right and reached up to grab his hand. Before he could reach it, an alarm blared out from inside the shuttle. Mike helped Matt back up to the door way. “What the hell was that?”

Unfortunately, Matt had figured out just what was wrong. “There’s not enough oxygen up here, and the air fuel mix is off.” Matt explained. “If the engine conks out at this altitude we drop like a rock.”

Alison fought the shuttle, increasing, and decreasing the throttle, trying to find a medium. Again, she tried to get the shuttle back over to the ledge. Matt saw them moving closer and stood in the doorway ready to jump. The shifting air current hammered them pushing Matt back away from the door.

Sadia moved forward quickly trying to reach out to Matt as he came closer. She could hear the shuttle alarm sounding again louder this time, so loud it reverberated against the mountain.

Alison shouted. “Holy shit, brace your selves.”

Sadia watched in horror as the shuttle suddenly dropped several feet. Matt almost fell from the door but managed to throw himself along the length of the landing gear legs dangling over the side as he held on. Matt then caught a handrail beside the cargo door and pulled himself up his legs still touching nothing at all as the shuttle shifted sideways.

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