NEW STAR HORIZON

THE NEXT THRESHOLD

Matt stopped in his tracks when he saw Sadia in her black body suit. It was the same the Black Knight’s wore under their armored spacesuits when going into battle. He wondered where she got it from. Then she picked up a High-Powered Pulse rifle.

Matt realized that he was looking at the very same vision from his dream. “Storm,” He said softly. “Have I come full circle?” At that moment, he came to terms with the truth about his feeling for her.

When she saw him watching her she gave him a coy smile, “Matt I’m sorry about the other day.”

“No Storm it was my fault.”

“Help me with my suit will you.” Sadia said invitingly. Matt felt his heart beat harder. He helped her get her vest over her up stretched arms. “The vest is equipped with a 4-inch front panel overlap to maximize center mass protection.” Matt rolled his eyes. “It’s complete with throat protection collar, upper arm guards and groin protector.” She gestured for Matt to snap the protector in place. He slammed it shut with a loud bang. “Hey, be careful down there.”

When Matt was finished Sadia fitted on her helmet and she was fully covered from head to toe. Her helmet, shiny black had a jet-black face plate so Matt could no longer see her eyes. He flicked on her switches and the suit hummed to life.

The face plate slowly faded to show Sadia’s face and she smiled. Matt reached around her back and found her nuclear battery pack. “When you’re ready you just activate your system right here.” He switched it on and Sadia not realizing her new-found strength sent Matt flying backward and into the wall.

When Sadia rushed over to try to help him Matt waved for her to stay away. The room broke out in laughter.

The light moment was suddenly silenced when a voice blasted over the loud speaker. “Long range scans indicate The Khad Armada has landed on the western shore.”

“Matt,” Sadia said removing her helmet. It had dawned on her that this could be her last chance to talk. Sadia placed her hand over his mouth. “Matt if we survive this, what then?”

“How do you mean?”

“What will you do with the rest of your life?”

“I was hoping maybe to spend it with you.”

Sadia was caught off guard. “Do you really mean that?”

“Do I really mean it?” Matt took her glove off her hand and cradled it in his. “Guess the only way to find out is to stay alive and shit.”

 

NEW STAR HORIZON

WELCOME HOME
Quinn joined the landing party making his first trip to the surface. He knew the crew found themselves with the dubious honor of teaching laymen how to fight, but after listen to Matt for only forty minutes he realized that what they were actually doing was teaching them how not to get killed.
Not that the settlers had any trust. Now they needed to concentrate their hatred on the real enemy; the Khad’s armada. For all they knew the armada was invincible. The Khad had easily defeated the original upraising so no one really believed that they had any chance this time either.
Then to add to the problem the Governor, though well intended, made a deal with April to protect any humans that remained in their homes and choose not to fight. Matt was quick to point out that the governor might not have any power after the armada arrived.
Then the worst possible event happened. The House of Aurora decided to join with the Basrilians and the others and remain behind. They had a lot of influence with the people. This caused more to change their minds. Soon they were in danger of losing control of the settlement.
Matt elected to let the settlers make up their own minds without any coercion on his part. Instead he started putting his plan into action hoping that when they saw what the crew was doing they would want to join with them.
Then they got a surprise. Marching into the village in row after row were the members of the rebellion. Lead by Maggie they held their flag with the original colors of the Lewis and Clark up high as they matched through the village down its main road.
The bad blood between them and the villagers had existed for years. Then something even more surprising happened. One by one the villagers came out to watch them march. Then an old couple with tears in their eyes started to clap for them.
Soon others joined in with applauds and before you knew it the entire village was lined up along the road clapping for the rebels who had finally come home. The tears flowed freely, tears that had been a long time coming.
“Margaret Amen and the members of the rebellion reporting as requested.” She saluted.
“Ten-hut!” Quinn barked and the landing party rose to salute the Rebels.
The villager came out from everywhere to greet and hug them and get reacquainted and to forgive and ask for forgiveness, it was an amazing sight.
Maggie pulled Quinn aside to talk to him. “The Rebels have plenty of combat experience but they’re not inclined to trust the others with their lives.”
“Stewart.” Quinn yelled, Matt stood and moved forward to greet them. “Matt, we need to do some fast maneuvering to convince the villagers to come in so they can learn from the flock. Maggie’s people need to spread their expertise around.”
“You know that’s why we’re here.” Maggie said. “To join our people and stand together all of us as one.”
The next day more than twice as many settlers joined up to make a stand.
  

NEW STAR HORIZON

ANGEL ON HIGH
Matt was underneath the front of the newly assembled atmospheric shuttle when Alison approached him. When Matt saw her and how good she looked in her uniform he banged his head on the under-chassis.
Alison laughed out loud. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“You must be wondering why I called you here, Mundy?”
“Alison.”
 “Alison, can you fly this thing.” Matt slapped the hull.
“This old relic?”
“Old relic? This is a ATMOSR-DC12 CONDOR.”
“Well she is a real classic.”
“Yes, she’s a classic all right.” Matt looked at her blank expression, “You’ve never heard of them, have you?”
“I flew one back on Tau Ceti. Her design is high throttle. Not an easy ship to fly but hard as hell to bring down.” Alison smiled. “I meant are her parts in working condition?” Impressed Matt knew he had picked the right, “Yeah I can fly her. I’ll need a co-pilot though.”
“Tatiana volunteered.”
“She did? Now that’s a surprise.”
“She said you would say that.”
“After Heavens Peak.”
“Maria says you’re her best pilot.”
“Maria said that?”
“How come everything seems a surprise to you?”
“I guess because it is.”
“She also said you’re immature, and a brat.”
“Now that sounds more like Maria.”
“Alison, this is completely voluntary.”
Alison was thrilled. “When do you need me?”
“First thing in the morning.”
“And what about tonight?”
Matt straightened his overalls and put on his jacket, “Maybe when this is all over we’ll take time to talk about other things.” He left.
Alison almost went after him, Maria chimed in. “He’s old enough to be your father.”
“You’ve been ease dropping the whole time?”
“That’s my job. You think I trust you alone with a guy.”
“I know Maria, but can’t I have feelings for him?”
“No not on my watch.” Maria drove her chair over to Alison and grabbed her by her arm. “I have faith in you. I expect you to do your job and do it well. But you need to stay focused,” Maria sighed. “I don’t want to lose any of you.”
“Why Maria I didn’t know you cared.”
“What did you call me? That’s Colonel Miranda to you.”
Sadia sporting a short hair style met matt in the corridor. “Can I help you Sadia?” He said keeping things formal.
“Matt, we need to talk and shit.”
“Right now?”
“I said we need to talk and shit.”
“I’m busy,”
“You need to shut up and listen to me and shit.”
Matt got real uncomfortable. “Hold it right there,”
“I know all about regulations and shit.”
“Do you know why we have regulations?”
“To keep two people like us from falling in love and shit.”
“WHAT?”
“That’s right, that’s all they’re good for and shit.”
“Listen Sadia, we can’t talk about this now,”
“I told you Matt I don’t want to hear that,”
“WE ARE GOING TO DIE!” Matt yelled in a burst of anger.
“Don’t you think I know that?” She turned to leave.
“Hold on a second, what’s with this AND SHIT and shit?”
“Giuseppe says you always say AND SHIT when your angry. I kind of like it, and shit.”
Matt was silent as he sat on the edge of the table. MY GOD, WE’VE CREATED A MONSTER

NEW STAR HORIZON

FIRST SIGN OF TROUBLE
Alison took her swig and passed around the flask. She handed it to Danaya who was more than a little drunk. Drea and Jetsania giggled at her antics. Ruthie entered the cargo area with a perplexed look on her face. “We should be getting ready?”
“Ready for what,” Drea asked.
“Maria thinks were all going to be given flight DUTY.”
“You really think she’s serious?” Alison asked.
“Look, anything is possible.” Ruth said.
Jetsenia got up. “Maria has complete faith in us.”
“See, we don’t have a chance.” Danaya said.
They all turned to see Maria with exoskeleton legs struggling to move without help. “WHAT’S GOING ON?” Ruth went to help Maria.
Danaya hid the flask behind her back. Alison looked up at Jetsenia to say something.
“Just a pow wow,”
“I need all of you ready for airborne flights.”
“You heard the lady.”
“This is nuts.” Danaya cried. “We’re all going to die.”
“No one’s going to die.” Maria declared. “Not on my watch.” she went to leave, “Report in launch bay 2 at 400 hours.”
“They really want us to fly these ships?” Drea asked.
“They need pilots and the last time I looked you all were pilots.” Maria made herself clear. “This time they need all of us and they need us right now.” She walked out the room.
The others stood up quietly and stared at each other. Danaya started towards the door.
“Where the hell are you going?” Ruth yelled.
“To catch Maria, you know she’s right.”
Ruth smiled. “Sometimes she says the damnedest things.”
The lone ship flew high above the clouds leaving an exhaust trail seen for miles. Onboard the aircraft Drea Rodriguez studied her instruments and Wiggled around trying to get comfortable in the tight confines of her cockpit seat.
This flight had been her first in over two years since her trouble started. A mixed bag of emotions filled her head. Though she was harder on herself than anyone else was it felt great to finally be trusted enough to fly again.
Two hours into the flight, she had seen nothing but the wilderness of a barren desert planet. Two large continents sat on the sides of the planets polar region. Compared to the main content the two were practically uninhabitable. One more turn and Drea could stop for the day. She dropped the ship down to a lower altitude making her navigation more difficult. She was flying on adrenaline and the extra effort was more than welcome.
Something unexpected happened at 40 kilometers. Some-thing was causing interference with her ships navigation signal. It could easily be the result of atmospheric conditions but Drea had a gut feeling something more was going on. She turned from her flight plan to search for the source of the interference.
It didn’t take long to find. Several barren islands just off the coast of the main continent were innocent looking enough but something on them was giving off radiation strong enough to disrupt her navigation signal.
The first fly over revealed nothing but the interference was still there. Drea remembered her training well. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. This time she flew over using the full spectrum on her sensors. She would find out what was there soon enough when they analyzed the data.

NEW STAR HORIZON

CALLING ALL ANGELS
Maria did not need any special devices to move freely in her quarters. She had just gotten out of her tee shirt and shorts when the door buzzed. To her surprise, it was Major Stewart.
“We need to talk to you about your lady pilots.”
“Well I can’t let you in I’m naked.”
“I’ll come back at another time,”
“Oh no just wait there for a minute,” She hurriedly put on an oversized shirt and she let him in. “Be careful there’s no gravity. I prefer it that way.” She was sure Matt would protest instead Matt pulled off his jacket and launched himself into the air and floated in a relaxed cross-legged position. Maria smiled surprised by his ability. “Wow. I’m impressed.”
“Growing up on a space freighter, weightlessness feels more normal to me than gravity.”
SO WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Maria floated over, as she did her breasts under her shirt bobbled to every weightless movement. “Sorry Major,” She said covering them with her arms. “My un-holstered girls can be damn distracting.”
“I hardly noticed.” Matt said smiling. “Hopefully this won’t take long.”
“If you’re referring to my ladies as pilots are you sure you know what you’re doing Major. This bunch has a long rap sheet.”
“I’m more impressed with their flight skills.”
“Well then, let me go down the list; Ruth and Jetsenia ran a black market,”
“Oh, entrepreneurs,”
“Drea and Danaya stole high tech equipment and illegally sold it to the highest bidder.”
“Supply and demand,”
“Alison,” Matt stopped her,
“Look can they fly our ships?”
“They can fly the damn ships if that’s what you mean?”
“I’m modifying them to be combat ready. Will they crap out at the first sign of trouble?”
“Fear has never been their problem.”
“Then you believe they can do it.” Maria reached her hand out to offer Matt a handshake but her moment caused her breasts to start bobbing again. Matt remained discreet and gave her hand a solid shake. “I’m afraid they may fly in harm’s way.”
“Major you came to me personally and you are asking me for my pilots, you’ve treated me with more respect than anyone on this mission. The respect given to a superior officer. That was all I need to know. My women are in the best hands.”
IF SADIA DIDN’T LOVE YOU, YOU’D BE IN TROUBLE RIGHT NOW