Author : Roi R. Czechvala

The orbiter hung inverted over the blue and white sphere of Earth. Three suited figures darted around her, checking for damage from the launch.

“How’s it looking Alexi,” came a disembodied voice over the suits com-link.

“There are a few small chips in the bay door, but nothing to worry about. I’ll take some photos and send them dirt side for the groundhogs opinions. Shouldn’t cause…what the hell?” As Major Alexander Pichushkin spoke, an inch wide crater appeared in the surface of the shuttle bay door.

“Hey guys, get over here now, we have a serious problem.” as he spoke, a second and third hole appeared. “Meteoroids… take cover in the bay…Move”

The men scrambled for the safety of the ships cargo bay. Commander Swarovsky’s voice boomed in their helmets. “What the hell’s going on out there? Report.”

“Sir, I observed what appeared to be three micro-meteor strikes in the starboard bay door. We have taken cover within the bay.” Pichushkin replied.

“Get back in here now. We’ll let this blow over, and continue our damage assessment…” The commanders’ words were cut of as the entire cabin section of the orbiter was neatly, almost surgically shorn off and sent plummeting to the Indian Ocean below. The men stared in stunned silence as they looked forward. Where once the hatch to the interior of the ship, not to mention four crewmates, had been, there was now only empty space and the gentle curve of the Earth.

“There goes our ride home comrades. Ever wanted to be a moon before?” Alexi inquired derisively.

“What are we going to do?” Piotr Wrezsien asked. He was the youngest of the crew, only twenty five, with a young wife and newborn boy waiting his return at Baikanour.

“I imagine we shall die, Comrade,” Anton Tsilokovsky answered calmly, always the stoic.

“Can’t we make it to the Katerina?” Piotr asked, the desperation evident in his voice.

“She’s too far away. We would never be able to match orbits with her. There isn’t enough propellant left in our suits to maneuver,” Alexi Answered.

“Can’t we contact them. They could rescue us.” Piotr’s voice was cracking.

“Calm yourself, young malchick,” Anton replied in a soothing voice. “Katerina isn’t a ship, she can’t maneuver to save us. Relax and enjoy the view.”

“It is beautiful,” said Alexi. “Pity I shall never see the green hills of Texas again.”

“They could rescue us in a re-entry vehicle. Couldn’t they?” Piotr’s voice was shrill. “That’s it, we’ll call them and have them send an REV. They can save us.”

“No Piotr. The REV cannot move like a true ship. You know that. Its thrusters are designed to check its attitude and slow descent on re-entry. It is not capable of the complex maneuvers to rescue those as unfortunate as us. Our destiny is God’s hands.” answered Tsilokovsky, always the unruffled realist. “Well, Comrades; it was always my dream to set sail for the stars. Das vidanya moiee druggies.”

Tsilokovsky rotated one hundred eighty degrees, and kept his finger on the thrusters until the fuel was completely expended.

With a sigh, Alexi silently turned his suit, and headed back for home. The last sounds he heard over the radio were Piotr’s tearful pleas not to leave him.

Outside of Winona Texas, a young boy and his mother gazed up at the night sky.

“Look moya matb, a shooting star.”

“Yes Greggori, that is very lucky. Make a wish son, make a wish.”

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