Chapter 21

A Long Way Down

This story contains sex between minor boys and teen-agers. If such things
offend you, or you are not at least 18 years of age, then please don't read
on. This story is not true, but who knows, maybe some day it will be.

Alex went over the landing checklist with Robert Charles. He watched the
fuel gauge slowly drop. He knew fuel was leaking out into space. He knew
he had only one chance to get the landing right. Alex went through what
they both would have to do, what each step of the landing would be. He
looked down at the planet. He had managed to finally get the shuttle into
an orbit , but he knew it wasn't a good one. At least they weren't drifting
around or falling toward the planet. He could pick his spot to enter.

The planet had no water that he could see. It was a desert planet. Yet he
could see what looked like ice caps at the poles, just like on Mars. He
could see mountain ranges. He would have to avoid them and land in what
looked like a flat area of desert.

The landing would go like this. When they were ready, the wings that were
tucked under the fuselage would be unfolded so the "Moonduster" could fly
in the atmosphere. He would pick out a landing place. Then he would have
to pick an entry area that would get them close. They couldn't fly around
much, and once they landed there was no taking off again, even if they had
enough fuel. If they hit the atmosphere at the right angle they would fly
down to the surface, too steep and they would burn up and it would be
almost impossible to pull them out, too shallow and they would bounce back
out, hopefully not too fast or it would over stress the shuttle.

If the entry went right, then they would quickly find a flat landing place.
Alex would lower the landing runners, reverse thrust the rockets, and lower
the "Moonduster" using the landing retrorockets, putting the shuttle down
softly on the runners.

Sounds real simple, Alex thought. I did it on the simulator. I can do it

They started the countdown to the landing. Alex flicked some switches.
They were thirty seconds from starting the rockets. Robert Charles was
doing the countdown. Both boys were sweating and nervous. The rest of the
boys were strapped into their seats in the cabin. Nothing was left loose.
Everybody was tense and afraid. They knew what the situation was. They
knew they had only one chance.

Robert Charles got to 15 seconds. Then 10. Alex had is hand on the
control panel ready to start the rocket engines. He pushed a fuel button.
Five seconds. Alex's finger was over the start button. Robert Charles got
to zero and braced for the start. Nothing happened. Alex's finger was
still over the button. It hadn't moved.

Robert Charles looked at him. "Did you chicken out, Mr. Pilot? Now we
have to start the sequence all over again. If you're up to it. Do you
want me to fly big boy?"

Alex sat there saying nothing. He just looked at the instrument panel.

"After all your talk, you're just a wuss, Alex. I'm taking this over

"Shut up, RC! I'm thinking."

"That's something new."

"Damn it, I said shut up!!"

The cockpit was quiet except a for an occasional beep. Alex pushed the
intercom button. "Jordan, can you come here?"

Jordan walked up to the cockpit and opened the door.

"Jordan, what do you know about heat shields?" Alex asked.

Jordan stood there thinking. Oh great, Alex thought. Now I'm sitting here
needing something from the two guys I hate on this ship.

"What do you need to know?"

"Can we enter the atmosphere with broken heat shields?"

"I don't know. I heard you could if it was only a few broken tiles on it,
as long as the hull was smooth."

Alex looked at him. "What did you say?"

"Well, if the hull has a tear in it, and no heat shield is there it could
overheat and burn up the ship."

"Shit. We got a meteor hit. Who knows what it did? We can't land this
until we know."

"Look at the fuel," Robert Charles said. "It's still leaking. We have no
choice but to go."

"Punch in fuel leaks into the computer. Let's see what it says. We should
have done this before, but we were in a big hurry."

Robert Charles typed in "feulleaks."

"Nothing there."

"Oh bullshit. Let me look." He looked at Robert Charles's monitor. "Try
spelling it right. Fuck, get out of here until I need you. You're wasting
precious time. Jordan, type in fuel leaks."

Robert Charles got up, glared at Alex, and left the cockpit. Jordan sat
down. He typed in "fuel leaks." "I found something."

Alex looked over. That was what he was looking for. He switched it to his
computer. He read the instructions. It showed how to cut off the fuel to
one part of the fuel tank. He started punching buttons. Rocket fuel
started being pushed into the back part of the tank. He hoped he was
pushing into the right part. He looked at the fuel gauge. It was moving
up and down too much to tell anything. He stopped what he was doing,
closed off that part of the tank and looked. The gauge got steady. The
readout stopped at just under a half tank of fuel. He watched it for five
minutes. It didn't move. It stayed steady. He breathed a big sigh. He
got lucky. He picked the right part of the tank. Now they had time to
think things over.

He thanked Jordon and asked him to leave, then sat there looking out into
space. Okay, now they had time. What were they going to do with it? He
went into the cabin and asked Mike, Douglas, and Robert Charles to join him
in the galley. The rest of the boys watched them going back and wondered
what was going on.

Alex told them what happened and what he did.

"That means we can do more than one try," Mike said.

"I figure three. It takes a lot of fuel to land, and we better have a
reserve in case I come down in the wrong place," Alex said.

"So what are we waiting for? Let's go."

"Mike. We don't know what the outside of the ship looks like. If it has a
tear from the meteor we could burn up from the extra friction, especially
if the heat shield is damaged. If we had to get down, I'd say let's risk
it. But now we have time to at least look."

"How?" Robert Charles asked. Then he paused. "Fuck no! I'm not going out

"Nobody asked you to," Alex said. "I thought good leaders passed out jobs
like this. Asked for volunteers and shit."

Robert Charles knew Alex was playing with him and he wanted to chew him
But that would wait. Once they landed, Alex's ass was his.

"So who do we sent out?" Mike asked. "I mean what do we know about
walking in space? We're just a bunch of kids."

"What do we know about navigating to a planet, Mike? Nothing. But here we

"I volunteer," Douglas said.

"Oh, the leader who won't lead speaks up," Robert Charles said. "Or do you
just like playing hero, like during the warp storm?"

"It has nothing to do with being a hero. Let's figure out what we need."
Douglas looked at everybody. He half expected Robert Charles to stop him.
When nothing happened he went on. "We have to inspect the damage. Then we
have to see if we can fix it. We need to take tools and heat shields out.
We need to get on the computer and see what we can do to fix it. We know
we have spare parts down below. We have four space suits. We're gonna
need them all, I think. Travis and I both played sports. We're pretty
coordinated. Mike is big and strong. We'll need him."

"So who is the fourth one?" Mike asked. He didn't even flinch when Douglas
mentioned his name to go out. If he needed to go, he would be at the front
of the line to volunteer.

"Jeremy. He's coordinated and he knows how to fix things. So does T. Now
all we need to do is see what needs to be fixed." He looked at Robert
Charles. "If that is all okay with you?"

"Sure. You four can go get yourselves killed, then we'll go land. I
really don't care, because you guys don't know what you're doing, so it's
not going to change anything."

"We're not going to fix anything first. We're just going to look. Maybe
the hole is smooth and the skin is smooth. I don't know. Let's just look
and be sure," Douglas said.

The boys sat and planned some. Robert Charles went into the cabin to tell
everybody what was going on. They got into the computer and found
information. They went down below and checked for parts. Douglas went to
talk to Travis and Jeremy. They didn't need convincing. They were ready to
do what it took to give them all a safe landing.

Once again Jordan was able to help. He had done a space walk before. He
helped them into their suits and was going to be their contact in the ship
giving them instructions and taking care of problems. Jordan had never
felt so important.

The suits were all the same size. Mike fit okay, and Jordan showed Travis,
Jeremy, and Douglas how to control their suits even though the suits were
too big for them. Mike was going to stay right outside the airlock and
take care of their lifeline. Douglas and Travis were going to check the
damage. Then if fixing was needed, Jeremy would bring out whatever parts
or tools they needed, and the three boys would take them to the damaged

Scooter came up to Douglas as he started into his suit. He gave him a big
kiss. "Be careful my love. I want you back in one piece. I love you."

"I love you, Scooter." He returned the kiss hard. Braden and Ryan did the
same for Jeremy and Travis. Alex looked at Mike like they both had been
through it all, and this was just one more little thing.

Mike, Douglas, and Travis went into the airlock. They closed and locked
the door and pressed the okay button. Jordan let the air get pumped out,
and then opened the second door. They were all tied together by a
lifeline. Mike hooked it to the side of the ship. They floated out in

Douglas looked down at the brown and red planet under them. He was free of
gravity and weightless for the first time. He felt like he was falling
toward the planet. It was a long way down, he thought. He took is eyes
off it and focused on the side of the shuttle. Travis joined him. They
floated to the back of the shuttle. Then they saw the damage. A huge
jagged hole was next to one of the main rocket engines. It looked like a
dozen or so heat tiles were missing off the shield. If they tried landing
with everything like that they would burn up for sure.

Douglas called on his radio, telling Jordan to get Jeremy ready. Then Mike
helped pull him back. By the time they got back Jordan was taking things
out of the air lock. Tools, tiles, and a piece of metal. All things they
found where the spare parts were stored. Jeremy brought out a dozen tiles.
He said there was another dozen left. The metal patch was the only one.
They had to be careful not to lose it.

Douglas and Jeremy carried everything to the damaged area where Travis was
waiting for them. The metal piece weighed nothing but was hard to move
because it was big. They kept it tied to them so they wouldn't lose it.

Jordan told them they could only spend two hours in space at one time, so
they worked hard. Jeremy and Travis knew they had to stick the metal piece
over the gash, make it stick, then glue the heat tiles over it. The
airlock was close to the back, so it didn't take long to get things to the
damaged area, even if it did seem forever.

All four boys were awestruck by being in space. But they were scared too.
One mistake and somebody could die. Jeremy bent some pieces down,
flattened edges, and placed the metal piece over the hole. Douglas and
Travis held it down. The surface was smoother now. Douglas handed Jeremy
the space welder. Jeremy had never used one, but he figured out what do to
pretty fast. It put out heat instead of a flame, because a flame could act
like a rocket and send the person welding flying. His big fear was making
something explode. But he soon had the metal sheet connected to the ship
making it smooth.

"Jordan, how much time do we have?" Douglas asked.

No answer.


Still no answer. Jordan was sitting at his seat by the airlock staring at
the door. He didn't hear a thing. He was thinking out he wished he could
have a drink to calm his nerves. He was only 12. He shouldn't have this
responsibility. He wanted a drink.

"Jordan, we need to know how much time we have." Douglas called him again,
but got no response. Shit, Douglas thought. "Jeremy, how fast can you get
those tiles glued on?"

"I have four already," he answered. Travis shot the glue gun right on the
tile, like he saw on the computer, then Jeremy slapped the tile down.

"Mike, you need to find out what happened to Jordan," Douglas radioed.

"I can't leave you guys," Mike said. "Anything happens I pull on the

"Well, we need to know how much time we have left."

"I figure about a half hour."

"Radio Alex to find out what Jordan is doing," Douglas said. Six more
tiles left.

Mike tried the radio again. Jordan heard it but said nothing. He was
sweating. Alex was in the cockpit, looking at the gauges and listening to
the radio. He wondered why Jordan wasn't responding. He got up and went
to the back of the shuttle and saw Jordan just sitting there staring at the
small control panel, tears dripping down his cheek. He took Jordan's arm
and guided him off the chair. Jordan followed him and didn't say anything.
Then Alex took the radio.

"Mike, this is Alex. Jordan is sick, I think. Douglas, you have 22
minutes left. Is that enough time?"

"It is Alex. Jeremy and T have four more panels to glue on. It should
give us a few minutes to spare. Thanks."

Douglas watched Jeremy and Travis work. They had a routine down now.
Using the glue gun and slapping the tiles on the patch. He hoped they all
knew enough of what they were doing to make it hold until they landed. It
looked good, but would it hold?

They got the last tile on and started heading back for the airlock. "Seven
minutes," Alex said. They held on to the hand rails, trying to be careful
and not get sent floating out into space. It was slow, since they had to
go from the top down to the side and carry the tools. Jeremy wanted to
leave them and let them float off, since once they landed they wouldn't
need them, but Douglas was worried something might break away before they
attempted to land and he wanted to have the tools. Who knows what could
happen in space and it didn't hurt to be ready for it. What if they got
hit again?

Jeremy was the first to the airlock. "Five minutes," he heard Alex say.
Mike grabbed his hand and pulled him into the airlock. Travis was next.
He handed Mike his tools, then Mike guided him in. Douglas had the welder
strapped over his shoulder. He needed to get it off to fit into the
airlock. He pulled up on it. "Four minutes." It was stuck and he had to
let go for a second to push up on it. Mike reached to help him. Since
both boys had never been in space, they didn't time it right or pull right,
and suddenly both Mike and Douglas floated off.
Mike was hooked to the shuttle and only went a couple of feet. Douglas
went flying straight out into space. Travis and Jeremy were already
unhooked from the lifeline. All they could do was stand in the airlock and

Douglas looked down at the planet. It really was a long way down. He
watched the "Moonduster" float away. "Three minutes." Mike looked
helplessly as he watched Douglas drift off. Douglas felt like he was
falling and was going to fall forever. Mike grabbed the hand rail tightly
and tried to reach the lifeline. He couldn't grab it tightly enough to
stop it from unwinding.

Douglas saw Mike reaching. He knew the line would catch soon. The problem
was would their air hold out until he got back. Suddenly, Douglas felt a
jerk. The line had caught. He stopped floating out and started drifting
back. Mike was able to grab the line now and started pulling so Douglas
would come in faster.

"Two minutes," Alex said. Douglas had no idea how long it was going to
take to get back. He was only floating for a couple of minutes. Two
minutes should be all they needed, he hoped.

Mike kept pulling. He watched as Douglas floated in closer and closer.
Then he realized that Douglas was going to miss the shuttle. He was going
to float right past it.
He tried tugging down on the lifeline, but it was too late as Douglas
floated right over him and out of sight. "One minute," Alex said. Douglas
saw a hand rail close and tried grabbing it, just missing. Then he felt a
tug. Mike had gotten hold of the line tightly. Now he was pulling back as
hard as he could. Luckily Douglas didn't weigh anything in space, but he
still had all his inertia, which was working against him. With no training
both boys had no idea how to stop Douglas from floating back and forth.
"Thirty seconds."

Mike saw Douglas come back over the top, his boot just within his reach.
He grabbed it. The momentum almost pulled him away from the shuttle, but
he held on. He was needing all his size and strength now. "Fifteen
seconds." He had Douglas stopped. He grabbed him and pulled him back,
then they both fell into the airlock. Mike hit the close door button and
the outer door closed, just as their suits ran out of air. The door
slammed shut and Mike hit the air button and the air lock filled up with
air. The four boys started grabbing each other's helmets, opening them,
breathing in the air as the helmets popped off. Mike hit the button for
the inside door, and all four of them walked in, happy to be back and safe.

Scooter came up to Douglas and kissed him hard on the lips. "Oh, Douglas,
I was so scared when I saw you float off. I'm so glad you're safe, my

The boys got help getting the suits off. They put the tools away and went
into the cabin. Douglas saw Jordan sitting in a seat crying. Ryan was
with him.

"What's with him?" Douglas asked Alex.

"Pressure got to him. Plus, I think he is having withdrawals from alcohol.
I think the he was drinking more and longer than anybody thought. You
know, in the end all he is a lonely little boy and hurting a lot. Ryan is
taking good care of him."

"When are we landing?"

"I need a rest after all that. I'm taking a nap. We all should eat.
Let's say in eight hours."


Mike picked out meals for everybody and got them in the microwave. Extra
helpings for anybody who wanted them. Travis, for one, wondered if this
might be their last meal.

Alex snoozed on a laid back seat. Mike was next to him, holding his hand.
Each of the other boys was with his lover, either on a seat or down below.

Scooter let Douglas make sweet love to him, their minds singing to each
other. How wonderful to be able to hear each other's love in their brains.
Scooter loved feeling Douglas shoot deep inside him. Douglas inside of him
felt so right.

Travis was doing the same to Ryan not far away, thinking how if this was
going to be his last time with Ryan, it would be the best it could be,
thinking how lucky he was to have somebody like Ryan to love.

Stevie was on his back, Jim over him. Stevie loved Alex. He knew his
brother was going to come through and land them. For Stevie, there was no
way this was going to be the last time. But it was going to be the best
time. And he loved Jim in a different way. Alex, his brother, his
lifelong love. But Jim, his lover, the boy he was learning to love more
and more.

Braden was making love to Jeremy. Like Scooter he had been afraid when
Jeremy took his space walk. And he let all that worry out, all his love
out, as he made the wildest love ever to his best friend and lover.

And Matthew was on a seat next to Jordan. Jordan was shaking, and Matthew
was holding him. Jordan had been mean to him, had forced him, had gotten
him drunk, had used him. But right now Jordan needed a friend, and Matthew
was being that friend. About the rest Matthew didn't care right now. He
held Jordan and told him it was ok, just like his big brother had done to

Robert Charles sat alone in a seat jacking off. He thought about Lisa. He
knew why he was alone. He was sitting alone because all great leaders sat
alone. It was the price of power.

Thirteen boys on a shuttle waiting for the adventure ride of a lifetime.
Alex woke up, Mike still holding his hand. It was time to land.


Once again Alex and Robert Charles went through the countdown. This time
when they got to zero all the buttons were pushed. The rockets fired, the
wings folded out, and Alex aimed for they entry point he picked. He looked
at the fuel gauge. Still steady. The "Moonduster" headed into the
atmosphere. Alex steered the shuttle, checking out his speed, his angle.

"Too shallow," Robert Charles called out. Alex looked again. It was. He
would have to pull out, bounce off the atmosphere. Trying to go steeper
here would make too much stress. He pulled up and back out into space. He
announced he was going to try again. He looked at the fuel. Still enough
for two more tries, he estimated.

He circled around and headed in again. His angle as a little steeper. The
gauges stayed green. But he got the nose up too high and the shuttle shook
and bounced back into space on its own. More fuel used. He could see it
was back to where they were before, all or nothing, only this time he had
two practice runs. This time he had a pretty good idea of how steep he
needed to be. For real was so much different from the computer simulator.
But now he'd practiced. He had every confidence that the third run would

He circled around again, and again entered the atmosphere, a little
The shuttle shook but continued down. The outside heated up, but it was
still within limits. The wings turned pink, but they were supposed to.
Alex fought to keep the shuttle steady. He was too far in now to pull back
up. He just had to make sure he didn't go too steep. The temperatures
rose, even inside as they became too hot for climate control. Alex kept
flying it down deeper into the atmosphere. Soon he started leveling it
out, getting ready to fly it steady and slow it over a flat landing place.
Right now they were over mountains.

Outside the shuttle the wind flowing over the fuselage was catching under
the patch Jeremy and Travis had put on. It started flapping. The boys
didn't know how to put it on right, but they had put it on strong enough to
get them down into the atmosphere. But the wind blowing under it was
pulling it loose. Suddenly it blew off, the wind came in through the hole
and ripped the fuel line loose. Rocket fuel started spraying out and the
port rocket shut down.

Alex felt the ship lurch to the right. Alarm bells went off. He knew he
had lost a rocket and was trying to get the ship going straight again on
one. He was losing altitude.
He could see brown rocky mountain peaks coming at him. He steered the
ship off to one side to avoid one. He was looking for a way out of the
mountains. The desert should be to his left. He pulled the shuttle that
way, holding on tight to the steering column. The one rocket left roared
as he kept the shuttle in a tight bank. Robert Charles warned him of a
mountain peak ahead, and he turned it to the right, then banked to the left
again to avoid another one. He was losing altitude still and he didn't
know how to get more on one rocket. This kind of landing wasn't in his
computer simulations.


In the cabin the boys had their head down on pillows like they were
instructed. But Matthew was by a window looking out. He was in the last
seat and could just see behind the large wing toward the ground. He heard
the bang as the patch tore lose, but he didn't know what it was. Jordan
was next to him, white with fear. The shuttle banked and turned. On bank
Matthew could look straight down. He saw clouds and dust below him, but as
the ship banked steeper and bounced up he thought he saw green. He
unbuckled his belt, held the arm rest and tried looking straight down. He
saw more clouds, then a patch of green, and then a rock standing straight
up, looking like a horse rearing. He reached for his belt when the ship
lurched the other way, sending him across the cabin crashing into the seats
and then the wall. Mike had been in the seat behind him. Once again he
reached for a foot and caught hold of Matthew before he could be sent
flying again. Mike fought the lurching ship and held on to Matthew tight.
He could see his head bleeding, but there was nothing he could do about it.
It was all he could do to hold on to Matthew.


Alex kept fighting the shuttle. The left was clouds and dust now, but he
had to turn there to land. Instead he found himself turning right to avoid
peaks. He was losing control and needed a flat spot to land. He dodged
another peak, and then ahead of him he saw flatness. It was another
desert. He lowered the shuttle closer. He heard another alarm, the fuel
gauge was on red. He had just minutes of fuel left. He lowered the
runners and hoped he had enough fuel to run the landing retrorockets. He
hit the reverse thrusters, the one rocket screamed as the shuttle slowed
down and rocked.

In the cabin the sudden drop and the sudden slowing pulled Matthew away
from Mike. Mike tried to reach him and yelled and Jeremy in the seat to
the front of him on the other side. Jeremy reached out and tried to grab
him from his seat.

Alex tried starting the landing rockets. They fired and started slowing
the ship's drop, but it was still moving ahead too fast to land. He hit
the reverse thrusters again, the ship slowed, dropped, dipped, and then all
the rockets shut off as the fuel ran out. The "Moonduster" dropped down at
an angle, its left wing hitting the ground, the nose dipping into the sand,
and then it leaned to the right, breaking off the left runner and crashing
into the desert sand with a huge crashing bang, breaking off the other
runner and the tail section. A giant cloud of dust rose up and settled
down. After the roar and the crash the desert turned quiet. The
"Moonduster" had landed.

Next: Chapter 22. Desert Planet

Constructive comments are welcome. E-mail me at
Douglas DD




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