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No Stranger to Desert Places

by Karen Eisenbrey “It’s going to be rough landing!” Captain Anderson shouted. “Hang on!” Commander Ruby Ladd gripped her armrests. Surely they were coming in too low, too fast. But she trusted the Skipper. He’d rarely given her any reason not to. And now they were in the Gusev Crater, a long way from the base, but still—not bad. He hit the retro rockets, but they cut out soon after. The shuttle hit the ground, bounced, and slid across the rocky surface. So much for the landing gear. Ruby had her harness unfastened as soon as they stopped moving. “Do you think she’ll explode?” Anderson stared at her a moment, then laughed long and hard. “What’s so funny?” “There’s nothing left to explode,” he told her. “We’re completely out of fuel.” “Then I guess we’d better start walking.” Nielson was still strapped into the one remaining seat in the passenger area, where he’d been since they entered the atmosphere. The engineer had made a number of small repairs and adjustments during the sho

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