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People can be good stuff, with the proper motivation. "So how are we looking?" I asked, mostly to make conversation. I wasn't particularly worried. The technology we were using wasn't cutting edge.


"It's all fine, Jim, all fine. All the checks show it couldn't be a better day for a launch."


Not that there were days up here, in Earth orbit. We faked it pretty well, but there was always a difference. I was led into a small elevator that smoothly sailed 'up'. Last time I had a look at the station map, it was really going more towards the side, but don't tell my inner ear that.


The opening doors revealed a wide hanger. The floor was hard and echoed hallow under the thick rubber soles of my boots. And there she was; my vessel to the space beyond space. She looked a far sight improvement over the old, bulky, NASA shuttles of the 2nd and early 3rd millenniums. Sleek, fast, and made for just a handful of people.


"You do a double check on the cryo?" I asked. It was the only thing I was really worried about. You see, we never did break the Speed of Light barrier, so anyone going any real distance out had to be sleeping to do it, or they'd be dead long before anything got done. If the cryogenics went out on a guy, which they have once or twice, or so I hear, then it's game over.


"Of course, of course. We can't afford to lose you, or any of you heading out today; you know that. Everything's been checked and re checked until the boys saw freezer schematics in their dreams. Launch time is in T-10 minutes. You get comfortable, and you can reach us by radio until then, right?" He slapped me on the shoulder and veered off my course, rushing to harass a few engineers that weren't working quickly enough for his liking.

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