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Jeb ambled across the launch pad and climbed up into the rocket, a single-seater for a solo mission. He strapped in and waited for the explosion that would hurl him into space.

Sometimes, Jeb could look at a wonky rocket and know it was all going sideways. But it made no sense to argue with mission control. Fate was fate, and all he could do was cheerfully play his role.

He knew no other life and wanted no other life. He lived for that moment when the rockets flared and his stomach danced all the way into the blue atmosphere.