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For 20 long unholy years, Hurtz, the pilot, dreamed of retirement...and found his "acre of heaven" on a death star.
Hurtz went through the automatic motions of preparing himself for their landing on the small unnamed planet, but each thing he did was a wasted motion because it was really the boy, Jones, who was going to put the rocket down. And, what could Hurtz do now? The hard, aging muscles of his body were taut, and although the lines about his eyes had deepened, his eyes - blue and sparkling - still retained their old ferocity.
Jones, the boy, moved his hands, and the rocket made its turn clumsily, pointing its blazing fins at the strange globe beyond. Hurtz shook his head and asked himself why he had ever tried to help this cocky, all-knowing kid with the thin mouth and short-clipped hair.
The boy had fought everything Hurtz had tried to do for him, and right now Hurtz knew, even before he said it, that the boy would respond in the same way he had since the trip started: "I think you're doing all right," Hurtz said, and he tried to keep the tone of his voice casual, as though he really meant what he said. The boy glanced at him briefly with insolent eyes. "I know I am," he said. Hurtz had to clamp his jaw shut tightly to keep from saying anything more.
There was hardly any time involved in this landing, but each second stretched out to an individual eternity. The distant globe came up to meet them steadily, enlarging its circumference, and the roar of the jets was thunderous after the quiet, free movement they had made through space.
There was nothing left for Hurtz to do now but wait, and he placed his hands on his knees, raising his curled fingers, dropping them, in a monotonous silent tapping. It isn't right. None of it. The feel of it - the speed, the sound, the very movement - it isn't going to work, and why not, for God's sake, on this one last run?