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GILLETTE, RONALD C., departed Gateway sometime in last year. Anyone having information present whereabouts please inform wife, Annabelle, do Canadian Legation, Tharsis, Mars. Reward.

OUTPILOTS, REPEAT winners, let your money work for you while youre out. Invest mutual funds, growth stocks, land, other opportunities. Moderate counseling fee. 88-301.

PORNODISKS FOR those long, lonely trips. 50 hours $500. All interests or to order. Also models wanted. 87-108.

I gave him a carefree, drunken wave. He didnt really owe me anything. That was a One, and I wouldnt have taken a One for any price. For that matter, there wasnt anything on the board I liked. I grinned at Klara and winked; she looked serious for a minute, then winked back, but still looked serious. I knew she realized what I had come to understand: all these launches were rejects. The best ones had been snapped up as soon as they were announced by returnees and permanent-party.

Sheri had drawn fifth pick, and when it came her turn she looked directly at me. Im going to take that Three if I can fill it up. What about it, Rob? Are you going to come or not?

I chuckled. Sheri, I said, sweetly reasonable, theres not a returnee that wants it. Its an armored job. You dont know where the hell it might be going. And theres far too much green in the guidance panel to suit me. (Nobody really knew what the colors meant, of course, but there was a superstition in the school that a lot of green meant a superdangerous mission.)

Its the only open Three, and theres a bonus.

Not me, honey. Ask Klara; shes been around a long time and I respect her judgment.

Im asking you, Rob.

No. Ill wait for something better.

Im not waiting, Rob. I already talked to Willa Forehand, and shes agreeable. If worse comes to worst well fill it out with- anybody at all, she said, looking at the Finnish kid, smiling drunkenly to himself as he stared at the launch board. But you and I did say we were going out together.

I shook my head.

So stay here and rot, she flared. Your girlfriends just as scared as you are!

Those sober eyes inside my skull looked at Klara, and the frozen, unmoving expression on her face; and, wonderingly, I realized Sheri was right. Klara was like me. We were both afraid to go.