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could not avoid the inevitable long space journey, but nobody said he had to like it. The journey itself was never that bad - just tedious - but the taking off and docking were unpleasant. Vance long ago came to terms with the certain "control-freakiness" of his personality. If he wasn't piloting, riding, driving or otherwise physically controlling his entire situation, he became unnerved. Of course, he showed no outward symptoms of this: he didn't sweat, wring his hands or mumble fearfully. To an observer, Vance seemed his usual calm and steady self, even in turbulence. Only Vance knew of these feelings, and that was the way he wanted it to stay.

The sight of the magnificent station did little to allay his fears. Beyond the massive, spinning construction, the sun was shining, a bright semicircle peering over the top of the station. Vance knew only ten inches of reinforced plexiglass separated him from total irradiation. This unbidden thought sawed at his rapidly fraying nerves.

'Docking sequence initiated,' sang a recorded voice. 'Docking will be complete in two minutes.' Vance always did his research, meticulously planning every eventuality. More ships crashed during docking than take-off and flight put together. Statistically, you were 6.4 times more likely to die during a docking sequence than at any other time in the journey.

With a shudder, the ship's rear thrusters cut. Vance heard the reverse thrusters kick in - one sharp hiss, then another, as the pilot began stabilising the vessel for entry. This relatively smooth approach reminded Vance that a military pilot was transporting him. Had this been a civilian transport, he would have felt much less secure.

The seating area suddenly darkened as the ship slid into the docking bay. A sharp clang echoed as
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