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Perfect Control
written by "Hunter, Mel, 1927-2004"
... houses and staring in panic as the missiles plummeted through the shells and erupted clouds of steam which spouted up from mile-deep craters and there was nothing but the steam and the holes and the white cold. Jupiter made a hole in the blackness, with eleven tiny holes scattered all around her, like droplets of fire. Ships streaked up, one for each droplet, circling each, spraying fire, until each droplet flared like a tiny sun. Yellow Mars, holding closely its two speedy rocks of moons, spun into the screen. A straggling line of men moved across a desert that whipped them with sheets of yellow dust. A single ship dived from out of the Sun, swooped along the line, licking it with the tongue of flame that streaked behind. As the ship flashed beyond the horizon, a line of smoking rag bundles lay still upon the yellow sand. arkness closed in upon the television screen in Colonel Halter's office. In the long moment of silence that followed, he thought, Oh, God, after this awful picture, how can I convince them to come out of the womb of that ship and live again? What reason can I give? Immobilizing his face, he saw the half circle of the six old people again in the control room of the old, old ship. He said, "You'll set down in approximately twenty minutes." "Yes," agreed the captain, "from where we jumped into space seventy-five years ago. The people of Earth were talking about their problems, not killing each other about them. There was hope. We felt that by the time we'd finished our mission and come back from that other solar system, where a healthy colony could be born, most of those problems would be solved." A pause. "But now there's this terrible killing all through the System. We won't face it." The roaring of the rockets now as they plunged flame against the concrete slab of the landing field. The bug bodies of the tugs gently easing old Alpha to Earth. Colonel Halter was saying, "How about this other so...

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