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“I want you to make me a promise, Sarge,” chokes PFC Stumbo.

Vijay grasps his slick hand and nods. Stumbo’s hand is ancient and spotted; Vijay’s is soft and smooth, like any fifteen-year-old’s, but his eyes say this isn’t the first death he’s watched.

“You’ll be one of them before long,” says Stumbo. “Few years now.”

“Never,” Vijay grates. “I’ll die first.”

“Don’t forget that the young and the old have rights, can think–can–don’t let the Age War happen again, Sarge,” Stumbo heaves. “Don’t let.”

“I don’t want to grow up,” whispers Vijay, and closes Stumbo’s eyes.