another space between the trees
by Keren Ziv

Chiana wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.

Crichton's explained the gig to her: a bunch of men and very few women go up in a tiny ship no bigger than a shuttle pod and orbit a modest planet for a few months. When they come home, they are worldwide heroes. It's not like being known across galaxies, but after all that she's been through, one world seems like a fine idea.

Seems like the Uncharteds have a much tougher qualifying race for heroes, anyway; Chiana clutches Little D'argo closer to her chest and listens to the firing of pulse rifles going on not twenty metras away. If she were surer, she'd run for better cover than the crates of food cubes behind which she's hiding, but there are too many people here to be certain of anything, and she promised Aeryn that Little D'argo would be safe.

Maybe, when she grows up, Chiana could be a chef. These food cubes can be prepared a hundred different ways if one is adept enough with seasoning (and a little bit of dye is enough to make people think they're tasting differences, too). She'd put in new things, like choklik and cymonyn, and sell her foodstuffs throughout the Uncharted Territories. Mama Chiana's cubes, and Crichton would correct her spelling.

When she listens, the fighting's ceased. She doesn't know if it's stopped or merely paused. Chiana knows that Aeryn isn't willing to bet D'argo on that, so she remains crouched, counting the microts away silently. One one thousand one. Two one thousand two. The baby is a taciturn little fellow, and Chiana pulls his face away briefly to check to see if he's breathing, because that would be just her luck.

Little fekface is fine. She smiles.

What Chiana really wants is --

Aeryn's tapped her on the shoulder. The fight is over, and they've won again. Chi sighs. Maybe she'll get what she wants after all. Maybe she will grow old.


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