Petra’s hit with a wave of homesickness so intense she has to lean her rifle against the ship’s rail and close her eyes for a second. One of her fellow baleares bobs over. “Hey, are you okay?” She waves him away, swamped by faces she hasn’t remembered in years, old lovers and family.
It takes her a while to pick out the sun among the byzantine tangle of the rigging. Out here it’s little more than a slightly larger, marginally brighter star. She locks on it, slows her breath and her heartbeat, lets the minor hypnosis calm her. The past drops away. She blinks, and there’s the homely face of her centurio; she’s quiet in a way that means she just finished saying something.
“I’m sorry,” says Petra. “Just a little light-headed.”
The centurio sizes her up, not unsympathetically. “First time off the islands?”
“I— yeah.” She’s obscurely ashamed; for a second dizzingly young again, vulnerable and adrift.
“Don’t worry about it. Leaving hits some folks that way, that’s all. You’ll get over it, assuming y’stay on; people mostly do. Y’need a moment?”
Petra reshoulders her rifle and tries to claim her old brave swagger. “I’m okay.”
“That’s the way!” The centurio claps her on the shoulder, then has to grab her before she goes over the railing. They build women strong on wherever her island was. “Back to your post, balear.”
“Yes, ma’am,” says Petra, and retrains her eyes on infinity.