She’s tired of death.

Petra gets a job as an eileithyia on a barque making the centuries-long loop between Here and There. It’s quiet work, and warm, a far cry from the rigging and the rifles she got used to on her trip out, though she still bunks with the baleares. They go up and she goes down, through the ship’s envelope of water, through gardens, past gravity, into the gentle near-weightlessness of the creche.

The bags are arranged chronologically, so she recapitulates phylogeny over the course of her shift, zygote to blastocyst to embryo to fetus to infant; eyes sprout, fingers bud, legs kick. Squib work, nothing too complicated: she monitors hormone levels, implants placentas into amniotic sacs, recycles the 4% of implants that fail.

Decanting happens on the other shift, but she attends as often as she can. There’s always a good crowd arranged quietly against the dura, bearing witness to the orderly parade of births. It’s good luck, they say, a safeguard against radiation and the drag of the islands. They hold their breath while the eileithyia scrapes off the caul and a new crewmember draws their first shuddering lungful of air; united, however briefly, in purpose.