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Justice

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Milk dripped down over her still-swollen belly, as if her body was weeping the tears her eyes refused. It was foolish to feel this way, Harra told herself sternly. You couldn't expect them all to live, everyone knew that, she should be grateful she had gone through the battle that was labour without harm. She wasn't the first woman this had happened to, and she wouldn't be the last. And so on, false-consolatory voices like her mother's running through her head, words her ancestresses had used for generations. It would be best to burn her offering, weep a little and then wait until her body was ready to try again.

But something in her rebelled. Men flew to the stars now, faster than thought, they said that in the big hospitals in Vorbarr Sultana doctors could even bring the dead back to life. Why with all this skill and cleverness couldn't they keep a little baby safe? The Vor, their babies didn't die like this. They didn't let them. The Countess's baby had lived even though he was much worse than Raina, a real mutie, but she hadn't let anyone kill him. The laws were proclaimed even here, and Harra had heard the Speaker say that killing anyone, even newborn babies, was forbidden by the Emperor himself.

Harra straightened her dress, mopped at the blots of milk with a rag, and raised her chin. There was something she could still give her daughter. She could give justice.