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Hunting

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Dayna liked Verit the moment she and Tarrant arrived on it.

It was just … pretty. The grasses were long and yellow-green, the sky a bright, promising blue and the hills had the kind of look to them that made Dayna want to go exploring and climbing and hunting.

Of course, she couldn’t actually do any of those things. They were supposed to be meeting a contact of Tarrant’s there and he would probably have found it rather strange if one of them was scrambling around in the dirt. But Dayna still wanted to all the same.

She missed hunting on the Liberator. It wasn’t that it wasn’t fun to see the dried food supplies turn into decent meals – and sometimes it was very nice to just have something you could quickly eat that would fill you up so you could get on with working on whatever you were working on.

But it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same as going outside, feeling the wind in your hair and a bow and arrow in your hands, watching for something to turn into your dinner. Knowing as you ate that you had done that, killed that animal and gutted and cleaned and made it your own. That was a special feeling and in Dayna’s view, food on the Liberator wasn’t quite the same.

None of her new friends seemed to understand that. Cally had hunted but only while she was on a mission and she considered it a necessity but nothing else. None of the others had ever even done it and Avon in particular had given her that eyebrow-raised look of his that suggested she was mad.

Dayna didn’t really understand. It was one of the few things in her new life that made her unhappy – although not as unhappy as missing her Father and Lauren.

She tried quite hard not to think about her Father and Lauren.

She had her new friends. She liked her new friends, even if they didn’t understand everything about her life. Cally and Avon both appreciated her skill with weapons, her desire to invent and create. Avon was rather handsome too and she was still enjoying fantasies of sharing another kiss (although she began to suspect they would remain fantasies.) Vila was ridiculous but he was funny and could be surprisingly clever, when he needed to be – although Dayna found the most fun to be had with him was gently tormenting him at any given opportunity. And Tarrant was exciting. She liked his energy, his drive. Even his arrogance could be interesting – although Dayna sometimes wanted to see more.

At that very moment, Tarrant was looking around doubtfully, wrinkling his nose. As he turned to face her, his eyes widened slightly and Dayna whipped around, snatching out her gun as she did to face whatever threat he had seen.

Except there was no threat. There was simply a rabbit, standing on its hind legs, wrinkling its nose at them. Dayna snorted.

“Honestly Tarrant, you got me all worked up for a moment there! I can’t even kill it with this gun, it would charcoal the meat.”

“How do you know?” Tarrant asked. “What the hell is it?”

“It’s a rabbit, Tarrant. It eats grass. How can you not know what a rabbit is?”

She turned to glare at him. For a moment, he glared back, clearly puffing himself up the way that he always did when he felt challenged. Then suddenly, he deflated a little and gave a small sigh.

“We didn’t have rabbits where I came from. The domes didn’t have animals, I never wanted to go outside or to any of the special menageries. They’re just not something that I’ve ever come across.”

“You mean … you never went outside?”

“Not how we did things on Earth,” Tarrant said with a shrug. “It’s better for people to be inside. The outdoors is … well, the propaganda says that it’s filled with unhealthy things but I think the reality is that the outside gives people too many ideas. Makes them try to expand from their offered space into something else. And the Federation only likes expansion that it allows.”

Dayna shuddered. Her father had only talked a very little about the Federation to her, only mentioning their crimes. He hadn’t talked about how life on Earth had actually been. She’d always imagined it rather like Sarren, except with more people that tried to boss you around. The idea that it was a place there you couldn’t ever go outside, a place where you would always be trapped … no wonder her new friends were sometimes a little strange. They’d lived their lives in boxes.

“So … you never ate rabbit?”

“Not that I know of. We didn’t eat much real meat. Our meals tended to be plain proteins. Easier to feed people like that.”

Dayna grinned at him, then tucked her arm through his.

“Well then. We’ll meet your friend and we’ll sort out things and then I will show you how to hunt, clean and cook a rabbit. And you’ll enjoy it.”

Tarrant blinked at her, then grinned that amazing grin of his and squeezed her arm.

“Well, with an offer like that, how could I refuse?”

Dayna grinned back. Her new family wasn’t at all the same as her old one but it would do.

It would do.