They stood on a cliff overlooking a serene grassy valley under a greenish-blue sky, two ringed gas giants hanging low above the southern horizon.

Jenna turned to the settlement agent, a Llivori named Padas Femko, and gave him a small smile before saying, “It’s pretty, but how are the schools?”

The agent scratched the side of his snout, whiskers twitching as he contemplated the human’s question.

Her husband, Thomas, intervened before the Llivori could answer. “Dear, it’s a newly settled planet.”

“We’re going to have children,” she said, her smile dissipating as she spun her head toward Thomas. “How do you propose that they’ll receive an education? Remote learning, like every other pod-head?”

Padas raised a furred finger. “Perhaps something less wild, more civilized?”

“Oh, I think so,” Jenna said, still watching Thomas. He just gave a tired sigh and nodded.

The Llivori agent waved his right hand, cueing a fade from the wild world of Lamatasi to the familiar skyline of Kjernkor on Hekayt Prime.

“A core world, home to several clusters of immigrants from your original universe,” Padas said. “I believe there’s at least one small private institution dedicated to teaching traditions and lore of the Orion Arm.”

“Can we get a back yard?” Thomas asked. “We’ve got a dog. From what I recall, Kjernkor is very urban. It’s not terribly pet friendly.”

“Such yards as you describe are generally found on the large family-held estates,” Padas agreed. “Furthermore, the Hekayti government will not permit import of alien pet species without an 18-month quarantine screening period.”

Jenna frowned. “He won’t give up his dog.”

“I’ve known Lowell for 10 years,” Thomas said. “No, I won’t give him up.”

“But the school! This place actually has a school that will teach our child about where we came from.”

“That seems pointless. Isn’t it better to teach them about where we are now? WE can tell them about the worlds we once called home. Native teachers here can teach them how to survive in this new universe.”

She tilted her head, brow knitting in apparent surprise. “That’s a good point.”

Another wave of the Llivori’s paw transported them to the immersive holographic display of the city of Vor on Kamsho. “Suburban zones in Vor…” he began.

“The crazy planet,” Thomas and Jenna intoned simultaneously.

“Excuse me?” Padas inquired, clicking his fangs together, nonplussed by the insult to his homeworld.

“You and the Opodians almost nuked each other in the middle of that asteroid crisis,” Thomas said.

Jenna nodded agreement. “No, thanks. We don’t want to live anywhere on Kamsho.”

Thomas put an arm around his wife and said, “Look, why don’t we just stay on Comorro for the time being? She’s been a good home to us, so far. I’ve been getting good jobs that pay well. We meet all kinds of new people. It’s an exciting place to be.”

“For now,” Jenna agreed. “But one day, Thomas, I want to settle on our own land with our own home, near good schools under a real sky.”

“One day,” Thomas said.

By Brody

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