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Thwack! Thwack!

Two phase bows fired at almost the same time. One quantum packet of light hit its target, flashing acid yellowy-green on a tree. The other missed and flew out to parts unknown.

"No, no, Melissa. You've gotta keep your elbow up," Doug said, "Watch."

He aimed and fired, and the acid yellow-green light again hit the tree. It didn't make a permanent mark, just showed where he had hit and then vanished.

"Okay, okay, sheesh! You're such a pain!" she said, "This thing is heavy."

"I got you a lighter one. I didn't get you a kids' version, though. You won't be able to hunt effectively with a kids' version. Now, here, I'll guide you."

He got behind her and held her elbow up, breathing gently. She fired again, and missed again.

"Your form was better that time," he said, "but why are you still missing?"

"'Cause you're close by, Captain Beckett. It's ... distracting."

"Oh," he said. He turned and faced her, and kissed her, "We still have to bring at least one of these things down before we're done. Otherwise, Lili won't have anything to serve on the sixth."

"It's only the first," she said, "So I was thinking. We could spend our time today doing something ... else."

He smiled at her, eyes a bit more crinkly and hair a bit more steely-looking these days, "What do you suppose we eat tonight if we don't bring down a perrazin?"

"One of those little scampery things."

"A linfep? There's a reason they're called that."

"Which is?" she asked.

"The name means little mouthful. The fep part of a Calafan word always meanslittle. So we'll need to catch a lot of them in order to have any sort of a decent meal at all. Plus they're fast."

"But they can't outrun a quantum light packet, right?"

"No, they can't. But you still need to aim better. Now, let's try again. Elbow up. Aim for the tree."

She shot again. This time, she hit the target.

"Much better that time," he said, "Now let's take it off the lowest setting."

"It's still heavy."

"Yanno, we practiced this while dreaming, Melissa."

"I know. And we did a lotta other things as well," she smiled, "But I always dreamt of a phase bow as being lighter than it really is. Huh."

"Okay, my bad. I shoulda given you that info before we started hunting at night. C'mon, you're strong. You can lift a phase bow. Aim for, uh," he looked around, "Shh. Over there," he pointed to where the undergrowth was slightly disturbed.

She shot again. There was the slightest of rustles in the undergrowth. She reached in and pulled out a linfep. It looked like a rabbit – more or less, if rabbits had tusks, "Dinner is served," she said triumphantly.

"Okay. Much better," he kissed her, "Let's head back to camp."

"And let's eat later," she said.

"Ah ha. You have plans?"

"Of course I do."

"You really want another baby, Melissa?"

"I do indeed. And with you, you icky boy."

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