Just Like Your Dad
by S Shane Thomas

Multiple blasts battered the hull of the small spacecraft and caused various dials and gages within the cockpit to spark and go black. The craft banked and dodged through a winding canyon, its smoldering form trailed by the alien aggressor. Lynn Petro pulled her brown, bob cut hair behind an ear. In her periphery Jennings’s head lay on the copilot console. Tears ran down freckled cheeks. More blasts peppered the hull. A pang of desperation guided Petro’s hand; the doomed craft jack-knifed and doubled back on its enemy. One shot downed Petro’s pursuer.

The afternoon sky dazzled with similar skirmishes for the remainder of the day. Lynn Petro felt amazed that she survived. She pulled a tarp over Jennings who was not so lucky. Pistol in hand, she made for the enemy craft. No more than a quarter mile through the narrow canyon smoke rose from its cockpit. Lynn heard a low moan inside the hull and peered into the wreck. Shrapnel bloomed from the Terechnian warrior who still struggled for life. Petro pulled her enemy from its seat and rang out a shot that provided merciful release. She gathered from the craft what provisions could be salvaged.

A strange noise drew her attention back to the Terechnian corpse. Thick ooze pooled about a nearly empty flight suit. Scraps of the ship’s hull were intermingled in the Terechnian’s remains. The chest of the suit wiggled and belted a sharp cry. Despite her reservations Petro cut the suit open with her utility knife.

Three infants milled about in the thick essence of the pilot that continued to fizzle and dissolve in front of Lynn Petro, who gaped at the sight.

Did the Terechnians send their pregnant to war? Did their young spring from the dead like pinecones after a fire?

Dogfights and mercy killing were her duty, but something deeper urged Lynn to care for the enemy infants. Babies are all innocent, and Petro had no way of knowing the outcome of the war. If the Terechnians won and found her caring for the babes, she might receive some mercy. Provisions from the shuttles lasted longer than expected and the small orange humanoids were born with teeth and an appetite for solid foods. A human infant could not have survived the first few months of the unlikely new life.

            Rescue never came, nor capture.

            Petro made a home for her and her unlikely charges in the ruins of her shuttle. Over the next five years a small cabin grew of retrieved metal and local lumber. A small garden stretched down its sunny side and three half sized orange humanoids played in the shady stream that had slowly carved the canyon over eons.

            Lynn hunted for long hours for what she came to regard as this backwater moon’s substitute for chicken. Her return went unnoticed and she sat in their small home to watch the children play.

            Two held hands running while one ran behind. The pair suddenly turned about and the three collided. Two fell, one quickly laid sticks about its body until the last child standing dragged it a few paces away and yellow “pow”.

            Petro thought something eerie and familiar had just been reenacted. The children gathered in the shade.

            “That’s how he died and we were born,” one said.

            “Lynn killed him,” its brother replied.

            Lynn sat in shock as her three little buddies moved on to hop scotch. Humanity did not know much about Terechnians, she stood among the most knowledgeable on the subject thanks to their cohabitation.

            “I suppose I should tell them more about how I met their father,” Lynn said to herself.

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