Aula found she was pregnant when the ship's scanner announced it over the com. "43 individuals on board," it said the second she'd finished her physical, and then she had to go to Chern and tell him the first non-terrestrial human would be born before they'd met up with the other ships.
In honor of the abandoned planet, they decided to follow an ancient indigenous tradition and name the child after the first thing Aula saw when she gave birth. No one pointed out it wasn't a real practice; the single drop of blood between all 42 colonists somehow wouldn't pull its weight.
The morning sickness started as they passed the Orion Nebula, an impossibility hurtling past the stars. "I can't believe we haven't found a single habitable zone," Shien whispered over coffee, and it was hard not to reach over and smack her for saying it so loudly. The baby hadn't started kicking yet, but Aula imagined his rice-grain heart pulsing, the webs between his fingers receding as he reached out to grasp her flesh.
When the third trimester begun, Suri counted six months since the last they'd heard from one of the other ships. Aula, who was on maternity leave now, frowned and reached for a console. Suri slapped her hand back. "You know what stressors do to the baby's epigenetics."
Aula scowled and bit back the thought of tears. Damn hormones. "Then stop telling me about it. Go bother John."
"I don't like John."
"There's nothing wrong with him as a navigator." Aula found her fingers against her distended belly before she'd consciously registered the baby's kick. The shower was next week. It was supposed to be a surprise, but there wasn't the space to hide things like that, not really.
"Who's the father?"
Suri took the hint. No one else bothered her about it, but Aula wasn't deaf and the whispers echoed in their cramped living quarters. Something was wrong with the sensors. The trajectory was locked unless they found a mass to slingshot off, and whatever lay ahead was jamming their sensors. The cautiously optimistic thought it must be the other ships' safety perimeter. Aula started hearing the more delusional, though, who said her baby would save them. There was a fever in the air, but when Dr. Szymanski asked if she wanted a private birth, she shrugged.
Her water broke two weeks after the radar, their most basic of devices, stopped returning more than a green haze. Aula walked herself to the bay they'd set up, draped herself in scrubs, and triggered her emergency beacon. The room filled right as her contractions began, and then there wasn't time for anything else.
She squeezed someone's hand. She pushed. Breathed in loud huffs nothing like the night she'd had him made in a test tube. Pushed more. Harder. Fantasized about slapping the nurse, who was doing her best to be kind.
And then a fresh shrillness burst the air. Time to name him.
She found the strength to lift her head. Someone proferred the baby, but it was pointless. Aula let her hands dangle off the bed.
"What's his name?"
"Event Horizon," she whispered.