Dawn tipped her head back until she could see the bright blue of the sky over the rim of the crater high above her. She wrapped her fingers around one of the thick vines that climbed the rock wall and gave it a tug. It seemed strong enough to hold her.
“Aiko, if I climbed up there, could you follow me?”
The lens of Aiko’s one eye rotated, measuring the cliff face. “No,” Aiko said. His wheels turned, backing him down the slope. “Which is why you mustn’t climb it. Not until you’re older.”
Dawn sighed. “How much older?”
“Your mother will tell you when you’re ready,” Aiko said. “It is time to go home now. Your mother has something to show you.”
Dawn gave the top of the ridge one last long stare. She could climb it, she could climb it right now. She’d climbed trees that were higher. Why did she need to wait?
Aiko began rolling his way down the slope, his tires crushing the thick, deep green leaves of the vines. Dawn followed in his path, stopping to collect a fleshy yellow fruit she hadn’t seen before. Maybe this one would be something she could eat.
“Be careful with that,” Aiko said. “It hasn’t been analyzed yet.”
Dawn could no longer see the cliff face behind them. She passed a familiar tree, the clump of rocks where she liked to sit and watch the buzzers dip into the stream for a drink, sometimes to be caught by the snake plants that grew just beneath the surface, and then they came to the clearing where her home, low and round and white, stood surrounded by Mother’s garden.
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