"For a second, I thought 'Oh this is just too ridiculous.' But there it was, a bare naked bear, running toward our ship. I had never seen a bear like that, with no clothes on, no shoes, but just the way momma nature made her. Three little cubs followed her and seemed to be in just as dire shape as their mother was. Joey and I looked at each other. Should we help them? Should we let them onboard to see what had happened to them? We have seen bears before, usually at the orbital shipyards or onboard ships slated for long-duration expeditions. Those crews could build their own craft from scratch if you gave them enough raw materials. But these sorry ursai? The four of them vanished from sight as they went under the ship. We decided to do nothing. Whatever happened to those creatures, we didn't want it onboard. I felt awful about that.
Joey was as perplexed as I was and we didn't say anything. After what left like an eternity, the four bears came into view again as they headed back for the woods. Their momma lead they way once more, and the cubs followed her. Or to be more precise, they tried to follow her, more or less, but they were too preoccupied with frolic and mischief to pay any attention to momma. They rolled around, wrestled with one another and generally had a great time since the craft they just investigated didn't pose any danger to them. It was by pure coincidence that they kept on tumbling toward the woods. Finally, momma had enough! She stood up on her hind paws, turned toward her kids and stretched her mouf at them in what had to be a horrific, primordial roar. We couldn't hear it, of course, but I swear I could feel the console under my paw resonate and needles shot through my legs. She was one major Ursa if there ever was one!
The three little bears got the point and scrambled toward Momma. I guess they knew better than to make her really angry. After they disappeared back into the forest, the remainder of the night was uneventful. Joey and I must have fallen asleep in our seats. Next thing I knew, Abby was shaking my shoulder. I remember Pancake and the others looking at the surveillance video from the previous night. They kept staring at the screen, then at us, then at the screen and back at us. It went on like that for a while.
'Yeah, we have no idea either!' said Joey preemptively. The feral bears horrified everybun. Under normal circumstances, we would probably try to get to the bottom of such a splendid mystery, but we had to tend to our own problems.What maligned those unfortunates we may never know.
After a quick breakfast, Molly and Penny got ready for their reconnaissance flight. We decided it would be safest to test the scooter right over our ship. This way, if something went wrong, they could land nearby and wouldn't have to worry about getting lost in an unknown terrain. They could still see for quite a distance.
The morning was cloudy and chilly. Everything seemed to drown in the dense fog as far as we could see, which was a shame, considering the night was so bright. The weather system was moving swiftly.
Molly and Penny launched on the scooter around noon after it became apparent to us we would be socked in for Bun knows how long. At least we could test the telemetry and video stream from the scooter. Once we agreed that the scooter performed well enough, they rose as high as they could without going into the solid overcast. From above, we saw that the fog was not very uniform, and there were some clear patches. As Molly an Penny circled above, we noticed a thin line of smoke rising from the ground, maybe a mile or mile and a half away.
Our heartbeats picked up. 'We didn't have any lightning last night, did we?' asked Joey. 'No, I don't think so,' I responded. 'Doesn't look like a wildfire, does it?' asked Pancake. I became uneasy and said, 'I say it's artificial.' Abby nodded without taking her eyes off the screen and then said, 'Why don't we have a quick look?'
We heard Molly's 'Copy that!' as she and Penny headed for the source of the smoke, staying at their high altitude. At first, we couldn't make out a lot of detail in the video stream. The air was too misty, and they were still too high. As they started descending, we watched their altimeter slowly unwind. Imagery became clearer the lower they went. Now, they were directly over the source of the smoke and still descending. Noone made a sound. We saw Penny's heart rate go through the roof, and finally, we heard Molly, "It's okay, Penny; just one low pass and we're getting the hay out of here! Guys, are you getting this? '" asked Molly, sounding bewildered. On the ground, a pack of creatures scattered around. Some of them wore skins. Were those bear skins?
"Rog!" snapped Pancake. Somebun thumped, maybe Abby. I felt a sharp pain in my paw. I was so tense that I was ripping off the paw rest from my seat. Abby and Pancake took off for the main hatch in the loading bay. Joye and I watched the scooter gaining altitude and speed as it headed back toward our ship. For me, the scooter couldn't go fast enough.
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