"It was almost dark, and Joye climbed to stay above the swelling fog. 'Major, what do you make of that, ... that hare?' Asked Joey. Then Abby chimed in as I knew she would, 'You are lucky that you are still in one piece, Major. That could have been a wolf or a wildcat. You're gonna get yours when you get here! What were you thinking?' 'You saw what I saw; you tell me what that was about. We can go over the video recording once we come back,' I tried to brush off their nagging. I opened my visor again and felt the cool, evening air becoming misty. My mouf started getting covered with dew. 'Put it on autopilot and pop your visor,' I said to Joey and shortly after, I heard the murmur of his visor going up. 'Oh my!' Joey exclaimed as he slowed down a little more and climbed a few feet. We were floating above a calm sea of clouds, sprawled out on the ground, too lazy to rise. Even the tops of the tallest of firs were drowning in the rising, featureless deluge of white and gray fluff. Finally, the faint glow of the ship's positioning lights ahead of us tried to break through the fog, feebly bleeding drops of color in the thickening, cloudy soup of early evening.
We slowed down again as we homed in on the ship. The scooter slowed to a crawl as we entered the loading bay. The main hatch closed behind us with a heavy clang before Joey had a chance to shut down the engine. It felt great to be back home. Without saying a word or waiting for anybun, I hopped straight past the flight deck and to the adjacent pantry. I started warming up some chamomile and worked on taking off my helmet. I finally got that thing off my head and tossed it on a rack. I wiped the dew of my mouf; I was soaked. Joey ran in, and I helped him take off his helmet. We both looked like we had our head under a waterfall. We busted out laughing and slapped a high paw. It was nice to forget for a moment about being grown up. We enjoyed that ride back like a couple of rascally kids. I grabbed a hay bar and handed one to Joey.
By the time we came back to the flight deck, everybun was there, even Penny and Molly. They were watching my encounter with the indigenous hare over and over. No bun recognized him. I'm not even sure when or how we decided that it was him and not her. You would think that space travel would offer encounters with strange creatures that are somehow nothing like what we had imagined them to be; instead, you end up in front of a mirror. This business reveals more about ourselves than anything else.
I was going to ignore the orange hare and open the discussion by stating just how screwed I thought we were, but I bit my tongue at the last second. Instead, I asked, "You didn't pick up any sat signals, did you?" They nodded 'no.' "I have the ship ready to reposition," said Ava dryly, trying to hide her resignation. "We have found a spool of carbon line, and we're working on a winch for pulling those blocks," said Penny. "At least they were keeping busy," I thought. "That's great!" I said, trying to sound encouraging. I added, "Abby, Pancake, anything else?" Pancake announced the first piece of good news since we had landed, "Look, I think we can disable the actuators by retracting all the skids except for the damaged one. This way even the sandstone slabs should be strong enough to support the ship."
We tried to call it a night early, but the conversation turned to the hare once more; we called him Hopmeric, and we stayed up way too late. Afterwards, we didn't even bother pretending to set up a night watch. The bipeds could kiss our thrusters if they could reach them. We would have to get some proper sleep some other night.
The following morning was a flurry of busy work. To move the ship such a short distance requires almost as much work as going on orbit. At first, we wanted to go into hover mode, plough through the woods, and head straight for the clearing where those slabs were, but Ava suggested ascending above the cloud deck and descending straight down over the clearing. If there were any bipeds around, they would see us come down from the sky. That would give them something to think about and a little myth building couldn't hurt.
'Fry 'em,' interrupted Molly.
'Anyway,' Ava tried to ignore her, '... let's see how they react. Fending them off would be a lot of work. Who knows, maybe we can get them to help us.' Molly raised her voice, 'Really, Ava? You wanna make a deal with the devil? Do you think they traded with the bears for those skins? Oh, shucks, I wonder what you could get for your hide, Ava?' Abby cleared her throat and thumped gently, 'Look here, Molly, I'm just trying to get us the hay out of here, and whatever I have to do to make that happen, I'm going to do it. If I have to trade with those things, I will. We haven't got the technology with us to 'fix' them! Let's say we could rework their DNA. We can't do that with what we've got. We don't have enough fuel to "fry 'em all" or the means to find each and every one of them! Now, unless you have an idea on how to do all that with what we have, drop it. See what else is in that storage bay next to the power plant.'
We stood there in silence, and I felt for Molly. I had the same urges. Had she an antimatter blaster and went off the deep end to lay waste to the bipeds, I would be right with her. Except, what would be the point?
'Um, we could use a few more pulleys, maybe another winch,' Pancake broke the silence. 'Molly, let's see what else is in the storage. You-all don't need us to move the ship, do you?' asked Pancake as she turned toward Molly and gave her a quick rub between the ears. Abby looked around the room and said softly, 'OK, let's move this thing.' The rest of us took our seats, and Abby started on the preflight checklist."