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Alpha Wing discussed the situation as rationally as they could, and then Park made the suggestion, which the other members accepted, of landing on high ground a few kilometers from the site of the alleged alien sighting.

“So what have we here?” asked Park as they all stood on the edge of a butte looking down. Planet Five was a bit larger and its gravity was a bit heavier than those of Planet Four, though it was a little smaller and its gravity just a tiny bit less than on Earth. Its air was a little denser, even a little denser than Earth’s. Clouds scudded overhead on three levels, going three different directions. The land mass they were on was the largest on the planet: Clay thought it might be somewhat like Greenland, sans ice sheet. From up here, they could see the ocean in three directions: they stood at the east end of a headland that was at the west end of the continent. Planet Five had ice caps at the north and south poles, but here, probably, ice never came.

“The day length is 41.3 hours,” said Clay from his helmet readout. “The year is 444 days [must check this with Mr Kepler’s laws] or 258 local sols. But the rotation and the orbit indicate not much for seasons.”

“Lots of storms, though,” said Rachel.

“Weather forecast looks pretty stable for the next few hours,” said Natasha. “Barring us getting shot at again.”

“All right,” said Park, “on that subject.”

“We flew a couple of orbits,” said Rachel. “There was a bit of life in the water, but none on land, just like on your Planet Four. So we found this lovely plateau, great views, have a look around and figure out a way to get water samples.”

“Commander Park just had me take my Ghost for a dip,” said Clay.

“Back on topic,” said Park.

“So we’re up here,” said Rachel, “and we decide to go zip down to the beach. There’s nice beaches all around this peninsula, it’s sort of land’s end, but for whatever reason, the current flows west around both shores of the landmass and so you get great beaches. There’s a long spit of land extending way west.”

“You’re lucky,” said Clay. “I had to take my fighter off a cliff.”

“On task,” said Park.

“Commander,” said Natasha, “we took off and dropped down and suddenly there’s like stuff flying over us. There’s, I swear, frickin’ photon blasts or whatever.”

“In air.”

“In air, yeah, like ten frickin’ meters overhead, like frickin’ where we had just been. Those frickin’ buttheads were frickin’ trying to kill us.”

“We don’t even know yet how to shoot our weapons in air,” said Rachel. “We are going to have to give some homework to Miss Padfoot, that’s what I think.”

“Maybe so,” said Rachel. “So you landed on the beach?”

“We landed on the beach,” said Rachel, “off to the north there, and we took samples. And I think it was about when we were done taking samples that we both sort of took in what had really just happened.”

“We got frickin’ attacked,” said Natasha. “So we hugged each other and cried a little and then we sort of straightened our big girl suits and went up to the high ground to have another look.”

“And got shot at again?” asked Clay.

“No, actually,” said Rachel. “We got shot at again on the way up, though.”

“And that’s when you shot the video,” said Park.

“Yes,” said Natasha. “That’s when we shot our video of them shooting at us.”

“Blobby guys,” said Clay. “With some number of, oh, legs or something.”

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