After the seventh kick, the lock finally gives and the cockpit pops open. 9301 flips up their visor, pulls the mask away, and tastes the sweetness of real, unfiltered air.
It’s a short drop from the cockpit to the ground, and 9301 stumbles and falls face first into the dirt, legs unused to gravity. After a few attempts, a standing position is achieved. A little wobbling, then walking.
The Seeker unit has come to ground in a wide, shallow river, and lost a wing in the process. 9301 unhooks a boxlike device from their belt and uses it to scan the area. The only life forms in the immediate vicinity are plants, which is a relief on one level but frustrating on another- it means that the rendezvous point is still a significant distance away, and 9301 has no option now but to travel on foot.
9301 punches in the co-ordinates for the rendezvous location, and the machine beeps and buzzes, then points a direction and gives an estimated journey time. 9301 sighs deeply. It’s not an unfeasible journey, but it’s still a long way to go. Well, nothing for it but to start walking.
This planet has only one sun. 9301 is grateful for this, as it means that it must eventually set. The climate here is uncomfortably warm, especially when trudging through this forest of tall, single-leafed plants, as they have no canopy and therefore offer little shade. 9301 removes the heavy jacket of the flight suit issued to all Seeker pilots, and ties the top pair of sleeves around their waist.
9301 arrives at the rendezvous point when the sun is low in the sky. It is a wide pavilion of flat stone by an enormous lake, clearly artificial, but manufactured by creatures many orders of magnitude larger than the members of the welcoming committee that wait there. There are four of them; a land dweller and three fliers. The land dweller is brown, and stands on all six of it’s limbs. It wafts a greeting toward 9301 in it’s pheromone language. The smallest of the fliers sits beside it on the stone, it’s wings tucked beneath a red and black carapace. It clicks a greeting of it’s own. The other two fliers appear to be related species; they are both yellow and black and carry vicious weapons that appear to be part of their actual bodies. One is furred, the other sleek and shiny. The sit together atop a tall plant that juts from a crack in the middle of the pavilion, one on either side of the large yellow flower at it’s head.
Their language is one of movement, a vocabulary of dance. 9301 is fluent, and begins to speak to them. 9301’s first steps explain the delay in arriving, recount the story of the enormous mammal that plucked 9301’s Seeker unit from the sky before running away at the call of another, even more mind-bogglingly huge creature of the same species- probably the monster’s parent.
The furry ambassador wiggles their understanding, explaining that these mammals are the very reason the various nations and hives of this world have called upon 9301’s people for help. They poison our food, it dances. They lay traps for us. They hate us. They seek to eradicate us. They leave us no option. We can wait no longer.
We must destroy the mammals, dances the ambassador. We must take back our world.
9301 shimmies an acknowledgement and understanding. We can help. We have done this many times before. Here is what we will do…