The whirling motor-blades of the craft kicked up a thick fog of crimson dust. The rear wheels settled on the mud cratered surface. The gravity was thick like soup. The front-wheel thudded. Pulling at their safety harnesses, the shaken occupants got up. The marines were already drained by pulling hard Gs in the descent. Their faces masked their relief as they checked their gear. They loaded their packs and rifles. The youngest grunt got out first. Heaving and spewing a stomach load until he settled. More experienced troopers lurched out after him. The vets nostalgic watching the recruit chunder. They taunted him and jabbed their fists on his helmet in good cheer as they passed.
Zarathustra spoke and I was one of the little villagers in the Motley Cow. He told me of his going under. He told me he loved mankind so much that he would forego his prized solitude. He was brimming with wisdom to share. Yet the villagers cried: why does he act like such an angry fool? decrying all that we are? Their mockery turned to hatred and I was in Zarathustra’s skin, as he turned scorn into justification. I was myself again and I was not so sure. I kept listening.
He reached into his pocket and retrieved a small ball. The pale, flesh-tone leather was scratched and sooty. With his thumb, he fastened it in his palm. Shifting and twisting, he freed his shoulders from the tweed jacket and wriggled, letting the patched-up garment drop into the muddy bank.