Traditional landing sequences were pretty boring, all things considered, especially among civilian landing craft:

(1) Have the computer do it.

If, for some reason, that didn’t work, then the sequence looked a little bit like so:

(1) Turn on the landing cameras

(2) Deploy the landing gear

(3) Deploy the skid plates (in case of emergency landing)

(4) Slow your descent

(5) Land

(6) Complain to maintenance about the auto-landing sequence not working.

How the Starry-dust crusaders landed at Tierra Tara Terra Farms was markedly different:

(1) Get the computer do it

(2) Roughly 5 feet from finishing your landing sequence, watch Tipo rip the emergency door open at the back of the bus

(2) Stare in confusion as your Dorarizin chaperone combat-rolls out of the bright orange short bus and continues to combat roll right off of the platform, laughing the entire time

(2) This confuses the computer

(3) The computer turns off

(4) The shuttlecraft lands a bit too hard

(5) Two humans grunt at the light impact; one gets yeeted out the door.

“Something something ‘any landing you can walk away from’, something something.” James thought as he tilted his body back, using his body language and orientation to send the signal to his karnakian fluffmind to counter-yeet himself backwards, stalling his forward momentum completely. With a gentle tap of boot-on-concrete he landed with surprising grace, the whining of the short bus’ engines spooling down drowning out the ambient noise.

“Oh? So my power has grown this far…”

“What was that, James?” Than mo called out, bending over slightly to yell through the short bus window. “You look like you’re saying something buddy!”

“I’m trying to find Tipo!” James called back out, slowly waddling away from the short bus and over to the edge of the landing platform. “You alright there? Everything ok?”

“[THIS LAND IS MY LAND. THIS LAND WAS MADE FOR YOU AND ME.]” Tipo manically growl-yelled back, and although James didn’t lean over to confirm it, there was a decent, non-zero chance Tipo was rolling around in the dirt, just happy to be out of the bus with his sanity somewhat intact.

James pursed his lips before slowly turning around in place, giving an affirmative bounce up and down to his colleagues. “Yeah, he’s good!”

With a light hup Laverne bounced herself off of the bus, t-posing in the warm sunlight. Her Orobornissian body rippling in the new sensation of being outside, a sea of happy little jazz-hands and yawning, fanged mouths greeting the outside world. Laverne was soon joined by the potato-laden Than mo, his Cerberarizin suit looking attentively in all directions, taking in the new sights, sounds and scents of the farm.

Smiling, Than mo pointed off into the distance. “Look, a cow! I haven’t seen one of those in years – can you say cow? Moo?”

“?owo?” One of his potato puppies said, looking up into Than mo’s helmet with curious expectation.

“No, we’ve been over that.” Than mo said, frowning. “That’s illegal.”

“So what’s the plan?” Laverne said, her rolling body tilting slightly to face the sun. “It seems our chaperon had to take a mental break, or something.”

“Well, the way I see it,” James said, hopping over to the rest of the team, “A few things. One, Tipo just needs to get it out of his system, and I don’t blame him.” There were murmurs of agreement about that, before James continued. “Two, since this is a human farm there’s not much that’s going to overwhelm us – things look like they’re in good order, so we just need to start checking buildings. From our position here-” James tilted his head to the right, drawing the eyes of his colleagues over to a large, not-barn-like building. “-I’m assuming that’s some sort of administrative building or welcome center. We should start there and then figure it out as we go along.”

“Sounds something like a plan. Really, I was hoping we’d get noticed and someone would approach us.” Than mo said, sucking on his cheek. “Doesn’t seem like we’re that lucky.”

“Doesn’t seem like we’re alone, though.” Laverne said, turning fully to face the down-ramp, a lone Karnakian figure standing straight and alone among the dust, equidistant from all buildings, and watching the team with a very curious eye. “So maybe they can help us?”

“I don’t see why not.” Than mo shrugged, and slowly began to waddle his way towards the stranger.

To say that Ik’itili was overwhelmed would be a bit of an understatement. Ever since she became a friend of the family she had watched Juan and his siblings grow, his parents age, and their business go from a family endeavor to a real going concern. It was bittersweet to see everyone age so fast before her eyes, but time marches forever onwards – the past receding, the future narrowing. She did not live in ignorance of that, but…

…finding Juan unconscious in his office “shook” her, as her friend would say. It was too soon.

So she sent him to the hospital, did her best to coordinate parts of the farm that she never touched, tried to keep the finances in order to pay everyone – and when all that became untenable, let them (and herself) go. No one knew if she even had the authority to do so, but everyone played along to just ease things over; for the last few weeks, the farm was totally run by her, and even then only in her spare time from her second job that actually paid the bills.

Abuela’s unscheduled “why is my grandson not calling me” visit was a welcome help – even though it was surprising to find her in such relative good health. A more-welcome surprise was coming back to the farm one day and finding Juan, of all people, bundled up in quilts out on the front porch, ‘getting some sun therapy’.

The Alemans were back, somehow, and so things could begin to be normal again. Well, as normal as one could be domesticating wild nightmare beasts and teaching children how to play with them, but. C’est la vie.

Speaking of children, Ik’itili watched with curious, rapt attention as what looked like a little-needs-special-protecting transport landed, unscheduled, on a maintenance pad. There were no visitors scheduled for the next few months – re-hiring help was the primary concern, followed by finishing the projects that were abandoned and then rebuilding the agro-tourism industry.

The Dorarizin combat-rolling out of the transport was something she did not expect. The little-needs-protecting following the Dorarizin and showing an understanding of the esoteric secrets of upsies, well-

That caused her to stop in her tracks and give them her full, undivided attention.

“|Greetings, and well met! Welcome to Triple-T farms – can I help you?|” Ik’itili cheerfully called out, waving her hand in the manner of the little-needs-protectings as they made their way down the ramp.

“[Yes, hello! We’re the starry dust crusaders, and yes, that is legally what we have to call ourselves on this field trip-]” At the word “field trip” there was a cheer from the suits the little-needs-protectings were wearing, Ik’itili smiling warmly at the very unique way the current field trip was being chaperoned. “[-but we were hoping to speak to management, preferably a Juan Esteban Aleman.]”

Ik’itili shook her head slowly. “|I’m sorry, but that’s not going to happen. We’re not even open to the public-|”

The Jornissian-hatchling covered little-needs-protecting wiggled menacingly at being denied entry. “[You think we chose to go out in public looking like this-]”

“|-Be that as it may, friend, you’re not going to speak to management right now, and we aren’t giving out tours to the facility so I can’t have you wandering about.|”

“[Can we just buy a pass or something?]” the Dorarizin-pup covered little-needs-protecting said, sighing. “[I’ve lost feeling in my left arm and I don’t know if that’s from an overenthusiastic hug or stress.]”

Ik’itili frowned. “|I understand it’s a long trip out here, but I can’t let you through, pass or no pass.|”

“[Multipass?]” The chick-covered little-needs-protecting murmured questioningly.

“|No. You shall not pass, not even with a multipass.|”

There was a huddle – well as close to a huddle as you can get when everyone’s t-posing and covered in infants – with hushed conversation passing between Ik’itili’s guests. She stepped back a little way to give them some privacy, but the sad truth was that there was no way they’re getting in to see the wizard behind this all. Not no way, not no how!

Some agreement was made, apparently, and Ik’itili strode forth to close the gap once more. “|So, is there something else I can help you with?|” she said, looking down at the little-needs-protecting that was covered in chicks.

Aah. Ik’itili smiled to herself as the little-needs-protecting before her launched into an impassioned speech – they obviously picked him because he was covered in chicks, so they’re trying to appeal to her maternal instincts. It didn’t matter; she wouldn’t budge. Nothing could make her let these unattented, baby-covered humans into a working farm that was trying to pull itself together after a catastrophe-

One of the chicks looked Ik’itili in the eyes and let out a peep.

“|Sorry, what was that?|”

“[-Oh. I said the hope of all humanity on this planet rests with-]”

“|No, no. Not you, you.|Ik’itili said, pointing at the chick who peeped. “|What did you say?|”

The poofs began to wiggle as one, the soulstorm of their minds dancing before Ik’itili’s eyes in a way that… she had never seen before.

Another chick peeped.

“|… really.|”

“[James, what’s going on?]” Than mo said, concern creeping into his voice.

Another chick peeped.

“[I’m speaking the language of the Gods.]” James said, stoically t-posing as Ik’itili kept questioning his chicks. “[I knew my power was growing exponentially, but I never expected to-]”

“[James, we’ve talked about this – just because you have a god complex does not make you a god.]” Laverne said, matter-of-factly as her jornissian counterparts clapped their hands between her words for added emphasis. “[Now what the hell is going on?]”

“[To be honest, I have no idea. Uh. Hello, friendo?]” James called out, waving his poofy arm slowly to get attention. “[What’s going on?]”

Ik’itili suddenly made sharp eye contact with James, lowering her head suspiciously. “|Hm. I have accepted a single feat in lieu of an authorized pass for my assistance.|”

“[I have no idea what any of that means.]” James confessed, looking around for help.

“|Trust them.|” Ik’itili responded cryptically, looking at the now-determined faces of the poofy infants covering his body. “|And show me something I have never seen before.|”

“[Well I mean I can do this pretty neat thing with my tongu~wwaaah~!]” James warbled, his karnakian suit yeeting him backwards. There was a pause for a brief moment, as if the fluffmind was preparing themselves for something.

Something great.

There was a sudden yeeting forward, then another up; James found himself a good 10, 15 feet in the air and traveling at a good clip forward. The fluffmind condensed around his body, and as they passed over the welcome gate time stopped. The sun stood still, the clouds froze, and the eye of the universe was fixed upon this very spot, in this very position.

Then those poofy little bastards kickflipped him.

“|AH-!|” Ik’itili gasped, in awe of the next generation.
“[NO FUCKING WAY-]” Than mo roared, totally excited to see such a sick stunt.
“[AHAHAHAHAHA-]” Laverne laughed, and laughed, and laughed, even after James gently floated back to the ground and lay upon it, unmoving, the dignity and power he had built up in his mind being shattered in that instant. His body was picked up and cradled, gently, in Ik’itili’s arms as she chirped and sang in both amusement and astonishment.

“|Truly, that was a feat that has never been seen before! Yes, I will help you all, for that recording will go down in history across the galaxy!|”

James moaned softly, feeling the last part of his dignity shrivel up and die. The dozens of wing-pats were making him feel a little bit better, but… there was no recovering from this.

“|So, you needed to speak to the Management, correct? Juan Esteban?|”

“[Yeah, holy shit that was awesome though, but yeah.]” Than mo said, a manic grin spread across his face as he bounced forward. “[We need to speak to Juan. Where is he?]”

Ik’itili gently hugged James and the puffmind, chirruping softly in thought. “|He’s in the vetrinary building, but it’s currently under guard.|”

“[By who?]”

Ik’itili shuddered. “|By it. That evil… thing.|” she snarled, and started to walk forward. “|Come, I’ll show you it’s lair, but be warned – you may be attacked, and there’s nothing I can do about it.|”

“[What kind of attack dog is it?]” Laverne said, bouncing to catch up. “[I’d have heard the thing barking by now, so-]”

“|Dog? No. Worse.|”

Bench the Right Honorable and Good Terrorbeast had been guarding his grab for the past few hours. The fact that he had an attention span measured in seconds meant that while guarding he was also involuntarily multitasking; in this specific instance that multi task would be him accidentally getting his head stuck in a bucket. Again.

It would be alright. His grab would help him out.

And so Bench, the petted and patted and brushed Terrorbeast climbed onto the wall of the house his grab built, and stood there. Waiting.