So Jonnie and Terl are in a plane. Jonnie's in awe of the view, and Terl is trashed on kerbango. He insists that the controls for a "mining machine" (excavator? bulldozer? dump truck?) are no different from the controls of an aircraft, "except that it goes in three dimensions, not just two. Those controls in front of you duplicate these. Fly it!"
He then takes his paws off the joystick, or wheel, or whatever, and the plane goes into a dive. Tragically, they are not killed in a fiery crash.
Instead Jonnie starts pushing buttons, making the craft swoop around at random. But he notices "an additional button alongside every button familiar in mining machinery. He grasped that the third set was for the third dimension." Yes, it's really that simple, folks. The controls of a state-of-the-art fighter aircraft are like that of a tractor, just with a few more buttons.
Jonnie shares some more wisdom: "The main thing, he instinctively knew, was not to get too close to the ground!"
I... that's... moving along.
Before Jonnie starts doing too well, Terl takes over and brags about the scores he got for piloting back at school (which school? a military academy? mining school? Psychlo elementary?). He shows off by landing on a cloud, which is to say he hovers above one. He then chews out "rat brain" for not watching how the Psychlo was operating the vehicle, takes another bite/drink/hit of kerbango, and orders Jonnie to practice landing on the cloud.
Of course he gets it right by the third try. We wouldn't expect anything less from the magnificent Jonnie, would we?
Jonnie then heads towards the mountains, but Terl forcibly turns him away, and Jonnie can guess why, but of course doesn't share this information with us yet. The human instead asks, quite rightly, why he's being taught to fly, and Terl lies about the knowledge being standard for miners.
Then they go home, Jonnie gathers his horses, Chrissie "yelped to see him," and they talk about how the kinnikinnick he found will help flavor the antelope and deer meat, and ooh Jonnie did you really kill that grizzly bear we see as a rug, and why couldn't we just skip these paragraphs?
In the end, Terl comes by with books: Beginner's Flight Manual and Teleportation in Relation to Manned and Drone Flight. The later has "Secret, Not for Alien Race Distribution" on it, making Jonnie speculate that Terl is operating without company authorization, and will likely have all the humans killed at the end of this "project" of his.
Next chapter, we learn a bit about teleportation. Astrophysicists may want to have a drink ready.
Back to Chapter Three