I’m having a bit of a problem figuring out where the story is going or needs to go, so time to work things out a bit in my head…
The Rabbit Who Ate the Moon is a story of the pilot of an diplomatic ship that crashes during an exchange mission. The pilot is the only survivor of the crash and he’s gravely wounded. Luckily the ship landed within the territory of the aliens that the first contact is attached too, and she manages to rescue him.
The First nurses him back to health, and teaches him how to live among the aliens. The rescue ship arrives almost a year later, bringing with it a replacement set of second contact diplomats. After the first and the pilot pass on what they have learned, the seconds take over and the first and the pilot are sent home.
The pod has become quite fond of them, and even though they still view them as something akin to a very bright rabbit, the matriarch gives them a sendoff as if they had been true pod members.
Which means the first is off to another assignment and the pilot has a board of inquiry to face (although the crash wasn’t his fault and he won’t get in trouble for it) and a serious crisis of faith about his place in the universe.
He could become a first himself, but it requires an altered brain chemistry that he doesn’t have. He could become a second, but that isn’t the same thing as being there, immersing self into the alien until the line isn’t just blurred, but gone.
So he stays a pilot, but he starts focusing more on the Firsts when they’re making the long trip home and back to human. It’s still a new field, as fields go, and most of what the firsts go through is uncharted territory. Boiled down to ‘just walk it off’ and ‘they’ll be fine’ because no one really knew what ‘fine’ was for firsts. So he learns how to be a first for them, how to turn the stranger in the mirror back into a reflection.
There’s a statue of him in the academy, floating in a pool looking up at the sky, and he’s mandatory reading for pilots and doctors and anyone else who might need to bring a first home again.
…and that was a lot more story than I thought it was. Hmm. Which means I need to figure out how much I’m telling here and how much I’ll tell in other stories. Because this ‘verse is one I’ll be playing in a bit I think. *ponders*