The mottled rocks seemed a safer bet, I tapped at the nearest one with my geologists hammer. It was hard and a small chip of rock flew off and landed in the not-grass. The not-grass seized it and carried the chip away with a peristaltic movement. The rock it was going to be then. Despite the millions of pounds spent on my suit the boots were not a great fit and I suspected that I was getting blisters, my feet needed a rest. As I rested I hit the rock again and this time grabbed the rock chip before it fell to the floor, photographed, bagged, tagged and recorded it.
Above me the clouds moved in the strawberry ripple sky and a translucent bubble organism drifted in the slight breeze. It was hard to judge its distance or size with no recognisable features in the landscape. I made a note in my vocal log to ask for an optical rangefinder to be part of the standard kit in future. They were going to have fun with that log back at mission HQ, some of my language about the boots had been colourful to say the least, and the log itself did not allow editing.
Below me in the valley the water in the lake moved in oily waves, the low gravity made them look taller than you would expect. Nearer the water line there were patches of dark green. Back on Earth I would have bet they were a mossy swamp, but here all bets were off. I would give those areas a wide berth until I had taken time to explore other areas.
All my checks done, and cursing the boots I moved down to the waterline, skirting round the dark green patches. The lake lapped lazily at the shore and a thick film of iridescent slime moved up and down with the water coating the rocks and the shore. Time for more samples. Liquid samples were going to be tricky. The sample containers I had been supplied with were multi-layered, supposedly proof against acids, alkalis, solvents, fungi, bacteria and anything else we had been able to think of. That made them thick and heavy and really hard to get a sample into.
The sampling probe had disposable nozzles, but those had to be bagged and sealed into multi-layered self seal bags, we were not allowed to leave anything 'foreign' on the surface. It still gave me an uneasy feeling whenever I put one of the sample containers in to my backpack. What if whatever I had sampled ate through the container?
The slime almost crawled its own way into the sample nozzle and was heading up towards the rest of the probe. I hit the eject button over the sample container and nozzle and sample went in together. I would get grief over that. I clapped the lid on the container sharpish and and watched the slime moving round the container, it looked like it was trying to get out. I took a step back from the waters edge. If this stuff was that mobile I did not want it near my much hated boots. I decided to double bag the sample container, I did not want things getting out and moving round in my backpack.
There was one small area free of the slime by the waters edge and I moved towards it to get a water sample. From above me one of the translucent balloon organisms descended, heading for the same spot. I stopped and watched it land, just in the water, away from the slime. I now had a better idea of the things size. This one was like a large beach ball. I could see some internal structure and I activated my helmet camera for a video record. I was glad I did.
As it touched the water there was a sudden movement from beneath the surface. I got an impression of long needle like teeth and suddenly there was a hole in the balloon and it sank onto the surface. The water looked as if it was boiling and in seconds there was nothing left.
As I played back the video I could see what these piranha analogs looked like. Not fish, Flat disks, with a central circular opening lined with blue needle like teeth. Each disk took only one bite and sank beneath the surface. This place was going to be interesting, and I was going to have to keep my wits about me. …...................
(END OF PART 1)