What delights would the life support system deliver for lunch today. A nice jacket potato with melting mature cheese? A salad Nicoise? No! It would be a fully balanced, nutritionally tailored, low residue, easily digested, chemical tasting, smooth, goo that I could sip as I explored. Would it be too much to ask for a flavour that even approximated to something edible? A vague suggestion of a texture? The occasional lump? Whatever happened to freeze dried vanilla ice cream that NASA perfected or even the caviar paste the Russians used to get. Sheesh, progress !
Lunch over, and thankfully quickly forgotten I pulled up my comms tablet and started looking at the course the MSV would follow. It was true that the limited AI in the MSV should be able to negotiate most obstacles and just follow me. However that 'I' in AI was not a particularly high one. The public seemed to think of it as some sort of robotic dog. A Fido faithfully following his masters path. The truth was this AI was closer to the brain of an ant following a scent trail. Unless I told it otherwise it would follow all the blind trails and back tracks I had taken. If I wanted it to be at somewhere convenient before nightfall I would have to edit the track. I'd also tell it to stop off at the spring I had found and top up its water tanks.
The MSV would meet me before it got dark. I could plug in my suit to get it recharged from the MSV's batteries which would have been storing energy from the solar cells covering the vehicles tortoise like body. Once my suit was plugged in I could get out of these boots and take care of my poor feet. Until then I would carry on exploring.
The terrain ahead looked simpler than that I'd been picking my way through. The green not-grass was smoother and there were fewer rocks and less of the dark green patches. I would take a look at one of the smaller patches before I left though. I found a small patch adjacent to a rock. I could climb over the rock and get close without too much risk. I lay down on the edge of the rock and looked down on the vivid green patch. Like the not-grass the not-moss too was in constant movement, undulating waves crossed its surface, but there was no breeze here. Recalling what had happened to the rock chip on the not-grass I used my hammer to flake of some pieces of the rock I lay on. As I hit the rock I noticed the not-moss's undulations became more pronounced. This organism was sensitive to vibration. I tossed a rock chip onto the surface. Instantly ripples appeared in the surface, but these were not like ripples in a pond. They were going the wrong way, not away from the chip but towards it. In the central hollow the rock vanished below the surface and the ripples died away. Seconds later there was another upheaval and the rock chip flew up out of the not-moss and landed on the not-grass which then carried it away. Well I knew not to step on the not-moss, I might not be as unappetising to it as the rock.
Moving on I could see that above me the not-grass gave way to a lighter green yellow vegetation that seemed to cover the more distant hills. That was too far to explore today. I decided to make my way down to the water again to see if I could get a sample of that.
By the waters edge I could see that there was none of the oily yellow slime here and the water was clear and shallow. There were some of the balloon organisms floating just above the water. I watched as they touched down. There did not seem to be any of the piranha like creatures here. The balloons landed safely and as they came into contact with the water they started to change colour. From a white translucent sphere they became at first dark blue. The balloons swelled and the blue became lighter, They then grew rapidly from beach ball sized to undulating soap bubble like shapes as large as a hot air balloon and rose rapidly from the surface to disappear in the pink clouds above. I watched them vanish and then went down to the water and look a sample.
Further along the shore line was a tree shaped structure. After what I had already seen I did not delude myself that it was a tree or would behave like a tree. It was however a useful landmark and would mark a spot where I could continue exploring tomorrow. I headed up the slope, away from the water where I could see the MSV just arriving. Time to get out of the suit, pamper my feet and get some sleep.