As fast as the suits mechanical legs would allow me I raced back up the slope to where I had left the MSV. It had called for help before during my explorations, but that had been when it was moving. At the moment it should be sitting still soaking up the morning sun recharging its power cells. I was not in a good mood. The professionalism of the guys in Mission Control had cracked last night when I described my encounter with what only could be called a UFO. Between their chuckles I had described what by definition was an Unidentified Flying Object. I never used the words ' Flying Saucer'. It was egg shaped and gold!
As I came over the brow of the hill I could see the green turtle like shape of the MSV. Green, of all the colours to use for something that needed to be highly visible on a planet that was mostly green. At this distance I could already see the problem. One of the balloon organisms had descended and landed over the MSV's sensor array. Perhaps is had sensed the water inside. That was where the retractable elephant like trunk was located it used to suck up water to hydrolyse for its fuel cells. I stood and watched for a while, thinking. That was the main reason there needed to be a human mind here on the surface, the best A.I.s we had produced still could not think their way out of a paper bag, or in this case a balloon. If the balloon wanted water then the best way to get it off the MSV was to give it some.
I hooked my HUD up to the MSV schematics and control systems. How could I get the MSV to release some water from its store. It took a while to find, but I finally inserted a test code into the water storage systems controls that fooled it into thinking it had an overfull tank. A spout of water exited from the back end of the MSV, of course the spout just had to be at the rear! Suppressing my giggles I reset the test code. The balloon organism released itself from the MSV and sank onto the puddle on the floor. I hoped that the balloon was not intelligent enough to work out that it could get drinks when it wanted to by stopping the MSV. It would be best if I programmed the MSV to move away. This was a fairly dry area, it might be better to get it to stop somewhere there were other water sources. Then I could get on with my work. There was an area below where I had run from that was multicoloured. That was something new.
The slopes below me were a riot of colour. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and even a violet. All the colours of the rainbow. The patches of colour were irregular, as if someone had spilt huge amounts of paint. There was structure here too. Could this be a sign of intelligent life?
I was close enough now to see movement among the colours. The patterns were changing. Areas of colour moved and distorted, but did not mix. It reminded me of one of those lava lamps I had seen in a museum, except with more colours. Could this be a group of organisms? I needed to get closer.
I stood just outside the coloured area. Pseudopods raised and lowered themselves in an out of the multi-hued patches. Taking on shapes that resembled other organisms I had seen on my journey. Could this be an attempt at communication? I switched on my video link back to the MSV, I had to make sure Mission Control saw this.
One nearby area of red material raised itself. Indistinct at first the shape morphed and trembled and then resolved itself. I was staring at a replica of my environmental suit. It moved towards me and an arm reached out to me. I should have moved, but I was transfixed. I raised my suits arm in a mirror action to it and we touched.
The world around me dissolved into a pixelated jumble of coloured cubes. My connection to the suit was failing. I tried to make sense of what I saw, but it faded away rapidly as the techs in Mission Control ripped away the face plate on my full body immersion suit and cut the connection to the planet below. It took me a while to recall I was safe in orbit above the planet. I may have only been present virtually but I was convinced we had made first contact.