I walked down towards the lake and the tree like object I had chosen as the point to resume my explorations. I compared the pictures I had taken of the tree, the evening before, with what I could now see. The shape of the tree had altered significantly. I would be cautious in my approach. There was no way to be sure just how quickly it could move and previous encounters with organisms on this planet had made me wary. I stopped a good distance away and then approached more slowly.
As I neared the not-tree its branches, which had appeared stiff, started to flex towards me. The ends of the branches roiled like serpents tails, each one tracking my movements. This place seemed to favour organisms with tendrils. I watched the not-tree for a while. If it was a predator it would be interesting to see what its prey was.
I was rewarded a few moments later when one of the balloon organisms that had been taking on water at the lake rose as it expanded and was captured by the not-tree's mobile branches. The flexible branches and twigs encircled the balloon and I could see it being squeezed. Just before I expected it to burst the balloon released its load of water which fell down to the base of the tree. Now smaller the balloon sailed free from the not-tree's grasp. At the base of the not-tree fine root like tendrils absorbed the water from the stony ground. This was an organism to avoid. I did not think that even my environmental suit would withstand a hug from a not-tree.
As I moved on the land ahead of me grew brighter. I checked the sky. The clouds had covered the sun and I could see no reason for the increased light. I came to the brow of a small hill and my suits visor suddenly darkened in response to what it considered harmful levels of light. The valley in front of me was white and glowing . It was so bright I could not make out any detail. The glowing mass stretched up the valley into the dark hills and down and into the lake. A few dark rocks near the lake shore stood clear of the glow. In the lake the glowing area split into a number of fingers that moved up and down with the low gravity waves.
Coming closer to the edge of the brilliant white area I began to see detail. The area was made up of hexagonal plates. They were sliding over each other. Always moving down hill. As they moved downwards they were growing thinner but larger in area. When they reached the water they floated on the surface like small ice floes. Eventually they sank beneath the surface. I headed up the side of the valley and came to a point where the plates emerged from a small cave, almost like a spring. This phenomenon would take some careful investigation, but for the moment I needed to press on and carry on mapping.
Above the bright valley the hills were darker with small light green patches. The lighter structures resembled cabbages while the darker areas between them looked like rock scree. I was keen to get a higher viewpoint so these too would have to wait for another day.
As I moved onto the next hill covered with not-grass two features in the hills beyond stopped me in my tracks. These were nothing that had been observed from orbit. Nearest a huge red and purple disc, shaped like a satellite dish complete with a central spike looking antenna. It stood alone on the hill and from where I stood I could not see what was supporting it from behind. As I watched I could see that it was turning very slowly. I activated my data link and fed what I was seeing to the computer on the MSV. After a few moments it confirmed what I suspected. The dish was tracking the sun through the pink cloud layer. If this was an organism it was the largest sunflower anyone had ever seen.
The further hill however was perhaps even more astounding. Could my eyes or brain be playing tricks on me. Perhaps I was only projecting my earth born preconceptions on what I saw. Those looked just like the cultivated terraces I had seen back on earth in China and some hilly areas of Europe. Could there be intelligent life here ?