the first days (cont…)

I have to say I didn’t share FitzRoy’s courage – although I lacked his bold approach I was very excited by the thought of stepping on the surface. Everything would be new – so new, my head reels at the thought. What would be safe? Back home a sparrow is harmless – to us – by a deadly foe to a caterpillar. Would the same await us here?

I checked my scanner nervously, grabbed my tool bag, and stepped out into a thick fog. My companions were all silent – we stared around us – partly in fear, partly in wonder. I assumed/hoped our scanners were busily gathering data and the transmissions back to the orbiting crew, and back to Earth were all flowing at full speed. Who knows what valuable data had already been gathered by our initial moments – to be processed and teased out by generations of researchers.

FitzRoy made us check our comms and nav gear again, before we broke off into three teams – two to explore, the third to remain with Odonata for security, communications, and technical management. The teams would rotate, and although I didn’t know it at the time, I would come to appreciate the time on-craft for rest. Exploring in the heavier gravity is draining.

Of course, in a new country, one finds new species along with the familiar. Grass is grass as it were. Here, every species is a new species – everything is new. It is beyond our capacity in the time we have available to explore, discover, capture, classify, and document the overwhelmingly vast range of species we were already discovering here on Myco. Thankfully the scanners and recorders save us from this task and our mission – my mission, specifically, is to look at everything I can, as clearly as possible. The scanner is tuned to my eye, thus images of what I look at are captured and transmitted. I have two hand scopes – one for capturing greater magnifications of images; and one, more usefully, for sampling the contents of the item at hand. This will enable us to discover which species are edible, although it is unable to determine whether it will be palatable.

The image I’ve attached is of the first species we found which is edible. It’s like a large fungus or lichen. It has the red colour so typical of the species we have found here – red to capture every photon of light, including the residual rays reflected back from the surface the plant is growing on. We are calling them ‘plants’ – they do have chlorophyll-type compounds, but there appears to be some bacteria-like animals living in a possibly symbiotic relationship within the leathery membranes. The ‘weed’ as we’ve come to call it, is a common species in this area, and seems to cover most surfaces where the least and last beams of light fall. In darker places it grows a darker colour, away from the shadows it grows in a bright, cherry red colour.

The day remained dark. The fog finally lifted to the extent we were able to see the brooding clouds. I wondered what a bright summer’s day might be like here – I imagine a watery sunshine at best.

My darling, I would love to tell you all of the strange and wonderful sights we’ve seen in the first hours exploring this completely new territory, but I fear the exhaustion has overtaken me. Back in the warm dryness of the Odonata, sleep is coming easily.

All my love,
C

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