Henry duck under the fallen branch. For a planet abundant in plant life, he expected there to be more significant animal life. He couldn’t be sure that he’d even stumbled upon small insects, or if his eyes were just making them up out of fleeting images in the corners of his eyes. Still, there had to be microbes of some sort: decomposition still took place.
He and his crew had been sent to ascertain the vitality of the planet to build a waystation. While the bulk of the structure would be in orbit with the planet as a backdrop, the construction would require the building of temporary bases on the planet’s surface and a semi-habitable planet would mean a significant reduction in cost.
Henry wondered, as he cut through the vegetation, if the early Earth, before fish fled the sea, would have looked similar. Was he like those early pioneers of the land, finding theirselves on the cusp of opportunity, with a bounty of potential before them. Or, more likely, were they merely greeted by the sludge and much of the ocean washing up and decomposing on the shore.
These thoughts were what caused him to change course after a few hours with no hint of animal life. He’d diverted his crew to head towards the nearest ocean. Secretly, though he’d never admit it to the crew, he hope to see those earliest of land adventurers emerging from the sea, even if it meant the mission would extend from mere weeks to months.