This is the twentieth episode of No Marigolds in the Promised Land, a serialized Compact Universe novella. To get the entire novella, go here for details.
Dedicated to Dave Harr and in memory of Andre Polk
LOG ENTRY: 1007 (Local Time) – 11-Mandela, 429
Someone heard me! Holy shit, someone heard me!
Before I turned in the night before, I had written a routine that would give Persephone control of the pinger. Don’t look at me like that. It’s my contraption, and I’ll call it what I want. The John Farno Primitive Tech Company is now officially operational. Now if someone will come get me off this rock, I can go look for a market.
Oh, sure, and forget about your virtual girlfriend, who will cease to exist when you leave. If I were in full holographic mode right now, I’d pout.
I’m really not sure calling her Persephone was a good idea. We were both getting creeped out by calling her by the name of the woman she was originally patterned after. But the name Persephone sounds otherworldly. She still sounds like a sarcastic woman named Julia.
Well, I can call myself Marilyn in those more… intimate moments.
Bite your tongue next time you rez.
Anyway, Persephone hit on the idea of broadcasting a series of prime numbers over the signaling apparatus to The Caliphate. She sent one pulse, then two, then three, then five and so on, up to four hundred ninety-nine. One series of pulses every fifteen minutes. Then the cycle began again. After the second series began, we got a response. Three single pulses, followed by three triple pulses, followed by three single pulses. Unsure of how to respond, Persephone fired by one, then two, then three…
Turns out to be something called “Morse code.” How quaint.
And clever, I might add. We had to scour all the rovers we now had access to for a complete encyclopedia that had been up to date as of the night of the Event. She sent back the letter “R” in Neo-Latin. Why Neo-Latin?
Humanic did not exist when Morse code went out of use.
Hopefully, whoever’s listening on the other end will have access to a Morse code translator. It took Persephone seconds to write herself a module to understand it.
Makes more sense than Humanic or Tianese. Don’t humans get the concept of phonetic spelling?
As some of my fellow Bonapartans might say, oui.
I’m in uncharted territory here. Par for the course. I’ve been in it for thirty days. So far, I’ve survived the destruction of an entire colony, turned two rovers into my home, conjured up an AI companion, and brought a half-finished dome online so I can actually go outside without having to suit up.
And you’ve managed to have actual sex with a solid hologram.
Oh, yeah. If Germanicus wasn’t the one who already programmed all that, I’d so patent that.
Actually, I think Germanicus is already using that back home.
Dammit. And here I thought I was going to get a little bit of outrageous compensation for my troubles. Well, I’ll settle for going home. Just as soon as it occurs to someone on The Caliphate to send a ship.