No Marigolds in the Promised Land is chronologically the first story in the Compact Universe series.
No Marigolds begins as a series of computer messages and log entries by John Farno, a bot wrangler for a terraforming project on Farigha, a Mars-like world orbiting a red dwarf star known as 2 Mainzer. Farno is awakened one night as his rover tumbles from the shockwaves from multiple fusion blasts. He soon learns that every dome within a day’s drive of where he camped out for the night has been destroyed.
Farno scrambles to salvage supplies from hidden caves, underground vaults, and storage depots as he makes his way around the planet. He must also find a way to contact civilization with Farigha’s hypergate destroyed. The nearest human is forty light-years away.
An improved rover allows Farno to program an AI interface with the personality of Julie Seding, a former terraformer who created a template of herself so others using the rover might not get bored and lonely while away from the domes for days at a time. Julie soon creates a holographic avatar Farno finds more attractive and attempts to simulate a physical relationship with him.
At a storage depot, Farno and Julie discover an AI hologram of Tol Germanicus, the trillionaire CFO of Dasarius Interstellar. Germanicus, or rather his avatar, reveals technology that allows Julie to project in solid form. As Julie drives the rover for him, Farno devises a way to use the remains of the hypergate to communicate with another hypergate. At Solaria, uninhabited and the only unaffected dome on Farigha, Farno makes contact with a core world, The Caliphate.
A Border Guard hypergate technician named Patty Friese finds the message. She is soon assigned on a secret mission by Rear Admiral Burke to travel to Farigha aboard the Alcubierre, an experimental warp ship (as opposed to wormhole travel) to hide the ship from whomever destroyed Farigha.
As Farno fends off another attack thanks to Julie, who becomes Persephone as she grows into a sapient entity. Meanwhile, the Alcubierre suffers delay after delay in reaching Farigha. The ship arrives in time for Admiral Burke to openly defy Fleet Admiral Tran’s orders and take a warship to the planet. Together, they rescue Farno and unwittingly retrieve Persephone. Farno is taken to Tian, the most populated world in the Compact after his ordeal. Persephone is taken away by Germanicus to be reprogrammed for some unknown purpose.
Preceded by: First in series
Followed by: The Roots of War