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DODOS TO DOGS
As previously mentioned, just because Samantha has occasionally transformed herself into a canine in the past, it doesn’t mean she’s fluent in dog language. While she’s able to speak Dog when she becomes one, that ability vanishes when she changes back.
What they needed was on-site translators who could understand what Mars was saying and communicate the messages into English. To that end, the dodos became poodles.
Can they do the job? Sure. Can they be trusted to accurately report what Mars is saying without adding a self-serving spin?
Um…

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SPEAK
Samantha, being a researcher, took the hypothesis of the Martians talking to us via the dog language from old “Lassie” TV shows and began testing it on Humpty the robot. Yep, it began responding to canine commands.
Now, this still means that Mars is using a language that was unknown to it seventy years ago, and is the product of a culture that it seems hostile toward. The upshot is that it’s taking great pains to communicate with us. …When it’s not trying to blow us out of the sky.
It seems rather conflicted.

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DOG TALK
While most of the world’s brainpower was trying to translate the Martian speech through sheer brute force trial and error, it took Palmtop to recognize it as the language of canines. This was mainly due to Palmtop’s status as cat who was cloned from a dog, and who has spent a good portion of her life interacting with a canine (i.e., her mom Laptop).
Samantha and Dave retained their childhood ability to understand animals, but that form of communication is different from comprehending a spoken language. Instead, it comes from a deep emotional connection. (Later, Palmtop did teach both Samantha and Patina Welding how to talk feline.) Samantha, even though she’d occasionally transformed into a dog, didn’t recognize the Martian connection to canine speech because she wasn’t looking for it.

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LEARNING SPEECH
So far Mars hasn’t thrown any more attacks our way, but the robots we control are standing guard around the trench just in case. In the meantime, we have to find some way of opening up a dialog with whatever is out there. That’s not just for our safety, but Earth’s.
While Samantha is able to control the robots with various sequences of drumming, that’s quite different from actual language. It would be like attempting to understand English by being given a few binary code commands.
Normally, such an endeavor would take years. We don’t have years.

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SAMANTHA’S ARMY
Once Samantha found she could control about 300 of the Martian robots, she put them to work digging a defensive ditch around the base. It’s about 10 feet deep, with the soil piled around the inside of the ring to create an even larger barrier. It’s not a perfect defense, and does nothing about threats coming from above or below, but it definitely makes the base less exposed to hostile intentions.
Samantha made sure to leave a 20-foot gap so that they’re not boxing themselves in. If need be, the robots can defend the opening.
300…that sounds so familiar.

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ATTACK!
It seems that Mars waited until we were totally distracted by the revelation of Maria’s origins to launch a mass assault on the base. Fortunately Luis had been keeping an eye on the exterior monitors and saw them coming.
These were the robots whose only function we’ve observed is carrying rocks. Apparently the goal was to send them careening into the base, which would’ve effectively destroyed it with no survivors. The only thing that saved everyone was that the robots’ radio frequency for receiving commands wasn’t changed.
Because of that Samantha was able to stop them. It makes one wonder, though, why the entity controlling them didn’t reset the frequency the way we did with Humpty. It seems pretty basic.
After all these months on Mars we still don’t know what we’re dealing with.

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MARIA’S JOURNEY
I don’t think I need to recap the stunning revelation that just occurred; we’re still reeling from the news. Now that we know the truth, of course, it all makes sense.
Looking back, Maria let the mask slip just once. Five months ago, when she was faced with performing surgery on Thomas, with his life and the entire mission on the line, she momentarily forgot to use her Italian accent. Don was the only one who witnessed it, however, and he had other things to focus on. He’d forgotten about it until just now.
Maria has said that she didn’t learn to time jump until puberty, so it must have been quite a shock when her son Leonardo manifested that ability much earlier. She did the next thing; engineer events in Nov. 2011 so that he showed up in front of Samantha and Dave…his grandparents.

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CHRISTMAS ON MARS
Baby Maria won’t remember it, but her first Christmas will always be the initial one that humans celebrated on another planet. (Not to dismiss the crew of Apollo 8, but they didn’t land.)
Samantha now has full control of the robot, as long as its original owner doesn’t find the new radio setting we’ve tuned it to. What this means is that she has a menu of drum sequences that she uses in various combinations. She’s become so adept that she’s like a puppet master pulling on strings.
This is different than a language, of course, but it might provide the basis of one. If we’d known we’d encounter this we’d have brought a linguist.

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DANCING QUEEN
Once Luis figured out how Humpty was being controlled by its base (whatever that is!), he changed the radio settings of its receiver so it could only receive commands from us. Then Samantha sent pulses through her drumming, as a microphone delivered the sound sequence to the robot. After much random trial and error, she slowly accumulated a menu of commands.
This may have seemed like a frivolous activity, but the stakes involved couldn’t be higher. First, we know that Humpty is just one of hundreds or perhaps thousands of robots being commanded by a force that’s been shown to be hostile. If those robots were directed against us en masse, we’d be wiped out in seconds. If, on the other hand, we were able to wrench control of them away from that force we’d stand a chance.
Second, that force remains shrouded in mystery. If it intends to harm Earth, our only way of stopping it is by communicating our peaceful intentions. In order to do that, we have to learn to speak to one another. Currently, our only commonality are the pulses that control Humpty.