Roger Blog

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.

Roger’s Blog

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.

Roger’s Blog

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.

Roger’s Blog

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.

Roger’s Blog

NEW PET
When the dodos were underground they saw hundreds of robots controlled by some mysterious entity. After they returned, one of those robots appeared outside the base.
This was cause for concern until the crew observed its behavior, which was basically self-destructive. It wandered about the immediate vicinity, aimlessly running into various obstacles including the base itself.
After a few days the robot became the mission’s unofficial mascot, and the children on the orbiter were given the task of naming it. They suggested Humpty, which was met with general approval.
Despite its new status Samantha has forbidden bringing it through the airlock. Throughout the duration of the mission we’ve maintained the separation between the environments of Earth and Mars, for the protection of both worlds.
And so Humpty stays outside.

Roger’s Blog

THREAT

The dodos are back, safe and sound, after Earth’s first encounter with alien intelligence. (Yeah, it just had to be *them*.)   However, they returned with potentially alarming news for everyone back on Earth.

They were mistaken as members of an army of robots busily creating a miles-wide sphere of rocks that are fused together by an adhesive substance. If completed and launched to hit Earth it would produce an extinction-level event on par with the impact of 65 million years ago.

Yes, that’s just conjecture, and even if true we have no weapons to combat it. All we can do is wait and watch and hope we’re wrong. Not exactly Flash Gordon, but this is real life. We’ll keep this under wraps so as to avoid scaring everybody since there’s nothing anyone can do about it anyway.

Roger’s Blog

GENETIC MATERIAL
When Samantha, Ming and Jenny emerged from the flooded hole their suits were fortunate not to be breached. Nothing was torn or shredded, so they weren’t exposed to any Martian organisms (or vice versa). For the time being, the barrier between the planets remains intact.
The three returned to base, and kept their suits on during the decontamination process. That’s when Samantha discovered a six-inch double helix structure in the container she was using to obtain a fluid sample when their exploration was cut short.
It was placed in a glove box which allowed it to be examined without coming into contact with the rest of the living quarters.
She found it was identical in chemical composition to DNA on Earth, just vastly larger in size. Nothing like it could exist on the surface, leading one to surmise a rich ecosystem in the planet’s interior. Too bad it keeps trying to kill us.
Next week: an update on the dodos.

Roger’s Blog

LOST

Never accuse Samantha and the crew on Mars of having a deficit of courage. They descended into a mysterious passageway with no guarantee of ever being seen again, all in the search for two stowaways.

The danger was real, and averted only because Samantha realized that whenever liquid recedes, it tends to return with a vengeance. Fortunately they were swept to safety, instead of into the bowels of the planet.

Only after all the human crew was safe and back at the base did Samantha break down at the loss of the dodos. After all the trouble they’ve caused she genuinely grieved for them. However, that may have been too soon.

Roger’s Blog

DOWN THE HATCH
Once the dodos were in their spacesuits Luis used his rover’s backhoe extension to lower them into the hole. As Ming’s camera had shown, it was a sloping artificial passageway with smooth walls for about fifty feet, and then became roughly carved from the Martian soil for an unknown distance. The dodos were sent to investigate, and return immediately.
That was before they found a round door that appeared the scan them and open in response. A rush of air signaled a vast difference in temperature, which was confirmed when they saw liquid water flowing through an artificial channel.
The dodos’ transmission signal was beginning to degrade when they saw a figure approaching them from the far reaches of the tunnel. The closer it got, the more video and audio were lost until contact vanished entirely.
And that’s all we know. Samantha faced a major command decision, which was to follow them down there. We’ll soon see how wise that was.