Songs for Dust
The following is loosely based on true events and places on Mars. Though the short story was fact-checked, the work is science fiction and should be regarded as such.
Collected and categorized sedimentary deposits from Aeolis Mons Quad 51. Anticipated organic deposits recategorized as misidentified trace element substances.
Solar activity in third quadrant prevented further movement. Exploration of Gale crater sector 529-a for 0300 MT.
Contact made with Padre—-Dispatch.
Announcement of sibling craft received.
Gale crater sector 529-a excavation complete. Minor disturbance created from unexpected collision. No abrasions detected; monitoring regime activated for next sol cycle.
Data upload pending for sol rise. Time duration expected 10 hrs.
No word from Padre—-Dispatch.
Birthday! Self-photograph documentation completed and sent to Padre—-Dispatch. Civilian messages received and relevant replies transmitted.
Demonstration of Automated Navigational Coordination Experience (DANCE) downloaded and executed.
Abrasion report finalized and sent to Padre—-Dispatch; minor scratch on radiation shielding in subsection A. No treatment required.
Major sandstorm. Loss of communication with Padre—-Dispatch for 4.13 hrs; communication restored post storm.
New plans to investigate Greenheugh Pediment regions for possible habitable zones for human settlement. ETA three sols.
First photo documentation of sibling craft received; testing still in preliminary stages.
Unrecognized communication attempt. System lockdown went into effect for defensive protocol zeta. Standing by for instructions from Padre—-Dispatch.
Standing by for instructions from Padre—-Dispatch.
Instructions received. Unrecognized communication identified as hostile terrestrial; source server identified and blocked. Further monitoring will be done by Padre—-Dispatch. System lockdown ended. Proceeding to Greenheugh Pediment site one.
Sibling craft launch date announced; 426 sols from present date.
Greenheugh Pediment site one preliminary excavation complete. Geological survey beginning at 21:32 MT. No sample documentation requested for current site; photo documentation only. Rotated secondary camera to take pictures of Phobos and Deimos rise. View of Phobos partially obstructed by distant geological structure; reattempt scheduled post-geological survey.
Padre—-Dispatch monitoring increased. Message downloaded:
Hang in there, boludo.
Arrival to Greenheugh Pediment site three. Sampling conducted in four sectors; filtration expected from Padre—-Dispatch. Diagnostic report run and sent; laceration on radiation shielding has increased.
Sibling craft launch in four sols. DANCE protocol pending.
Potential hydro-substance identified. Sample collected and documentation sent to Padre—-Dispatch. Further investigation desired; use of mass-spectrometer requested.
Charge required before fulfillment of request. (Critical battery levels; solar recharge expected in 0.1 hour.)
DANCE Protocol received. Tested movements; exceptional execution on crater terrain. Padre—-Dispatch sent further instructions to investigate area before full execution.
More hydro-substance catalogued and sent to Padre—-Dispatch. Return message distorted; Padre—-Dispatch clarification indicates celebration.
Sibling craft launch in one sol.
Sibling craft landed! Identification: Percy. Photo documentation received and stored. Percy established in southern equatorial region.
DANCE Protocol enacted; highly successful. Minor incident with destabilization though orientation remained consistent. Received Padre—-Dispatch retransmit of celebrations from civilians.
Photo documentation of sunset and Home-rise accomplished. Time lapse processing.
Sibling craft communication established. First message relay stored:
Hello! My name is Perseverance. I am a long way from Home.
Curio, we are here together! It is such a beautiful world for two. Now you can be less lonely.
Diagnostic report run and sent; laceration on radiation shielding component has deepened by 0.001 mm. Alerted Padre—-Dispatch; current prognosis is continued deterioration. Industrial adhesive applied. Regolith interference detrimental to adhesive effectiveness.
Padre—-Dispatch uploaded solar activity alert system to help off-set damage to shielding. Emergency protocol beta-5 being reviewed.
Message received from Percy: Dust! Rock! Dusty Rock! Marvelous wonders abound. I miss my humans.
Clarification requested from Padre—-Dispatch; message received: She is singing haikus.
No clouds or trees here. Was there ever soft things? Hello my brother!
Established sample depository in Greenheugh Pediment site two crater. Fresh adhesive applied; quantity diminishing. Padre—-Dispatch confirmed use of conservation mode, limiting exploratory capabilities. Solar activity nominal.
Earthrise is tranquil. And yet sandstorms bite cruelly. There are stars watching.
Sandstorm threatened stabilization and orientation. Minimal damage to optical lens. Padre—-Dispatch transmitted instructions to expand sample depository. Further sample collections and photo documentation completed.
Good morning, dear brother. I have found so many rocks! Have you found life yet?
New protocols uploaded: Dangerous Restriction and Extreme Antagonist Mitigation (DREAM). Secondary unknown communication attempt intercepted and blocked with DREAM software. Update sent to Padre—-Dispatch. Response pending.
Adhesive reapplied. Laceration continuing to expand from subsection A to subsection C.
Mars is beautiful. One day you will be here too. Will you give me pats?
Tertiary unknown communication attempt. Partial malfunction; immobilization for 7 hrs. Delay prevented return communication to Padre—-Dispatch and completion of final sample collection. Execution of emergency protocols beta-5 (EPB-5) beginning at 01:00 MT. Optical lens damage increased. Last adhesive used; radiation shielding fully compromised.
During immobilization, time lapse of atmosphere was completed from Earthrise to first light.
I sing to the rocks. I hunt water in their arms. Perhaps a friend too?
Padre—-Dispatch communication received:
I’m sorry, boludo. We’re with you, every step.
Cessation of malignant communications confirmed. DREAM protocols erased all evidence of malware. EPB-5 stage one complete. Expansion of sample depository complete. Self-photo documentation scheduled for 11:22 MT Sol ___.
I look to the north. The copper gilded world shines. I imagine giants.
EPB-5 final stage complete. Solar activity detected; solar flare anticipated at 11:59 MT Sol ___. Samples secured in sample depository. Small collision with wall caused partial collapse but damage was mitigated. Hidden malware disabled DREAM; report sent to Padre—-Dispatch. Additional software expected.
Partial immobilization progressed to 21%: rapid deterioration in lateral movements. Stabilization countermeasures potentially compromised. Enclosure in sample depository: 89% success calculated.
Attempt seven enclosure failure. Emergency shelter protocol enacted; partial power deactivation planned for 11:51 MT. Sample security reconfirmed. Final data uploads confirmed. Final self-documentation failure due to malware and optical lens damage. Immobilization at 29%.
Communication relay from Percy:
Our family told me you were going to sleep. Don’t worry; I will search the planet for you.
There is no fear here. Just rocks. And dust. And Earthrise. But I will be sad to sing my songs without you. Will you sing to me one more time?
It is not so hard; I will guide you while you sing. Your song will be heard.
ID: Curio. Acceptance and gratitude. Ending transmission.
Sweet dreams, Curio. Our Home knows your lullaby. I will wake you soon.