See part 3 here.
“Excuse me?” I’ve never heard cursing on an official channel. I decided right then and there, I like this woman. “Dude, stop messing with me. I’ve been out here alone six terran months. I’m going bonkers, but I’m not stupid.”
“I’m not messing with you. This is Amundsen … the South Pole Station.”
“I know what Amundsen is … was. And, like I said, very funny.” She paused, and then said, “Okay, I’ll humor you,” and added the proper counter code. “You’re lucky I have the archives here, mister,” she said, afterward. There was something in her tone that worried me; it was a combination of wariness and excitement, as if she didn’t want to be made a fool of, but was simultaneously afraid something really important was going on.
“You wanna tell me why it’s so hard to believe I’m calling from the Pole? Hell, we get the interwebz here. Have IP, will call and all that.”
This pause lasted for almost a minute. At the end, I hear a gulp and an, “Ah.”
“Hello? You there?” I ask.
“Sorry, I needed a drink. Look guy, for one thing, the South Pole was on the Earth.”
“Uh, yeah. Last time I checked.”
“And the Earth has been gone for 50,000 years, give or take a millennia. So unless you’re a ghost, quit kludging with me.” She pauses and then adds, “Why are you broadcasting in a dead language? Comm translator says you’re sending ancient Ainglesh.”
This time, it was me who didn’t answer for a long time. She was crazy as a loon, I decided, as her voice was filling with increasing anger with each exchange. Whatever nonsense she was spouting, she believed it. Nonetheless, it was late, I was sleepy, and I didn’t spend weeks scouring space only to find some nutcase with a kickass shortwave radio.
“Look, Darma is routing your signal, but I can’t get any bearing on its origin. For all I know, it’s coming from Xu over at Palmer Island.” I thought for a bit. “Is that you, Xu?” This would totally be Dr. Xu’s sense of humor.
This time the answer was immediate. “What comm bandwidth are you working with there?”
I hesitated, as that info’s definitely classified. But at this point, jail was sounding like a vacation from whatever insanity I’d fallen into. I gave her the specs.
“Shoot, that’s not much. I’ll have to compress the hell out of the feed,” she says. “It’s only going to be 2-D. Hold on.”
There was a pause and the sound of scuffling around, as well as muted voices I figured to be a different computer talking to Darma. Then, somehow, my main video screen, which had been showing nothing but black space for months, showed a face. It was oval-shaped, with huge, violet eyes, a slight nose, and a wide mouth that appeared to be open in some sort of … shit …
She was grinning at me, and she was freaking gorgeous.
The video pulled back, giving me a full view. There, floating, long legs crossed, with a flowing mane of bluish hair that drifted the full length of her torso, was a female. She was decidedly not a green lizard woman.
She was also as naked as the winter is long.
“Hi Dargesh Chatterjee,” she said, grinning so hard I could count her molars. “You just made me rich and famous.”
I was too busy passing out to make much sense of her words. Just before I blacked out, I remember someone asking, in a familiar voice, “Lady, where on earth are your clothes?” I’m thinking it might have been my mother, using my mouth.
My beautiful blue-haired blip started giggling. It was the sweetest laughter I have ever heard.
(end of part 4)