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The Goddess has been gone for a very long time. Now I have discovered that she has "returned" and that the Big Bad Villain has her trapped/prisoner/etc. I was given something that could only have come from her, and I will use that thing to rally support to save her.

What "Thing" do I have?

Now, this is not a fantasy story. It's sci-fi. So, no magic. It's also not super-tech sci-fi, so things like reassembling nanobot swarms are out as well.

Some background information: The "Goddess" is actually an immortal (Although not the particular immortal in that question). We're not on Earth anymore - In fact, we're on a pretty hostile planet. We've discovered what plants and animals are useful, along with how to process and store them for proper nutrition. Animal life is very different than on Earth - Aside from a handful of animals we happened to have on hand, there's nothing from Earth. Pretty much all technology we had when we arrived was lost, and what we have is the result of a long, hard process of rediscovering things, but stuff we have now would equate roughly to somewhere between the 1940s and late 1950s, depending on technology.

What I'm looking for is a single object, easily transportable in something like a small case or a pocket. I want it to not require analysis for convincing - Something that would be extremely difficult to forge or counterfeit. Additionally, I don't want an excessive amount of effort to go into proving it.

Examples of some things I considered: A single feather. If the Goddess had angel-like wings, a feather from those would be easily recognizable as this planet doesn't have anything that has feathers. However, I don't want the Goddess to have said wings, as it makes disappearing into the population impossible.

On the other hand, I considered a coin, but a coin wouldn't have the instant shock effect I would like, and coins have a long tradition of being counterfeited.

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  • $\begingroup$ What makes the Goddess immortal? Bio-engineering? Cybernetics? $\endgroup$ – Chris M. Jul 17 '17 at 18:38
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You have two problems here the first is having an item that is instantly recognizable as a sign that the goddess has returned. This isn't that hard, it just needs to be something symbolic associated with her return. By using the term goddess I'm assuming there is some sort of religion or religious thought associated with this immortal, which should supply a large amount of symbolism to work with to pick an appropriate item. For example if I had to tell you that Wonder Woman had returned, there are probably a few artifacts based on her mythology that you would think of related to her, like a magic lasso or bullet proof bracelets. Your immortal goddess would likely have similar items associated with her in the mythology.

The second, much harder part, is as you noted in the coin idea, counterfeiting. The symbolic item can't be something you can just make in your garage and claim as a piece of the true cross heralding the goddess has returned. The sign has to have some quality making it very difficult or near impossible to fake.

Some ideas:

  • Large or specific varieties of gemstones associated with the goddess, possibly incorporated into jewelry: "It is the ring of the goddess, the fire of the blue diamond speaks of her return!"
  • Specific high technology artifacts, high technology was lost, so your society is at the 1940-50s tech level, but conceivably the goddess being immortal would still have some of these impossible to fake items, "behold the ipod of the goddess, this magical device contains many hours of the music of the gods, listen to the hymns of her return!"
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Don't think in terms of divinity.

  • You have an immortal being, or perhaps not an immortal but unaging one who can still be killed if a foe really tries. This being disappeared in the distant past when there still was technology.
  • Technology has been lost, but surely there are records. Including printouts of computer files, carefully hand-copied during the dark ages.

You have her secret digital key, which can be authenticated with the public key in the appendix of her "holy" book.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking something about cryptography but couldn't think of a way to make it fast, public key in the holy book would work +1, but would still be pretty slow without computers or calculators and you're screwed if there are transcription errors. Brethren begin the ciphering... much later... brother Maynard there is an error in multiplication on page two of your section... later still... the key is authentic, all praise the return of the goddess! $\endgroup$ – Josh King Jul 17 '17 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @JoshKing, the late 1940s had the first computers, which were used for cryptographic applications. So it would be "Brother Maynard, can you confirm that we entered the key and the algorithm?" $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 18 '17 at 4:36
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"Sci-fi, not fantasy" rules out any "magic" talisman or such thing. I'm assuming based on your link regarding immortals that the immortal Goddess is a product of advanced technology - bioengineering, cybernetics, etc. You also seem to be applying Clarke's Third Law, treating with religious reverence a being which is not magical but rather retains extremely advanced technology within themselves, indistinguishable from magic to a population with Post-War-Era technology.

While any sufficiently advanced piece of tech could work, you need something that's both recognizable to the audience and impossible to fake. It's all fine to show them an SD card and claim it can hold impossible amounts of data, but how do you prove it? You can't plug it into anything but modern technology, so for all they know, it's a bit of Bakelite with some gold stuck to it.

A modern portable music player may have too foreign an interface for people to recognize and be able to use, making it difficult to prove to others that its a genuine talisman of the goddess.

One item that springs to mind might be a modern, solar-powered pocket scientific calculator. While not "modern" in our sense, computational devices were largely mechanical up until the 70s though they existed well before that. As such, the educated public would be able to recognize it, but the means of creating something solar-powered, electronic, computationally powerful, and pocket-sized would not yet have been available.

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Small, impossible to reproduce, irrefutable proof of identity? You want a crystal ball (or similar artifact) through which the Goddess can communicate. It seems magical, but only in the Clarke's Third Law sense, i.e. sufficiently advanced technology. A specific phrase activates the item, for example, "We beseech thee, O Goddess, share with us thy wisdom."

The Big Bad doesn't know about the item, otherwise he'd take steps to get it or block the connection. On the other hand, he may know, and the bearer is in great (greater?) danger. It's a mental connection, so the Big Bad doesn't notice when She's "talking" through it--or She has implanted electronic gear so that She can subvocally speak and hear.

The Goddess can answer questions, give orders, and preach to Her followers. Nobody could fake that, not at that technology level, and nobody could mistake that it came from anyone else. An alternate version might contain an AI that reacts the way She would.

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