The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 124: Sol 216

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AMICITAS: Amicitas calling Baltimare, use suit CB for responses, over.

ESA: Baltimare calling Amicitas, over.

AMICITAS: SG – need to consult with Chrysalis regarding Dragonfly health issues, over.

ESA: TS – Chrysalis isn’t available. She’s standing watch on Concordia in case we find you. Won’t be back until Mission Day 231, over.

AMICITAS: Darn and blast, over.

ESA: How urgently do you need to speak to Chrysalis, over?

AMICITAS: Unknown. Serious concerns over Dragonfly’s health, but Dragonfly is unwilling to discuss it. Need input from expert in changeling medicine. Also do not tell Dragonfly we are asking, over.

ESA: Tell me what’s wrong, over.

ESA: Baltimare calling Amicitas, comms check, over.

AMICITAS: Sorry, Baltimare. CB says we should keep this to changelings unless things get worse. Chrysalis won’t like ponies prying into changeling health, over.

ESA: Stand by, over.

ESA: Spoke with Chrysalis. She refused to order you to report. She says if Dragonfly is hiding something, she has good reasons. Will try to get a changeling for consultation, over.

AMICITAS: Understood. Will contact again when Dragonfly is elsewhere. Out.

Cherry Berry looked at Spitfire, Starlight Glimmer, and Fireball. They looked back at her. The water from the last outbound message seeped into the soil between the Hab's potato plants.

"Are we doing the right thing?" the pink pony asked.

"What's the alternative?" Fireball grunted. He held up his claws, using them as if they were sock-puppets. "Dragonfly, we know you're sick. No I'm not. Yes you are. No I'm not." He lowered his arms again and grunted. "Repeat as often as you feel like. She isn't going to tell you. That would be showing weakness. This is the only way we can find out."

Cherry Berry gave the dragon a sharp look. "Should I be worried about anyone else not wanting to show weakness?"

Fireball growled, a deep, seriously angry growl. He cut it short with a snort and muttered, "My fire is out. Dunno if that means anything. I feel fine otherwise."

The three ponies looked at each other, but said nothing.

"Have you noticed," Spitfire said, "that she hasn't tried to get any of us alone for her schmoozing for weeks now? And she doesn't act stupid as often." When the others nodded, she added, "How worried does she have to be, that she forgets all about her little manipulative changeling games?"

"That's not worried," Fireball grunted. "That's terrified."

Cherry sighed. "Fine, but what do we do about it?" she asked.

Starlight Glimmer sighed. "Find excuses to waste magic," she said. "You saw her yesterday. She can't hide it anymore. She obviously needs magic."

"Maybe," Spitfire said, the sound of caution totally out of place in her scratchy voice, "maybe we all do?"

"We can ask Twilight," Starlight suggested, pointing to her space suit.

"No time," Cherry said, shaking her head. "Mark will be back with Dragonfly for lunch any minute." She took a moment to look each of the others in the eyes. "We don't even hint that we know, right?"

"If I hadn't spent six months living with her, I wouldn't know," Spitfire said. "She looks normal. Well, changeling-normal."

"But not Dragonfly-normal," Starlight put in.

The outer door of Airlock 2 unlatched, the thump echoing through the Hab, and Starlight rushed to put the suit away.

Author's Notes:

Well, writer's block struck today. Hard. I tried to expand this beyond what it is, but the fact is, there's nothing more that needs saying for Sol 216. (And that's with me coming up with almost four hundred more words as I was about to post this.)

Current buffer is about 1 1/4; I wrote Sol 217 yesterday, and I've begun on Sol 218. But it's time for tonight's KWLP (theme: Robots) on Dementiaradio.org .

Next Chapter: Sol 217 Estimated time remaining: 16 Hours, 42 Minutes
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