The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 220: Sol 405

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“It’d be easier if Starlight was helping us.”

“Yeah,” Dragonfly replied absently in Equestrian, focusing her attention on turning her ratchet while Fireball turned his. She hoped the dragon didn’t follow that thought any further. Yes, having the unicorn present would speed up the process of stripping down Amicitas’s habitat deck to bare walls, but she was more useful helping Mark cut the insulation out of Rover 1’s dismounted cabin. This job could be done with muscle, but that job required a more careful and delicate touch- and magic.

So she was there and they were here, and complaining wouldn’t change that.

“Where the heck are we going to put these anyway?” Fireball asked, pausing to point to the cabinet he was dismounting. “The bridge is crammed full already so we can barely get out the airlock. I’m not even sure these would fit in the airlock with either of us.”

“We don’t need to take them out of here,” Dragonfly said. “We can work around them. We just need to get the walls clear for insulation.”

“Oh. Okay. Where do you want the bolts?”

“Caddy in the top of the tool box. The one with the lid.”

“Okay.” More ratcheting. “Why don’t you use your magic? Make this go faster.”

“First, you know exactly why I want to use magic as little as possible,” Dragonfly said, a little testily. “Second, I will be using my magic later. So I can’t afford to use it right now doing something we can do by hoof.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Fireball grumbled. “This just takes forever, is all.” Giving the lie to his statement, he dropped the last bolt from the current cabinet into the tool box, slid it up and off the bracket that held it in place, and looked for a place to put it. “You sure you can work around this?”

“Just a moment.” Dragonfly pulled the last bolt out of her own cabinet, the one which had been beneath Fireball’s, and slid the cabinet out of its groove in the deck. “The cabinets interlock. Take a couple bolts and thread them through the bottom mounting holes. You can link these two cabinets together that way, and they can just sit together in the middle of the deck.” She forced herself not to look at the rather small deck area available for things to sit in.

“Right,” Fireball muttered. “Two down, ten to go, then.”

“Eh, we’re almost done,” Dragonfly said. “The hard part was clearing everything else out first.”

“No,” Fireball insisted, “the hard part will be putting everything back in the right order.”

Dragonfly, unable to deny the point, crawled into another lower cabinet and began loosening another bolt.

After lunch, Dragonfly returned to the ship, this time with Mark. With Starlight’s and Fireball’s help, one airlock load at a time, they got the carefully cut slices of rover insulation foam into the ship. Of course, this left practically no room for human or changeling to get through the jumble of meal packs, hay bales, medicine, and other things that absolutely had to travel in the Whinnybago’s trailer.

Dragonfly felt more grateful than usual when she set up the mana battery for field projection and switched the power on. Inside the mostly bare metal walls of the hab deck, the rainbow sparks that rose from the aerials occasionally lashed out to strike the unpainted portions of metal.

“Okay,” Mark said. “Rover foam for the ceiling, especially to cover up the docking port. We’re not going to use that any time soon. What’s left of the ship insulation in the spots where the cabinets go. When we run out of ship insulation, Hab canvas. Use the ship insulation on the outer bulkheads, the canvas for the wall between habitat and bridge. You up for a lot of spot-gluing? I noticed you had a huge lunch.”

“Just a moment.” Dragonfly grinned a fang-filled grin, and then she shifted.

Mark’s expression was everything Dragonfly had hoped it would be. “Um,” he said carefully, “can’t you pick another form? That one makes me really uncomfortable.”

“I’m used to this shape,” Dragonfly said, doing her best imitation of Beth Johanssen’s voice to match the blue-jumpsuited body she was imitating. “And it’s easier for me to work around the cabinets as a biped. Besides,” she added, “I could change into you, but it takes a lot more energy to change mass.”

Mark did his best to not look at her. “Really, really uncomfortable.”

“Think of it as building up a tolerance,” Dragonfly said, chuckling. “Or would this be better?” Another flash of green flame, and from the neck up she was still Johanssen, but from the neck down she was a certain actress famous for a role where she wore cutoff jeans for seven years. And instead of the blue astronaut jump suit, she wore those cutoff jeans and a string bikini top.

Mark’s efforts not to look increased. “Really not helping,” he said as firmly as he could manage. “Not helping in so many ways.”

“Relax, Mark,” Dragonfly giggled, now throwing a southern accent into her voice. “I’m not like Starlight or Spitfire. I don’t kick. Much.”

“This conduct is contributing to a hostile work environment!”

Dragonfly’s giggle became a full-out laugh, and with another flash of green she went back to plain, jump-suited Johanssen. “All right, all right,” Dragonfly said. “Just messing with you, Mark. And it feels good to be able to shift.” She paused for full effect before continuing, “Although lust is a nice delicious treat… and I could really go for some empty calories right-“

“OH LOOK!” Mark said loudly. “I think that’s a spot that needs some insulation right there!” He pointed up at a random spot near the ladder leading to the dorsal docking port.

“Some joker you are,” Dragonfly muttered. “Okay, let me climb up so you can hand me some of the foam.”

“Like that?” Mark asked. “Are you going to be able to… you know… make glue… in Johanssen’s body?”

Dragonfly felt a blush coming on. Darnit, sometimes the disguise had a mind of its own. “Well, yes,” she said, “but you probably don’t want to watch. Not this soon after your own lunch, anyway.”


Quick note for the record: changelings are gross. Really, really gross.

I haven’t missed alcohol so much since the day we lifted off from Canaveral…

Author's Notes:

Ten and a half hours of driving, I got home tired and uninspired. So today you get Dragonfly being cruel to Mark.

The difference between Dragonfly and Chrysalis being, Chryssy wouldn't have let it drop...

... that, and Chryssy wouldn't have settled for Johanssen. She'd use Lewis's form instead, because commander.

Next Chapter: Sol 407 Estimated time remaining: 7 Hours, 52 Minutes
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