The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 267: Sol 516

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STARLIGHT GLIMMER: Hermes, MAV, standing by for press event, over.

BETH JOHANSSEN: Hello, Starlight. I hope you had a nice lunch. Most of the questions you were sent overlapped, I’m told. So your interview will be the shortest. I hope that’s all right.

STARLIGHT: Um… sure! Sure it is! Busy afternoon ahead, after all! I’m sure you’ve got lots of tricky sims to keep us busy! Let’s do it!

JOHANSSEN: First question: “We’re told you’re second in command of the Friendship crew. Would you be ready to take over if something happened to Cherry Berry?”

STARLIGHT: … to be honest, I really hope nothing happens to Cherry. You know, she and Fireball are the only ones to get through this experience without a major injury? We’re lucky she was lucky. I don’t think I could ever fill her shoes. But I’d do my best if I had to. I have had some leadership experience before… er, with mixed results. Next question?

JOHANSSEN: “Are you looking forward to meeting humans other than Mark?”

STARLIGHT: I don’t know. Mark’s been so wonderful… when he’s not being annoying, that is… I’m a little scared that other humans might be so much worse. But if there’s one human I’d like to meet, it’s this Rich Purnell person. There are all sorts of experiments based on his proposed equations that are just waiting on this rescue! I’ve thought of eight or ten myself, as soon as I get somewhere with a working magic field! Mr. Purnell must be a very amazing human!

JOHANSSEN: We think he’s done some amazing work, making this rescue possible. Now, the rest of the questions are all related to magic. First, a general question: “tell us about magic.”

STARLIGHT: Huh? Didn’t everyone read my reports on basic magic? The schools of spellcasting? Spell array logic? What’s left to tell?

JOHANSSEN: This is for people who haven’t read the reports, or who tried but don’t understand them. Um, use short words, okay?

STARLIGHT: Oooh. Magic kindergarten. Okay. Magic is a force of nature in my universe. It exists in your universe too, but in a much weaker and more localized form. It’s a form of energy that can be stored and manipulated with the application of will or enchantments. My universe has a thick background field of it, plus local concentrations generated by life or other effects. In your universe it’s only made by life, with thinking life producing more than non-thinking life. We think. If we get to Earth, we'll be able to test that.

Where I come from, magic is in everything- and I mean everything. Some creatures are more inherently magical than others. Ponies are about middle of the range- we use magic, but we can function without it. I don’t know how to explain the difference except that, well, your world- even the bits we see on Commander Lewis’s television shows- well, it seems kind of bland compared to ours. Like there’s something missing.

Anyway, magic affects emotions, and emotions affect magic. In our world the most powerful magic comes from ponies working together in harmony- the power of friendship, we call it. Our ship was named with an ancient word for that power. My teacher is the princess of friendship, Twilight Sparkle. She could probably explain all this better than I could. Let’s move on.

JOHANSSEN: Next question: “I'm sure you've been introduced to how electronics work quite well at this point. Would you describe magic as something akin to computer code for rewriting reality? Or would you describe it like a fundamental force?”

STARLIGHT: Um… well, I’ve heard a lot of the theory… but… how to explain? There is magic in its raw form, as a force of nature. And then there’s the working of magic, casting of spells, like that. Casting spells is a bit like computer code, except that computer code works in sequence. Most spells are in a single casting- everything has to be resolved at once, or else you get a fizzle. All of this was in my reports, you know, much better explained.

JOHANSSEN: We know, Starlight. Next question: “What useful insights magically speaking, have you gained for your home world from this trip?”

STARLIGHT: Well, the biggest one is, “Never assume you’ll always have infinite magic available.” I’ve really had to learn to do without magic, which is really strange for me, since I used to do absolutely everything with magic. I just took it for granted, and when we got here, I felt so, well, handicapped. I don’t know if we’ll go to other worlds, but I think it’s a good thing if we learn to remember that magic isn’t everywhere.

JOHANSSEN: Next question: “What is the most fun you've ever had with magic?”

STARLIGHT: The most fun? Well, there was this one time… I like kites, rather a lot. Not the bird, the paper toy thing. that you send up into the wind on a string? Well, my friends Sunburst and Maudlin Pie and I made this tremendous kite, and I conjured up this great wind to carry it up! And we made it spin and dance with the strings, and we made it change colors and trail colored smoke, and it went so high it hit Rainbow Dash’s house! She got a little mad then, but then we played tag with her using the kite, and the rainbow trail and smoke trail was so beautiful, especially when Princess... um, Celestia... set the sun! I think that might have been the most fun I’ve ever had with magic.

JOHANSSEN: Last question, and it’s a complex one, okay? “We heard about the ‘Cherry Stone’ incident. While that may not have worked as intended, it does raise a lot of interesting questions. What are the limits of transformation magic? Is it normally possible to safely change non-food into food? Does transformation magic work on people? Could you, say, turn a human into a dragon? Asking for a friend.”

STARLIGHT: Oh boy. Asking for a friend, huh? You humans know that wasn’t exactly a proud moment for us, right? We wasted a lot of magic and nearly put a hole in the Hab to get almost one cherry.

All right. Transformation magic is expensive. It takes a LOT of energy, and it takes that much energy squared, or even more, to make permanent. Inanimate objects are pretty easy if you’re strong enough. My best friend can turn practically anything into a teacup, but she’s still working on turning things back. Living creatures, really complex, always changing- those are extremely difficult. Making a permanent change to a person beyond, oh, growing a mustache- well, even trying will exhaust even a powerful unicorn.

Non-food to food can be done, though usually nobody does it because it’s a lot less work to cook for yourself. Changing a human to a dragon? You’d need Chaos or an alicorn to do that, and I don’t think they’d be willing to help out. Either that or a really special artifact. Even then it probably wouldn’t stay. Sorry. Did you want to be a dragon, Johanssen?

JOHANSSEN: Um? Um. No, no I didn’t. I didn’t write any of these questions. But I am curious about magic. When you get up to Hermes I’ll have lots of questions of my own to ask. Will that be okay?

STARLIGHT: Sure! Do you want to begin now?

JOHANSSEN: Um, the sims are waiting. Good luck. Hermes out.

STARLIGHT: Oh! I completely forgot!

CHERRY BERRY: I didn’t! It’s been an hour and a half! Sign off and let’s go already!

STARLIGHT: Sorry! Sorry! Um, MAV out!

Author's Notes:

Feeling a bit less spacy, but still not 100%. But I'm grateful for any improvement.

I probably ought to have quoted from that "Celestia teaches magic kindergarten" video, but I haven't got the energy for that.

Next Chapter: Sol 517 Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 14 Minutes
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