The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 268: Sol 517

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SPITFIRE: Hermes, MAV, standing by for… press… event, over.

RICK MARTINEZ: MAV, Hermes. Hey, Major! I asked to do your interview today. I figured you’d be more comfortable with a fellow flier. That all right? Ready to go when you are, over.

SPITFIRE: Thank you, Major. I wor… I am working… on my English. Starlight Glimmer is here to help me.

STARLIGHT GLIMMER: Hello, Major Martinez.

SPITFIRE: If she knows it is only to help! Not to speak for me! All right?

STARLIGHT GLIMMER: All right, all right, I said I wouldn’t interrupt.

SPITFIRE: Good. So, ready. Over.

MARTINEZ: Copy, MAV. First question: “We understand you took a beating in that flight of yours. How are you feeling now?”

SPITFIRE: Much more good. Better. But still... long way to go. Wings… my wings… itch… all the time. We run out of… lotion? Lotion. We run out of lotion two weeks ago. Used most on Mark’s burns and Starlight’s leg… er… long ago. So itch, but can’t scratch, because I might hurt… er, damage… growing feathers. …. Over.

MARTINEZ: Roger. Next Q: “How did it feel to bust apart a storm on an alien world?”

SPITFIRE: It felt great. But the hole in suit, losing air, feathers stuck in, in, in, word please?


SPITFIRE: Stuck in gunk, all that was not so good. But… excuse me, thinking of words… it was the first time since I left home that I felt like I did what I was born to do. I was flying. I was doing work with… um… weather. I was saving ponies. I can’t say how good that feels. For one… minute? No, um, short time, begins mm…


SPITFIRE: Yes! For one moment, I was where I belong.

MARTINEZ: Sounds wonderful, Major. Next one: “There are bigger storms in our solar system, and maybe in yours too. What would you say to anyone trying to break your record?”

SPITFIRE: I say: you crazy?? I did what I did because I had to, to save lives. That storm needed a hundred, more pegasus. We had me. I make… I made it work! I was willing to die if it save my friends! That… that’s a good reason to do it. Doing it for… for fun? For break record? That bad reason. That stupid. That will get you dead. Also I was so, so lucky. You, maybe not. So DON’T DO IT! Over!

MARTINEZ: Confirm copy, confirmed! Easy, Spits! I’m on your side! We good for the next question? Here it is: “Soon you’ll be back in space. Are you looking forward to being able to fly around in zero gravity again?”

SPITFIRE: Zero G is not flying. Zero G is all different, totally different, from flying with wings. All different… um, skills. What I look forward to is flying in a real sky, no space suits, just me and the wind.

MARTINEZ: You know, I’m a bit jealous of that? I went hang-gliding once. Damn near broke my leg landing. It’s tougher than it looks. That’s as close as humans ever get to what you experience, I think. But anyway, next question: “Given that one is encased in a capsule at enormous speed and the other exposed but not quite as fast, how does the exhilaration of a rocket launch compare to that of flying?” Over.

SPITFIRE: Some ponies… hang glide… at home too. I think they do. If hang glide is with big, um, thing like kite, um, with pony under?

STARLIGHT: That’s one way to describe a hang glider, yes.

SPITFIRE: Anyway, we have that. Answer to question: can’t, um, er… word? (unintelligible)

STARLIGHT: Compare. Show how two things are alike and unalike.

SPITFIRE: Right. Can’t compare the two. When I fly, I control the flying. I only go up in rocket once. Cherry Berry was pilot, not me. Rocket ride was… was…

STARLIGHT: Exciting?

SPITFIRE: I get there! Wait until I ask! But yes, exciting. Also scary. Feels not at all like pegasus flying. Not… what was word in question? Begins X, but not exciting.

STARLIGHT: Um… I think “exhilaration”?

SPITFIRE: (unintelligible)

STARLIGHT: (unintelligible)

SPITFIRE: Oooh. No, rocket flight very much not exhilaration. Over.

MARTINEZ: Copy, MAV. I agree, it’s not the same when someone else drives. Next question: “Do you think you'll ever go to space again?”

SPITFIRE: I am an officer. I have a duty. I go where I am ordered.

MARTINEZ: Fair enough. The next question is a little complicated. Starlight, could you help her with this one? “You've been on Mars in an environment where you're subjected to 1/3rd of a G for over a year and a half. Have you, or anyone else there, given thought as to how you're going to handle returning to an environment of 1 full G?”

SPITFIRE: I don’t need help for that one. I think about it a very lot. We all will need time to… er… to get used to real G’s again. Most of all I will need lots of work to fly right, to fly good, again. I think about it all the time.

MARTINEZ: Next one: “What kinds of sports do they have back home besides racing and stunt flying? Anything comparable to Quidditch?”

SPITFIRE: Ponies have all kinds of sports. I don’t have words for them. I represent my home town, Clouds Valley, in Pony-land Games twice now! Gold, um, thing wear around neck?

STARLIGHT: Spitfire has won gold medals for aerial racing in multiple, um, Pony-land Games.

SPITFIRE: Yes. But games are not just flying. Ponies kick things, throw things, hit things, um… um… sorry, really don’t have the words. Next questi- no, wait. Also want to say, I think I will try to get ponies to play quidditch when we get home. Now, next question.

MARTINEZ: I’d pay money to see that! Next question- actually, this is a twofer: “How old were you when you knew you wanted a military career? What advice would you give to children wondering about following in your footsteps?”

SPITFIRE: What’s ‘twofer’?

STARLIGHT: It means somebody tried to ask two questions as if they were one.

SPITFIRE: Oh. So it means cheat? Like when you make us roll Evil Mars Dice?

STARLIGHT: There is nothing wrong with those dice! They are perfectly balanced and roll true! It’s not my fault! Besides, you deserve those rolls, after what you did to those goblins!

SPITFIRE: I still say it’s wrong to have not-evil goblins in D&D! Anyway! Um. Sorry, I forgot question, over.

MARTINEZ: “How old were you when you knew you wanted a military career? What advice would you give to children wondering about following in your footsteps?”

SPITFIRE: Oh, right. I wanted to be best flier since I was very small. Best flying team is Wonderful Thunderbolts, part of royal guard. So all my life I work hard to be best. Kids, if you know what you want, work hard. Keep working hard. Maybe you don’t get it if you work hard, but for sure you won’t get it if you don’t work at all! Even if you don’t get it, you’ll still be a better pony for the work! And you don’t know- maybe you find something good you never… um… dream of before!

MARTINEZ: Good advice! Next question: “After so long as a crew member under someone else's command, how are you feeling about returning to your own squad on your homeworld as leader?”

SPITFIRE: No. It’s not my squad now. I’ve been away too long. I’ve been on Mars too long. Maybe I get squad back, maybe not. But if I do, I will have to work for it… earn it… again. I think about this a lot. I think about all the work I will do when I get home. I wish I could start now.

MARTINEZ: Let’s get you off Mars first, Major, okay? Maybe we can help with that. Anyway, last question: “Have you considered a career as a pinup model?”

SPITFIRE: Maybe. I have the looks. I have the body. And I see Mark’s eyes on me all the time!


SPITFIRE: What? Look is allowed! Flight not hurt my flank! It’s worth looking at! Maybe if you swish your tail for him he look at-


Author's Notes:

And now I've come to the "Dammit My Nose is Not a Spigot" phase of the crud.

Still much work to do tomorrow for setup, so to bed.

(Yes, Spitfire's English improved a bit as the interview went on- partly due to practice, partly to relaxing and getting into the flow of things.)

Next Chapter: Sol 518 Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 8 Minutes
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