The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 275: Sol 529

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ESA: Baltimare calling Amicitas, over.

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

ESA: Twilight Sparkle and Chrysalis will launch to Concordia in two days to prepare for your upcoming launch. If you have any more messages of the kind sent yesterday, we recommend you send them now, over.

AMICITAS: Did not copy that last. What messages, over?

ESA: Personal message sent by Cherry Berry last night your time and Starlight Glimmer this morning, over.

AMICITAS: Stand by.

AMICITAS: DF – Understood. Spoke with SG. Expect new personal message within the hour. Others may come, will discuss with others privately. Over.

ESA: Standing by, over.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

I just wanted to thank you for all the lessons you taught me over the years about magic and friendship. There is one important lesson I have learned here on Mars which I especially want to share with you; sometimes it is better to try, get it wrong, and try again than to do nothing for fear of making a mistake. My mistake with the Sparkle Drive caused all of this disaster, but everyone else needed me to keep working and using my skills to help keep us all alive. I don’t know if I’ve done the best things all the time. I have made several mistakes I wish I could correct since I came here. But if I’d done nothing, I wouldn’t be here now, and neither would the rest of our crew. I just hope I got the last parts right, so that we can all get off this rock and back home to our friends.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Your obedient student,
Starlight Glimmer

Your Royal and Duplicitious Majesty,

I know you’ve had a lot of doubts about the new ways. A lot of ponies still distrust and fear us, and a lot of us remain in hiding. But for all the mistakes I’ve made, I have done one thing right on this side of the jump. Trust is tastier than fear. You can fool other people into doing what you want sometimes, but sooner or later they wise up. Trust lasts. Trust will keep you alive when nothing else will. We trust each other inside the hive (mostly); now I’ve learned we can trust our crewmates, even if they’re not part of the hive.

So open up. You don’t have to be alone all the time.

Your loyal subject,

P. S. I miss you.
P. P. S. Please don’t smite me for this when I get home.

Yo Ember,

I’m coming back in about another month or so, if all goes well. Have my hoard ready and waiting for me. Also a coffee pot, preferably the kind that doesn’t need a wall plug.

If you’re thinking about sending some other dragon on nutty trips like this, I just want to say one thing. Pick someone who isn’t full of himself. All the fewmets about being a big, strong, loner dragon just get in the way here, and I’m sure it’ll be the same for the next guy. Make sure they know they’re not Faust’s gift to the other races. Big and strong isn’t everything- but I guess you know that. Above all, knock it into their heads that “working with” is not the same as “working next to” or “working in the same ship as.”

One more thing: ask around to see if any pony colleges want to take an older dragon student. I could stand to learn some stuff… on the ground!!


Dear Princess Celestia,

I never really wanted to be an astromare. I was happy with the Wonderbolts. And when I came here I was worried because I was leaving behind what I knew to do stuff I didn’t know- being an astronaut, being a doctor, and being a subordinate again. But I learned that new things aren’t as scary as they first appear, unless they’re horrible dead planets that keep trying to kill you. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when you try something for the first time, especially if you have a darn good motivation to work hard at it. I’ve done things probably no other pony will ever do again, and I wouldn’t have had the chance (or the need) if I hadn’t been pushed out of my cozy little spot.

All that said, when I get home I’m going to work as hard as I can to take that cozy little spot back. But even if it doesn’t work out, I know now that whatever I do from now on, I can do it well.

Yours to command,
Major, E. U. P. Unified Service

To: Venkat Kapoor
From: Mark Watney


See this gets to my folks without leaking to the press. Feel free to read it if you like, but make sure nobody else does. Definitely don’t let public relations get hold of this.


Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, it’s getting close to launch day. We’re pretty confident that everything will work fine, but as the people from NASA explained to you when we were getting ready for the launch up to Hermes two years ago, there’s no such thing as a sure thing in space flight. My alien friends seem to have finally figured that out, so everyone’s taking turns sending a private message home to whoever is most important to them- sort of a Famous Last Words thing, just in case they really are our last words.

NASA will have my mission logs. They’ll be uploaded to Hermes and relayed to Earth just before we launch. They can pick my deep, moving, touching last message to mankind out of that if they want. Right now I’m more concerned about you two.

Despite all the better judgment in the world, you two supported me through everything I did. When I said I wanted to be a doctor of botany, you said, “Can you believe it? He wants to combine the low income of farming with the terrible job prospects of academics!” And then you put me through school. When I said I was postponing my doctorate so I could apply to be an astronaut, you said, “Dying of poverty isn’t good enough for our son! He wants to get blown up on a rocket!” And then you paid for my master’s in mechnical engineering and kept my stuff in storage during my field work in Africa. You never told me I couldn’t do it, and you went to a lot of trouble to make it possible. I haven’t thanked you enough.

Now I know you’re probably embarrassed by your foul-mouthed Martian son who can’t stop staring at alien butts (if you believe the Internet). And you’re probably annoyed that I haven’t sent more messages when I’ve had clear communications with Earth. And I know you’re ready for the ten million reporters to go home. I’ve put you through a lot.

But whatever happens in three weeks, I want you to know I love you both more than I can say, and I always have, even though I usually only say it when I’m about to hang up the phone. Believe it.

Hope to talk to you again from Hermes, or possibly closer, by next month.

Your loving son,

Dear ponies and dragon and my subject who ought to know better;

Quit with the mush. I may throw up.


Author's Notes:

You didn't think we were going to leave the others out of this, did you? There are no secrets in cramped quarters, especially when a pony whose special talent is sitting and staring at things is allowed to run communications.

Next Chapter: Sol 534 Estimated time remaining: 2 Hours, 34 Minutes
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