The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 43: Sols 66-69

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Author's Notes:

Warning: I am addressing the issue of "Mark is in close proximity to several non-humanoid alien females" in this chapter, with a couple of non-graphic but pretty easy to understand sexual references. This may be squick territory for some of you. This is the one time I'm doing this, but I feel this is the kind of circumstances for it to happen. So let's get it out of the way once and for all.

Okay, you've been warned.

No writing today. Probably no writing tomorrow. That means by Monday I'll be down to a single day buffer at most.


Made 79 kilometers today. Everything is working well. Acidalia Planitia is just as boring as you’d expect.

Starlight Glimmer brought three things with her: one of the magic batteries with an absolutely full charge, a whiteboard, and a sample bag full of markers. (Okay, that's more than three things. Bite me.) Now that she’s allowed to levitate things again, she’s going whole hog on writing lessons. She’s already mastered typing… by which I mean, she’s able to hunt and peck individual keys on the computer without mashing eight at once. Her speed is terrible, but she’s practicing.

Starlight likes disco. I think this is a sign that she has been hiding her true evil nature all along, but her dark side cannot resist the primitive synthesizers and thumping beats- the same ones that give me headaches. That said, she’s making a list of the relatively slower and quieter songs, because the peppier ones make her want to dance, and there’s no room in the rover for dancing.

There’s no room in the rover for much of anything. We have a free range of movement consisting of the airlock area, the driver seat, and a small, pony-sized section of the passenger bench. Everything else is either filled or obstructed with the piss-box, the shit-box, the hot-nuclear-death-box, the clean-water-do-not-get-this-mixed-up-box, the tool-no-hyphen-box, and fifty days of food. There’s just barely enough room for us to get in and out of suits when it’s time for an EVA.

I’m going to read more Christie to Starlight now. I’m quite surprised to learn that the ponies have mystery novels too, and horror, and other genres dealing with death. As happy and upbeat as they are most of the time, I thought they’d be more freaked out about a murder. But Starlight isn’t bothered. In fact, she seemed to approve when Poirot arranged things so that a murderer who could never be arrested met an unfortunate end.

Hopefully she can restrain her requests for me to spell out words to one per paragraph. I have definite mixed feelings about teaching a cute violet pony how to spell “exsanguination.”

“Starlight Glimmer, Amicitas. Starlight Glimmer, this is Amicitas, do you copy?”

Amicitas, Starlight Glimmer. All going well here.”

“Good to hear, Starlight. Hello, Mark, hear me?”


“Good test. Starlight, we’ll call every day this time.”

“Copy, Amicitas. We’ll keep in touch. Starlight out.”


I haven’t spoken about my sex drive in this log. Sex is the one taboo NASA drills into our heads never to mention in any document that might ever see the light of day. So far as NASA is concerned all its astronauts are unattainable, asexual plastic models of perfect moral rectitude. Which is a load of bullshit, but the training is fierce, and it includes a couple of major black eyes astronauts gave the agency because of it, so it kind of sticks.

But I have to mention it here, because right now Starlight Glimmer and I aren’t on speaking terms with one another, and I have to figure out how to explain why in the least X-rated fashion without descending into NASA jargon.

Last night was the second time we’d slept together in the rover. During the one overnight of Sirius 3 we just slept in our respective seats. Starlight got the better of the deal, because I don’t sleep well in a chair. The driver’s seat is comfortable enough while driving, but there’s no way to turn on your side or even to tilt your head. So last night I cleaned off the whole passenger bench so I could turn it into a bed and claimed that.

Starlight apparently decided to join me during the night, because I woke up with my arms wrapped around her. The back of her head was just under my chin.

When I awakened I had… I’ll refer to it as a condition which is frequent in the human male when he has an urgent need to urinate immediately upon awakening.

I want to emphasize that, although at times I have been made keenly aware that four-fifths of my list of guests is female, the gross anatomical differences mean I have no interest in, well, unauthorized fraternization during the mission, as NASA might put it. If the Martian queen appears on the Martian roadside with her thumb sticking out and a sign reading ARES VALLES OR BUST, all bets are off, but not the ponies. What I woke up to was pure autonomous reflex due to a full bladder and nothing else.

My attempts to get out from under the pony woke her up.

I have to mention at this point that, due to the heat of the RTG, I was only wearing a makeshift short-sleeve shirt and cutoffs. Starlight, as is the pony preference, was completely nude.

So her first sensation upon awakening was of something poking her in what college zoological anatomy taught me to call the flank, a place that no female ever wants to be poked unexpectedly and that no equine likes to be poked at any time whatever.

There are two permanent hoofprints in the back of the passenger bench. Fortunately Starlight was sleeping on her side, which means those two permanent hoofprints are not in me. This means none of my bones are broken, none of my organs are ruptured, and if and when the time comes I will still be able to sire children. But it was a close call neither of us want to risk again.

Starlight activated the translation spell long enough for me to apologize and explain, and she reassured me that something similar occurs with males of her species, but that was the last word we exchanged all day. It was a long, silent 76 kilometers.

Starlight is wearing her under-spacesuit garment, I’m in mine, and the brick of insulation has been removed so we don’t sweat ourselves dry. Tonight I’m probably going to get to use it as a pillow here in this damn driver’s seat.

It’s going to be a long twenty days.

“Starlight Glimmer, this is Amicitas.”

Amicitas, Starlight Glimmer. All go here. Out.”

“Starlight, is something wrong?”

“Mission proceeds as planned. Starlight out.”

“Can we speak to Mark?”

“Starlight Glimmer out.”


When I woke up this morning, Starlight was hiding behind the passenger couch, peeking over the back of it like a little kid.

The glare she was giving me wasn’t a little kid glare, though.

I don’t think I did anything in my sleep, but apparently there’s not going to be much conversation today, either.

Well, out to collect the solar panels, and then onward. Personnel problems or not, Pathfinder isn’t going to jump on Sojourner’s back and come to me.

“Starlight Glimmer, this is Amicitas.”

Amicitas, this is Starlight. Mission proceeds. Out.”

“We need to ask Mark something about his lander. Specifically, what fuel it takes.”

“He’s not available right now. We’re very busy here. Save battery power. Out.”

“Starlight, what’s wrong? It might help if you-“

“The magic battery will power the main telepresence spell for no more than twenty-five minutes on a full charge. Conserve power. Starlight Glimmer OUT.


I woke up this morning with Starlight in my lap. There wasn’t a repeat of Sol 67’s incident, mostly because the weight of her rump and rear hooves had cut off all circulation to my legs. She ended up going EVA to pack up and secure the solar panels. I couldn't.

After we stopped for the day it was her turn to apologize to me. She doesn’t remember joining me in the chair. She’s really spooked out about this. She shifted from English to pony-talk three times in fits of panic-babble. She tried to reassure me that she had no feelings for me “that way”.

We’re talking again. After two of these incidents in three days, we kind of have to. Today’s language lesson was really filthy, or would have been except Starlight insisted I not use any bad English words. Where the fuck’s the fun in that?

“Starlight, this is Amicitas, Cherry Berry speaking. We need to ask Mark about the fuel used by the Emm Deevee. Please put him on.”

“Hey, Mark, get your bucking crystal on!”

“One bucking minute, Starlight.”

“… Starlight, why the buck did you teach Mark the word ‘bucking’ in our language, and how did you get him to pronounce it properly?”

“It’s a long and mutually embarrassing story, Amicitas. We’ll explain when we get back. What do you need to know?”

“We need to know what the fuel is. We’re surveying what can be salvaged from the ships if we need to try to get off this rock in a hurry.”

“I’ll ask him. Mark, what the buck makes your lander fly?”

“Who the buck wants to know?”

“Answer the bucking question.”

“You know what, Starlight, buck it. Mark, I give Dragonfly wrench, open MDV, find out.”

“The buck you say.”

“Not joke, Mark.”

“Okay. Sorry. Please don’t do that. Rocket fuel in MDV is very dangerous.”

“We know. What kind fouel?”

“Fuel. I explain to Starlight. She tell tomorrow.”

Okay. Thank you, Mark. Talk to you tomorrow, Starlight. Amicitas out.”

Next Chapter: Sol 70 Estimated time remaining: 25 Hours, 44 Minutes
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