The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 78: Sol 120

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Dear Dr. Shields,

You said you’d keep anything I emailed to you secret, so that I could tell you anything. Mark talked to you yesterday, and he said you made him feel better. Well, I’m going to try, because I need to talk to someone but I can’t talk to anyone here about this. And anything I send home will be seen by everyone.

First let me teach a few things. It is important that you keep this secret until we are ready to make it public. Else there is danger for me and for others like me who might come to your world in the future.

“Bug-pony” is not a good translation for what my species is. A better word is “changeling”. We change. Our magic lets us look like ponies, or other people, or even things. We can be anything.

This is important because, until a few years ago, we used our change to steal the love we eat. We were hated and feared, and the ponies were right to hate and fear us. We were not their friends. We lived by draining them of their love and other good emotions- by taking away part of who they were.

I’m not sorry about that. We did what we had to to survive. But in those times we were so hungry that we acted like monsters. Sometimes we lost control. A really hungry changeling is DANGER.

Then our queen came up with the brilliant plan of the space race. Now ponies still suspect us, but some respect us and even love us for what we are. We don’t need to steal love anymore. We get enough love to be healthy without hurting any ponies at all.

Until I came to Mars.

The crew know there’s a problem. Three times a day they give me a bit of their love. My reserves were low for a while, but they’re slowly climbing again. The holes in my body have closed up almost to where they were when we crashed.

But I’m hungryer than ever before, and I don’t know why. All Changelings are always hungry a little, but this is different. I’m getting lots of love, but something is missing.

It’s not so bad in the cave. I work on the farm in the cave and feel almost at home. But when I leave the cave I am afraid. I know what changelings do when we go feed-crazy. I am afraid I will hurt my friends, especially Mark, who does not know what I really am.

I do not want to hurt my friends. But I don’t know what I can do to stop it. And you’re the only person I can tell this, because if I tell anyone else they will be afraid too, and they won’t be able to feed me anymore, and things will get bad very fast.

There is one thing you can do. Watch the messages from the others. If you see these things it might mean I am overeating, and you need to warn the others.

    Victim suddenly does not want to do anything except be with one person (changeling).Victim suddenly becomes really stupid, easy to suggest things to.Victim’s personality really, REALLY changes- obvious change, not little at all.Victim weak, little strength.Victim drained, can’t feel any emotion anymore, unable to do anything for themself.

Watch Mark most of all. He doesn’t know. If I tell him he won’t love me anymore. The others know and keep watch over each other and me, but Mark is the tastiest and most giving. If I break, I probably go for him first. If this happens, tell everyone you need to everything. I hope it doesn't happen. I don't want it to happen.

I feel better now, knowing you will watch and warn if something is wrong. Please don’t tell anyone else. Humans will need to know someday, but we need to do it careful or else all humans will hate all changelings.

I will delete this from Mark’s computer once I send it.

Thank you, Irene.


Dear Dragonfly,

Read this privately, and then delete it if you want to keep it secret.

I did promise to keep your email confidential, and so I will. But this is information NASA needs. More importantly, this is information Mark needs.

I understand your species was forced to live as a parasite on others. I'm guessing you have major problems trusting others. But it’s absolutely vital that crew members trust one another, and right now Mark is part of your crew. The longer you wait before telling him, the more you risk destroying that trust, especially if your fears of losing control of yourself are justified.

Your fear is valid. You are not wrong to be worried about your friends. In fact, being concerned for your friends speaks well of you as a person. The question now is, what are you going to do to deal with that fear and its causes? Here is the advice I can give from a hundred million miles away.

You should also talk to the others from your world about your problem. I’m a human from a world that doesn’t know what magic is. Nothing here eats love. Nothing here changes shapes back and forth like you say you can. I can’t tell you if you’re going to turn into an animal suddenly without warning. But I think the fact that you’re watching yourself for the possibility is a good sign.

I think you underestimate your fellow crew and how valuable you are to them. Trust pays. Seriously consider telling them what you told me. I think you’ll find that they love you more for it, not less. And one of them might have a solution for your problem.

Irene Shields, Ph. D.
Project Ares Chief Psychologist

Author's Notes:

The buffer's back up to three.

If Dragonfly could have got a private line to Chrysalis, this exchange would never have happened. The fact that it happened at all should tell you how worried she is.

Next Chapter: Sol 122 Estimated time remaining: 21 Hours, 44 Minutes
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