The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 80: Sol 123

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To: Ares III Hab Crew list (*********)
From: Irene Shields ([email protected])
Subject: Crew Morale Evaluations

Thank you all for your messages. I won’t address your specific requests here, because that would give away your secrets. I take patient confidentiality (trust to keep secrets) very seriously. But I wanted to tell you all that I will do my best to find a way to help you.

With that in mind, I would like to ask you all a favor. I would like you to privately email me telling you what you think of your other crew mates. You’ve already told me a little of what you think of yourselves. I will keep what you write secret, so please be honest when you write.

I suggest that, after you write the emails, you discuss how you feel with each other. We have a team-building exercise called “Family Time” which allows crew members to air grievances or talk about problems or feelings. It might be a good idea for you now. But please wait until after writing the emails. I don’t want anybody to feel pressured to write something because of the discussion.

I will write you individually once I’ve had time to think about what can be done for each of you.

Irene Shields, Ph. D.
Project Ares Chief Psychologist

Dear Dr. Shields,

Once I was asked to do something like this before. I’m still not saying all I could say. But since we’re all doing this about each other, it will be less bad than before, so I’ll say a few things.

My list:

MARK WATNEY: He’s very nice and gentle. I know sometimes he wants to make jokes about me, and sometimes he gets angry with me, but he always treats me with kindness. He’s as friendly as a pony.

CHERRY BERRY: I call her the boss woman pony. She’s scary when she’s mad. And she’s still a little naive. But I trust no pony more than her.

STARLIGHT GLIMMER: She’s suspicious and single-minded. She feels guilty about her past and wants to think everything is her fault. I wish she’d spend more time thinking like other people instead of thinking of them as problems.

SPITFIRE: She’s a little scary. She means business all the time. It’s hard to get anything past her. She’s not used to not being a leader.

FIREBALL: He’s not as mean as he pretends. He doesn’t like people. He doesn’t like himself. He makes it tough for the others to like him.


Dear Dr. Shields,

As you asked, here is what I think about the others.

Cherry Berry is an interesting pony. She knows what needs to be done and makes it be done. I’m amazed she doesn’t have a flying cutie mark, as important as flying is to her. She’s done amazing things. It is honor to be on her crew. She shouldn’t be so hard on herself.

We all worry about Dragonfly. She doesn’t know it, but it’s obvious she’s pretending to be all right when she isn’t. I think we all wish she would stop playing the clown and be honest with us. But that’s got to be hard for a bug-pony.

Spitfire is kind of hard to get along with, and not just because she won’t take off my cast yet. She won’t take talking back from anyone except Cherry. She needs to not be so tight around us.

Fireball is smart and a good astronaut, but he rubs everyone the wrong way. In fact he acts like a big jerk. Why can’t he get along with others? I know dragons who don’t have that problem. Well, one dragon.

Mark tries to be considerate. He makes it his job to keep us entertained and happy. But he is a bit too bossy. It’s his Hab and we don’t want to make trouble, but he doesn’t ask us what we want to do most of the time. He acts like we’re his students. He means well, but it gets annoying sometimes.

I hope this helps you.

Starlight Glimmer

Dear Dr. Shields,

Cherry leads good. She care for her crew. Not discipline enough. Shows too much feelings to crew. But good. All trust her.

Dragonfly is problem. No can trust to tell truth about herself. Tries make all love her, love each other. Not her business.

Starlight is problem. Do things herself, not get help, hurt herself. Not good team.

Fireball is big problem. Does work, but not want be team. Worse trust than Dragonfly.

Mark make my head hurt. He think he is command. He is NOT command. Cherry is command. Mark be bad command. Too much talk down to us. Not listen. Need make head smaller.


Dear Dr. Shields,

Here what I think of my crew.

Starlight much much smarter than me. She know what we need do. I just say yes.

Spitfire much better commander than me. Command flight team for years. Know how to command. But won’t command when I here.

Dragonfly I know many years. Sometimes smart, sometimes really dumb. Good heart, loyal, but not a commander.

Fireball do what told. But not friend. I think he work to make us angry.

Mark is kind and polite. He know what to do. He ask me before do anything. Brave and smart. But sometimes… no, I not say that.

Cherry Berry

Dear Dr. Shields,

Cherry big pilot. Brave for pony. Should be braver.

Dragonfly act dipstick but really smart. Should act less dumb. She save my life one.

Starlight magic smart, else dumb. Work too hard, all time hurt.

Spitfire act boss. Not boss. Rookie.

Mark sometimes dumb, sometimes not. Weak, but brave. Save my life too. Not know what think of Mark.


Dr. Shields,

I don’t know if you meant to include me in your request, but it’ll look funny if I don’t join the others in this exercise. This feels like poking and prying to me, but I’m assuming you have a good reason.

I noticed you asked us not to describe the others, but to tell you what we think of the others. So instead of repeating my reports, I’ll stick to my opinions.

And… wow, this is tougher than I thought, now that I actually try to write it down. None of the ponies had any problems aside maybe from typing speed and language.

I’ll start with Dragonfly, since I think we have the closest connection. She’s the class clown and isn’t terribly good at hiding the fact that it’s an act. It’s a shame, too, because it hides just how intelligent she really is. She’s not as good at writing English as Starlight, but it's a close race.

Dragonfly also knows her job. She’s obviously familiar with tools and electrical systems. She was the first to figure out how our computer operating systems work, and she spends a lot of free time reading help menus and the like to better understand them. If she’d act less like a goofy little kid around my tools I might actually let her use them. I think if you put me and Johannsen in a blender and poured the mix into a leaky pony mold, you’d get Dragonfly.

Speaking of Ares III comparisons, I’ve compared Cherry Berry to Commander Lewis before. It’s not a perfect comparison. Cherry’s kind of brittle. The less serious the situation is, the less like Lewis she becomes. During off time she’s the cutest and most innocent of all my guests. She obviously isn’t comfortable with being a leader. I try to support her when I can; she looks like she needs it.

Recent events have caused me to reevaluate Spitfire. I thought she was uptight and kind of prissy, but every once in a while she shows her hidden inner Martinez. She has a vile sense of humor, just like Martinez, but she’s usually too professional and military to show it. I don’t think she likes me very much. She says she wants to be treated like an adult, but considering how I treat most adults, I don’t want to be that dickish to her.

There isn’t a good Ares III comparison for either of the other two. Fireball, for example. We spent years learning how to work together in close proximity preparing for Ares III. You know better than I do how we were chosen specifically to be compatible. Well, Fireball goes out of his way to be incompatible. He’s like that loner kid in high school who wants to be part of the group but doesn’t want to look like it, so he’s always out on the edges, orbiting from a safe distance. You once said I wore an armor of laughter; well, Fireball’s armor is sandpaper. I don’t know how much he likes me, but I kind of like him, in a meathead kind of way.

Finally, there’s Starlight Glimmer, our in-house workaholic. She’s almost as adorable as Cherry Berry, except she gets a little scary sometimes when she’s working on a project. She just kind of tunes out everything except her problem of the moment. She has to remind herself to be friendly sometimes- it doesn’t come naturally to her, even less so than it does for Fireball.

Starlight’s easily the most demanding of my guests for my time and attention- and that includes Dragonfly, who eats my surplus affection in order to live. She asks more questions than anyone else here. She resents having spent so much time in her bunk because of injuries and overwork. You have to admire her motivation, but I like her better when she relaxes.

I don’t know if this is the kind of thing you’re looking for, but it’s what I’ve got right now.


Author's Notes:

Buffer still at three. I have way too much stuff that needs doing before I hit the road again, so I'm struggling just to maintain the buffer.

I think this chapter is pretty self-explanatory.

Next Chapter: Sol 125 Estimated time remaining: 21 Hours, 35 Minutes
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