Jennifer Pelland
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"MarsSickGirl" - the complete ending

ASIM cover (Author's note: When Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine printed "MarsSickGirl" in their October/November 2005 issue, they removed the last several paragraphs from the story. Here's how it really ends.)

A signal cut into her newsfeeds, and she sighed and checked its origin. Vienna had been refusing all calls, saying that she'd release another dream tomorrow. She might as well stick with what she was good at. It had gotten the movement this far, after all.

But this wasn't one of those calls. It was from Mars. She sat up on the corner of her bed and eagerly switched in on.

"Hello, dear. It's your mother."

Vienna wiped a sudden tear from her cheek. "Mom," she murmured, reaching her hand out to brush through the image of her mother's face. She hadn't seen her in so long.

Her mother smiled, but there were tears glittering in her eyes. "We've heard what's going on out there, and we're all so very proud of you. It's amazing...people are actually talking about doing the same thing here on Mars. Can you believe it?" A tear snaked down her mother's face, and she dabbed at it with her sleeve. "We want you to come home, sweetheart. You did a good thing out there on Callisto, but you're a Marsie. You belong back home with us. A group of us have pooled our money, called in some favors, and managed to book you passage on the cargo ship Ellerbee. It leaves Callisto Port 12 at noon tomorrow." Her tears were flowing freely now, but she made no move to wipe them away. "I can't wait to see you with my own eyes again. Love you."

"Oh Mom," Vienna sobbed, and buried her face in her hands. Seven years. It had been seven years since she'd last seen her. Seven years since she'd been in the Mars domes, under sensible gravity, surrounded by red sands and peach skies. She missed it so much it made her bones ache.

But she'd have to miss it a little longer. Maybe even a whole lot longer.

She dried her face on her sleeve, sniffed hard, called up the interplanetary messaging system, paid the hefty fee for a Mars call, and started recording.

"Mom, it's so good to hear from you again. I love you too, and there's nothing more I'd like to do than come home right now. But...." She took a deep breath. "I have to stay here, Mom. I need to see this through. I finally figured out a way to make a difference, and I can't walk away from it. I'm sure you understand." She paused, her vision blurred with tears, then said, "Hopefully, I'll be able to go back to Mars once things have changed here, because I really, really miss you. But I can't leave yet. I'm a Galilean now." She smiled. "I love you, Mom. Goodbye."

She closed her eyes and sent the message, then let out a long, shuddering breath. Eyes still firmly closed, she connected to the freenets and cross-posted this message to all the appropriate folders.

"MarsSickGirl/MarsRevolutionGirl is hereby changing her pseudonym to GalileanRevolutionGirl. Stay tuned."

Vienna opened her eyes, dried her tears off on her sleeve, and stood up. If she really was a Galilean now, then she ought to see what she was fighting for. She logged off, squared her shoulders, and walked out the door.


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