Hello, my name is Olivia, and I am 8 years (15 Earth years) old. I am the oldest child...well I guess now I am actually the oldest human on Mars. I was the first Martian born, and apparently that was a big scandal at the time. So, Oliver wants us to all write down what has happened in case it helps us to pool information somehow, so I am going first because I'm oldest.

I didn't know, when I was very little, that I wasn't supposed to have been born, but I suppose that's because my parents didn't want to talk about it. They weren't very talkative, either one of them, and I think that they were also a little embarrassed. I used to think that they had avoided telling me because they didn't want me to feel self-conscious about it, but later I realized that neither of them were very good about realizing what would make me feel self-conscious. It's not that they didn't care it's just not a thing that they were any good at. I eventually found out that I was not supposed to happen, because Emma told me. She referred to Noah as her classmate, and I asked her what that meant. Our schooling was mostly using computers, individually, but when we did have a class (usually on something political, sometimes on a safety thing) we were all together, from the very youngest to me, all in one room together.

"Noah and I were part of the same class, the Earth Year 12 class," she said. "We were the first class."

"I don't know what you mean by that," I said. "Anyway I'm a whole Martian year older than you, so if there was a first class I would be in it."

"But you weren't approved beforehand," said Emma. "Neither was Liam. You both happened by mistake. My parents told me. There was a big uproar when your mom got pregnant, because they hadn't approved the idea of having children on Mars. Then, when it happened a second time and Liam was born, they decided to go ahead and make it legal, but it was restricted to one boy and one girl each Earth year. Noah and I were the first two legal children born on Mars. Didn't anyone tell you this before?"

Emma, unlike me, is really good at knowing what is going on with everyone, all the time, and what went on before, and how and why. I always seem to be surprised, by everything, at least if it has to do with people. But at least Emma tells me what is going on, so I'm not so clueless socially all the time. I like to think that the problem is that I didn't have any older kids to teach me social skills, but it might be that I'm just not good at people. I don't seem to get into fights much, though, like my parents did, so I guess my social skills are better than they might have been.

Back to my very earliest memories: my parents were separate. My dad was pretty good about teaching me how things worked, but he wasn't always around, since he was one of those who went back and forth to Earth. Mom stayed on Mars, well until she left she did, and worked mostly in the chicken building, 17. I liked to see the chicks, they were so fuzzy and cute. Mom would take me all the time when I was little, but as I got older she made me stay in our little apartment in building 23. It wasn't one of the newer residential buildings, the apartments were smaller and drabber than the newer ones, but with just the two of us that was fine. I covered the walls with drawings of chicks and my mom and I and plants from building 3; mom let me draw on the walls because we couldn't afford paper to draw on, like Emma's parents could. Sometimes I would wander the hall and see who was home and willing to talk to me. Some people were kind of weirded out by me being there, and I learned eventually who to stay away from because they would eventually complain to my mom, and then I would know to stay away from them. But there were a few apartments where they didn't seem to mind, and I could talk to them. Some of the apartments had kitchens, and they could cook food there, which was different from my apartment and I asked lots of questions about how cooking worked. A few of them would answer, but most of the adults didn't like me being around much.

When Emma's parents moved into building 23 I was very excited, because I got to talk to her almost every day. Her apartment had a kitchen, and her parents liked cooking together and would talk to me about it. I only saw Liam or Noah or the other kids occasionally, when they would have all of the kids gather together in one place to get some kind of speech, or on holidays like New Year's (either Martian or Earth), or some of the other holidays. But Emma, I could talk to often, nearly every day. Once she got old enough that her parents would let her leave the apartment with me, the two of us would go to the Building 23 Common Area and we could talk and play together there. There would be adults passing through from time to time, but they didn't bother us. Sometimes we could hear them talking to each other.

I remember the time when we heard two of them talking about us, they thought they were talking too quiet for us to hear, but we did.

"What are their names again?"

"The cute one is Emma, and the other one is named Olivia, I think."

They referred to Emma as "the cute one". Which pretty much implied that I was not the cute one. I guess I already knew that, but it was a little weird knowing that everyone else thought of me as the "not-cute one". The ugly one, I guess. Emma looked really embarrassed, and tried to compliment me on my hair and my dress and even my eyes, which was all pretty ridiculous and too obvious but at least it showed she wanted me to feel better. Emma is round-faced, light tan skin, big brown eyes that don't bug out like mine do, and curly light brown hair. She has a bright smile and her figure is still kind of kid-looking, and everyone who sees her wants to give her a hug (including me). She looks like a cute little girl still, although I suppose she'll start to change shape soon as she grows up. Assuming we live that long. I like talking to her, she is willing to do most of the talking and if I ask her about how people think and why they act the way they do, she always seems to know. The only time I have to do any talking is when she asks me how something mechanical works, which is fine because then I know what to say. With other people sometimes they want me to talk but not about anything specific, and I feel like there's some sort of code that people with social skills know and I don't, and I'm saying everything wrong. But if Emma asks me "how do thermostats work?", that's not a problem because then I know what to say and she always pretends I told her something amazing. So, I liked it when Emma and I talked.

I talked to Mom every day, of course, but it was different. She normally seemed distracted, thinking about something else, unless we were talking about what happened in the shows we had gotten from Earth that week. When Dad would come back, there would be about two weeks of big excitement leading up to it, and then they would get along great for a few days, but by the end of a month or two they would fight and he would start spending more and more time in his own apartment, or working in the rover doing maintenance Outside. I got to go along with him twice, which I think was technically not allowed but not many other people knew about it. He showed me how to hide in the locker in the back of the rover, and when his partners were Outside doing work he would bring me out of the locker and let me look out through the portholes or once even sit in the seat up front. I had some flashbacks to that when we took the rover to Building 29, to look for Charlotte's parents.

Mom didn't talk about her work very often, we mostly talked about the TV shows we got beamed to us from Earth, but I do remember her once talking about how her boss was stressing her out, always trying to push her to fudge the numbers. She was worried that, if it were found out, she would be the one who got in trouble for it.

"What does 'fudge the numbers' mean?" I asked.

"Like, basically it's lying, but with numbers," she said. "They measure how much power, water, and air we use, and there are these machines that they use to keep track of it. He wants me to write down that we've calibrated them, and say that the meters work to measure everything correctly, when really they don't. We're using 1 or 2% more of all of them than we say we are. So our batteries and backup tanks don't have as much as they're supposed to, because we keep having to draw on them because we're using more than we should be, and he's worried about that, so now he wants us to decalibrate the meters to adjust for that, so that it looks like our backups are more full than they are. But if they find out, I bet he won't get in trouble and I will. I wish your dad were here."

"What could Dad do?"

"He could make it look like they were just bad calibration devices," she said, "that way if they found out, it would all look like just a mistake, the equipment would get blamed instead of me. Every time the higher-ups come through to look at the place, I get nervous and jumpy that they will ask to check the meter calibration, and they'll see that it's off and guess that it has been for a while, and I think this is the time we're going to get in trouble."

I guess that sort of illustrates why Mom didn't talk to me about work very much. I wanted to go work in the chicken building as I got older, but she didn't like the idea. She took me there when I was little sometimes. Now I realize that was because there wasn't anyone else to look after me; there weren't supposed to be any children on Mars yet. I guess they had expected maybe it would happen someday, but it wasn't supposed to happen yet, so they weren't ready; there wasn't any school or place to take care of kids while their parents worked. I liked playing with the little chicks, and sometimes she let me help to feed the hens. I can still remember the smell of the chicken building. Most people didn't like the smell, but I did, I think because it reminded me of holding the little fluffy chicks in my hand.

Just before the Evacuation, they slaughtered all of the chickens. I was upset when I heard about it, but I was upset about everything then. I wish we still had the chickens. Then Mom left, and she said that she was going to get Dad and he would come back and fix everything. I bet he could do it, he was good at fixing equipment. Maybe they will bring chickens when they come back. It would be nice to see Mom and Dad again.

I think that's all I have to say right now, Oliver. I hope this was of some use. I'm going to go try to find the leaks in Building 3 now.

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