Dead on Mars

Chapter 16 - Sol Three, Kunlun Station’s Enslaved Worker

Chapter 16: Sol Three, Kunlun Station’s Enslaved Worker

Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon

Third sol of being trapped on Mars.

Today’s weather was clear, and there was still no sign of Earth.

Tomcat had already finished packing all the items into the crates to be sent. Tang Yue had begun to inspect the Eagle’s state. He stood beneath the lander, looking up at it. The sun cast a huge shadow onto the sandy land.

Tang Yue lowered the ladder slowly by working a knob.

The Eagle’s payload capsule was situated at the top, occupying a very tiny amount of space. There was a command module and a cargo module. The former had six seats since the standard team comprised of six people; however, the module also reserved ample space. If required, additional seats could be added, allowing for a maximum of ten people.

The Mars lander was no longer anything like the Project Mercury spacecraft from decades ago. The antiques of nearly a century ago were cramped, like the bottom of the bed being stuffed with random items. The astronauts sat there like fastened components.

However, the Eagle’s module was wide enough to put a mahjong table inside.

Beneath the command module was the cargo module. Under normal operational situations, the lander would be in a vertical position; therefore, the cargo module was actually beneath the astronauts’ feet. One could enter it through a hatch in the floor.

Further beneath the cargo module was the main structure, containing the engine’s rocket propellants. These tanks, made from an aluminum alloy, were several meters in diameter, and they contained methane and liquid oxygen. The Eagle was made up of Descent and Ascent Vehicles. The Ascent Vehicle would ignite the rocket engine when leaving Mars’s surface, pushing the payload into orbit. As for the Descent Vehicle, it would remain on Mars, and play the role of launchpad and foundation.

The ladder slowly brought Tang Yue upwards as he firmly held on with both hands. He had too many things attached to him, and it was impossible for him to move while wearing Radiant Armor; therefore, he could only rely on the ladder to slowly pull him up.

With a latching sound, the ladder arrived at the top.

“What the… It’s really freaking heavy.” Tang Yue raised his hand to open the hatch door above him. He struggled to crawl in, panting. He carried the heavy turtle shell on his back; yet, he had no one to help him. Doing it alone was truly difficult.

“Tomcat, you asshole. Can’t you help share my load?”

“I’m sorry. I was not designed to do manual labor,” Tomcat directly rejected his request.

“Then what were you designed to do?” Tang Yue was infuriated. “Specially designed to lampoon?”

“I’m an electrical and mechanical engineer, an astronomer, a telecommunications expert, a crosstalk master, and a cat good at catching mice. The only thing I’m not is a laborer,” Tomcat answered slowly. “Doing manual labor is not my mission.”

“Then do you think my parents gave birth to me to do manual labor?” Tang Yue crawled into the cargo module. “Humans are all born out of flesh. Is there a difference? What gives you the right to not do a thing while I have to do everything?”

“I’m sorry. I’m not born out of flesh.”

Under normal circumstances, the inspection and repair works of the spacecraft would definitely not be done by a single person. The expedition team consisted of six people. Eliminating the person stationed on the United Space Station, there would be at least five people on the Mars lander. The troublesome task of inspecting the lander could be shared among everyone. Tang Yue couldn’t even take off his EVA suit.

Tang Yue panted as he took off the tool bags hanging on his suit. Then, he rested on the cargo module’s floor.

“Mr. Tang Yue?” Mai Dong’s voice sounded in his earpiece. “Are you alright? How’s the situation?”

“Not very optimistic.”

“Mr. Tang Yue, what’s wrong?”

“I’ve never been this tired in all my life. Do a count of how much work I’ve done today…” Tang Yue was sprawled on the ground. “I spent hours moving the solar panels this morning. I did a thorough inspection of the Kunlun Station, spent half an hour on the bike before packing all the items into crates. Now, I’ve climbed up to the lander… And the crux of the problem is that b*stard, Tomcat, only gave me two pieces of a sandwich!”

“Mr. Cat… is really scary.”

“Mai Dong, is this considered exploitation? Exploitation that will garner universal condemnation?”


“Enslaved worker!” Tang Yue felt deep hatred and resentment. “I’m a tragic worker enslaved on Mars. Have you studied Comrade Xia Yan’s ‘Enslaved Workers?’”


“In the middle of April on Mars, at 6:15 a.m., I was woken up by Tomcat in the cramped Kunlun Station before daybreak. A robot dressed in an out-of-season set of Cantonese silk pants and jacket yelled, ‘Set up shop! Get up!’ Next, he hollered, ‘Tang Yue! Go move the solar panels! Damn it, you swine! How could you still be on your back?’”

Tang Yue had begun modifying the original text as he grunted in exhaustion.

Mai Dong burst out into laughter.

“Tomcat is a b*stard!” Tang Yue said. “Workers of the Universe, unite! Defeat Tomcat!”

The ladder descended slowly once again, and when it rose again, it brought Tomcat up. The first thing it did was to kick Tang Yue.

“Who were you calling a b*stard?”

Tomcat closed the hatch door, and with a beep, the green indicator light lit up. The pressure in the cargo module slowly rose and a few minutes later, the Radiant Armor indicated to Tang Yue that the environment outside was suitable for normal human operations. Tang Yue sat up with great difficulty as Tomcat helped him unzip the EVA suit.

The second Tang Yue had crawled out of Radiant Armor and taken off the EVA suit, he felt as if he had been reborn.

He stood in the empty cargo module that resembled a gigantic soda can. The four walls were plastered with composite materials with a white substrate. There were a few light-weight orange overalls. The inner walls and the floor inside the cargo module had nylon buckles which were used to fasten the cargo. When sending the cargo to the space station, all the goods would be held here.

Another hatch sat above their heads. It led to the command module.

Tang Yue climbed up a ladder and opened the hatch before entering.

Tomcat took out an ultrasonic fault detector and began inspecting the rocket’s fairing and structure for any cracks or damages.

The command module’s space was slightly smaller than the cargo module. As it was situated at the head of the vessel, it tapered upwards. It looked a little like a space shuttle cockpit.

On one side were six seats, with two in the front and four at the back. The other side housed the master controls. There was a dense array of knobs and LED indicators.

However, the Eagle’s seating arrangement was also very different from a space shuttle.

A space shuttle’s seating arrangement resembled an ordinary airplane. As it landed by rolling to a stop, it could use its landing gear to land on an airport runway.

As for the Eagle, it entered the atmosphere in a prone position but landed in a vertical state. Therefore, the astronauts’ seats had their backs facing the belly of the craft.

In a vertical state, it wouldn’t seem problematic, but once the lander entered the atmosphere everyone would be facing the sky with their backs facing the land and their heads pointing forward.

Tang Yue stood in the command module and looked out through the window. He saw Kunlun Station, not far away in its full glory, before looking further out towards the empty dust storms and desert.

He switched on the power and a few seconds later, all the indicator lights and screens in the command module lit up.

The mainframe’s screen gradually produced a line of text: “Welcome to the Eagle Lander.”

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